I grew in a home that believed in recycling and reusing things whenever possible. I was always accustomed to saving plastic grocery bags and using them for smaller trash bins around the house, reusing plastic yogurt and butter tubs as Tupperware, and even things like using an old toothbrush to scrub stains away on laundry.
But lately, I’ve had my heart set on finding ways to help reduce our daily waste even more. Like, I’ve been doing our own grocery shopping for almost four years – but now more than ever – I feel like I’m drowning in plastic bags. And I mean, how many does one person really need?
So, in today’s post, I’m sharing some easy and cost-effective low waste alternatives, along with a few tips that will hopefully help pave a way to a more earth-friendly lifestyle!
Dryer Sheets 🠲 use Wool Dryer Balls
These are reusable all natural, non-toxic wool dyer balls that not only help reduce wrinkles and static, they double as a natural fabric softener and it helps with overall dry-time!
Pro tip: You can add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil to each ball before tossing in the dryer to add a fresh scent!
Baby/Toddler Food Pouches 🠲 make your own baby food and use Reusable Food Pouches
Now that Lily is older and I have to feed her real food more regularly, this is by far the easiest way to make sure I always have something extra for her to eat on the go. But it literally kills me that I end up with so many useless little plastic pouches. I don’t even want to know how many I would go through if I were to purchase them on the regular. So I’m really glad I found these (they are freezer safe, btw)!
I do recommend hand washing them just to make sure no mold builds up in them but that little bit of extra care is so well worth it to me.
Feel free to check out the blog post on how to make easy baby food at home (btw, the portioned out baby food from the freezer mold I use fits perfectly in these). I do have a few recipes coming your way for babies older than 6 months, so be sure to join the mailing list so you don’t miss it!
Plastic Produce Bags 🠲 use Reusable Mesh Bags
Along with reusing plastic grocery bags for other purposes or simply switching to reusable grocery bags in general – consider switching produce bags too!
The ones linked are see-through enough that you can see what you’re purchasing and they don’t add much weight to the scale when buying at the store (though you can certainly get it adjusted if need be). And it only takes a second to peek in the bag if you need an item number off of the fruits or veggies, a small price to pay in my opinion…
They also work great for storing in the refrigerator because they are breathable and machine washable!
Paper Towels 🠲 use Bamboo Towels
So, in my home growing up, we almost never had paper towels. We used real washcloth towels and napkins (though this alternative is even better in comparison). But since there are many people, like my husband – who seems to use up paper towels like there’s no tomorrow – I decided to include this on the list in case you or someone in your family has the same habit!
I actually didn’t know they made these up until a few months ago and I thought it was the most clever thing because you can wash them like regular towels but then you can compost them after they’re no longer usable!
No, they’re not going to reattach together into a paper towel roll again, but I think it is a great alternative because they get softer with use yet are substantial enough to pick up messes and to be used for cleaning! (I haven’t actually tried these yet, but I absolutely look forward to once I go through the stack of washcloth towels I’m currently using right now.)
Menstrual Pads/Tampons 🠲 use Menstrual Cups OR Thinx Underwear
In one of the Facebook groups I’m in, there was a post about switching to menstrual cups and I was intrigued by so many women talking about how much they LOVED using menstrual cups. This one I haven’t tried yet either, but only because my husband bought me a Costco-sized pack of pads right before I gave birth…
I know for some women, it can be scary to think about switching so here is a link to a great resource that helps you decide what cup would best fit your needs. Though, based off research I’ve personally done, the Lena Cup is a great option to start with if you’ve never used a cup before!
If that’s really a no go for you, then consider using Thinx Underwear!
I purchased these back in 2015 and I fell in LOVE! I didn’t start off using these for my periods as they suggest, I actually used these to wear while on my period to help prevent accidents (let’s face it, ladies – it’s happened to all of us). They worked incredibly for me, but if you’re curious – there are several reviews written by women who actually used their
These are the ones I purchased – I personally wanted more coverage during that time of the month but they have all types of underwear available (yes – thongs too) and even leotards and training shorts. If you’d like $10 off your first purchase – use this link here!
But if you still have to use tampons – consider using their brand new, FDA-cleared reusable tampon applicator. I can’t say much about this in particular, I actually don’t use tampons at all anymore but it’s definitely an interesting concept that would really help cut down on plastic applicators! If I was still using tampons, this would definitely be something I’d be interested in because I never liked using the ones without.
- Almost all national grocery stores accept grocery bags for recycling – Walmart always has one near the front entrance! Next time you stop in for groceries, drop off some bags on your way in.
- If you use pressed makeup, consider purchasing a Z-Pallette. Several brands such as Makeup Forever, Makeup Geek, Mac, and quite a few others offer pan refills without the extra packaging – usually at a more affordable price too!
- If you like to use mascara – remember Wands for Wildlife who uses these wands to brush fur on small animals!
- Using reusable plastic containers is great but take it a step further and purchase glass Tupperware. Glass is 100% recyclable, it doesn’t stain from food, much easier to wash. And it’s better than plastic if you’re using a microwave. Check out this article about microwaving children’s food in plastic containers. I found my set of glass Pyrex-ware on sale for $20 dollars at Costco!
- Start composting if you don’t already! Here is an article on a little about the basics of composting and a list of 100 things you can compost. And here is a super simple kitchen composting bin – you can always use an old plastic container but I’ve found that they don’t always properly keep the stink away… And no worries if you don’t have a garden or if you’re not interested in creating one – here is a great little article I found on what to do with your compost!
If you decide to try at least one of these alternatives (and I hope you do) let me know in the comments how it works out for you!