What Disposable or Single-use Products Have You Given Up?

| 8/20/2009 12:47:03 PM

Tags: question to readers, disposable products,

For decades, environmentalists have extolled the virtues of recycling everything from plastic grocery bags to computer components. More recently we've been encouraged to give up single use items, such as paper napkins and plastic water bottles, and return to more sustainable products, such as washable cloth napkins, steel water bottles and glass food storage containers.

We'd like to think that our efforts are having a major impact on the amount of refuse being produced each day - but are they? Are we truly making a concerted effort to give up the convenience of single use products or is the practice so engrained in our culture we can't escape its effects? Read It's Time to Throw Out the Throwaway Economy by Lester R. Brown of the Earth Policy Institute, then, in  the comments section below, share your most radical return to a non-single-use product in your life.


alexa fleckenstein m.d._2
9/28/2009 8:25:33 AM

In Europe, they have laws that forces any store to take back all packaging material (from toothbrush to refrigerator). The effect was dramatic - much less packaging waste now. I love all these inventive ideas here! Alexa Fleckenstein M.D., physician, author.

9/20/2009 7:14:56 AM

I use cloth diapers at home when my 6 month old can't make it to the potty (seriously, Elimination Communication is awesome). Handkerchiefs Used clothes (from friends or thrift stores) Bookmooch.com is a great resource for books that I want to own but would rather not purchase a new copy. It doesn't beat the library though. The DivaCup is great- I bought mine 5 years ago and it still works perfectly. I'm working on saving seeds from this year's harvest and am trading them with others for seeds that I want for next year. All of our plastic bottles from milk (our foster children are on WIC) will be saved for our "wintersown" greenhouses to start seeds in the spring. I'm going to start using my large collection of Mason jars to store more leftovers thanks to the suggestion here! I picked up mine from my curb surfing days- the things people throw away! We compost too.

frugal que
9/18/2009 2:24:07 PM

These were some really good ideas. I read them all. I noted a lot that I did also from other people’s comments. I’m sure there is more but this will do for now. • No paper towels or napkins, just cloth • Cloth TP • Compost toilet • No plastic bags; Use paper bags from grocery store and use them to put compostable items in and put the entire bag in compost • Use buckets in kitchen for compost and garbage • Everything goes in my compost (as one other person said) Compost, compost, compost • Use shower water that is warming up for washing machine • Use dishwater for garden • I like the mesh bag idea from Catherine. I have no sewing skills but I have few small mesh bags that I got awhile back from the dollar store (4/$1). Will start using those. • No garbage service because our garbage only contains plastics and other odd items. I keep buckets lined up in our garage for different types of recycling. We have a great recycling place next to my job, so I just take it there when a bucket is full. • Line dry clothes • No more bottled water or strofoam cups for coffee. I have a two mugs at work that I use and clean out. • Cloths for cleaning • Anything that I buy that comes in a glass container, that container gets reused for something • Make all cleaning products, deodorant, toothpaste and shampoo • Make all laundry soap • Posted an ad on Craigslist and now I have a little route of people that can’t compost for whatever reason. So I pick up their compost/coffee grounds and just add it to mine. • Raise chickens and quail

9/17/2009 10:59:28 PM

I've never bee able to afford disposables, so I've always used wash towels for napkins, my mom crocheted dishclothes for me, I still use an Atra razor, although it's getting harder and harder to find refils. I've had a Libman mop for as long as I've been housekeeping. If I get plastic bags from a store, I use them to put my dogs used newspaper in. I get a satisfied feeling from that :) I've composted since I bought my land 15 years ago, and EVERYTHING goes in the compost, right down to fabric scraps from clothes I make to dryer lint to coffee grounds. And, BTW, I make most of my clothes. Too bad they don't teach sewing in school anymore. I always hang my clothes to dry, I only use the dryer for towels and underclothes, but after Gustav last year, want to put up a clothes line outside because I do love the smell of sheets dried in the sun. What I can't compost, goes in the recycle bin - my recycle bin is than my garbage bin. I cook outside from March to November, use the fireplace for heating from December to February. I put fleece blankets on the bed, and once you're under the covers you don't know it's cold outside! I home-cook for my four Chihuahua's. I had a small veggie garden this year, but plan to grow the veggies I use in their food from now on. My dream is to walk outside and pick our food. Lots of good ideas posted. Keep up the good work!

virginia f.
9/16/2009 1:26:04 PM

Hello 'Lach. Glad to know the Owl does this. On the person that listed all the natural cleaning materials, would like a new chain going of cleaning recipes, etc. when we get through with this great chain of comments. I keep a bowl under each sink spigot (and a small bucket on the floor) to catch all the brown water from washing hands, etc. It really can add up. In the bathroom can be used to flush. That's two uses of the same water. Use the next bowl of water to have in toilet as starter water. I also keep a bucket in the shower to catch the cold water. Tub water can be held for the same purpose. No water goes down our drain - we find another use for it. If I happen to get a plastic bag and have used to pieces ...I tie it in two knots..keeps it from blowing. Do this with all light items. Makes a difference. Plastic island 2X's the size of Texas in the Pacific is enough. I reuse coffee filters for dirt retainers in planters, or to do a quick coffee grounds scrub of your kitchen sink then flush grounds down the drain with hot water for grease buildup. filter can then be composted, etc. If I buy food out, don't use their trash can, etc...bring home to compost, recycle, etc. Bring my lunch containers with me and bag half of my dinner for lunch tomorrow. Eat room warmed out of the fridge...does not have to be re-heated.

9/15/2009 4:44:53 PM

So, I wouldn't buy my own produce bags, I made them from fine mesh netting and cording. simple straight stiches and zig zag did the trick. I experimented with size and shape but, they work beautifully and I can't say they add much to the weight of the produce. Because, yes we can put the apples on the scale individually but I'm not going to try it with mushrooms, beans or peanuts or other bulk food items I want to buy. I need to make more bags. As I don't just want to shop with them, I want to hand up the potatoes and keep the mushrooms in them in the fridge. I'd use recycled panty hose but I don't wear hose so I don't have any to recycle. Come to think of it, I don't think I know anyone who wears hose any more. Tights in the winter, but that's it. and I work in a professional/academic environment. Even with suits we go stocking-less. Ok, there's something else disposable that I've given up :)

9/10/2009 11:39:05 PM

You know that water you run while letting it get hot enough for your shower? It's about a gallon per shower. I run it into a bucket and use it in my garden. Cloth grocery bags are emptied of groceries and immediately put by the door and returned to the car for next trip. All compostables are reused for my container garden. You don't need a lot -- use a black plastic file box or two outside as recycle bins. The heat from sitting in the sun all day does the work normally done by large mass in a regular size compost bin. Or start a worm bin. Dry clothes on a line in the sunshine and breeze. A small-bulb night light in most areas of the house at night is enough to light your way to the bathroom, etc. Our two-person household always cooks enough for leftovers. Saves gas and electricity. I wash large zip-lock bags and reuse many times. Walk or ride your bike when you can.

9/10/2009 12:36:45 PM

Learning about buying foods in bulk really helped me to reduce the amount of waste I brought home. Food packaging - and the food processing industry - really adds weight to the waste stream. Some good tips on buying foods in bulk - and why - can be found at http://eatingoutsidethebox.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/recipes-from-a-box-trashy-granola-bars/.

9/9/2009 12:23:20 PM

Hmmm, there appears to be a limit to how long a post can be. Continuing from below, :-) after the bones come out of the pressure cooker they are soft enough to be broken up and fed into the compost pile (or to the chickens) as well. We don't use paper napkins or paper towels (this seems to be the most shocking thing to visitors). We do use kleenex, but I compost them. I'll stop here, but there's more to say (and to do!)

9/9/2009 9:24:11 AM

It's great to read about what others are doing to decrease their waste generation. Some of us can do more, some less, but even the little things can really add up! I've been religious about composting for over 20 years. I remember reading something that pointed out how our whole planet depends on the health of the topsoil, which is such a thin layer when you think on a planetary scale--much thinner (relatively speaking) than the paint on the globe that your school teacher had on the shelf. Somehow that image really stuck with me, and I've been trying to keep compostable matter out of the landfills ever since. I had a compost pile on the south side of my apartment building in grad school. I'm the kind of person who digs coffee grounds out of the trash (well, that was back when I had roomates). Now we have ten chickens to take all our food scraps and provide us with eggs and manure for the compost. We have a big 3 bin compost system that is constantly working. There's a big vegetable garden (although I can't say I grow all of our vegetables, it's more each year). We're lucky enough to live near Madison WI, with so many great farmer's markets and sources for excellent local food. When our church has a potluck dinner, I scrape all the plates into a bucket and take it home to the chickens. When our neighborhood association has a pancake breakfast, I do the same thing, as well as haul home all the egg shells and coffee grounds (from serving over 500 people). We buy meat by the half (half hog, half steer) and butcher it ourselves, to save money and to avoid all the ground beef we got when we bought a quarter steer and had it processed by the butcher. Nothing goes to waste--bones are roasted and pressure cooked into broth, even the fat is rendered and saved. Home rendered lard is very useful, the tallow I'm making into soap (I don't like the flavor of beef fat all that much). After the pressure cooking, the b

9/8/2009 2:18:20 PM

There are some really great ideas here so far. A lot of you are far better at this than I am. I was brought up in a less is more a environement with cltoh diapers, mason jarred food, hankerchiefs, do-it-yourself cleaning products. I remeber the first time I bought windex ( I know... I know)how excited I was because it didn't smell like vinegar. However I have learned my lessons and am reverting back to the lifestyle in which I grew up. Today I proudly had my last coffee in a paper cup, I packed a lunch in re-usable conatiners. I have used a stainless steel water thermos for a while now and I never buy over packaged or quick prep food. A site that I have found in my search for a better solution to cleaning products (I'm sick of throwing out all those plastic bottles and putting allthat crap into the water system) is the David Suzuki Foundation's Queen of Green page. She has lots of easy reicpies for household cleaners and hygiene products that save me money and reduce my carbon footprint. If you want to check it out as well here is the link: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/NatureChallenge/QueenofGreen/

9/7/2009 9:56:43 AM

Switched to Mason jars for food preservation... canned and froze veggies this summer... Planted our first garden with some success, enough to freeze extra zucchinis and green peppers... I keep a stack of used white paper for printing out information on the blank side... my partner uses it for class notes, sometimes... been doing the reusable bag to avoid plastic for years (just a couple years ago, i was laughed at for that!)... "sale" shop / buy in bulk whenever possible / go to different stores, not just one... well this is more than the question asked, but i have really enjoyed cutting back more and more and getting greener and greener... we feel the results in our soul and see them in our wallet!

9/6/2009 9:59:49 AM

I live in an apartment complex that does not have recycling. I'm also hassled constantly about my tiny container garden getting in the way of the lawn caretaker. It is quite frustrating, but we are trying to do our part any how: -reuse egg cartons (take them to the farm market or co-op to refill) -use a handkerchief -cloth napkins and dish towels, never paper napkins or paper towels (plus they were fun to make!) -rechargeable batteries -cloth shopping bags and a wire basket that fits on my bike. -we bike to the grocery store and the farmer's market, sometimes with one of those child carrier trailers if we have a large order. -I always make my own wrapping paper from scratch -store leftovers in dishes or mason jars. We also can veggies/fruits and freeze some products. -wash and reuse ziplock bags (or don't use them at all!) -use water from steaming veggies to water garden -get many products second-hand such as watering cans, potting containers for plants, clothing, furniture, dishes, vacuum cleaner (which we took apart and cleaned in the tub to make sure it would be clean to begin with) ... -we buy enough from local producers that we can often bring containers back to be refilled with maple syrup, eggs, milk, shampoo/soap -we have very, very hard water, so we bring a refillable container to the co-op for filtered water at $.25/gallon from their sink. We are so lucky to have them in the area. Thanks to everyone else who posted for the great ideas! -JR

9/5/2009 10:37:41 AM

We recycle everything we can, and I am so glad to get other ideas from your readers. I am sitting here eating my bowl of oatmeal with an over ripe banana cut up in it and thinking...We NEVER use all those cute little individual packages of oatmeal. Buy the large cook your own oats and dice up whatever bits of fruit or add spices...much better than the other and the cardboard container is recyclable. I wash all our clothes in cold water and make our own laundry detergent for a small fraction of what the watered down versions in the store are. Haven't used a dryer in years. Nothing smells better than clothing dried in the sunshine. On rainy days, we use drying racks in the house. Each family member has their own rack in their room. My teenage daughter loves the smell of the store bought fabric softners. Its just the smell she is crazy about. I have started going to a local health food store and splurging on little bottles of essential oils in some of her favorite fragrances. Put a few drops in the rinse cycle and its great! The bottles last a long time too. Now, I have a question for some readers who might know the answers. I know margarine has about 40 less calories per tablespoon than real butter...but what exactly in in margarine? Would it be healthier for us to use a REAL product like butter, sugar and honey, rather than the fake stuff...take in the extra calories and fat....add an extra walk in each day to our daily exercise program to work the extra calories/fat off. Or would it be better/healthier to use the margarine and artificial sweetner? I am inclines towards using the real/natural ingredients, but I am a diabetic and my doctor just throws a fit if I tell him this. Any thoughts on this?

9/3/2009 1:35:28 PM

-I've been using a plastic reusable water bottle for months. Soon it's getting replaced with Klean Kanteens. -Ziplocs have been replaced with Glad and other containers in my lunch. Soon they'll be replaced with LunchSkins. -I have a reusable lunch bag I've been using for years. -We have a Brita water pitcher at home instead of buying bottled water. -I have bamboo cleaning cloths and a loofah scrubber for cleaning. -The Swiffer's been replaced by the broom and dustpan and Libman mop. -The Swiffer duster is either being given to someone or will be used up and replaced with a microfiber duster. -I'll be making a lot of rags once I start working on my t-shirt quilt.

amber cain
9/2/2009 11:47:07 PM

I work for The Owl Cafe here in Florida. We do alot of to go orders and most of the employees used styrofoam cups. The owners had an absolutly brilliant idea, they not only bought reusable cups for the employees but they have also told locals that they can bring in their own cups from home and they will receive their drink for free. When we started it was 50-80 cups a week, but now word has spread and we are saving literally hundreds of styrofoam cups every week from ending up in landfills. They have also switched over to paper carryout boxes instead of styrofoam plates, even though they are a little more expensive. I wish all restaurants would adopt this policy, think of the trash we would save!

9/2/2009 1:49:52 PM

I just wanted to give a suggestion for those of us who have a hard time remembering to take our reusable shopping bags to the grocery store or farmer's market. After I empty the bags, I hang them on the knob of the door I use to go out to the car. That way I can't help but notice them. It's easy to just toss them in the car and they're ready for my next shopping trip!

9/2/2009 9:08:42 AM

I have read so many great ideas posted!! I'm excited because now I have new things to try!! Good for you, ME readers, this was a great way to share amongst ourselves.

caroline halliwill
9/1/2009 3:08:12 PM

There are a lot of very good comments about what people have given up that used to be disposable. I have done most of the ideas that others have done, including using the wax paper from cereal boxes for cooling cookies, breads, and cakes. But here is what I have not given up: convenience (once this becomes a habit it really is easy to do), space (it takes less space to store my non-disposable items than it did the so-called convenient, disposable items), and peace of mind. Less clutter equals less stress and we can all use that.

9/1/2009 10:01:21 AM

We have eliminated the use of paper plates, paper towels and drastically limited the purchase of water in the bottle. We purchase food in large quantity packaging in order to eliminate the need for multiple packages. If I purchas bulk items, I return the plastic bags to my local grocer in order for them to be recycled. We do not buy products with individually-wrapped items. I make my own bread, eliminating the plastic bag waste buildup by purchasing store-bought. I utilize cloth grocery bags and on occassion, a paper bag I have recycled until it is torn. Then the paper bag is utilized as a compost in the garden. I purchase milk in the gallon containers, never half-gallon plastic jugs. If I buy milk in the half-gallon or quart, it must be in the recycled milk cartons. Soda pop is eliminated in our household, thus eliminating the need to recycle plastic 2-liter bottles, glass bottles or aluminum cans. I preserve my own jam with canning jars which are reused time and time again. (I am in the process of teaching myself canning of vegetables and other fruits to continue to eliminate waste.) The round canning jar lid is recycled for dry items I store in my cabinets. I have eliminated most of my plastic storage containters and utilize glass. Plastic zip bags are also part of what I am trying to eliminate from my household.

9/1/2009 9:59:09 AM

We have a kitchen Queen wood-burning cook stove that heats our house and our water in winter. Also cook on it. No garbage pick-up since the recyclables can be taken twice a year to the local site. Compost in our large garden which grows everything that will grow around here. Keep chickens for meat and eggs and to supply fertilizer. We use clothe napkins, rags for cleaning, make my own clothes, and buy a lot of good garage sale clothes for my husband. Some of that is actually better quality then I would want to pay for new. We line-dry our laundry and have a clothes drying rack for rainy days and winter. Buy basic foods in bulk, bake our own bread. Really think twice before driving on an errand. This is just a lifestyle we have always had. None of our 6 children used disposable diapers. We made our own out of cotton flannel, and used waterproof baby pants with them.Use homemade soap for many, many years now ,but you do need soft water for that.We never buy bottled drinks ,prefer tea and coffee anyway.

bonnie houston
9/1/2009 2:06:59 AM

My husband and I are Adult Foster Care providers, and we care for disabled adults. We gave up paper plates, now use metal plates; gave up paper napkins, now use white washclothes; are in the process of heating water with passive solar power;involved our clients in container gardening, grew tomatoes, onions, eggplant,cucumbers, two varieties of peppers. We have chickens for our eggs and manure for the garden; goats for pets, weed control, and fertilizer, and hopefully, our nanny will someday be able to give us milk. We use an automatic washer, but hang our laundry out to dry, use dryer during bad weather. We do have a wooden drying rack in the ceiling of our home to dry laundry as needed, using wood heat in the winter. We use grey water to water plants and grass, and are in the process of installing a sod roof. We have built a small house for our gas cookstove on the porch, making our home much easier to cool during hot Texas summers.

pc mcb
8/31/2009 11:51:24 PM

We have given up just about everything that is not reusable. We use cloth napkins, cloth rags, glass bottles, reusable containers, cloth shopping bags, baskets. We compost all that we can. We gave up our tv, dishwasher, and garbage disposer. We use no-till sustainable farming methods. We grow what we can, trade for what we can't or don't grow, also trade for eggs, milk and meat. Reuse all clothing into rugs, rags, or napkins for the kitchen. We also got rid of as much junk mail as possible, and have learned to reuse what still comes in, as part of our crafting. Newspaper and brown bags are used in the garden to control weeds. We also stopped buying books and started using the local library instead.

lady w/wrinkle dogs
8/31/2009 10:15:55 PM

We use as much compostable picnic tableware for cookouts and parties as we can find. We have cut out most cleaning products that are not washable and reuseable. Micro-fibre cleaning cloths are good for many re-uses. We use steel personal water bottles, and refill from home before setting out each day. We purchased a front-load washer and only run full loads of each type. We carry cloth bags to the grocery, farmer's market, and butcher. We replaced almost every light bulb in the house with CFL's and properly recycle those when they die. We sterilize and re-use zip-lock bags till they fall apart. When clothing items (we wear mostly natural fibers) aren't wearable anymore, they become cleaning rags, rag rug materials, or insulation for various outbuildings. Working on giving up paper towels, but in a multi-dog house, this is a challenge for spills, and the ocassional oops. Everything recyclable, we try to recycle, wish our county accepted more items for recycle.

8/31/2009 8:47:40 PM

My family and I have given up on paper products for cleaning and food eating/preparation. Its small but its a start. I now use a re-usable microfiber cloth for windows and nothing but water. I also have switched to camping dishes instead of throw away stuff. My daughter (age 10) and I have really gotten into "recycle" shopping at our local thrift stores. We save $$ and the environment buying pre-owned clothes. We now purchase only socks and underwear in new condition. I was not sure she would want to get into it but now she is the one that asks when we will go recycle shopping again. She proudly tells her friends about what she is doing for the environment.

8/31/2009 7:44:45 PM

I have always used rags. They work so much better than paper towels. Rinse my recyclable in my dish water when I'm done with the dishes. My understanding is that they need to be rinsed not perfectly clean. Use vinegar to clean my floors. Don't eat meat because it's all extremely processed living in a major city. Don't use fabric softener or dryer sheets. When running the hot water and waiting for it to become hot I fill an old vinegar jug and water the plants. Buy my produce at a produce store. No need for packaging. Don't buy fast food or drinks in throw away containers. Donate old clothes to charity. Buy new (used) cloths at estates sales. I don't like batteries. I only use them in my camera and then they are rechargeable. My trash company recycles just about anything so I have more recycle than trash.

calvin rittenhouse
8/31/2009 7:30:56 PM

We are making "progress, not perfection." I rarely use paper towels; the kind you wash are just as good or better for most jobs. We have partly eliminated bottled water, but occasions arise where we forget the water bottles; it it gets bad enough we buy bottled. I drink a lot of coffee and tea, almost none of it from throwaway containers. We remember our cloth shopping bags more and more of the time, but sometimes deliberately buy the big plastic bags from Aldi's specifically to re-use as litter bags in our minivan. When we get disposable bags from stores in general, we re-use them until they fall apart. Our clothes have always come from thrift shops and returned there when we finished with them if they were still usable. If not we can often find other uses for them as rags or some sort of stuffing. We re-use a variety of containers. If an object fits a purpose, we have not reason to spend money and harm the environment by buying a "dedicated" object. I'll admit to considerable guilt about some of our food packaging. Frozen food, among its other failings, usually comes in appalling plastic containers. Likewise most highly-processed food. We don't have much money, and, to my surprise, the "bottom line" for us involves too much of that. We still need to work on that one. All the same, that's not all we eat, so maybe we balance it out somewhat with things we buy in bulk. Also, our soaps and what not mostly come in large containers to be used with dispensers that refill. We have not done all that's possible, but it's more than nothing.

8/31/2009 5:17:29 PM

I re-use all my margerine containers, cook large meals and put individual portions or enough for company in the appropriate containers. I also wash all zip-lock bags and re-use them as well as milk bags, which make excellent freezer bags when I run out. Any paper bags are kept and used instead of paper towels for deep-fried foods; these soak up the grease and oil from bacon to french fries.

8/31/2009 3:02:53 PM

So many great ideas from readers!! We already do most of the ideas suggested. In addition to those, I stopped buying toothpaste in a tube and switched to baking soda in a box. Instead of using tampons or pads, you can insert a small NATURAL sponge and rinse out in plain water. They work very well, are extremely comfortable, and last several years. The initial cost for 2 natural sea sponges was about $3. Throw in the compost when they become too ragged.

stephanie newell
8/31/2009 2:46:44 PM

The first thing we gave up was paper plates....that was three years ago. I gave up buying swiffer mop pads and started using reusable shamwow cut to fit the swiffer mop. We gave up our all-gasoline vehicle and purchased a Prius which is the best hybrid on the market. I gave up buying laundry detergent and fabric softner and now make my own. The savings has been phenomenal. Over a year ago I was spending $20 per month to buy these. About a year and a half later I have only spent about $10 for the whole year and a half. We are always looking for things to reuse and reinvent.

brenda colpetzer
8/31/2009 12:59:58 PM

-instead of paying for a local paper to get news they offer it on line delivered to my email box for free. -I use free online coupons and check product sites for coupons they're out there for the taking. My grocer doubles them. - we put a grey box timer on our electric hot water heater, why heat when you are sleeping and we still have plenty of hot water all day out timer is set to only run from 4pm-10pm. We also put all other electronics on power strips to turn off when not in use. and unplug everything else this stops phantom power usage. And use only CFL lighting. and our light bill dropped. 61% big savings. Please not: timer can only be used on electric heaters not Gas. -we also use freecycle to either rid ourselves of clutter of get something we need. -I also line dry all my clothes better for the clothes, environment and wallet and no need for dryer sheets -put energy saving shower heads in shower with button to push that stops flow so water is turned off while lathering up. And low flush toilets to replace older ones.

criss kraus
8/31/2009 12:59:45 PM

I use cloth instead of paper towels. Ceramic plates instead of paper. I make my own reusable swifter cloths. I use refilable water containers and filter tap water. I compost my trash instead of putting down the garbage disposal. It's great for my garden. I recycle everything I can from products packaged in items that would normally be thrown away (like milk jugs, cereal boxes, etc.) I have reusable cloth bags for grocery shopping but save what few plastic ones I use when I forget to line my recycle bins. I live in a city so I am somewhat limited.

8/31/2009 12:47:09 PM

that was 1917 and 1918 for our mothers: faulty keyboard...

8/31/2009 12:45:20 PM

This is not a new idea for us. Our mothers were born in 97 and 98. During my whole life rags have been in common use at my house. So: Paper towels were no problem to dispense with, we had never bought soda in cans, and with the bankruptcy have ceased soda consumption altogether, preferring leomonade and Mauby and Sorrell made from fruit juice, bark and flowers. In my artwork i am always using things saved and recycled (themadhouseartists.com) We save plastic and glass containers for reuse in storing things, often the screws and metal joiners recovered from old things we are dismantling to make new things. Bookshelves from the wood given as the neighbors dismantled their old gazebo and the like. We have given up electric heating and installed a second-hand wood stove to heat a 3200-square-ft house, and it works. Cloth napkins from grandmother have replaced paper napkins. Antique lamps from grandmother and great grandmother replace the need for battery operated flashlights during power outages (and are more reliable). We are canning our own pumpkin and using our own llama droppings for fertiliser in our gardens. Baking our own breads rather than buying them. Our fifteen chickens more than provide us with eggs. The children are grown now, but fifteen years ago we used cloth diapers and diaper covers and nursing and not one paper diaper or drop of manufactured baby food or formula. One $9 baby food grinder for two weeks when the beby transitioned from breast milk to table food. This has not been a new idea for us, the terrible economy has just forced us to bring out what we already knew. The only new thing is that my inner-city-bred husband is learning to fish from the lake in our back yard, and that has even improved dinner and lunch.

brenda colpetzer
8/31/2009 12:38:40 PM

-We re-use, compost or recycle everything in our house. So about 4 years back we no longer needed trash service. -we use cloth napkins and no paper or plastic plates, cups or eating utensils, paper towels. Only paper is toilet paper still use that. -only use our own cloth shopping bags and made cloth produce bags. -have a large garden so we can grow are own vegetable for the year. To freeze, dry or can -make own pastas and breads, never buy any convenience fooods. Don't trust all those chemicals used to preserve them. So we only have to buy basic staples. And what meat we eat, this spring we will getting peeps to strt our own coop, finally got hubby on board for chickems. -hubby drinks soy milk soy got maker to make own with dry beans. -cleaning supplies consist of vinegar, baking soda, peroxide, salt, lemon juice, olive oil, felps naptha, borax, washing soda, tea tree oil. And my home is clean and doesnt make you feel asthmatic to cone into like comercial cleaners do. -Use our local thrift shops for clothing and houseware items. -I also figures out that knitted dishcloth work great also replace some of those nylon scrbbers that are out there. -my granddaughter where cloth diapers while at grandmas everyday I refused to make trash buy using them so mu daughter in law invested in them. -everyone in our house has a sigg water bottle including our granddaughters. -we heat our home with wood so we go to our local lumberyard and buy slab wood it costs us between $50-$75 USD a year to heat our home very well in Central , Pa -We also stopped shoppong at the supercenters. It cut our monthly spending 75% by stopping our inpulse buying and bringing home more clutter and items that we didn't need or was even after. And it turned out that the grocery store I am going to now (not a discount or outlet store) actually beat our local supercenter on prices on 45 of 66 items on my list, yes I did go and compare prices. -instead of paying for a local paper t

kate phillips
8/31/2009 12:27:20 PM

plastic bag use- crochet into totes or mats/small rugs...(check out instructables.com) blend zucchinis of unusual size for milk alternative...(great in all kinds of recipes) lasagna-garden and mow less...(use naturalizing plants for your area) make your own gift bags, weave grasses & flowers for wine bottle gifting, fold and weave magazine pages for envelopes and cards... dehydrate veggies and fruits for natural chips, no fats, create your own flavors...(no energy to store these) grow sunflowers and jerusalem artichokes for the birds.. rag old clothes and make throw-rugs, give up tv, read aloud classics and old favorites, use plastic bags for insulation in cracks of doors, stuffed into tubes of cloth and attached to door bottom for draft stopper, make pet treats use coconut and hemp products, eliminate neurotoxins as completely as one can from all personal products...(see mercola.com) play with cardboard boxes, dirt and pinecones, shovels and rakes, ie: work can be fun... no need to pay for play!

8/31/2009 11:57:49 AM

We have never been into bottled water, but we did give up using filter cartridges. I reuse my Brita cartridge. I just refill it with activated carbon. Our tap water is already pretty clean, and anything added to it from the city can be filtered by simple carbon. I drilled a hole in the top of my cartridge and dumped out the old, replaced with activated carbon (you can get in the aquatics section of pet supply) topped it with a plug. I have also done this with my filtering shower head; rather than use cartridges, i just fill the handle directly and just secured a rubber washer with a screen at both ends. Now I don't have any plastic cartridges going into our landfills! (and saving about $7 per refill)

8/31/2009 11:56:39 AM

We have never been into bottled water, but we did give up using filter cartridges. I reuse my Brita cartridge. I just refill it with activated carbon. Our tap water is already pretty clean, and anything added to it from the city can be filtered by simple carbon. I drilled a hole in the top of my cartridge and dumped out the old, replaced with activated carbon (you can get in the aquatics section of pet supply) topped it with a plug. I have also done this with my filtering shower head; rather than use cartridges, i just fill the handle directly and just secured a rubber washer with a screen at both ends. Now I don't have any plastic cartridges going into our landfills! (and saving about $7 per refill)

mt mi mi
8/31/2009 11:55:10 AM

What Disposable or Single-use products I've gotten rid of? --dish cloths, I've ALWAYS used cloth, after seeing a program on the germs in a sponge (when they didn't sanitize well), and I like the feel/flexibility of the cloth better --milk, now buy raw at local dairy, in my own reusable jars --water, have a reverse osmosis system on my sink, and fill my own containers, first plastic, now metal --medicine and ALL bottles/containers, use for conversion/storage of other things, from olive oil lamps to edibles, chicken feed/ home made medicines, etc. --hot/cold drinks, I own my own Thermal mug, for portable drinks --flour/rice/honey/oils/glass jars, now buy in bulk and store in jars (which I originally did in the 60s-we had a 7th Day Adventist store within driving distance) --newsletters, although I prefer reading news in print, I forgo, and use online to help clubs save $$ too --chicken grains, this year I began growing some of my chickens' feed in small plots, which I'll just let them into to eat, when they're ripe --veggies, almost all are homegrown, so no bags there; I collect in a basket, and store in reusable containers in my refrig. --egg cartons, reuse, esp. paper. I AM the local egg farmer. --detergent, I now buy biodegradable in bulk, along with dish detergent, and transfer to a smaller easier to use reuseable size. But this fall, I'm planning on beginning to make my own clothes detergent That's a lot, all written down, but I took notes on ideas from others, that I can incorporate. And I really miss recycling, where more was available when I lived in a large city. I've only found newspaper, plastic bag, and cell phone and battery recycling, here in our small town. My storage space is limited, and I don't go to the "big city" often, but this article has encouraged me to find some old wooden/slatted boxes to use to divide. Then I could load them in the back of my truck, for dropping off at the recyclin

8/31/2009 11:51:18 AM

I have given up: -swiffers -plastic bags -paper towels -paper napkins -reuse plastic forks and knives -use a composter -no more buying water by the case and just recently bought stainless steel water container -reuse as many containers as possible -can't recycle strofoam in my area so I hang on to take to my mom's (20 min away in a different township) for recycling

8/31/2009 11:31:32 AM

We do not buy water in plastic bottles. Buy milk in Glass (it taste better that way) We put lint from the dryer into the left over toilet paper rolls for fire starters. Don't use paper plates.

jim johnson_1
8/31/2009 11:23:25 AM

As I enjoy an occasional beer, I no longer get it in cans, I now only buy it in returnable long neck bottles, also I get the used mash from a micro brewer to feed my pigs and chickens, the manure goes into the garden, garden waste to compost also to the pigs and chickens, too me this is recycling at it's finest, I get a beer, the brewer gets rid of it's byproduct, we get meat, eggs and veggies to sell and eat, with out a lot of added expense.

8/31/2009 11:13:24 AM

Once I gave up all plastic grocery bags (for packing groceries home in), I began to notice just how many small produce bags were coming home! So I bought some cheap factory cotton and made produce bags. Then I realized that I had no plastic bags to store things in, so I've rediscovered that bread stores really well in a breadbox, and damp cotton bags keep produce really fresh, and glass jars are excellent for storing leftovers of all kinds--I can a lot, so we have several different sizes and shapes. The ones called "salmon jars" around here (wide-mouth 250ml jars) are super for storing just enough fruit cobbler to take to work for lunch! As a side note--I teach at a small university, and when I told my students about making the produce bags, there was a brief silence, and then one of them said, "why didn't you just go to the thrift store and buy a bunch of old pillowcases?" :)

lynda konrad
8/31/2009 10:43:27 AM

I like RossMoberg's idea of using cereal bags for freezer bags! I have a vacuum sealer that would probably seal them up just fine! Thanks for the tip!

lynda konrad
8/31/2009 10:40:43 AM

We live on an acreage, and raise our own meat - pork, turkey and chicken so far. All our veggie scraps go to the pigs, all the meat scraps go to the dogs, and the yard waste is divided between our goats and our compost. Our meat animals are killed on the farm, and butchered locally at the butcher shop. We recycle plastics, metals, glass and paper, but I still have way too much of it, and I'm frustrated with that. We can our fruit in glass jars, shop with cloth bags, and use cloth napkins. I sew my daughters dresses, and we shop frequently at the local thrift shop.

8/31/2009 10:34:08 AM

Using bar soap for shampoo. saving cereal bags for freezer bags, using frozen juice concentrates instead of juice in plastic jugs, using milk in galss containers instead of plastic milk jugs, buying vegetables in biodegradable containers, drinking tea instead of beverages in plastic containers, using old medicine bottles for stroing nails, paperclips, etc. Kenneth Ross Moberg

alice rockey_1
8/31/2009 9:57:18 AM

I use terry wash cloths for napkins because they're so absorbent and durable. I compost, even taking neighbors' leaves in Fall. I clean and re-use jars for dried herbs and veggies. I buy in bulk often and store in these jars, too. I try not to buy disposable razors, but refills are so expensive! Why is this? Don't use dryer sheets. Fill empty paper towel rolls with twigs and use as fire starters in the woodstove.

hazel watson_2
8/31/2009 9:28:20 AM

I'm still trying to improve my ways, but there are some things I was doing nearly 60 years ago that are even more valid today. I used cloth diapers for all my children (my youngest is 46 years old. I can't take a lot of credit for that, though, because the "new" disposables were really poor excuses for diapers! I've always composted whenever possible. (I did spend a few years in apartments, so couldn't compost, but they were using special bins that made recycling easy for me. I've always made my own cloth napkins and tablecloths, mostly from linen fabric that I find really cheap and buy by the bolt. It gets softer with use and laundering and when it's finally unusable for anything else, it makes excellent cleaning rags. So does almost any 100% cotton. I've made just about everything you can make with sewing, including shopping bags - but I've also been given free bags that advertise various memberships. When my boys were very young, their long and outgrown winter pants became shorts for summer. Long-sleeved shirts became short sleeves after cutting off the worn elbows and hemming them. It was like a whole new wardrobe each summer.

8/31/2009 9:02:27 AM

I love reading these comments, it is wonderful to see other people out there as concerned about disposable goods as I am, and who are willing to do something about it. Here's what I do: -Vegetarian, which eliminates waste by itself (no meat on a plastic tray, wrapped in plastic wrap, put into a plastic bag.) Heathier, and MUCH better for the environment. -Stainless steel water bottle -Tiffin (stacked) lunch box container -Reuse glass iced tea bottles for drink w/ lunch -Reusable bamboo cutlery set -Cloth shopping bags -I have a reusable bag that folds into its own holder attached to my purse, so even when I buy something small I don't have to use a plastic bag -Cloth napkins -Reusable kitchen sponges (awesome brand called Twist, you can sanitize them in the dishwasher!) -Religious recycler and composter -Buy everything in big containers (applesauce is in a big jar, not small plastic single-serve, same for ice cream, pasta, etc...) -The tubes my makeup comes in are recyclable. -Worn out clothes are either donated or turned into rags. Up next: -Going to try the Diva Cup once my organic tampons run out. -Continue to use bamboo cloths instead of paper towels. My husband still isn't good about this, as he complains that he "runs out of bamboo towels so why bother using them." I bought a ton more yesterday :-) -Graywater cistern for safe water (like the water used to rinse my recyclables) -Start fighting with our Homeowner's Association to let me have a rain barrel.

8/31/2009 8:13:12 AM

I recycle and reuse just about everything. Cloth bags for shopping not just at the grocery store but at CVS, Staples, Targets, everywhere! I take my thermal mug for my daily coffee fix with me so no paper cups. The kids got Bento Boxes for their lunch at school. The boxes are new and my kids seem to think they are cool but they are worried about other kids' reactions. I told my kids that they will be thought of as trend setters! For cat litter, I use torn up strips of newspaper (after I read the news). For the walking the dog, I use the plastic bags the newspaper came in and put my hand inside the bag to pick up dog's mess without contact, pull the bag inside out, knot the top and one more mess is good to go. It keeps the neighbors happy and the street clean. I use CFL but am not happy with them. The light seems dimmer and now I am stuck wearing reading glasses! Not sure if its the light or just me getting old! Have cut out most junk food and switched it with homegrown organic veggies. Lost weight too!

8/29/2009 8:58:30 AM

Just to clear up a point on the Diva Cup: it's made from medical grade silicone (no not the stuff that used to be in breast implants) so ladies with latex allergies can use it. There is another product called The Keeper that is similar and may be made of something else but I couldn't speak with authority since I don't own one. My Diva Cup cost me about $34 USD. I know this is a small worthwhile investment in the long run but it frustrates me because I know of low-income women who would like to use it but can't necessarily afford it. I wish there was a way to get around this and to increase knowledge of this product. I didn't even know there was anything besides tampons and pads until I was in my mid-20's!

8/26/2009 5:43:39 PM

As well as the cloth bags, cloth napkins and other suggestions I have read, I have a few others we have used. I wrap sandwiches and things in wax paper and tape instead of plastic wrap and baggies. I wrap homemade bread in this also after it has cooled and then put it in an unbleached muslin bag. We also use Fels-Naptha soap to remove stains instead of laundry pre-treat spray in a plastic container. I also use Bare Minerals make-up, since I still like to wear it on occasion. A shower squegee to clean my shower every day saves on cleaning products.

8/26/2009 9:15:22 AM

The first thing to go was plastic water bottles-because of water quality issues in our area we were consuming bottled water by the case weekly. I finally convinced my husband this was nuts since we had a water filter on the fridge. I make all our cleaning products. I've stopped buying anything in a plastic container that can't be recycled. That said, there are a few things I have to buy that come in plastic but I am constantly looking for things to replace them. Sandwich meats for one thing-I stopped buying out of the case at the grocery store and started buying deli products. I took care of the feminine products thing by having a hysterectomy. I don't recommend this just to stop buying tampons but it did take care of the problem. I would not have considered a Diva cup after a friend tried one and ended up with a horrible allergic reaction from the rubber. Because I am deathly allergic to Latex (I don't know if this product contains Latex) I was scared to try after hearing her story. I really tried to become more alert over the last couple of years to what I am buying and why and trying to constantly find replacement products for those things I have to have that can't be recycled or reused.

8/25/2009 11:25:40 AM

I recently moved to a big city and am living with a dog for the first time in my life. Since I have to pick up after him every time we go on a walk, I'd really like to know what other people recommend as a sustainable, non-wasteful solution. At the moment I'm using old junk mail or magazine pages to pick up after him... but the dog's owner uses plastic bags and it seems really wasteful!

8/25/2009 10:44:05 AM

- I use a Diva Cup as well (love it, have used it for 3 years now, have one for home, one for traveling, bought them 3 years ago still like new) -I use a nalgene water bottle- no disposable ones, but I don't like the taste of the stainless ones -I use handkerchiefs, not kleenex -actual dish cloths, not disposable ones like J cloths -no swiffers, or one use household cleaners -cloth grocery bags -reuse my egg cartons (I have connections... love the local farmer!) -bring my own mug to timmies, or wherever else, and if I'm getting a bagel or something ask them to wrap it in a clean hanky, no bags -never was a napkin person... -rechargeable batteries -most clothes are second hand, from a thrift store or made myself. most get worn to death, then salvaged for buttons zippers etc and fabric for odd jobs or patches on other clothes! or given back to the thrift store

8/24/2009 8:03:04 PM

Yes this is an intimate topic but important. Disposable feminine hygiene products. Ladies: the Diva Cup (Google it) is much more comfortable, clean, convenient, and safer than tampons or pads and can last up to ten years.

lyn pepler
8/24/2009 6:39:34 PM

We also bought storage bins as Recycling containers and have very effectively cut back our garbage output by 75 percent!

lyn pepler
8/24/2009 6:37:27 PM

I feel we are doing all we can in our household. We could be doing more, but small steps are better than no steps. As a family, we use canvass bags and fair trade large woven baskets for grocery shopping, and re-use as many times over the plastic ones we have accumulated over the last few years. Then they go for recycling. We use rechargeable batteries. We wash and re-use glass jars for storage containers. We have two compost bins outside, and one under the sink for convenience, with a list of what can be put in it so there is no confusion. We walk whenever we can, rather than take the car. We carpool when there is opportunity. On a personal level, I have stopped using disposable feminine pads, or any other of those products. I re-used flannel baby blankets on some of them, and used my littlest ones cloth diapers for the inner lining soaker. I stopped shaving...no more razors or creams. I use the Apple Cider/Baking Soda method for washing my hair and body, and I use organic coconut oil to condition my hair and moisturize my body. I use a salt mineral for deodorant. I use a fluoride free, organic toothpaste. I buy our fruits and veggies locally, at a farm nearby, for what I can't grow in our own garden. We shop at second hand shops, or I transform what we have into something else. Thank you Mother Earth News and the subscribers who contribute, for being an inspiration!

8/24/2009 3:18:31 PM

I compost or at least try to since it seems more like I'm feeding the local wildlife. I also use reusable shooping bags to bring my lunch in. I'm pregnant and due the beginning of November and plan to use cloth diapers, most of which i'm making myself from flannel sheets that have had it. My fiance is a good ol' country boy whos used to convenience food and throwing away everything and is set in his ways. I have to be sneaky about the changes I make and really stick to my guns. I know this diaper thing is going to be a challenge, but, one thing at a time.

8/24/2009 11:57:34 AM

I use reuseable shopping bags and have asked my children for reuseable produce bags for Christmas, although we subscribe to a CSA, and much of our produce comes in a cardboard box that is reused week after week. (I gave reuseable shopping bags to my co-workers at Christmas instead of the mugs or knicknacks.) I buy larger items --within reason-- to reduce packaging. When I buy something larger -- like the kitty litter --, I try to use the bucket over again. I try to use only products that use the plastics that are recycled in my city. (I didn't know until recently that only plastics marked 1 or 2 are recycled here.) I compost all of my kitchen scraps and much of my yard waste. I don't know that this actually reduces my carbon footprint , but I know it reduces my clutter and output. I bought an electronic book. I have almost 40 books on there that weren't manufactured and transported. I'm not sure it's practical, as I say, because it is electronic, but I have no intention of replacing it for the next model. The jury's still out on that. I have taken a mug to work for coffee for years so that I don't use a disposable one. I read newspapers on line. I try to think about what goes into the waste stream, but even so I find myself slapping my forehead as I drop something into the trash and realize how easy it would have been to find an alternative.

dr. howard merken
8/22/2009 9:17:09 PM

Remember the good old days? The milkman delivered to our door, and took away our glass milk bottles to use again. The old Coke bottles, green from iron impurities, were used countless times. The diaper man came to our house to pick up our soiled cloth diapers, and brought us clean ones. (The drawback was that diaper pins could come undone and stick into the baby.) We had much less trash. Fast forward to somewhere around 1983. I was living in Massachusetts, and the Bottle Bill was being debated. We voted to recycle our bottles, but you'd think we were challenging the very idea of freedom and democracy. As we look ahead, let's look back. We actually had it together 40 years ago.

8/22/2009 8:41:36 PM

No paper napkins, and we pretty much only use paper towels when we need to scrub out or re-season the cast iron. Cloth grocery bags, too. I still haven't come up with a good replacement for zip-top bags, but we do re-use them when we can.

8/22/2009 2:17:49 PM

I use reusable bags for all of my shopping. I have stopped buying paper plates. I have started replacing batteries as they go dead with rechargeable. I no longer buy disposable razors.

christine horn_2
8/22/2009 10:01:07 AM

~I use cloth napkins. ~Use paper towels only to microwave bacon. ~No paper plates or cups. ~I reuse plastic utensils. ~I shave with an electric shaver. ~Each family member their own stainless steel water bottle. ~Reusable shopping bags. ~I use a Tiffin (separate compartment stainless steel containers that lock together)to bring lunches to work. ~I take mesh bags that produce (oranges, onions, etc.) come in and re-use them for loose apples, pears, peaches, etc. so I don't have to use the plastic produce bags.

8/22/2009 9:51:47 AM

I realize this is more intimate than other's posts but it is a comment for the ladies in the forum A few years ago I gave up buying disposable female hygiene products. I never enjoyed using the stick plastic pads every month. I have returned to using washable cloth pads just as my mother and grandmother used before ladies were convinced 3-4 tablespoons of liquid needed to be handled like toxic waste. They are ever so much more comfortable, my hygiene is perfectly respectable, and the pads are washed with a little extra bleach on the "sanitize" setting of my washing machine. I reuse them every month and never have to worry about any cotton tampons clogging our pipes. I do not fear I am passing along any pathogens into the waste system, and I feel a personal pride every time I pass the female hygiene aisle in the grocery store. Disposable pads take forever to break down, and it is several thousand sticky plastic coated absorbent pad I will live without in my life time.

christine horn_2
8/22/2009 8:50:00 AM

~I use cloth napkins. ~Use paper towels only to microwave bacon. ~No paper plates or cups. ~I reuse plastic utensils. ~I shave with an electric shaver. ~Each family member their own stainless steel water bottle. ~Reusable shopping bags. ~I use a Tiffin (separate compartment stainless steel containers that lock together)to bring lunches to work. ~I take mesh bags that produce (oranges, onions, etc.) come in and re-use them for loose apples, pears, peaches, etc. so I don't have to use the plastic produce bags.

8/22/2009 3:14:13 AM

For over 10 years, I've been using rechargable AA, AAA, C, D batteries in all my electronics, bike lights, digital cameras, etc. Mostly I try to avoid buying anything that uses proprietary batteries such as Li-lon types that have a short 2 year lifespan and are sometimes unreplaceable (iPods) or no longer made (some cameras), causing that device to be useless and end up in a landfill. AAs, AAAs, etc have been around for decades and are widely available to buy when the old battery won't hold a charge anymore. I also wear boots and shoes that can have the soles replaced or repaired, which pretty much eliminates 99% of the cheap "made in China" shoes sold at Wally World and other department stores...

8/21/2009 11:24:40 PM

I save all clothing and if it can be given away then I give it away, and if I can't I tear them up using zippers, buttons, elastic... then using actual material for rags or patches. I never buy napkins, I use the ones given by food joints or I use cloth napkins. I make my own grocery bags and if I do get plastic or paper I reuse them til they can't be used no more... however, paper is better because it is so multi-functional and eventually can be put into the compost.

8/21/2009 5:06:38 PM

I gave up paper napkins years ago. In fact, I can honestly say that once I left home, I never used paper napkins, though I grew up using them. I love having cloth napkins, and whenever I see paper napkins in peoples homes, I feel sort of sorry for them. I also gave up tampons and switched to a Diva Cup. I wish I could say I've used it as long as I've needed it. But it's only been a few years. Great product and I'm glad I switched. I still use plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and ziploc type bags. But I wash and reuse them all until they can't be used anymore.

lisa phillips
8/21/2009 10:17:40 AM

I re-use my plastic shopping bags until they fall apart. I also switched to cloth napkins. They are very economical, easy and fun to make yourself...with no sewing required. To do this: purchase 100% cotton calico. I forage the scrap bins at fabric stores for the best values. Without washing the fabric. Measure off 15 - 18 inch wide strips. Rip (not cut) the fabric to aligh the grain of the fabric. From the strips, rip 15 - 18 inch lengths, making squares. From each side, pull the threads from the last 1/2 inch, making a 'frayed' border around the napkin. Wash the napkins. I can make about 8 in one night. They are so much nicer than paper.

goody dockstader
8/21/2009 10:06:56 AM

As I sit here drinking home made ice tea (no sugar or milk)out of my reusable cup, I am appalled by the waste of so many people. Please don't follow our western wasteful ways China.

8/21/2009 9:26:18 AM

Very seldom by papertowels, never napkins, use the cloth grocery bags when I remember to replace in car, I think I am going to buy duouble supply so there are always some in the trunk. Looking for a better gass mileage car, wouldn't have replaced mine but it got totaled. Compost my leaves. Reuse the cat litter buckets for patio planters.

8/21/2009 8:49:26 AM

Gone from plastic bottle to stainless steel and no more plastic bags, reusable only! www.whatupduck.com

jill racine
8/20/2009 8:00:21 PM

I've switched from plastic water bottles to steel. I have a water filter on my faucet instead of buying jugs of "spring" water. I use reusable cloth bags for shopping and rags and cloths for cleaning. What's great is noticing fewer trips to take out the garbage. I find myself looking for minimalist packaging these days, like cardboard boxes of cat litter as opposed to plastic jugs. Buying disposable anything adds tremendously to our landfills and to emissions from trucks hauling this stuff into the state. I keep trying to minimize the waste and it's just a better way of life.

8/20/2009 2:25:45 PM

I use cloth napkins and rags instead of paper napkins and paper towels. I keep a basket in the kitchen to toss the used ones and once every few weeks wash them. You can find cheap cloth napkins in the clearance section of big box stores. And potential rag materials seem to come into my life quite frequently!

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