Ditch the Disposables Challenge 2009

Ditch the Disposables ChallengeIt’s been one year since the first Ditch the Disposables Challenge on Crunchy Domestic Goddess which, with nearly 150 participants, was a big success. Let’s do it again and see if we can get 200 participants this time around! For two months, September and October, I’m challenging you to Ditch the Disposables!

We live in a society of convenience, where throw-away products are the norm rather than the exception. But all of the disposable products take resources and energy to produce and then, of course, get thrown away, filling up our landfills. All of this is bad news for the environment.

If you’d like to participate in this challenge, please select one or two (or more! – this can be as challenging as you want it to be) of your disposable products to ditch*, then leave a comment saying which disposable product(s) you will leave behind for two months in favor of an environmentally-friendly reusable product. I will create a list in the sidebar linking to everyone’s blog. Of course, you don’t have to have a blog to participate. I realize that many of you probably are already living without some (many?) of these disposable products, but certainly nearly all of us can find at least one NEW thing we can give up in favor of something better for the earth. If you honestly don’t use a single disposable product, leave me a comment too and I’ll still include you in the challenge and link back to you. :)

Here are some ideas to get you started…

You can make the switch from:

  • Paper napkins to cloth napkins
  • Paper towels to cloth towels or something like Skoy cloths
  • Tissues to handkerchiefs
  • Paper, plastic or Styrofoam plates to your kitchen plates
  • Disposable utensils to regular silverware
  • If you order food “to go” or have food to take home from a restaurant, bring your own container rather than accepting Styrofoam or plastic
  • Inexpensive plastic “Take & Toss” sippy cups to Thermos or Camelbak bottles or the Klean Kanteen
  • Disposable water bottles to (again) reusable bottles like Thermos, Klean Kanteen or Camelbak
  • Plastic sandwich bags or paper lunch bags to reusable containers/bags
  • Plastic straws to glass or stainless steel straws
  • Swiffers (or similar products) to a broom and dustpan or mop (or use reusable cloths like cloth diapers/terry inserts in your Swiffer)
  • Disposable dust rags to cloth rags
  • Disposable diapers to cloth diapers
  • Disposable wipes to cloth wipes (inexpensive plain washcloths work really well)
  • Disposable feminine products (tampons, pads) to reusables like DivaCup, MoonCup, Glad Rags, Luna Pads, Pretty Pads, or New Moon Pads, among others. You can even make your own pads.
  • Grocery store bags to reusable bags
  • Disposable wrapping paper or gift bags to reusable cloth gift bags
  • Single-use batteries to rechargeable batteries

Or, for the really crazy dedicated:

  • Toilet paper to cloth wipes/washcloths (for #1 or #2 too if you are really, really adventurous)

Please feel free to spread the word about the challenge on your blog by adding the button linking back to this post. If you have other ideas for disposable products people can ditch, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list. Thanks and good luck!

I’ll host a few check in posts (every other Sunday if I can remember) throughout the two months so everyone can stop by and say how they are doing, and offer support and/or tips to others as well. Together we can Ditch the Disposables!
*When I say “ditch,” please know that I don’t mean throw them away. I want you to try making a lifestyle change from a disposable product you use regularly. If you want to save your disposables until the challenge is over, that’s your prerogative. You might also consider Freecycling them or donating them to a local charitable organization. I do suggest that whichever product(s) you choose to give up, you pack away until the challenge is over, lest you be tempted to use it/them.

Also, I WILL have a few giveaways along the way to help you out with this challenge. Stay tuned! :)

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162 thoughts on “Ditch the Disposables Challenge 2009”

  1. While there are a few of those we already do… with the up coming “colds” season coming I think (gulp) we are going to try and change from Tissues to handkerchiefs… Already do it for the baby so it shouldn’t be that hard for us right…

  2. I’d like to join the challenge. I’ll be concentrating on:

    1. Using a reusable coffee cup instead of getting a disposable one at the coffee shop
    2. Switching from disposable utensils to regular silverware
    3. Bringing containers to restaurants for leftovers (I do that occasionally, but I’m really going to try to focus more)
    4. Use reusable containers/bags for school lunches. We don’t use plastic bags — just waxed paper bags when we run out of the cloth ones. But I’ll pick up a few more reusables so we can ditch the waxed paper bags.

  3. Switching to cloth napkins, and cloth kitchen cloths…I’m also going to try and start carrying my own coffee cup again, I got out of the habit when I got to give up the diaper bag…:)

  4. Better late than never – I’m in! I am going to stop using paper towels (will try Skoy cloths (thanks for the suggestion) bring my own shopping bags, cloth napkins and bring my own coffee cup. What a wonderful idea to ditch the disposables challenge! I will pass this info along to my friends and family.

  5. We’ve transitioned most things over to reusable items, but my one holdout has been paper towels. So, I will take the challenge. I will do it. I will give up Bounty. Thank you for pushing me to do what I know must be done!

  6. I recently purchased my first couple of reusable shopping bags! I LOVE them! (when I purchased them, the cashier was going to put them in a plastic bag…)

    I would like to join and am looking for suggestions on reusable napkins! I’ll be watching for more items to ditch… this is where I’m starting!

  7. I’ve already done the cloth napkin switch a few months ago and am working on using only wipe-up rags instead of paper towels. I think my newest ditch the disposables challenge is going to be produce bags. I’ll take them back to the store each time to reuse or use other plastic bags I have on hand. Thanks for the challenge!

  8. I appear to be late to the party, but have already ditched most disposables. We don’t use paper napkins or towels. Feminine hygiene is all cloth or diva cup. Water bottles are Kleen Kanteens. I have my reusable bags and produce bags. We still use plastic bags for the rare occasion that we need to wrap a sandwich, but they are all bags from other things and have been reused multiple times. We have rechargable batteries as well. I’ll have to look at your list again to figure out what else we can ditch!

  9. Good list – it’s nice to see everything all in one place :-) I have a couple questions. First, is it better to use glass or metal straws? My concerns are that metal would rust and glass would break. Second, do you have a favorite brand of food storage? I’ve read quite a few times where greenies are recycling their plastic food storage and switching to glass. Looking at Amazon, I see a lot of glass storage, but they all have plastic lids. I currently have one of those spinning plastic storage things. That was my request for Christmas last year as I started my green journey – get rid of the disposables and find something a little more permanent. But, along that journey, I’ve learned about the hole plastic-leaching issue and want glass. Any recommendations? Oh, and btw, I’ll be on board with the challenge – I can use the support.

  10. Though I agree that it would be quite bold to make a switch away from toilet paper (!!) it’s something I would eventually be interested in trying… Right now I plan to eliminate the use of all paper towels and disposable water bottles (and to cut out the use of as much product packaging as possible by buying in bulk at the local co-op).

  11. While I’m doing a lot of this already, I think this month I’ll hold off on using disposable baby wipes (which I’ve been cheating on lately) and making sure the little guy is in cloth when he’s at home.

    I’ve also decided not to give little candy bags or Halloween plastic stuff away to our Trick or Treaters. I’m sure I’ll make lots of friends with whatever I decide to do. :-)

  12. Am I too late to join? I was hemming and hawing about this for a bit, but I really want to take the plunge! I’m going to give up paper plates/napkins/cutlery, plastic shopping bags (I’ve mostly cut these out, but I still sometimes forget my reusable ones), and papertowels.

    These are all things that I’ve already been trying to cut out, but doing this challenge will give me the extra incentive to make the switch!

  13. The only disposable things that I use from your list of things to switch are TP and baby wipes. They’re non-negotiable in my book, but I do buy brands with high recycled content.
    My sin is fast food, with all its paper bags and plastic-lidded cups. So that’s my challenge: ditch the fast food. I’ll start in 2010, when I’m not pregnant. ;-)

  14. we are a family that practices non disposable. Over the past two years we reduced our waste to one small kitchen sized trash bag a month. (and that trash bag is even made of corn.)
    We do everything on your list, and more…..

    all except the cloth TP. although we use 100 percent post consumer, and then we single ply it…. we also use less ( no more wrapping around the hand!)

  15. Awesome. I LOVE my Diva Cup. SO much more comfortable & efficient than tampons!!!

    I’ll take the challenge — hankies & cloth napkins. I already use kitchen towels rather than paper, *most* of the time! :D

  16. I just purchased some cloth menstrual pads, so I’m in. Also, I’m trying to use fewer paper towels. Now to get the rest of the family in on the latter… not as easy

  17. We already do a number of these. One I’ve been wanting to do — and now will in honor of your challenge! — is switching to cloth napkins (we’ve already phased out paper towels). I love the idea of reusable wrapping too! I don’t know that I will be giving many gifts between now and christmas, but perhaps I’ll start early so I have tome to make some reusable gift bags — thanks for the great idea!

  18. My new thing (and probably what I’ll make for Christmas presents) is cloth produce bags. I’m going to make them out of cotton gauze with a simple drawstring, so I don’t have to have tons of flimsy plastic bags that I throw away each time I go to the grocery store or farmer’s market.

  19. What a great idea! I’ve been meaning to switch to a reusable water bottle for a while, and to switch away from disposable sandwich bags. So those are my 2!

  20. I wish I would have seen this sooner! I already use only cloth napkins and reusable water bottles. I have a bunch of cloth grocery bags, but I always forget them in the car! So I am going to make a bigger effort to remember to bring them in (or take the groceries out to the car sans bags and bag them in my trunk). I would also like to switch to handkerchiefs now that runny nose season is here, does anyone have any recommendations for hankies they really like? I’m excited to finish this challenge out strong!!

  21. I’ve gotten a bunch of mama-made cloth pads for postpartum, and am hoping to start using them any day now. *looks down at huge pregnant belly* Aaaaannny day now.

  22. I am currently trying to make all our food at home so we don’t do any take out anywhere, but really want to remember to bring my own containers if we do eat out. And toilet paper, I’m still thinking about the toilet paper issue and am making cloth wipes to try out …

  23. I saw the little button in your sidebar and somehow thought it had to be paper towels. Then I saw your Diva Cup giveaway and figured it out…

    I actually just ordered a Diva Cup! And am gathering supplies to make my own pads.

    Now that we have a washer, I also found cloth napkins and more dishcloths and microfiber cloths to cut down on paper towel use. (See, that little button made me feel guilty! Ha ha.)

    We’ve just ordered the 12 oz. Klean Kanteen in hopes that it will fit in our car’s terrible cup holders. So far we haven’t found a winner there.

    We just moved, so I used it as an excuse to streamline my cleaning supplies in favor of natural and reusable, so I Freecycled all my Swiffer, Ready Mop, etc., shtuff in favor of regular mops, brooms, and dusters.

    We already did use cloth diapers, but we’ve switched to cloth training pants.

    And I loooove my reusable grocery bags and now use them as a stash of purses and all-purpose, catch-all bags. Sometimes I have to dump stuff out in the grocery line so I can fit groceries inside.

    The “really, really adventurous” part of me wants to get an attachable bidet spout on our toilets. I saw one on Amazon (this one) and thought it looks pretty stinkin’ cool. And then I wondered if that’s just weird. But my husband agreed that it was a good idea, so that’s the next adventure! :)

    I’m getting great ideas from the comments above, so I’ll have to add to my list. And I will be sure to link back here from my blog. Yea for the challenge!

  24. We already do quite a lot of these things, and I don’t think we’re ready to give up toilet paper, but I’ve been meaning to switch from tissues to handkerchiefs so I’ll be doing that.

  25. I am so in (if a bit late).

    Here in the UK we had Zero Waste week last month – I missed the official week but am holding my own next week.

    Since having my little one nineteen days ago we must have thrown out nine bags of rubbish – mainly nappies, wipes and breast pads – and I have been feeling so guilty because I know there are cloth/ reusable alternatives to all of them

  26. Count me in! I only wish our daycare were more flexible with using cloth diapers, but I understand that they need to meet the guidelines set forth by the state … still … sigh.

  27. My husband and I already do most of the stuff you mention, but I have yet to make the change from organic cotton disposable pads to a reusable cup! Count me in!

  28. I’m a bit late to the challenge but I’d like to ditch a few things.

    I’m already bringing my own grocery bags and have several stainless steel water bottles that we use.

    I’m going to ditch paper towels (I usually use a kitchen towel but still have paper towels around and occasionally reach for those for yucky messes. I’m going to try and only use towels instead)

    I’m also going to stop using plastic baggies. I’ve recently received some reusable cloth baggies and the girls love the prints.

  29. I know its a little late but I’m going to join!!

    We already do almost all of these!!

    I’m going to choose: Bringing my own container to restaurants and I’m going to dry the feminine products transition! I also want to look into the straws, I hate that they are plastic anyways.

    I’m not brave enough to get rid of the TP!!

  30. I am surprised at how many of these I already do! I do use toilet paper, but I use washcloths to wipe my baby’s bum! I have had the same pack of disposable baby wipes for 5 months and it’s not even half empty!

  31. We already cloth diaper, but I admit to using more than our fair share of disposables (we’re only supposed to use one at night, but we tend to use them every once in a while during the day). so I’ll take the initiative and cut them out.

  32. I’m a little late to the game, but I’m.. uh… game!

    I will give up disposable lady-time things (I’ll be pregnant til next month (hopefully!) but i still use some..) & i’ll switch to rags instead of paper towels & swiffers… i know i should have a long time ago, anyway!

  33. I am in the process of transitioning to cloth diapers, as money allows. I realize disposables cost more in the long run, but the up-front cost to start cloth diapering is immense, especially on 1 income. I currently cloth diaper about 1/4 of the time, with that increasing as I buy more diapers.

    I have also bought probably 10 of the reusable shopping bags, and really need to work on remembering to use them. When I forget and have too much to go bagless, I need to remember to recycle the plastic bag (or local recycling program allows them in our blue boxes).

    The one thing I haven’t tried, but would like to do, is to ditch the disposable feminine products. I think if I had a Diva Cup (or the like) and got used to it, cloth pads wouldn’t be far behind.

    My other major ‘disposable’ I’d like to ditch, is buying books at the bookstore. I want to get more books from the library, and any books I do buy, I’d like to pass on for someone else to enjoy.

  34. we ditched water bottles (the ones we had i saved and used them for discovery bottles so they were reused and have had them for over a year) and bought reusable bottles

    we also cloth bag and try to use paper bags if we need more(which i cut when we get home and use them for paint paper so they are reused too)

  35. I am going to skip using paper napkins and opt for the cloth ones! I’ve stop long time before using plastic (bags, plates etc)!!
    Hope it will work! Great idea! Thank you
    Marianna, Greece

  36. I am coming a little late on this one! After having my 5th kid, we finally moved to a house and I thought “ok, NOW I can do cloth diapering” I am totally kicking myself for not doing it sooner. We just started in Dec 2009, 24 prefolds and 8 covers. The diapers have already paid for themselves and I do get an ever so superior feeling when I pass the diaper aisle, we use cloth washcloths for face cleaning in lieu of paper towels and another set of washcloths for butts(the kids). My next plan is reusable feminine pads(I hate spending the money AND advertising my “condition”) plus I talked one friend into trying it and another one is ready to start once her #6 kid arrives.

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