Things I made, replaced, and learned to do without

Maybe I didn’t save the world in 2010, but I did make a number of earth-friendly changes in my own slow inching towards sustainability. Odds are good that if you’re reading this, you did too. So although they might seem pretty paltry and insignificant against things like ocean acidification and mass extinction, well — we need some encouragement to get us to continue making more changes, bigger changes. These are some of the things I acomplished last year. You?

Things I made instead of buying

  • cat toys (bet you never knew dried up twigs were fun)
  • kitty litter bags from newspaper
  • cleaning supplies
  • sugar facial scrub
  • almond milk
  • ‘nut milk bag’ (i.e. square of cotton muslin)
  • orange juice
  • ceramic bowls
  • roasted pumpkin seeds
  • granita
  • applesauce
  • candied citrus peel
  • pizza
  • popcorn
  • a whole lot of other food. This was my year for cooking.
  • frozen dinners (thank you, leftovers)

Things I replaced with better things

  • cloth dishrags in the kitchen instead of paper
  • clothesline instead of dryer (whenever possible)
  • baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice instead of bleach and ammonia
  • all natural skin and hair care instead of chemical-laden products
  • cloth pads instead of disposables
  • plant-based milk instead of resource-intensive dairy milk (some of the time)
  • organic produce instead of conventional (wherever I have a choice)
  • local honey instead of imported
  • bulk bin items instead of packaged foods (rice, beans, salt, flour, polenta, oatmeal, popcorn, olive oil, etc.)
  • reusable produce bags instead of plastic ones
  • glass tupperware instead of plastic
  • reused packaging supplies instead of new.
  • recycled tin foil for regular
  • biodegradable kitty litter instead of strip-mined clay litter.

Things I learned to do without

  • Single serve anything. It’s a waste of packaging.
  • Having every appliance plugged in all the time and ready to go.
  • New clothing. I may have gotten one or two pieces last year. The rest was all used, and it was fine.
  • Buying shoes. I really only wear two pairs anyway.
  • Cushy toilet paper. Virgin forests deserve more dignity.
  • Conditioner. My hair is fine without it.
  • Shopping for the sake of shopping.
  • Driving for the sake of driving.

It’s likely 2011 will bring more changes as I think/learn more about my actions and how I’m part of the problem. Now it’s your turn. What changes did you make in 2010?


15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Emily on 01/04/2011 at 09:04

    Great job! Here are some of my eco-friendly changes from the past year:

    – I grew a garden for the first time in 5 years. The majority of the veggies that I ate this summer and fall I grew myself.
    – I switched to the Diva Cup.
    – I began consistently composting my food scraps (even during Winter).
    – My BF started homebrewing beer. This will save us money and prevent throwing away beer bottles, as Montana doesn’t recycle glass.
    – I figured out a recipe for homemade electrolyte drink using stevia, sea salt, potassium chloride, and lemon juice. It is healthier and cheaper than Gatorade and also prevents the wasteful plastic Gatorade tubs.
    – I moved into a super energy-efficient apartment. (Its small, too- 650 sqft).


    • Posted by Emily on 01/04/2011 at 11:00

      I forgot one! I’ve been reducing my meat consumption- eating meat only about once a week. I’m not a complete vegetarian, but you’d still be proud of me, Jennifer. I’d been a daily meat-eater for nearly 28 years. Eating less meat has been easier than I thought.


      • That’s awesome! What have you been eating instead?


        • Posted by Emily on 01/06/2011 at 20:00

          Many of the same foods- like homemade lasagna or pizza, but without meat. Bean, cheese, and rice burritos are quick and easy. I make a big pot of soup once a week- often minestrone with kidney beans or mushroom barley soup. I’ve been eating PB & homemade jam sandwiches more frequently and also more wheat products than before. I’d like to cut down on the wheat products.


  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sandra Lee and Jennifer Mo. Jennifer Mo said: What eco-friendly changes did you make in 2010? I'd like to try one new change every month in 2011. […]


  3. That’s an impressive list!

    Here’s mine:
    – hacked old T-shirts into reusable tissues, a tote bag, and a couple of pouches for sandwiches and snacks
    – had a good run of green smoothies every day, but dropped out of that over the holidays
    – became a part-time vegan [I drink only soymilk, my biggest weakness is cheese + cream cheese]
    – baking soda, vinegar instead of regular cleaning agents
    – baking soda, apple cidar vinegar to wash my hair instead of regular shampoo/conditioner
    – use only all-natural bar soap
    – use soapnuts instead of laundry detergent
    – switch from disposable pads to Keeper cup + cloth pads
    – organic whenever possible
    – started exploring bulk bins [used it for flour, sugar, rice, beans, but could do more]
    – reusable bags
    – reusable water bottle
    – reusable coffee thermos
    – switch from paper to cloth rags for home cleaning
    – glass tupperware instead of plastic
    – living w/o my car in SF, depending on public transit instead. Biking is a little scary in a hilly city.
    – rinse + reuse almost all glass and some plastic containers [as many as will fit in the cupboard!] – using spahgetti sauce jars as drinking glasses is awesome!
    – started volunteering at various places, but am now committed to community gardening

    Things I learned to do without:
    – New clothing. I buy almost all secondhand now, and only when my current clothes are bearing holes
    – shopping for the sake of shopping
    – partying for the sake of partying
    – new stuff, gadgets

    I think that’s mostly it. 😛


    • Wow, what a list! I’ve been reusing my glass jars for my homemade almond milk, candied citrus peel, and…uh, clanky rocks to scare the cat when she’s being a pain at 2am. Fewer jars are coming my way now as I buy more things in bulk and make my own sauces, so I’m really trying to be good about saving them. However, I caved on the pretty, matching glass storage jars (mine are from Ikea) because I like good design and they look so nice filled with my grains and beans on the kitchen cart. (I know, I know.)


      • Sweet! Haha, those glass jars definitely look nice. I’m going to post a version of this list on my blog tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration!


        • I think Ikea is actually one of the most eco-friendly retailers around, so I didn’t feel too bad about my glass jars, which I figure will last a good long while and prevent a lot of packaging.

          Would you consider linking back to my entry when you do your post? It would be much appreciated!


        • already done! 🙂


  4. Posted by Marcy on 01/05/2011 at 10:51

    I, too, switched to the Diva Cup in ’10 and I am kicking myself for not doing so sooner. Other things I wish I had started doing earlier: homemade sauerkraut (still haven’t produced a successful batch, though 😦 ), homemade kimchi, and making my own vege broth from saved/frozen scraps. Am also getting ready to embark on a yardshare experience (she has a large yard for vege gardening and the desire to start, but needs help tending to it…..I have a desire for homegrown veges, muscle and interest in gardening but no yard). Feels pretty good!


  5. […] So, here’s my list of changes towards sustainable living for this past year. This post is totally inspired by Jennifer. […]


  6. Posted by Krys on 01/09/2011 at 19:01

    My cloth pads finally arrived in the mail (about two cycles after I ordered them), and I’m excited to try them out. It’s a change I’ve been meaning to make for about 4 years now. And as an almond milk junkie, I’d love to know whether you can use any old almonds, or just raw. Congratulations on a very productive year!


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