We found this, and plenty more trash that had washed onto shore while in Vietnam a couple months ago. Human trash is threatening our oceans, our environment, our animals and sea life, and our own health! Over 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds die from plastic pollution every year. Yes, disposable plastic products make life simpler, but at what cost?! We are destroying our planet! And ourselves. Are we that lazy, that convenience is more important than the well-being of ourselves, our children, and this planet?
I say no more!
I have embarked upon a journey! To stop using as many plastic and single-use items as I possibly can, and instead, start using reusable items whenever possible! Follow me and join me on this fabulous journey, and we will find ways to work these items into our everyday life, without spending a ton of money, without inconveniencing ourselves, and maybe even saving some money! We will take that one extra step, and make a huge impact!
Together we will save this planet!
So here I have for you ten disposable items to ditch today, and the alternatives to replace them, forever!
When I was in China in 2008, I found these adorable little reusable shopping bags. I had never seen anything like it in the United States at the time, and it took a couple years before they started to catch on, but I am glad that they finally did!
This is definitely one of the most popular, normal, and socially acceptable item on this list. If you want to start small, this is a great one to start with!
Reusable shopping bags are super easy to find, and they are super cheap! You can find cute ones at craft stores and novelty shops, or plain ones at any grocery store. If you shop at Target, they will give you five cents off for each reusable shopping bag you present and use at checkout! Yes! Keep a few in your purse and the rest in your car, so you always have them with you when you stop at the grocery store.
#2. Plastic produce bags
I buy a lot of produce, as I'm sure you do. Every week the husband and I roam the produce aisle and buy a large amount of fruits and veggies. I have not personally bought reusable produce bags yet, since I have only recently started this journey and can't afford to buy all the reusables at once- So I decided to make my own! I made this cool, reusable produce bag out of an old t-shirt!
To make your own re-usable produce bag out of a t-shirt for free, cut the t-shirt into a tank top and cut the neck off, then turn it inside out and sew a straight line at the bottom of the shirt. Or you can do like I did, and cut strips with knots at the top and then without turning the t-shirt inside out, sew a straight line right above the knots. You will have the most stylish produce bag at the grocery store! Keep this bag with the rest of your reusable shopping bags in your car.
I know I am not the only one who loves to sit at home on my porch (or couch, or desk...) and drink coffee. If you are brewing your own coffee at home, then you are already saving money, and fighting against single-use items by skipping the disposable cup, lid, stirrer, sleeve, etc. at your local coffee shop. However, there is still a single-use item that you are using every time you use your coffee mate. The coffee filter! My mom gave me my own reusable coffee filters for Christmas a couple years ago, and I am loving them! By using a reusable coffee filter every day you are saving a good amount of money by not having to purchase packages of disposable filters every month. I love my organic Coffee Sock!
#4. Disposable Coffee cups
Construction workers have known it for years, put your coffee in a thermos (or travel mug)!
Reusable coffee mugs come in every shape, size, color, pattern, and style! Buy yourself one, and use it! Starbucks, Seattle's Best, and Peet's all offer discounts if you bring your own reusable cup, as do many other local coffee shops! Saving money, and saving the planet...score!
While on the subject of beverages...
#5. Water bottles
Using planet destroying plastic disposable water bottles is an absolutely crazy notion in my opinion. Don't be crazy, opt instead for a re-usable water bottle! I have a few, and I take them everywhere with me. While carrying your own reusable water bottle, you can also skip the disposable cups at fast food restaurants!
Bonus! If you purchase your water bottle from 4ocean.com you will help pull one pound of trash from the ocean!
I am absolutely loving my new reusable drinking straws from Strawesome, and Francesco Palmieri so much, I'm ashamed I didn't start using them years ago! I have bought one for me, my husband, and gave one to my mom. I will probably start giving these as gifts!
Plastic straws are so small, do they even cause any harm? That would be a big fat yes! Millions (MILLIONS!) of plastic straws are thrown away each day! Let that sink in! And one plastic straw takes at least 200 years to break down, but plastic doesn't actually decompose, it just gets smaller. And! It's toxic! Plastic straws send toxins into your drinks. Guess where they go next? Yep! Into the cells of your body. Enjoy that with your glass of water! Plastic straws are littering the ocean, washing ashore (like the one I found in Vietnam above), and have been found stuck in the nostrils of poor sea turtles. That does it! I am done with plastic straws! My glass drinking straw (with a lifetime guarantee!) is so enjoyable to drink out of, when I'm drinking something really cold, the straw gets cold too, and it just tastes better than plastic straws! Read my complete blog post about these great glass straws from Strawesome!
Speaking of drinks...
#7. Anything restaurant related
I work in the food industry and goodness gracious you can not even imagine the amount of things wasted here-especially single use items! I am talking disposable chopsticks, spoons, forks, knives, to go containers, to go cups and tons of little plastic dishes with plastic lids for sauces and small items!
There are several different facets of this thing, and thus several ways you can go about eliminating the use of these items.
The first facet is delivery. With the rise of food delivery services such as zifty and doordash, the use of disposable items are skyrocketing! Try to eliminate having food delivered to you as much as possible! The styrofoam containers, plastic utensils, and all the little sauce packets, I shudder! If you do have food delivered from somewhere, tell them either on the phone or on the app you're using that you do not want any sauce packets or plastic utensils. Also, look for restaurants that are more eco-friendly and use paper and cardboard instead of plastic and styrofoam. For example at my work, we do not use plastic bags, we use brown paper bags, and we do not use styrofoam containers, we use recycled cardboard boxes.
Next up we have take out. We have this awesome guy Josh, that orders food from my work at least once a week. We all know who he is, and we all know not to use any single use item for his order! When he comes to pick up his food he brings with him a glass tupperware container and lid, hands it to us, which we hand to the cooks, and they put his food in the container! We don't give him any plastic utensils, and we don't put his container in a bag-he brings his own!
Eating in. When eating in at any restaurant whether it be fast food or dine in, it is important to be prepared! I carry my Francesco Palmieri drawstring bag in my purse with me everywhere I go. This bag contains a set of reusable chopsticks, and my reusable straw. I don't carry any utensils because I don't eat at restaurants that use plastic utensils.
Yes I am talking about pads! And how perfect and absolutely adorable are these reusable cloth pads from the Etsy Shop Mama in the Moonlight! I am obsessed!
These soft, absorbent, and beautiful handmade moonpads come in all sizes and designs. Are you tired of using crunchy bunchy disposable pads full of chemicals? Then shop around and see what many women are discovering to be completely revolutionary: a fun, chemical free, and comfortable moontime! Not to mention how much plastic you will be saving from being thrown away, oh and the money! The average woman spends $150-300 a year on pads and tampons-go buy yourself something nice with all that money you're saving girl!
And is it just me or is this another perfect gift to give all the ladies in your life?!
Pssst use the code RECYCLE for 20% off your eco menstrual cup!
#9. Paper towels
Don't even get me started on paper towels! You buy these things, just to turn around and instantly throw them away! My mom (and now me) would cut up our old shirts for use as rags. After wiping up a spill, you can just rinse it off, and wring it out! Imagine how much money you will save after cutting paper towels out of your budget!
In the United States alone it is estimated that over 850 million toothbrushes are discarded every year. Yikes...
Bamboo toothbrushes, while still disposable (I don't think anyone wants to use the same toothbrush for the rest of their life!), are actually compostable! Compostable means that a product is capable of disintegrating into natural elements in a compost environment, leaving no toxicity in the soil. Usually in only about 90 days!
I have to tell you that I am loving this company! All their packaging is made from recycled paper, they only use all natural ingredients, and they try to keep everything zero waste!
On their Etsy Shop they have these toothbrushes, the straws I have on here, and some essential oils. On their website you can find all that plus the menstrual cups mentioned above, their own natural skin care line, and a bunch of other cool stuff (eco friendly pencils say whaaaa?!!).
Oh, and I have a coupon code for you! Use the code RECYCLE for 20% off!
Peace Love and Mother Earth