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Tuesday Tip | Make disposable products inconvenient.

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If you’re trying to avoid using disposable products (a sensible frugal move!), make it inconvenient to use them.

And on the flip side, make it as easy as possible to grab a reusable item.

to-go ware sidekick containers
(These are To Go Ware sidekick containers. So great for lunch packing.)

For instance, store the glass/metal food containers in a convenient spot.

And keep the Ziploc bags on the basement shelf.

(If you really need one, you’ll go get it, but you will not grab it out of convenience.)

Keep washcloths, hand towels, and cleaning rags in convenient spots, and make paper towels harder to grab.

How to keep towels and dishcloths sanitary

You can also just not buy a product at all, which makes it super inconvenient to use.

(A trip to the store is not at all convenient!)

For instance, I don’t buy disposable straws, which means that if we want a straw, we will always use the glass or metal ones we own.

beet smoothie

Make the good choice easier, and the bad choice harder.

In the comments, I’d love to hear how you make the non-disposable option easier at your house!


P.S. The book Atomic Habits talks about this concept (make the good habit easier and the bad habit harder) and I realized that I’ve been doing this with disposable products, but I never really thought about it.

Now that I’ve read about it, though, I’m going to be more intentional about it with other habits I’d like to develop.

P.P.S. We use our glass straws a lot, but if you’ve got little kids, metal straw are great! We got a set of dishwasher safe metal smoothie straws from Amazon, and they’re working out super well.

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Barb F.

Tuesday 28th of May 2019

Good blog, and comments today. Sounds like some Mighty Nest users out there, like me. I love the metal cups they sell, and the silicone seals they sell that fit over them , including ones that have a a hole into which a silicone straw will fit. Grandson uses them all the time. The straws clean well with the straw brushes you can purchase. Air dry them. I would advise caution about buying the metal straws, although I like them. Daughter works for a dentist and tells me people break teeth on them, I guess by not gauging how far from the mouth they are and hitting the tooth hard. Just this week I tried the "one paper towel and a layer of newspaper" to drain cooked bacon. Recycled paper from in-laws endless supply of discards in their highrise. Can we put bacon fat in the compost, if it's an enclosed bin? I was told no protein (other than egg shells)as it attracts rodents. Would the grease have an adverse affect on the composting process?

WilliamB, compost enthusiast

Wednesday 29th of May 2019

The short answer is: no grease in the compost pile. The explanation for the short answer: grease doesn't decompose well. IOW, it's not really about the rodents since any food could attract rodents and scavengers.

The long answer: it depends on whether it is a "hot" compost pile or a "cold" compost pile.

Hot piles have to be big (at least a cubic yard), have to be managed (primarily mixing the pile up every now and then, to get all the contents into the action), and get hot from the chemical reactions of decomposition (the pile will, at first, generate heat and steam, and feel warm to the touch). Cold compost piles are the ones where you dump your stuff and just wait till it turns into compost; no pile management necessary. Note: if your pile gets goopy and stinky, add "browns" - shredded paper or shredded leaves.

Vegetable protein and eggs will decompose in cold piles. Dairy, meat, and non-trivial amounts of grease need the more intense chemical reactions of a hot pile in order to decompose.

Corrine Wilson

Tuesday 28th of May 2019

We have rubber, stretchable covers that we use over plates instead of plastic wrap. We use Silpat's, instead of tinfoil, on the bottom of baking sheets. We have reusable zip lock bags. They are made of a thick silicone material that freeze very well. We use glass jars to store food in refrigerator and freezer. Saving glass jars from salsa or olives works well for this purpose. We have a ton of small cloth napkins we use instead of paper towel. We do still purchase paper towel, but only use it to clean nasty messes like cat barf. And we have some reusable glass containers we use to pack our lunches/breakfasts. It only saves a small amount of money yearly, but the savings adds up over the years. It's also better for our health and environment.

Millicent Borges Accardi

Tuesday 28th of May 2019

A third category: make disposable reusable! I have vivid memories of my grandmother rinsing out ziplock bags and hanging them on the line to dry, and re-wrapping aluminum foil back on the roll, to use a 2nd time. True also for rubber bands, twist-ties and paper bags, all of which had multiple lives after the initial use.

Heidi Louise

Tuesday 28th of May 2019

One of my tactful just-married moves was to convince my husband he could buy me the occasional flower but not have to include another tall skinny grocery store vase.

Several of the things I use for flower vases were designed for other uses-- Glass bottles from a fancy labeled green Perrier, some designer honey, a huge very old blue liquid Noxema, and some small medicine bottles. When sharing small bouquets from my garden, recyclable bottles (from beverages, extracts, spices, medicine, olive oil) hold water just fine and usually amuse the recipient.

I obsessively kept the water tubes from some florist-bought roses until I thought of a use for them. I put flowers in them and stuck in them in the pots to add color to some plants I was lending for an outdoor party.


Tuesday 28th of May 2019

I cleaned out and reorganized the container cabinet so bases and lids are easy to find. I don't save containers unless it's truly a useful size, style, and shape so my cabinet doesn't get overstuffed like some others I have seen. My husband was more likely to reach for a baggie, (we do use some for freezer storage but try to reuse them as much as we can), so I put them in a lower cabinet. (Wish I could put them in another room but we live in a very small apartment.) I also try to set the example as much as possible since he will tend to copy my kitchen habits after a while. Still can't get him to let go of paper towels but I have encouraged him to use far less than he used to.

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