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Ditch the Disposable Lifestyle: Choose Reusables

Today’s blog comes from one of our environmental educators, Monica! Each and every day she integrates reusable items into her daily routine in efforts to reduce the waste she generates. In this blog, Monica provides great Eco Tips and clearly shows how you, too, can ditch the disposable lifestyle!


That’s me drinking water at the I Love A Clean San Diego office. Reusable cup and reusable straw: Check!

As an environmental educator at ILACSD, I constantly talk about the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  As many of you know, these Rs are not in random order; the most important one comes first, REDUCE.

I was shocked to hear about the amount of trash the average San Diegan produces in a day. How much, you ask? On average, each person produces 5.5 lbs of trash per day. That’s over 2,000 lbs of trash per person per year! Last year, I decided to do something about this. I increased the amount of REUSEables in my life and have REDUCEd my waste by 75%.

This is how I do it:

Morning Coffee
Stopped to buy some refreshing iced coffee in my reusable cup.

6 am – Morning Coffee

Like most people, I need to drink coffee every morning. Just like I’ve become dependent on caffeine, I’m dependent on my reusable coffee tumbler.

Eco Tip:

– If you have time to sit down and enjoy your coffee at your favorite coffee shop, ask for a real mug.

12 pm – Lunch time

On most days, I make my lunch at home and bring it to the office. My lunch contents change from day to day but one thing that stays the same is that I always make sure to use reusables. Disposable silverware and zip lock baggies? No thank you!

Reusable lunch items
Typical lunch bag contents.

These are my lunch bag contents:
– Reusable Pyrex container holding my home-made enchiladas.

– 2 tangerines in their own compostable peel.

– Reusable bamboo utensils

– Reusable water bottle

Eco Tip:

– Attention Parents: If your children only eat their fruit if it is pre- peeled or sliced, place the prepped fruit in a reusable container instead of a disposable, non-recyclable bag.

Reusable waterbottle
I brought my Life Factory reusable water bottle on a hike. Remember to stay hydrated!

6 pm – After work work-out

Whether I go to yoga class, on a hike, or a walk, I always make sure to bring my reusable water bottle. Did you know that Americans throw out 50 billion plastic bottles every year?! The solution is pretty simple, REUSE!

7 pm – Evening Grocery shopping

If I’m running low on groceries I’ll make a quick stop at one of my neighborhood stores or the farmer’s market. I usually plan ahead and have my reusable bags with me but I also make sure to leave some in my trunk for those unplanned trips to the store.

To further reduce my waste, I choose products based on packaging. The more packaging they have, the less likely I am to buy it, and I especially love buying from the bulk bins.

Reuseable bag for bulk items
I use my smaller reusable bags to purchase chocolates from Sprout’s bulk bins!

Eco Tip:

– Buy in bulk! If you use a jar or plastic container, have a cashier weigh it beforehand, some containers already have the weight on them!

There are so many things you can buy in bulk: coffee, pasta, chocolates, beans, flour, lentils, rice, oatmeal, trail mix, and nuts are just a few of the options. The OB People’s Organic Food Market, Sprouts, North Gate Market, North Park Produce, and Whole Foods all have a wide variety of bulk food items.

I also use my reusable produce bags when I buy produce. If the produce has a hard peel, I go without a bag completely.

You can buy reusable produce bags online, or DIY!

This is how I bundle my produce. Some items are placed loosely in my cart and other items are in bags. Do what works best for you!

These are just a few of the ways I choose to reuse every day. It’s all about rethinking and making conscious choices that better our environment. It can be a little hard at first, but before you know it, it becomes part of your daily routine!



Pledge to B.Y.O reusables to the 30th annual Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 20th! Last year, 68% of volunteers pledged to bring at least one reusable item: work gloves, water bottle, and bucket. Sign up today!






  1. Thank you for this inspirational list of solutions of how to replace single use plastics with reusable products!

  2. I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed our blog! Thank you for all YOU do to help replace single-use plastic straws, too!

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