Breaking Old Habits

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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.

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