Alicia Silverstone washes & reuses plastic bags, never uses paper towels

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The Today Show has a look inside Alicia Silverstone’s kitchen, which we’ve seen before, she’s really into her kitchen and loves showing it off, which I would do too if my kitchen looked like that. Everything is organized beautifully in glass containers and she buys food in bulk. She’s of course vegan and shows some of her favorite vegan indulgences, like making mochi into waffles and dipping them in a caramel-like sauce she makes with brown rice syrup and almond butter. Her go to snacks are fried tofu or little date balls with pureed almonds and coconut. She also shows how eco-friendly she is by not using paper towels, and by washing and reusing plastic bags. Not ziplock bags, the kind of bags you get at the store for vegetables. This is impressive. Here’s a screenshot of her reusing plastic bags, and some of what she says. The video is below.

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She has two drawers full of dish rags
I never use disposable paper products. There’s never a paper towel in this house or a paper napkin. What I use are these towels, nicer ones and some that are falling apart. They go to my kid’s school lunches. They are used for everything.

She reuses old jam, tomato sauce and soup jars
Anytime I’m making soup I come here to grab [a jar]. If I’m going to run out the door with a soup or tea I just shove it in a jar.

She reuses all plastic bags but tries to avoid them
I try to avoid plastic bags at all cost. Sometimes they come into my life. When they do I wash them in the sink and I reuse them and put them on this bag dryer. It’s so cool. They dry your bags and you [can] use them over again.

You can tell this is just her thing and she’s not preachy about it, she just wants to show people what works for her. Now I want to use jars like that to store stuff. I always bring my own shopping bags in my purse. I got into this habit after living in Germany, where you have to carry your own bags or pay for one. (I know this is the case in California and other US states, but my state is still backwards and will give you tons of plastic bags.) The bags I have fold up small and carry so much. (They’re like these bags, which are only about 2 euro in Germany.) The American reusable bags are usually structured and bulky, which makes them easier to forget in your car. While I do use fabric kitchen towels for a lot of things I still use paper towels too, it’s just more convenient. Also I like soda and buy it in plastic bottles. Sometimes I buy the larger plastic bottles but the soda gets flatter quicker. I do eat meat but not all the time. I feel bad about these things but I’m trying to change! It was much easier to live an eco-friendly lifestyle in Germany because it was part of the culture there. It’s probably similar in California where she lives.

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Ok so Clueless is the secret!

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139 Responses to “Alicia Silverstone washes & reuses plastic bags, never uses paper towels”

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  1. Socks says:

    Come on now🙄

    • Lex says:

      What?
      Humans will drown in a see of plastic and destroy the whole earth before some people care not to use countless single use disposable items because it’s ‘easier’

      • WTW says:

        I don’t know that washing plastic bags is that eco friendly, since it would disperse these tiny particles called microplastics in the process. Every time we wash clothes made up of synthetic fibers this happens, for example. Microplastics are pollutants and have been linked to various diseases, which is why some environmental scientists don’t actually think it’s a good thing when places like Patagonia recycle plastic bottles into clothing or whatever. The microplastics shed during the process may be causing more harm than good.

      • Adrien says:

        @WTW, I think you need to wash plastic bags that have been soiled by food items and other bio materials before throwing them to the bin, that way they won’t emit hazardous gas in the landfill.

      • SK2 says:

        Thanks Lex

      • Lex says:

        Super ashamed of my see/sea typo. But the message remains!

    • bornifran says:

      Reusing old jars is pretty basic

    • Char says:

      Inumerous sea animals are being found dead with kilos of plastic in their stomach, deep sea animals are feeding from plastic. If it’s not the time to really change our habits, well, we will drown on plastic.

    • TheHeat says:

      I see nothing wrong with this.
      My parents were born during the Depression (had me later in life), so a lot of this stuff has been second-nature my whole life, because that was how they learned to live early-on and stuck with it. Heck, my mom would even wash, fold and re-use tin foil.

      • Daisy says:

        My mom does this too, a habit from when my family was young and rather poor.

      • ClaraBelle says:

        I’m not young, or poor nor depression-era, but I think re-using foil is just a no-brainer. Unless, it’s got too much baked on grease on it, it’s just so easy to do that I may re-use it several times. It’s also one of the more desirable recyclables.

        I also re-use produce plastic bags and many don’t even need washing if they’ve just contained clean produce.

      • LoveBug says:

        BIOBAGS are great = compostable ziploc bags.

      • SilentStar says:

        This just makes sense. I wash and reuse plastic bags and jars as much as possible. I guess I’m weird but I thought it was normal! I’m kind of shocked and dismayed to realize that so many people think this is strange.

    • sommolierlady says:

      I lived in the Bahamas where I saw first hand the damage plastic, esp. bags, can do even on remote rookery keys (cays.) If I have to use them at all, I always wash and reuse. Not that unusual.

    • Tris says:

      Everything she does is second nature to my family. Did you know a head of lettuce takes 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill? Imagine plastic bags! I’m pretty shocked by your comment, Socks. Do you not recycle? Do you still use plastic straws? Our earth is suffering, you get that right?

      • ChillyWilly says:

        Lettuce? For real? Wow. I try really hard to not use a lot of plastic and recycle everything I can. Although I just read that a lot of our recycling was being sent to China but China told us they are done with that. Why the hell are we not able to take care of our own recycling in the US?

      • Tris says:

        I know! Isn’t it shocking? (EDIT: 25 years, not 1,000. A plastic bottle takes 1,000 years. but 25 years is still shocking!)
        “Sealed up in plastic garbage bags and buried under pound-upon-pound of plastic, glass, and paper, these scraps begin to break down at a rate far slower than you might think. Those plastic bags that contain our food waste limit their exposure to oxygen and pests, the two factors that make short work of food waste when combined. Instead, in this dark, anaerobic environment, decomposition happens very slowly, and the food releases far too much methane throughout the process. Deprived of oxygen, the food barely breaks down. The results can be found at the bottom of old landfills, where you’ll find pristine heads of lettuce and rolls that look good enough to make a sandwich.”

      • NIKKI says:

        25 years in a landfill because of no oxygen. A lot less in my compost.

        -N

      • Turtledove says:

        Tris- Thank you for the explanation re: lettuce. I saw the original comment and was like “No way! I have had it half decomposed IN my fridge!” But then saw the explanation…which is TRULY shocking and makes our need to stop waste, and promote recycling THAT much more obvious. If even iceberg lettuce is going to take 25 years…well, holy hell!

      • Jerusha says:

        I live on 10 acres out in the country and I put the unused fruits and veggies out for the raccoons, possums, rabbits, turtles, squirrels and other critters that share the land with me.

      • Adrien says:

        Tris, really? In grade school we had a composting bin in the backyard where the school dump leaves, uneaten cafeteria food and other organic, decomposable stuff and months later the whole pile would turn to dark soil but cabbages and lettuce leaves will still be recognizable. It’s like they were preserved.

    • CharliePenn says:

      I do all these exact same things that Alicia describes. It’s not hard, it’s intuitive to start doing these things once you spend any time learning about the state of our planet and how we are choking on our own plastic and waste. None of this is hard or outrageous.

      I don’t have a bag dryer or whatever. I turn the bags inside out, give them a wash by hand, then shake most of the water off in the sink. Then I hang them on the side of the fridge with magnetic clip thingies. When I need one I just grab one, or if I have a bunch of clean dry ones I put them in a drawer for when they are needed.
      I use any resealable bag (from cheese, almond flour, etc). I also reuse bread bags. I’ll reuse one bag a bunch of times before it finally ends up in the trash. By doing this and other easy practices I no longer buy: sandwich bags, food storage bags, paper napkins, tissues (I use old rags from my kids clothes, so easy and gentler on little noses) and I buy very few paper towels. She’s vegan right? So no meat bacteria concerns. I only use paper towels for two things now: cleanup after raw meat and cleaning the toilet. I don’t want those bacteria in the laundry basket but every person will have their own feelings on how far they will go with reusables.

      Anyway, be inspired! Any small change you make is a huge help to the environment. And I’m sorry, I absolutely judge people who use single-use paper plates and plastic cutlery in the home on a daily basis. STOP. But like I said, make one change! And see not only the personal saving but also the pride you will get in making a better future. Those of us with children better get on board and teach them to live sustainably too, they won’t even have the option to live as we have in this throwaway culture.

      • steph says:

        @WTW – my spouse (well, in theory my toddlers got it for me) gifted me a Cora Ball for mother’s day. It is supposed to collect those small plastic fibers from fleece so they don’t go down the drain with the water from a washing machine cycle. It seems pretty cool, though obviously I haven’t had it long enough to attest to its efficacy. You just pick the fibers off the ball when enough have been collected to see.

    • jen says:

      come on now, what? wake up!

    • Bailie says:

      @Socks : Try Bio Bags, they are compostable and have them for trash, compost and also ziploc bags. Easy to use.

    • BchyYogi says:

      When I saw someone rinsing plastic bags, I laughed guffawed etc. NOW- I do it too, It’s habitual, but when people stay over they call me neurotic. I also freeze all table scraps and make foodsicles, then put into compost at the incinerator land fill. No food in garbage means we don’t attract animals and less emissions. Yeah. Neurotic, but I just give a lot of Fs about how plastic gets dumped onto the poorest of the world & the most vulnerable ecosystems, oceans etc, not fair and not ok.

  2. blinkers says:

    paper towels are so convenient! but it’s definitely goals to reduce or eliminate my plastic waste, and also paper waste that sits in a landfill because I mopped up spilled diet coke with it…

    • Coco says:

      I use kitchen towels instead of paper towels for most things too, though I do have a roll on hand that usually takes about a month or two to go through because I rarely use it. We also use cloth napkins. It’s a pretty easy switch and I don’t miss paper products. Next switch is to get reusable mesh produce bags for shopping. I wash out ziplock bags but there are some cool reusable storage bags I’ve got my eye on. All the glass jars! They are great for freezing too. Once you start paying attention to how much disposable stuff we use on the daily it’s hard not to try and make little adjustments here and there to cut down on waste.

      • SK says:

        I have these! They are light, fine mesh and you use them to put your produce in at the shops instead of plastic bags. Mind you, in Australia you can also just have all of your produce loose and then swipe it through grouped together. I’ve lived in and visited a number of other countries where fresh produce must be in plastic bags as they weigh it and put stickers on it in the fruit and veg section and then scan those stickers at the check out and there’s no other option available. It’s very frustrating! So I guess the mesh bags could be used in those places?

        You can also get special wash bags that you wash any plastic-based fabrics in which catch the microfibres. Guppyfriend Washing Bags is one brand. There are also Cora Balls which apparently capture them.

        I pretty much always walk around with a spare canvas bag that I can put any shopping in (food, clothing, whatever).

        There are silicon products which are amazing for the kitchen – silicon lids which can stretch to different sizes and wrap directly around the cut end of produce or different sized bowls and containers. There are silicon pouches that you can seal and use instead of ziplock/sandwich bags. You can also get silicon wraps to use instead of cling film and also there are beeswax fabric wrappers and I’ve heard of Sugar Cane derived cling film but don’t know much about it.

        Lots of hard plastic containers can be replaced with glass alternatives. Bamboo products can replace many disposables. More and more grain stores are popping up where you can buy grains in the amounts you want and can take in your own containers to put them in.

        However, even with all of that, it is so hard to avoid using a lot of plastics! It is such a huge problem. We have a long way to go and it is kind of depressing.

    • StellainNH says:

      Instead of completely eliminating them, you could reduce the use. I have paper towels in my kitchen but go through one roll every two months or so.

      I have tons of kitchen towels that I will use for wiping things down. I also make my own wipes. I have a jar with rags soaked with a mixture of vinegar, alcohol, dish detergent, water, and some essential oils that I use to wipe down my counters and appliances. We also use cloth napkins. It wasn’t an overnight change, but we have evolved.

      • Teel says:

        Great ideas! I just chucked an old tea towel in the garbage,just dragged it back out. Also love CharliePenns idea of taking produce bags back to the store to use. :-D

    • Wow says:

      I have a clean basket of cloths and a dirty basket in the kitchen. Paper towels were actually pretty easy to eliminate from our home. Baggies were also easy to let go of because they make reusable containers in so many sizes.

      Where we fall short is straws. My daughter has tourettes and drinking from a cup triggers a tic and it happens every time. The only way she can drink is with a plastic straw that bends. Metal straws are a danger of hurting her, paper straws are a soggy mess, the biodegradable fracture and break. Its just really hard, especially if we go out and she asks for a straw and some well meaning person shames her for it. The straw shaming is happening pretty frequently to her now as if tourettes isn’t enough now she’s embarrassed to drink.

      • Kim says:

        They make silicone straws, I have a set for smoothies (they are a bit wider) and they work well!

      • OriginalLala says:

        I’m sorry you have to deal with the shamers @Wow, it’s really unfair that people demonise straw-users when some people need them! My bro has Tourettes so I feel you on a very personal level . Sending love

      • Coco says:

        @Wow I think if everyone does what they can in the areas they can then that’s enough. Your daughter needs straws so don’t feel guilty. You’ve made changes in other ways and that matters. With all of the new straw laws we are getting more options to replace one time use plastic straws and hopefully something comes along that works better for your daughter. You are doing a great job where you can!

      • Jerusha says:

        Just check Amazon for reusable silicone straws. They have tons of them and include the cleaning brush. Good luck.

      • Wow says:

        @original lala she went on an end of year trip to a splash pad water park thing and drank NOTHING for 6 hours in the sun.

        There needs to be some sort of social standard that you need to keep your lips zipped about items that provide accessibility. She is so self conscious as it and it just tears my heart out that she has been made to feel further embarrassed about needing straws to drink. I mean commercial fishing waste is the vast majority of the debris in the ocean, maybe start there instead of shaming people who need these things to live.

        I’m hoping when she gets older she will feel more confident in herself and more confident telling people to mind their business and f*%k off.

      • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

        @Wow, I hate people. Not all. But some are simply throwaways and not worth rinsing and reusing. I bet you have a straw stash in your purse!

      • Tris says:

        I carry a metal straw in my bag.

      • Bunny says:

        I’m so sorry that people comment and try to shame your daughter.

        I am physically handicapped, but don’t always “look” that way, especially on days when I’m able to go without the most obvious pieces of medical equipment. I’ve had people comment when I park in handicapped parking on my “good” days. It irks me.

        It helped when I decided that it wasn’t my job to educate the masses, and I no longer try to explain anything to anyone. On bad days, I snap back. On good days, I do my best to smile and let it roll off my back.

      • CharliePenn says:

        @wow you are not falling short!! I have two kids and they are neurologically normal, and I will not give single use straws to either of them. And so consider my family’s change to be a change for you and YOUR family. We all do what we can. You have one kid that needs plastic straws, I have two kids that do not, as a whole we are ahead of the game.
        Big hugs to you. People can make it hard. You are faced with an added challenge as a parent and the last thing you need is to feel like the weight of sustainability is all on your shoulders.

      • Jenn says:

        @Wow: I second the silicone straw suggestion! I always have one in my purse, especially if I’m going to a party or event, because I want my lipstick to stay nice. (I also have a “thing” about ice bumping against my teeth, which is just one more reason to pack my own straw!)

        In addition, I am a lifelong compulsive straw-chewer, so I avoid the steel and titanium straws — I’d chip a tooth! And I agree, paper straws get soggy and fall apart. The best thing about silicone straws is, you can trim them to any length. I hope you find a solution that works — a Lucky Straw, if you will! — to help in restoring your daughter’s confidence. No shame in the straw game! <3

    • runcmc says:

      We go through soooooooooo many paper towels because of our two elderly ill dogs, who have way more accidents (pee and vomit) than normal dogs. We will probably be diapering the oldest one soon- he’s 13.

      I feel bad about it sometimes, but also like…if we were using our ‘real’ towels on their accidents we would constantly be doing laundry which isn’t good for the environment either. You choose your battles.

    • steph says:

      We switched to absorbent cotton quilted cloths, flannel napkins, and dish towels over a year ago. I got everything on Etsy so I got to feel good about supporting makers. Easiest transition ever. I still use paper towels for anything to do with raw meat, and to clean up significantly oily messes. But we go through maybe 3 rolls per year now. And we don’t miss the paper napkins AT ALL. If you have a washer and dryer in your house, it’s doable. I couldn’t imagine pulling it off without free and easy access to a washer and dryer though.

  3. Elisabeth says:

    no paper products? does that include toilet paper?

    • Krakken says:

      This. Maybe she’s a bidet type? Tsk tsk. Water wastage.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      She might use toilet paper that’s recycled from paper waste, and/or that’s more compostable, not perfumed, etc. Not saying it would be the cushiest but it’s out there.

    • BchyYogi says:

      I have a recycled paper TP–NOT recycleD FROM TP, but recycled office paper etc. It’s not bleached, but whatever.

  4. hnmmom says:

    So I suggest another sponsored post about items that help reduce plastic use. :) We just got some mesh bags to put our produce in instead of the plastic ones they have at the grocery store. Living in environment hating TX we get some weird looks when we use them but we don’t care.

    And I love her kitchen!

  5. Renee2 says:

    She has Drew Barrymore energy to me.

    • Jess says:

      It’s because of the way her mouth moves – not pursed lips like someone who disapproves, but kinda sorta pursed lips, in a cute way.

  6. bornifran says:

    I’m not sure if she’s trying to identify with others, or if she’s trying to say she is unique. Reusing plastic bags has been a reality for me since I was old enough to wash dishes.

    • leskat says:

      My mom is the queen of reusing ziploc bags. She washes and dries them forever. There’s always one or two on her dish rack. I do the same thing, too, but only if it hasn’t come into contact with raw meat.

  7. Ms Petit says:

    I love all that she does and am now fascinated to try brown rice mochi. We don’t use paper towels either, but I’m curious if she extends her ban on paper products to the bathroom as well? Perhaps they have Japanese toilets/bidets?

    • LunaSF says:

      A lot of people are using bamboo products in place of paper. I order bamboo toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap that’s pretty decent. I think they have other products too like bamboo towels and tissues. I don’t think I’m ready to go full on bidet yet so bamboo works for now!

  8. OriginalLala says:

    I’m trying to eliminate or at least reduce our paper towel usage – it’s not easy! We also use glass mason jars for everything: smoothies, soups, storage. They are so handy!

    • Agenbiter says:

      I have a bin for ‘lightly used’ paper towels under the sink. If first use is for, e.g., wiping a spill off a counter, second use can be taking bird droppings off the car.

      • Agenbiter says:

        I also bring lightly used-napkins and paper towels home with me to add to the collection. I go through one roll of paper towels every few months without the fuss and water use of washing cloth rags.

    • CharliePenn says:

      Originallala, if you’re looking for advice on getting started:
      Grab any old clothes that are a nice absorbing quality. Stained old cotton t shirts, things like that. This is easy if you have kids who are constantly going through clothes! Cut them up into a size you desire.
      Get a nice receptacle for your dirty cloth towels. I have a heavy duty plastic trash can, it’s small and a pretty color to match my kitchen.

      Make a place to put clean towels. I have a little rectangular wood box with no lid on my counter. Whatever you like. Now you’re ready to grab a cloth towel, use it as you would a paper towel. Next just give it a little rinse in the sink, then throw it in the laundry receptacle. Or hang it to dry and use again if it’s in good shape. I just throw the towels in with the laundry every time I do a load (note, I don’t clean raw meat mess with cloth towels, that’s the only thing in the kitchen I still use paper towels for).

      Over the course of a few weeks I eliminated 95% of paper towel use in my kitchen just by doing this alone! And I’ve never looked back in over a year of doing this now. I’ve saved so much money and paper!!
      I give the laundry basket a good soapy rinse once in a while. I’ve had no problem with odors or anything. Maybe because I use vinegar to clean. After they are laundered I just throw the clean cloths right back into the box on the counter, or a secondary basket I have for even more extra cloth towels.
      Best wishes in your efforts! I hope this helped a little! I like discussing this obviously lol.

      • Market Street Minifig says:

        We end up with a laundry load of dishcloths at the end of each day. But, foolishly, it never occurred to me to keep receptacles in the kitchen for them. So thanks @CharliePenn for the tips!

        We use a variety of materials, from squares of old bath towels and cotton t-shirts to every kind of kitchen towel/rag on the market. But we still use paper towels to drain oil from fried foods. I’d love to find a replacement for that application.

  9. Gottasayit. says:

    Oh my nerves. I do this ! I rewash ziploc bags and if I see my friends throwing them away I tell them to give them to me unless there was meat or fish in them (yuck!). And I reuse the little papertowel I use. I have a little basket and if there is a spill on the floor I take a gently used piece of papertowel to clean it. And as for drying bags. Easy. Put them over the wooden spoons sticking out of the container on the counter. Great way to dry them !

  10. Clare says:

    I’m always a little shocked (and annoyed) by able bodied people who use paper/plastic plates and plastic cutlery at HOME. This is something I see on Instagram ALL the time. In my little bubble, ti seems far more common in the US than anywhere else.

    I’m not ‘friends’ enough with the people I see doing this to ash why the F they can’t just wash a plate or fork…so…enlighten me?

    • fifee says:

      Count me in on the shock. I’ve never understood this obsession either.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      Yah, I find this excessively wasteful, too. To me it would feel like I’m eating at Costco but at home – no thanks.

    • lucy2 says:

      I don’t get that either.
      The only time I use paper products like that is if I have a larger party. And there are paper/plastic alternatives to that too, or items made of recycled materials.

    • AryasMum says:

      These are probably the same folks who use paper plates at every meal at home.

    • Starkiller says:

      I live in the US and I’ve never seen anyone use paper/plastic plates at home in my life. This is not a thing. Your friends are just weird.

      • Grant says:

        I’m with you Starkiller. I’m in the states too and my mom would die before serving people food on paper plates. This may be something that poor, lazy college students do but I’ve never encountered it personally.

    • Jenn says:

      My mother used paper plates for eeeeverything. I used to use paper plates on pizza night, but I’ve found that microwaveable plastic plates (by Nordic Ware!) are sooo much better. (I’ve had the same pair of cheapie plates for six years now!) We also keep a stack of bamboo plates ready for indoor and outdoor parties, which have the added benefit of not blowing away! I haven’t purchased paper plates in years, come to think of it.

  11. Vv says:

    My husband won’t drink water unless it’s sparkling and after realising the amount of plastic bottles we were going through per week I said enough and made him buy a soda making machine. it’s SUPER easy to use and you can make it as strong or light as you want, the little gas container lasts for approx. 1.5 months (2 ppl) and we just refill it at the same supermarket where we buy groceries anyway.
    so that’s a really good way to cut out 7-8 weekly bottles of plastic :)

    • Sandra says:

      Thank you for the tip!!!!!! That’s a great idea.

    • G says:

      Hopefully he’s getting his teeth checked 2x a year!! Carbonated water is more acidic than regular water and will wear away enamel and make teeth more prone to decay and plaque build up. My younger brother is a dentist and many of his patients that don’t drink sugary sodas but drink a lot of non sweetened sparkling water especially with added lemon or lime see high levels of enamel erosion and plaque which leads to cavities compared to those that drink flat water.

  12. elimaeby says:

    She is looking more and more like Rita Wilson to me (huge compliment, by the way; I think they are both gorgeous and immensely likable).

  13. Lizzie says:

    my great grand parents did these things too b/c they lived through the depression. nothing was disposable. they washed and reused plastic bags and containers and while they did use paper towels – for just wet towels – they would wring them out and hang them on a string above their sink to dry and reuse. i’ll never forget that. when i had my kid i was going crazy on disposable stuff b/c it was easier but after going through like….a huge canister of lysol wipes and 12 pack of paper towels every two weeks – we started to rein it in. it is hard to realize the magnitude of human destruction to our earth on the daily but every little bit really does help.

  14. Tiffany says:

    I have been trying to change my footprint as well. I already use public transport, but I am also not using straws as much anymore. I actually have metals ones now but dummy me never carries them in my bag and when I am in a restaurant I ask for no straw and still get it because I know those people are on auto pilot and just want to move on to the next order.

    I have a ton of those shopping bags and avoid plastic as much as I can. I lease my phones now instead of buying them because I honestly would not think to recycle them.

    So, I am trying and kudos to Alicia for the full on commitment. I am pretty sure it easy for her since it is her norm.

  15. Pam says:

    Here in the great socialist state of Massachusetts we also have to pay for plastic bags, I always keep a ton of reusable bags in my car and have been using them for 15 years. We also rewash plastic bags and I use towels and dish rags. And lately, I have taken to using waxed cloth covers instead of plastic wrap. And I never use a dryer. I always hang my clothes outside when I can, and inside if need be. In fact, I don’t have a dryer. The use of energy for a dryer kills me. But the thing is, you do what you can. A lot of people don’t have time to hang clothes or wash bags. I certainly didn’t when the kids were young. It has gotten a lot easier to behave in an eco conscious way with no kids in the house. You aren’t going to be perfect. Nobody is. You help in what way you can. And I am constantly forgetting to shut lights off. So…

    • sommolierlady says:

      Those wax covers are great. Just discovered them recently.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      In Ontario, Canada there are few days we can hang the wash out, or I’d do that. Hanging some in the basement helps humidify the air in the winter, at least.

      Plastic bags are 5 cents here. We carry old bags in our purses/backpacks/parka pockets (well, my husband does the last). You really get to know your bags on an intimate basis when you do this – which are good for milk, which are good for clothes. Costco has sold fold-down plastic crates that are amazing, because you can load them as you go in the store, and they handle all the heavy stuff.

      With lights: fluorescent bulbs (including CFLs, compacts) don’t last as long if you turn them on and off a lot – so you can leave them on for a while. Does that help? We use them in places like closets and bathrooms, where we don’t care about the quality of light; I might change and then leave on the light because I know my husband is coming along soon. Just make sure everyone is aware – he thought I was being wasteful until I explained it to him.

      I want to know about LED bulbs, we’re using them more and more (easier on the eyes and last even longer – rarely change bulbs now, esp. in hard-to-reach spots like overhead fixtures).

    • lucy2 says:

      The one town here banned plastic bags, and it’s been great. People were all mad at first, but they adjusted and it’s fine.

      LEDS are great – not only do they last much longer (less raw materials, packaging, transportation) but they use a lot less energy.

  16. Millenial says:

    Honestly, mad respect for Alicia. She’s been walking the talk for what? 15-20 years on being vegan and supporting environmental sustainability? In this regard, I genuinely think she’s aspirational.

  17. ds says:

    I’m not even trying to live an eco friendly life it’s just the way i was brought up – we always had glass canisters for food and I’ve never used anything but a cloth. I don’t think I ever bought paper towels. I do put out serviettes from time to time when hosting a dinner. But that’s it. I hate plastic bags – I’m a tote life person.

  18. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Wow, I can’t believe things I’ve been doing since childhood are somewhat cool lol. My Mamaw, who of course lived through The Great Depression, taught me things I still do today. I’m a jarhead for jars. I wash and reuse jars like a crazy woman. I really love the jars my specialty pickles come in, so I have…so many. I wash and reuse any ziplocks (although I hardly ever purchase), store bags and any other sturdy thing which might have additional uses. I have a trash bin which stores plastic bags and keeps everything tidy. But my pantry certainly doesn’t look like hers lol. Yes, there’s lots of jars full of cooking ingredients and what-not, but one can find chips and crackers, smoked oysters, udons, microwave shells and cheese which my 13yo still demands, etc etc. We have junk food! In addition to the healthy stuff.

  19. AB says:

    An environmental issue I rarely ever hear or read about is the rise in online shopping. I try to avoid it now because I hate all the plastic packaging and cardboard! AND also the gasoline used to deliver. I wish more people thought or talked about this. I live in the middle of PA, and unfortunately ALL the stores around where I live are closing, but I try to go to the stores that are left when I need something instead of shopping online. I think when all the stores close, people are really going to regret it.

    • Agenbiter says:

      Thank you for raising this.

    • Canber says:

      Online shopping and home deliveries of all sorts are not going to go away though. We’re going to to think of how to make them less costly on the environment. Delivery by drone is probably coming soon, too.

      • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

        Either they drive deliveries to your door, or you drive to the grocery. Plus, if I’m ordering a few things from Amazon, I’m alleviating the need to drive to more than one location. Pros and cons to anything.

    • lucy2 says:

      I do try to combine purchases so they ship together, but it doesn’t always happen. And I reuse packaging materials when I can, and recycle what I can’t.

      I have been wondering though, is it better to have efficient shipping routes deliver everything, or have all the cars of shoppers going around store to store?

      • AB says:

        I do think of that when I’m driving… cuz like I said, I live in the middle of nowhere, so it takes me like 30 minutes to get to a mall or a Target or WalMart. It’s frustrating. You can’t win no matter what. I try to reduce/re-use as much as I can.

      • Canber says:

        Most car rides in the States are under 2 miles. A lot of them would be shopping, including grocery shopping.

    • Kk2 says:

      I looked this up recently when we decided to join Costco and try to cut down on using Amazon for everything bc I just can’t take the boxes everywhere. I think I found some study that it wasn’t really much of a difference in terms of fossil fuels, and online shopping even had some advantages. But it friend in what kind of car you drive, how far store was, how you combined errands etc. It was pretty much a wash. I was surprised by it.

      I am always trying to do better in this area. I’m going to look for the mesh produce bags; I definitely get tired of the plastic ones. I use reusable totes for groceries.

  20. Sheda says:

    In Barbados they’re getting rid of all single use plastics and some stores don’t give u plastic bags anymore. It’s the right step but prices are going up left and right at food stalls .

  21. Who ARE These People? says:

    Here’s a thing: We put a plastic container and a glass jar in the car and try to remember to bring them into restaurants for taking home leftovers (jar for soup/other liquids). Beats Styrofoam. Like all the other tips, it probably looks tacky now and will be the groovy norm later. Decided to be a tacky trendsetter, let the other patrons notice.

  22. fifee says:

    This house has been using reusable bags for a number of years (Im in Scotland). I cant say for certain how long weve been using them but we first went to France in 2009 and bought 3 bags for groceries and we still have 2 in use. We also had our own ones from local supermarkets, so I guess we’ve been using reusable bags for about 12 years.

    We have recently stopped using sponges (Spontex etc) and scouring brushes and have bought things made from coconuts instead. Rather than using paper towels to wipe spills etc, I bought reusable organic bamboo towel which can be washed in the machine and lasts 60 washes I think, claims the roll will last a year. I do still use recycled paper towels for drying off foods. I bought Bee’s Wrap the other day and will use the last two food bags until they can no longer be used. We have a number of glass containers for the freezer and still have a number of plastic containers. We try to do our bit by recycling what we can.

    Clothes are washed at 30ºC unless something is heavily soiled which is rare and we only tumble dry towels, everything else is hung on clothes driers or outside like today when the sun is shining!

  23. Who ARE These People? says:

    OK, here’s another one. We leave a dedicated microfiber towel (smushed through cupboard handle way separated in space from dishtowels) to mop up minor spills. Having it there is also good for safety because we’re more likely to wipe up right away to prevent slips. But it is ONLY for the floor. Make sure everyone’s trained and/or or label it.

  24. HeyThere! says:

    I am so lucky to have an amazing recycling service in our city. I always have recycling overflowing and maybe one bag of garbage. I recycle every. Single. Thing. Plastic bags get recycled. Number 6 styrofoam gets sent to a different location but I do it(local won’t take it). I tried a few years ago to go without paper towels….it was a STRUGGLE. I have two small babies so I started buying again because it’s just too hard not to(I tried) but I have loads of dish towels/rags I use also. Some things(poop/pee/puke) I just want to throw away and use a paper towel to wipe it up when the nasty messes happen. The local plastic bags from the grocery store are useless and half of them are ripped by the time I get home anyway. Could never reuse them except for a trash bin in the bathroom. I donate any goods/clothes, I just hate throwing things away! Reuse, recycle, repurpose!!!

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      Good luck with your babies!

      Try cloth bags to bring to the grocery as they’re giving you such cheap, useless bags anyway.

    • Tris says:

      We just read an article about “wishful recycling” and it’s really changed how we recycle. We used to throw a lot in for recycling that we now know not only CAN’T be recycled, but actually ruins the entire massive batch of recycling at the plant (e.g. unwashed peanut butter jar). Quite eye-opening, in a place like we live with excellent recycling facilities.

      • lucy2 says:

        Yes, there are a lot of recycling restrictions here too. I wish anything plastic could be, but not yet.

        Clothing is a good one – too much of it ends up in landfills! I just did a big closet clean out a few months ago. Consignment resale for better stuff, thrift shop donation for stuff in good shape, and textile donation for anything ripped, stained, or out of shape.

      • HeyThere! says:

        Yes, TRIS, I read this same article not long ago and it was eye opening! I am the person who will spend 2 days cleaning out the pb jar! Ahhh! Lots of soaking.

        Who ARE These People, thank you for the good luck, LOL, it’s always helpful. I always say ‘babies’ but they are one and three. One year old is a baby but the three year old is a toddler. I buy the big HOME GOODS reusable bags but they are so big and bulky, but sturdy. I need to look into more compact reusable bags to keep handy 24/7 and in my purse. I donate furniture, I’ll hold onto things way longer than I should to find someone who will want it…..so it doesn’t go in a landfill. I’m trying but I could do better. Hopefully as the babies age, it gets easier and I can teach them things also.

    • Liz says:

      When I had my babies – back when dinosaurs ruled the earth – I bought 2 dozen dark burgandy colored washclothes (don’t show stains), and used them for wiping faces, cleaning tables and high chairs, and virtually every other purpose. Except for poop and vomit, where – like you – I couldn’t wait to wrap up the “stuff” and dispose of as quickly as possible. I still have a couple of those threadbare cloths, and my kids are in their 20′s!

  25. Who ARE These People? says:

    There’s an association between consumption and wealth, right? We’ve been ‘recycling’ furniture for years – buying used (except bedding and some upholstery), either using it as is or refinishing/painting – and I’m sure people think it’s because we can’t afford new.

    Discovered that the local Value Village – and I’m sure other thrift shops – carry curtain/drapery panels in excellent condition. Can be used as is or to cut down to make other curtains, shower curtains (add plastic liner), washable napkins, etc. Just great yardage.

  26. pantanlones en fuego says:

    A couple of things; the plastic bags for produce are not necessary. I have seen plenty of people getting produce and putting it in reusable bags or just in the cart. Rinsing these out and reusing them is a little extra IMO. Also, she lives in California which is almost constantly in a drought. It is more harmful to the environment for her to constantly wash dishtowels than to use paper towels. Just my two cents.

    • velourazure says:

      I imagine paper towels are still worse. People are laundering clothes and sheets and towels anyway so a few dish cloths in the wash aren’t a big deal.

  27. Bichon Lover says:

    She’s consistently walked the walk for 20 years. She seems very happy with her life. I’m now going to try vegan caramel. And also reusable cloth towels instead of paper towels.

  28. ikki says:

    I am a jar girl as well, and I kindly refuse plastic bags or any bag at stores I shop at.
    Yay Alicia, thank you for doing this little bit in your world. Many humans making personal choices like these does make a difference <3

  29. Cee says:

    In Argentina you can purchase soda in reusable bottles. You return them at the store and they give you a discount for next purchase. These bottles are then returned to “SODA BRAND”, cleaned and ready to use again.
    We also use a lot of table cloths which are more environment friendly than paper towels.

  30. Audrey says:

    I also don’t use many paper towels. I reuse lightly used ones and try to use cotton towels whenever possible. But, I have a cat! I need plastic bags!! Does anyone have an environmentally sound way of disposing of soiled cat litter? I’m all ears!

  31. G says:

    This is great. More people need to know that you first are supposed to reduce them reuse and lastly recycle. Do whatever you can to reduce single use plastics etc. All the plastic ever created is still around today. What did people do before plastic? There were methods that worked. I’ve stopped using straws all together and I just sip my drinks. Also I’ve reduced buying drinks on the go. My hubby and I invested in a high end coffee machine that grinds coffee beans and creates yummy americanos and espressos. We’ve saved soooo much by not buying coffee on the go. Also To get the antioxidants and others healthy parts of coffee you’re supposed to buy beans that were roasted within a few days and when you grind them you have about 24hrs before the grounds degrade and loose all their antioxidants and minerals. If I need something to drink for on the go we have a glass and silicone mug we each use and also a zojirushi bigger thermos that keeps drinks hot or cold for 12hrs. I’ve taught myself to not always do everything in a rush. If I’m out and about or on a lunch break and in rare occasion without my
    own coffee I’ll find a cafe that serves coffee in a mug. I’m lucky though in NYC there’s many options. And where we live the city collects compost which makes cooking from scratch less wasteful. There was a brand called Flax that made reusable fabric bags for when you buy produce. I’m sure other brands make it. Such a game changer!!!

    Once biodegradable plastic alternatives become cheaper than regular plastic, plastics will get phased out. Right now plastic is very cheap and any business that wants bigger profits will use it. When I sometimes buy boxed pasta, my go to brand is Jovial pasta. Incredibly tasty and organic but also their box packaging is recyclable and the little plastic window film on the box is made from wood pulp and it’s very strong and sturdy and you just take it off and it’s home compostable!

    • HeyThere! says:

      G: I am very interested in your coffee machine if you could share please?? Thank you!

      • Amy says:

        In case G doesn’t see your reply (I never see replies to my comments), I did a Google search of “espresso machines with grinder” and got a lot of options! (You can also do this with “coffee Machines with grinder” but you’ll get alot of drip options.

  32. Laura-j says:

    I think if everyone is just a little more mindful, we can make a pretty big difference. (but it does take everyone)

    Drive less if you can, plus walking is nice. (weather permitting)

    I recommend “final straw” (https://finalstraw.com/), it’s kind of expensive, but because it folds up it’s always in my purse. I really love straws, so this has been a good option for me, I’ve been using mine for a year or so now, and everyone loves it and asks about it. I have some for home that are cheaper and work great, but this has been a game changer.

    I do the towel thing too, but I have a washing machine, so it’s not a big deal at all, if I had to lug them to a laundry, I might not be so down with it. I also buy “rags” in bulk, from home depot or something for actual cleaning. Who cares if they are stained, they are cleaning up!

    Also Ikea bags can load a whole week’s groceries for me (single person).

    Also you know not eating meat.

  33. bella says:

    I try to rarely use paper towels and paper plates. My husband consumes enough for 10 households.

    I don’t wash plastic bags but I do use them for doggie poop pickups, trash can liners, etc..,

  34. Ann says:

    I use too many paper towels. I need to wean myself off them.

    • me says:

      Fast food places should stop throwing so many napkins in bags with food (even if you didn’t ask for any napkins they still give you many). Most of the time, people use one napkin and the rest go in the trash…unused. So much garbage on a daily basis that is unnecessary.

  35. The Voice says:

    We’ve been doing for years what she does. We save old glass pasta jars. We switched out all our plastic containers to glass ones. We still use paper towels but mostly use dish towels or even old baby burp cloths to wipe down counters. I reuse plastic bags when possible. I love reusing my old Talenti containers for snacks – they stack nicely. I’ve had my klean kanteen bottle for years. Some of my friends make fun of me but I don’t care. I just don’t like creating waste and this is all easy to do. Lately we’ve joined a Buy Nothing group on Facebook and we’ve been getting and giving away things with people in our community. It’s amazing!

  36. Ashley says:

    I switched from paper towels/napkins to cloth a decade ago. It’s really no biggie. IKEA or dollar stores sell cloth towels and napkins, or you could just rip up an old towel or bedsheet. It’s only one more load of laundry a week. I’m already washing clothes/cloth diapers for my family anyway, so what’s one more load?

    • me says:

      You know if everyone just switched to cloth diapers, there would so much less in the landfills. It’s also cheaper to use cloth ones. I don’t understand why people buy huggies. etc. My mom used cloth ones on me as a baby. We really need to re-think things.

      • Ashley says:

        I get that not everyone wants to deal that closely with poop, but cloth diapers are great! I love them, and the baby’s never had a diaper rash.

  37. Avalanche says:

    It takes a mass movement to save the planet. I don’t feel guilty about any of my eco unfriendly behaviour because what I do makes no difference.

  38. Ddddxxxxxxxxfhbc says:

    Puzzled by some of the surprised comments.
    I thought most people did these things now?

  39. Ali says:

    Where I live went plastic bag free a while ago and certain areas charge if you didn’t bring your own and want to use a paper one. I think one day stores using plastic bags will seem as strange as smoking in a restaurant does now.

  40. Amy says:

    Isn’t this old news? I haven’t thrown away a plastic bag in years and don’t use paper towels for anything except emergencies. I thought this was normal now?

  41. Happy_fat_mama says:

    Alicia has my dream kitchen. It’s eco, but with many lux highlights like lots of countertop space, a copper kettle, big windows onto her yard, a pantry fully stocked with vegan food. I have the lower budget version. For example, my towels were never actually dish towels, but rags cut from old clothes.
    I always wonder, does she have someone come over to clean her home once a week? It would certainly allow her more time to enjoy that kitchen.

  42. Jillybean says:

    Ok- her skin is amazing! She is definitely eating good food.

  43. Mama says:

    Good for her! I know that I use way too many paper towels and this is a good reminder to do less of that. I appreciate anyone who actively uses less plastic. Please get rid of plastic shopping bags!!!! Take your own.

  44. PutnamPrincess says:

    She’s not wrong.