As I have continued to look for way to reduce our family's environmental impact, I have been looking a lot at the packaging our everyday groceries and household items come in. I want to reduce the amount of trash we send off to the landfill, sure, but I even would like to reduce the amount of recycling we produce. I try to keep in mind that the first word in "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" is reduce. By purchasing fewer disposable items to begin with, and using what we purchase until it is completely worn out/used up, we automatically live more sustainably, with the side benefit of saving lots of money, too!
I found myself making lots of little decisions along these lines this week when I was doing our routine errands. At Walgreens, I went to buy my usual Dove liquid bodywash, and found myself hesitating, thinking about the plastic bottle it comes in. It is recyclable. But plastic is a petroleum based product, and I would like to see us using less of that. Fortunately, I notice for the first time that right under the liquid bodywash there was Dove bar soap that was the same formulation, essentially- mildly exfoliating, etc. I could get that with much less packaging, and it was 6 bars for the same price. So, I chose that. One small change, I know, but they do add up over the course of time.
At the grocery store I again purchased a brand of milk our store has just begun to carry, Heartland Dairy. I first started buying it because it came in returnable glass bottles, like the ones I remember using when I was a kid. I loved that we were not going to have to recycle milk jugs. I also remember milk tasting better from glass bottles. My daughter is the big milk-drinker at our house, and she was initially a little weirded out by the glass bottles. It amazed me to think that she had never actually seen them in her whole life!
One day, as I was eating breakfast, staring at the milk bottle half asleep, I noticed that the logo for Heartland made the letter T look like a cross. Intriguing. I looked more closely. In tiny print at the bottom of the bottle, there was a website listed. I pointed this out to Mike, and he promptly visited the site. It turns out, Heartland Creamery is a business used as part of a ministry for people in recovery. This ministry has several businesses, all designed to give employment to people who need to learn a positive work ethic and gain an excellent reference for the future. A young man we know who grew up near this ministry says they are doing wonderful things for people who need help recovering from addictions.
So, now I feel even better about my change to returnable bottles! To really clinch the deal, they produce hormone-free products.
If you would like to see more about the other things this ministry does, you can go to Heartland Ministries. If you live in the Midwest, I would like to highly encourage you to look for Heartland products in your store. Returning the bottles has not been a hassle at all, and you could be helping some people who need a hand up.