What Can You Do Without?

Earth Day was on Saturday, but as I mentioned in my previous post, I make every effort to “honor Earth Day in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

By American standards, Clif and I live modest lives. We eat little meat, we only have one car,  and we put a lot of thought into our purchases. We don’t buy willy-nilly. (I also realize that we are blessed with many things—running water, electricity, toilets—that other people don’t have, and I am very, very grateful for these conveniences.)

However, as I discovered when reading a current piece by Melissa Breyer in TreeHugger, there is plenty more we could be doing to lead a more Earth-friendly life. The title of Breyer’s piece is “10 Things Not to Replace Once They’re Used Up or Broken.”

Here is the list:

  1. Microwave Oven
  2. Ziploc Bags
  3. Liquid Soap
  4. Keurig Coffee Maker
  5. Plastic Food Storage Containers
  6. Wet Wipes
  7. Non-Stick Pans
  8. Scented Cleaning Products or Air Fresheners
  9. Toxic Personal Care Products
  10. Disposable Plates, Cups, and Utensils

For some of these items, Clif and I pass with flying colors (Numbers 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10). Others, not so much. But it is all food for thought, so to speak, and throughout the year I will be considering the other items on the list, one at a time, so that it is less daunting to make the change. Baby steps. And I’m going to be honest about Number 1—I really like my microwave, and I use it for all sorts of things. Therefore that suggestion has a big “maybe” beside it on my own personal list.

A note about Number 10—Disposable Plates, Cups, and Utensils. Clif and I rarely eat out, and when we do, we usually go to restaurants that have reusable cutlery and plates. We always say no thank-you to straws, and we seldom order more than what we can eat in a setting. However, we have friends who love taking home leftovers from restaurants, and they bring their own reusable containers to eliminate waste.  What a great idea!

That particular tip wasn’t mentioned on Breyer’s list, but no list will be complete.

Also missing was the suggestion to give up a clothes dryer. When ours broke, several years ago, we decided not to fix it, to see if we could do without. As it turned out, we could do without just fine. There are only two of us, and from spring through fall, I hang laundry on the line outside. In the winter, I have racks in the basement, where everything, including sheets, goes to dry. Clif teases me about my Rube Goldberg arrangement of racks, but I suspect that he’s secretly impressed with the set-up.

When the girls were little, I’m not sure we could have managed without a clothes dryer. However, as now there are only two of us, we don’t miss the clothes dryer at all and have no plans to buy a new one.

How about you, readers? What have you given up? What could you give up?



28 thoughts on “What Can You Do Without?”

  1. There are so many things we can choose not to get in the first place when we are mindful about its impact on the environment and in many cases, our own health. We have never had a microwave and do not have a freezer either. We are happy eating fresh local produce without a carbon footprint and grow some fruit and veg ourselves too. I love how you dry your laundry in the basement during the colder months!☺💜

    1. Yes, yes! It’s great to have a basement available for drying clothes. Since we heat with wood, it is very cozy down there for much of the year. Especially in Maine, where we use the furnace from November through April.

  2. Okay, neighbor, I’m concerned about Mother Earth and recycle, reuse and repurpose. But, I’m not doing without my microwave or dryer. LOL Those two things stay. 🙂 I applaud your efforts and bow to you being a stronger woman than I am. 🙂 I try to use more food storage containers than plastic bags figuring washing the containers for reuse is better than more bags or wrap. I don’t have any issues with the rest on the list. I became a minimalist about 14 years ago and have never looked back.

    1. We all have things we don’t want to give up. I’m with you on the microwave. For us, giving up the dryer was not painful.

  3. Everything is relative is it not?

    We don’t use anything on that list. I loathe microwaves although we have one I inherited from my mother which I really must sell. I don’t use it. We also inherited her tumble dryer, but the fan belt went, so it just sits there, doing nothing in particular. I check the weather in winter to make sure it isn’t going to rain when I put on a wash.

    Although we have three vehicles (!) two need fixing and we use the other once a month. We cycle or walk or bus.

    We don’t eat meat, fish, chicken. I grow what I can, herbs, salad, some veg.

    Plastics, bottles, cardboard, paper are recycled.

    We don’t use heating in winter or fans in summer.

    It’s really a state of mind I guess.

      1. Thank you. But it’s easy for us, we’ve always been minimalist so nothing to change. My husband walks a sack barrow to work with his tools and equipment rather than drive …

  4. I’m not sure I could get rid of my microwave just yet. I did without one for ages and then gave in when my younger daughter was born 20 years ago; life became so much easier; baby food could be prepared so quickly and the screaming could stop that much sooner! I hardly use any cosmetics as I am allergic to petroleum jelly and petrolatum etc which seems to be in most things these days. I also find the scents in air-fresheners start my asthma cough going (I have a catalogue of woes!) I gave up wet wipes some time ago and don’t miss them. I don’t use coffee pods or ziplock bags but…. I do use plain plastic freezer bags more than I should and I have a small collection of plastic containers. If we have food left over we usually put it in a bowl in the fridge and it always gets eaten! We have a small collection of disposable plates and cutlery that we got ages ago for a party – I doubt they’ll ever get used but I don’t like to get rid of them! I have a few non-stick pans that I probably could replace when necessary with something different as my iron pots and steel pans are very good. I must admit to using shower gel, and liquid soap is less messy than a bar of soap in the downstairs cloakroom. I use eco/green cleaning products whenever I can but some are very expensive and others just don’t work very well! I do have a clothes dryer but try to dry outdoors whenever I can – I love seeing laundry on the line! I could do much better and your post (and Treehugger’s piece too) have really made me think!

    1. Most of us have a ways to go. I know I do. But the list makes us think, which is a very good thing.

    1. Most of us do! Still, it’s good to think about such things. Keeps the aging mind spinning 😉

  5. It’s a love we share – laundry on the line. 🙂 I’ve always preferred it. I even washed and hung the boys’ cloth diapers and loved seeing the little clothes hanging on the line! Rack next to the wood stove in winter, too.
    Once we start looking around, we see lots of places we could conserve more. It’s a good thing to get us thinking!

    1. Yes, yes! The TreeHugger piece certainly made me think. Even though there are things on the list I will keep, others I will seriously consider.

  6. When I was a kid Mum had no washing machine, no dishwasher, an iron she heated on the kitchen range. No central heating, no phone, no fridge, no car, of course, no computer. So I guess we could do without any of those. I’ll settle for not buying any willy-nilly.

    1. Goodness, goodness! And look how beautiful she is today. Still, I would not want to be without a washing machine or a fridge. Or, a computer. No computer, no blog friends 😉

  7. Nice post. I am afraid that on the farm here we need two vehicles, one being a pickup truck, which uses more fuel faster than my car. But we try to use it as little as possible. I am not ready to give up my dryer or my microwave yet! I hang as much as I can outside in the good weather, and only put some things in the dryer, which means I don’t run it as long. I have a rack in the living room for the winter, but it can’t hold a whole load (our basement has lots of ledge in it, so we only have furnace and oil tanks down there ). We do pretty well on most of the other things. I like the idea of taking your own container to restaurants! I have been collecting refrigerator ware for leftovers that are glass, although they have plastic lids, but it’s a bit better than Tupperware!

    1. You do need those two vehicles. But it sounds as though you are very mindful of what you are using and doing. This is true of many of the readers who responded, and I find that oh so heartening.

  8. The enthusiasm of your readers is inspirational. I use freezer paper whenever possible, but have reusable plastic containers to freeze our vegetables. I hope they are better for the environment than plastic bags. I used to use plastic wrap to cover plates and containers in the refrig but based on another suggestion you offered, I try to use plates to cover bowls and containers that don’t have covers. I also try to educate others such as baggers at the grocery store.

    1. So true about the enthusiasm of my blog friends. This, of course, includes you, both a blog friend and a true-blue friend.

  9. The other day, I realized that President Trump, as a businessman has NEVER produced a product or service that I have or might use. Thus, he does not benefit me, nor do I feather his bed directly. Guess, you & I are in the same non-consumer bracket. 💵 In other words, we are supporting the standard concept of the global economy.

    We recently replaced our front-loading wash machine. When the delivery guys arrived, they asked why we did not replace our 25 year old dryer too. “It works”. Part of why it works is because we use it rarely (sheets and towels mostly). As it turned out, the new washer was on a 240v outlet, of which we had only the dryer outlet. I just set it up so that we can only plug one in at a time. Our truck is a 1991 too…

    Oscar 🐢

    1. Despite who’s in the White House, many of us are doing our bit to lead careful, mindful lives where we don’t over-consume. You go, Oscar!

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