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


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

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