This month I made a challenge for myself to be as earth friendly as possible. It was an interesting challenge for sure and an eye opening experience!! It all started one lunch time when I watched this video on YouTube “25 Easy Ways to Reduce Waste and Save Money” from Sweet Simple Vegan. Chris and Jasmine have a great channel that has a lot of Earth Friendly ideas and I highly recommend this video!

One of the things that I had been doing for a while is using metal utensils, real plates and metal straws at work. This way when I did take out at lunch, I didn’t need to take the plastic utensils, plates and straws that don’t decompose and just sit in a landfill. This month I started to be a bit more proactive about bringing my straw with me when I would get a drink. The downside, is that I often had a large metal straw sticking out of my pocket and would end up sticking it in a plastic to go cup. One way around that is that I purchased a reusable iced coffee cup from The Works, which would decrease the amount of to go cups I would use.

I did also recently purchase these:

Straws which fit in my pocket much easier and have a cleaning tool to keep the straw gunk free.
I also really like these and find them to be a really good size to keep in my purse. I’ve also thrown the silverware in the dishwasher and the case in the laundry with no issues.

For to go coffee cups, I purchased a Hydroflask that I absolutely love. The huge upside of bringing your own coffee mug is that you often save a bit on your coffee. The Works Bakery (can you see where I go all the time!!) charges $1.50 for ice coffee, hot coffee or tea no matter what the size if you bring your own mug. That savings definitely adds up over time! Scattoloni Bakery also gives a discount. Many places do, you just have to ask. The best part is that my Hydroflask keeps the coffee much more hot for a longer period of time!

A couple of other items that I incorporated are reusable grocery bags from Rume. They are washable and hold up to 50lbs! They are very small when rolled up and fit great in a purse or glove compartment. These baggies are great for bringing snacks to work and are washable as well . Lastly, I’ve started using cloth napkins. I purchased these and like them so far. They do get super wrinkly after washing….and I’m not at the “ironing my napkins” stage of life yet. They take some getting used to and definitely make any meal feel much fancier!

Another thing they talked about in the video is “Refuse”. I found that I did this most if I did take out from one of the places in One City Center. Instead of getting a to-go container to walk back to work, I would just ask for a plate. Tic Taco has pretty awesome soft pretzels, however, they often come in a large cardboard to go container. I talked to the owner and asked if he could just put it on a plate and he actually thanked me and said that it saved him money because the container was costly…win-win!! The last time I went I just had him put it in a piece of foil instead of the plate which was even easier. I just need to remember to bring my own plate next time…I’d just grab it by hand, but they’re pretty hot.

So, I did come across a couple of challenges. This was definitely an expensive challenge….at first. Buying items that were reusable was a bit of an upfront cost for something that wasn’t technically something that I was paying for already (I know it’s tied into the cost of the product). Also, making sure that I had the reusable item on me when I needed it was a challenge. I learned to keep my reusable grocery bags in my car and my reusable coffee cups, utensils, plates and straws at work (which is when I use them most). I reinvested in a more convenient straw to up the odds that I’d have it on me when I needed it as well. There were times I was walking into work and it would have been convenient to grab a coffee on the way in, but I had to go into the office first to get the mug to then walk back to the coffee shop (extra exercise, yay!).

Another challenge was feeling comfortable asking different coffee shops to use my mug, asking for reduced to go containers or handing back a straw because I won’t need it. I’m sure it was all in my head, but sometimes, I felt uncomfortable asking. Everyone was super nice about it when I did, but I try very hard not to make someone else’s job harder and it felt like an extra step sometimes. I think that as this becomes more of the norm, then it will feel less weird.

I did end up signing up for Mighty Nest to make it a little easier. It’s a subscription box that sends you one eco-friendly item per month. My first box was dryer balls. I already had a set and love them, but this is a nice back up set. Basically you just leave them in your dryer and they reduce dry time (saving electricity and the environment). I’m waiting on this month’s box and am excited to see what it is. If you’d like to try a free Mighty Nest box, feel free to email me.

The biggest take away from this that I found was an incredible awareness of how much waste there is in my life on a daily basis. I had to keep thinking that every little bit helps. A friend of mine made a great point that it’s not going to be about one person doing everything, it’s going to be about everyone doing a little bit. Which, while disheartening, also reminded me that at the very least, I was doing my part. I am certainly more aware of the little things that I can start doing. My next step is to purchase produce bags. I realized at my last shopping trip that I like to have my produce separated, however, it ended up meaning a lot of unnecessary plastic!!

I was super happy that I did this challenge and while I wasn’t 100% perfect 100% of the time, I do realize a lot of simple changes that I can make that will add up to a big difference. What are some ways that you’ve found to reduce waste? Comment below!!

**you’ll see that the Amazon links start with This just means that if you purchase through that link, a donation will be made to Shepherds Beyond Borders, a dog rescue organization**


  • Dr. Cait