Supermarkets, gas stations, restaurants and coffee shops are full of disposable beverage containers, making them a convenient option. In fact, they are often seemingly the only option for everything from water and coffee to wine and beer. However, with a little forethought, you can replace all those disposable cups and bottles with reusable alternatives.
1. Refillable water bottles: Disposable water bottles are responsible for 1.5 million tons of plastic trash per year. Instead, buy a reusable metal, glass or plastic water bottle for each family member. However, avoid plastic bottles containing Bisphenol A (BPA), which has been linked to breast cancer and birth defects. Don’t refill disposable plastic water bottles either, as they are diffucult to clean and often harbor contaminants.
2. Filter your own water: If it’s the filtered water you want, rather than the convenience of a disposable bottle, get a water filter. Whole-house filters, under-sink models, faucet filters and bottle filters all work well to filter and purify the water for different needs and to different degrees.
3. Bottle your own water: If you insist on pure spring water, distilled water or other bottled water, take refillable bottles to Whole Foods markets or other local water bottlers, or look for home delivery services that use refillable bottles.
4. Reusable coffee cups: Paper coffee cups may not seem as environmentally destructive as plastic water bottles, but they are still needlessly wasteful. Switch to reusable insulated cups and mugs for coffee and other hot beverages. Many coffee shops have ceramic and glass cups, but use disposable cups by default. If you are not taking the coffee with you, ask for a ceramic or glass cup. If you are taking the coffee to go, ask them to refill your mug. Many coffee shops and gas stations will offer a discount for refill mugs.
5. French press cups: Of course, you can also make your own coffee, and you don’t even need an expensive coffee maker. Brew and filter coffee and loose-leaf tea in a French press mug, which can then also keep it warm. I have discovered another unadvertised use for French Press mugs — washing and draining uncooked rice.
6. Reusable plastic soda cups: Many convenience stores and restaurants also offer discounts for soda and other beverages in refilled containers. Insulated reusable cups are available, even with their own reusable straws. Again, look for BPA-free options.
7. Soda makers: You can also skip the convenience store and make your own soft drinks with a soda machine. You can make virtually any flavor, and make it exactly as sweet as you want. If you’re like me, you find most commercial soda brands overly sweet, so soda machines are a nice alternative.
8. Refillable plastic milk bottles: So now you might be thinking that you filter your own water and make your own coffee and soda, but you can’t keep a cow in your backyard and make your own milk. Probably true, but there are a couple of good alternatives. First, look at natural grocers or grocery co-ops for milk bottles from local dairies that use refillable bottles. These bottles are typically more expensive, but mainly because of the required and refundable deposit.
9. Glass milk bottles: Milk delivery services are making a comeback in many areas, and typically use refillable glass bottles for milk, cream and other dairy products.
10. Refillable wine and beer bottles: Finally, skip the cans and disposable bottles and go straight to the source for your wine and beer. More than 1,700 craft brewers are in operation, and most will gladly fill growlers or other reusable bottles. Refilling bottles with liquor is against federal law, and brewers, wineries and distilleries typically refrain from refilling used bottles without thorough sterilization. However, many establishments make an exception for growlers and other large bottles. A growing number of wineries, such as Wilridge in Washington, also encourage refills.
Steve Graham is a Hometalk - http://www.hometalk.com - writer. Read more articles like this one - http://www.networx.com/article/10-ways-to-replace-disposable-beverage-c - or get help with your home projects on Hometalk.com.