We produce tons of waste daily from seemingly ordinary items like paper towels and plastic bags. These items are often used once and thrown away, contributing to the ever-growing waste problem. It is time to make the switch to eco-friendly reusable items that help reduce our carbon footprint and allow us to save money.
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Here’s the thing: many of us use plastic bags every day. But did you know that birds and sea turtles often mistake thrown-away plastic bags for food? And even sadder is that Americans use hundreds of billions of plastic bags yearly!
Why am I starting this post with sad, yet realistic, data on single-use plastics?
The plastic bag serves as a symbol for the numerous items we can substitute in our daily routines. Not only will this help save money, but it will also significantly decrease waste. Transitioning from disposable goods to eco-friendly alternatives can create a significantly more sustainable environment for everyone.
I’ve made a list of the top reusable products we could use to slowly but surely eliminate single-use plastics and opt for eco-friendly alternatives.
- Reusable produce bags
The first thing on the list is reusable produce bags which you can swap for single-use plastic bags. Reusable produce bags can save money because you keep using them when buying fruits and vegetables. Many of these reusable produce bags are mesh bags that may look small but expand considerably when storing your produce. Plus, these bags allow you to easily see the state of your fruits and vegetables, so you can use them up before they go bad.
- Reusable grocery bags and reusable shopping bags
With many places banning the use of plastic bags in groceries and shopping centers, it has become more practical, convenient, and eco-friendly to bring your own reusable grocery bags and shopping bags. Similarly, using reusable shopping bags also helps make shopping easy-breezy while promoting sustainability. Many of these tote bags are sturdy and fold nicely, so you can keep some in your purse and car and quickly grab them when you go grocery shopping.
- Reusable wool dryer balls
Simple things like dryer balls and dryer sheets can contribute to carbon footprint and clog landfills. A better and healthier alternative is reusable wool dryer balls made of natural wool. These can help save you money because they quicken drying time (hence, lessr electricity consumption) and soften fabrics, eliminating wrinkles from your clothes. Wool dryer balls are zero-waste products because they are biodegradable and decompose nicely when discarded.
- Reusable water bottles
Do you still buy bottled water? If you run the math, you’ll realize you’re paying too much for water when you could have invested in high-quality reusable water bottles. Stop adding to plastic waste and hydrate yourself with a stainless steel water bottle. You can find these water bottles in all sorts of sizes, capacities, and designs, and many are insulated to keep your cold water cold for a long time.
- Reusable straws
Plastic straws are oneof the most common single-use plastics we use regularly. Thankfully, there’s been a move toban the use of plastic straws in many states, and some food establishments are already taking the initiative,too. But if you still prefer using straws, you could use reusable straws, which are more eco-friendly. There are plenty of options for reusable straws, from glass, silicone, and stainless steel to bamboo straws. Regardless of your choice, you can bet reusable straws are much better and safer than plastic ones.
- Reusable paper towels
Many of us reach for paper towels when faced with stains on the countertop or dust on surfaces, but it’s high time we make the swap to a reusable alternative. Although paper napkins are made of recycled paper, we still can’t discount the fact that trees are cut down to produce them.
What is the better alternative? Reusable paper towels. You can use these reusable products to do anything you’d do with a paper towel\. But the main advantage of using reusable kitchen towels is that you can throw them into the washer and use them again!
- Cloth diapers
Here’s the dirty truth about disposable diapers: they’re made of toxic materials that can potentially harm humans and the environment. Disposable diapers are not biodegradable, so they pile up in landfills without disintegrating. Plus, the numbert of diapers babies go through canreally add up.
Buying reusable diapers can significantly reduce the amount of money you spend on diapers. Although the initial cost may be higher, the advantages of cloth diapers outweigh their financial expenses. They are made from organic materials, making them safe for your baby’s delicate skin. Additionally, these diapers are adjustable, ensuring your child can use them as they grow.
- Reusable baking mat
If you go through several pieces of parchment paper in the kitchen, you can stop buying the paperand invest in reusable baking mats. These baking mats are made of food-grade silicone, which is non-stick, non-toxic, and dishwasher safe. They can be used over and over again, which saves you money in the long run.
Additionally, they are more environmentally friendly than parchment paper, which is a disposable product. Baking mats are also easier to use than parchment paper. You don’t have to worry about it slipping or tearing; you can simply wipe it clean after use.
- Reusable cutlery
Yes, plastic cutlery is convenient, but it’snot exactly helping the planet. Instead of plastic flatware, invest in reusable versions that are more eco-friendly. You can take stainless steel or metal-made cutlery when you go camping, or purchase a bamboo cutlery setwith a spoon, fork, and pair of chopsticks in a cute cloth bag. Keep a set in your bag and in your desk drawer, and bring it anywhere you travel to cut down on the use of unnecessary plastic.
- Reusable cotton rounds
Cotton is also one of the most common single-use objects we use frequently. But little did we know that discarded cotton does not disintegrate on the ground and only adds to the stuff accumulating in landfills. The next time you do your skincare routine, reach out for reusable cotton rounds instead. Made of organic cotton, these cotton rounds are gentle on the skin. Plus, you can wash and dry them and use them again!
- Menstrual cups
My fellow ladies can relate to how the number of sanitary pads used in a lifetime can add up. And like disposable diapers, these pads do not degrade, so they also contribute to the waste that ends up in landfills.
A more practical, cheaper, and eco-friendlier option is using menstrual cups. These cups effectively collect menstrual blood. Menstrual cups are soft and pliable, can be washed and sterilized, and could last years!
- Beeswax wrap
One of the best alternatives to plastic wrap is beeswax wrap. This allows you to store leftovers without plastic packaging, meaning no BPA and toxins. Thewraps cling to food bowls snugly and keep food fresh. You can also use beeswax wrap to cover half an avocado, sandwiches, breads, and cheeses. You can keep reusing beeswax wrap, significantly eliminating plastic waste in your household.
- Coffee tumblers
If you love coffee and want to reduce using styrofoam and paper coffee cups, it’s about time to get your own coffee tumbler. Most coffee tumblers are dishwasher safe and come with an insulated wall, so your coffee stays hot (or iced coffee stays cold)for an extended period . These coffee tumblers are oneof the best investments you make for your caffeine obsession;,you’re helping cut down on single-use plastic and paper cups.
- Rashguard with SPF
When it comes to reusable products, we often think of bags, containers, and bottles. But did you know you can also save money by getting reusable apparel, particularly rashguard item with SPF, for your summer vacation? Yes, wearing a rashguard with sun protection helps you cut down on the use of sunscreen (although you still have to apply it on exposed areas).
Rashguards are made of a material that helps to block the sun’s harmful UV rays, so you can stay protected from the sun without having to reapply sunscreen as often. This can save you money in the long run, as sunscreen can be expensive. Additionally, rashguards are made of a durable material that can withstand multiple washes so you can get a lot of use out of them.
- Reusable nursing pads
New moms commonly leak breast milk, so nursing pads should always be part of their arsenal. But instead of using disposable pads, switch to reusable versionsthat you can wash, dry, and reuse. Not to worry–these reusable nursing pads are designed to be discreet, highly absorbent, and comfortable to wear,in addition to being eco-friendly and cost-effective.
Are you still bringing tissues anywhere you go? Sure, many companies claim that their tissues are made of recycled material, but that still implies that they used natural resources to produce such disposable products. A small but significant action anyone can take to save trees from being cut down is to use a handkerchief instead of tissues. Whether you need to blow your nose, dry your tears, or clean up a small stain, handkerchiefs can be used, washed, and reused.
- Reusable lunch box
Stop putting your lunch in a plastic bag or brown paper bag and switch to a reusable lunch box. There are plenty of sustainable options, from glass to stainless steel lunchboxes, or even more eco-friendly ones that are made of bamboo or wheat. You can even find lunchboxes that aren bento style so that you can put foods in their proper sections so they aren’t mixed up with come lunchtime.
- Reusable cooler bag
Planning a picnic on the beach? Great! Grab a reusable cooler bag to store your food and drinks. Many people still use styrofoam coolers, but that’s not helping the planet. You can also bring your reusable cooler bag to grocery stores when shopping for meat and other food items that need to stay cold during the trip home.
- Reusable toiletry bottles
If you’re planning a vacation and want to avoid bringing shampoo and body wash stored in huge plastic bottles, then you should invest in reusable toiletry bottles. These are small, travel-sized reusable bottles you can fill with your favorite shampoo and body wash. They quickly pass airport inspection and are easy to bring in your hand-carry or backpack.
- Reusable kitchen towel
Paper towels are a convenient way to clean up messes, but they can be harmful to the environment. They are made from trees, which take a long time to grow. When paper towels are thrown away, they end up in landfills, where they take up space and release methane, a greenhouse gas. Switching to reusable paper towels can make a big difference. You can use them to clean up spills, wipe down surfaces, and remove stains. When you finish, you can wash them and use them again. This will help to reduce the amount of waste you produce and protects the environment.
- Reusable stainless steel razor
Another fantastic way to go plastic-free is to ditch your disposable plastic razor and opt for a stainless steel razor instead. These razors give a more precise cut and are less likely to cause razor burn. You can replace dull blades with new ones, so you don’t have to throw the entire thing away.
Do you remember how people hoarded toilet paper at the onset of the pandemic? We didn’t think toilet paper could become such a scarce commodity, but desperate times call for desperate measures, right? But toilet paper takes years to decompose, so it isn’t the most eco-friendly option.
Instead, install a toilet bidet, which helps eliminate the need for toilet paper. Also, studies say bidets are more hygienic and sanitary than wiping with toilet paper.
From reusable bags and eco-friendly cutlery to cleaning cloths and reusable cotton rounds, there are so many options to go plastic-free. You don’t need to make a total lifestyle switch all at once, but you can adapt these eco-friendly alternatives and reduce waste significantly over time.
Sure, plastic and disposable products offer convenience, but they have negative impacts on our planet, wildlife, and even our health. Switching to sustainable products is our contribution to reducing waste accumulation and pollution. Our collective efforts can mean so much in securing our planet’s future, so don’t think twice–make the switch today!