Nothing changes your outlook like pregnancy. Your whole world shifts—most would say it turns upside-down. You start thinking of the future more. Do we live in the right neighborhood or house? Are their toxins in our home? And as the influx of new Colorado residents proves: are we living in the right community to raise a family?
There is plenty we can’t control about the future, but—especially when we’re pregnant—taking a few small steps toward what we can control does wonders for our sense of calm. It can help us be more present in the moment, and receive each day with gratitude rather than worry.
One concern that only increased with my first pregnancy was: what kind of planet we are leaving for our children and future generations. When my husband and I were newly married, we lived in Glenwood Springs and saved a few bucks by taking our trash to the landfill rather than paying for a weekly service. It was always a shock to come around the corner of a beautiful mountainous scene and see mounds of trash and bulldozers pushing it around to accommodate the new trash constantly arriving.
There are a few simple steps we can take to reduce what we send to the landfill. I’ll outline a few here, but I’m sure there are as many ideas out there as there are people! The most important is to choose a few that work for you and to add new habits as you feel up to the challenge.
1) Avoid Single-Use Containers
Single-use packaging is everywhere: the shampoo in the hotel, those handy vegetable servings for your toddler, bags of chips, bottles of water, etc., etc., etc. It seems like its unavoidable.
But it’s not. You can decide to bring your own water bottle. You can decide to pack a quick lunch. You can refill a tiny bottle of shampoo and bring it with you so you don’t have to use the single-use one provided for you at the hotel. Recycling is great, but it’s even better if we can save that step altogether.
2) Wash and Re-use Ziploc Bags (or Don’t Use Them at All)
We learned this trick from our pastor and his wife in Glenwood Springs (ah, the things that stick with you from newlywed life…). Ziplocs are made from such durable plastic, they can last a really long time. Really. Just wash them with soapy water, give them and rinse and let them dry in the drying rack (this works really well in our arid, Colorado climate. I have no information on how to do this where they have actual humidity in their air).
We have since learned we really don’t need Ziploc bags at all. We use our tortilla bags for almost everything, wash and dry them and then recycle them at the King Sooper bins for plastic bags when they get too old to use again.
3) Get Creative with Trash Bags
We occasionally say “yes” to plastic bags at the grocery store so that we can use them to line our trash can. When we don’t have one, we get creative: use the bag the carrots came in, use a paper bag, use any bag you find and throw things in the trash carefully. (Yes, there’s bound to be some extra mess, but it’s not the worst thing in the world).
4) Get a Milk Service
We love Longmont Dairy. We love that the milk is delicious and growth hormone free, and most of all we love that it comes in a glass jar we rinse out and leave on the front porch to be refilled. There are lots of great milk delivery options out there. I encourage you to find the one that fits your family’s needs.
5) Explore Refillable Options
My husband recently discovered a store called The Zero Market and found several AWESOME Mother’s Day gifts including a refillable option for shampoo and conditioner and a long lasting bamboo handled razor. On their website, they have lots of options for hygiene, cleaning, and containers to help us move away from plastics and towards longer-lasting and refillable options. Check them out here.
6) Get Clear on Recycling
I feel like conversations about recycling inevitably lead to the claim:
“Yeah, but I heard it all ends up in the landfill anyway.”
Is this true? Sure. There are probably companies that claim to recycle and then don't. Bad companies are out there. False advertising is out there. Does that mean it’s not worth trying? Does that mean we shouldn’t hold our trash companies accountable to do what they say they’re going to do? NO!
Look at your trash company's website. Look at the rules for recycling. We use Waste Connections, and they have a handy search engine to tell you what you can and cannot place in the recycling bin. TIP: Many plastic bags and packaging that can’t go in your recycling bin can go to your King Sooper recycle bin: bubble wrap, plastic overwrap from paper towels, cereal box liners, bread bags, dry cleaning bags, produce bags, newspaper sleeves, plastic shipping envelopes, clean sandwich bags and plastic grocery bags.
You can even collect and ship in Kroger labeled flexible packaging to be recycled into picnic tables and park benches. Check out that program here.
7) Buy Used and Skip the Packaging
This is one of my favorite reasons to shop for used items: it doesn’t come in packaging! (Plus it’s sort of like a treasure hunt, trying to find that special, high quality item in a sea of junk….I think that part I inherited from my dad).
Well, folks. Those are my ideas. I bet you all have one or two—or five hundred—ideas I haven't suggested to leave a less trashed planet for future generations. If you have some ideas, please leave a comment below so we can all learn from each other. After all, it’s not just the pregnant who should be thinking of the future, right?
Holly Freeman is a Family Photographer who specializes in printed art with a focus on family, maternity and newborn portraits. She offers a unique pricing structure where you can build your own package and buy only the products that speak to your family's unique aesthetic and needs. Check out some of the beautiful products she offers and reach out to learn more about scheduling a photo shoot.