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Do It


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  • Paris Marron

    Love this post! Thanks for posting. Here's a few things that I've done to reduce disposable items in my home:

    * Use rags instead of paper towels.
    * Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.
    * Buy products such as soap and shampoo in bulk and use re-useable dispensers.
    * Use razors with disposable heads instead of fully disposable razors.
    * Buy products that may cost more at the start, but last longer such as energy-saving light bulbs, glass food storage containers rather than plastic (and no-BPA too!), higher quality furniture.
    * Think about clothes purchases that will last longer, not go out of fashion next season, and I will regularly wear. Instead of trendy or one-time occasion clothing.
    * Re-purpose glass containers from jams, spaghetti sauce, etc. as containers for smoothies, salad dressings, soups, and other leftovers.
    * Compost food scraps.
    * Turn old towels and sheets into rags.

    For items that still need to be disposable, I try to go with earth-friendly options:
    * Compostable trash bags
    * Buy products with less packaging.
    * Use re-useable lavendar satchels (from Trader Joe's) as dryer sheets.
    * Buy used.

    Also, here's a great blog with tips about how to tackle your trash:

    • Alessandra Rizzotti

      Love his thoughts on reducing our carbon footprint by increasing resource productivity through things like 3D printing. Wondering if you know of innovative solutions for reducing our carbon footprints? I feel like you would have great insight about how to reduce energy consumption in the home. You could win a Nest if you submit to our challenge:

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    Helpful tips, Rachel. Thanks so much. I'd love to know about the "paper" towels you use. I noticed the linkout went to the beeswax paper. I want to use paper towels less, so any tips help. Have you seen the video on how to use one paper towel for multiple things? Funny solution- but every little bit helps:

    • changeofart

      A good friend says one of the secrets to his (huge, it turns out) nest egg is "no paper towels". He's got a drawer full of old cotton napkins, tea towels, etc. that he's picked up (for nickels & dimes) over the years at garage sales.

      I've been doing this for a few years now with old washcloths, and it DOES save a bundle. I can use the same one several times, then toss them in with a wash.

      When I do use paper towels, they're nearly always good for a few turns. A quick rinse, if needed, and it's draped over the faucet – dry & ready to use again in no time. Those half-sheets help, too. Bet I've had the same bundle of paper towels for three seasons!

      • Alessandra Rizzotti

        Thanks Change of Art. Definitely using old towels for cleanups these days.

      • Alessandra Rizzotti

        Thank you Rachel! Helpful! Going to order these :) And like Jelena said- you should totally submit to that Maker challenge. These ideas are great for it.

  • Jelena Woehr

    PS. Have you submitted some of these ideas to the Home Planet challenge?

    I would love to see a disposables-elimination project submitted there! You could win a Nest :)

  • Jelena Woehr

    I've started buying in bulk and using labelized mason jars for storage, but those plastic produce bags are inevitable when buying by weight, it seems -- maybe once the grocery store where I shop knows me better they'll let me bring my jars right in!

    • Paris Marron

      Hey Jelena,

      I've switched over to reuseable produce bags:

      I like the cloth Mothering Mother ones like this in different sizes:

      There are a few things that they don't work well for, like cocoa powder, but for those, I take glass jars and have the tare weighed first at my local coop.

    • changeofart

      Great idea! Hope there's no health code that prevents them from using your containers. You're right about those bulk plastic bags. I've been saving mine for someday use in one a makeshift bag-saver thing, and they're adding up. I like to think that I'll bring them back for another use, but I've yet to remember this...

      I've been thinking about using them for dog poop cleanup. I currently use biodegradable cleanup bags, but it sounds like they won't truly degrade anyway. Maybe someone will do a post on using leftover plastic bags for dog cleanup...

      • peter jursik

        Reusable produce bags are $12 for five on Amazon. Couldn't one just use cut-off nylon hosiery instead? One size fits all!