So you’re interested in having a greener home with less waste…Go you! It is such an important time for us to take charge of our negative impact on the environment and our own health by reducing the use of many convenience products that have become a regular part of our daily lives.
It can seem rather daunting at first to think about all the things we use daily that we need to cut back on, and eventually eliminate, but even the smallest changes can make a big deal in the long run. I started out small and continue to change and eliminate products from my life whenever I can.
There are so many great products out there right now to help us cut back our waste. I have compiled a list below of the easiest products to start replacing in your journey to a greener more environmentally friendly home. Added bonus: Many of these products are better for your health as well!
*This post may contain affiliate links. I only recommend products I use and love. Read the full disclosure here.
I am sure you have heard of how plastic straws negatively impact wildlife, especially in the oceans. Straws don’t biodegrade in the ocean and often end up being consumed by wildlife such as turtles and birds. Straws are not accepted for recycling because of their size they fall between machinery at recycle plants.
Solution: Reusable Straws
Reusable straws are a great way to reduce plastic waste. They come in many different varieties but my favorite are the silicone ones because they are soft and easy to clean. Most reusable straws are dishwasher safe as well. The variety pack above comes with several sizes and cleaning brushes. I found them here. Paper straws are also an option because they are biodegradable, but they are made from trees so the friendlier straw is still the reusable straw.
2.Single Use Plastic Food Bags
This product is all about convenience. We as humans love to put anything and everything we can think of into tiny resealable plastic bags. Sure they are great, but they can’t be recycled at home they require a special recycling center and according to the Center for Biodiversity only 1% get returned for recycling.
Reusable snack bags are a wonderful alternative to single use plastic bags. They are durable, washable, seal well for storage, and are cute! They are also BPA free which you may be surprised to find that many single use plastic bag brands are not. My favorite ones are Planet Wise (pictured above). When you initially switch you have to invest in a variety of types and sizes, but in the long run you don’t have to spend money on bags. I haven’t purchased single use plastic bags in years! I bought mine here
You may not have thought of the significant impact that dryer sheets have on the environment, however it is a big one. These tiny sheets are made of polyester and are NOT recyclable. Think of how many of these the average home uses…complete waste! On top of that already horrible fact, they are soaked in chemicals that you are being exposed to.
Simple solution…Wool dryer balls. Wool dryer balls are so amazing I have a whole article dedicated to them here. But to quickly summarize they are eco friendly (they last for 5-10 years), wool has anti bacterial properties, and they reduce static cling (the only reason we even use dryer sheets in the first place). This is a must-do in the first stages of eliminating single use waste and chemicals form your home. Find them here
4. Plastic Shopping Bags
This one is a no-brainer, and you have likely started this process already, but if you haven’t…girl get on it! According the Center for Biological Diversity, Americans use 100 million plastic bags a year! 100,000 marine animals are killed by them annually. Disturbing stats! Stop using plastic shopping bags from stores. Bring your own reusable bags. Not only is it better for the environment, but they hold more. I also have insulated reusable bags which are nice for keeping cold items in when grocery shopping.
The single use coffee pods that go into single cup coffee makers are tough to recycle. They have to be broken down and separated, and some have to be recycled at a specific recycling location. Chances are if you are using one of these coffee makers you are looking for convenience, and it is unlikely that you will go through the work to recycle all of these tiny pods. It is much easier to use a reusable pod that you can put grounds directly into like these
6. Shampoo Bottles
It is an alarming number in the millions of plastic bottles that end up not being recycled. Bathroom products such as shampoo are higher among these items because people do not think to recycle them as often. They are harder to recycle because they need to be cleaned out. On top of that if they have a pump or cap they need to be recycled separately. It is a bad combo for recycling.
A great solution to these bottles are shampoo bars, conditioner bars, bars of soap, and lotion bars. I love all of these bars! I was pleasantly surprised when I started using shampoo bars at how nice they made my hair feel and how frothy they got. Also, if you color your hair don’t be deterred, they even make purple conditioner bars for blondes. These bars cut back on large plastic bottles and are a great solution to cutting back waste.
7. Soda Cans
Although they can be recycled, a huge number of aluminum cans will end up in our landfills every year. One product I love is my home carbonator for replacing my aluminum cans. Not only are they better for the environment because they cut back on can waste but they can also save you money. Be sure to return your used C02 back to the store for proper recycling and a discount.
8. Water Bottles
I am always surprised at the number of people who still purchase water bottles. We know how bad they are for the environment so I’ll skip the speil and get right to it. One awesome investment to make is into a few durable reusable water bottles. There are many great glass and stainless steel water bottle options. I prefer stainless steel because they keep your water cold for longer and are more resistant to drops. They are BPA free, don’t have that plastic taste, easy to clean, and can save you money in the long run. Also, they make small ones that can fit into your purse easily if you are used to buying the 8oz bottles for travel.
I know this one is tricky because paper towels seems like such a necessity, however you can significantly cut back on paper towels or completely switch to bamboo towels or recycled paper towels .
Ok now is the time for the hand towel to make its comeback. If you use a cloth towel to dry your hands, dry your dishes, clean up spills, and clean counters you can really cut back on your use of paper towels. We go through a roll of paper towels once every two weeks.
If you can’t go all cloth, consider bamboo towels. They are a sustainable alternative to paper towels because bamboo grows back in a few months unlike trees that can take years.
If you are looking into reducing your waste and making a greener home, then you are already on the right track. I hope this list of items that I compiled can be helpful for someone starting their journey to a greener more eco friendly home. Share your thoughts below!