Waste Reduction: Area residents try different ways to help 'slash the trash'

By Mandy Mahan

Many people and companies alike have been taking steps to be eco-friendly, which means “not harmful to the environment,” as well as implementing more natural ingredients and materials into homes and products.

Visible climate change and more accessible research that shows the harmful effects of many toxins and materials used in everyday life has caused the surge of efforts to “go green.”

In Wabash county, this can be seen in restaurants such as Modoc’s café serving their drinks in reusable cups, and providing paper straws instead of plastic ones, which are attributed to polluting our oceans and waterways and harming wildlife.

Environmentalists are being started out young here in Wabash as well as seen last year when a group of students at O.J. Neighbours Elementary School began collecting plastic caps in order to recycle them into a bench to be placed in front of the school. These students were passionate about preserving the earth and were already thinking of other ways to make changes in our community such as campaigning for more eco-friendly practices in schools and businesses throughout Wabash.

The Paper of Wabash County reached out to Anne Eddingfield, the teacher from O.J. Neighbours who led the group of kids making the above efforts. She told The Paper that many efforts that they planned on continuing have been halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have noticed a huge increase in the amount of plastic being used now that all foods must be pre-packaged in plastic at school,” she said. “Needless to say, our efforts are on hold. If life returns to normal, we will jump back into the fight against plastic.”

Another way that many people in the community, specifically mothers, are maming an effort to reduce waste is by opting to use cloth diapers instead of disposable ones.

Katie Leming, mother of two boys, Charlie and Crew, began using cloth diapers with her first son when she realized the cost and the hard to decompose nature of disposable diapers.

“When my first son was a baby, we were on a very tight budget so that I could stay home with him rather than return to work,” she said.

“I had no idea how many diapers babies went through, but we blew through a $30 box of diapers in less than a week. At one point I read an article that said diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose. To put that in perspective, we went through around 50 diapers in a week. The average child wears diapers for 2+ years. A quick google search showed a child goes through 7,000 diapers in that time. 7,000 diapers, multiplied by the number of children in disposable diapers in the world... that is a heck of a lot of diapers sitting in landfills for the next 500+ years.”

Leming told The Paper that challenges did come with choosing cloth diapers, such as the judgement deemed from others.

“I think the biggest challenge was people’s judgments about it, however it’s because so many people are so uninformed on modern cloth diapering,” she said. “It’s not sacks and clothespins anymore! There are thousands of different products out there for cloth diapering, there’s absolutely something that would work for anyone’s lifestyle.”

Leming started out with some covers and prefolds from Facebook Marketplace for a good deal for her first son, due to trying to stay on a budget. With her newborn, Crew, the budget is a little more lenient, so she has decided to branch out and try some new products.

For new parents wanting to start reducing their waste and saving money by switching to cloth diapers, Leming suggests joining a Facebook group dedicated to cloth diapering and also reading through the website

Others in the community are making moves to incorporate more natural and safe products into their routines and households.

Erika White, a local accountant has ventured into the world of natural makeup as a side job, through Beautycounter.

White has always been interested in beauty and skincare products and would spend a lot of time in popular beauty stores such as Ulta, looking for and purchasing products without caring about the ingredients used in said products.

“I never really knew or cared for that matter, what was in my products until I heard of a brand called Beautycounte,” she said.

According to White, Beautycounter claims to have high performing makeup and skincare that only uses ingredients safe for human skin.

From that point on, White began research to find out about harmful versus safe products.

“I read countless articles and books on harmful ingredients that are in a lot of our makeup and skincare products,” she told The Paper.

“I learned that in the United States we have very little regulation in the beauty product industry and companies can put almost anything in their products and get away with it. Quite frankly this scared me because for years I had no idea what harmful ingredients I may have slathered all over my face which is by the way one of the most absorbent areas on the entire human body.”

After deciding to give some Beatycounter products a try, she was “hooked” and became a Beautycounter consultant “mainly for the discount,” according to her, but as time went on, she wanted to be able to share the benefits of Beautycounter with others, so she began selling the products.

White also shared that Beautycounter has a feature called a “NeverList” which is a list comprised of 1,800 ingredients that the company has researched and tested and has decided never to include in any of their products.

“A lot of these ingredients are banned in other countries because of their harmful short and long-term effects on the human body including skin irritations, hormone disruption, and even cancer,” she explained.

“Beautycounter has done the research for us so we don’t all have to have a chemical engineering degree to decipher what is good and bad in our products.”

Beautycounter is not only making waves in the natural and safe ingredients area, but also doing what they can to reduce waste.

“Beautycounter takes a lot of pride in its sustainable packaging. We have switched a lot of our packaging to 100% recyclable glass containers. Most other companies use plastic that cannot be repurposed or recycled.”

White says that she is all for eliminating toxins in her life, but that she also realizes that there are some that she cannot avoid. She says that although she knows she can’t completely cut out all toxins, she will do what she can to avoid them.

White encourages others wanting to implement natural and clean products into their lives to do their research.

“There is a lot of new scientific research out there that has not been available to us before,” she said.

She also encourages the use of a smart phone application that allows users to scan the bar code on products to find out its safety rating. On this app, the lower the rating of a product is, the better it is for you. The app can be found by searching

“EWG’s Healthy Living” in your smart phone’s application store.

The Paper also reached out to the community on Facebook to find out how other’s are reducing waste or implementing a more natural lifestyle. The results were:

“We try to unplug everything when we’re not using it, we turn off lights and opt for natural light whenever we can. Thrifting is a huge easy one. Using one sink full of water to wash your dishes instead of leaving the water running the whole time you wash each dish. I use coconut oil as my moisturizer  and it can be used for taking off your makeup, cooking, and many other things. Using beeswax wraps or aluminum foil (that you recycle afterwards) instead of cling wrap. We recycle everything and washing out the debris beforehand. Using natural/homemade cleaning products instead of toxic stuff. I know essential oils are good for this and apple cider vinegar is incredible for everything too.” - Danielle Clark

“They have laundry sheets that replace plastic bottles of soap! It looks like a dryer sheet but it’s like a sheet of soap!” - Amanda Miller

“We compost, recycle and use reusable bags. The paper and plastic bags we do have, we reuse. Try our best to use reusable storage containers (preferably glass) for food instead of Ziplock baggies. If we buy plastic water bottles we refill them a few times before recycling them but try to use reusable ones when we can. Reuse tissue paper and gift bags. We buy a majority of our cleaning and laundry products from Grove. I use the Think Dirty app and the Healthy Living app to scan barcodes or look up items when buying beauty and self care products.” - Katie Snover

Posted on 2020 Sep 15