- reusable water/coffee bottle :: saves countless disposable bottles, cups + straws from being made + trashed
- reusable bags :: save countless plastic + paper bags from being made + trashed
- smaller cloth bags :: save countless plastic + paper bags from being made + trashed
- old spray bottle full of vinegar + water for cleaning :: saves lots of chemicals from being made, sprayed around our home + running off into our water system...saves lots of plastic bottles from being made + saves all the energy it takes to recycle them...saves the sprayer top from the landfill
- cleaning rags made out of old tees + kitchen towels :: save a lot of paper towels + the plastic wrap they come in from being made + trashed
- tea + coffee strainers :: save a lot of tea bags (which are often made out of plastic), coffee filters or K-cups from being made + trashed
- reusable masks :: save a lot of disposable masks from being made + trashed
- glass jars :: save a lot of plastic packaging + saran wrap from being made + trashed
I most often think of waste as what ends up in my trash can, but creating disposables is hugely wasteful in itself. Resources have to be extracted, refined, manufactured, transported from the source + to every stop along the manufacturing process + then to the warehouse + then to the coffee shop, take-out joint or grocery store. All so that we can use it for a matter of minutes...and then send it off to the landfill where it may take 200 years to disintegrate altogether. Worse yet, it might blow into a tree or drainage ditch + be carried off into the ocean.
We are using some of the items on this short list a little differently during the pandemic. For example, we can't use our reusable water bottles at a cafe, but we can still use them to keep water handy + cool in the house + at the park. The baggers at the grocery store won't put our groceries into our reusable bags, but we can. Our most recent addition to this list is the reusable mask. I can't imagine how many disposable masks our family of four would have used by now, if we hadn't chosen to use reusable ones.
It's pretty cool to remind myself that just a few reusable items (most of which I have been using over + over for more than a decade now) have saved so, so much waste from the landfill! Using these things is just habit now, so I don't often stop to think about the impact our teamwork has had.
We don't need a whole lot of stuff to move toward zero-waste!