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15+ Simple Sustainable Swaps

Have you ever considered switching to more sustainable products but don’t know where to start? Well, I’ve collected more than 15 items that you can easily switch out in your everyday life to go more green. I’m betting you may already have a few of them just for convenience sake! No worries if you aren’t ready to make all of these swaps today. There are some you may never feel comfortable making. But try to pick one a week this month and see what you think. You might just be surprised to find the sustainable version saves you money and fits seamlessly into your busy life! Check out these simple sustainable swaps!

To-Go Cups

This was definitely the easiest swap I’ve made! I love my to-go coffee cups! They are even insulated and help to keep my hot beverages hot & cold beverages cold for hours! My nephew turned me on to Hydro Flask and I love it because the 16 & 20 oz bottles fit in the cup holder in my car and they are so light weight! I also prefer the drink opening to be right at the top so hot tea or coffee doesn’t pool in the lip. If it pools, I will undoubtedly spill it on myself! You can also put cold drinks in it if you prefer. And you can even toss a silicon straw in the opening!

Pro-Tip: Don’t forget to take it in with you next time you stop for a beverage. Most places offer a discount for using your own cup!

Water Bottles

I love water bottles of all sorts and I have quite the collection going! I, personally, tend to prefer drinking cold drinks from glass bottles. I’m not entirely sure why but I think it tastes better & more refreshing in some way! Am I the only one? I must warn you though, despite the protective silicone sleeve they can break if you drop them. I’ve lost several (including my favorite purple one).

So… if I’m heading out for a walk or work out I like to take the 40 oz Hydro Flask. I love them because they are durable and light weight. This makes them perfect to take along. Obviously the more water you put in it the heavier it will be but hopefully by the end of your walk or exercise session you’ll have a super light bottle to carry home! I have a carabiner in my loop handle so I can attach my bottle to my belt loop or bag. I find that makes it easier to bring along when I’m juggling a lot!

Pro-tip: Make it a goal to fill your 40 oz Hydro Flask twice and drink it all… you’ll get all of your water in for the day easily!

Lunch Pail

Carrying a lunch pail or bag is a great way to reduce waste! I’m sure that you’ve seen countless bento box ideas since it’s become such a big trend. You can get traditional square ones for sandwiches and sides or stackable leak proof round ones which are great for soup and foods with sauces. You can simply carry these in a homemade T-shirt bag or you can get an insulated one. The options are endless!

Pro-tip: Pack your lunch the night before to make sure that you are prepared for healthy eating the next day and to make your morning routine super simple! Get your kids to join in on the fun and pack their own lunches too!

Bonus Pro-tip: If you happen to go out to eat consider taking your empty lunch pail with you! You can easily bring your leftovers home without a carry out box!

Flatware

I know that you might be thinking “hey, why not just take my flatware from home?” That’s a great idea and a great place to start! However, unlike the stainless steel lunch box there are plenty of places you can’t take stainless steel silverware. For example, TSA isn’t going to let you through security with it… actually you won’t get it in anywhere with security. The other nice thing is that bamboo travel flatware often comes with a washable case.

Pro-tip: Most sets come with chop sticks as well. Have fun learning to use them as a family! It’s a great way for kids to work on their fine motor skills!

Straws

If you order a bamboo flatware set it might just come with stainless steel straws! If not I highly recommend them. There is nothing better for thick drinks like smoothies! But they can take some getting used to because they are inflexible and get cold. Silicone straws are more like the plastic version most of us are accustomed to. I love that they come in all sorts of fun colors and that they are easily tossed in a purse or bag. Plus they are flexible and easy to put into cup openings.

Pro-tip: If you forget your straw, pass on it! Tell your server that you don’t want it as soon as they hand it to you. Most things left on the table (even unopened end up in the trash). BTW… ALL of the bread and unwrapped goodies on your table are garbage as soon as you leave. Don’t feel weird taking this stuff with you!

Reusable Storage Bags

This is my Mt. Everest! I LOVE plastic storage bags! I have started using and reusing them but the truth is they are still single use plastic! I’m trying to switch over to reusable storage bags. Maybe you’d be interested in taking on this challenge with me!

Pro-tip: You actually don’t need storage bags at all. Consider using jars or even cloth bags for left overs or small snacks you want to take along! I’ll be making some T-shirt snack bags during my T-shirt bag tutorial. (Did I mention these are no-sew bags?)

Bee’s Wax Wrap

I’m going to do a tutorial next week to teach you how to make this! Bee’s Wax wrap is used in place of plastic wrap or press and seal. It is washable and reusable. Even though it will wear out over time it’s environmental impact is minimal. The added bonus of using Bee’s Wax Wrap is that it’s beautiful!

Pro-Tip: This is another great alternative to reusable storage bags! You can just wrap your goodies in this slightly sticky wrap and seal it in place!

Jars

If you’ve been following my blog for a while and you’ve read my other posts then you know I LOVE jars! This is one of the easiest sustainable swaps to make! Here’s how I got a great jar collection going… I bought products that came in jars! That simple! Firstly, this supports companies that choose reusable containers. Secondly, it keeps me from supporting plastic use (and having to dispose of or recycle plastic). Thirdly, I get a jar to add to my collection!

I use my jars to store bath and hygiene products and for food leftovers among other things! I also use them to gift basically anything! Don’t forget that you can paint them, or paint the lids and embellish them any way you like for a personal touch or to match your decor! If you want to start a jar collection quickly just mention it on Facebook or other social media! Most people are happy to donate their jars!

Pro-Tip: To remove the labels from jars just soak them in hot water. If there is still adhesive residue rub any oil you have handy on the jar and the residue will come right off!

Cloth > Paper

Think about all of the paper products you use in your house! What do you think people used before we started mass producing paper products? Well, let me tell you… people used cloth! You know, cloth napkins, cloth rags and handkerchiefs! Have you considered going back to cloth?

Napkins

I love cloth napkins! You can find fancy ones or plain ones or even fun playful ones! Cloth napkins are awesome. There is something about using cloth napkins that makes any meal feel extra special! I also love to use them as a backdrop for my Instagram pictures! (If you haven’t yet, check out my Instagram and see if you can spot them, & follow me while you’re there!)

Paper Towels

There are a variety of unpaper towels you can buy. You can even get them custom made from a fabric that coordinates with your kitchen decor. And later this week you’ll be seeing me in a video tutorial showing you how to make your own (without having to sew)! They are amazing! They actually work way better than paper and are more gentle on all of your surfaces. I use mine then rinse them out and leave to dry overnight. Then I toss them in a small wastebasket under my sink until laundry day.

Handkerchiefs

Handkerchiefs are so old school that unless you’re from the south you may have never even laid eyes on one! There are so many options when it comes to handkerchiefs. You can even get antique ones! If this idea freaks you out you might want to consider it for things like watery eyes and move up to using them for colds. There are many ways to pre-soak them and make cleaning nice and simple. Plus they feel way better on your skin than even the softest disposable tissue!

Pro-tip: You don’t have to spend a dime to replace your paper products with cloth! Simply re-purpose old clothing, towels or sheets! Cut them to the size you want and viola you have napkins, paper towels and handkerchiefs! If you prefer, head to your local second hand store and buy a sheet and cut that up! I love cotton for napkins and handkerchiefs and flannel for unpaper towels!

Produce Bags

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This is my favorite deliberate swap! I made this change just to be more environmentally friendly! Never was I a fan of those filmy plastic bags that seem impossible to open and are so flimsy that anything even remotely heavy rips through. I LOVE my produce bags! I don’t care that the cashier never deducts the tare weight amount, I’m pretty sure it costs me less than $0.05 per week. Not only are they way more handy and convenient! They keep me from wasting food! Guess what, produce goes bad way faster when it’s stored in plastic bags! Now I take it out of the bag and store it properly as soon as I get home!

Pro-Tip: You can also use produce bags for buying bulk goods like nuts!

Shopping Bags

Whether you’re at the grocery store or shopping elsewhere bringing your own shopping bags is a great idea! I often reuse bags I’ve been given at other stores but I do have a few favorite shopping bags I’ve bought along the way! This is also a great use for T-shirt bags since you can toss a bunch inside one and they are very easy to carry!

Pro-tip: T-shirt bags can be tossed in the laundry but often other shopping bags can’t. To freshen them up follow my recipe for lavender spray but replace the lavender with an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral oil like tea tree or Young Living thieves oil !

Homemade Cleaning Products

So here’s a huge secret… diluted white vinegar can be used to clean almost anything! You can even infuse it with other scents so your house will smell exactly the way you want without the harmful chemicals! Don’t worry, I’ll do a tutorial about how to make your own cleaning products as well!

Pro-tip: When making cleaning or beauty products that contain essential oils make sure to store them in dark colored bottles to protect them from light and keep the oil from spoiling.

Reusable Feminine Hygiene Products

This is usually the one that freaks people out the most! Hear me out though… there are SO many options out there now! You can try out the Dot cup, use reusable pads (which are great for incontinence too) or period underwear. You could even try some combination of these. All of them work well. I know it might seem like a real hindrance to deal with cleaning and reusing these items but with some preparation it actually isn’t that difficult. Used pads and underwear can be soaked to make them easy to clean and the cups are actually super simple!

Pro-tip: The Dot cup (at the time of posting) is $34 and it lasts about 10 years! YES… 10 YEARS! Think of all of the money you’ll save on feminine hygiene products! AND… as if that’s not enough, it is 1 size fits most, can be easily adjusted for fit, is almost entirely leak proof and can be worn for up to 12 hours! PLUS… they have a buy 1 give 1 program! Anyone watch the documentary “Period. End of Sentence” on Netflix? You are literally changing a girl / woman’s life when you buy one of these!

Personal Hygiene Products

Toothbrush & Toothpaste

A very simple way to make a difference is to switch to a bamboo toothbrush and either toothpaste tablets (which are great for travel too) or coconut oil toothpaste (just don’t spit it in the sink, it clogs pipes). The American Dental Association just released a statement saying to stop brushing with charcoal because it is too abrasive. There are many alternatives though. Considering that you should be replacing your toothbrush every 3 – 6 months and you likely buy a new tube of toothpaste every month or 2, you’ll be saving A LOT of waste (like over 200 toothbrushes and 500 tubes of toothpaste)!

Hairbrushes & Combs

Ahhh.. hairbrushes and combs! These are predominantly made of plastic and are often super trendy. Consider purchasing a quality brush and comb set made from sustainable materials like bamboo. Plus, many are great for your hair! If you’re like me you might have a few round brushes that you use for drying and styling. I’m not suggesting you toss them but take good care of them so they don’t need to be replaced as often! That includes using your new bamboo set for every day brushing to limit wear and tear on your styling brushes.

Safety Razor

This seems to be a tough switch for many people. There is something that seems to freak people out about loading an actual razor to shave with. That being said, once that razor is in place it’s the same as using any other shaver (ok, maybe you do have to be a bit more careful). I’m not talking about a straight razor though. I’m talking about a safety razor which basically looks and acts the same as the plastic razor you currently have. Here’s the big difference though… you aren’t tossing those disposable razor heads (that are loaded with plastic). When your blade becomes dull you toss the metal razor. Many people collect them in an old Altoids tin and recycle that when it’s full. The best thing about this is the savings… 100 razor blades costs less than $8. How much did you spend the last time you bought refills for your current razor… yeah… that’s right, this pays for it’s self in less than 6 months and saves you tons of cash!

Pro-tip: Taking excellent care of your personal hygiene products will make them last longer! Don’t toss things you already have! Use them up or donate them! There is no need to produce more waste!

Bar Soaps & Homemade Beauty Products

You can make SO many beauty products at home with items you have on hand! The other day I found my daughter with her hands in the coffee filter pulling out used grounds to combine with baking soda and use as an exfolliant! There are just so many recipes and options! Many people, like her, use a combination of homemade products and purchased sustainable items. She loves Dr. Bronner’s Bar soap and uses it as both body wash and shampoo but she makes her own DIY conditioning spray from Bragg’s apple cider vinegar and some essential oils. This is a great option. It cuts down on packaging and manufacturing waste and it keeps you from being exposed to often hazardous chemicals. If you have a local farmers market or artisinal store you might want to check out their homemade bar soap options as well!

Pro-Tip: Consider making your own soap! This is a great way to incorporate fragrances and natural ingredients you love! Also, don’t forget to get a good soap tray!

Start Today!

Here’s the thing! You don’t have to swap all of these things but give a few of them a try! Keep in mind that a little up front investment will save you so much money in the long run! Not to mention that these options are better for your health and the environment as well!

You alone did not cause the environmental damage we are dealing with today. No single person did! You alone can’t fix it! No single person can! BUT, together we CAN make a difference! Please share this post!

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Posted in Adulting Basics, Sustainability, Your World

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