#8. Recycled and recyclable toothbrushes

Unless you want to start offending everyone in a 5-mile radius with 24-hour morning breath, toothbrushes are a necessity. They can still be somewhat environmentally responsible, though.

I’ve switched to , which sends a new toothbrush to my door 4 times a year for only $13! The toothbrushes are made from recycled yogurt cups, and they can be returned to the company, where they’re ground up and used to make plastic lumber. (In case you’re wondering, the packaging they send it in is also completely recyclable, so there’s less packaging waste, too.)


#7. I would not like a straw with that

Have you ever noticed that some restaurants put straws in the beverages before they serve them? Or that some wait staff sweep unopened straws into the bus tub along with the dirty dishes and trash?

I was entirely oblivious to this until I stopped using straws, and I’m still developing ways to cope. A few new habits:

  1. I no longer use straws or drink lids if they’re offered. I’m a klutz, so I’m learning to live with dribbled drinks and slippery ice chunks sloshing my water. I also make sure to position beverages as far from the edge of the table as possible.
  2. I try to stop waiters from leaving straws on the table. This is a tough one, since they always seem to leave them when I’m not looking.
  3. If I get stuck with an unwrapped straw, I keep it away from the other trash. I may need to start handing them back to prevent them from being trashed, though I have to be careful not to turn into “that eco-snob at table 8.”

I’ve also considered buying a reusable glass or metal straw, but I’m not sure I need it. I mean, I love drinking from straws, but I can’t say I’ve missed them too terribly.


#6. Phone books. Ugh.

Who still uses phone books?

I opted out of receiving these big paper doorstops, using . I’m still not sure if it’s actually going to work—I could only cancel the books for myself, not my boyfriend or “Resident”—but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Otherwise, they’re going straight to recycling. Big bummer.

(, on Flickr)

Tags: paper

#5. Slightly better toothpaste

I researched tooth powders, baking soda concoctions, and toothpaste alternatives, to try to make my dental care a little more eco-friendly. Tooth powders seem too abrasive, baking soda is not my idea of a fun time, and… well, there aren’t a ton of good options. (If I’m wrong, please leave me a comment!)

My solution: switching to toothpaste in a recyclable metal tube.

Bonus feature: The ingredients are somewhat more natural than my old favorite, Crest Whitening Plus Scope.

I’m still getting used to the taste of the Tom’s paste, but it’s a baby step in my journey away from waste.


#4. Cancelling paper statements

I’ve been working on a paperless work flow for my home and business, for several years now. My process involves scanning invoices, statements, and receipts, as I receive them, then shredding and/or recycling the paper copies. It makes me happy to have a tiny little file box, instead of the large filing cabinet I once had. Plus, since everything’s backed up online, I don’t have to worry about the originals getting lost or destroyed.

I’ve still been receiving paper statements for some bills, though… Until this week. I went online, and—in a matter of minutes—switched all of my accounts over to paperless billing. Now I’m saving a tree or two, and I no longer have to take the extra step and scan in the statements.

Small step… big win!

Tags: paper office

#3. Bye bye, sodas

I’m a crazy soda fiend. I love Diet Coke (despite the headaches it gives me) and I’ll make do with a regular Coke any day. The plastic bottles suck for the environment and my wallet, though, so I’m cutting them out.

New rules:

  1. No more than 2 sodas a week. I’m aiming to get that down to zero.
  2. If I must have a soda, then it should be from a soda fountain and in a reusable glass, to reduce packaging.
  3. Absolutely no plastic bottles!
  4. On very rare occasions, I’ll allow a Mexican Coke in the glass bottle (with real sugar!) or a can of soda at a party.

I’ve been working on this for a few weeks now. It’s not fun, but it’s getting easier.


#2. No more catalogs

I get a ton of catalogs and very rarely order from any of them. Why not stop them from showing up at my door?

I just started using a service called to take care of that.

Now, when I get catalogs I don’t want (which is all of them, really), I log in, search for the company, and fill out a couple of details. Catalog Choice then notifies the company that I’d like to opt out and keeps track of their response for me.

It couldn’t be simpler… and it’s free!

Tags: paper

#1. Kicking out my shampoo, conditioner, and face wash

I started this project when I realized that I use a TON of disposable, one-time-use, barely recyclable stuff in my life. It’s time to make some changes and hopefully save a little cash while I do.

First up was my shampoo, conditioner, and face wash (back row in the picture below). I switched to solid shampoo, conditioner, and face wash from a few weeks ago, and I haven’t looked back.

Lush packages their products minimally, usually just wrapping them in a single sheet of recyclable paper. The solid products require no preservatives, so I like to think that they’re better for me. According to the company, their shampoo bars should last up to 3 months, meaning this shampoo is actually cheaper than my plastic bottled alternative. At the rate I’m using mine, that seems accurate.

The one thing I have noticed is that my hair is shinier and my skin clearer than when I was using the other products… an added bonus! On the other hand, it seems like the conditioner softens, but doesn’t detangle (argh!), so I’m still seeking out another option for detangling.