Using Less: Goodbye to Disposable!


One of my goals for 2017 (not a resolution, mind you…a goal) is to create far less trash. As we all know, the planet is taking kind of a quick spiral toward the ick, and I’d like to do my small part in preventing that. I think the planet is rather spiffy, after all. 🙂

While I worry about oceans full of plastic and overflowing landfills and global warming, I often find myself behaving like a horrible beast who has no regard for this lovely sphere that’s zooming us thoughout the cosmos in such a nifty fashion.

Let me share some of the horrifying and thoughtless ways that my family is choosing to take part in planetary destruction:

  • I use disposable, plastic straws to drink my coffee…every day.
  • My husband uses disposable, plastic coffee stirrers…for every cup of coffee.
  • Grace takes fruit cups packaged in disposable plastic in her lunch…every day.
  • She also takes a disposable, plastic spoon in her lunch…every day.
  • John and Grace drink bottled water…every day. (I usually use a reusable cup, but John and Grace don’t like the way our tap water tastes.)

As you can see, we have quite the little theme of “disposable” and “plastic” happening.

Yick! And shame on us!

(Really, I feel quite terrible…like some sort of mindless consumer with no regard for the health of our awesome and huge spherical spaceship. How could a person with such love for critters and nature and science be acting in such a way??? It makes no sense!)



Well, obviously, I’ve decided to take some steps to improve my behavior. Here’s what I plan to do (and if you’re guilty of some of the same behaviors, maybe you can take some of the same steps…that would be neat…it’d be like we’re “let’s not destroy the planet” buddies):

  • I will stop using straws for drinking my coffee. It will be weird and bothersome, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. If I don’t get used to it, I’ll look into a more permanent straw solution. I know they make washable, reusable straws. (But are they bendy? Oh, I do love a nice bendy straw. *sigh*) No more disposable straws!
  • I will encourage my husband to use a bloomin’ spoon instead of a coffee stirrer. (I’ve never been super-clear on why he doesn’t do this anyway, but we all have our quirks.) If he can’t stand to give up the stirrers, I’ll start buying wooden ones…at least then we can keep the used ones for kindling and whatnot. Sounds a bit weird, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.
  • At the grand age of 15, I think Grace is ready for the super-grown up and responsible task of taking an honest-to-goodness metal spoon to school each day…and getting that puppy back home again for washing. It’s a mighty responsibility, but I think she’s up to it. 😉
  • And what will she be using that spoon for? The fresh fruit that I’ll be cutting up and putting in reusable containers…no more fruit cup trash (and probably better for her anyway).
  • I’m a little more perplexed by the bottled water. I don’t want to discourage my people from drinking lots of water, but I’d like them to do it in a way that’s a bit more snuggly to Earth. I’m thinking one of those pitcher filter thingies could be the answer. I’m also thinking I’ll dual purpose the fresh fruit that I’m buying for Grace’s lunches and make flavored water…because I know John will drink that…I’ve seen him do it. 🙂

I know they all sound like ridiculously obvious and small steps to take, but when I think of the hundreds of straws, stirrers, fruit cups, bottles, and spoons that won’t be going into the trash this year (and just from our little three-person family!), it makes my heart happy. 🙂



What about you? Will you be taking any steps to be kinder to the planet this year? Have you already done away with disposable plastic in your life? (If so, go you!) Do you know of a good filter-y pitcher thingy that will help my people stop using disposable plastic bottles?

Are you interested in lots of inspiration and ideas for being gentler with our spiffy space rock? You should totally check out The Snail of Happiness! She may not know it, but she’s the voice in my head whenever I throw a piece of plastic away or do something planetarily unkind.

Be kind…to yourself, to each other, to the planet. ♡



  • Corina Carrasco January 2, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    I actually like tap water, as long as it’s cold. The people around me don’t. About 8 years ago, I started using Bobble bottles. They come in different sizes. It’s a plastic reusable bottle that has its own filter. You fill it with water, cap it (the cap is the filter). Then you can use it at home and take it with you when you go some place. It can be refilled from any water source so you can refill it when away from home. The filter makes the water taste better and it filters some of the other stuff in water. The bottle itself is good for a long time, a year or so. That’s a lot better than individual water bottles. They also make a pitcher you can keep in your fridge.

    I also started using plastic swizzle sticks to stir my coffee and anything else I need to stir. I get them at Dollar Tree, about 10 of them for a buck. I am still using/reusing the original 2 packages I bought about 5 years ago. I just rinse or wipe them after stirring my drink throughout the day and every time I run the dishwasher, I put them in there. Mine are cute little green palm trees and pink flamingos.

    Straws. I use reusable ones that we get in the kids’ drinks when we go for coffee and get the kids a chocolate. We just save them so I now have about 6 of them here and my daughter has about a dozen. They are very flexible and sturdy. They do fine in the dishwasher. I think you can use plastic hosing in the right size that you can order on amazon or other online sources (like the places that sell stuff for making your own beer). It comes in a long length and you can cut it to the right size.

    I also stopped using paper napkins and paper towels about 12 years ago. I just use fabric ones.

    • Nerd in the Brain January 2, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      Thank you so much for the great suggestions! I love the swizzle stick idea…I’ll just have to get John trained on not throwing them away. 🙂

      We also stopped using paper towels and napkins a few years ago…We’re all about the cloth now. 🙂

  • Jeanette January 2, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Not to have to spend more, but can you get Grace a cute bento utensil set for school?

    • Nerd in the Brain January 2, 2017 at 3:02 pm

      Ohhhhhh! That’s a great idea!

  • The Snail of Happiness January 3, 2017 at 4:41 am

    Oh my… I’m the voice in someone’s head!
    All I can say is that the little changes do eventually become ‘normal’, and when you look back you wonder why you carried on doing stuff for so long!
    I have two big glass jugs for water that have charcoal pieces in them to absorb the ‘nasties’ in the water. I get mine from but perhaps there’s a similar supplier in the US.

    • Nerd in the Brain January 3, 2017 at 5:06 pm

      Hehe! You’re totally the voice in my head. Whenever I do something environmentally naughty, I can just picture you (in a kind, non-judgmental way) tsk-tsking me. 😉

      We spent all of dinner time last night discussing solutions for the destructive-to-the-planet habits I listed in this post (and a couple of others), and we came up with great Earth-friendly alternatives for all of them. (It turns out that John just doesn’t like the giant reusable water bottles, so we’re going to get him a couple of smaller ones. Voila! And the coffee stirrers? He hates the “clang clang” noise a spoon makes…so we’re going with chopsticks instead.) 😀

      • Judith F Watts January 16, 2017 at 11:06 am

        Tell my son if he will concentrate as he stirs with a spoon and doesn’t hit the side of the container there will be no noise! Oh how I do love and miss him and his noise!

        • Nerd in the Brain January 16, 2017 at 12:40 pm

          Bwahaha! I can just picture him super-focused on stirring his coffee as though he were performing surgery. 😀

          The chopsticks are working out really well. His coffee gets stirred, and the chopsticks are washable, so it all works out.

          You are welcome to come and participate in his noise any time that you’d like! 😀

  • kaycreate January 13, 2017 at 9:47 am

    So I know I”m super late to the party but I hadn’t yet added Nerd in the Brain to my Feedly which means I wasn’t seen any posts. But that has been remedied!

    Congrats on taking these steps!!! One option I might recommend for non-bottled water – do you have a local spring around? That is what we use – we take jugs to the spring to refill and then each have a water bottle we fill to drink at home (we don’t like our tap taste either.) Obviously, this only works if there is a spring around.

    We’ve cut out the majority of our disposable waste which makes me pretty happy. No disposable dishes or utensils; we don’t even use napkins or paper towels, just cloths. It was a bit odd at first, but now it’s normal. Unsponges are a great easy switch too! My biggest eco-goal this year is to convert all our plastic tupperware to glass. (We’ll recycle the plastic ones as we replace.) The glass will last longer, I won’t have to worry about any potential leeching, and it’s much sturdier (plus microwave safe!)

    Good luck with your eco-goals, I think they’re great!!

    • Nerd in the Brain January 15, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      Oh, I wish we had a spring near us! That would be so great. Alas, the only body of water close to our house is a rather murky pond on our neighbor’s property.

      I like the idea of replacing plastic with glass, too. For “at home” that would be awesome, but I’m wondering about the practicality of that with Grace’s lunch bag…something new to ponder! 🙂

      • kaycreate January 17, 2017 at 11:47 am

        I had that same thought! We use reusable (machine washable!) sandwich and snack baggies for the kiddo’s lunch. We still use plastic baggies for some things, but it cuts down a lot having the reusable ones for daily tasks. I’m not wild about bringing glass tupperware on day trips or hiking, so I think I’ll buy three BPA free plastic ones to keep around for day trips and the like!

        • Nerd in the Brain January 17, 2017 at 12:03 pm

          Oh, do you have a link for the machine washable baggies? That would be so fantastic! Honestly, the only reason I haven’t switched to the reusable baggies is because I thought washing would be a nightmare. I’ve been using plastic containers for lunches instead, but things can sometimes get a little strange with those…like when I’m trying to figure out how to cram one of the “half sandwiches” that Grace is so fond of into a tiny plastic box. 😉

          • kaycreate January 17, 2017 at 1:00 pm

            Sure thing! Here is the indie biz I ordered from (she was great to work with + quick shipping!) and I know there are a ton more on Etsy.
            I ordered my Unsponges (machine washable, reusable sponges) from her as well!

          • Nerd in the Brain January 18, 2017 at 6:53 am

            Thank you!!! 😀

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