According to the EPA, "containers and packaging" makes up almost 1/3 of our waste generation. (about 30% or 76 million tons per year, to be more exact) Luckily, much of that waste can (and should be) recycled, but many of the items you would accept "on the go" cannot be recycled. This is due to food waste, weak or nonexistent recycling markets and various other reasons. If you have reusable alternatives to disposable items that you would encounter when you're out and about, you don't have to worry about where those items will end up.
I did a segment on this this morning. (see photo) See below for some reusable alternatives to disposable packaging. (Edit: here's the link.)
I want to first say that having and using reusable items need not break the bank. Going green shouldn't cost you a lot of green. If you keep your eyes open, you can find low cost or free alternatives to disposable products. I'll note how much I spent on the items I list below. I also want to say a huge Thank You to the More Good Day Oregon program for continuing to get out the waste reduction message.
|The set with all the splendid reusables laid out.|
reusable bags: Of course by now, most people have seen these and are even probably using them. There are now insulated bags and foldable ones that are quite small (slip them into a purse or pocket and you'll never be at a loss for a bag.) The insulated one shown was given out by our local County Department of Environmental Services group. Many of the items I talked about can be found in this way. I'm even starting to see a lot of these items in thrift stores! The green/yellow foldable bag was given to me as a gift and the blue one I bought from Bath and Body Works. The black balled-up bag was a promo item from our company.
reusable coffee mugs: Of the two that are pictured, one is from Starbucks (gift) and the other is this mug. Aladdin uses recycled plastic in a lot of their products, so if you choose to buy one of these, you're helping complete the recycling loop. The one pictured was a promo item at a conference.
reusable water bottles/cups: The gray cup shown was a promo item and the other one I bought from Pier One. I do really like the reusable cups, though, because the lid and straw makes them pretty safe to keep on my desk and I find that they encourage me to drink water more often. (Andy Carson also said the same thing to me off-screen this morning.) There was also a water bottle on the table. It's made by Liberty and is made here in the USA. The bottle was also a promo gift from a conference.
collapsible to-go containers: Tupperware and Rubbermaid both make collapsible containers. The green one in the video is from Tupperware and I bought it at a thrift store and the blue one was borrowed from a friend and made by Rubbermaid.
reusable straws: All the straws featured in the video are from Glass Dharma. They come in a myriad of shapes and sizes. Some have colored glass dots that keep the straw from rolling off tables. You can also purchase cleaning brushes. There are also stainless steel reusable straws, but I didn't have any of those to show.
durable utensils: The two shown in the video were borrowed from a friend but I do have a set from Preserve that I sewed a carrying case for. Preserve plastics boast a 100% recycled plastic content. There are many options for durable/reusable utensils. Everything from recycled plastic to bamboo and steel. It all depends on how much space you have and the weight that you want to carry.
reusable sandwich/snack bags: I bought the ones shown from a local artist. I know you can easily find reusable sandwich and/or snack bags and reusable sandwich wraps from a lot of different places. Check Etsy local if you'd like to buy from a local vendor.
What disposable item would you like to eliminate? Are you willing to create a new habit of carrying your reusables with you? I won't lie, it does take time (and determination) to change our consumptive habits, but the pay off will be worth it!
Happy Waste Reduction!