Annie’s Ideas on ABC
During her appearance on ABC’s The Revolution on January 30th, Annie showed Ty Pennington some simple hints for reducing waste around the house. If you want to know more about these three ideas, read on!
Plastic Bag Dryer
The average lunch contains 3 plastic snack bags, which adds up to thousands a year for each family. Making all those plastic bags requires lots of oil — a key ingredient in plastics — and throwing them away adds to our garbage problem.
Simply washing and reusing plastic bags reduces the need to make new ones, reduces waste and saves money. Think about it: washing them even once can cut your family’s plastic bag habit in half and you can certainly wash them more than once!
I wash mine in the sink, when I am doing the dinner dishes. While washing each one takes just a few seconds, getting them to dry can be frustratingly slow. A simple plastic bag dryer like the one Annie showed Ty can be made at home and speeds up the process.
Simply use a vase, a glass jar, even a coffee mug. Fill it with rice, beans, marbles or anything heavy enough to hold it in place. Stick chop sticks, bamboo skewers, even tinkertoy pieces in it and it’s ready to dry! Hanging the bags on these sticks prevents water from collecting in folds and speeds up the drying.
Over 25% of our household waste in the US is green waste from kitchens and yards. Food scraps are full of nutrients that are valuable if returned to the soil, but dangerous if dumped in a landfill, where they rot and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In order to reduce waste, build soil health and prevent climate change, there is a growing effort to keep green waste out of landfills and compost it instead. Composting can be done at the backyard, community or city-wide level. In each case, green waste (also called Organic Waste) must be kept separate from other trash and then broken down through a process called composting.
If you’re lucky, your city has a curbside composting program that collects green waste along with your regular trash and recycling. My city does that, so every household gets three bins: one for garbage, one for bottles, cans and paper and one for yard and kitchen scraps. Cities that have invested in citywide composting programs have saved lots of money, since composting green waste is cheaper and better than sending it to the dump or burning it.
If your city doesn’t yet compost, don’t worry! You can still compost in your backyard. You’ll need a compost bin, which you can buy from a garden supply store or make yourself. There are a number of online composting guides that explain how you can compost food and yard waste. And if you don’t have a yard, you can also compost inside your garage or even apartment through vermicomposting. This takes a bit more effort but works great at reducing waste, preventing greenhouse gases and creating a great soil amendment.
Either way, backyard or city wide, composting is a key part of the solution to our waste problems.
On The Revolution, Annie showed Ty a package of household cleanser that was super concentrated. Super concentrated means less packaging. When we buy regular cleaners or detergents, the jug is mostly full of water. Instead, we can buy super concentrated, add our own water at home and just keep re-using the same bottle over and over.
I know it is sometimes hard to buy the concentrated brands since the upfront cost is more than the diluted ones, but do the math! The bottle of cleanser Annie and Ty had cost $12 and made 197 bottles of cleanser. Buying 197 bottled of general household cleaner costs about $600. So, even if it is more up front, there’s real savings over time.
And for those who want to go even further saving money and preventing waste, there are lots of easy homemade recipes for household cleansers that work great.
There’s lots more we can all do to reduce waste in our lives and, even more importantly, in our broader communities. Please sign up with the Story of Stuff Project to learn more and get more involved.