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!”

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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. 

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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 atPlanet 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 wrap Use a container with a lid.

Tin foil Use an oven-safe pot or dish with a lid.

1
Five Rings

Disposable cleaning cloths, dusters, etc Use a microfiber cloth that can be washed.

Paper towels Use a tea towel, instead.

Disposable pens Buy a good pen that only needs the ink well changed.

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Paper plates Washing dishes is worth the effort.

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Plastic cutlery Use the metal stuff.

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Disposable razors Invest in a quality razor that only needs blades changed.

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Prepackaged fruits and vegetables Buy fresh local produce.

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Individually wrapped snacks Pack em yourself- snacks travel better in a hard container.

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Juice boxes Juice in a reusable glass or steel container.

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Electric pencil sharpeners Use the hand-crank version- might be your day’s exercise.

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Disposable diapers Organic cotton/hemp diapers aren't much more difficult to use.

2

Disposable cloths Fabric cloths can be washed regularly, absorb better.

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Paper or plastic single-use grocery bags Get a few reusable bags or Earth Bins.

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Bottled water Filter your tap water.

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Throw away batteries Invest in rechargeable batteries- you'll save money in the long run.

3 
Peter Halasz

Electric can openers Use your muscles.

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Single-serving pudding or yogurt cups Buy a large container of yogurt or pudding, and send it in reusable containers.

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Plastic cups Stick to reusable glasses and mugs.

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Disposable table cloths Spills happen- wash your tablecloth weekly.

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Antibacterial wipes Make your own natural hand sanitizer.

4

Facial tissues handkerchiefs work just fine. Launder them.

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Paper bills and statements Switch to e-billing and statements. More secure, too.

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Plasticized sticky notes Use paper sticky notes or scrap paper; they can be recycled.

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What item in your life can you “get along without”? We’d love to hear your comments.