Friday, July 10, 2009


Disposable products are a part of modern life. Disposables are cheap and convenient but they do have a hidden cost. Disposables use valuable resources and end up in landfill - not good.

As part of the home audit from Down to Earth we have been looking at replacing disposables in our homes. I've been meaning to do this for quite some time so its time to stop procrastinating and get on with the job!

We use the following disposables:
  • plastic wrap in the kitchen
  • plastic freezer bags in the kitchen
  • aluminum foil in the kitchen
  • baking paper in the kitchen
  • paper towels in the kitchen
  • paper serviettes in the kitchen
  • tissues
  • toilet paper
There are probably more but they are the main products.

On the positive side we no longer purchase disposable dish cloths, I have knitted a good supply of cotton and bamboo dish cloths. I find the bamboo the best, its more expensive but very absorbent. I was lucky and bought the cotton on special so each dish cloth only cost about a $1 each. They are regularly thrown in the washing machine so come out clean and fresh. This change gets a big tick as an improvement on the disposable version. I have a pattern for a two colour dishcloth here.

Cleaning rags are made from old towels cut up into squares. My kids used cloth nappies but we are long past that stage now. Those nappies now make wonderful cleaning cloths especially for cleaning mirrors and windows. They are lint free after so many washings. This also gets a tick as its free and using something that would otherwise be thrown out.

I swapped to cloth menstrual pads about a year ago and wish I had make the change years earlier. They are far more comfortable and not difficult to wash. I bought mine but you could make your own. Another tick as an improvement over the disposable version.

We have been using cloth shopping bags for quite some time. I have a set for each car and they stay in the car so they are always there when needed. The green bags are usable many times over and fit a lot more in than the plastic bags, they are also more comfortable to carry. Another tick for an improvement.

I've started making cloth table napkins but need to make more. This will cut down on our paper towel use. I'll still buy paper towel though as we use it to clean oil and fat. These oily bits of paper are then used as firelighters in the winter. We buy paper towel made from recycled paper and one roll lasts about 6 months.

Baking paper, aluminum foil, plastic wrap are all used sparingly. I recently bought a silicon baking sheet to replace some of the baking paper but haven't tested it out as of yet. I've also bought glass dishes with lids to use to store food in the fridge rather than plastic wrap. The dishes are Pyrex so can be used in the oven and microwave as well. Again I'll keep using these products but try and cut down on their use.

Tissues - we still use some but not as many as we used to. We all use handkerchiefs but sometimes grab the occasional tissue.

Toilet paper - we won't be moving away from toilet paper, the family would rebel, in a big way. I do buy a product make from recycled paper.

Overall we are doing reasonably well with the disposables. We have stopped using a few and those we do use are used sparingly and/or made from recycled products.

We have definitely cut down on disposables as we now normally only throw one small bag of garbage out each week. Most of our garbage is packaging from food. We have been trying to cut that down by being conscious of what we buy.


Tracy said...

It's interesting to me, what some people are happy to swap to and what others are not prepared to change.

My latest biggest change was to go to 'rubbish free lunches'. I've two complete sets of boxes and lunch box freezer bricks so we don't use plastic wrap for that anymore. In fact, I don't use much plastic wrap at all.

Toria said...

Thanks for the link your dishcloth pattern, it's very pretty. Kind of like the David Jones pattern, so I guess it's a herringbone pattern?

Crunchie's Mum said...

Hi Toria,
it reminds me of David Jones as well. I guess it is a herringbone pattern. Its actually very simple to do but looks impressive. I've knitted a number of cloths in that pattern but different colours.