I wear eyeglasses everyday. I have to use them to read and I spend a majority of my time reading, so I usually wear them all day long. Long ago, even before my zero-wasting efforts, I decided I wasn’t going to continually buy the solution needed to clean smudges and particles from glasses. With my first pair of glassss, I received a free bottle of cleaner. I have been using that bottle to refill ever since!
My recipe is simple: 1 part water, 1 part rubbing alcohol.
Originally I tried a recipe that contained the above, plus a drop of liquid soap. I used Dr. Bronner Castile soap in the solution. It left a film on my glasses, so I stopped putting soap in. I don’t find the soap necessary; the alcohol-water solution gets the job done.
I am lucky that my spray bottle continues to work after years of use. It isn’t sustainable to continually buy low-quality spray bottles that will just break after a few months of use. Look around your house and see if you have any small spray bottles you could put to use for this purpose. If you don’t already have a bottle, you can find small atomizer bottles online like those pictured above. Get one that is made of sustainable and recyclable materials (glass, for instance) and that is durable so you don’t have to replace it.
Another waste issue is the alcohol bottle. Really, the only way to reduce waste from the rubbing alcohol is to buy the largest bottle and make sure it’s recyclable.
In Tulsa, these little guys are not recycled. The only place they can go is in the garbage can.
Try to refuse plastic utensils when getting takeout. Why not carry your own set of utensils with you wherever you go?
Our restaurants go out of their way to please us. Places like Panera get napkin- and utensil-happy for our to-go orders. This causes us to waste, but also costs the restaurant money in supplies. This waste can easily be avoided.
When we are picking up a dozen bagels for the office, the restaurant assumes we need a dozen sets of utensils to accommodate everyone. My office has a set of silverware in the kitchen, so I always refuse the extra utensils when picking up food for my co-workers.
The trick is remembering to refuse. How do you remember to tell the cashier you don’t want the extra plastic?
A good example of the first principle of zero waste, Refuse, is to avoid shopping bags. This is obvious. However, I’d like to share my current situation.
I messed up when I picked up my print order at Staples. I became absent minded and took the bag with me. I should have taken the pages out and left the bag with the salespeople. The pages I printed were sensitive and needed to be protected from dirt and wrinkling, but I could have brought a file folder and transferred them to it for protection. My head was elsewhere, I was rushed. Excuse, excuse, excuse.
So, I get back to my office and discover that I can’t just toss this bag into the recycling. As you can see from the picture, I need to deliver it to a participating Staples store for recycling. I’m not planning another Staples trip any time soon, and making a special trip to Staples would cancel out my recycling efforts. So, it’s either going to sit on my desk for 6 months or I’m going to throw it in the trash during my next desk-clearing fit. I need another option.
I have worms (well, really, my husband has worms). The most effective way for me to reuse this bag is to shred it and turn it into bedding for the worm bin. The details on the back tell me it’s suitable for worm bin use, since it’s chlorine-free and nontoxic.
If I stumble in pursuit of my zero wasting aspirations and fail to bring reusable grocery bags, I will get the paper grocery bags for this purpose as well. It’s always nice to have this possibility to fall back on, but it’s always best to be able to refuse in the first place.
What do you do with your accidental disposable shopping bags? There are endless possibilities.