Buying products that are reusable and “green” has never made more sense than right now. As shortages of paper products and other essentials are reported in the news, consider these sustainable, eco-friendly options that will both last longer than a single use and keep your family from needing to make so many trips to the store.
Hopefully the shortages of toilet paper and other paper products will not last long, but these smart products can help you manage your life no matter what is available at the store.
Reusable Products To Replace Single-Use Items
There are a lot of places in our modern homes that use a lot of single-use products. This may seem like the easy solution, but it creates additional waste for our landfills, plus the repeat purchases will cost you more in the long run versus making an investment in a one-time, reusable option.
Take a look at the lists below to see if these long-life products could work well in your household.
Kitchen / Dining
There are lots of ways to cut down on waste by utilizing reusable products in the kitchen. The products below are a collection of my favorites — some have been especially handy during the paper-product shortages at the grocery stores!).
Paper towels are very convenient and can seem like a necessity of modern life, but when there are shortages at the stores, it’s helpful to have alternatives available. Keep a stash of eco-friendly washable kitchen towels handy to make sure that you are ready for tackling messes in your kitchen and elsewhere around the house.
Not only eco-friendly, cloth napkins add an element of style to your meals that a paper napkin just can’t do. We keep a few different styles at our home for different occasions (everyday cotton-blend, a wrinkle-resistant style, plus a couple that are just pretty and decorative). As a bonus, there are lots of online tutuorials on cool napkin folding to dress up your table (a great project for kids!).
Plastic straws get a bad rap for causing so much pollution, and the other types of disposable straws get mixed reviews (paper straws have lots of haters while bamboo straws might be a happy medium). However, you may want to consider investing in one of the types of straws that are built to last. Personally, I enjoy drinking out of ceramic / glass products, but today you can find straws made of glass, metal, and BPA-free silicone too!
Silicone Baking Mats
These food-safe reusable baking mats will keep your food from sticking when it cooks. Allows for easy cleanup and eliminates the need for parchment paper and / or foil in some dishes.
Silicone Baking Tools
In addition to reusable silicone baking mats, this versatile material is available in other shapes too. No need to line your pans with parchment paper for easy release of muffins, breads, cakes, and more!
Filtered & Bottled Water
Carrying your own bottled water is a great way to ensure that you stay properly hydrated. Choose a permanent bottle that fits your lifestyle and fill it from home. If your tap water isn’t suited to your taste, consider a water filter too for better-tasting filtered water. If the water from your tap isn’t safe, consider a tabletop water distiller.
Reduce the need for so many bottles and trips to the store for soda with a soda-making machine at home. Purchase concentrated syrup refills or infuse with your own recipes and flavors.
Hot / Cold Mugs
A reusable mug is not only more eco-friendly, but these insulated mugs will also help to keep your drink hot for much longer (or your iced coffee drink cold).
Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world and the way that millions of people start their day. No matter how you enjoy your brew, these coffee making methods can help you create less waste.
For standard drip coffee makers, choose a long-lasting reusable coffee filter and eliminate the need for a disposable filter with each pot of coffee that you brew. As a bonus, the metal filters allow more of the coffee’s oils to pass through into the brew (versus paper filters), enhancing the flavor of your coffee. Note that these permanent coffee filters come in different sizes to fit multiple style of coffee makers.
In our house, there is usually a pot of french press coffee brewed each day to start the morning. Choose from large or small models, and go for an insulated model to keep your coffee piping hot for longer.
When you choose to brew your pour-over coffee with a permanent filter, you’ll never worry about running out of paper filters!
This classic method is tried and true and can be found in stove-top and standalone electric models.
For a small but mighty dose of concentrated coffee, enjoy a hot espresso at home. Inexpensive stove-top and standalone machines quickly brew a delicious frothy cup!
These bathroom ideas can help you cut down the paper waste from one time use items in your bathroom — all without sacrificing comfort or cleanliness.
We’ve probably all noticed the great TP shortage of March 2020 by now. Many cultures already prefer a bidet over toilet paper for it’s superior job at cleaning, but it’s also a great way to ensure that you are much less affected by shortages of toilet paper at your local stores. Bidet models begin with a simple ability to spray clean water and move up to fancier models that include warm water sprays and a warm air dryer!
Additionally, if you have the space and someone to do the installation work, you can consider a standalone bidet.
My sweetie knows how much I love an innovative and useful product, so I was delighted when he surprised me with a set of reusable swab cleaners. These silicone swabs have a couple of different tip styles and can be sanitized and reused over and over again.
Product Spatulas & Bottle Couplers
These products will help you to get the last bit of product from the hard to reach areas at the bottom of the bottle. Eliminate waste and save money by refilling less often too!
Other Household Items
These additional items can be used in many areas of your and and will help eliminate the need to go to the store as often to replace single use items like paper towels and duster mop refills.
Microfiber cloths are great at grabbing dust and helping to curb dust around the house. Wash regularly to avoid bacterial and / or viral build-up.
Dry Duster Mop Refills
Instead of purchasing single-use disposable swiffer refills, try a permanent option made from microfiber than can be rewashed and reused hundreds of times.
LED Light Bulbs
While you may need to invest a little more up front on LED light bulbs, these efficient bulbs will quickly pay for themselves many times over. LED bulbs are now available in most sizes, shapes, and colors and the prices have never been better. Our home uses warm light bulbs in most fixtures (color temperature range of 2700 K – 3000 K) and programmable / customizable multi-color bulbs in select locations.
These items can literally provide life-saving power during emergencies. Be sure to have at least one alternate method of powering your devices should you ever need it.
Power for your devices is important for us all, but dead batteries can be very bad for the environment. Consider using rechargeable items or using rechargeable batteries and / or other renewable sources.
Portable Battery Chargers
These portable power sources / chargers can be charged at home during times when the power is on, then used as a backup power source when needed. Choose smaller sizes to have something ideal for portability — or something with larger capacity for your devices that require more power. Generally speaking, smaller devices will hold a smaller charge / less power.
If you live in an environment with an lots of sun, you should consider keeping a solar-powered charging option for your devices. There are many different solar-powered options from small to large — you can choose a small, portable, folding solar panel charger (ideal for small devices like smart phones), a solar powered car for transport, or install a solar powered roof for your home (to take your house completely off-grid).
These first made big news when they were used in urban areas like NYC during the Hurricane Sandy aftermath. These versatile devices both provide heat (for cooking or warmth) PLUS they generate electricity for your devices! Choose from a variety of small biomass stove models that best suits your needs.
Men’s Eco-Friendly Products
These products are an investment in both quality and simplicity. A quality safety razor can provide one of the most comfortable shaves, plus a pack of refill blades will likely last for many, many year.
Not only do safety razors provide a fantastic, clean shave, they will save a LOT of money over disposable razors.
Women’s Eco-Friendly Products
These products are great ways to make a one time purchase for things that you formerly needed to repurchase often. For anyone who wears makeup or deals with these issues, consider these eco-friendly options instead of your usual products.
Makeup Remover Washcloths
Even when working or physical distancing from home, sometimes a little makeup can make you feel better on a conference call or when out walking the dog. These washable cloths are incredibly good at removing heavy makeup from eyes and face. I was skeptical at first, but one use made me a quick believer! TIP: saturate the washcloths with a lot of water for best results.
Sanitary products can be quite pricey, but they are absolutely a necessity. For light to medium coverage, a pair of washable “period panties” can help absorb fluids that would normally need a pantiliner or maxipad. Wash and resuse to save on this huge monthly expense and to keep additional used feminine products out of landfills.
Reusable Cloth Pads
Products like Glad Rags provide a washable and reusable option to single-use disposable pantiliners and maxi-pads.
When sanitary products are needed for monthly menstrual flows, consider using one of the many menstrual cups that are on the market. These BPA-free silicone cups are somewhat similar to tampons, but can be washed and reused over and over again. This investment can quickly help to save a lot of money versus disposable products. These have the added benefit of eliminating plastic waste from applicators and the waste from the tampons themselves.
What other products or ideas is your family using to be more eco-conscious and / or eliminate the need for trips to the store?