By Steve Graham, Hometalk
It may seem hard to get through a day without generating trash or even recyclable waste. The easiest ways to buy products, clean surfaces and perform other tasks often involve disposable items. However, you can often reduce your environmental impact and save money by replacing standard disposable items with reusable alternatives.
Even if you buy disposable items made with recycled and recyclable materials, they require energy and materials to create. Moreover, they require more energy to recycle. If disposable items end up in landfills, they might take months or years to decompose.
Here are 12 categories of disposable products that can easily be replaced with reusable products.
1. Beverage bottles: Disposable plastic water bottles are one of the great demons of the environmental movement, sending unnecessary plastic into the landfill. A variety of reusable metal and plastic alternatives are widely available. They are typically more expensive than a bottle of Evian, but they are infinitely refillable, saving plenty of money in the long run. Also consider reusable bottles and cups for soda and other beverages.
Milk containers pose other environmental problems. While plastic jugs are typically recyclable, they often end up in the landfill, where they may take hundreds of years to decompose. However, old-fashioned milk delivery in reusable glass bottles is becoming popular again. Also, more vendors, particularly natural foods grocers, are offering milk in reusable glass or plastic bottles.
To be sure, production and transportation of glass bottles is quite energy-intensive. However, reusing the glass and getting milk from local dairies significantly reduces the environmental impact.
2. Plastic bags: Disposable plastic grocery bags, though convenient, are another environmental scourge. An estimated 60,000 plastic bags are used every five seconds in the U.S. However, it seems that with each passing month, more shoppers at local grocery stores are bringing reusable bags made of cloth, canvas or other materials.
Smaller disposable plastic produce bags can also be replaced with cloth bags. Consider getting some used pillowcases at thrift stores, or sew small cloth sacks, and take them to the store along with your reusable shopping bags. Also look for bulk bins, and bring your own containers for grains, snacks, cereals and other foods. Instead of getting cereal in a disposable waxed paper bag within a disposable cardboard box, just put it in your own container.
You can even pour cereal or other foods into your own glass jars for home storage. Just be sure to measure and mark the tare, or empty, container weight.