11 Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Common Household Items
It’s no secret that many of our common household products are riddled with chemicals and other human and planet-damaging ingredients we can’t pronounce. Not to mention they’re often packaged in single-use plastic or hard to recycle materials. Growing up my mom always stressed the importance of planet and animal-friendly practices, and those early lessons have stuck with me as an adult. I buy primarily organic food, recycle as much as I possibly can, make an effort to reduce my water and electricity use, and buy non-toxic products whenever they are available.
In the last few years, one of my primary objectives at home has been to reduce our overall consumption of single-use plastics and other non-recyclable materials. One of the ways I have been able to achieve that goal is by finding eco-friendly, reusable alternatives to products such as plastic bags and water bottles, among other things. It’s an added bonus that I find the reusable versions to be so much chicer than their plastic counterparts. Check out some of my personal favorites plus how and why I use them below!
It is estimated that as much as 80% of the plastic water bottles we buy end up in landfills. It takes up to 1,000 years for each single bottle to decompose, leaking toxic chemicals into the environment as it does so. Plastic water bottles are some of the easiest items to replace in our homes, however, with planet, budget, and aesthetic-friendly options widely available. I started using these glass water bottles years ago. I fill them up from my filtered tap and keep them in the refrigerator. That way they’re always cold and convenient, just like a plastic water bottle would be. They’re also dishwasher safe so there’s no need to worry about scrubbing. I also recently saw these bottles with a silicone sleeve plus a straw and lid on Instagram and I had to have them. They are perfect for smoothies, iced coffee, water, you name it. I also love this option if you want to meal prep smoothies or juices for use later.
We’ve all been told how damaging plastic straws can be to the environment and wildlife. In fact, they are one of the top 10 contributors to plastic marine debris worldwide. Thankfully there are a multitude of plastic-free alternatives ranging from the paper straws you find at restaurants to collapsible straws you can take with you anywhere. I’m particularly fond of these glass cocktail-sized straws. The only time I even want a straw is when I’m having a cocktail, so these work perfectly for me. If you’re not into the glass or metal versions, there’s always these silicone ones that are a little friendlier on the teeth. All of these are dishwasher safe and easy to clean!
One of the hardest things for me to personally cut out was my use of disposable plastic baggies. Thankfully, I found these silicone bags from Stasher and I knew I’d finally found the perfect replacement. They come in so many sizes and colors for all of your needs, plus they are refrigerator, freezer, and dishwasher safe. You can buy them individually or as a set. I have been slowly building my collection over time – anytime I reach for a plastic bag for something, I immediately order a Stasher bag in the appropriate size for that item next time. I also found these silicone containers from ZipTop which received rave reviews.
Plastic wrap was one of the easiest materials for me to cut out. I never liked how sticky and messy it looked, so once I found alternatives I never looked back. These Food Huggers can be used to store leftover halves of lemons, apples, tomatoes, bananas, you name it. Hell, they even have an avocado version! I have a full set of these and they are one of my most used kitchen items. I always try to buy mixing bowls that have pre-fitted lids, and it should surprise no one that not one of my Tupperware lids is misplaced. However, I know not everyone is that
crazy organized, so I found these stretchy silicone covers for every sized container or bowl you can imagine. They even come in both rectangular and circular sizes.
The grocery store is one of the easiest places to fall victim to single use plastics. Many of them don’t give you an alternative to plastic bags or plastic produce bags. It’s so important to remember to bring your reusable grocery bags. I love these canvas bags that have divider pockets built right in. Plus, they’re machine washable so you don’t have to worry about the germ buildup that can happen in reusable bags. One of my favorite eco-friendly purchases has been these mesh produce bags. They work perfectly plus you don’t have to hunt around the store for the plastic bag dispensers which are always inevitably out of bags. I keep all of my clean bags in the trunk of my car so I never have to worry about forgetting them!
Even the most eco-friendly laundry detergents often come packaged in heavy duty plastic. My mom introduced me to Dropps a few years ago and I’ve never gone back to traditional laundry detergent. Not only is Dropps formulated with clean plant-based ingredients, it also comes in plastic-free compostable packaging. I can personally attest to how well it cleans, and the lavender eucalyptus scent is heavenly. Plus you can save 25% with auto deliveries. Dropps also makes dish detergent and fabric softener.
Finally, I know we all love our paper towels, but they are not only expensive, not to mention a rarity during the pandemic era, but also result in 254 million tons of trash globally every year. I have used small cotton dish towels in lieu of paper towels for years. Not only are they cheaper, they just clean better in my opinion. I keep a drawer full of these neatly folded in my kitchen, laundry room, and bathrooms for multi-purpose use. We still use paper towels, but these seriously cut into our consumption. So much so that we never even worried about running out during the early days of covid!
I hope this post inspires you to replace some of the single use items in your home! If you have any other reusable household products I should know about, let me know in the comments. As always, thank you for reading and sharing!