Living the Green Life is Kinda Hard

By: Lisa Wright Burbach

We live a pretty Green life; we reduce, reuse, and recycle. We use non-toxic cleaners, cloth napkins, rags in place of paper towels, use greener light bulbs, etc. and yet there is so much more we could do. 

Many of you know that my husband, Van, is an environmental consultant, and this means it’s a big deal in our house. This is the man that needs extra time to take the trash out to sort through it all to make sure it was done “right,” in our house, it matters.

This past month we looked around and saw much more that we could do right here at home. We committed to reduce and reuse first and to see how little we could put in our trash and recycling bins. I have to be honest it is kinda hard.

The first thing we did was use the GSO Collects app, an app our city has that helps you know which items are accepted in our recycling program and which items are not, as well as what your trash days are and other city information. It is a great app! AAAnnnnnd it showed us that we have been recycling incorrectly. Many of the items we thought could be recycled, can’t be and they must go in the trash. Check with your city to see if they have an app, if not visit your City’s website for recycling regulations for your area.

The first time I had to place a plastic clamshell container, the kind used for greens, in the trash can, it felt wrong. We’ve been trained to think that when we recycle, we are doing a good thing. We are doing a better thing, but not necessarily good. Did you know that less than 10% of the world’s plastic has actually been recycled!! The prediction is that by 2050 there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills. Clearly, dropping it in the recycling bin isn’t the best option.

As a couple, we decided to make some changes to live a Greener Life.

  1. We have an online business but decided to cut down on the other items we buy online. It helps us support local businesses and cuts down on extra packaging and fillers.
  2. Tissues must go in the landfill and are part of our deforestation problem. I’m trying to switch to hankies, yep…old school handkerchiefs – pretty ones of course,Van uses plain old white ones. Yeah..ewww.. but I’m finding that if I keep them on hand and treat like a tissue, it works well. If I’m home, I drop the dirty ones in the laundry bin, If I’m out, I have a little pouch for dirties, and when I get home, I drop it in the laundry.
  3. The most challenging thing has been produce. I hadn’t paid attention to how few items are available in bulk, and in one “natural” store in town, even the bulk items were in plastic bags. The Farmer’s Market is a good option and we get to support local farmers and benefit from the additional nutrients found in local, seasonal produce.

Ding Dong..Please excuse this interruption: DANGIT! Dangit!!! As I’m writing this, we did Chinese take out, and it came in a styrofoam container as well as a big ole plastic one! SHOOT Man, Poop!!(my most frequent swear word)! See, it’s kinda hard! It just didn’t cross our minds; all we thought was “I’m tired, let’s order Chinese!”. Ugh!!

Somewhat humbled and chagrinned we now resume our original blog post already in process:

4. Leftovers or fresh food for lunch. In addition to my own business, I work part-time outside the home, and it is quick and easy to bring a frozen meal. By making my lunch or putting leftovers in glass containers, I not only cut down on little plastic containers and boxes but also provide a less processed and more nutritional lunch for myself.

5. We own a set of Melamine dishes, yes…plastic. But we plan to use them til we die. We use them for picnics and eating outside during nice weather rather than using disposable items. Had we bought them this year, we would probably have found another unbreakable option, however, we have them, so we use them. *Do not microwave plastic because of the risk of releasing harmful chemicals into your food.

6. Guys- You might want to skip this one. Ladies, I use the cup, and it is aaahhhmazing! I don’t know how I lived without it. Truly-for real!! Life-changing and I also use reusable pads – not so much for “theennn”, but well-shoot a couple of kids out of there, and let’s just say that jumping on a trampoline or sneezing will never be the same! #truth. I have tried several different brands and personally like the Glad Rag pads and Lily Collapsible cup. I also use reusable makeup remover rounds.

Did you know that roughly 20 billion sanitary napkins, tampons and tampon applicators are dumped in landfills yearly in America?!!

7. We compost. We keep a tiny little trash can just for food scraps, and when it’s full, we toss it into our composter.

8. We use reusable grocery bags, carry reusable metal water bottles, and take bamboo cutlery with us when we go out and straws? I just drink from the side of the cup-whhaaat? weird right?! But if I need to, I have metal straws too.

9. Toilet paper! Yep…going there too – haaa going eh-hem…Toilet paper is a significant cause of deforestation, is sprayed with harsh chemicals, and companies are using less recyclable goods in the product, increasing the need for virgin wood. 

We use Who Gives a Crap, (use the link and get $10 off and we get $10 off) which is made from bamboo and is surprisingly soft and umm…capable. Personal review: the Premium 3 ply is soft and wonderful, the Recycled 3 ply doesn’t meet our soft test. 

There are options out there such as the bidet and cloth wipes-Family Cloth; think reusable baby wipes for everyone. I have a friend who uses the wipes and said that her tushy is so much happier now. I’m not quite ready to go there, but applaud her choice.

Here is an environmental ranking of some of your favorite toilet papers by Greenmatters.com.

10. We use beeswax wrap, reusable lunch baggies, mason jars and other reusable items for storage in the kitchen.

I’m just scratching the surface of things we could do to live a more green life; we could have a garden, plant more trees, walk more, carpool…the list is endless, but little by little, we are making changes and trying to make a difference and educate others to do the same.

Why? Some people feel like it isn’t vital, but it is. For example, fish already have little bits of microscopic plastic in their flesh, babies have PFAS in their cord blood and breast milk, allergies and other issues are on the rise and we only have so much room on the planet. Those are just a few things! It is vital!

I believe we are meant to be stewards of this planet, doing our best to care for it and make a safe home for us all, but I’m the first to admit that living the green life is kinda hard, but it’s worth it.


Hi, I’m Lisa and I’m an Independent Shaklee Distributor and Certified Health Coach. My absolute joy is partnering with people to realize their own self-value. I believe that as we love ourselves, we are loving to ourselves and from there we are more able to eat well, exercise, and take care of our physical selves. It is my goal to touch the lives of others and help people live healthier lives longer!! Through Shaklee I have an excellent partner that shares my passions of environment and health and I look forward to sharing that with you. – Living the Green Life!

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