The Top 20 Things We Throw Away (That We Shouldn’t)


How often do you have to empty the trash cans around your home? If you take a trip outside to the dumpster every couple days, it’s time to examine why your garbage bins fill up so quickly. To cut down the amount of waste you send off to the landfill, here’s a list of things you shouldn’t be throwing away.

Water Bottles

Yes, they can be recycled but, with a water filter on your faucet and a reusable thermos, there’s no need for disposable water bottles. Stopping the bottle habit is one of the best things you can personally do for the environment.

Tissue Boxes

When you go to the store to restock your supply, buy refills for the boxes you already have instead. Better yet, switch to a handkerchief.

Paper Napkins

Cloth napkins are a much better choice in all regards. They’re reusable and much more stylish.

Paper Towels

Bar towels are just as effective as their disposable counterparts. Though washing cloth towels year after year may seem counter-intuitive to eco-friendly folks, in the long run it’s much better for the environment than disposables.

Razor Blades

Buy a razor sharpener to make dull blades like new again. (Whoever invented the idea of throwaway shaving razors has a special place in a melting ice cap.)

Counter Wipes

Your counters will gleam all the same when you clean them with a sponge or rag.

Paper Coffee Cups

When you swing by your favorite café for a steaming cup of joe, bring your own reusable cup. Consider purchasing personalized photo mugs for yourself and your loved ones, and spread the eco-friendly inspiration.

Cotton Balls

There’s nothing a disposable cotton ball can do that a washcloth or reusable make-up applicators can’t.

Plastic Utensils

If you’re going on a picnic, bring along a reusable flatware set.

Paper Plates

Laziness is not a sufficient excuse for using paper plates. So, when you throw a big party, suck it up and wash a massive load of dishes instead. Or, our favorite, put the kids to work!

Plastic Shopping Bags

When you go shopping, bring along a reusable tote to carry your purchases. You’ll look more stylish than you would lugging around flimsy old plastic bags, and you’ll make a non-confrontational eco statement, too.

Dryer Sheets

You can easily make your own reusable dryer sheets and kiss the disposable alternative goodbye.

Printer Cartridges

When you run out of ink, refill your printer cartridges at places like Walgreen’s or CVS instead of throwing them away and buying new ones.

Coffee Filters

Replacing disposable coffee filters with one that’s reusable will cut down your amount of daily waste.

Ziploc Bags

To keep food fresh, rinse out empty containers of cottage cheese or yogurt to store leftovers time and time again.

Swiffer Pads

Convenient? Yes. Eco-friendly? Not by a long shot. So, stick to your old-fashioned mop.

Baby Wipes

Considering how many times you have to wipe your baby’s butt every day, the environment would be better off if you used washcloths instead.

Paper Lunch Bags

Pack your lunch in a reusable bag instead of the more traditional paper alternative.

Plastic Hand Soap Dispensers

Invest in a reusable hand soap dispenser. In addition to giving your bathroom a decorative touch, it’s less expensive to refill them with bulk quantities of liquid hand soap.

Disposable Contact Lenses

As long as you take proper care of your contact lenses and clean them in solution every night, substitute disposables with non-disposables. Instead of tossing a pair after a couple weeks, they can last up to a year.

Each week here at EcoSalon, the editors choose a post from the archives that we think you’ll love. This original post can be found here.

Image: L’Enfant Terrible