- School lunches
Ditch squishy paper bags in favor of reusable containers (preferably stainless steel, which doesn't leach chemicals and is more durable than plastic). Instead of slipping sandwiches into plastic bags, wrap in cloth napkins and secure with a rubber band.
- Gift giving
Place gifts in a large basket and cover with a decorative, reusable sheet or blanket.
- Laundry detergent
Choose concentrated powdered soaps sold in cardboard boxes, such as the Citrus Laundry Powder line from BioKleen (biokleenhome.com). Recycle the box.
- Online purchases
Buy local when you can, or search craigslist.org for gently used items from sellers closer to where you live. If you must “click-to-buy,” reuse the cardboard box.
- Dog waste
On your next walk, carry compostable BioBags, which decompose in one to six weeks. Deposit bags in a backyard container system, such as Doggie Dooley Toilet, or discard with trash or leaf clippings. Don't compost or bury them near vegetable gardens — pet waste can contain harmful pathogens.
- Kitchen linens
Replace paper products with cloth napkins and kitchen towels; they're not only colorful and stylish but will save you money in the long term. Store soiled napkins separate from clothes to avoid stains.
- Junk mail
If you're receiving some of the 100 billion mailings that Americans get every year, de-list your name and address at the Direct Marketing Association website. To stop preapproved credit card offers, call 888.567.8688.