By bringing cloth shopping bags grocery shopping you can reduce your plastic bag consumption greatly. This works great for grocery shopping, clothes shopping, and any other shopping you decide to do. You can also bring reusable produce bags for putting loose fruits and vegetables in (e.g. Lemons, tomatoes, zucchini) instead of using the plastic ones in the produce isle. Mesh Market Bags. I find these incredibly cute and the mesh is great because it can really expand to hold more!
COFFEE and TEA
Ditch those keurig or Tasimo individual throw away coffee pods. They are so wasteful, I really don’t understand why they are so popular? Not to mention how expensive these little things are. I think the keurig brand has reusable cups that fit instead of their pods and you can put whatever kind of coffee you want in there! If you use coffee with a filter, next time you need more pick up reusable ones instead! Not only will this save you trash but also money! Win win, right? I personally use a French press. I boil my water in a kettle add my coffee to the French press and that’s it. No waste and I can decide on a single or double cup! If you freshly grind your coffee try using a hand grinder, it really doesn’t take that long to grind, coffee taste way better freshly ground and it doesn’t use power except for man (women) power. Plus you get a tiny bit of an arm workout. Another healthy bonus. For tea I love using stainless steel balls. I did notice the ones I have now started to loosen and sometimes my tea would end up all over in my cup. Oh well, I have gotten a different style and so far so good! There are so many different types of tea cups and strainers! You can also get reusable cloth tea bags if you are a tea bag kind of person.
ON THE GO
Opt for reusable containers, you can get light stainless steel (bento boxes), or glass containers work great and are microwave safe, but they are a bit heavier. You can also bring your own bamboo cutlery with you or a small carry set. They are super cute, and if you are going to a restaurant bring your containers and ask them to put the left overs or your food to go in your containers. Some places give discounts (not enough do though). This also includes bringing reusable straws with you. Remember to bring your reusable water bottle with you when you go out. You can also keep a small empty one in your car in case you forget and can have it filled with whatever beverage you want!
WRAPS AND BAGGIES
Try finding, making or purchasing reusable sandwich bags next time. They are super cute and you can have any pattern you dream of! They keep your sandwich fresh, easy to clean and can be used over and over again. This also works for snack sized bags as well. Instead of using cling wrap try using beeswax cloth or cloth bowl covers. Cloth bowl covers often have an elastic and can fit different sized bowls. Beeswax covers often come in 3 different sizes and can be shaped and stick to themselves quite well.
NAPKINS AND PAPER TOWEL
Instead of using throw away paper towel. Try making your own cloth paper towels. If you are terrible at sewing like I am you can find some on etsy, or have a friend or family member who can sew make some. I don’t know why but paper towel is a pet peeve of mine when I watch someone rip one off the roll after another. I personally just have a drawer full of rags that I use for like everything. I just throw them in the wash unless it was a really disgusting mess, which it can usually be composted after if it is cotton, or hemp. We keep face clothes in the drawer and use that instead of napkins, you could also have nice big fancy ones that just so happen to be environmentally friendly and make you feel fancier.
GROW YOUR OWN
Weather you live in an apartment, a house with a small yard or the country you can grow some of your own food. If you are in an apartment try growing a few containers. Tomatoes, herbs, peppers, cucumber all grow great in containers! If you have a yard or live in the country you can obviously grow a much bigger garden, you can even grow your perennial flowers and edibles in the same garden! If you are in the country, maybe a few chickens or quail for eggs.
It is such a simple thing to do, if you go to the grocery store ask the butcher for closest raised meat, fish, and dairy. Shop at the farmers market and buy directly from the growers of our beautiful fruits and vegetables. If you know someone who gardens maybe they’d be willing to give you some tomatoes for some help in the garden. Maybe you know somebody who knows somebody who makes things that you can buy from them instead of from elsewhere. Shopping local not only reduces the amount of transportation needed but it helps you economy, and supports friends, family, and neighbors.
SHOP IN BULK
Whenever possible shop at a bulk food store. This is great for things like nuts, seeds, grains, chocolate, candies, and other dried goods. You can also purchase nut butters, syrups and even cleaners. It is great because you can bring a mason jar or other reusable container, get it pre weighed, fill it and they weigh it again. This saves so much plastic. And it is so much fun, maybe it’s only me but I feel proud when I bring my glass jars in to be filled.
If composting in your area isn’t possible there isn’t much you can do, a lot of cities do have compost pick up. A lot of areas that do compost pick up also will either give or sell the soil from the compost, it is a great option when looking to make a garden. We compost at home and it saves so much waste from going in the garden. Add natural materials to your compost, fruits, vegetables, feathers, coffee or tea grounds, paper, green material, cardboard, sticks, leaves etc. Avoid things like dairy, meats, oils, and bones.
Swap the plastic or electric ones for compostable sustainable bamboo ones. You can read my other post on tooth brushes for more information. For tooth paste try making your own or purchase tooth paste in glass or stainless steel jars and tins.
Like tooth paste try making your own, or buy in tins instead of those plastic roll on ones.
Try using shampoo bars, or make your own. I seem to have really picky hair and didn’t have luck making my own shampoo, but I have heard people have great success so you should definitely give it a go! If you still would rather a bottle or liquid type, purchase a glass bottle with a pump and refill it. You can find places that sell shampoo like this. Basically you bring in your bottle and fill it. Our pharmacy does this. Use a soap bar instead of body wash, soap bars have come a long way and can be so moisturising.
Try using a reusable razor which you only change the blades, instead of discarding the entire razor. If you like waxing try making your own sugar wax, it is super simple, extremely exfoliating and easy to use.
Try using natural make up or make your own. Store these in tins or glass containers that can be reused. You can also make your own facial cleansers, toners, lighteners, brighteners and whatever else people put on their faces these days. Making your own will help ensure what is actually in the stuff all over your face but you can store them in pretty tin containers and ditch the plastic. For makeup removers stop using the throw away ones. You can buy or make super soft pretty reusable ones. All they need is a rinse or quick wash and can be used day after day.
Use toilet paper made from recycled papers, and that comes in as little plastic as possible. Some companies wrap each roll in plastic and then they are all in a giant plastic. You can find toilet paper that all the rolls are in one thing together and not individually wrapped, some even come in cardboard, or in a paper package! SCORE.
If you are redoing your bathroom, you could try investing in a bidet instead of using toilet paper. Some people go as far as using cloth, instead of paper, if that is too extreme for you that is fine, if you want to give it a go, go for it! This is about doing our best, not being perfect!
FOR THE LADIES
Our menstrual cycle really does create a lot of waste, try switching your pads to cloth pads, I absolutely love mine. If it is hot and I’m working out I don’t even notice it there, I used to get rashes from the disposable ones. We don’t have a garbage can in our bathroom. I keep a reusable cloth bag in the bathroom during that time and put my dirty pads in it. Once I’m done, I just throw it all in the wash. I was never big on tampons, but if that is your preference you can try the diva cup, or any other brand of reusable menstrual cups. I’m not entirely how these work, I’ve never used one, but I’ve read some great things on them. It may be something worth looking into for yourself!
Laundry and Cleaning
Try making your own laundry detergent. You don’t need any crazy ingredients and it is quite simple.
You can add a tennis ball to your dryer with essential oils to smell lovely and reduce static. Better yet hang your clothes. We don’t have a basement and little room for hanging in the winter, but we always hang our clothes in the summer. Not only is it nice to have fresh smelling clothes from the line, it also reduces your hydro bill. Has anyone else noticed that being environmentally friendly is also crazy money saving in the long run?
If you have a plastic laundry basketlike we do that’s fine, we’ve had ours for a very long time. But once they do get broken, we will need to replace it. We will replace it with either a cloth or a wicker basket. How cute would they be too?
Again these are things that you can make yourself. You may need to purchase multiple ingredients but most are easy to find like baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils. Most of these products are found in the food isles and come in cardboard. Even the ones that come in plastic like castile soap go a really long way and can be recycled.
Old rags work great for cleaning in nooks and crannies, these can be made from old t-shirts, old towels, etc. When buying brushes and sponges opt for brushes with wooden or bamboo handles. You can also find natural sponges witch can be composted after they have been used. I’m looking for a wooden mop (kind of like a Swiffer but wood) to replace my broken mop. Even if you can’t find wood/bamboo there are plastic mops with reusable mop pads, they do work great, I love ours, the only problem the spray thing broke, but it still works great I just spray the floor with a spray bottle and mop away. So if you do have a Swiffer, look into making or purchasing reusable mop pads. If u still use the old school mop and bucket! Awesome.
This is definitely not a full list but a nice starter list that you can pick and choose from to start transitioning to a more sustainable life.