Monday, July 22, 2013

Disposable to Reusable, Part 1: Food, Kitchen, and Shopping

When I talk to people about trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle, they almost always ask me for advice and/or say 'oh it must be so hard!'.  The first thing I tell them is to start where they can, and that the easiest place to start is by picking something that's supposed to be disposable and replacing it with a reusable thing.  So here are some of the ways I've switched from throwing away to reusing!

Two of the easiest places to switch to reusable items are in the kitchen and on shopping trips.  

Reusable grocery bags are the base level.  If you do nothing else, do this.
I have more, but they're in the wash.  FYI, its a good idea to run these through the wash after every one or two uses.  It keeps bacteria from building up on the bags.  That's why I use cloth bags, instead of the plastic ones.

I made rags out of t-shirts I'd cut up for other purposes.
I also have some made from old towels.

I picked up cloth napkins from yard sales.
I actually have 6 more of these white ones, but they're stained.  Colored ones are better for hiding stains.

Then reusable produce bags and cloth bags for produce or bulk foods.  I'm actually known at my farmers' market for bringing my own produce bags all the time -  almost everyone else uses plastic ones (!!!)
The mesh bags are these from Flip & Tumble.  You could also make your own if you're savvy like that - my Grandma made my cloth ones out of her quilting scraps.  The rice bag came from a friend - I told him about my shopping habits, and he said he'd bought rice in this cloth(ish) bag, but wasn't going to reuse it.  So now it's mine!

Finally, I fill glass jars with dry goods instead of buying pre-packaged foods and spices.
Some of these jars used to hold other things, and I've reused them, while others I bought new.  Many spice jars in particular were purchased already filled, and I just refill them when I run out.

Look out for Part 2 next week!

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