3 Ways to Cut Down Your Use of Paper and Plastic

Earth Day is coming up this week, so of course I’m thinking of the ways that I can be conscious about the health of our beautiful planet. Over the years I have made an effort to cut down on the amount of plastic and paper products that we use in our household. I know that I can always be doing more, but I consistently try to come up with new ways to do my part. If you want to try to cut down on your own household’s use of paper and plastic, here are three things that you can do today that will make a difference.

Ditch The Paper Napkins

Getting rid of paper napkins is one of the easiest transitions to make. I can’t exactly put my finger on when we stopped using paper napkins on a regular basis but I think my son (who is 15) only knows a household with cloth napkins. I still remember a time when my late mother-in-law came to visit and thought I was being “fancy” when I put out cloth napkins. After I told her that we use them all the time she was totally on board. I still have two sets of cloth napkins that she bought for us…and a few sets of vintage ones from her home.

The trick to make the switch from paper napkins is to make sure that you have a good supply of cloth ones, otherwise, you’ll feel that you are washing napkins every day of the week. Over the years we have accumulated a huge amount of cotton napkins that I try to rotate with the seasons. One helpful tip is to stick with similar colors in order to make washing them a lot easier. For example, all winter our napkin collection is dark colors, then in the spring, we will switch to lighter colors. Dirty napkins get put in the laundry room after meals and are usually washed when we do regular laundry.

If you want to take your consciousness one step further then look to buy cloth napkins second-hand. Check out your local consignment or thrift store. I’m sure you will be pleasantly surprised at what you can find.

Reduce The Use Of Paper Towels

We have not completely done away with paper towels in our house but we use a lot less than we ever have before. Oh, and I think we use a lot less than most households (I have no scientific basis for this…but it’s just a thought). One of the main reasons I have not been able to break up with paper towels completely is because I still use them in the microwave. Since I don’t use plastic in the microwave, a damp paper towel over the top of your food works just as well.

Even though we have a roll of paper towels in the kitchen we also have an ample supply of kitchen cloths under the sink to use for quick clean-ups and wiping down counters. If you want to move away from using paper towels one of the best ideas is to have a basket of cleaning cloths on the counter next to the sink that you can grab for a quick clean-up.

Start Using Glass Storage Containers

The use of glass for food storage has become the go-to method in our house. First off, back to the microwave. Since I don’t put plastic in the microwave it is a lot easier to have the leftovers already in a glass bowl ready to be warmed. Second, I also find that glass food storage containers are much easier to keep clean and nice.

One thing that you can do today is to slowly start purging your plastic food storage containers and move to glass over time. The easiest place to start is by going through your food storage container stash and weed out anything that either doesn’t have a lid or has seen better days. When disposing of old containers, don’t forget to check the number on the bottom to see if they can be recycled.

While these are only three things that you can do in your own home, I’m sure that you can come up with plenty more as you think about how your family uses paper and plastic. Even if you don’t become a household that is completely free of plastic or paper products, any step that you can take in that direction is a good one.

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Published by Jenn DePauw - Organized Priorities

Jenn is the owner of Organized Priorities, a Colorado-based company specializing in Organization, Productivity, and Operations. As an organization and productivity professional, Jenn specializes in individual and team productivity coaching as well as organization for both individuals and small businesses. She is also the author of The Organized Priorities Blog (www.organizedpriorities.com/blog), an organization and lifestyle blog that focuses on making life more organized, more productive, and a little easier. For helpful tips on everything from weekly planning to home organization, and daily celebrations to words of encouragement you can follow @organizedpriorities on Instagram.