Starting Small

My Permaculture teacher (the amazing Claudia Joseph) always stressed that small steps were just as important as larger ones when it came to helping the planet. Sure, we’d recently made some pretty massive changes, including moving to an existing house with lots of people in the country where we recycle, compost, grow (some of) our own food, shop with canvas bags…etc. On the flip side of that, I’ve had to start driving again – a big ol’ Chevy Blazer – and that doesn’t help things when it comes to car exhaust polluting the air. So it goes.

So I decided to examine the small steps I could take, focusing on items I use everyday. I’d already limited my paper towel usage by using dish towels and sponges for cleanup…and that’s when the first idea hit me – sponges!

I bought a pack of Zwipes at the grocery store recently – reusable, machine-washable, dish sponges, and I have to say they’ve been holding up fairly good. I haven’t thrown them in the washing machine yet, but the amount of abuse I give them while scrubbing the pans implies they’ll make it. Now, I bought the ones with the scrubby mesh on one side, and Amazon doesn’t seem to have them, so check you’re local grocery store since those are the ones I’d recommend.

Now, while I’ve been good about packing my own lunch for work everyday (helps when you work on an island with no place to get lunch, but anyway), and have used my oil-cloth lunch bag (no use wasting a brown paper bag), I still found myself using sandwich baggies and Ziplocs for the contents inside…cue idea number 2!

Naturally the handmade community has cornered the reusable snack and sandwich baggies market. I just bought these super cute mushroom-themed ones off Etsy seller Veronica, Not Betty. I’ll make sure to give them a good test drive – I can’t wait for them to arrive!

Edited to add: Another easy green idea are these reusable produce bags. Why fill up your reusable grocery bag with single-use plastic produce bags?

Now these are the types of small steps you can do no matter where you live. And don’t be afraid to get creative – no idea is too small! But just keep in mind that what you might think is the “greener” way is not necessarily so. Here are some interesting articles discussing some surprising finds concerning dish washing  and car washes:

Dishwasher vs. Handwashing: The Winner (from

Should You Clean Your Car at Home or at the Car Wash? (from Real


3 thoughts on “Starting Small

  1. Thanks for this post. I needed it. I’m a very environmentally-minded person. I try my best to do the small things. I feel so guilty driving everywhere, but there’s just no way around it in the North Country unless you live in Watertown or one of the better furnished villages. I wish they had a public train at least!

    I love the sandwich bags! I so need something like that. At the moment I’m reusing plastic bags but they’ll eventually become unusable…

  2. Thanks for commenting, Grey! Yeah, if you don’t have a car in the North Country, you aren’t going anywhere…Another suggestion I would have is buy as much local food as you can, which in this area, isn’t too hard.

    Just keep doing whatever small steps you can – it all adds up!

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