Notice I said, “to use less frequently,” not “to stop using.” Making big, sudden changes will get you nowhere for long. Baby steps are the way to go (Just watch What About Bob. Hehe). Baby steps are best if you hope to create a lasting habit. Baby steps are key to a simple lifestyle. Maybe eventually you stop using these items altogether, and maybe you always use them sometimes. Personally, I use all the items on this list, but I only use the disposable options when it’s just too inconvenient to use the reusable version. For example, if I’m out and about and I forgot my water bottle, oh well, disposable one it is! Or if I have a particularly bad cold, I don’t want to carry around an already-over-used handkerchief in public, so I’ll opt for tissues I can throw away.
- Ziploc bags. Replace them with reusable food storage containers. There are a whole variety of shapes and sizes, one is bound to be just right for your needs!
- Tissues. Buy some handkerchiefs that you can throw in the washing machine. I keep a couple fresh ones folded up on my nightstand. Tip: most hankies are rough and thin and simply do not work. I only use “My Hanky” brand, which you can buy from their website or on Amazon. They’re pricier than other hankies, but they’re heaven on your nose, so you’ll actually use them instead of throwing them away or letting them collect dust.
- Paper Towels. Get yourself cloth dish towels and washcloths that actually absorb liquids (Tip: never ever use fabric softener or dryer sheets on your towels. It leaves a coating on them, which does make them feel soft, but also acts as a barrier so liquids can’t be soaked up).
- Disposable water bottles. Get yourself a reusable water bottle you love. It can be glass, plastic, or metal. It can have a straw, a flip-top, or a screw-on lid. It can have an insulated cover, a cool design on it, or be plain. It can have a handle for carrying. It can be a “disposable” water bottle that you just keep refilling. It can be whatever you like! My personal favorite water bottle is this souvenir one I got on my honeymoon; it has a straw with a little lid, and an insulated cover (which I love) so my water stays cold, but my hands don’t. Plus, it has happy memories attached to it! I never used to use reusable water bottles until I got this thing.
- Fabric Softener/Dryer Sheets. A surprisingly effective alternative? Vinegar. It softens things without leaving a gross smell as you might expect. I just fill my liquid fabric softener dispenser with it, and it dispenses it during the rinse cycle. You can also dampen little squares of scrap fabric and toss it in your dryer, and it’ll soften clothes as they dry. If you add a bit of essential oil to the scrap fabric it’ll scent your clothes and help prevent a bit of static, and just reuse those scrap “dryer sheets” over and over. The best way to reduce static in your clothes is to figure out which articles of clothing get the most static-y and hang them to dry instead. That way they don’t cause static in themselves and the rest of the load of laundry. I hang all my husband’s polo shirts for this reason, and I wash blankets and towels in their own load separate from clothes for this reason too.
Every little bit helps when you're trying to be more zero waste! Let me know in the comments if you have any items to add to the list!
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