Do I use up my disposables or get rid of them after I’ve started zero waste living? I get this question a lot. I know how it feels to still have a house full of disposables once you’ve made the commitment to cut out waste and be a little greener. It just feels – dirty for some odd reason.
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Don’t feel dirty! I still have disposables in my house from years of accumulation. We are consumers and you shouldn’t feel bad that you have these items in your home. We all do – we are average humans. And again, zero waste living isn’t about immediately being perfect despite how perfect some make it seem. It’s about making better future decisions. You know you aren’t going to purchase disposable, plastic cups anymore so don’t feel bad you did in the past. You are no longer “past you”. You are a new and improved “present you”.
You are no longer “past you”. You are a new and improved “present you”.
So, what is the best way to handle those shadows of convenience? Use them! Plain and simple. The resources to make said disposables have already been used. We can’t change that. What we can change though, is the fate of those items – to an extent.
Do I use up my disposables?
First of all – only use them when absolutely necessary. Don’t just go using everything willy-nilly to get them out of your life. At least, that’s not what I’d recommend. I understand the strong urge to purge those items from your life but it’s about being “less” wasteful and more resourceful. I talk about what to do with other plastic items HERE and HERE.
Find creative and useful ways to use your disposables. Use plastic cups as seed starters or use plastic cutlery for a sweet art project. Find Reusable ways to use some of those things.
For paper products, make sure you responsibly “get rid” of them after use. Recycle or compost them at the end of your life. Remember, trash is only waste if you throw it away.
Plastic wrap, foil, zipper bags?
Yes, use them! For foil and zipper bags, you can definitely use those more than once. And not to mention, you can reuse foil in multiple ways and can be recycled. I still use a gallon zipper bag to store my frozen bananas. Going strong for 3+ years now!
What about everything else?
Cotton balls, ear swabs, paper towels, dryer sheets, etc. You’ve already paid money for them so go ahead and utilize them. Don’t waste your money, too. Again, it’s OK! The disposables will at least bide you some time to get a reusable rhythm in place beforehand so that there’s an easy transition. Once those disposables run out, bid a sweet farewell and opt for the greener, reusable option. “Make better decisions going forward and look ahead.”