Saturday, August 9, 2014

Our Throwaway Lives

I have a problem with disposable things. So much so that I have stopped buying cotton balls, cotton swabs, and even facial tissues. (No I haven't stopped using toilet paper!) I don't buy paper plates, napkins, or paper towels. 

Something in me just hates the fact that something can be used once and thrown away. As little as they may be I hate filling my trash with once used cotton balls or cotton swabs, knowing that everyone else is doing it too. Instead of piling more and more on the heap I choose, when I can, to use something that can be used over and over again. 

We live in a society that is driven by convenience. When so much focus is put on work it's hard to have the time to take care of items we have, cleaning them and fixing them. It becomes much easier and faster to get rid of things that are used and put a new fresh one in its place. 

According to Jessica DuLong of the trend of disposables began in the 19th century, in the city of Troy, New York. As certain mens' occupations were becoming known as "white collar" men needed clean, starched, white shirts to wear to work. It was up to their wives and other women to clean their shirts. Doing laundry was a difficult and very physical task at this time. A woman named Hannah in 1827 was through with being over burdened by washing her husband's shirts when it was just the collar that needed washing. She snipped the collar off the shirt, washed, it and reattached it. The detachable collar was born. 

Realizing his wife's genius invention Hannah's husband opened a factory producing collars, dickeys, and cuffs. Soon enough these items were being made out of paper and used only once before throwing away.

Cups, plates, and eating utensils are among top items that we use and throw away. The paper cup was first invented for sanitary purposes. In 1908 Dr. Samuel Crumbine, who was a public health officer, witnessed a tuberculous patient sharing a common cup while riding on a train. Then began his crusade to ban common usage of items in public places. 

The food service industry joined in on the disposable culture, in 1948 when McDonald's closed for six months to change their menu. When they reopened they had stopped using what they once had, glass ware for customers. What they replaced it with was paper products which eliminated breakage, theft, and dish washing, and allowed the customer to take their meal with them. 

Disposable things I am committed to not using and my alternatives:
1. Cotton balls-I use baby washcloths to apply facial toner, its soft and reusable!
2. Cotton swabs-not using at all, I'm always too tempted to put them in my ears which is all know is wrong!
3. Kleenex-use home made handkerchiefs made from cut up t-shirts, which I then hand wash in the shower
4. Paper/plastic coffee cups-use a reusable travel coffee mug
5. Paper plates-use real plates and not complain about washing a dish, I don't even own a dishwasher!
6. Paper plates/napkins-this one I got super used to in Morocco. The only thing they use like this at the dinner table is a kitchen towel which would be shared with the entire family. Even though I would sometimes eat with my hands, I just got used to being comfortable with having unclean hands until after the meal when I would wash in a sink.
7. Plastic sandwich bags-used plastic containers that I reuse or reusable sandwich bags.

Things I'm not crazy enough to give up yet:
1. Toilet paper
2. Feminine products

If there are any disposable items you have given up leave me a note below!