There are seventeen houses on the end of my street.  We get together for block parties to celebrate new babies, graduations, start of summer, and when one of use moves.  We have a shared yard sale and we even pet sit for each other.  I would say I live in a caring neighborhood with for the most part like thinking people, but lately I have been noticing neighborhood recycling bins.  Some of us go two or three weeks without having to put out our recycling bins and some of us have two or three bins each week.  Those with one have some paper items, cardboard, a few cans, and even fewer plastic bottles.  The ones with lots of recycling have two or more bins filled to over flowing with aluminum cans and plastic water bottles on top of the bin of paper product tubes, catalogs, magazines and boxes.   My neighborhood is for the most part good at recycling but not as good at finding alternatives to over consuming.  Some of the changes that my husband and I have instated are:

  1. Canceling most of print magazine subscriptions and getting some others as electronic subscriptions.
  2. Canceling print catalogs and even asking companies to not including a print catalog with every order.
  3. There are some paper products we cannot live without, but paper towels are one we are reducing.  We do not put paper towels on the counter top because then it is just too easy to automatically grab one.  We keep lots of clean rags – reused tee-shirt squares and even old bath towels have been repurposed for spills and cleaning.  We have placed a basket of inexpensive washcloths on the counter in the bathroom for drying hands and cleaning up the bathroom.
  4. We fill our own water bottles and keep a bottle and glass by our bedsides. We have started putting jugs of water in the refrigerator with mint, lemon, and lime for a quick refreshing drink.
  5. Like many of you we are trying to remember to take the reusable bags in to the grocery store and now we don’t have the box full of plastic bags in the garage. We have purchased string bags for our produce – the bags get washed ever so often to make sure we are contaminating our produce.
  6. We are buying large bottles or limited packaging cleaning products – both household and personal products and have reusable bottles with pumps for dish soap, shampoo and lotion.  We have gone back to using bar soap – so no plastic bags.
  7. We have developed a list of NO BUY PRODUCTS – dryer sheets, window cleaner, bottled water, over packaged food products, and any product that has packaging that cannot be recycling.
  8. Vinegar, baking soda, peroxide, vegetable based soap and olive oil are our new best friends when it comes to cleaning.
  9. We don’t rake our leaves, we don’t have a grassy lawn, and we compost clippings and vegetable mater.

Not everyone is ready to take all these steps but taking one step is a start.  Now for my neighborhood – I am sharing at our next get together an idea for a community competition for the best recycler and the family that can document that they are using less and working harder to recycling more.  We are not perfect – we still have not found a good use or way to recycle cat litter.  Any ideas?

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