Practically Green Book Launch Party Day #4: Ditch the Disposables

Paper towels, wet wipes, disposable razors, plastic baggies, throw away cameras, even disposable toothbrushes….disposable products seem to have really hit their peak.  Sure disposables are convenient, but at what price? Switching from disposables to reusables is an easy way to have a positive impact on the environment.  And it will probably save you money too.  My book, Practically Green, has a ton of ideas for ways to reuse instead of dispose.  One of them is switching to cloth napkins instead of paper.  It’s easy to get into the habit of using paper when you have small kids….but I say, ditch the paper and use pretty, cloth napkins instead.  A few more items in the wash isn’t going to kill you.  The book includes instructions for how to make your own cloth napkins, using fabric scraps or quilters quarters (also known as fat quarters) from the fabric store. Organic_napkins_all But if sewing is not your thing, check out these gorgeous organic cotton napkins from Mika & Bu.  They are embroidered with adorable little designs and are perfect for home or lunchbox.  I’ve got 2 sets of 5 napkins to give away – one set of Twig and one set of Jet- to 2 lucky Mindful Momma readers!   The company is also offering a discount – buy one set of 5 napkins, get one set free!  Just use the code MINDFUL at checkout to receive the discount. (good thru 11/30/09) Another impactful way to reduce waste is to stop using plastic baggies for snacks.  I know all too well how hard it can be to go anywhere without snacks in hand when you have little kids!  But it need not be a wasteful affair. Using a durable, reusable snack bag instead of plastic bags is just the ticket.  My book shows you how to make your own snack bag out of a napkin and a pretty ribbon but I’ve also got a snack bag giveaway for those of you who are not the crafty types. Graze organic bags Back when I did a review of Graze Organic, they sent me a very generous package of products to try out.  I’d like to share the wealth by giving away a couple of the items that I did not use….A snack bag labeled surprise? (guess you could put anything you want in it!) and an extra large sandwich bag that says “because every bag matters”, as well as 2 cute organic cotton napkins.  You’ll love ’em!! Would you like to win?  Just leave a comment sharing a practically green tip or two about ways that you ditch the disposables in your life!  The contest will run for today only (ending at midnight, central time on Thursday, November 19th) and I will use a random number generator to pick the winners. (Note: only one entry per person and you must have a US shipping address!) Catherine and Shanna are the lucky winners of the set/5 organic cotton napkins.  Lisa from Condo Blues won the goodies from Graze Organic!


  1. I’ve ditched nearly all disposables in my life. I use Glad Rags (organic cotton reusable/washable pads) for that time of month, stainless steel containers (bottles and food containers) for lunches (along with reusable PVC/lead/other non-desirable materials-free lunch bags, cloth napkins and use real silverware), canvas shopping bags for all shopping, sponge cloths in place of paper towels, Pyrex or other glass food storage containers (instead of the disposable plastic containers that appeared on supermarket shelves in recent years…how awful!!), etc. I can’t actually think of much of anything that I regularly throw out. We recycle our Preserve toothbrushes too. I would love to hear more ideas. Thanks!

  2. One of the things we have done is to switch to using rags rather than paper towels (you should see the dismay on guests faces when they can’t find the napkins–cloth, in a basket on the middle of the table, and are told we don’t use paper towels, its like they can’t figure out how it is possible to clean up a mess without a disposable product!)

  3. Glad Rags and Pearl Sea Sponges! The former for years already, and I’m a recent convert to the latter.

    We’ve also been using cloth napkins for meals for years, and ratty towels for cleaning up spills. We are slowing moving toward rags instead of paper towels to clean up counters, but it’s a hard adjustment to make.

  4. I’ve been packing my husbands lunch in Pyrex glass containers, sending one of our good cloth napkins with him, regular silverware and filling up our own stainless steel mugs and bottles for drinks. All this just goes in one of our canvas totes. I really feel happy packing his lunch every morning for the sheer fact I can remember all the lunches I’ve had packed for me in the past…. all in plastic bags. We never thought twice back then. Now, online, there are so many committed families and companies producing reusable products, we are getting to the point of not thinking twice… reusable is going to become second nature.

  5. We all take canvas lunch sacks to school/work packed with re-purposed plastic containers inside. We also use cloth napkins and I take a kitchen towel to work with me to avoid all those paper towels in the bathrooms.

  6. We’ve ditched everything disposable, pretty much. After reading the comment about toothbrushes, I realized we haven’t switched to Preserve toothbrushes. Will buy them now…perfect stocking stuffers! 😉 One thing we had a hard time finding a substitute for was a storage unit for our homemade bread. For a while we had been using plastic bags from previous purchases but then we ran out. What to do? A friend brought us a medium-sized tin of popcorn from Chicago and I had a eureka moment! The bread fits perfectly in the tin and stays fresh much longer than it does in a plastic bag in the fridge! =D

  7. We use cloth napkins, small Tupperware containers for snacks in lunches instead of baggies, and towels instead of paper towels. I found the switch to be very easy and quite cost effective!

  8. In my home we use old dishcloths and towels for napkins.

  9. I have taken old clothes and made them into rags and transformed fabric scraps into baby wipes. It saves so much money and is super green!

  10. We’ve gotten rid of the paper towels and use old rags for clean-ups. I also have a “birthday party box” of re-usable plates, cups, and utensils that I bring out for each kid’s birthday. It all goes into a rubbermaid container so it’s easy to clean and store away for the next birthday that rolls around.

  11. I used to always put my son’s snack for our outings in a ziploc but now I have a reusable snack bag!

  12. I haven’t bought a disposable coffee filter – ever and I’m a serious coffee drinker. My first coffee pot was a small french press that doesn’t use a filter. When I was given a larger automatic coffee maker I bought a reusable gold coffee filter for it. It’s supposed to make better coffee but I like that I never have to worry about filters. The coffee grounds are composted or sprinkled in my potted plants or directly in my garden.

  13. I never buy plastic utensils anymore, and avoid anything styrofoam as well. Also, I make sure to use my own mug when I stop for coffee.

  14. I have a pretty extensive craft room full of “craft crap”, as my husband calls it! I like to save containers from various sources to put my beads, pens, crayons, buttons, ribbons, stamps, etc. and that way they are all separated and nice, and it’s harder for the kids to get into them! So it doesn’t look like a pantry in there, I covered the fronts and labeled them. In action right now are: toddler Puffs containers, baby food jars, pickle jars, tins & tubs from cookies & crackers, and my favorite is my old Nalgene bottle that contains BPA because I didn’t want to send it to the recyling and risk putting the BPA back into other things, so it makes a great pens & markers holder with a screw-on lid and it’s durable!
    If you have time, here is a post on my blog about reusing old BPA bottles and I’d love to hear other ideas you have for them!

  15. I don’t use paper napkins anymore. I don’t use paper napkins for cleaning if I can help it.

  16. Beth Cabrera says:

    Instead of putting my kids cracker snacks in plastic bags, I now put them in reusable containers.

  17. With risk of sounding like a broken record 🙂 We’ve switched from using paper towels/napkins to cloth napkins *most* of the time, and definitely using reusable containers rather than ziplock type bags for snacks, food storage & other misc uses. I haven’t been able to fully convert my husband, but my kids are definitely not learning the bad habits – and it is so much easier since they don’t know any different!

  18. I started using cloth napkins in February, and I reuse so many things so that I don’t have to throw them away, from food containers to plastic bags. Lots!

  19. I’ve never used disposables for food use, anyway. Plastic plates, utensils and cups are such a waste of money. So I guess being thrifty is being green!

  20. Buying disposable napkins is just about the biggest waste of money. For just a few uses, use paper towels instead, if you even have them in the house, otherwise be thrifty and use cloth napkins and towels.

  21. Disposable products have been on my mind for awhile now!
    Be it napkins, paper towels, paper plates, cups, etc!
    I still fume when restaurants put carry outs or deliveries in foam containers. Even if I have to use
    water and laundry detergent to clean napkins, towels, containers, etc., I hope this method is much easier
    on the environment! My husband and our children use
    reusable lunch boxes and reusable containers.
    Many thanks…..Cindi

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