In order to live an earth-friendly lifestyle fully there are a few things we need to stop following the crowd with and become our own person – and one of these things is accepting and using single use items. I know there are a lot of people who talk about how bad single use items are on the environment, but it’s true! The way I look at it is, if I would not allow that kind of waste in my home then why would I allow creating that waste outside my home?

I started thinking about this the other day in the form of how to avoid extra waste while you are traveling, but this is also about when you are going about your day to day life, such as school runs, while you at work, family days out etc.. We are all tempted during these times to except single use items, but we need to retrain ourselves to be organized and refuse these items.

I suppose this came to a head when I was out with my family yesterday stood in a line for a takeaway coffee. I stood there watching every person in front of me and each one expected either a plastic cup, straw, plastic fork, plastic bag or a  plastic wrap around their freshly made sandwiches. Then it was my turn to place an order, I handed over my reusable coffee cup for my coffee, the girls reusable metal bottle for their juice and I asked for our sandwich order to be wrapped in napkins instead of plastic. To my amazement, the lady serving me looked at the other assistant and said “There is always one difficult one!” I want to shout back “I am not difficult I am just not a sheep and I don’t follow the crowd because I want to protect the earth that gives me so much to live,” but instead I just smiled politely, paid my bill and passed my order out to my family so I did not need to except a plastic bag.

Here are some simple single use items you can refuse to use in your home or while you out:

In Your Home 

  • Dryer Sheets – All dryer sheets really do is add a nice scent to your clothes, oh and not to mention all the chemicals that have gone into making this single use sheet. ( Benzyl alcohol, Ethyl acetate, and Pentane) Instead opted to make your own or buy a dryer ball that you can use over and over and over again.
  • One time coffee pods –  Sorry these make me so mad, according to NPR, 60 billion K Cups went into landfills since the rise of its creation and that number is growing fast. You can get a really nice smooth coffee from adding hot water over coffee grounds in your percolator, then when you have finished tip your coffee grounds either straight into your garden (the worms love coffee grounds) or into your compost.  You can also use your coffee grounds to absorb odors or as a drain cleaner. You can find out more about how you can reuse your coffee grounds here.
  • Plastic bags – I am not just talking about the plastic bags you get asked if you would like in supermarkets but the ones you get offered nearly everywhere you go. It’s easy to carry a reusable shopping bag in your handbag, rucksack, car etc.. as there are lots of companies out there that sell bags which fold into themselves so small. Or if you don’t fancy buying one you could also make some.
  • Boxes of tea bags – I am not against a good cuppa and in fact I drink a lot of tea (Chai Tea) and its not the thing we really think of as being a wasteful single use product but in fact it is. Ok when we buy a box of tea bags the first thing is the box is covered in plastic wrap (which can not be recycled), then a large box (which you can recycle) before you get to the tea bag to make your cuppa. But it doesn’t stop there once you have made your cuppa most tea bags (unless stated otherwise) are made of plastic particles in the woven paper so can not be added to the compost. Instead of using this single use product and still enjoy a good cuppa, buy loose tea wrapped in paper or in a loose tea tin that can be reused. Once you have used your loose tea pop them in them safely in the compost.

  While You Are Out 

  • Take out utensils – These are not recyclable and in truth they always break when we try and use them or that plastic knife that just does not cut through anything just becomes a frustration instead of being a tool. It’s easy to refuse these items by being a little bit more organized, just pop into your bag and carry around with you everyday a fork, knife and spoon from your cutlery draw or buy a set from your local charity shop. Once you have used them pop them back in your bag and wash when you get home.
  • Plastic bottles – There are so many drinks you can buy on the go that contains all sorts of different drinks from juice to fizzy.  Around 50 billion water bottles were used last year in America, which is a lot of bottles to end up in landfills. All you need is a simple aluminum drinks bottle and some tap water from home. If you run out while you are out and about, just ask a coffee shop to refill it.
  • Paper coffee cups – Ok so you buy a takeaway coffee every day on your lunch break that makes five coffee cups a week, totaling 260 single-use coffee cups you send to landfill in just one year. Wow! That’s a lot when you think about it like that. Instead, buy a reusable coffee cup for eight dollars and that one cup will last you way more than 12 months as well as keeping you coffee/ tea warm and safe to carry on your travels.

These are only a few examples and there are many many more to add to the list, but then we may be here all day listing them all. But even buy just refusing all of these things we are reducing our impact on the planet.

What single use items are you planning on not using any more or have stopped using?

Lead image source: Flickr