1. Let your hands air dry after you wash them in a public bathroom.
2. Ask for a ceramic mug for your low fat decaf latte. Often clerks default to paper if you don’t mention you’re staying put.
3. Keep a travel mug in your bag for when you want your drink-of-choice to go.
4. Bring your own plates to school dinners.
5. Carry a handkerchief to blow your nose and your kid’s nose. (Old-fashioned is the new hip.)
6. Donate to non-profits that have low overhead and use the money to plant trees. Friends of Trees in Portland, Oregon is our favorite.
7. Volunteer for a day of tree planting in your town.
8. Plant a tree in your own yard. Try not to be furious when said tree gets mowed down. Plant another. Chase the buck out of your yard that is trying to dig up and eat the roots on the otherwise thriving tree. Keep planting trees until one of them takes root.
9. Pack a cloth napkin in your child’s lunch.
10. Don’t use brown paper bags for lunches. Use something nifty and awesome like these eco-friendly stainless steel lunch boxes. Or an old Easter basket. Or a canvas bag.
11. Don’t keep paper towels in your house. You can use an entire roll in one kitchen clean-up (I’m not naming names because she reads this blog and has nothing but the best intentions) or you can live happily paper-towel-free ever after, even if you’re a family of six or more (You can! You can! You just need a HUGE stack of cloth “wipes” so you never run out. If you don’t believe me and you want to go paper-towel-free, I’ll send you some not-so-gently-used dishrags.)
12. Don’t keep paper napkins in your house. (See #11.)
13. Use cloth diapers. One of the ingredients in disposable diapers is wood pulp. As long ago as 1981 an estimated 800 million pounds of paper was used to make diapers for one year. That number is substantially higher today. That’s too many dead trees. If this dad can do it, you can too!
14. Check books out of the library (except when you want to buy the perfect gift from your favorite Mothering magazine writer. Then you can assuage your guilt by remembering you are supporting a struggling writer, maybe? Actually, books are one of my biggest sins. I heart books. I want to support my writer friends. I have a lot of writer friends. I just ordered two books, made of dead trees, today. Both by amazing women I know: Candace Walsh’s Dear John, I Love Jane and Theo Nestor’s How to Sleep Alone in a King-Sized Bed. But, no, I swear I’m not leaving my husband for a woman. Not this week anyway.)
15. Buy recycled toilet paper (the kind that’s not shrink wrapped in plastic.) Or better yet, eschew the toilet paper completely. (That’s what No Impact Man, my daughter Athena, and Baby Leone all do. The intrepid Athena drips dry to save paper. We wash Leone’s tush with warm water.)
What are your best tips for saving trees?