Most people know that disposable products aren’t sustainable. However, so many disposable items seem necessary to buy. For example, most females with a menstrual cycle would argue that feminine hygiene products are a necessity. Some disposable items have become such a regular part of our life that we no longer even think about their purchase. In addition to not being sustainable, disposable products waste money and often contain chemicals that are harmful. While giving up some products may not be an option, there are alternatives to disposable items. Here are three disposable products to avoid if you want to save money, help the planet, and live a healthier lifestyle.
Disposable Water Bottles
There’s almost never any reason to buy disposable plastic water bottles. (There is an exception for disaster kits and kits preparing for the zombie apocalypse. The harm and waste from the disposable water bottles will not likely matter in either of those events.) Disposable water bottles are incredibly wasteful. The bottles are transported, which uses fossil fuels, and although they are recyclable, many bottles are still thrown away. Disposable water bottle sales are so high that only beer and soda have higher sales. Plastic bottles are not only bad for the environment but they aren’t healthy for humans either. This study concluded that chemicals in plastic were found to have estrogenic activity. So avoid the plastic water bottles even if they are reusable.
Water is a vital part of life, and if disposable water bottle sales are any indication, then most people are consuming plenty of water. Thankfully, no one has to give up the convenience of water on the go. There is an array of options for stainless steel and glass water bottles. Most of the glass bottles have a protective silicone sleeve to help prevent breaking if dropped. In the end, the few extra dollars a glass or stainless steel water bottle will cost up front is more than worth it when you consider the cost of disposable bottles over time.
Disposable Products For Feminine Hygiene
Disposable feminine hygiene products are a drain on the pocketbook and the environment. Many sanitary napkins come wrapped in plastic, with each sanitary napkin further wrapped individually in plastic. Tampons are slightly better because they are often sold in recyclable boxes, but many tampons are still individually wrapped in plastic and contain a plastic inserter. Feminine hygiene products are not cheap, and it is shudder-worthy to think that all the money spent monthly on these products goes into the landfill.
Fortunately, disposable feminine hygiene products are not the only options available. There are sustainable alternatives for both tampons and pads. Reusable menstrual cups can replace tampons. Menstrual cups are made of medical-grade silicone. They do have a higher up-front cost, but they last for years, which ultimately, saves a lot of money. Menstrual cups are available in many health food stores, and mainstream stores are beginning to carry them too. Silicone cups are easy to clean as well. Simply boil them for 5-10 minutes to sanitize them and then place the cup into the cloth bag it came with. Cloth sanitary napkins are another reusable option. In fact, until modern times, reusable sanitary napkins were the only option! If you’re a crafty person, you can even make cloth sanitary napkins at home.
Like other disposable products, paper towels are not sustainable. People throw them away after one use, which is often within seconds of using them. There are a few times where paper towels are hard to beat, such as absorbing bacon grease, but more often, paper towels are just convenient. That convenience, however, is expensive and damaging to the planet. Cloth napkins, wash cloths, or hand towels make excellent replacements for paper towels. Cloth alternatives work perfectly for wiping hands, covering food, and cleaning up spills, and they are still cheaper than paper towels even after factoring in washing them. Instead of purchasing cloth napkins, make them at home. They also make wonderful gifts.
Natural living requires some sacrifices because healthy food is expensive, but sometimes those sacrifices are actually a good thing. Moving away from purchasing disposable products will benefit your pocketbook as well as the planet. The first step in purchasing fewer disposable items is to take note of the products you regularly purchase. First, decide if the product truly is a necessary item. If it is necessary, then look for products that are reusable instead—like the list above—or make the items if possible. A healthier lifestyle and planet begins with making smarter decisions about regularly used items.