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In which I am ditching the disposables


There is a challenge going on in the blogosphere right now about Ditching our Disposables. I’m in!

We’ve been on a years-long journey about our economic and environmental impact. We’ve slowly weaned ourselves away from certain behaviours, occasionally flirted with others and reckoned that sometimes, you just need a paper towels so would someone please get off my back about it.
Anyway, I’m in….I think.

You can make the switch from:

  • Paper napkins to cloth napkins
  • Paper towels to cloth towels or something like Skoy cloths
  • Tissues to handkerchiefs
  • Paper, plastic or Styrofoam plates to your kitchen plates
  • Disposable utensils to regular silverware
  • If you order food “to go” or have food to take home from a restaurant, bring your own container rather than accepting Styrofoam or plastic
  • Inexpensive plastic “Take & Toss” sippy cups to Thermos or Camelbakbottles or the Klean Kanteen
  • Disposable water bottles to (again) reusable bottles like Thermos,Klean Kanteen or Camelbak
  • Plastic sandwich bags or paper lunch bags to reusable containers/bags
  • Plastic straws to glass or stainless steel straws
  • Swiffers (or similar products) to a broom and dustpan or mop (or use reusable cloths like cloth diapers/terry inserts in your Swiffer)
  • Disposable dust rags to cloth rags
  • Disposable diapers to cloth diapers
  • Disposable wipes to cloth wipes (inexpensive plain washcloths work really well)
  • Disposable feminine products (tampons, pads) to reusables likeDivaCup, MoonCup, Glad Rags, Luna Pads, Pretty Pads, or New Moon Pads, among others. You can even make your own pads.
  • Grocery store bags to reusable bags
  • Disposable wrapping paper or gift bags to reusable cloth gift bags
  • Single-use batteries to rechargeable batteries

Or, for the really crazy dedicated:

  • Toilet paper to cloth wipes/washcloths (for #1 or #2 too if you are really, really adventurous)

Suffice to say, I’m not the crazy-dedicated.

I’ve made a few of the switches above like grocery store bags to reusable bags. But I”m going to tackle my paper towel consumption. I have tried to avoid them but since our house went up for sale, my consumption has gone through the roof.

I also love the ideas about gifts – moving from paper to reusable cloth bags or wrappings. Lovely, right?

If you’d like to join in, visit Crunchy Domestic Goddess.

I might have to visit the Salvation Army tomorrow to find some hankies to launder.

post signature

consumerism, environmentalism
  • Elizabeth

    Here are my thoughts on this subject.

    * Paper napkins to cloth napkins
    (We don’t really use serviettes! We wash our hands straight after dinner. But we could use our cloth ones.)
    * Paper towels to cloth towels or something like Skoy cloths
    (I use clothes to wipe the kitchen area down already.)
    * Tissues to handkerchiefs
    (Still use tissues)
    * Paper, plastic or Styrofoam plates to your kitchen plates
    (Always use our crockery and then wash-up)
    * Disposable utensils to regular silverware
    (Always use our cutlery and then wash-up)
    * If you order food “to go” or have food to take home from a restaurant, bring your own container rather than accepting Styrofoam or plastic
    (Never thought of doing this)
    * Inexpensive plastic “Take & Toss” sippy cups to Thermos or Camelbakbottles or the Klean Kanteen
    (Use flasks on picnics already)
    * Disposable water bottles to (again) reusable bottles like Thermos,Klean Kanteen or Camelbak
    (Use flasks or bottles we wash-up)
    * Plastic sandwich bags or paper lunch bags to reusable containers/bags
    (Use sandwich boxes but wrap the food in cling-film to stop it getting all squashed up. Could easily try small boxes)
    * Plastic straws to glass or stainless steel straws
    (Don’t really use straws)
    * Swiffers (or similar products) to a broom and dustpan or mop (or use reusable cloths like cloth diapers/terry inserts in your Swiffer)
    (I have no idea what a swiffer is; broom girl here!)
    * Disposable dust rags to cloth rags
    (I use a dusting cloth)
    * Disposable diapers to cloth diapers
    (I have no children in nappies)
    * Disposable wipes to cloth wipes (inexpensive plain washcloths work really well)
    (Don’t really use wipes anymore)
    * Disposable feminine products (tampons, pads) to reusables likeDivaCup, MoonCup, Glad Rags, Luna Pads, Pretty Pads, or New Moon Pads, among others. You can even make your own pads.
    (I would like to use but just can’t get myself to do it somehow!)
    * Grocery store bags to reusable bags
    (Reusable here but if the shopping is delivered we get the bags but use them for allsorts of things)
    * Disposable wrapping paper or gift bags to reusable cloth gift bags (Still use wrapping paper. A friend of mine used a page from an old Atlas to wrap a present she gave us.)
    * Single-use batteries to rechargeable batteries
    (Single-use here.)

    I have been doing most of the things on the list all my married life and wouldn’t think of using some of the disposable products listed here. Just use them and chuck them in the washing machine. I used to use all recycled paper products and Ecological friendly washing and cleaning products but the cost has gone up so much here that I have to go for the bargins.

    Elizabeth

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I know, right? A lot of those seem common sense to me. I mean, who uses paper plates much anyway?

    • Karen

      I would avoid glass straws, that just sounds dangerous (could break in your drink and you might not know/drink glass). I would say just not use them. For kids, there are reusable cups with permanent straws, but they are usually still plastic.

      Also, you might have issues with bringing reusable containers for take out. Depending on health codes of where you live, they might not accept the containers. I’d say at least call ahead and ask if they will to be sure. The reason it might be a problem is they have no way of knowing how well you (or anyone else) cleaned your containers–so in their minds, they might be bringing a contaminated container to their kitchen (For example, they have no way of knowing you didn’t store raw chicken in it the night before and only rinsed it out with cold water).

      As for all the washing you’ll soon be doing… if you don’t have one, look into a high efficiency washer and dryer. All the washing and drying will use up a lot of electricity, water, and detergents… you can lessen the environmental impact and burn less fossil fuels with HE. If you can line dry stuff, that’s even better. You might also want to look into environmentally friendlier detergents. The waste water from washing ends up in the oceans, rivers, lakes, and drinking water etc in many cases. People tend to forget the environmental impact of washing many times when selecting washers, detergents, etc.

      Oh, and for the TP… there are a few brands made of recycled paper–so even if you aren’t (as you say) “crazy-dedicated” at least you are using recycled.

      Hope I didn’t come across as preachy. I just wanted to give you some additional tips to use if you chose to. Good luck! Sounds like you are off to a great start.

      • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

        Thanks, Karen. I agree on the straws for sure – I hadn’t heard of those before either. (I got that list from Crunchy Domestic Goddess who is running the challenge.) With my kids, I wouldn’t try it either.

  • Annie

    Cloth diapers aren’t nearly as scary as they seem. C’mon Sarah! You can do it!

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      If – IF – we have a third, I will. My sister cloth diapers and, since she bought them, I’ll use them. ;-)

  • Lalania

    I don’t know about changing to cloth hankies – in this day and age of these antibiotic resistant flues, etc – carrying around a germ-laden piece of material in my pocket just seems gross and wrong. I do my best in others, though.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I agree. That one seems a bit grosser. Maybe if they were one-time use hankies?

  • Mary Hamric

    Maybe you know…help me understand this. Why are the reusable grocery bags better than paper ones? The reusables are plastic..which in most cases does not biodegrade..EVER. Paper bags are a renewable resource, biodegradeable, etc. Are the reusable bags biodegradeable and I don’t know it? Or would straight canvas be the way to go.

    I am not a huge environmentalist but this question has puzzled me.

    I am all for switching from plastic baggies, cups, etc and going to silverware and glasses and aluminum..mainly for health reasons. These plastic containers scare me to death with the chemicals that leach out of them when they are warm.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      Usually the plastic reuseable bags are actually made out of the plastic grocery bags so its a way of getting more use out of them or making them useful instead of just in a landfill.

      But I do use mainly canvas ones or biodegradable ones.

      Either way, it’s cutting down on trash and waste.

      And you are so right about the health reasons. I don’t think anyone has talked about that connection yet. It’s more than environmentalism; it’s also health. The chemicals that leech into our food….yuck.

  • Mary Hamric

    There are paper straws out there. Ted’s Montana Grill introduced me to them. They work great. Probably hard to find though.

    • http://www.sarahbessey.com/ Sarah Bessey

      I’d never heard of that before. Thanks!