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Ditch the disposables

If you’re new to my blog, Dear Reader, you might not know that I’m a little bit crunchy. 

In an effort to save money the planet, Joe and I have mostly made the switch from disposable products to (is there a word for non-disposables?) durable multi-use products. Here’s what’s working for us now –
  • We have all but eliminated paper and plastic grocery bags. We take green bags to the store with us. It’s become really easy, actually, because I have a large tote that I keep my bags in. That tote stays in the car all the time, so the bags are always ready when we’re at the store. My older sister gave me a really nice set of Go Again bags for my birthday, so I have insulated ones, roomy ones, and one with a divider for large bottles. I really love them.
  • Instead of using paper towels in our kitchen, we use cloth dish towels. It doesn’t work for all messes (cat pee!), and it does increase our water usage (more laundry), but we have largely cut out paper towels. We’ve also repurposed our burp cloths into dish cloths.
  • We have almost always used our regular kitchen plates and utensils instead of paper, plastic, or styrofoam. It’s nicer to eat from regular plates.
  • Stainless steel water bottles have replaced our bottled water habit. (By the way, did you know that you can freeze your bottle about 1/3 full and the water will melt and give you icy cold water for most of the day?)

One thing I’ve been thinking about, however, is my use of plastic utensils in my lunch at work. I always carry my lunch (to keep track of Weight Watchers points), but I never bring my own utensils.  
Initially, I was worried that I’d lose my good silverware. It would really bum me out to have only 7 forks, you know? My utensils were a gift from Aunt Helen at my bridal shower, so it’s not like I can get on a website and get a new fork. I don’t even know where they came from.
Suffice it to say that I was concerned about using plastic forks, but not overly motivated. 
I met AmyGeekGirl, aka CrunchyDomesticGoddess, on Twitter, and I saw that she was doing a two month long challenge to inspire readers to stop buying disposable products. 
It was just the motivation that I needed.
I dug around and found some of the cheapo utensils I had when I was in college, and I put a real fork and spoon in my lunch bag. I used them both days this week, and I intend to continue using them.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
See more tips at Works for Me Wednesday

© 2008 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

10 thoughts on “Ditch the disposables”

  1. Sounds like good things you’re doing. I hardly ever use a papertowel or paper products (mostly because I’m thrifty and hate to spend money on them). I also have bought some cloth diapers for our baby who is due in 3 weeks (also to save money). Thanks for sharing!
    You could probably also buy some cheap utensils at the dollar store that you wouldn’t mind losing.

  2. Sounds like good things you’re doing. I hardly ever use a papertowel or paper products (mostly because I’m thrifty and hate to spend money on them). I also have bought some cloth diapers for our baby who is due in 3 weeks (also to save money). Thanks for sharing! You could probably also buy some cheap utensils at the dollar store that you wouldn’t mind losing.

  3. I’ve been working at using less wasteful items as well, although I still am clinging to my ziplocs. I have tupperware and other containers I use most often, but when certain things hit the freezer, I love my ziplocks. I also love those green bags! We have a few and use them all the time. And as for plastic forks… when my mom would buy them, we would actually wash and reuse them quite often. But usually, we ended up taking regular forks/spoons etc to school in our lunches. I still find myself doing so anyway. I don’t think I have any plastic forks. Lots of napkins, styrofoam plates/cups though… although those will probably last me for the next 3-5 years… lol.
    Ooh… I’m still debating cloth diapers… as for paper towels, we go through 2 rolls in… 3-5 months?

  4. I’ve been working at using less wasteful items as well, although I still am clinging to my ziplocs. I have tupperware and other containers I use most often, but when certain things hit the freezer, I love my ziplocks. I also love those green bags! We have a few and use them all the time. And as for plastic forks… when my mom would buy them, we would actually wash and reuse them quite often. But usually, we ended up taking regular forks/spoons etc to school in our lunches. I still find myself doing so anyway. I don’t think I have any plastic forks. Lots of napkins, styrofoam plates/cups though… although those will probably last me for the next 3-5 years… lol.Ooh… I’m still debating cloth diapers… as for paper towels, we go through 2 rolls in… 3-5 months?

  5. Good list- we do most of them. I’ve found we do actually NEED some plastic grocery bags- we use them when cleaning out the cat’s litter box. We use green bags when we have enough bags to last a while.
    We’ve been using washcloths instead of paper towels for a while- for us it was $$. We would sometimes go through 1/2 a roll of paper towel in a day.
    If you don’t want to take your good silverware to work (I don’t blame you), hit up your local thrift store and pick some up cheap. Then run it through the dishwasher a few times.
    The stainless steel water bottles is one I just can’t get behind. My water bottle spends lots of time in my car, and I can just imagine picking it up and burning myself. I do use reuseable plastic bottles though (nalgene and such).

  6. Good list- we do most of them. I’ve found we do actually NEED some plastic grocery bags- we use them when cleaning out the cat’s litter box. We use green bags when we have enough bags to last a while.We’ve been using washcloths instead of paper towels for a while- for us it was $$. We would sometimes go through 1/2 a roll of paper towel in a day.If you don’t want to take your good silverware to work (I don’t blame you), hit up your local thrift store and pick some up cheap. Then run it through the dishwasher a few times.The stainless steel water bottles is one I just can’t get behind. My water bottle spends lots of time in my car, and I can just imagine picking it up and burning myself. I do use reuseable plastic bottles though (nalgene and such).

  7. I too worried about the loss of silverware when I started sending lunch to work with dh. I happened to have a box of plastic forks in the junk drawer from a party I had thrown for a friend, though, and I discovered that the disposables are dishwasher safe–which in my book makes them non-disposable. So I sent him with a plastic fork that went in the washer when he got home. If he forgot it or a tine broke off, I didn’t really care.

    Also, with bags, I’ve started keeping a stash of used produce bags with my tote bags that I use for groceries. I reuse them until something goes bad in them or they tear, then I recycle them (I rinse the yucky ones first). With ziplocs, I wash and reuse until they contain something yucky.

  8. I too worried about the loss of silverware when I started sending lunch to work with dh. I happened to have a box of plastic forks in the junk drawer from a party I had thrown for a friend, though, and I discovered that the disposables are dishwasher safe–which in my book makes them non-disposable. So I sent him with a plastic fork that went in the washer when he got home. If he forgot it or a tine broke off, I didn’t really care.Also, with bags, I’ve started keeping a stash of used produce bags with my tote bags that I use for groceries. I reuse them until something goes bad in them or they tear, then I recycle them (I rinse the yucky ones first). With ziplocs, I wash and reuse until they contain something yucky.

  9. @stacy – That’s a great point about the plastic bags. We need them, too, because our diaper pail takes them and we also have cat litter boxes. We got a neat little box to store them in, and it’s currently overflowing. I hadn’t even thought of that. At some point, we’ll be needing to replenish our supply, though not for a good long while.

    @Harper – Reusing is the way to go! Good for you! I saw over the summer that EcoBags has come out non-plastic produce bags. I’m curious about them, but haven’t placed an order to find out. It’s on my To Do list.

  10. @stacy – That’s a great point about the plastic bags. We need them, too, because our diaper pail takes them and we also have cat litter boxes. We got a neat little box to store them in, and it’s currently overflowing. I hadn’t even thought of that. At some point, we’ll be needing to replenish our supply, though not for a good long [email protected] – Reusing is the way to go! Good for you! I saw over the summer that EcoBags has come out non-plastic produce bags. I’m curious about them, but haven’t placed an order to find out. It’s on my To Do list.

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