We’re fast becoming a disposable nation. Using something once and then tossing can definitely make our life easier at times, but if we’re in the habit of using disposables all the time, we’ll also be going through our money faster. I made a list of ways that I try to use less disposable items in my kitchen. I do this mostly to try to cut back on the cost, but it also has the added benefit that it’s earth friendly in that I end up using less paper products and less gets added to the landfills.
- Aluminum Foil – Aluminum foil can be reused. I haven’t always done this, it’s a more recent thing for me. I just flatten out the used foil and wipe it down then let it air dry and then fold it up and put it in my kitchen drawer until I need it again. I don’t reuse all my aluminum foil, if it’s a really small piece, or gets torn or just has lots of gunk on it that’s really hard to get off without tearing the foil I’ll just toss it. And even though I’m a big generic brand fan, I’m thinking next time I might try the name brand aluminum foil to see if it’s tougher and maybe I’ll be able to reuse more of it before it gets torn. And as a side note, I read somewhere that a ball of wadded up aluminum foil is good for cleaning off your grill. We’ve started doing that and it works great!
- Ziploc Bags- I’ve always reused ziploc bags, because my Mom always did. Just clean them out while doing dishes (if they just had something like carrot sticks in them, they probably just need a rinse) then let them air dry. They’ll dry faster if you open them up and put them on a big spoon or something. Even though I reuse my bags, I will throw them out if they had raw meat or chicken in them, if they’re really greasy or if they’ve just been reused so many times that they’re starting to develop holes.
- Saran wrap – I have never tried reusing saran wrap. I’ve actually developed a hatred for it, it sticks to nothing, but it’s self. It won’t stick to the bowl I’m trying to cover it with, it only clings to it’s self and turns into a wade of clear plastic that’s useless! It makes me so mad! So I very rarely use it, I’ll use plastic containers or aluminum foil instead. Although I do want to buy some of those shower cap looking things to try. I’ve heard good things about them and they can be washed and reused!
- Wax paper -This is another item I don’t use very often, but if you do use it, cereal boxes and cereal bags can be used in place of wax paper in a lot of times. My mom always used the shiny side of cereal boxes (or other similar boxes) and the cereal bags found in cereal boxes for cooling no-bake cookies on.
- Paper Towels – I actually did a blog post about using less paper towels, but I’ll tell you again! One way to use less paper towels is to use rags for cleaning and cloth towels for drying your hands. I’ve found that keeping the paper towels under the sink, rather than hanging above it keeps us from using as many. Out of sight out of mind! I do like paper towels for cleaning up milk spills and things, but I try to just use an old kitchen towel for cleaning up water spills. And instead of using paper towels for cleaning windows, try using old newspapers, they work great!
- Napkins – You can use cloth napkins or really any dish towel can be a napkin if you’re too not concerned with being fancy. Better yet, make your own cloth napkins out of old cloths that still have good material on them (idea from The Frugal Girl’s new e-book).
- Paper plates, plastic silverware and paper cups – Simply don’t use these! We very rarely use disposable dishes. They don’t hold up very well. Unless you buy the more expensive plates, they tend to bend with too much weight on them. And then the fork tongs snap off and the knives only work if you’re cutting something as soft as jello! So we stick to only buying them for special occasions (like Gracia’s birthday party). A lot of sturdier silverware and cups can be washed and reused.
- Paper Bags – If you’re in this business of being frugal (which you probably are if you read my blog) then I imagine you pack yourself (0r kids, or special someone) a lunch. I highly recommend buying a lunchbox instead of using brown paper bags for 2 reasons. First of all paper bags have no insulation, so they won’t keep your food cool and secondly buying a lunchbox can save you money. It may cost more up front to buy a lunch box than paper bags, but you’ll have to keep buying those bags (unless you’re very careful to keep and reuse them). And there’s a lot of really inexpensive lunch boxes out there if you’re not picky. Since I’ve started keeping my tomatoes in a brown paper bag, I plan on keeping the bag and reusing it the next time I buy tomatoes. It’s not like it gets dirty or anything.
This post is shared at Tammy’s Recipes for Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.