The journey to reducing my carbon footprint through reducing, recycling, reusing, and repurposing has evolved over several years.

It all began by reducing the amount of rubbish that went into our trash cans. I began shopping more mindfully, looking for products with less packaging and thinking about what happened to my family’s trash after it was “thrown away” and how long it would take to biodegrade fully. This led me to compost, which takes natural, easily biodegradable materials out of trash bags, allowing them to break down entirely and then reunite them with the earth as a natural nutrient-rich fertilizer.

Composting has become a way of life for my family.

We add everything possible that can break down – such as grass clippings, leaves, food waste, unsoiled pieces of pizza cardboard boxes, and shredded paper bags – and with time, our efforts are rewarded with rich brown dirt full of terrific nutrients.  This dirt is then placed in our flower, vegetable, and herb garden beds, nourishing the plants, so they bear fruit that is far more delicious than its grocery store cousins. Thanks to composting, we have successfully diverted valuable waste from landfills, super-charged our gardens, enjoyed the mental and physical health benefits of gardening, and produced beautiful fruits and veggies for our nourishment – all for free!

Yvonne Dwyer Composting

Success with composting led me progressively to other areas where I could eliminate unnecessary waste, such as reusing containers and reducing single-use plastics where I could.

I tried to reduce, reuse, or recycle plastic containers in unique ways, like sending DIY college care packages to our sons in reusable containers, which we would later collect and refill for future care packages. I began using reusable shopping bags after learning how plastic bags have contributed to the widespread appearance of plastic microparticles across our planet’s waterways, aquatic animals’ bodies, and even our own bodies. I applaud states like New York, which have eliminated plastic bags in grocery stores. Shoppers are encouraged to use their reusable tote bags, purchase reusable totes for $1.99, or are charged five cents per paper bag they require. I hope other states adopt this practice to encourage mindfulness and eliminate unnecessary plastic!

I’ve also focused on eliminating plastic packaging in the pantry staples I buy.

I was discouraged that most large grocery store chains generally only offer pantry staples in plastic packaging. I began frequenting stores and co-ops where I could bring my own containers to purchase pantry staples and other personal items, freeing us further from single-use plastics. I’ve also used online shopping to buy the things I use in biodegradable packaging. I have found that many of my online packages are shipped in packaging that easily breaks down and can be composted.

My gloriously crooked sustainability journey is far from over, but I’ve been astounded at how my little changes have added up to a sustainable lifestyle. Share the joyful changes you have made to reduce your carbon footprint. We would love to hear your ideas! Check out the learning and marketing section of our One Planet Life app for more information to support your journey.

OPL Naturalist Yvonne Dwyer

This experience was shared by OPL Naturalist Yvonne Dwyer.

Learn more about Yvonne.