Do I Use Up My Disposables After Going Zero Waste?

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Do I Use Up My Disposables After Going Zero Waste?

Last Revised: 10/18/2020

Do I use up my disposables or get rid of them after I’ve started zero waste living? I get this question a lot. I know how it feels to still have a house full of disposables once you’ve made the commitment to cut out waste and be a little greener. It just feels – dirty for some odd reason.

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Don’t feel dirty! I still have disposables in my house from years of accumulation. We are consumers and you shouldn’t feel bad that you have these items in your home. We all do – we are average humans. And again, zero waste living isn’t about immediately being perfect despite how perfect some make it seem.

It’s about making better future decisions. You know you aren’t going to purchase disposable, plastic cups anymore so don’t feel bad you did in the past. You are no longer “past you”. You are a new and improved “present you”.

You are no longer “past you”. You are a new and improved “present you”.

So, what is the best way to handle those shadows of convenience? Use them! Plain and simple. The resources to make said disposables have already been used. We can’t change that. What we can change though, is the fate of those items – to an extent.

Do I use up my disposables or throw them out?

First of all – only use them when absolutely necessary. Don’t just go using everything willy-nilly to get them out of your life. At least, that’s not what I’d recommend. I understand the strong urge to purge those items from your life but it’s about being “less” wasteful and more resourceful. I talk about what to do with other plastic items HERE and HERE.

Source: Mama. Papa. Bubba

Find creative and useful ways to use your disposables. Use plastic cups as seed starters or use plastic cutlery for a sweet art project.  Find Reusable ways to use some of those things.

For paper products, make sure you responsibly “get rid” of them after use. Recycle or compost them at the end of your life. Remember, trash is only waste if you throw it away.

Plastic wrap, foil, zipper bags?

Yes, use them! For foil and zipper bags, you can definitely use those more than once. And not to mention, you can reuse foil in multiple ways. Foil can also be recycled.

I still use a gallon zipper bag to store my frozen bananas. Going strong for 3+ years now!

Do I toss my single use disposables after going zero waste? Hell No! Use them up! Wouldn't be wasteful to purge and start over?

What about everything else?

Cotton balls, ear swabs, paper towels, dryer sheets, etc. You’ve already paid money for them so go ahead and utilize them. Don’t waste your money, as well.

Again, it’s OK! The disposables will at least bide you some time to get a reusable rhythm in place beforehand so that there’s an easy transition. Once those disposables run out, bid a sweet farewell and opt for the greener, reusable option.

“Make better decisions going forward and look ahead.”

Sustainable living is synonymous with being overly expensive and I”m trying hard to change that. Being frugal is a huge and integral part of living sustainably.

Related: 10 Ways to Start Zero Waste With Items You Already Have

You may want, desperately to purge and start fresh but I strongly urge you to slow down. Use this time to slowly replace one disposable with an alternative – maybe even with something you already had lying around the house.

So in my opinion to answer the question: “Do I Use Up My Disposables After Going Zero Waste?” is a resounding No.

And if you still feel that it’s best for your to get rid of some of your disposables, at least donate it to someone who could benefit.

4 thoughts on “Do I Use Up My Disposables After Going Zero Waste?

  1. We did the same- used up disposables before replacing. It made the transition much cheaper! I can’t tell you how ready I was when it FINALLY came time to replace our plastic dish brush with a beautiful compostable one though. We still own a plastic broom and plastic laundry hampers that I look forward to replacing some day, but I feel it’s not in the spirit of ZW to toss them until their lifespans are genuinely over.

  2. Thank you for this, many probably think you have to either throw out everything and start fresh. And some may do so out of impatience. I do, though, think the waste-free method movement needs to focus on people and families who need to save money over not wasting. Contrary to initial belief, it is more expensive for many, to stop using plastic and disposables and to do things like buy in bulk, buy local and/or waste free beauty and cleaning products. They are more expensive, and to inner city people, “local” is a bodega or a 99 cent store. I can give many examples but here’s one: Lauren Singer’s dental floss in her store & videos sells for is $8.00 for an unknown amount, and $6.00 for refills. That is more than twice the price of dental floss from the store. And her shampoo bars, bags, cleaners, equally more $$. This movement seems good, fun for upper middle class people and college age/ millennials who have time and money for projects and visits to farmers markets. I will be watching more of this to see.

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