Simplifying your life involves a coordinated effort on a number of fronts. Take, for example, the recycling. Consider what goes into the recycle bins. First, it’s waste. Second, it consists basically of aluminum, plastic, and paper.
Lots of aluminum, plastic, and paper! The best and easiest way to simplify the recycling is to reduce the amount of these materials — waste — used by the household.
Reducing Recycling Waste
So what would that look like? Well, simplifying other areas of your life automatically reduces the amount of this packaging that needs to be recycled.
Consider, for example, paper. Do you really read the newspaper every day? Or do you get your news primarily online and on the TV? Do you read all the magazines that find their way into the home? What about all the catalogs? If you aren’t reading them, cancel them.
Not only does that relieve you of yet another drain on your brain (most people are stressed simply by seeing the paper there when they don’t have time to read it), but it also reduces the waste that then needs to be attended to on recycling day.
Another big source of paper waste is packaging; cereals, for one, sport more cardboard than their contents warrant. But most cereals are highly processed, outrageously sweetened non-foods that it’s healthiest to avoid.
Instead reach for the steel-cut oatmeal. There’s much less packaging per serving, it tastes great, and it’s very good for you. In general, processed foods produce a lot of packaging waste and are simply not the ideal components of a healthy diet.
Aluminum and Plastic
Aluminum and plastic often come filled with liquids of various sorts — soft drinks, juices, water, perhaps the odd beer.
The odd beer is no problem, but soft drinks, juices, and bottled water have no place in the environmentally aware and health-conscious household. Regular soft drinks are basically liquid sugar; diet soft drinks are little chemical factories — and, by the way, are associated with weight gain.
Fruit juices contain the fructose of the fruit without the counterbalancing fiber; vegetable juices contain preservatives and extra sodium.
Bottled water is often just tap water. If water from your own faucet is suspect, a good filter should correct the problem. By drinking more water from your own tap and less of everything else, not only do you simplify the recycling, but you also simplify the shopping since there are no longer weighty bottles and cans to lug from store to vehicle and from vehicle to kitchen.
Oh, and did I mention that water is good for you?
A Step-by-Step Approach
Time is tight, I know. So take it one step at a time. I would begin by buying a water filter and start drinking tap water. Add lemon for an extra healthy and perky mix. Gradually increase the amount of water you drink each day; that will automatically begin to limit the amount of other fluids that you imbibe.
I would then move on to the waste paper that clutters the home and the mind. Try to cancel at least one unnecessary thing a week for a month and see how far you get. While you’re at it, why not declutter your email inbox at the same time? Just unsubscribe with wild abandon!
Now that you have some momentum behind your simplifying efforts, it’s time to address the processed food. This step is a bit more involved. Processed foods are generally convenience foods; reducing reliance on them necessarily means cooking more.
Cooking, however, need not be fancy or time-consuming. When you cook with fresh, whole foods, the ingredients speak for themselves and don’t need a lot of herbs and spices and certainly don’t need sauces or other special preparation.
Most vegetables can be steamed or lightly sautéed in almost no time; root vegetables can be oven-roasted — this cooking method takes a little time, but it’s time you can be doing something else.
Grains such as brown rice can be cooked in quantity and used throughout the week. There are also grains like quinoa — very healthful and nutritious — that cook up quickly.
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I hope this blog post has inspired you to simplify your life — and the recycling. Do you have any additional tips to offer? I’d love to hear from you! Post your comments below. I do read them all.