Anybody who has ever lived with me knows that I am a super recycler. I’m not the kind of gal to make stuff with toilet paper tubes, but I will not throw away any glass, cans, paper, or cardboard if I can avoid it. I wish that community compost was more accessible…because I would recycle our food scraps too if I could.
My love of recycling is rooted in wanting a sustainable world. Many people treat this planet like they have options – but I am not one of those people. I know that I am just one person and my personal impact is very small, but I can urge my husband to be mindful and I can teach our son that he can make a difference.
This post is a collection of my five favorite things that support a sustainable future. They’re not big things like solar panels and growing your own produce – instead, they are little things that we can all use & reuse. Let’s go!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links; I may earn a tiny commission from purchases.
In no particular order, Five Favorites for Sustainability are
- Yeti Tumblers
- Homemade Broth
- Buying Used / Thrifting
- Bagpodz Shopping Bags
- Rocketbooks & Frixion Pens
— YETI TUMBLERS
We’re not a Yeti-heavy house, but Mister Jupiter and I each have a tumbler that we really enjoy.
They keep our coffees hotter longer than any of our previous travel coffee containers and that’s amazing. If I want to drink coffee while running errands I seriously need to pour the coffee into my Yeti AN HOUR before I apply the lid and get going. It’s a blessing and a curse, but I’ve gotten used to it…mostly.
These are a sustainable favorite because I don’t need to buy another travel coffee mug ever. It’s well made, sturdy, and is an improvement on the technology. All of my other travel mugs are now obsolete and I am happy to donate them so they can brighten someone else’s life.
- My favorite Yeti tumbler on Amazon
- My previous favorite Contigo tumbler on Amazon (my college BFF!)
- Bottle cleaning tablets to keep those unreachable surfaces super clean
— HOMEMADE BROTH
I think that broth making is the perfect example of sustainable cooking.
If you look in my freezer at any time you’ll find the usual frozen meats and veggies, but you’ll also find bones. Lots of bones…just for broth. But do I just use bones and water? Nope! I receive a box of ugly veggies every other Wednesday, so when I have enough bones handy I make a broth with fresh vegetable scraps and use that fresh broth as my cooking water for the week, or until it runs out.
Let’s say that the broth starts with a bone-in pork shoulder. Mister Jupiter smokes the pork all day, then we eat the meat and freeze the smoked bone. When my veggies arrive I chop and prep as many as I can that day. Then anything that doesn’t have a place in the immediate menu goes in the broth. After the Kid goes to bed, I start the broth like I start making pho; with charred onion and ginger, then add my frozen bones, veggies, spices, water, time, and pressure.
Sometimes I strain the solids entirely to keep a regular liquid broth, and sometimes I remove the bones and large vegetables then blend the rest (voila! Blended broth) – it depends on what’s in there. Then I decant the broth into jars and keep them in the fridge. Making rice or risotto? Definitely use the broth. Making instant ramen? Use broth instead of water. Still a tiny bit hungry after a meal? Sip a mug of warm, salted broth.
Homemade broth is endlessly customizable and easy to make. I pressure cook mine, but that’s just personal preference because it doesn’t need my attention for hours. Overall, broth-making is fun because you can use different ingredients and taste what happens. Don’t forget to use a splash of vinegar when using bones, and use a high quality salt to season.
- Kitchen Ecosystem book on Amazon (great inspiration)
- My favorite pink salt for those tasty trace minerals
- My 6qt Instant Pot that easily makes plenty of broth
— BUYING USED / THRIFTING
Usually I aim for the kind of sustainability that reduces initial waste, but I am happy to go a step further down the path and buy things that someone else has let go.
Majority of my beloved jackets and shoes are all secondhand purchases. Many of my purses are used, and I love knowing that I’m keeping things out of landfills. I do most of my secondhand shopping online, mostly on ThredUP and a little on Poshmark because I can shop any time of day or night. No driving, no masks, no toddler-wrangling.
When it’s time for me to let go of things I sometimes sell to ThredUP or sell and ship from Poshmark, but often I am too impatient for that. So I keep a few boxes available to fill up and donate locally.
- High and medium quality women’s clothes go to the mission-run thrift store that supports a local women’s shelter
- Men’s clothes and home goods go to my nearest Goodwill out of convenience
- Bulky housewares simply go out to the end of the driveway (where I take a photo and share it on a local curb alert Facebook page – and someone picks it up)
I hear that Buy Nothing groups are perfect, but my neighborhood doesn’t have a chapter, and I don’t have the bandwidth to start one (especially since we’re nomads and won’t be here forever).
Regardless, buying used items and thrifting is fun and sustainable. Fun because you never know what you might find, and sustainable because you are keeping something out of a landfill. Besides, buying used often saves money – and that’s something that most people can get behind.
— BAGPODZ SHOPPING BAGS
I love these bags but super dislike the name.
These shopping bags are my favorite because they are
- A little larger than single-use grocery bags
- Same familiar shape as single-use grocery bags
- Made of rip-stop nylon; easy to clean, hard to damage
- Available in bright solid colors
- Come with a storage pod for convenient carrying
I have three sets (of five, so 15 total). It’s medium excessive, but they are very handy! Before COVID-19 quarantines and lockdowns these were my preferred grocery shopping bags. As you can guess, I used them as anybody would; I used these bags entirely and never took home those thin paper bags that easily tear. These are still my favorite in this post-COVID-19 world, however I can’t use them when I order curbside groceries, so I have been bringing home lot of single use bags (boo!).
Groceries aside, these are also ideal travel bags, because they are bright, sturdy, and easily compressible.
- On a road trip – small items like wallets, phones, and sweaters are easily corralled. They also are perfect trash bins for those cracker wrappers and napkins. They’re not waterproof, but they are easily washed and dried if they get dirty.
- When flying commercial – these are perfect to keep in your bag so that you can carry more things without prior planning. Both for holding your duty-free goods, or simply to guard your jacket from touching the airplane carpet.
- When flying space available – these are perfect for containing what you need and being able to easily clip your bags to any netting with carabiners. You’ll need to supply your own carabiners of course, but a few of these bags will contain all of your things so you never have to worry about your purse falling and sliding across the plane when your pilot decides to go for an assault landing.
I really do keep two or three of these bags in each of my purses, and I love how convenient it is to tell cashiers “no bag today, I brought my own!” One day I’ll see more being used in public, but until then I will proudly be one of the few shoppers in grocery stores who always brings their own bags.
— ROCKETBOOKS & FRIXION PENS
This favorite is for people like me who think best on paper, but want to save some trees too.
Rocketbook was on Shark Tank, but unlike my friend T.; they didn’t get a deal. So they moved to Kickstarter and launched from there. Their platform? Reusable paper.
I use the current generation of product that is a coated waterproof paper. Frixion pens are water-soluble, so when you write on waterproof paper with water-soluable inks – you can easily clean the page with plain water. This is ideal for me. I write to remember and work things out. Normally this was done on junk mail or other scraps, but now I can think with my pen then wipe it all clean later.
I have a few Rocketbooks that I use for different things, but my daily driver is the Matrix. It’s only available in letter-size (the largest available), and each page is a grid. I prefer to write with the spiral binding at the top edge, so the grid keeps my text neat.
I can easily write a million lists, and they all wipe clean when I use the intended pens. Rocketbook so recommends Pilot Frixion that each Rocketbook that I have purchased shipped with a pen also – I can’t tell if that’s a forever-deal, but it’s perfect for folks like me who have never really used erasable ink (so I wouldn’t have any pens on-hand).
A word to the wise – or just to a new Rocketbook user; don’t use the pen’s eraser on your Rocketbook, and take it easy on the hand lotion. Why not use the included eraser? Because it wears down the waterproof coating and eventually damages your wonderful journal. Stick to warm water to clean from day one and the book will easily last years. Why avoid hand lotion? Because the residue it leaves on your hands get transferred to the book and can create discolored areas or places on the pages that don’t accept ink (so you can’t write in that spot).
So besides avoiding the eraser and being mindful about my lotion habits – Rocketbook makes the perfect “forever paper” for my lifestyle and brain…and that’s only half of their ecosystem! Rocketbooks are also made to scan within the app, so you can have easy cloud access to your content. Once scanned you can easily blast your pages to your favorite services for easy recall. You determine what you scan, where it goes, and how you use it! I scan my calendar pages regularly to Google Drive, but that’s all. I primarily use Rocketbook products for their physical selves, versus their digital potential!
It’s funny how long a simple post can become. I sat down with the intent of telling my friends (you) about five little things, and here we are, three cups of coffee later. Long-form or not – I’m still happy to share sustainable favorites because I do care for this robust biosphere & death machine that we call Mother Earth.