Breaking News

Trash Talk: Conserving expletives and Ziplocks

Lois Huffman, Sweet Grass Recycle


I had planned to write about landfills today. I admit I was having a little trouble coming up with any enthusiasm for that topic. I had my computer out and was fixing a cup of coffee when, apparently of its own volition, a large container of corks jumped off my refrigerator flinging corks and coffee all over the kitchen. My first response was to loudly utter the above exclamation in full. Then I tossed a nearby kitchen towel on the spreading coffee spill. As I was mopping up, I reflected on the fact that I had not used that kind of language when I was raising my children and we certainly had our share of messes to clean up in those days. 

This brought me to the thought that if I could raise my children without swearing when I couldn’t imagine not using those words this morning, I probably could have also raised them without so many Ziplock bags. What it takes is consciousness and discipline. I got some good suggestions in response to a previous week’s question about alternatives to single use plastic bags. Thank you. As it turns out, there are many environmentally friendly ways to stop contributing to the mass of discarded plastic.


One of my fellow Sweet Grass Recycle members suggested I check into Norwex which makes reusable bags in several sizes. There are reusable food wraps made by Etee and Bees Wrap and others. Planet Wise and Munch Cupboard make reusable snack bags and sandwich wraps, some of which convert into placemats. Google “alternatives to Ziplock bags” and all kinds of things come up.

Another approach is to skip the wrap and go directly to washable lidded containers for snacks and leftovers. There are people who send lunches to school in thermal bags with washable containers. Some of us who can’t convince our kids to use that kind of set up even when they understand the environmental issue. The struggle is real just to get them to take and eat a lunch. Maybe we can convince them to take a reusable bag and stuff it back in their backpack.

But the wind

It’s easy to understand why we use disposable bags. They are cheap and easy. They are also bad for the environment. If you must use them, remember that few things really have to be single use. Many of the things we use Ziplock bags for do not actually soil the bag. Often it’s enough just to shake out the Cheerio crumbs. Or a quick swish of water will remove the remnants and the bag can be hung to dry and then reused. Let the messy use be the last time instead of the only time. 

There are alternatives to other single use items as well. Use a kitchen towel to mop up the coffee mess instead of paper towel. A cloth towel actually does a better job and it’s easy to toss it in the wash instead of the garbage. Paper plates and napkins are easily replaced with the real thing in most situations. Reduce and reuse.

A little change can make a difference

This week’s challenge is to identify at least on single use item that you can replace with something that doesn’t need to be thrown away. Try the alternative. Get creative and let me know. And please don’t throw away your corks even though they can be diabolical. Next week, landfills.

Please check my facts. Comments and questions to or 932-4035.