Are you looking for simple environmentally friendly swaps to make your home more sustainable? Eco-friendly options have come a long way in recent years and these longer-lasting products are not only kind to the planet but they will help you save money in the long-run, too.
While plastic is a versatile material, it has some environmental downsides. Reusable alternatives made from metal or biodegradable materials are a more sustainable option, especially for items we use on a daily or weekly basis.
Looking for some ideas? Here are 14 ideas for reusable items to replace single-use:
1. Reusable tea bags
Are you a tea drinker? If you are looking to reduce waste try switching to loose-leaf tea and using a tea strainer instead. Alternatively, several tea brands are now switching to eco-friendly tea bag options. Research around for brands that make packaging from biodegradable materials.
2. Reusable straws
In several states in America and in multiple countries around the world, governments have banned plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds to reduce plastic waste. Missing straws? Opt for an eco-friendly alternative. Get your hands on a stainless steel reusable straw. These last up to years if looked after properly and are not an environmental hazard like plastic options.
3. Bamboo paper towels
While paper towels are recyclable and washable dishcloths exist, if you are looking for an eco-friendly alternative try bamboo paper towels! Bamboo paper towels are disposable, can be reused for a long period of time, are made from sustainable sources, and are fully biodegradable. Bamboo is grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizers or irrigation, so it has minimal impact on the environment.
4. Beeswax wraps
Did you know, beeswax wraps can last up to a year? Most options currently on the market have been ethically sourced and produced. When the wipes do come to the end of their life span, you can place them in your compost pile as they naturally decompose. While they are more expensive than cling wrap and foil, beeswax wipes are prettier and better for the environment. If you are feeling ambitious, you can make your own by melting down beeswax and soaking cloth in the liquid.
5. Metal water bottles
A great swap to make at home is to use refillable water bottles instead of single use plastic ones. While a plastic water bottle does eliminate the usage of disposable bottles, a stainless steel bottle is generally a longer-lasting option. Additionally, a metal bottle is less likely to sweat chemicals into your drink.
6. Wooden toothbrushes
Instead of buying a plastic toothbrush, consider a wooden bamboo toothbrush. They are just as effective when it comes to cleaning your teeth but not as damaging to the environment.
7. Compostable trash bags
When buying compostable trash bags, double check to ensure the packaging clearly states that the bags are 100% biodegradable. Some are only partially biodegradable. Compostable trash bags work well for both kitchen, bathroom and other household waste, and naturally decompose in about three months.
8. Fabric shopping bags
One of the best things you can do for the environment is to use fabric or reusable shopping bags. Nowadays these bags are available for purchase from most retailers. Feeling creative? You can also create your own bags using leftover fabric! Upcycle old clothing, blankets, or other cloth items. Just sew the edges together and add handles.
9. Vinegar as a cleaning agent
Vinegar is nontoxic and eco-friendly, which makes it the ultimate multipurpose cleaning solution. Vinegar makes a great cleaner and disinfectant because it is made from acetic acid. The acidity is so powerful it can dissolve mineral deposit, dirt, grease, grime, and kill bacteria. Check out this article for 28 ways to clean your house with vinegar.
10. Glass Containers
While plastic containers are reusable, there comes a point where it needs replacing. Consider investing in a set of quality glass storage containers instead. A set of quality glass storage containers can potentially last forever with proper care.
11. Try Bar Soap
Bar soap is widely available and you can buy most versions completely free from packaging. Place a fresh bar on a pretty soap dish and you will have clean hands and a greener footprint.
12. Consider second hand vintage items
Next time you need something for your house, such as a piece of furniture, consider buying it second-hand or vintage. Since these products already exist, it is less of a strain on the environment and they could be prime for some creative upcycling.
13. Start a compost heap
If you do a lot of cooking from scratch, it could be worth investing in a compost bin. Simply chuck your cooking waste in the compost pile and you will not only reduce waste but save money on compost.
14. Try reusable baking liners
Most baking paper is coated with silicone to make it nonstick and once it has been stained with food it cannot be recycled. If you do a lot of baking, why not invest in some reusable baking liners? They generally last for five or more years, are dishwasher safe, and can be cut to size.