Our Family’s Commitment to Do More: The 3 R’s



Our Family’s Commitment to Do More: The 3 R’s

So How You Do’ing? In the spirit of recycling, I thought I would use those famous words from Friends character Joey. I have shared with you in other articles ideas that my family are using to cut our carbon footprint on this precious Earth that we call home.

Reducing is always a challenge, because it goes in the face of our societal values of having more and doing more, but it is the highest form of recycling.

Re-using is something that has been natural for me through out my life. It may be challenging at times to creatively transform old household items into new uses, but this has become one of the staples of our family’s efforts to be more environmentally friendly…and save money.

Recycling has become the catch phrase for the 3 R’s, but is strictly speaking altering one thing into another. It is important that we recycle as much as we possibly can, because making consumables from recycled goods is always cheaper and better for the environment than making them from raw materials. But we should recognise too that recycling should only be used after we have reduced and re-used. For our children and their futures, we must use all the arsenal of tools embodied in the 3 R’s: reducing wherever we can, re-using everything that we possibly can, and recycling every item that our councils and recycling centres will accept.

Today I am wanted to look at those things that my family could do better:

1) Reducing excess packaging. I think this might be the most challenging to tackle; partly because a great deal of it is beyond our control. We are, I admit, large consumers of electronics (blame techie husband). Have you ever noticed how much packaging goes into one tiny piece of plastic? A memory stick that is one inch by two will most often come in a plastic (non-recyclable) package with a large cardboard inset and an information packet. I recognise that this is an anti-theft device, but aren’t there other alternatives? What about putting such items behind the counter? The other side of that is that the packaging contributes to the cost of that piece of plastic and metal. Of course, this is an issue that will require a concreted effort from consumer and most likely government intervention to address. What I can do for now is to choose to purchase my fruit and vegetables loose. I am also hoping this will cut down on both spending and waste by purchasing only what we need.

2) I am going to remember to use those little switches on the power plugs. As I mentioned, being American we do not have such things. It has been hard for me change a lifetime of habits. But with my husband’s help, I am going to use these magic little buttons more often.

3) We are going to replace all batteries with rechargeable ones. About half of our batteries are rechargeable; mostly the ones in our keyboards and mousse. But over the coming weeks, we will replace all batteries with rechargeable ones…since these are particularly toxic waste in our landfills.

4) I am going to use less water when washing dishes. I have this habit of running the water to rinse dishes as I go. The new plan is to wash everything and sit it on the counter until I am done. Then use the same pan to rinse the dishes in cold water.

5) I am going to have a spring clean out. I may be doing pretty well at re-using but I could help others to do better by donating all the stuff I am not using to Freecycle, the Islington Swap Xchange, or my local Mind shop. This will make my husband very happy as he has been complaining about my daughter’s toys for a while now.

So what can you do better? Remember though this is not about being perfect, but the little things that we can realistically do and continue to do. The things that may seem so small that you don’t think they will make a difference: things that if we all did would make a huge difference. I invite you all to share your list with me.

Terri O’Neale is the mother of six; ranging in age from 3 to 22. She has been both a working and stay-at-home mother at various times in her life. She was also a single mother for almost five years, before re-marrying the love of her life at the age of forty. Obviously, she has a life-time of training in raising a family on a tight budget. In addition to these real life experiences, she possesses a bachelors degree in health education and a minored in environmental management in her masters programme.

Terri feels strongly that this is one of the most challenging times in history for the family, but she also believes that families with the will and resolve to address the pressing issues of saving money, becoming greener, leading healthier lifestyles and spending more time with one another can endure these challenging times and come out victorious in the end.

Through Frugal Family articles, blogs, videos and social networking, she helps modern families rediscover some lost art forms such as cooking, sewing, and gardening. The goal is not to go back in time or become fanatical, but to help all families find simple and effective ways that fit into their lifestyle to make moderate changes with huge impacts. For more information, check out her blog http://frugalfam.wordpress.com/.

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