Friday, October 9, 2009

Join the Ditch the Disposables Challenge!

Ditch the Disposables Challenge 2009Amy at Crunchy Domestic Goddess is hosting a Ditch the Disposables Challenge for September and October 2009.

I'm a little slow, but I'm joining in.

The idea is to look for disposable items you could swap out for reusable items in order to be more eco-friendly and keep trash out of the landfills and recycling bins.

Here's how Amy puts it:

"We live in a society of convenience, where throw-away products are the norm rather than the exception. But all of the disposable products take resources and energy to produce and then, of course, get thrown away, filling up our landfills. All of this is bad news for the environment."

Find some changes you can make, and then give away or store away your disposable items for the challenge duration.

Here are the changes I have made, as well as the ones I'm contemplating. Things are a little up in the air and literally scattered about with the move, in terms of finding my supplies when I want them, but I'm hoping to establish a good system where I have reusable products handy in every room. In fact, this move in general has been a great opportunity to make some big changes in our lives. I already talked about this a little in terms of nutrition: We decided not to move any foods into our new place that weren't what we considered good for us, and any new foods we buy have to meet the same guidelines. We've made our process a little easier by shopping mainly at PCC, which is a local natural grocery store, and ordering from Spud, which offers delivery of local and organic items.

Inspired by our successes there, I want them to reach further. So, in the spirit of Ditch the Disposables, here are my changes:

floursack dish towels white     • One place I've found it very convenient to cut down is my cleaning supplies. I'd already gravitated toward using simple and (mostly) nontoxic cleaners like vinegar and baking soda, with occasional bleach. It's much cheaper to keep a few simple and natural cleaning elements on hand than have a ton of specialized products where the dispenser is made of plastic and has disposable refills you have to buy, and the liquid in the cleaner is toxic and smelly and I feel like I have to rinse everything it touches. I'm not a big fan of cleaning, and I have in the past mistakenly imagined that some special new product will make it all come together for me and inspire me to clean. It doesn't happen — it just adds clutter to the broom closet. So...out all of the excess went in the move. I Freecycled them to a nice lady whose teenage son was going to use them for a service project. It's nice to feel like even your discarded stuff is going to a good cause! What I have left is some industrial-sized bottles of multi-purpose and green cleaning ingredients, spray bottles to mix and apply, microfiber cloths, a couple dusters (one for Mikko, one for me — a necessity!), a dust mop with washable head, a regular old wet mop (sorry, Swiffer, I'm not buying the idea that I need to discard it!), a vacuum, and a couple brooms and dust pans (see above for why I need two).

DivaCup #2 Post Childbirth     • I was just inspired by my recent period to reconsider my stash o' menstrual products. I love cloth diapers for little ones, and Mikko's now in cloth training pants or undies, depending on what we pull out of the drawer. But, since we didn't have a washer/dryer before our move and used an outside laundry service, I didn't feel comfortable making someone else wash cloth mama pads. What I have been using for several years now is an Instead cup, which sits up around the cervix to catch the flow. Ever since my cycles returned postpartum, I've experimented with using just one Instead cup for the whole week of my period, rinsing it out with clear tap water every time I empty it, and it's been fine — no infections or discomfort. I love the Instead, because you can leave it in for 12 hours, it works for even a heavy flow, it doesn't dry out your natural moisture like tampons do, and you can even have sex with it in! To catch any leaks, and as I taper off enough that I feel like removing the Instead, I use pantiliners as a backup. So I thought I'd go one step better next cycle and try out fully reusable options, particularly since I now can wash my own pads. Instead of the Instead (ha ha), I've ordered a DivaCup. Actually, if you hurry, you can enter to win your own Diva Cup from Crunchy Domestic Goddess's giveaway! Leave a comment there by Oct. 13. The DivaCup is similar to the Instead in that it catches the bulk of the flow, although it sits lower in the vaginal opening, so you can't (sigh) have sex with it in. Yes, that's an important consideration to lazy old me! Still, I like the fact that it's designed to be reusable, unlike the Instead cups, which are designed to be tossed at every change. So I'm going to give it a go. As far as pantiliners are concerned, I'm really interested in LunaPads, and I hear there's going to be a giveaway for them on Crunchy Domestic Goddess as well, so stay tuned. But I might just get my act together enough to sew my own.

women's assorted floral handkerchiefs     • Because of that new luxury of having our own washer/dryer, I'm feeling freer to use cloth napkins, dishcloths, and microfiber cloths in lieu of paper napkins and paper towels. I haven't broken myself of the habit of reaching for paper yet, but I'm trying! I really should do what Amy says and put away the paper to make it impossible to use it. Since Mikko's been snuffly the last week, I've also been considering a switch to hankies. I hate when I have a cold and my nose gets rubbed raw from all that tree bark! I always have to switch to the lotion tissues and moisturize my nose until it heals. Wouldn't it be lovely to wipe with a nice, soft cotton instead? I just have to figure out the practicality of it, since that art has been lost.

CamelBak 0.4-liter kids stainless steel water bottle     • One of our nutritional changes in this move was breaking our mad diet soda addiction. I felt guilty not sharing our drinks with Mikko, but equally guilty sharing diet soda with him. I actually truly hate drinking water, but I'm trying to adapt! (Seriously, I feel thirsty all day, no matter how much I drink, and I pee constantly. I'm hoping my body will get the hang of the switch soon.) Sam and I found a drink made by Talking Rain called Twist that's mostly water but with a hint of juice and agave nectar. It's 9 calories a serving and it's just interesting enough to make water not so dang bland and horrible. BUT, it's expensive to buy, and it comes in disposable plastic bottles. Sam got creative, bought some juices and agave nectar, and has created his own Twist-like blend for much cheaper. Now we just need something to drink it out of on the go! We're exploring the realm of stainless steel water bottles, in particular the Klean Kanteen and the CamelBak. We were trying to find one small enough to fit in our car's wretched cupholders, but alas, it is not to be. We might have to give up and get one of those goofy attachable cupholders or just, I don't know, not drink in the car. Oh, well. Since nothing's going to fit in our car, we're going to just go for what suits us best, so we're playing around with some options.

Green Bee 3pk reusable shopping bags with pouch     • I looooove my reusable grocery bags. I held out for so long switching over from plastic, which is embarrassing to say out loud here, but we just used to use them for everything. There's the obvious cat litter scoopage, but then I would just carry everything in them: library books, snacks, extra dipes, what have you. Now I carry everything in my reusable bag instead (a nice solid black fold-away one from Safeway with no big obvious logos — similar to this but black), and it's so much cleaner and grown-up looking! So now my grocery bags have become my de facto purses and diaper bags. Sometimes I have to dump stuff out in the grocery line so I can fit groceries inside, but the good news is I always have one with me! I haven't come to the end of our plastic stash for kitty litter purposes, but I imagine we'll figure something out.

     • One change I'd like to make is one I saw a friend do at a recent bridal shower. She goes to thrift shops and picks up inexpensive and colorful canvas bags to use as fabric gift bags. I bet they're usually cheaper than the paper alternatives, and the recipient gets a cute and reusable bag as part of the gift!

     • I have this adventurous streak that's crying out to install an attachable bidet spout on our toilets. Sam actually agreed with me that it wouldn't be too weird, so off we go! I'm not saying it will replace toilet paper and wipes yet — but cut down, at least. I can always get more adventurous later!

To join the challenge, go to Crunchy Domestic Goddess and leave a comment telling Amy what you're switching over. You can also grab her button to link to on your site.

Here's Amy's full suggestion list to give you further ideas, and go read the comments at the post for even more:

     • Paper napkins to cloth napkins
     • Paper towels to cloth towels or something like Skoy cloths
     • Tissues to handkerchiefs
     • Paper, plastic or Styrofoam plates to your kitchen plates
     • Disposable utensils to regular silverware
     • If you order food “to go” or have food to take home from a restaurant, bring your own container rather than accepting Styrofoam or plastic
     • Inexpensive plastic “Take & Toss” sippy cups to Thermos or Camelbak bottles or the Klean Kanteen
     • Disposable water bottles to (again) reusable bottles like Thermos, Klean Kanteen or Camelbak
     • Plastic sandwich bags or paper lunch bags to reusable containers/bags
     • Plastic straws to glass or stainless steel straws
     • Swiffers (or similar products) to a broom and dustpan or mop (or use reusable cloths like cloth diapers/terry inserts in your Swiffer)
     • Disposable dust rags to cloth rags
     • Disposable diapers to cloth diapers
     • Disposable wipes to cloth wipes (inexpensive plain washcloths work really well)
     • Disposable feminine products (tampons, pads) to reusables like DivaCup, MoonCup, Glad Rags, Luna Pads, Pretty Pads, or New Moon Pads, among others. You can even make your own pads.
     • Grocery store bags to reusable bags
     • Disposable wrapping paper or gift bags to reusable cloth gift bags
     • Single-use batteries to rechargeable batteries
     • Toilet paper to cloth wipes/washcloths (for #1 or #2 too if you are really, really adventurous)

Enjoy the challenge, and let me know how switching to reusable goes for you!


 Aphie said...

Oh, I know this is old and all, but I wanted to say, in regards to your water drinking that my mother used to throw two or three slices of lemon into our water jug in the fridge (much cheaper than buying over-processed stuff, and really tasty!). But she also used to throw two sliced strawberries in, instead, at times - this was my favourite. Strawberry water is very tasty. :)

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