Chances are, you've used something disposable within the past 24 hours. It might have been yesterday when you broke out the paper plates for a quick lunch, this morning when you shaved, or even an hour ago when you changed your baby's diaper. The fact is, disposable items have become a way of life in America; from foam coffee cups and paper lunch bags to disposable contact lenses and paper towels, Americans create an amazing amount of garbage. One way to do your part in conserving resources is to switch from disposable to reusable products.
Reduce Disposable Plastic Consumption
Many items that you throw away are made from plastic. You might think you're being eco-conscious by purchasing items touted as "biodegradable" plastic, but according to Mother Nature Network, these claims can be misleading. Instead of spending more on products that might or might not be environmentally friendly, try reducing your dependency on throwaway plastic items.
If you bring your lunch to work or school, switch to reusable containers instead of the type that you throw away after a few uses. Use stainless steel flatware instead of plastic forks and knives, and fill a reusable water bottle instead of buying a case of disposables. You can even buy cloth snack bags for foods like potato chips and sandwiches, eliminating the use of ziplock bags.
Invest in a few refillable pens instead of buying the cheap throwaways, and don't forget to bring your own bags to the grocery store in order to avoid using the thin plastic bags that the stores provide.
Choose Non-Disposable Personal Care Items
So many of the items that you may use as you go about your daily routine may be disposable. If you currently use medicated pads to clean your face, consider switching to using a medicated lotion on a washcloth, instead. Use a straight razor shaving kit instead of cheap disposable razors; they will cost more up front, but you'll see the savings add up as you cross disposable razors off of your shopping list! (Learn more about straight razor kits here)
If you have a baby or toddler, consider using cloth diapers. Even if you only use them during the day when you are home and continue using disposable diapers for daycare, traveling and overnight, you can save a lot of money, as well as a lot of landfill space. Women might even consider using cloth menstrual pads or one of the menstrual cups instead of buying disposable sanitary pads and tampons each month.
Green Up Your Cleaning Routine
You may already use green cleaning solutions, which is a great start, but if you're squirting them on disposable paper towels and using throwaway wipes, then you can still make your cleaning routine more green. Consider buying a package of cloth towels to use in place of the paper kind. You don't have to spend a lot of money; simply purchase a package of cheap washcloths to use for wiping the counters and spot-cleaning the floors. Choose a color other than the ones you use for your shower so you don't mix them up.
If you are currently using a mop with a disposable head, you could switch to a Cuban mop. This looks like an inverted letter "T" and is made out of wood. The cloths that go with this type of mop can be reused many, many times. You can find a good tutorial on how to use this type of floor-cleaning system on this blog. When you're done mopping, just toss the cloth in the washing machine.
There are many ways that you can reduce your dependency on disposable products in your home. Choose one or two, then slowly implement more changes as time goes on. By this time next year, you could be making a big difference in the amount of garbage your household produces.