Over the past few months, I’ve been driving Justin up a wall by replacing our household items with more sustainable ones. When I make changes, he sometimes shakes his head. Other times he smiles as he mumbles something under his breath. But most often he says he will do whatever I want to implement because… happy wife, happy life. Although these changes are aligned with our environmental, minimalist, and sustainability goals, they are often expensive and often make me hesitant because I question if they are aligned with our FIRE goals.
One of the first changes I made was donating plastic food containers that I knew were in good shape (i.e., Rubbermaid containers with no food stains!) and could find use in another home. We already had sets of glass Pyrex so this change was not expensive. Additionally, it was aligned with our minimalist household because there was no reason why we needed both a set of plastic and glass food storage containers! Despite Pyrex being mostly glass, I am still irked by the fact that the lids are made of plastic. I am hoping to eventually move toward Weck glass jars or repurposing glass pasta sauce jars and the like. In the meantime, we will continue to use the Pyrex until they break and need to be replaced.
The next change I implemented was getting rid of single-use napkins and paper towels which is one of the most contentious, if not the most contentious, changes I made for our household. Instead, we use cloth napkins I had purchased years ago in addition to various kitchen towels and rags for meals, drying clean hands, and wiping down counters. These are easily laundered with minimal waste. Again because I had these cloth napkins and towels, there was no additional cost to making this sustainable change. Instead, it saves us money because we no longer need to purchase the single-use items at the grocery store. Justin often makes comments about needing a paper napkin or paper towel but I shrug him off because I know these changes are minimizing costs and garbage waste. But to appease him, there are still some rolls of paper towels hidden in a random cabinet in the kitchen that I know he has found and continues to use.
Other changes I have made include using reusable grocery shopping bags and canvas produce bags to reduce the use of plastic bags. Although the produce bags needed to be purchased and became an additional cost, they were a one-time purchase with benefits that outweigh the cost of plastic waste.
Another change I am in the process of making is DIY-ing our own hand and dish soap in addition to laundry detergent. I have seen many recipes with Dr. Bronner’s castile soap for hand and dish soap and Fels Naptha soap mixed with borax and washing soda for laundry detergent. I have yet to try these because we are still working on finishing up our stock of soaps we have remaining. On a cost basis, a bottle of hand or dish soap generally costs about $3. By using Dr. Bronner’s to make our own, the up front cost is approximately $16 for a 32 ounce bottle. That one bottle, however, can make up to 32 bottles of hand soap. In the end, that would make each bottle of hand soap about $0.50! As for Fels Naptha soap, each bar runs about $1 at brick and mortar stores instead of places like Amazon. Borax and washing soda both cost less than $5 a box; however each box would help make approximately 20 gallons of laundry detergent! After doing some cost calculations, one gallon of detergent would run about $1.50 in comparison to spending at least $5 for a bottle of laundry detergent. Again, I have yet to try these DIY recipes but will provide an update once I do.
Next on my agenda includes growing our own herbs and vegetables. I am currently trying to regrow some romaine lettuce from the last salad I made for lunch. We’ll see how this goes as anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I do not have a green thumb.
So these are some of the changes our family has made to become a more sustainable household. If you have any other suggestions, please leave a comment!