Eliminate Disposable Items: How I’m Doing It

Eliminate Disposable Item

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Here’s the post where you learn how much of a hippie I am…

Lately I’ve tried to eliminate disposable items when possible for a few reasons:

To Save Money

I’m tired of spending money on stuff like napkins. Seriously, that’s not a fun way to spend money! Disposable items are always going to be recurring costs. Buy it, use it up, buy more. I’d rather use that money for something else.

It's no fun spending money on things like napkins! Click To Tweet


I’m all about simplifying life lately and reducing the amount of stuff I buy really does have an impact. It might sound like laziness, but it’s more about reducing the amount of time and energy I spend on menial things so that I can put more time and energy towards things I enjoy. I’m a frugal person, so if I buy napkins, I’m not going to automatically buy the same brand every time. I’m going to look at the ads and the coupons, calculate price per napkin, and go with the best deal.

If I stop using disposable napkins, I just eliminated that entered thought process.

The Planet

Of course, I’m a bit of a closet hippie. Disposable items were mainly created as a means of convenience and that comes at a price, both in our wallets and the environment. It just seems so unnecessary. (Hey, Earth Day is coming up too!)

What I’ve Swapped

This list is growing as I find more disposable things in my life:

  • Paper napkins replaced with cloth napkins.
  • Plastic shower curtain replaced with waterproof, washable curtain.
  • Paper towels replaced with rags.
  • Dish sponges replaced with rags.
  • Swiffer cleaning pads replaced with a reusable version that I actually think do a better job of picking up dirt versus pushing it around!

  • Swiffer dusters replaced with rags. (Are you seeing a trend here with the rags?)
  • Lint rollers replaced with this magical pet hair remover. (I keep one at home and one at work!)
  • Earplugs switched from disposable to reusable. (I’d love to get rid of this habit completely someday, but ever since Iraq I can’t sleep without earplugs.)
  • Disposable furnace filter replaced with reusable option.
  • My previous humidifier required a filter to be replaced, so I switched to a new filter-free humidifier. (Those filters aren’t cheap!)

  • Ziploc bags replaced with glass storage containers for my lunches.
  • Disposable razors swapped with an electric razor. (This was like learning to shave all over again!)
  • Makeup remover replaced with….water! (Works just as well! All these products they convince us we need….)
  • Cotton balls replaced with wash clothes for removing makeup.
  • Loofah replaced with a wash cloth.
  • Dryer sheets swapped with cute dryer balls.
  • I’ve long ago stopped using bottled water, paper plates, and plastic utensils.

And then there’s all the stuff I just stopped using:

  • Perfume
  • Febreze
  • Air freshener sprays
  • Makeup remover
  • Shaving cream
  • Fabric softener
  • About a gazillion hair, skin, and makeup products
  • Bubble bath (all the bubbles disappear so quickly anyway!)
  • Single purpose cleaning products. Now I mostly just use Better Life’s Whatever spray on everything.

The Things I Won’t Replace

While I may be a bit of a hippie, I won’t be going without toilet paper. Also not sure I can find an alternative to kitty litter, tissues, and trash bags. I’d like to break the qtip habit since you’re not supposed to stick them in your ears anyway, but that’s easier said than done. I also haven’t figured out a good alternative to my Brita filters and not sure I could give up Kcups. (I know they make reusable ones but I don’t drink real coffee, mostly cappuccino!)

This started over a year ago and I’ve slowly been replacing disposable items with reusable alternatives as they run out. It won’t take long to make my money back at all. I immediately could feel the positive impacts in my life: less to maintain, keep up with, keep track of, fewer shopping trips, more savings, more time for the things I love.

Would you eliminate disposable items? Which would go first?

Eliminate Disposable Items
*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, Disease Called Debt and I Am the Future Me

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  1. Inspiring list! Last year I bought a pack of men’s handkerchiefs in place of tissues. Though I do keep Kleenex in the house for my husband & daughter who would think cloth handkerchiefs are gross, but they’re really not! just throw them in the wash & resuse. Its cut back on buying tissue a lot!

  2. For the K cup delimma: I use a Clever Coffee Dripper. It is a wonderful single serving coffee maker that is as simple as pouring boiling water over my coffee grounds and letting it steep. While I still have to use coffee filters (which you could compose with your grounds), it is INCREDIBLY cheaper and much better for the environment.

    • I’ve heard of those and think it’s a great concept, except I drink the foo foo drinks like cappuccino and not real ground coffee. 🙁

  3. These are some great tips! We can do so much to benefit our planet and if only everyone would really do some of it, it would be so much better for our planet. It’s crazy how much stuff gets thrown away. Thank you for sharing what you did and do to help!
    Chrissy recently posted…How I Feel In 5 Words.My Profile

  4. Great list! I’m the same as you as I try not to use disposable products. I didn’t know about the Swiffer reusable pads, will get those, thanks!

  5. Definitely some great ideas! When it comes to making “green” choices, things that we can reuse are definitely priority!

  6. Found it very interesting the amount of disposable items we use everyday that can easily be replaced with items that just need to be cleaned. Will be trying a few of these out!

  7. I will admit I am guilty of daily paper towel use. We often host our family and friends at our house and I use disposable items. I just can’t get past it or else I will be cleaning all these plates until late in the day and not enjoy the time with family. They are more like the exception and not the rule.
    Mayra Murillo recently posted…5 EASY WAYS TO SAVE MONEYMy Profile

  8. These ideas definitely appeal to my inner-hippie too. lol I hate spending money on things that I ultimately throw away besides it’s horrible for our planet. I’m not wiling to go so far as to avoid toilet paper and I struggle with not using paper towels! I’m working on it though!

  9. Yep! During my broke phases of life, I realized that soap works for most everything, but I applaud you for doing without ziplock bags yet. I’m a bit attached to those.

  10. I have been thinking on embarking on a “no paper towel” adventure to see if I can do it! I am on the path of eliminating disposable items as well. I’m pretty dependent on paper towels, though! Life with a toddler requires a lot of paper towels. 🙂

  11. We are constantly looking for ways to get rid of disposable things. We bought a bunch of Tupperware to take to lunch and I called my dear old grandmother to make us some dish clothes to replace the ones she made about 4 years ago for us.

  12. Hi Heather, Great post with lots of good ideas! I personally love using cloth napkins in place of paper ones. BTW, you don’t look old enough to be a hippie! 🙂
    Blessings, Janet

  13. The shower curtain I am proud to say that I am already doing. But I didn’t know about the reusable Swiffer pads! Thanks for the tips! Stopping by from Moms Small Victories linkup.

  14. This is a great list! I switched to cloth napkins years ago, and would never go back! Now it seems strange to eat at a home with paper napkins. I love the idea of a cloth shower curtain liner, but with our icky water (tends toward rusty) and a family that takes 3-4 showers in a row every morning, I wonder how it would work? Do you find that the water ever soaks through?
    Julie @ Filling the Jars recently posted…12 Quick and Budget-Friendly Real Food Meal SolutionsMy Profile

    • I’ve had the cloth shower curtain about 6 months now and surprisingly it hasn’t soaked through at all! I’ll be curious to see how it keeps working over time…

  15. I’d like to get back to cloth napkins. We used them years ago, but I only had white ones, and they got dingy. What color do you recommend for staying nice longer?

    I’m thinking a red, or even a pattern to better hide stains.

    • I agree with you on white! I went with a deep red because I have some red accents in my kitchen and couldn’t choose a pattern I liked! 🙂

  16. What?? You’re not going to give up on toilet paper 🙂 Ha! I’m giving up on baggies for kid’s lunches. Instead we use re-usable cloth bags and no brown bags- we use lunch boxes 😉

  17. Hi Heather,

    This is a great list and really inspiring. So many things we can change to keep this planet safe and clean. I am not sure though if I want to replace the makeup remover because I have sensitive skin and to be honest, plain water just makes my skin dry. Maybe I need to find a recipe for homemade makeup remover with ingredients I already have at home.

    Psychic Nest recently posted…Karma and the Cosmic BalanceMy Profile

  18. I have given up on ziplock bags…except for when it comes to freezing things like chicken in marinades or the bananas for my smoothies. I *do* wash and reuse the banana ones, but not the meat ones.

  19. A lot of good suggestions here. I have been cutting back on my use of disposable products and have found this to have an impact on my grocery budget and the amount of trash we put out. I am intrigued by the shower curtain idea and plan to look into it.

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