11 Ridiculous Disposable Items You Need to Dispose of Permanently


If you really think about it, everything is disposable. That sun’s going to explode someday, taking us, and all of our disposable items with it. But that doesn’t mean we should be creating so much waste, right?

Even though we are victims of circumstance—born into a time dominated by things and more things, we don’t have to buy into every temptation. We can learn to live without the perceived benefit of disposables.

Here are 11 disposable items you can probably do without.

1. Energy Bars: Yes, they’re convenient. And often pretty tasty too. But you can make your own. Really. Just try it. And stop sending those annoying wrappers to every corner of the planet.

2. Take away containers: No reasonable human can finish a meal at the Cheesecake Factory (nor should you even start one). But as soon as you decide to save any meal for later, you’re basically committing to making more trash. Yes, you can be the dork who brings containers to restaurants to scoop your leftovers into. It may seem like a small contribution, but in the long run, you’ll look back with pride.  The same goes for that chai latte. Bring your own mug already.

3. The coffee pod: This one’s been on our radar for a while now. Unlike the teabag, which can be composted (and even reused for a few cups) the coffee pod is wasteful and lame. Ditch the habit. And drink better coffee.

4. The single-serve beverage of any kind: Speaking of single-serve beverages, are you still hooked on cans or bottles? Yes, looking at you, kombucha lovers. You can brew your own ‘booch if you’re really hooked. And if soda is still your thing, SodaStream offers the bubbles without the burden of bottles.

5. Tissues: Giving up your daily bottle of kombucha making you a little weepy? Do not reach for a paper tissue. Go old school with a handkerchief. They’re reusable, and more reliable than the disposable, wasteful tissues. Those were once trees, you know…On that same note, invest in some cloth napkins too. They’re way cheaper in the long run and much more efficient.

6. Fast Fashion: Just because Forever 21 sells $9 clothes doesn’t mean you should buy into the gimmick. Invest in pricier, higher quality clothing and wear pieces more frequently instead of sending piles and piles of crappy clothing to the trash or Goodwill every season because they don’t last.

7. Feminine hygiene products: Ladies, are you still using tampons or maxi-pads? Did you know there are some pretty cool reusable products for your monthly visitor? Don’t scrunch up your face. Embrace your woman-ness and invest in a Diva cup that fits like a tampon but catches your flow instead of absorbs it. Or let it flow out onto reusable cotton menstrual pads. It’s really not as gross as you think.

8. Diapers: I can tell you now after more than seven months of changing a million of them a day, cloth diapers are no grosser than disposable diapers. You still have to clean that poopy bottom. Only difference is one goes to a landfill. Yes, certain emergency situations may call for disposables, but with organic cotton diaper delivery services now available, why not keep your wee one’s waste from polluting their future?

9. Razors: If you’re still using disposable razors, it’s time to stop. You’re not doing the environment or your body any favors. Those things work less efficiently than quality razors, and they’re certainly not doing any good floating out to that pile of plastic in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

10. Travel-size anything: Love those cute little travel size containers of shampoo and shaving cream? Congratulations. You’ve been duped by the personal care industry hell-bent on selling you more stuff. First of all, you don’t need to wash your hair nearly as much as you probably do. So for a short trip, chances are you don’t even need shampoo or conditioner. And second, I’m guessing there are lots of small containers already in your house that you can use if you really don’t have room for your toothpaste or deodorant in its regular size.

11. Floss: You floss twice a day? Congratulations. You’ll probably live longer and have a nicer smile. It is pretty much the most important oral hygiene habit ever. But those little individual floss picks with handles? They pretty much suck. Unless you’re paralyzed, missing an arm or have another physical limitation that makes them absolutely necessary, roll that string around your fingers and make sure to get the back sides of the last teeth. Most people forget those.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Related on EcoSalon

Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company: Behind the Label

Your Addiction With Coffee Pods Is Destructive, Expensive and Lame: Foodie Underground

The Ultimate Fast Fashion Detox: Six Items Challenge Comes to the U.S.

Image: Chris J

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.