Bye, bye, Bags


I’ve always been hyper-aware of waste and litter. I remember splitting paper towels in two as a kid, picking up litter, lecturing family members about styrofoam — yes, I was precocious and annoying — and writing as small as I could so as not to waste paper. I understood waste, litter, and recycling, but somehow didn’t make the connection between what I knew and how plastic bags were so harmful to the environment.

And now, as an adult I’ve chosen to live the same way, only now I do a lot less lecturing! But seriously, I’ve eliminated paper towels,

I was incredibly heartened to hear the news about Charleston and Mt. Pleasant, SC regarding their recent single-use-plast (SUP) ban and I wonder what it will take for these bans to spread nationwide.

After attending a recycling workshop last week at Shelton Group (an ad agency where I contract) I revisited some of the environmental campaign greats and some of them are so affecting, I wonder, what WILL it take for our culture around trash and re-use change? Do we need more money behind campaigns? Do we need to change the messaging? Personally, the animal stuff really gets me, but maybe different people need different motivation. So what would make someone who doesn’t care about animals or the environment shift behavior? What DO they care about?

Even if change is small and slow in our community, there’s a TON you can do on your own to begin making a difference. Maybe the list below will help.


  1. ELIMINATE PAPER TOWELS: Buy a bunch of cheap cotton kitchen towels in a variety of textures to replace your paper towels. (I have two pets and have managed to eliminate all paper cleaning products from my home!)

  2. BUY BETTER TOILET PAPER: No, the brown toilet paper isn’t as cute, but it’s so much better for you (it’s not bleached!) and for the environment to use unbleached, recycled toilet paper instead of toxic bleached, lotioned, double-sheeted stuff. I promise your butt will adjust.

  3. SWITCH YOUR CLEANING PRODUCTS: When you buy household cleaning products, they’re usually pretty toxic and you have to buy new bottles every time you run out. What if, instead, you purchased one reusable pyrex bottle and made your own cleaner? Get tons of simple recipes for toxic product replacement here.

  4. SWITCH YOUR CAT LITTER: Go pine. I know it’s hard to believe, but I use an open-air cat box and NEVER smell it. People forget I even have a cat because it never smells like one. I use less of it than regular litter because the odor control lasts longer AND it’s compostable. Until recently, I have been doing away with the cat waste itself in plastic bags, but, duh, the poop can just be flushed, so that’s what I do now.

  5. SWITCH YOUR TOOTHBRUSH: Natural, bamboo toothbrushes work just as well as any other but they’re better for the planet. Plus, they look way cuter than the ugly plastic ones from the store.

  6. SWITCH YOUR RAZOR: How often do you go through disposables? Think of all that plastic! And, like the toothbrushes, they don’t actually look that cool. Switch to a reusable one like this.

  7. FORGET PLASTIC SHOWER LINERS: If you’re like me, once your vinyl liners get to “that” point, you just toss them. Well, I recently switched to PEVA liners but it still doesn’t feel like the right answer. I’m getting ready to switch to hemp, which is naturally water repellant and anti-microbial, but I haven’t found one yet. Let me know if you know of one!

  8. BRING YOUR OWN STRAW: Instead of going through tons of plastic straws at restaurants and bars, just bring your own!

  9. SAY “NO” TO TO-GO BOXES: You have plenty of Tupperware. Start bringing it with you when you go out!

  10. BUY BULK INSTEAD OF PACKAGED: For things like nuts and grains, buy bulk and store them in glass jars instead of buying them pre-packaged.