As my zero waste endeavor continues, I’ve been taking note in my home of the wasteful things I’ve been using all my life and how easy the solutions to them are. Here are 14 wasteful things I’ve taken note of in my home and am on my way to eliminating.
- Bottled water. This is an absurdity and no one should be succumbing to the temptation of bottled water. Watch this short film about bottled water. Hopefully you’ll never want to touch a bottle of water again. There’s no lack of tap or fountains from which we can refill our own bottle.
- Paper Towels. Hang a towel near each sink to remind yourself to dry your hands with it instead of paper towels. Make sure to have plenty of rags on hand in the kitchen, bathroom, and near your cleaning supplies to remind you to use rags. Paper towels can be handy for gross messes but rags do the same job and can be washed in bleach or vinegar to kill bacteria.
- Aluminum Foil. Aluminum foil makes a lot of things easier – grilling, baking, and storing food. But why waste money on it when you can buy reusable parchment baking paper and thermal food covers.
- Ziploc bags. Very handy for travel and storage, but reusable sandwich bags are cuter and less wasteful. There are a lot of great ones on Etsy.
- Mail. You can try the App PaperKarma to opt out of receiving mail. What I ended up doing instead was to call the phone numbers provided on the mail every time I sat down to go through it. It was not as painful or time consuming as one would assume.
- Food packaging. Buy in bulk and take your own containers to buy food in. When grocery shopping, bring your own bags.
- Trash bags. If you recycle, your need for trash bags will decrease. Make sure you are using reusable bags (like large burlap sacks) for your recycling and to dispose of your trash.
- Toilet paper. So, it is very brave of people to go to rags instead of using toilet paper. I’m definitely not there yet. I still use toilet paper, though I have been buying eco-friendly toilet paper made out of recycled materials. Most major department stores have this option. Also consider using a handkerchief to blow your nose.
- Q-tips. Using a Q-tip in your ear removes the natural wax that is in there to keep out water and protect the ear. Professionals agree, they are not healthy. Wash outside of your ear canal with a rag and stop using these things. They’re pointless.
- Cotton balls. What do we really use these things for anyway that can’t be handled with a wash cloth? Removing nail polish? Dedicate a rag to nail polish removal. Facial toner? Reconsider your use of facial products or apply with a reusable cleansing pad. Aside from just being wasteful, the cotton industry uses 2.5 percent of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16 percent of the world’s insecticides—more than any other single major crop.
- Disposable Razors. Invest in a razor that only needs the blade changed.
- Tooth brushes. Tooth brushes as wasteful may not have occurred to you, but think about this – fifty million pounds of toothbrushes go into landfills every single year. Dentists recommend you replace them every three months to maintain a healthy mouth. Consider using recyclable toothbrushes that are already made out of recycled material.
- Batteries. Use appliances that plug in or have rechargeable batteries.
- Disposable cleaning products. Swiffer mops, throw-away vacuum bags (that seem to have gone out of style), anti bacterial wipes (a favorite of mine, sadly), among others are very tempting because they are easy – clean, and throw away. But so wasteful! What’s so hard about clean, then wash?
Many of these things are great modern conveniences, but are they really necessary? No, they’re not – and in fact, they’re wasteful. Stop buying these things to fill landfills and keep money in your wallet instead.