Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Everyday Products
If you’re concerned about climate change and how we treat our planet but you’re not sure what you can do, one easy place to start is right at home. Simply swapping out a few common household products for their eco-friendly alternatives can make a big difference in the amount of unnecessary waste your household produces.
When you’re ready to start making a difference without being inconvenienced, check out some of these eco-friendly alternatives to common household products.
1. Homemade Cleaning Supplies
One really easy swap you can make to create a more eco-friendly home is to make your own cleaning supplies. Most homemade cleaning supplies use basic and affordable ingredients, such as vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and biodegradable soap.
They work just as well as store-bought cleaning supplies, yet they’re cheaper and safer for your family. Here are a few top posts on how to make homemade cleaning supplies to help you get started:
- Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Without Borax
- DIY Hardwood Floor Cleaner
- Homemade Stain Remover for Clothes
- Reusable Disinfecting Wipes
2. Reusable Coffee Pod
Keurig changed the way a lot of people made their coffee in the morning with their individual K-Cup pods. Unfortunately, those little plastic pods produced a ton waste.
But you don’t have to give up your Keurig machine to have an eco-friendly kitchen. Instead, you have two fantastic options.
First, you can get a reusable pod that’s incredibly easy to use. Just fill the pod with your favorite ground coffee, pop it in your Keurig machine, and you’ll have a fresh cup of coffee in seconds.
Once you’ve made your cup of coffee, you can either compost the coffee grounds or use them to make a homemade coffee scrub. Then simply rinse out your reusable pod so you can use it again the next time you want to make coffee.
Your other option is to purchase VitaCup coffee pods. After you’ve used a pod in your Keurig, you can compost the coffee grounds and filter and recycle the aluminum cover and plastic pod.
Best of all, these vitamin-infused coffee pods offer plenty of flavors to help improve your health. A few popular options include:
3. Zero Waste Tea
Now admittedly, my husband is the coffee drinker in our household. Me? I prefer a good cup of tea.
I thought I was making eco-friendly choices by composting my tea bags and recycling the paper wrapper. But then I found out that some tea bags can contain plastic that’s harmful to our health and the environment.
That’s when I made the switch to loose leaf tea. I simply measure out the amount of tea I want and put it in either an infuser tea ball or tea infuser strainer. When I’m done, all I have to do is compost the tea.
4. Cotton Dish Towels
If you’re looking to cut back on your paper towel use, making the switch to cotton dish towels is an excellent place to start. In our kitchen, we use these dishcloths to wipe the counters and clean dishes and these kitchen towels to dry our hands and dishes.
Additionally, we use these cloth napkins instead of paper napkins during mealtimes. I leave a basket on the counter of clean cloth napkins so everyone can just grab one as they need it.
I also have a basket to hold the dirty towels and napkins. When it’s time to do laundry, I simply grab the basket of dirty towels and napkins and toss them in.
5. Reusable Food Storage Bags
If you’re looking to ditch the plastic storage bags that you only use once and then throw away, make the switch to reusable food storage bags. Not only do I use these reusable food storage bags in our home to store leftovers, but I also use them when I’m packing a zero waste lunch.
I prefer these bags because they’re made using eco-friendly PEVA, which is also free of PVC, BPA, chloride, and lead. They seal up for leak-proof and waterproof freshness and are safe to go in the freezer.
6. Glass Food Storage Containers
Glass food storage containers are great eco-friendly alternatives to plastic food storage containers that can leach hormone-like chemicals into your food and water even if they’re not made with BPA. They’re also an easy way to reduce your plastic use at home.
We use these glass food storage containers at home because they’re microwave-, oven-, freezer-, and dishwasher-safe.
However, I always feel it’s important to point out that these containers do have plastic lids. I always make sure I don’t fill up the containers so high that the food touches the plastic.
If you want to go completely plastic-free, these glass food storage containers come with airtight bamboo lids that can double as cutting boards when you’re preparing food.
Another option to avoid plastic is to cover your container with reusable food wrap, which leads us perfectly to our next eco-friendly alternative.
7. Reusable Beeswax Food Wrap
Making the switch to reusable beeswax food wrap can help you say goodbye to that annoying and wasteful plastic food wrap. Check out this helpful post that has everything you need to know about beeswax food wrap if you’re not familiar with the product.
These reusable food wraps are made with cotton fabric, beeswax, jojoba oil, and pine resin. Depending on how much you use them, they last for about a year.
When they’ve reached the end of their usefulness, you can simply toss them in your compost bin.
8. Silicone Baking Mat
I like making sheet pan meals for dinner because it’s so easy to just toss all the ingredients on a baking sheet and let them cook. Of course, I’m not always thrilled with the cleanup afterwards.
I either have to spend time scrubbing the baking sheet when I’d rather be relaxing with my family, or I have to use a sheet of aluminum foil that I have to throw away because it’s too messy to recycle.
That’s why I absolutely love my silicone baking mats as eco-friendly alternatives to aluminum foil.
To use a silicone baking mat, you simply put it on the baking sheet and it keeps the mess contained. Not only is the silicone safe to go in the oven, but it’s also non-stick, which means you can make healthier meals since you don’t have to use oils or cooking sprays.
It also means cleanup is amazingly simple. Most of the time I can just wipe off the mat with soap and water. If it gets very messy, the mat is also dishwasher-safe.
9. Compostable Trash Bags
We’ve cut down on as much waste as possible in our home, but we still do produce some waste. That’s why I say we have a low-waste home instead of a zero waste home.
If you’re the same way, compostable trash bags are great eco-friendly alternatives to plastic garbage bags.
We use these compostable trash bags at home because they’re completely made from plants instead of plastic, so they’ll return back to the Earth when we’re done using them.
They come in a range of sizes, including 3 gallons and 13 gallons, so they can fit different trash cans.
10. Bamboo Toothbrush
Did you know over a billion toothbrushes end up in the landfill every year in just the United States alone? While taking care of our teeth is important, it shouldn’t come at the expense of our planet.
That’s why we’ve made the switch to these bamboo toothbrushes. The handle is made from sustainable bamboo, so it can decompose when we’re done using it.
If you’re not familiar with the different types available, be sure to check out this post on the best bamboo toothbrushes for everyone in the family.
11. Zero Waste Floss
Just like plastic toothbrushes, plastic floss also won’t biodegrade. That’s why a zero waste floss is an excellent eco-friendly alternative to consider.
Most zero waste floss is made from silk since this material will naturally decompose. However, our guide to the best types of eco-friendly dental floss also has a vegan option for people who don’t want to use silk.
12. Safety Razor
Safety razors make fantastic eco-friendly alternatives to plastic razors. The razor itself is made from strong and durable stainless steel, so you can keep it forever.
The blade is the only thing you have to occasionally replace. However, replacement blades for safety razors typically cost less than $1 each, so they’re significantly more affordable than plastic replacement cartridges.
13. Packaging-Free Beauty Products
If you’re trying to create a zero waste bathroom, one important place to start is with your beauty products. Shampoos, conditioners, body washes, and lotions all come in plastic bottles that clog up our landfills.
Packaging-free beauty products make fantastic eco-friendly alternatives. I prefer to use Ethique because I love their scents and they have a great range of products.
If you’re not sure which type of product you want to use, I recommend trying out their sampler packs:
14. Real Loofahs
Rather than using a plastic shower loofah sponge, make the switch to a real loofah. Real loofahs are actually gourds, so they’re ideal for vegans and anyone else looking for a sustainable option.
In certain climates, you can even grow your own loofahs.
You have two options for using a loofah in your shower. You can either use the loofah plain or you can get soap with an embedded loofah for natural exfoliation.
15. Reusable Straw
By now you’ve probably seen the all pictures and heard all the stories. Plastic straws are a big part of our single-use plastic problem.
Americans alone use around 500 million plastic straws EACH DAY. This is why many cities are taking steps to ban plastic straws. Fortunately, making the switch to a reusable straw is incredibly easy.
You can find silicone, stainless steel, glass, and bamboo reusable straws. If you’re not sure which is the best type for you, check out our post on the best reusable straws.
16. Reusable Water Bottle
If you purchase bottled water for its convenience, now is the perfect time to make the switch to a reusable water bottle. Bottled water is up to 600 times more expensive than tap water, so this switch can also help you save A LOT of money.
If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, you can get a reusable water bottle with a filter. I’m interested in cutting out as much plastic in my life as possible, so I use this glass reusable water bottle.
It comes with a silicone cover to protect it. I’m pretty clumsy, and I admit I’ve knocked this over numerous times — even directly onto concrete once — and it’s still just fine.
17. Pilot Bottle to Pen
We all need pens around the house to jot down notes, so why not chose one of the eco-friendly alternatives to this common household item?
These Pilot Bottle 2 Pens (B2P) are the first pens in the world made from recycled plastic bottles. The pens have a comfortable grip and feature smear-proof ball point ink. You can get them in traditional black or blue ink, or you can select a pack of multiple colors.
Even better, these pens use the Pilot retractable ball point refills. So when your pen is empty, you can simply refill it with a new cartridge.
18. Reusable Grocery Bags
Along with straws, many cities are also starting to ban plastic bags because of the harm they cause the environment. Fortunately, you can find a variety of reusable grocery bags to use instead.
If you’re looking for something with fun prints and designs, consider these heavy-duty nylon reusable grocery bags. They also fold up into their own pouch, which makes them easy to carry around.
If you’re trying to live a plastic-free life, these plastic-free reusable grocery bags are made with jute canvas, which means they’re also 100% compostable.
19. Reusable Produce Bags
Along with making the switch to reusable grocery bags, don’t forget to get some reusable produce bags so you don’t have to use those flimsy plastic produce bags at the grocery store.
If you’re switching to reusable grocery bags and reusable produce bags at the same time, this convenient set comes with 6 fabric totes and 9 mesh produce bags.
If you already have you reusable grocery bags and simply need to get some produce bags, I prefer these reusable mesh produce bags because they’re washable, lightweight yet strong, and have tags with the tare weight.
20. Compostable Dog Waste Bags
If you have a dog, picking up their waste is just part of life. Thankfully, even Fido can go green thanks to these compostable dog waste bags.
I recommend going with these dog waste bags for a few important reasons. First, the bags are made with vegetable-based ingredients that are 100% compostable and biodegradable.
Some bags will say they’re biodegradable, but they actually contain EPI additives. These chemicals cause plastic to break down into incredibly harmful micro-plastics. This is why it’s so important to look for bags that specifically state they don’t contain EPI additives.
These bags come on rolls that fit inside most dispensers, so you’ll always have them with you during your walks. They also come on recycled cardboard cores instead of plastic tubes.
Finally, some of the proceeds from the sale of these bags support dog rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming through Mission Pawsible.
Making the Switch to Eco-Friendly Alternatives
If you’re looking to do your part to help our planet, switching out some of your common household products for these eco-friendly alternatives is a great place to start. Best of all, not only will you reduce your waste, but you can also save some money in the process!
More Eco-Friendly Living Tips
Now that you see how easy it is to make the switch to eco-friendly alternatives, are you ready to discover even more fantastic green living tips? Then be sure to check out some of our other popular posts:
- Best Green Apps for Sustainable Living
- 12 Must-Pack Essentials for Zero Waste Travel
- Master List of Where to Donate Toys
- Best Zero Waste Products for Beginners