Environmentally Friendly Alternatives to Disposables

October 15, 2007

Today is Blog Action Day! This post is specifically geared to highlight the environmentally friendly alternatives to disposable items that I have easily incorporated into my own day-to-day life.

In addition to decluttering in general, I am taking inventory of every disposable item that we use in our household and, one by one, replacing it with an environmentally sustainable, reusable alternative, where available.

Here are three items in my life that I was using as a wasteful disposable, but have now found (and use) a reusable alternative to:

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Organic Cotton Handkerchiefs Old: tissues, New: handkerchiefs – I have a confession to make: I use a lot of tissues. No, really.. I have allergies to cats and I live with three of them. Since there is no chance in hell that I’m going to get rid of my cats, it means I will continue to have to blow my stuffy nose often. After going through about a box a week (I wasn’t joking), I knew I needed to find an alternative to paper tissues.

My solution: cuddly-soft, organic cotton flannel handkerchiefs (small $2.99/handkerchief; large $3.99/handkerchief). I purchased 10 of them to start me off and, so far, I probably won’t need more than that for a week. My theory on why I use less hankies than I did paper tissues is that the small dusty fibers in paper tissues would irritate my nose even further and cause me to need more and more. The flannel fabric hankies don’t leave those fibers floating everywhere, which doesn’t irritate my nose. In addition, it’s a lot less waste ending up in the landfills. Really, a win/win situation.

Where I purchased from: Lunapads.com. If you are skittish of purchasing from that particular site (though, really, there’s nothing to be afraid of… honest), here are two alternative websites: Rawganique.com and Hankettes.com (watch out, though, the shipping prices to the US from that last site are extremely high)

Kleen Kanteens Old: plastic water bottles, New: stainless steel water bottles – Water is good for you and if you are out and about a lot, it can be difficult to keep hydrated. Also, if you go to a gym or are active outdoors, it’s essential to drink water while doing those activities. I used to bring those disposable plastic water bottles in my purse while doing errands and for use at the gym. My husband used them for the same reasons, too.

After reading about all the dangers in plastic water bottles (both for your health and the planet), I did some research. I found a really great reusable and, also as important, non-plastic alternative: Kleen Kanteen stainless steel water bottles. I purchased two sizes, the 27 ounce ($15.45 on sale), which fits perfectly into my car’s cup holder (as well as perfectly sized for the gym) and the 40 ounce with holder ($26.95/bottle; $5.95/holder), which I will take with me for hiking and long trips. I love them! So, now, I am enjoying a plastic-free, planet-safe refreshing drink of water wherever I want it. Bonus: they are so much classier looking than plastic. Another win/win in my book.

Where I purchased from: ReusableBags.com (also a great site for other environmentally-friendly reusable alternatives to plastic shopping and produce bags. My personal faves for fruits & veggies: the organic cotton net & mesh produce bags)

Stainless Steel Lunchbox Old: plastic lunch/food containers, New: stainless steel lunch box – I like to cook and I like to eat fresh, healthy food. I also take my lunch to work with me everyday. I used to use your run of the mill plastic food/sandwich containers to tote my food around. As stated above, after finding out just how bad plastic is for your health and how long it takes to break down in a landfill (a staggering 500+ years), I went looking for a sustainable alternative.

What I found was this awesome, easy-to-use (and clean!) stainless steel lunch box ($15.00) from To-Go Ware. It takes its cues from Japanese bentoware and is made specifically for toting food around. I especially love that it comes with its own plate, so it feels like I’m eating on actual flatware and not eating out of small, plastic compartments. Again, because it’s stainless steel, it’s both good for you and good for the planet. If you need silverware to eat with, why not use a reusable bamboo utensil set with your new lunchbox to really make the planet love you? Say it with me: win/win!

Where I purchased from: GreenHome.com

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These items are only a small assortment of planet-friendly goodies you can use in your everyday lives. Also, not only do all of these items save you money in the long run, they will keep so much more waste out of our already full landfills. Once you start taking notice of just how much you throw away in one day, it can be very motivating to work on cutting down the excessive waste, both for the anti-clutter factor and to help make our planet a better world for generations to come.

Of course, there are many more disposable items that I need to find good alternatives for. It is a slow-going process, but I personally find it rewarding (and also fun to research and go shopping for!). Next items to tackle on my list? Dinner napkins and paper towels. Hey, every little bit helps.

So tell me, what is on your list? Please share any sustainable, reusable alternatives to disposables you’re using in your daily lives, too!

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

KSS October 15, 2007 at 12:31 pm

Great post!

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Kelly October 15, 2007 at 9:57 pm

Great post!
I’ve never seen stainless steel lunchboxes or water bottles before, but they look very nice – as well as environmentally friendly!
Also, congrats on investing in the hankies, that is something I could never do, but then again I don’t get sick all that often…
I’ve also jumped into the Green Bag movement (as it’s known here in Australia), and have green bags for all my shopping, and even insulated ones for my meat! I also have a separate cloth bag that I put the mail into each morning. Any plastic bags I do get I keep them aside and reuse them.
Napkins are out there! My mum has some cloth ones that we use every Christmas – she’s had them for as long as I can remember!

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Johanna October 19, 2007 at 9:22 am

If folks don’t want to/can’t shell out the money for hankerchiefs, you can cut up an old bedsheet or pillowcase. I’ve done that & they are still super soft & much better than tissues. :)

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Conrad February 20, 2010 at 11:55 am

This reminds me of when I got my first place. I was living off of plastic utensils for months, until one day I got a stainless steel flatware set. That was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

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Zealtex December 13, 2010 at 6:10 am

Very very nice post.
The disposal items like: jute bags, cotton bags, shopping bags etc. are more acceptable in comparison to the plastic items. :)

Thanks for Sharing.

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