My (Other) Word for 2013: RESPECT (Or, Why We’re Ditching the Disposables)

mother wearing toddler

Before the new year rolled in, I spent some time reflecting and asking God what word should guide the year before me. While I eventually settled on Holy, the runner-up – which I almost chose – was Respect.

I felt – and continue to feel – an increasing pull to honour every living soul as well as the material world in which we live. To recognize the incredible value not only of the people in my life but every speck of God’s beloved creation.

We need the material world to live, after all. God made us out of earth, and our bodies are sustained by the earth. I want to respect the home that God allowed me to share with the rest of creation.


The word “respect” comes from the Latin, meaning to look back or to look again.

In our fast-paced, throwaway culture, we have a hard time looking at things twice. We don’t have the time or the desire. Once we’ve used something, we throw it into a trash can with the intent  never to see it again. We imagine it simply disappears after that. (It doesn’t, of course. It just goes somewhere else where we can’t see it — in somebody else’s back yard.)

The use of anything disposable is, to me, the height of disrespect.

I’ve felt God calling me to look at things more than once – to respect the resources he’s given me.

For that reason, I’ve been slowly working towards replacing everything disposable in my home with reusable items.

I feel like this is one of my missions for 2013.

(Please note that I don’t assume this is a reasonable mission for everyone right now. You might not be at a place in your life where this is realistic. There is no need for guilt. Maybe someday, this will be something you feel called to as well).

We’ve already switched to reusable grocery bags, napkins, and paper towels, and I’ve started with feminine hygiene. We still have a long way to go, though. We still bring way too much packaging and other stuff out to the curb for someone to take out of our sight.

I wanted to document and share our journey here. Ditching disposables in favour of reusable items isn’t particularly hard or expensive, but it does require thoughtful planning. It goes against our cultural norms. Sometimes, we just have to see someone else do it to realize that it’s even an option.

A few items on my list include toilet paper, feminine pads, and plastic wrap. Posts to follow.

Have you made any changes to a less disposable life? What have you tried? What were some of your challenges?

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  1. We do cloth napkins, cloth diapers as much as we can with our lifestyle, and I’ve been doing cloth FH pads for about 4 months (and love them!). I want to challenge myself to get back into resuable grocery bags and storage containers.
    MollyMakesDo recently posted..Little HolyDays: Celebrating the Holy WeekMy Profile

  2. Oh I’m so glad you’ll be blogging your way through this. I have this on my mind as well, and wondering how to do it well, where to start. Well a first step this week was buying non-disposable wash cloths for the kitchen. Something my mum always had but for some reason R and I had been buying disposable ones the last few years. Small steps but a little at a time gets you a long way!
    Fiona Lynne recently posted..right now – MarchMy Profile

  3. Ooooh. It’ll be fun to read what you change that I haven’t thought of. We reuse a lot here, though to be honest, I cannot get my head around reusable toilet paper (and DH is against the idea too).
    Michele recently posted..Personality and ParentingMy Profile

  4. We switched to half family cloth/half disposable toilet paper, and I’ve been amazed at what an easy change that actually was! It’s only half because my husband wants nothing to do with it, but cloth wipes are all Miriam uses (it was just such a natural transition from CD and EC to wipe her with cloth) and I use them most of the time, too. The only times I intentionally chose the paper TP was during the heaviest days of my period and when I was fertile. I felt like I could really monitor my cervical fluids better using paper than cloth.

    Looking forward to your series!
    That Married Couple recently posted..Contraception correlationsMy Profile

  5. I love the connection you made between the root of “respect” and how disposable stuff violates that.

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