Like Garrison Keillor says about Bob’s Pretty Good Grocery in Lake Wobegon: “If you can’t find it at Bob’s, you can probably get along without it!”
We Americans are pretty spoiled. We can get just about anything we want, just about any place or time we want it. And we generate plenty of waste in the bargain. In 2008, we generated 250 million tons of trash- about a third was recycled, but a lot went into landfills or waste to energy facilities. Now on behalf of our parent company, Waste Management, we want to thank you for keeping a lot of good people employed, but we’d rather get the ongoing value out of that material rather than just toss it. The core problem is not purely consumption. Nature consumes everything. The issue is that our system focuses on disposability - but we can change that.
Reflect on the disposable, overly-packaged, and single-use products that you use, and then look for reusable alternatives. Not sure where to start? Here’s a list that the folks at Planet Green put up awhile back. more than two dozen items that many people use . . . and can easily live without. Like a good meal of beer and tacos, we thought it was worth bringing them back up again.
25 wasteful things you can live without and the smart alternative:
Plastic wrapUse a container with a lid.
Tin foilUse an oven-safe pot or dish with a lid.
Disposable cleaning cloths, dusters, etcUse a microfiber cloth that can be washed.
Paper towelsUse a tea towel, instead.
Disposable pensBuy a good pen that only needs the ink well changed.
Paper platesWashing dishes is worth the effort.
Plastic cutleryUse the metal stuff.
Disposable razorsInvest in a quality razor that only needs blades changed.
Prepackaged fruits and vegetablesBuy fresh local produce.
Individually wrapped snacksPack em yourself- snacks travel better in a hard container.
Juice boxesJuice in a reusable glass or steel container.
Electric pencil sharpenersUse the hand-crank version- might be your day’s exercise.
Disposable diapersOrganic cotton/hemp diapers aren't much more difficult to use.
Disposable clothsFabric cloths can be washed regularly, absorb better.
Paper or plastic single-use grocery bagsGet a few reusable bags or Earth Bins.
Bottled waterFilter your tap water.
Throw away batteriesInvest in rechargeable batteries- you'll save money in the long run.
Electric can openersUse your muscles.
Single-serving pudding or yogurt cupsBuy a large container of yogurt or pudding, and send it in reusable containers.
Plastic cupsStick to reusable glasses and mugs.
Disposable table clothsSpills happen- wash your tablecloth weekly.
Antibacterial wipesMake your own natural hand sanitizer.
Facial tissueshandkerchiefs work just fine. Launder them.
Paper bills and statementsSwitch to e-billing and statements. More secure, too.
Plasticized sticky notesUse paper sticky notes or scrap paper; they can be recycled.
What item in your life can you “get along without”? We’d love to hear your comments.