Reducing Our Impact

I don’t usually make resolutions for the new year. More often than not, positive change happens on its own, with a nudge or two on my behalf (but not for the sake of a “fresh” start).

Years ago, Tim and I started using canvas bags for groceries, library books, special projects, and picnic goodies. From there, we stopped buying paper towels, napkins, and kleenex, opting for cloth napkins and umm… hankies (hankies might sound icky, but they aren’t so bad, I promise!). We bought recycled garbage bags because we had no way to compost in our small apartment (and no yard to make a compost heap). We even tried using the biodegradable garbage bags, but by the time the bag was full, it had already started breaking apart (suggestions?). We stopped buying plastic wrap and ziplock-type baggies, opting to rinse and reuse any packaging our food came in (cereal box inserts, zipper-top sugar pouches, bread bags, and produce bags). See? Happy changes for us and the Earth (smooch, smooch!)!

Our greatest dilemma was the plastic produce bags at grocery stores. We would bring bags from home that we had saved and use them time and time again. It eventually got to the point where we didn’t have any more, and using new ones made us feel guilty. I was browsing Etsy awhile back and came across a woman who makes her own bulk food/produce bags out of ripstop nylon. So, the sewing machine came out of our closet and Tim set to work creating a few bags similar to the ones I had seen. And you know what?! They are totally awesome! We used them for the first time today. They weigh the same as a plastic bag, and they can be reused again and again and again (rinsed out and easily dried too!). We only have three right now, but a bike ride up to the fabric store this weekend will result in many more. The best part is that we can make all sorts of sizes and colors! This is a huge step forward in reducing our impact, and also in silently showing others by example. I am hoping to sew up a few too; my hands are less steady, but it all works out in the end!


See how cute those beans look nestled in their homemade bulk bag?

Along with switching to reusable nylon produce bags, we are focused on phasing out plastics as much as possible. My pantry (I mean cupboards) is full of plastic tupperware holding bulk beans, grains, sugars, and legumes. It would be great to replace them all with glass jars that line up neatly in rows with pretty labels and such. It’s my goal to start/finish this project in the next few months.

Maybe hidden in all these jumbled words, our resolution is to waste less? I’m not sure, but I know that we can all do our part to reduce our impact on the Earth.

I heard that pudding helps reduce our impact:


Chocolate Peppermint Pudding - a test recipe (and a tasty one at that)

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19 thoughts on “Reducing Our Impact

  1. I hear you: if everyone quit thinking “meh, if I’m the only one doing this, what’s the point?” and actually started making at least some of the changes you guys are making, we’d have a nice chance at turning the mess around, when it comes to the environment.

  2. I use my cloth bags almost everytime I go to the store! We have lots of them and so far they have worked very well. It’s so cool that you made your own!

  3. I started using fabric bags too for shopping and I always re-use jars and plastic packaging that I get from buying stuffs at the store. It’s so cool to sew your own bags! If I had mum’s sewing machine over here, I think I’d be sewing mine too!

  4. Pudding is known to reduce global warming – it’s been scientifically proven I think!
    I’m with you! I made some basic fabric bags for fruit (here you have to put your fruit in a bag and weigh it & get a little sticker for it, so you can’t opt out on the bag). Every little bit, not matter how small, makes a difference!

  5. i think pudding helps pretty much anything. in my experience anyway. flat tire? pudding! pms? pudding! mildy traumatic day at work? pudding! see?

    anyway, it’s so totally awesome that you guys are doing so much to help out our environment. it’s really interesting what a lack of laziness can do to make a big impact. i always feel weird about the plastic produce bags too, but never really knew what to do about it. this is such a great idea! also, i bet those neatly labeled glass jars would look great in your cupboards AND be better for the environment – go for it!

  6. pudding totally helps! happyface! and thanks for the information on the tofu slicing & marinating for the dehydrator. i’m gonna talk to dan about maybe getting another dehydrator.

    2 birthdays ago dan bought me about 10 reusable nylon bags – so we stopped using plastic ones (yay!). they were just like the ones you’re making – so i just used them for produce, too. with bigger produce (squashes, apples, and such) i just put in the cart as is. sure, i get some strange looks – but it’s all good. they later get thrown in together when the baggers pack everything up in the reusable bags we bring. that’s even more awesome that you’re making your own bags! and are those adzuki beans?! they do look super cute in there! i quite like the color of the nylon fabric!

    we are lucky and have a compost pile out in the woods behind our house – since we’re not throwing food scraps in the biodegradable bags we use for our kitchen trash they don’t biodegrade on us. i don’t know what to do if yours are degrading so fast – maybe you could contact the bio bag producers and find out if they have any tips!?!

    on the dilemma front – i’ve got one as well…a few months ago we decided to reduce our plastic even more – so now we bake our own bread. i hand make a loaf of whole wheat bread for sammies and such every sunday. so far we’ve been reusing our old saved plastic bread bags – but they’re getting really old. any suggestions to as what we can store our homemade bread in?!

    oh yeah, and you may have some luck finding old canning jars at local thrift stores to hold all your kitchen yummies in. i found a whole box of unopened biiiiiig mason jars & lids two weeks ago and have been transfering a lot of our bulk items to them & using some for sprouting. even if you just find jars – you can buy lids for fairly cheap somewhere else.

    have you checked out “fake plastic fish”?! it’s a great site – – beth has lots of plastic reducing tips!

    right now we purchase recycled toilet paper & tissues in bulk from – we get a case of each every few month so there’s no plastic packaging because they all pack into the big box nicely. but i really want to phase out tissues. think i have some old hankies from my grandparents – they had toooons of them – most of them were made & never even used.

    longest comment ever! ahahahaha! i just get so excitedfaced about reducing! less waste = the best EVER!

  7. I have a friend who bought several of those reuseable produce bags from somewhere (she never told me where), but making your own never occurred to me! It’s so awesome that you’re making such an effort to reduce your waste. I cut out my ziploc baggie use as well. I reuse containers and such to store leftovers and carry my packed lunches, but then I realized that I waste a ton of water because I handwash all my dishes (I don’t have very many!). It worries me that I run the water so long, so I have been trying to watch that recently and conserve the H20. I do love toting my $1.99 Whole Foods bag for all my groceries, too. And my Sigg bottle. And always ordering espresso drinks “for here” in coffee shops, so I don’t hafta throw away those paper cups. :)
    Oh gosh, that pudding is making me hungry! What a great picture…or should I say picture inside a picture?

  8. I love those bags! Adorable and super Earth friendly!

    I use canvas bags for large grocery shopping trips, but I still collect the old plastic bags when I go in for a couple things. I hate it but I use them for dog poop. And I don’t know of a better dog poop solution. I wish I could phase them out all together.

    And I’d like to move toward reusable napkins too. But I’m a little worried about cleaning with reusable cloths. I have 7 pets and that means LOTS of hair. When I use rags to clean, they’re full of hair in seconds and it just smears around all my surfaces. What’s a trying-to-be-more-enviro-friendly girl to do?!

  9. Those bags are awesome! It’s funny that I stumbled upon your blog today, because I just spent the entire day transferring things to glass jars that I’ve saved! Now I’m inspired to go make my own produce bags. Thank you!

  10. I love the bag idea! As much as I’d like to think I follow the three R’s–reduce, reuse, recycle–I fall waaaay short. Keep up the awesome work!

  11. I think it’s brilliant, all the stuff you’re doing to reduce your environmental impact. I have the worst memory in the world and always end up having to buy yet another reusuable back when I’m at the supermarket, which is why I have about 20 of them! hahaha.

    New year’s resolution – keep bags in the car so I don’t forget them!!

  12. Recently discovered your blog. Thanks for all the great info. Thanks, too for the super fabulous ideas about reducing impact. Your bulk bags are so chic! :) Hope you’re enjoying the new year!

  13. Wonderful information!!

    **Just as a heads up: I will not be able to comment on blogs as often now, during this semester, due to work overload (I’m stressed already) – PLEASE know that I’m still loyally reading, but just won’t have time to comment. I hope you understand!!

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