Every day we are presented with choices; choices that concern both the money we have in our pocket and our impact on the environment. When you go to the store you can choose to buy a 12-pack of paper towels or a 3-pack of washable cloth napkins. You can also choose to buy 300 disposable coffee filters or a coffee maker that has its own included filter. Virtually every disposable household item we use has a reusable alternative; it’s just a matter of making the investment.
Take for instance the humble brown paper bag. Those little brown satchels have been the gold standard for carrying lunches to school and work for decades. They are incredibly cheap to buy and always seem to expand to whatever volume you need without ripping. But by the end of the lunch hour they always end up tossed in the trash, or at best recycled. The eco-friendly alternative would be to spend a little bit more and buy a set of plastic containers for all of your lunch-time needs. All you need to do is load them up, snap the lid on, and wash them in between use. Not only will you save money on paper bags, but you will also cut your trash load down considerably. Not to mention the trees you end up saving.
Now of course we have to talk about coffee. Millions of Americans consume this delectable beverage every day, while at the same time generating a lot of unnecessary waste. There are many older and cheaper coffee makers out there that require the use of disposable filters. These little paper filters are cheap and plentiful, but going through 30 filters or more a month adds up to a whole lot of trash. Nowadays, you can find all sorts of makers that include a reusable filter. Though they do cost a little bit more than your run-of-the-mill coffee maker. But as you keep brewing away you’ll make up the difference without a whole heap of filters being left in your wake. And if you want to go the extra-mile you can even compost the coffee dregs from your reusable filter!
What else can you remove from your weekly trash pick-up? Well if you are accustomed to drinking bottled water, simply buy a reusable water bottle. Water bottles made from rigid plastic or aluminum are built to last and can even keep your water cool. And if you are put off by drinking tap water, don’t be. Bottled water and tap water are of the same quality, and tap water is 300 times less expensive than bottled water. So do yourself a favor and trade in that crinkly disposable bottle and buy a reusable one. You, your wallet, and your trash bin will appreciate it.
Contributed by Kevin Roberts, writer and outreach coordinator for Budget Dumpster.