getting started: becoming green friendly

Just before the whole world went into a widespread lockdown due to COVID-19, I had the opportunity to speak to high school students about how my family tries to minimize our waste on a daily basis. I shared many of my “swaps” outlined in my previous post, talked about the beach clean-ups we do, and gave examples of how we do our best to be more “green.” One of the first questions I received was…

where do I start?

The simple starting point is this: know your WHY. I take the extra step to keep mother earth top of mind when making many choices because… I can. Being privileged in many respects, has afforded me many conveniences that I take for granted. Acknowledging the my conveniences really broke down an easy starting point for our family.

For example, my kids like pretzels. I have 3 kids, and 3 lunches to pack each day. I felt justified in purchasing small portioned packages of pretzels to throw into their lunch boxes, versus buying one large bag and placing a small portion in their already sectioned lunch box. “It’s too many steps. These are easier,” I told myself. But was it really? I was loosing maybe 30 seconds in my day, which then would amount to 3 more pieces of non-biodegradable trash in a landfill for the day…24 if you count the whole box of snack bags (plus the box).

I love these reusable snack bags by bumkins.
I put them in both the dishwasher and the laundry. The kids love the fun patterns.

That was one of my first steps. I just stopped buying things that were out of convenience. I mean…not completely. By no means do I see myself as a totally pure environmentally conscious person. I do know that I am more conscious than the average person, and I work on that everyday. You can too. So, let’s get you started!

don’t overwhelm yourself

Start with one or two things you can do to reduce your waste, then add on accordingly. When you try to completely upend your lifestyle to be “granola,” it will likely work like a trend versus a change in habit. Here are a few things you can try to get started:

  • Review your city’s recycling program. Truth is, most of the stuff that you throw into your recycling bin doesn’t actually get recycled. I’m sure it feels so much better throwing items into a recycling bin than the trash, but save your recycling center time and energy by only sending them what they can use. There are many different grades of plastic, and only certain ones are able to be recycled at the typical recycling plant. If you look at the bottom of your gallon milk jug and note the number within the recycling symbol, you’ll notice its different from the one at the bottom of the plastic container your strawberries came in. Check with your local recycling center and see what numbers they will take for plastics and if they recycle glass or aluminum. You will be surprised how much actually isn’t being recycled!
  • Reuse. Reuse. Reuse. As noted, we are not a pure eco family. We do our best. So, as much as I HATE buying tubs of yogurt in plastic containers, I find a way to reuse them at least 3 different times before finally recycling them. Same goes with glass pasta or jam jars. There are plenty of ways to repurpose them, and I absolutely LOVE doing this. Much to my husband’s chagrin, we have a pretty sizable supply of items to reuse in our garage. Truth is, he actually uses glass jars to store nails, zip-ties and what-not in his toolbox. For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than sending family and friends home with leftover food from a party in empty sour cream tubs. Eventually I plan to be better about removing labels off of jars, but I have so many. For now, they are like badges for my eco-consciousness.
I keep my chia seeds that I bought by the pound in an old pasta jar.
  • Choose things with less packaging. I try to always pick the lesser of two evils. For example, you go to the market and there’s a freshly baked muffin wrapped in plastic wrap. Next to it is a branded plastic bag of cute bite-sized muffins. I would pick the muffin with the plastic wrap because of the minimal packaging (also, the fresh one is probably better anyway).
  • Glass or paper over plastic. In our house, plastic is the enemy. As much as possible, I avoid buying it unless I know for certain it will have a long life in our home. It will almost always cost more to purchase things that are either packaged with glass or paper/cardboard, so we do our best to avoid plastic (see above reference to plastic yogurt tubs). I have stainless steel drinking glasses for my kids instead of plastic, we use glass “Tupperware” over plastic, and use bamboo plates and utensils for birthday parties.
  • Stop being lazy. Yes, I said it. We have SO MANY conveniences in our lives, we don’t even realize it. One of the hardest swaps for me was coffee. I stopped buying Keurig coffee pods, and invested in a reusable pod that I would place freshly ground coffee in. Eventually, I stopped using the Keurig after realizing it was actually easier to just make a pot of coffee in a drip coffee pot, with a reusable filter. Tastes way better and saves a lot of money in the long run.

show yourself some grace.

Look, any changes in habit you do – even if its just ONE thing, does make an impact. One less thing you do that adds to the degradation of the earth is, simply one thing, but it is the start of hundreds of things you can do to create a new habit. Make the choice to do that, and don’t beat yourself up if you mess up. I can’t tell you how many times I have forgotten my reusable bags when shopping (or not have enough) and cringe when I know I need the plastic grocery bag I’m offered. It happens, just do your best to get back on track! Now, where are you going to start?

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don’t be trashy: swaps to reduce your waste

Our family has always tried to be conscious of our impact on the environment. We recycled, tried our best to say “no” to plastic bags, and saved plastic yogurt tubs for reuse when we have visitors to send them home with leftovers after a dinner party. You know, we tried.

Over Christmas break, the kids and I watched an episode of the Netflix series Broken. The episode was “Recycling Sham.” My kids are 7, 5 and 3. They will watch anything I am watching and totally get into it (They’re huge fans of HGTV and the Food Network). This episode was no exception. They were appalled with the fact that our trash/recycling was ending up in oceans across the planet. I was concerned that all the recycling I was thinking I was doing, may actually be in vein. So, as a family, we decided that we want to change our approach to being kinder to the earth. Our new year’s resolution as a family, was to reduce our waste and clean up the great outdoors!

Bye-bye Single Use!

Our first step was to examine our trash. How can we reduce what we throw away on a daily basis? Perhaps our most drastic, and difficult swap was taking the paper towel roll off of our kitchen counter. We invested in a basket (from TJMaxx, around $7.99) and actual towels. I tried out some white towels and quickly realized that was a bad idea, but found these dark gray kitchen towels with a waffle pattern (pictured above) from Target ($3.99/4 pack). They’re comparable to the size of a paper towel. I bought three packs, and they have been a welcome addition to our kitchen. We still keep a roll of paper towels under the sink in case of a messy emergency, but have only tapped into it once or twice since we made the swap. The towels are great, since we reuse them several times before dropping it in our towel laundry bin. We also purchased these smaller ones from Target for wiping down counters throughout the day. They’re about $10 for a pack of 4.

Napkins. After going all in with the paper towels, napkins were an easy swap. I stole the idea of using colorful bandanas as napkins from my husband’s Aunt Karen, who followed in her mother’s use of the bandanas when family came to visit. The colors are helpful (and fun for the kids!) because in the morning we grab a new napkin, note the color, and use the same one for each meal. After dinner, it gets put in the towel laundry bin. Any cloth napkins will do, but if you love the bandana idea, there are plenty of options on Amazon. I lucked out and found a basket of them at a yard sale!

Other single-use swaps

  • Eliminate plastic wrap and plastic sandwich bags with bees wax wrap. Our favorite brand is Bee’s Wrap available on for about $16 for a variety of sizes
  • Reusable produce bags are great for us since we have a weekly delivery of produce (and other pantry/fridge staples) from Imperfect Foods. The produce arrives in a box, mostly unpackaged. These bags help keep our fruit and veggies together and fresh in our fridge. We got a set of 9 on Amazon for $9.99
  • Wool dryer balls were added to our swap, frankly because Amazon saw all the stuff we were buying and suggested it 🙂 We have come to realize that they do help our clothes dry faster, and we see no static cling with our garments. We purchased a XL pack of 6 for $16.95 on Amazon.

Bulk buying has always been our jam, including cleaning supplies in order to minimize our waste. My husband picks up Simple Green from Home Depot (he thought I’d like the lavender sent, but honestly it doesn’t smell anything like lavender). The gallon jug is about $10 and has lasted for almost 2 years! It’s a concentrate, so you mix with water. I love these glass spray bottles, but alas, they are glass and break. I have already broken one. We do also have up-cycled empty plastic spray bottles!

Our Bulk buying doesn’t end with just cleaning supplies. This goes for anything we buy on the regular. The less “every day” trash we can produce, the better!

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mic check 1,2,1,2…

Hi, this is me.

I don’t fancy myself an expert in any one particular area, but I thought I’d capture a few of my passions and experiences in one spot right here. A quick introduction: I am hyper-organized, but I can still be pretty messy (I almost always have a pile of laundry calling my name). Since I am a mother of 3 kiddos (each 1.5 – 2 years apart) I tend to get asked, “how do you do it?” To which I almost always reply, “I’m not quite sure I’m doing it.” Whatever “it” may be. I love listening to podcasts and have a listening club to dish and discuss them just like a book club. I’m a strong advocate for reducing waste and minimizing my impact on this earth. I hardly consider myself “granola” but I’d say I’m more “granola-adjacent.” I mean, I don’t buy organic everything (especially not bananas). I have a loving and supportive husband that drives a plug-in hybrid car, therefore making him granola-adjacent too.   

Why Clarke Corbett? I always imagined having a son and naming him Clarke. Well, I have two sons – neither of whom are named Clarke. I also have a daughter – her name is definitely not Clarke. So, this blog is affectionally my fourth baby, Clarke Corbett. 

So there, that’s a bit about me. 

these are my peeps.
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