Monday, June 16, 2014

Ditch the disposables

Every where you go, you'll see this.

Its something my generation grew up with, so its not strange for us to ignore it, rather than question what it was like yesteryear.

I know that even the gen before us saw it, but I think there were still those who opted out of the throw away everything just for the sake that they had reusables readily available and didn't understand the need for disposables.

It was very rare to find a styrofoam cup or plastic spoon not so long ago, it was even more rare to see everything so throw away that there was an entire industry devoted to it.

Maybe we got sloppy, more likely we got busy and didn't see the transformation around us from a cleaner culture to this garbage pile were massing.
In some ways its not our fault, we were told to be scared of germs (not understanding that going nuclear on bacteria was also going to kill the uh, GOOD bacteria that protects us from death and disease) and wasn't reusing things germ spreading?
And besides that, if you are getting fast food, how will you bring home the soda, fries and burger?
Paper, plastic and styrofoam are just EASIER when we work 60 plus hours a week.
Its not our fault...and is completely and totally our fault and responsibility at the same time.
No body wanted this, filth everywhere, landfills piled high, chemicals surrounding our food and air because we have to make so much extra product to be tossed.
The amount of oil that goes into disposable production is more than most people realize, or even know about. When you look at your kids diapers or your own sanitary pads or the coffee cup in your hand do you really think, I'm using oil?

I never did, but its true, and its running us into the ground health and environment with it.

I know that its hard when both parents are working to not stop at least once a week for fast food.
I'm not trying to villainize people for trying to get by day to day, your first concern should be your family and not economy or enviroment.

If we stop to think of it though, everything we do moment by moment is changing our children's future. If we keep on our path now, without even trying to change it were going to give them a broken world. Society, environment and morality that will be even harder for them to change than if we made just a few tweaks now.

So, start simple.

Here is a list of just some disposable things easily replaced with reusables:

Bottled water - Stainless steel water bottle
(one for each member of the family, these can be insulated or not, its cheaper if they are not, and personalized to each specific person to prevent confusion. If your child is young, in the sippy age, try thermos foogo phases stainless steal cups that go from baby, toddler then to big kid with all exchangeable parts. If your in charge of washing dishes think of how many cups this will save you from washing day to day!)

Paper/styrofoam coffee cups - stainless wide mouth travel mug
(these are available all over, the best I've found was the double wall insulated 24oz one touch thermos. I like this brand but its not about brand its about what works for you. Mine work for me because it keeps my coffee/tea/hot chocolate piping hot for over 18 hours, my ice water cold and icy for 24 hours. I chase a toddler I don't have time to enjoy sitting down to a cup of warm coffee most days so this saves me big.) Most coffee places will give you a discount for bringing your own cup. Just ask them. I too felt weird about this at first, until I noticed A: I wasn't the only one doing it! There were two people ahead of me in line that did so, and I was in the drive-thru!  B: The staff did not seem phased, at all.

Paper coffee filters - stainless filter
These have been around for a while and save you huge when you wake up to no coffee filters and no time to stop at the store. You can also compost those coffee grounds (if you don't compost you can always put them at the base of your acid loving plants for thicker pretty blooms and foliage)

Paper napkins - cloth napkins
You can find these cheap at the thrift store, and nice ones too. You can choose to get just enough for your family 6-10 or get a couple dozen for get togethers, they are easy to wash and always on hand. I found linen that are so beautiful and soft its crazy I paid .25 a piece for them.

Paper towels - microfiber cloths or tea towels
These can be a big expense if you use them regularly and its so much easier to just wash a cloth and always have.

Swiffer - Aluminum mop with washable microfiber pads
This can also be used dry to dust replacing every swiffer needed

Tissues - handkerchiefs
Get a few, enough for you to carry one in your purse or pocket whenever you need it, enough for you to have what you need for a cold.

Razors - Safety Razor
Google safety razor for reviews, then check amazon or ebay for a quality hand and get yourself a small pack of blades. These last years rather than the months the expensive plastic and multi-blade  things you'll get at the store. My husband also has less if no razor burn or ingrowns after switching so its better for you too.

Sanitary pads/tampons - Washable pads/Menstrual cup
For every woman, it is so freeing and comfortable. You will not look back. For you guys imagine never having to go to the store to buy that uncomfortable thing again. Trust me, this is a win win for both genders.

Diapers - Cloth Diapers
I have experience with both and can say the work that you put into to the cloth is worth it on so many levels, health and cost wise. I see very little diaper rashes, while most kids I know who use disposables have at least one rash a month. They make so much sense to me with a big family as they can be passed down to the next kids for even more savings.

Plastic bags - cloth bags
I know I know, they give them out for free at the store! But what happens to them in your house? If you don't use them for your garbage cans (replacing store bought garbage bags) or other nasty messes, they are just taking up space. Use sturdy cloth bags that have thick handles (I wouldn't suggests the ones they sell at the grocery) look at the thrift store, buy yourself a .50 bag and reuse it. Less likely to spill your glass jars or bottles in the parking lot that way.

Ink cartridges - bulk ink refill kit.
This saves sooooo much money, I'm not kidding don't spend another dime on a replacement.

Here's one America is still catching up on...

Toilet paper - Washlet
A washlet or bidet attachment for your toilet is nothing new, for the rest of the world of course.
Its simply a water nozzle that cleans you far more than good old TP.
Do the reading, the math and then look into one of these, you seriously will not go back.
They can be purchased as cheaply as $25 on amazon, and once you feel this clean, it'll be like wiping your muddy hands on a towel or washing them with soap and water.
No comparison right? (The amount of water wasted processing toilet paper is much much higher than the little bit you'll use to clean your unmentionables, for those of you thinking about water conservation)
You can still use TP with a washlet, but apparently it causes an 80% savings in the paper.
You can always use a clean towel, hang it near the toilet or somewhere someone won't dry their hands on it. You'll be shocked how the towel will stay perfectly clean.

Of course the normal paper plates, cups, plastic silverware and styrofoam anything should be replaced with your normal dinnerware. You can get travel versions made from bamboo if you wish, stainless to replace the glass and so on for lunches where kids (or us adults) might accidentally break the glass cup or bowl.

There are so many more examples, I'll add more as I find important money saving replacements.
There is also a whole world of DIY replacements for toothpaste and deodorant that will save you from buying and throwing away more expensive junk. I'll have to make that list a separate post.

I  haven't written down the savings here, but since I've implemented these and many other DIY solutions, my tally for savings was nearly 10,000.00 a year. I'm not kidding, its mind blowing I had to go back and do the math several times and when I finally realized I was actually saving that much, I couldn't believe that simplifying my life was helping me not just save time but money too.

This is one of the many ways I "cheat" the system, or more honestly take back my time in the easy ways. I don't have to work very hard or invest much to start these things, then once they are off and running I often forget what it was like having to pay so much for things I threw away.

To some, this may be very easy, others might find it daunting.
Remember to start slowly, replacing one thing at a time until you look at the change as common place, then replace another.
Every little bit does make a difference, so don't be disappointed if  something doesn't fit your life style, there are lots of ways to replace with reusables, these are just the basics.

Another added benefit of ditching disposables is we are telling companies to create a new product and remove the old harmful ones. They will start selling more study life long items if we refuse to buy the crap that doesn't last, and that is voting with your cents.

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