Here are some small changes we made in our household that are making a big difference in the amount of garbage we don't produce every week. The key to making these changes has been in forming more sustainable habits. I had to have daily (even hourly) reminders about how to change my behavior. So far, it seems to be working! This is the small trash can I keep in my kitchen for stowing compostable kitchen scraps. At the end of each day, I have my girls dump the contents in the compost pile.
These are the cloth napkins that I keep handy for each meal. It's still taking time for everyone to get used to not having the paper towels within reach (I've hid them under the sink), but as soon as we stopped using so many paper towels and napkins, my trash stayed empty for longer. As for laundry, it doesn't seem to be creating any more washing than usual since the napkins are fairly small. Kitchen spills are wiped up with an old rag.
These are my car keys, with a reusable grocery bag attached. It is a little cumbersome, but it did the trick. Now it's habit to bring the reusable bags into the store. And if I forget, at least I have this one on my keychain for small store runs. I purchased this clip-on bag at Whole Foods.
These are our reusable water bottles. I fished them out from the Tupperware cupboard, and didn't have to buy new ones. At first I was filling them with Britta water, but now I just go straight to the tap and put them in the fridge to chill. When I hop in the car, I grab one of these, and I'm on my way.
My statement here isn't about saving the earth with cloth napkins. Rather, it is about not being lazy. For some reason, a convenience-based, disposable society sprouted up in the last several decades. For example, if I'm running the dishwasher anyway, then why am I using paper plates? I think the disposable industry made things so convenient that many of us got hooked. It was due time for me to unhook, rethink, and learn new, less wasteful daily habits.