Healthy Earth, Healthy You! How to Reduce Your Consumption of Packaging.

Most of the New Year's hype about healthy living has died down. I have been consistently going to the gym since October and eating (mostly) clean for several months, which seems 'old hat'. But, there's one thing in which I'll gladly serve as a hype girl: A healthy environment. This means using fewer fossil fuels, making eco-conscious decisions, and reducing waste. Ironically enough, healthy living and sustainable living go hand-in-hand. More on that in a sec.

One of my favorite zero waste blogs is, and I find this graphic to succinctly summarize exactly what every household needs to consume less and generate less, thereby creating a healthier environment.

John and I practice a zero waste lifestyle in many of the ways detailed in the graphic above, and can attest that some changes were easier to make than others, just like making lifestyle changes for your physical health. Here are some tips to make your transition to a zero waste lifestyle more smooth: 
  • Bring your own reusable produce bags. You should be eating a ton of fruits and veggies anyway, so this is an essential change. Stop using the plastic produce bags and invest in a couple mesh bags. If you don't want to purchase reusable produce bags, you can use any sort of large breathable fabric square and simply tie it shut. You'll need to help the clerk ring up your produce, since s/he might not be able to see the produce.
  • Shop at stores that offer food and body product items in bulk, and bring your own container. The caveat is to bring your own containers. Fill one of your reusable shopping bags with clean, empty jars, bottles, and fabric bags so you can easily have the jars weighed when you enter the store and refill them from the bulk bin.
  • We purchase unscented Dr. Bronner's castile soap from the bulk bin at New Pioneer by pouring what we want in a glass jar. Then, we scent it at home with essential oils to make our own shampoo, body wash, and hand soap. Many bulk stores will have hand soap, shampoo, and other specialty body products in bulk.
  • We also purchase freshly ground peanut and almond butter from the bulk aisle, filling our own mason jar from home. You can purchase lids for your mason jars here.
  • Dry goods like steel cut oats, almonds, rice, beans, and granola are also purchased from the bulk bins and are kept in reusable bags or jars that we bring from home.
  • Many stores have a bulk produce items like leaf lettuce, spinach, carrots, mushrooms and more. We simply fill our mesh bag with the amount of lettuce we want, for example, and avoid lettuce packaged in a plastic container. I love that we can purchase exactly what we will eat for the week, which also prevents food waste.
  • Buy a chico shopping bag and keep it in your purse or glove box. There's no excuse for using plastic shopping bags. 
It's 2018 and we all know the dangers of this single use plastic on our environment. If you still don't use reusable shopping bags, here me now: You can do better.
  • Find alternatives for food items that are individually wrapped or packaged. Those 100-calorie packs are terrible for the environment, even though they help with portion control. 
  • Find alternatives for plastic wrap. We like Bees Wrap and have it in several sizes. In all honesty, we have a roll of plastic wrap in our drawer. It's the same roll I've had for over 2 years because we use it so infrequently and I cannot justify throwing it away.
Recently I learned that many of the flimsy plastics that we throw away can be recycled with other plastic bags! You've seen those bins in the entryway of your favorite grocery store, right? One piece of plastic I recycle now is the plastic sheet that my butcher wraps our meat in, before wrapping it in butcher paper.  The butcher paper can be recycled, and so can the plastic wrap!

If you're as excited about this as me (it doesn't take a lot), I want you to head to your meat counter and use one of three $10 vouchers for free beef or pork, compliments of Iowa Food and Family Project!

All you need to do is leave a comment (with your email address) telling us how you reduce your consumption of packaging, thereby keeping our environment healthier. 
This is my third year participating in the Live Healthy Iowa 10-Week challenge. Several other Iowa bloggers and myself make up the Iowa Food and Family Project team. We have a great time encouraging each other to be healthier. Go check out my teammates: 

Lisa C from Midwest Mom Life
Stephanie G from Been There, Baked That
Shari H from Inked & Educated Mom
Katy F from Flint & Co. 
Kathy V from Kathy’s Kitchen
Mary L from Farm Girl Cook’n

If you want to learn more about how to reduce your consumption of waste, which you now know includes recyclables, I recommend checking out this 30 Day Zero Waste Challenge from Be Zero. I have three, $10 vouchers for FREE beef or pork that I will be giving away to three lucky winners in two weeks, on February 17th. Please be sure to leave your comment AND email address so I can contact you. 


  1. Hey! I grew up in a hippie house that was really into recycling and reusing. I do have a couple fabric mesh produce bags, but if you don't want to purchase those, purchase lemons, limes, or onions in those see through colored plastic type mesh bags and then reuse those! I have many lime bags I throw all sorts of things in while shopping. They last forever and are basically free.
    Like you said, I'm a big user of mason jars and any glass jars that happen to come my way. From drinking glasses, to flower vase, to mini sewing kit storage, mason jars are the way to go. Plus they can be purchased second hand at garage sales and goodwill. Double win!
    Most of our really cute furniture like tv stand, end tables, dressers, accent chairs etc were purchased at flea markets, goodwill, garage sales etc. With a little TLC, all have turned into really unique, functional pieces that never fail to get complements when we have guests. I've even found great things curb side waiting for trash pickup. No shame in my game!! Haha
    Those are some of the ways I can think of how I help reduce our household waste and try not to contribute to more usable things entering the landfill!

    1. I absolutely love everything about your wisdom and message. I wish I knew your name or email, you would have won :( But, thank you so much for reading!

  2. We've been becoming more concious of what we are doing with buying foods etc. We are now trying to buy more items in bulk and using our jars as well.
    We use resuable shopping bags 99% of the time. I find my bags hold about 4 or 5 plastic bags in just one bag, that's a lot of plastic being saved in my book.

  3. I need to be better about using my reusable bags. I need to work better on buying non packaged foods. A little bit at a time.

  4. I bring my own bags to the stores. It's rare that I forget. But, when I do there's one lady at one of the stores that asks me where my bags are. LOL

  5. I'm a big user of mason jars and any glass jars that happen to come my way. From drinking glasses, to flower vase, to mini sewing kit storage, mason jars are the way to go. Plus they can be purchased second hand at garage sales and goodwill. Wedding Caterer are very professional to providing services on the wedding ceremonies.

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