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Breaking Old Habits

2010 August 17
image of author sitting on a rock

By Amanda Sweda

During the past few years I’ve had some major life events to plan and save money for….first a wedding, then a year later we had a baby….So I try to pinch pennies here and there because it really does add up. Lately I am trying to be better about not only saving money but also reducing the amount of waste I use.

For example, my family makes coffee at home instead of buying it at a coffee shop. This saves us a lot of money. And it cuts down on waste because we reuse our coffee mugs. Making this change was easy. Now, water bottles are another story. At home we drink water from the tap, but we also buy bottled water to use for work and when we are running errands. The water is cold, clean, and ready to go and easy to use. We do recycle the plastic bottle so we are making that effort…but I know I can do more than just recycle…

My inspiration for change…. A kid I heard about but have never met….Ethan Buckelew. Ethan organized his Boy Scout troop and Cub Scout pack to do litter clean-ups in their area. Ethan was inspired after seeing all of the water bottles they collected during the cleanups to do even more to reduce the number of wasted bottles. He asked the troops and pack to help collect water bottles at home and school for recycling (they donate to a charity organization that recycles the bottles and uses the money for projects) but that wasn’t enough for Ethan! He got the troop and pack to start using refillable water bottles on their trips. Ethan even asked his family to make some changes at home. Ethan calculates they were using at least 80 – 100 bottles of water a week so his family switched to using filtered tap water. He calculates that the change alone saves them about $768 a year!

My husband and I don’t use that many bottles but we probably spend anywhere from $100 to $150 a year on water bottles that we don’t really need – and that is not counting the water bottles we buy at a store when we forget to bring our own.….but is it really that hard for me to fill up a reusable water bottle every night and stick it in the fridge so it will be cold in the morning? It can’t be harder then making a trip to the store to buy a case of water that I have to lug up the stairs! So I am challenging my family to use Ethan as a role model and make the same changes. I’ll let you know how we do!

About the author: Amanda Sweda works in EPA’s Office of Environmental Information on web related policies and serves on the Environmental Education Web Workgroup. Amanda is a former Social Studies and Deaf Education teacher and her husband is a 3rd grade teacher so education is an important topic in their home.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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13 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    August 17, 2010

    Your Habits are inspiring our “Great Grand Children” if They’ll journey out from The Earth to the other Planets, in the future. Give me five for Ethan…. and to you also your husband.

  2. Amanda Sweda permalink
    August 17, 2010

    Just so everyone knows….in case some of my colleagues here at work see me with a regular water bottle (I plan to use a sturdier bottle over and over)….we still have some regular water bottles and want to finish those up before we start refilling them!

    Also I heard that Ethan is becoming an Eagle Scout so congratulations to him!

  3. serenety permalink
    August 17, 2010

    Wow – I never realized how much money was wasted on water bottles. Thanks!

  4. armansyahardanis permalink
    August 17, 2010

    Congratulations Ethan…..!!!!

    I’m Proud. Very-very Proud….!!!!!

  5. Terry permalink
    August 18, 2010

    Glad to see you are working on reducing your waste. Hopefully as more of us become enlightened, a change will snowball. Grow your own gardens using a greenhouse, ride a bike when driving is not required,compost, etc…
    We can each make a difference if we simply try. You inspire others by your actions.Thank you.

  6. Jani permalink
    August 18, 2010

    I like your challenge Amanda! My family has been transitioning out of those water bottles for about a year now, and I feel really good about our progress. And now thanks to your blog I know about how much we are saving money and the environment. We use the metal refillables, and those keep the water cold for a long time!

  7. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    August 22, 2010

    Plastic water bottles are a major cause of litter to creeks, rivers, lakes, and coasts. Some get in through the storm drain system, but alot comes by people being careless and tossing their water bottles in or along the creek or river whenever they happen to empty it. People First Orange County has a community inclusion project on the Oso Creek Trail and plastic water bottles is high on the list of trash but is coming down lately. So that is some good news. But it would be better if people used re-usable water containers when they went outside and also used more filtered tap water at home–filtered tap water is as healthy as bottled water and costs alot less. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  8. manjit permalink
    September 15, 2010

    Only want to say your site is as Great. The clearness in your post is simply spectacular and i can see the love in this field. Well with your permission allow me to keep up to date with succeeding post. Thanks a million and please keep up the accomplished work.

  9. MoneySponge permalink
    September 16, 2010

    I am very pleased to hear what a great job you are doing Amanda. I know its hard to alter our day to day habits and more small changes, nonetheless its doable.

    Lately, I have been residing in Europe for my studies and I have notice an increase of individuals being mindful of discarding their trash along with recycling bottles. I personally am from California and have been a practicing environmentalist for some time now and it has made me feel more respectful of our planet. Not to mention being aware of the high amount of chemicals which are contained in each product and decreasing my intake of unnecessary chemicals and opting to use natural fruits, herbs and vegetable instead of products which are overloads with harmful substances.

    Thank you for sharing an enlightening article with us and I wish you and your family much success with all your endeavors.

  10. Knight permalink
    September 21, 2010

    This is definitely a very good story which make a person think twice before acting the old habits!
    Thank you so much Amanda for this great post.

  11. bagha permalink
    October 2, 2010

    Great post. Sometimes knowing that you did it yourself is that little bit more delicious.

  12. making money review permalink
    October 16, 2010

    Great post. Although I must say we have a water filter installed at home and are big fans of re-usable bottles. You guys are doing a great job keep it up. Its absolutely fantastic for our beautiful planet

  13. Scott Fraser permalink
    January 1, 2011

    I like the point you make about it being easier to fill the water bottle and put it in the fridge than to go to the store and buy more plastic bottles. (We just need to develop the habit) Has some info about developing habits. Conservation is great but the easier – the better.

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