N.O.W. idea #11: Dispose of One Disposable

If you’re just getting started with Near-O Waste, it can feel overwhelming… I know! But if you make small changes gradually, you’ll get there! If you enjoyed getting rid of paper towels, eliminate another disposable this week. Choose Ziplock bags, Kleenex, Saran wrap, surface wipes, or sponges.

Ziplock bags can be replaced with glass or metal containers. I’ve accumulated a plethora of options in various sizes for school lunches and food storage. I like Wean Green, Glasslock, and especially Life Without Plastic because the lids are also metal and they’re lightweight and nonbreakable. But my favorite containers are repurposed jam jars; they’re perfect for smoothies and snacks.

Kleenex can be replaced with an old T-shirt. Cut one into rectangles the size of standard tissues and store them in something pretty. If you’re thinking it’s gross to rinse a cloth that you blew your nose with, I get it. I used to think the same way. But it’s really not that bad, and chances are -especially if you’re a parent- you’ve touched way worse. (Guests can use toilet paper if they’d rather.)

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Saran wrap can be replaced with Bee’s Wrap, a plate, or a storage container. Bee’s Wrap is pretty awesome. It’s great for covering bowls and wrapping food, but it’s kind of a pain to wash and it doesn’t last forever. I cover bowls of salad (or watermelon!) with a dinner plate and use smaller plates for things like unfinished oatmeal. Alternatively, you could store leftovers in a lidded container or a jar.

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Surface wipes can be replaced with homemade wipes or cloth napkinsAnd as a bonus, you’ll be cleaning your house without chemicals.

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My boys with a fresh batch of homemade wipes.
Sponges can be replaced with washcloths. I was so happy when we finally used our last sponge from Costco. Now we use washcloths that my mom knitted to wash our dishes. After each use, I rinse it and squeeze out the water. Then I hang it on a nail above the sink to air out. Our washcloths never get smelly. And when it’s time for a new one, I toss the used one (pre-rinsed in the kitchen sink) into the washer.

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So which disposable will you replace with a reusable? Or will you try them all?! Donate your remaining Ziplocks, Kleenex, plastic wrap, surface wipes, and/or sponges to a good cause and embrace your new reusables with pride!

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Figuring Out Takeout

On last month’s date night my hubby and I wanted to keep it simple, so we picked up burritos from our favorite taqueria and took them to the cliffs to catch the sunset. Of course I had some Near-O Waste requests. This was my dinner (+ a Mexican Coke):

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As we were walking into the taqueria, my hubby asked if he could stand behind me in line and pretend we weren’t together (but he didn’t). This was his dinner:

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At least he passed on the napkins, and I was impressed with the recycled paper bag.

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After dinner, and a stunning sunset, this was my only trash…

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…but of course I didn’t throw it away! I was actually just reading about how to recycle metal bottle caps, so now I’m extra glad I’ve been stashing them.

A week later (on St. Patrick’s Day and shortly after a friend had asked me how much glass I’ve broken) I was heading into the store with my mom, admittedly after a green IPA, when I dropped a large glass container that was meant to hold my deli sandwiches. The owner of the vehicle it broke under came out 30 seconds later, followed by Mike (the produce guy) with a rolling garbage can and a dust pan, saying, “Andrea, I should have known it was you!” The owner graciously helped me reach under his tires for the remaining shards of glass as Mike asked my mom if we were related. “Yes,” she said, “I’m her mom; double trouble.”

I still love my Glasslock for meat, but now I use my mom’s homemade wraps when I’m taking burritos or sandwiches to go. They’re lighter, less voluminous, less embarrassing, and indestructible! And I wish you could have seen the guys at the taqueria giggling at the poor soul who had to figure out how to swaddle my little burrito.

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