There are a few things Hanno and I do here that I know can't be managed by others who have less free time or space. I know some of you struggle to have the time for making soap or bread, some of you can't plant up a garden or keep chickens. But this idea today is something everyone can do. I've written about it before but it's worth a rerun because it needs reinforcing, to myself as much as anyone else, and not everyone reads the archives.
I reuse everything I can here, instead of throwing it "away" after one use. When I write "away" that means, relocating it to the landfill rubbish dump to decompose - that will take either weeks or many years, depending on what product it is. Throwing it "away" doesn't make it not exist, it simple removes the used product from your environment.
I don't intend to drone on here about what you should be doing and to stop buying certain products, I'll leave that for your to decide. What I do want to do though, it to show you some alternatives and to encourage you to think about this huge problem.
One of the early swaps we did here was for handmade cloth napkins and another for cloth shopping totes. Both of these are easy to make, even for those new to sewing. We use our cloth napkins frequently, but not all the time. If the truth be told, my cloth napkins are what prompted this post. I realised I'd stopped using them every day, and have now left them on the kitchen table. Often it only takes a small change in your behaviour to make things easy and in full view, and you're back on track again. There are a number of links here to help you make a shopping tote. To make cloth napkins, simply machine or hand stitch the hems of appropriately sized squares of cotton or linen.
Did you know that it will take over a million years for a styrofoam cup to decompose? Or 550 million years from a disposable nappy/diaper to decompose? Other interesting, and horrifying, facts are here.
Speaking of nappies/diapers, Bel has written about cloth options as well as cloth menstrual pads and the Diva cup here. Bel's blogs are here and here. I hope to get some workshops happening for these at my work sewing circle this year.
Getting back to the kitchen, let's think about reducing our need for plastic wrap. I have plastic wrap and aluminium foil here but I consciously avoid using it unless it's absolutely unavoidable. I also have snap lock bags here that I wash and reuse over and over again. You can avoid plastic wrap on leftovers by placing your food on a flat plate and covering it with an upturned bowl. Cheese will keep quite nicely it it's placed on a plate with a moist cotton cloth over it. You will need to rinse the cloth and replace it every couple of days. Jugs can be covered with a crocheted cover instead of plastic.
I use my aluminium foil to store celery, beans and carrots. By rinsing the vegetables, and wrapping them firmly in a piece of foil, celery will stay crisp for at least six weeks. I wash the foil between uses and reuse it. One piece usually lasts about four months.
Of course you all know about my obsession with knitted dishcloths. They are much better than the ones you buy at the supermarket that are used then "thrown away". Knitted dishcloths wipe and clean well and can be washed over and over again. One will last at least a couple of years. There are patterns for knitted dishcloths here and here and my favourite waffle weave pattern is one from Deb at Homespun Living, her pattern is here. I also clean with rags - I have a rag bag hanging in the laundry that is full of terry towelling squares. These squares are old towels that have passed their use by date and have been cut up to make rags. There is a post about rags and cleaning with them here.
I am sure there will be some good ideas for getting rid of disposables in the comments today and I'm looking forward to reading what you offer. Never believe that whatever you choose to do won't make a difference. It does. You are responsible for your own waste, and no one can reduce or stop your waste but you.