I don't know about you, but since I've been spending more time at home, I've become more aware of how much waste I accumulate throughout the days, weeks, and months. While I'm not creating a huge pile of plastic water bottles, paper plates, or disposable cups, I've been paying attention to how many paper towels I use, the boxes and packaging from deliveries, and the empty containers.
I've always tried my best to do my part and reduce waste in an effort to send less to the landfills. I think a lot of you out there reading this might be doing the same. It hasn't been easy, especially during this pandemic, but it's a process and something that I'm trying to improve upon.
Luckily, there are so many small changes or swaps you can make at home and in your daily routine. One thing you can do is invest in reusable products to replace disposables. To help, we compiled a list of some ideas and products below. Have another zero-waste tip or trick? Send us a DM or comment at @thethirty.
1. Sandwich Bags
I've been guilty of using plastic sandwich bags a lot, and not just for food but for stashing things like toiletries, batteries, pens, even hair ties. For food storage, I've been using reusable silicone bags, which are so easy to use and clean. And as for my miscellaneous items, I've been swapping the plastic bags for cloth ones. (I'll get to that later in this article.)
2. Water Bottles
The easiest way to start reducing waste is to use a reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic ones. It will save you a lot of money in the long run, too.
3. Lunch Bags
Instead of brown paper bags for lunches on the go, use a lunch bag. I like having more than one at home so I can bring them to picnics at the park or beach.
If your grocery store has a bulk section, you can skip the packaging and store items in glass jars or canisters. If that's not available to you, you can still use the vessels by decanting dry goods into them. It's easier to see exactly how much of an item you have left so you don't overbuy.
5. Bee's Wrap
Instead of plastic wrap, try Bee's Wrap. It's reusable and made of organic cotton with beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. You can wash it after each use.
Many cities have banned the use of plastic straws, so it helps to come prepared with your own reusable one when you're eating out or getting drinks to-go. I know some places have substituted with compostable, paper, or bamboo straws, but I'm pretty partial to my portable metal straw (especially since it holds up better than a paper one).
7. Tote Bags
I bring a cloth tote bag with me wherever I go. There's always one in my purse, car, and office desk, and you don't want to know how many I have at home. They're not just for the grocery store but for other shopping trips, too.
8. Coffee Cups
The next time you head to your favorite coffee shop, bring your own to-go cup. Some places even give you a discount for BYO.
1. Spray Bottle
You can change your cleaning routine by purchasing eco-friendly cleaning formulas that are concentrated in smaller bottles and can be diluted with water in reusable spray bottles. Or if you make your own cleaning concoctions at home, having a couple of bottles can really help.
2. Cleaning Towels
After I paid more attention to the number of paper towels I was using every week, it really made me rethink my cleaning strategy. Recently, I've stocked up on more cleaning towels and cloths so I have plenty to use while I'm in between laundry loads.
3. Dryer Balls
If you can't do laundry without dryer sheets, an eco-friendlier option would be to invest in some dryer balls. They work just like the sheets, but you can reuse them. Sprinkle a few drops of your favorite essential oil on them to get your clothes smelling extra fresh.
It's easy to go through sponges quickly, especially if you don't have a dishwasher and cook at home a lot. Opt for sustainable sponges that are biodegradable and don't leave microplastics in their wake.
1. Reusable Makeup Rounds
If you use cotton rounds or balls to remove makeup or apply skincare products, you probably go through a lot of them every week. I was using at least one or two a day, which really adds up. I recently made the switch to reusable pads, and they're my new obsession. They're so easy to clean. I just throw them in a laundry bag with my weekly load.
2. Bar Soaps
Switching to bar soap can reduce extra packaging. Not only can you opt for hand bar soap and body soap, but a lot of brands make shampoo bars, too.
3. Menstrual Cups
Using a menstrual cup has a few pros. One, it will help you avoid any of the toxic ingredients found in some feminine-care products. Two, it's cost-effective. And three, you're reducing waste. If you're nervous about trying one for the first time, you can read our guide here.
4. Reusable Floss
Your dentist might always be on you to up your flossing game. It's easy to do that sustainably thanks to biodegradable floss.
5. Toothpaste Tablets
Toothpaste tablets are eco-friendly, and they're easier to pack when you're on the go.
6. Metal Safety Razors
Unlike plastic disposable razors, metal safety razors are meant to last a long time. They give you a close shave, too.
7. Bamboo Toothbrush
Bamboo toothbrushes are an eco-friendly option since they're biodegradable, and some are made from sustainably sourced bamboo.
8. Toiletry Bags
I have to admit that I was using a mix of toiletry bags and plastic zipper bags to organize my skincare and beauty products at home and when I travel. I've made the switch to all reusable bags recently, and I find it helps me stay even more organized.