Zero Waste Tips

7 Disposable Items You can Reuse

Image result for plastic utensils

We try not to use disposable or single-use products as a family. It took us a lot of discipline and effort over the years but the result was pretty amazing. We were able to significantly reduce our weekly trash and now own a 1.5 gallon garbage bin. We try to use reusable items as much as we can. I do use a few convenience items that fall under disposable products but I usually try to get more than one use out of them, like baby wipes and parchment paper.

Here are a few uses for single use or disposable items-

Plastic utensils-

We don’t use disposable plates/utensils as a family. We take our own plates/utensils at events and ask for a non disposables when invited at a someone house. but sometimes I’m handed these utensils when I’m at a potluck. Other times, on rare occasions, I use these when I don’t have access to wash my hands. Either way, when I have acquired a plastic utensil, I refuse to throw it in the trash after one use. So what do I do? Once I am done using it, I wrap it in a napkin ( I usually carry a cloth napkin in my purse) and bring it home. Don’t have a cloth napkin? Wrap it up in a paper napkin or a piece of paper and bring it home. I throw it in the dishwasher along with other metal utensils once I’m home. I store them for future use or emergency backups.

Are you thinking this is too much? Or may what difference will it make? Look at the image below. Every single effort counts.

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You can use these utensils many times and they travel light and well.

Baby wipes-

I use these wipes to clean used books and library books and believe me, old books can be downright filthy. You can use a single wipe to clean many books, until the wipe has dried up. Once it’s dry, give it a wash, and once it has dried store it the under the sink in your bathroom or kitchen.

The wipes can be used for a second time to clean the kitchen counters, appliances and cabinets. A little squirt of dishwashing liquid and some water go a long way with these wipes. They can be used to wipe the fridge and the oven. You can use it to clean door knobs, handles, switch plate covers, etc. When I’m done I wash and hang dry these wipes to be used again.

A third use for these wipes would be to spot clean a small area of the floor, like removing a sticky spill or cleaning up near the stove or fridge and around the trash can where dirt accumulates frequently. It does a great job of cleaning the bathroom as well, from sink to floor.

The wipes usually start to disintegrate after the third use and should end up in the trash bin.

Parchment paper-

I use parchment paper to line my cookie sheets and cake pans to minimize exposure of the baking goods to chemicals that can be in the pans. Once baked, I slice the cakes carefully so the paper is not damaged and then store the paper in the fridge. I use it many times to make cakes and it saves me both money and time in the long run.

I keep my cookie sheets in my oven, lined with parchment paper and carefully remove the cookies so the parchment is not ripped. The lined sheet waits in the oven for me until I’m ready to bake the next batch of biscotti or chocolate chip cookies. The cookies come out perfectly irrespective of the multiple uses of the parchment paper.

Plastic cups-

I use these as mini trash bins and keep them in one of the cup holders in my van. Once full, I empty it and reuse until it starts to fall apart. You can also use these to organize small things. These cup can washed and reused many times for it’s intended purpose.

Plastic take out/left over containers-

I usually take my food containers to restaurants for bringing home any leftovers. I also use them for bulk shopping at the grocery store. These containers are light weight but the lids close well and can usually be stacked. Win win.

Aluminum foil-

I use aluminum foil to cover pans to use in the oven. Once the food (usually chicken and potatoes) is cooked and the foil is cooled, I scrape off any food that’s attached to the foil, fold it and keep it in the freezer for future use. It can survive many uses.

Butter wrappers-

Instead of throwing away the wrappers, I keep them in a stack in the fridge and use them to grease a baking tray or dish.

Toilet paper-

Well, you can… not really ;). This is where I draw the line.



Do you have any tips to share on how to reuse disposables?

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