Looking around my house and seeing all of the conveniences that have accumulated over the years, I can see why we are known as the throwaway society. On any given day, items used around the home for cleaning, cooking, or lounging around end up in the trash and hauled away to a landfill already overflowing with waste. Unfortunately, millions of people are indulging in the luxury of convenience items such as disposable water bottles and diapers, contributing to landfill and pollution problems.
Do your part for the planet and ditch these disposable items for good!
1. Water Bottles
This one is really a no-brainer. The disposable container certainly is useful, but it is completely unnecessary. It only takes a minute to fill a reusable container with water. Plus, you don't have to worry about quality, as there are numerous water purification methods out there that you can easily do in your own home.
Did you know that, depending on your region, bottled water can cost 300-2,000 times as much as tap water? Simply vowing to recycle these bottles just isn't enough. Switching to reusable water bottles is the only surefire way to save money and reduce your waste contribution.
2. Disinfectant Wipes
Let's be honest here, a wash cloth with a little soapy water on it will be just as effective at cleaning your surfaces as these store-bought wipes.
If you’re looking to do some heavy duty cleaning, use a homemade cleaner, a little bleach, or a commercial cleaner on the area. Then wipe it down with a moist wash cloth. This will more thoroughly disinfect your surface just as a disposable wipe would do.
Plus, an old rag and water is a lot cheaper than constantly throwing away expensive cleaning wipes.
3. Paper Towels/Napkins
Paper towels are great for convenience. They are cheaper than disinfectant wipes, so you can spray a cleaner and use them to clean up surfaces and dispose of them after. Or you can use them as a napkin or hand towel. However, there are so many alternatives that won't help paper waste accumulate.
The tried-and-true dish towel will accomplish all that the paper towel can do but can be washed and reused again and again. The same goes for cloth napkins; they can be washed and reused repeatedly. (Plus, they add a little class to your dining area).
Disposable diapers are used by parents and guardians in households around the world. I can speak first hand on this because I have my own little one doing her share to overload the local landfill.
Cutting down on the number of diapers used in a day isn't really possible, unless you want your child to be wet, to develop or rash, and to be uncomfortable. Personally, I like my kid to be dry, fresh, and happy.
Instead, try a solution that worked for my mother and many others out there: use cloth diapers. I will be the first to admit this is not an easy switch to make. However, if you want to do your part to decrease the amount of diapers making their way to landfills, this is the way to do it.
Once your baby is grown and no longer needs the cloth diapers, you can donate them or you can use them as cleaning rags.
5. Plastic Grocery Bags
Most of us have good intentions for saving and reusing these bags, but often they just accumulate in a cupboard somewhere only to take up valuable storage space and be thrown away eventually. There are a few solutions here.
You could opt for paper bags whenever you go to the grocery store, of course recycling these when you're done with them. Though, this doesn't completely eliminate the problem that comes with disposable items, especially when you live in an area where grocery stores charge for bags, even the paper ones.
The best, most cost-effective solution is to buy several good-sized, stylish, tote bags that can be reused time and time again. In fact, many grocery or department stores sell these for cheap as an incentive for customers to stop using throw-away bags.
These reusable bags are more durable than the disposable bags provided in stores, so you're less likely to end up with a broken jar of marinara sauce all over your floor because you were carrying an overfilled bag. Plus, you can buy bags with built-in insulation, so you don't have to rush home with cold items if you have another errand or two to run.
6. Paper Plates/Plastic Utensils
While many praise throw-away dishes and utensils for their convenience during picnics at the park or large get-togethers, they are almost never disposed of properly and contribute hugely to overflowing landfills. Most homes today have a dishwasher, and if not, they all should have a usable kitchen sink. The only real excuse people have for using disposable items is laziness, and that really isn't a good enough excuse.
Do the responsible thing: suck it up and wash your dishes instead of taking the easy way out with disposable ones.
Look Around Your Home
These are just a few of the disposable items I saw around my house. Take a close look around your own home and see what you can find. You can replace dryer sheets with reusable wool dryer balls or upcycle old wine bottles and corks.
If we all vowed to use fewer disposable items, it would greatly impact the amount of trash sent to the landfills every day.