5 Disposable Things You Should Stop Using

Disposable things you should stop using: BrownThumbMama.com

Have you heard about the family that reduced their trash to just a couple of handfuls a year?  I read about them in Sunset Magazine a couple of years ago. They bring all their own containers to the grocery store (even a pillowcase for bread), and don’t own any books–they get them all from the library. Their story is amazing, but it’s not realistic for our family right now.

We’re doing what we can–our recycle bin is twice as big as our garbage can, and we compost our food waste. But there’s always ways to improve…even little steps can help.

Ready to take the plunge? Here are 5 disposable things you should stop using and things you can replace them with. We’ve made these changes in our family and you can too.

Plastic Straws

More than 500 million disposable plastic straws are used in the United States every day. These stainless steel straws (say that five times fast!) are durable and easy to clean.

Printer Cartridges

Each second, more than 13 printer cartridges are thrown away in the United States–even though they can be refilled up to 15 times. Use a printer cartridge refill kit and you can save enough to buy a new printer!

Paper Towels and Napkins

Save money and trees by using old rags or cut-up t-shirts. If you don’t want the expense of cloth napkins, buy an inexpensive pack of kitchen washcloths.

Zip-top Bags

Rinse and re-use (except for those that held raw meat) or switch to glass jars/Pyrex. Remember that the leftovers don’t care the shape of the containers they’re in!

Swim Diapers

I know many of you will ask about cloth diapers–but since we haven’t made that switch, it didn’t seem right to list it here. However, if your little one gets out of the pool and their swim diaper is clean, just hang it up to dry and you can use it again! There are cool cloth swim diapers available on Amazon as well.

What other disposable items have you stopped using? Share with us in the comments!

This article was shared on Clever Chicks, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, Unprocessed Fridays, Fat Tuesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, and Wildcrafting Wednesday..

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  1. CTY says

    Great post! I had no idea of the reusable swim pants. I went green many, many years ago, but not so much to save the planet as to save $green$. Saving the planet is just a bonus. We love our reusable straws (I have stainless, DH prefers glass).
    I do not use garbage bags to line the cans. You see we compost fruit/vegetable scraps, the dog eats dinner leftovers (although I have mastered how much to cook & scraps are few & far between) and practically all food containers are recycled . We don’t use paper towels so there is rarely “wet” garbage. I disinfect by using as the can as the bucket when mopping the floor.
    I have never owned a vacuum cleaner that required bags.
    I bought a “Swiffer” type mop that takes durable, washable pads (FlyLady.net).
    I MYO “Swiffer” style washable refills for the duster (made from fleece, so no hemming, no unraveling).
    I only freeze meats that fit into canning jars; the pint jar holds 1 lb. ground meat, 3/4 lb cubed beef, a good number of sausage links or 1/2 lb of boneless chicken breasts with a “Dump” recipe marinade. All other meats are bought fresh & used right away.
    I made Dryer Balls to replace dryer sheets (the dryer is only used for bed linen).

  2. CTY says

    Forgot to mention… About disposable diapers. I used a diaper service. I didn’t save any money like families that wash their own, but I felt it was a good compromise to reduce diapers in landfills. There is no real difference when changing baby. There is an adjustment when out in public because you have to bring the dirty diaper home–so just pack some empty bread/produce bags.

  3. Rachel G says

    We rinse and reuse ziploc bags for the things it makes the most sense to use them for, but those pyrex dishes really come in handy, especially because you can heat up the leftovers right in them!

  4. says

    We refill water jugs at the machine outside the grocery store. It amazes me that so few drink water out of glasses anymore, everyone seems to buy water in bottles. A few weeks ago a young guest came in from the pool and asked for “a water.” He seemed puzzled when I handed him a glass of water, in a glass!
    I also gave up paper towels and napkins years ago. We are vegan so I can reuse our ziplocks quite a few times, and I love those reuseable plastic stretch things that look like hair nets over bowls. I’m a big fan of glass mason jars for storing stuff.
    I really want to order some glass straws on Etsy for my smoothies, they look so pretty!

  5. Grimm says

    We used cloth wipes for our daughter. Why use disposable wipes if you use cloth diapers!?! We gave up soda and bottled water years ago so our recycling can only gets taken out once a year for pick up. Our town has a farmers market which we go to and use our own cloth produce bags and market bags. Most of So Cal is forcing consumers to provide their own shopping bags or pay for paper bags. Our county hasn’t started this yet but we already do it. We have a worm compost bin so our toilet paper tubes and kitchen scrapes go to the worms. The castings go in the garden around our berry bushes. I save the soft paper egg cartons we get from Costco. Once I have a bunch I take them to the local preschool for their art projects. I home can my own jams and jellies so I just reuse my canning jars. Most jellies come in plastic at the store now anyway!

  6. says

    I refuse to buy paper towels, but we do use a few paper napkins. I reuse ziploc bags and I have lots of the glass food storage dishes that I use a lot. We don’t use straws, and we have a compost bin. Good post.

  7. Gael says

    I’m frugal with paper towels, but I’m not giving that item up. There’s an environmental cost either way, because with cloth you’re using water and electricity to wash and dry. I don’t think one way is better than the other. My vacuum doesn’t take bags; I recycle; I reuse ziplocks but have many plastic food storage containers; I compost; and we drink tap water. More concerning than all of those is that we have a chemo medication in vials that our county hazardous waste won’t take, nor will the police, and the do quarterly medication disposal drives. I’m going to ask a hospital to take it, because I have no legal way of disposal, and it’s a carcinogen. If I can’t find proper channels, then I have to keep it which is ludicrous.

  8. says

    We gave up using paper towels about 6 or 7 years ago. We used our surplus of dish towels instead. However, I now repurpose old flannel pajamas and terry towels and create a new style of cloth “paper” towels so now we can have nice dish cloths again. :)

  9. Theresa L says

    cloth diapers & wipes, cloth feminine hygiene products/menstrual cup, cloth TP, use cloth wipes for tissues, and everything listed above except printer cartridges-it takes us YEARS to go through one black cartridge and gave up using color ink b/c it always dries up before it gets used. paper products get reserved for things like oil and grease that would be next to impossible to wash out, and really gross things like puke

    upcycling is great too, when I sew I try to find sheets at the thrift store before going to the craft store

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