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Does anyone else get extremely overwhelmed when thinking about making more eco-friendly consumer decisions? Add it to the long list of raising humans, working full-time, maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner, paying bills on time, remembering where you saved important documents, and actually filling your tires with more air because the tire pressure sensor keeps going off in your car. It’s all incredibly overwhelming! Right? Just me? Meh. Ok.
When I think about needing to change my consumer habits, I start to spiral and have no idea where to start. What difference will it make if I stop grabbing a straw when I order an iced latte? What about ALL the straws I have used in the past? What about the straws my toddler loves to use? What do I do? What about the turtles?! WE HAVE TO SAVE THE EARTH!
Although overwhelming, it’s so much easier now to find eco-friendly, biodegradable, and reusable products because consumers are demanding it. It is far more common to see customers carrying reusable bags (if they remember), wiping out their reusable straws, asking for coffee in their thermos and etc. So over the last year, I’ve slowly been swapping out products for more green alternatives. Some I love, some I can tolerate, some I hated and some didn’t work because I am also a lazy and flawed human being. (Ha! That’s a different post entirely.)
Here are some product alternatives that were fairly easy to implement and give me a little peace of mind about the turtles and the earth. I am by no means an expert on this topic, but as Anne-Marie Bonneau brilliantly wrote,
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
I am just a mom imperfectly trying to make a difference. Please also share what YOU have tried and loved!
1. Plastic Toothbrushes —> Bamboo Toothbrushes
This was a simple change to implement in our house. My toddler isn’t attached to a licensed character toothbrush so there wasn’t any push back. I found this 4-pack of bamboo toothbrushes with different colored handles for each family member. The bristles aren’t as strong as I would like but I can totally get over that for this simple change.
Get it from Amazon for $8.99
2. Shampoo Bottle —> Shampoo Bar
I had a huge bulk bottle of shampoo that I stared at whenever I took a shower and thought about how eventually the bottle would eventually end up in a landfill. There have been many companies who have started to sell shampoo bars which totally gets rid of the single-use plastic container issue. I tried out this shampoo bar and instantly fell in love with it. My hair feels great and smells so nice.
Get it from Target or Amazon for $4.99
3. Disposable Make-Up Remover Wipes —> Microfiber Cloths
For my entire make-up wearing life I had used Pond’s Make-Up Remover Wipes. They were a great and reliable product. But they are disposable and add up over time. At first I started to rip them in half to save money which worked for a while. Then a friend gave me a microfiber face cloth that magically removes my stubborn eye make-up just by using water! Incredible! Once it starts to get dirty I toss it in the wash and reuse. Love this!
Get it from Amazon or Norwex starting at $21.99
Home & Kitchen
4. Static Dryer Sheets —> Wool Dryer Balls
I was so excited to switch over to wool dryer balls, but was immediately disappointed. Our clothes came out of the dryer covered in white wool fibers. We already have three cats so no additional fibers are needed, thank you very much. I ditched the wool balls until I discovered that they also sell dark gray wool dryer balls. This was a game changer for my family because we have loads and loads of black clothes (like an unhealthy amount of black laundry). I highly recommend this change! Super simple!
Get it from Amazon starting at $8.97
5. Plastic Garbage Bags —> Biodegradable Garbage Bags
These garbage bags are surprisingly strong and made out of sugar cane! I wasn’t sure about the handles and lack of drawstring but they are totally worth it! No complaints from this mama!
Get it from Amazon for $13.49
6. Plastic Sandwich Bags —>Silicone Snack Bags
I still cringe when I think of the price of silicone snack bags. A lot of these product swaps can cost a little more money up front, but are totally worth it in the long run. These silicone bags are AMAZING but also so expensive! It costs $11.99 for only one bag whereas a box of 150 Ziplock sandwich bags only costs about $5.00. That’s a huge price difference! I wanted to buy it, hate it, and move on. But the thing is, I love it so much! I have only purchased one by this brand but I use it daily. I did also purchase this cheaper option Silicone Food Bag but they have an annoying separate piece that you have to use to seal the bag. Totally a fine product but not my fav.
Get from Target or Amazon for $11.99
7. Sponge —> Swedish Dishcloth & Scrubber
I had heard a friend mention Swedish dishcloths a few years ago, but had no idea what it was and why it was so great. These sponge/washcloth/paper towel replacements are incredible! They are super absorbent and once they are dirty you can just toss them in the wash. You can reuse these dishcloths over and over again. There are so many options online with gorgeous designs.
Get from Amazon for $11.99
8. K-Cups —> Reusable K-Cup —> Biodegradable K-Cups —> Recycle a K-Cup Recycling Tool —> Coffee Maker with reusable filter
I loved my single-serve Keurig Coffee maker so much! It was convenient, easy to clean, and perfect for my busy life. But as the years flew by and my coffee addiction prevailed, I could no longer ignore my k-cup landfill contribution. I was desperate to make my Keurig more eco-friendly and tried several possible solutions. Many people recommend the reusable K-Cup, but as a self-identified impatient and lazy person, I detested cleaning them afterwards. So then I switched to biodegradable K-cups but they weren’t always available in stores. I then stumbled across this great tool that slices the tops of the K-cups off so you can toss the top and filter into the garbage and recycle the rest. This was a great tool that I loved but we started to quickly pile K-cups on the counter that needed to be cut and the pile just continued to grow. Finally, it hit me! I needed to go back to the beginning. I drink several cups of coffee throughout the day so it only made sense to ditch the single-serve option and go back to a basic coffee maker with a reusable coffee filter. Duh! I recommend trying any or all of these options!
Get reusable K-cups from Amazon for $9.99, biodegradable K-cups from Amazon starting at $3.51, get a K-cup recycling tool from Amazon starting at $12.25, or get a coffee maker with reusable filter from Amazon for $19.99.
9. Wrapping Paper/Gift Wrap —> Reusable Bags, Fabric, Newspaper, Paper Bags
Just do a simple search on Pinterest and you will be inspired by the gorgeous possibilities of how to wrap gifts using sustainable materials!
10. Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas
- Treats in mason jars
- Self Care Kit: shampoo bar, bamboo toothbrushes, microfiber cloth, homemade lotion, and e-gift card
- Coffee Lovers Basket: reusable straw, thermos, coffee grounds, Recycle-a-K-Cup tool, and an e-gift card to a beloved coffee shop
- Cooking Theme: Swedish dishcloth & scrubber, apron, beeswax wraps, silicone bags, homemade soap, and a collection of your favorite recipes
I am interested in exploring more product alternatives and get extremely overwhelmed thinking about eco-friendly clothes, but I will get there! Slowly but surely.