Updated: Feb 19, 2021
I’m working on changing my habits and swapping products I use daily to reduce waste. There are soooo many items that I overlook as “wasteful” because of convenience, and there are so many occasions that single use plastic sneaks its way into my hands.
I want to do my BEST to transform my patterns into actions that I am proud of... and I encourage everyone reading to pick an area to focus on wasting less and finding more sustainable swaps! Start with a habit, hobby, or even a room in your house (my recommendation is the kitchen).
Here are some of the swaps I’ve made! I am always looking to improve + learn more so please comment or let me know what swaps you’re making or what I missed!!
1. Breaking up with paper towels.
Paper towel is wonderful and incredibly useful, making it one of the most WASTEFUL items in a household. Because of it's convenience, I try not to buy it at all. To be completely honest, I like to keep *one* roll in my kitchen for bacon grease - but that’s it!
I'm proud to say that I no longer use paper towels daily! I use these Swedish cellulose dishcloths ! What I love about them is how absorbent they are; they soak up and swipe up everything rather than just pushing it around. I use them primarily in the kitchen, and for dusting/cleaning elsewhere. Sometimes I use them for deep cleaning, depending what I’m cleaning, other times I use rags from old hand towels, sheets, and t-shirts.
We probably have about 15 of these Swedish dishcloths. I’ll use one for a day or two, and then swap it out for a new one. They get thrown in the wash with the rest of our towels and the rest is history. This is my #1 swap because it's SO EASY and it will SAVE YOU MONEY in the long run!
2. Stop bringing plastic bags home from the store. ALL the stores!
I’m assuming you have a cabinet or drawer in your house with a plastic bag stuffed full of other plastic bags - am I right??
Bringing your own bags to grocery stores (any stores!) requires more effort than a one time purchase/swap. You have to change your habits, and that takes work! I have a whole post on how I trained myself to STOP using plastic bags from ALL stores - not just grocery stores! Read all about how I used shame and pain to train myself (haha, kidding... kinda). I challenge you to simply be aware for the next few days how many plastic bags you bring into your home. It is actually shocking how fast they add up.
There are plenty of reusable bags to choose from! Often, I re-purpose bags that I already have, but I bought one from Trader Joe's and one from baggu. The baggu bags are great because they fold up into a little pouch and can be tucked into purses, backpacks, center consoles, bike baskets.. Anywhere!!!
I don’t think there are any valid excuses for using plastic bags EVERY time you shop. Most often we’re too lazy to grab our own bag or simply don’t care enough to remember. Let’s be better!!!
2.5 - this includes produce bags! I put all my produce right in the cart, but if you prefer to bag them together, bring your own (like these).
3. Ziplocs are definitely on this list, sorry not sorry.
Ziploc bags of ALL sizes - snack, sandwich, gallon, etc are very handy when it comes to packing snacks + lunches and storing random items. But, if you have them in your house, odds are you’re going to use them more often than you need to. I *do* have a box of gallon bags in my kitchen, and I use them sparingly and very intentionally. When I do use them, I reuse them. I wash them by hand, let them dry, and they go back in the drawer.
Enter stasher bags - the BEST silicone reusable bags!!! I am slowly collecting these bags, as they are a bit pricey to buy as a set. Years ago I bought myself 2 (I still have them) just to get myself started. Now, anytime I see them on sale, I buy one. Most often, I use my stasher's to take snacks on the go or store leftovers.
Stasher bags come in SO many sizes and tons of colors. They're easy to open and they seal completely - keeping things fresh without any leaks. Stasher is an amazing woman-owned company worth checking out- they give back to organizations and companies making a huge impact in the environment and in schools.
Another great option for food storage are bento boxes. Great for packing lunch for kids AND adults, and allows for food separation all within one container.
4. RIP napkins.
You can find cloth napkins ANYWHERE- from farmers markets to grocery stores to department stores to Amazon, obviously. These get tossed into the wash with our towels as we use them. I suspect they will hold up well and last for years, but can always be transitioned to rags when the time comes. Here is an affordable option with many colors from amazon.. You can order today and start tomorrow!
5. I hope you don’t need to hear this but WATER BOTTLES.
It is 2020, I hope and pray you are already using a quality water bottle and NOT buying water bottles in bulk, or even single water bottles at gas stations, shops, restaurants, etc. This is literally the LEAST we can do. Pick a brand you love (this one is environmentally conscious and focused), find a cool bottle with a color + print that you’re happy seeing 24/7, and never look back.
This is also a great way to make sure you’re drinking water throughout the day! I have a huge water bottle (with a broken/leaky cap) that stays at home and travels with me from room to room. I also stick a silicone straw in it, and for some reason that helps me drink more water! While we’re on the matter, STRAWS. Haven’t you heard about the turtles? These can go in the dishwasher but they also come with a pipe-cleaner like tool to get them really clean no matter where you are. Super easy to travel with or store in bags, backpacks, cars, etc.
Why I care + why I want you to care!
I love being outside. I love nature. I love myself + the people around me and I love the rich beauty of this earth. I don’t think we do a good job of letting the earth know how much we love + need her, I don’t think we thank God enough for the perfect beauty of nature. I hate that taking care of our earth is a political problem, so I’m making it a personal problem. I want my daily life to reflect how much I care. I'm starting here, and I hope you will too. I already have a post started on the next 5 swaps we can make :)
Me with my yellow + pink Swedish dish towels, blue napkin, my fav water bottle + silicone straw, and my jute tote from Trader Joe's <3