Several regions in the U.S. have already experienced their hottest summer to date (in modern history); it seems like every time you refresh your feed, there’s yet another climate disaster. To create a cleaner and greener future, we all need to seek out eco-friendly alternatives to plastic and rethink everyday household items.
NOT because climate change is the fault of individuals, quite the opposite in fact, but because your purchases and decisions have power. As these disasters become more common, it’s important that we stand up for the kind of future we want - and don’t want - and that starts with becoming aware of how our choices impact the environment.
When scrolling through the news and receiving constant alerts from around the world, it can feel pretty overwhelming and hopeless. And it can definitely feel like your actions don’t matter — but that is lightyears away from the truth.
As responsible consumers, we have the power to shape a better future.
Together we can be a catalyst for change and it all begins with a few simple habit changes - like making eco-friendly alternatives to everyday items and supporting the small businesses who make them.
12 eco-friendly household alternatives to plastic
reusable eco-friendly alternatives1. reusable lunch wraps
Whatever kind of food wrapping you need to do for lunches, for travel, for work; replace all your plastic and disposable products with reusable lunch wrap.
- Beeswax 3pack from Bee’s Wrap
- Vegan 3pack from Bee’s Wrap
- Reusable Food Wrap with waterproof lining from keep leaf
Ziploc bags are the epitome of convenience and single-use plastic. After being used for a couple of sandwiches, they will end up in a landfill sitting and breaking down into microplastics for hundreds of years. The alternative? Stasher Bags!
Made from medical-grade silicone, stasher bags are dishwasher-safe, microwaveable, freezable, and even oven safe. If it ever becomes unusable, it can be fully recycled into a new product (for free!).
When was the last time you saw a plastic bag floating in the air, stuck to a sewer grate, or wrapped around a tree? Plastic shopping bags will never disappear, they will only break down into micro pieces that are consumed by animals and pollute the earth. Additionally, plastic bags are difficult to recycle and create serious dangers for both humans and animals. The alternative?
- Whenever possible avoid the bag.
- Try to find ways to reuse it and ensure it ends up in the right place at the end of its life.
- Prioritize reusable bags.
- When you purchase new reusable bags, look for ones made from natural materials (cotton, linen, hemp, etc).
- Get in the habit of keeping bags in your car, or find one small enough to always carry with you, like a baggu.
Although it may not feel like it, fabric softener and dryer sheets are totally optional. They originated in a bygone era where laundry detergent (and machines) weren’t as efficient as they are now. They’re loaded with chemicals and dryer sheets are a single-use plastic. The alternative?
- Use wool dryer balls.
- Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle for similar results.
- Air dry your laundry and skip the dryer altogether.
6. paper towels
With the Canadian forests on fire, now is a good time to mention that the majority of toilet paper, facial tissue, and other similar single-use products comes from virgin wood (mostly) in the Canadian Boreal Forests (read: ancient growth forests). But there’s no need to switch back to handkerchiefs (unless you want to). The alternative?
- Get yourself a fancy set of reusable paper towels.
- Use an old cotton t-shirt and DIY ‘new’ reusable paper towels.
- Keep Swedish Dish Cloths handy to clean up any spills and pull out the cloth napkins from the bottom of your storage box.
While plastic straws account for a small percentage of plastic waste they represent how out of control and harmful plastic waste can get when it cannot be recycled and is not properly disposed of. BYO straw and avoid creating more waste!
- Pick up a stainless steel set like this one from Target.
- Carry a straw kit with an adjustable straw and traveling container, also from Target.
8. period products
Period products are one big package of single-use plastic that can cause blockages in the sewage system and really aren’t that great for the bodies they’re supposed to be made. On top of all of that, they need to be continuously repurchased. The alternative? Reusable period products are durable, safe, and last for years.
- Silicone menstrual cup from Best Periodt.
- Washable period undies from Ruby Love.
- A menstrual disc from Saalt might be your new BFF.
- Compostable pads, tampons, and liners from August, an inclusive period company.
Disposable razors are expensive and wasteful. The solution? A safety razor! Safety razors look intimidating but they’re really easy to use and really wonderful for the environment. They’re made from recyclable materials designed to last forever, including the blades which can be recycled with takeback programs or at your local eco-store.
- Oui the People has one of the best razors for sensitive skin and additional shave-care products.
- Leaf Shave has 4 different razor options (including a dermaplaner) and a takeback program!
eco-friendly household products (continued)
In the U.S. there’s a status symbol associated with a house surrounded by almost comically green, perfectly manicured grass. For many reasons including destroying local eco-systems, using an excess amount of water, and requiring harmful chemicals to maintain, this non-American native grass is actually not so great for the planet. The solution?
- Mow less, water less, fertilize less.
- Use more electric powered tools.
- When you do mow, don’t cut it so short.
- Relandscape with native plants, grasses, and even gravel.
- Consider turning your lawn into a garden (assuming you have no HOA)
11. Skip Amazon
It’s pretty cool that you never have to leave your house and your items can be delivered in 48 hours, but that coolness comes at a cost: to the employees who make it happen, the foreign labor and resources that are exploited to make cheap products, the small businesses who are priced out, and the environment and natural resources that are destroyed in the process.
To be very clear, ( r e ) ˣ is sold on Amazon; while we are growing our presence and awareness around our brand, it’s unfortunate that we need to be there but it will not be forever. The solution?
- Buy what you need directly from the brand.
- Get your essentials from the corner store, the bodega, or a small business near you.
- Try to purchase less on Amazon overall.
12. ( r e ) ˣ recycled plastic hangers
Our hangers are made from 100% recycled plastic that comes from beach and ocean cleanups or is intercepted before it can get to the ocean. We do not use any virgin plastic and we don’t believe in designed obsolescence. Our hangers are strong, sturdy, and able to stand up to whatever life throws at you. If you have a kid going off to college, you’re moving out on your own for the first time, all your old hangers are falling apart, or whatever the reason, these could be the last hangers you buy for a very long time.
We know you’re sold on all of these cool eco-friendly alternatives and want to start doing everything right now! But don’t throw away everything you have to start over ‘sustainably’. The best thing you can do is use what you already have and when it’s time for a refill or a change, replace it with a sustainable option!
If there’s anything we’ve learned the past few years, is that every action matters, and the power of a community who comes together is unstoppable. We won’t get anything unless we ask for it demand it.
why should i use more eco-friendly alternatives?
In an ideal world, we would all be using more eco-friendly alternatives because they are the most affordable and the most accessible option. That’s obviously not the case. In fact, it can feel like we’re living in a world that’s the complete opposite of eco-friendly. One filled with single-used plastics, a recycling stream that doesn’t work, and products that are made to be used one time and then discarded into a landfill.
But there’s a whole lot of us trying to live more sustainably; we’re encouraging you to incorporate more eco-friendly products whenever and wherever you can because they have a less harmful supply chain than other products.
True eco-friendly products are made from materials that can be recycled or returned to the earth through composting. They generally don’t contain plastic and if they do, that plastic can (and will) be recycled into a new product (like our hangers). The whole lifecycle of an eco-friendly product from material to end of life uses less energy, less material, less toxins, produces less carbon dioxide, and has an end-of-life plan that doesn’t involve spending hundreds of years in a landfill.
For the past 250 years, we’ve been hustling to make life better, but our hustling has neglected to include the environment in the plan and instead has led to overconsumption, overproduction, polluted air, undrinkable water, soil erosion, deforestation, and an altered atmosphere.
If there isn’t an atmosphere, there isn’t a life to make better. If there isn’t enough food, there isn’t a life to make better. If there isn’t clean drinking water, there. isn’t. a. life. to. make. better.
We understand that individual actions are only a small part of the solution. Change also needs to come from the government and corporations. We control our actions, and our actions matter, but there are other ways we can all contribute to making change happen:
- Spend your money with businesses that are creating sustainable products.
- Elect and support government officials who are going to INACT AND ENFORCE policies and initiatives that protect the environment while protecting all who inhabit that environment.
- Stop putting your money with huge corporations who don’t care about you and don’t care about the planet.
- Write letters, reviews, tweets, articles, join campaigns and more to show and tell large corporations we want them to do better.
- Get involved in local government — or at the very least vote — to help elect officials that will get shit done.
- Join a community organization that helps you navigate through all of this — an LA one that we love is Hang Out Do Good.
- Find a community of like-minded people to help you along your journey.
It may feel like your actions are just yours, affecting one person; but creating an eco-friendly life has positive ripples throughout society and into the future.
what does eco-friendly alternative to plastic mean?
These 12 sustainable alternatives to everyday products are meant to get you thinking about how much around you can be changed with fairly minimal effort!
When you’re looking for eco-friendly alternatives to plastic, look for products that are plastic-free (obviously), reusable, or contain less toxic ingredients than their mainstream counterparts. Materials to look out for are:
- glass and stainless steel that can be infinitely recycled.
- paper and cardboard that can be composted or recycled.
- other plant-based materials that are certified compostable.
- food-grade silicone that is sturdy, reusable, and recyclable (through a special program).
- products that have no packaging at all!
- natural fibers and cloth such as cotton, linen, and hemp.
We encounter an incredible amount of plastic on a daily basis from our technology to the water we drink, plastic is everywhere. The first step towards being more environmentally friendly is to find ways to cut back or replace plastic.
In addition to cutting back on plastic, we also want to look for products that have a better overall impact on the environment. This includes products that are reusable, up-cyclable, recyclable, compostable, or perhaps not buying that product at all (overconsumption).
how to use 100% eco-friendly alternatives, always
The closest you can get to living a 100% sustainable, eco-friendly, plastic-free is by living a zero-waste lifestyle.
While admirable, it’s important to remember, that everything we do, every decision we make, and every action we take, has a carbon footprint.
- The food that travels to get to you.
- The carbon dioxide you burn when traveling.
- The phone in your hand is filled with mined minerals.
- The clothes on your body that are made from plastic (in unsafe working conditions)
- The energy used to heat/cool the building you’re in.
We believe it’s incredibly important to begin searching for reusable alternatives and eco-friendly alternatives to our everyday habits in addition to fighting for the continued advancement of our society in a way that works in harmony with the natural world and leaves behind a healthy planet for future generations.
It’s always easiest to start with small changes and gradually work your way up to larger habit changes and actions. There’s always going to be something more you can do for the environment, but it’s necessary to figure out the balance between what is possible for you and what will make a difference.