*Originally published in 2020. Updated for 2021!
(Scroll to the bottom to see what eco-friendly practices I successfully implemented in 2020!)
I’m not one to make New Year’s Resolutions because I NEVER keep them. But there’s one area of my life that I’ve been wanting to make an update to and that’s reducing the amount of waste I produce in the house. This past year I started to focus more of sustainable fashion so I figured that my “resolution” this year would be to focus on sustainability in the household.
The problem is – I’m very lazy. To be honest, I love the convenience of disposable products. I love my plastic bags and plastic straws (I know – I’m a horrible person!). So I’m looking for easy ways to be less wasteful and more eco-friendly so that I can actually implement them into my life and start new habits. I think it’s still going to take some work (I’ll always hate paper straws!) but I think I can do it! Here are some of the ways I’m trying to be less wasteful this year.
Easy Ways to Be Less Wasteful and more Eco-Friendly
Switch to Reusable “Plastic” Wrap.
One of the things I feel most guilty about is the amount of plastic wrap and plastic baggies I use for storing leftover food. It’s definitely wasteful and expensive over time. So I’ve decided to try out Bee’s Wrap – a sustainable and reusable food wrap option made of organic cotton, sustainably sourced beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin. This food storage wrap is washable and can be used again and again! Plus, they come in fun prints so it makes food storage fun!
All you have to do is use the warmth of your hands to mold the wrap around bowls or food! The only thing it isn’t recommended for is raw meat. You can then store the food in the fridge or freezer. These wraps last up to a year and after that you can dispose of them in the compost or use as a natural fire starter.
I also bought a Lékué food cover. Honestly, it kind of looks like a food condom…haha. But the idea is that you can stretch this over bowls or cans. I’ve also seen cloth food covers which are really nice. I would probably use those more for covering dry foods.
Shop Reusable Plastic Wraps
Switch to Reusable Snack Bags:
I use a lot of single-use plastic baggies to store food as well and that’s something I’d like to change. So I’m switching to reusable silicone baggies like these from Stasher. These are made out of 100% silicone and are dishwasher and microwave safe. The Stasher bags are definitely a little more pricey but I was looking for a bag that would hold up well in the dishwasher and these are really sturdy. They are definitely on the thicker side and don’t feel like plastic baggies but I’m hoping they still do the job! There are a lot of reusable silicone bag options at different price points so I’m planning on trying out a few to see which ones I like the best.
I just bought reusable silicone breast milk storage bags from ZipTop which I’m excited to try out! ZipTop also makes storage baggies and they are a little less expensive so I’ll probably try those too. I also bought reusable bags from reZip. These are cheaper and feel a little more like plastic baggies since they aren’t as thick as the Stasher Bags.
Shop Reusable Snack Bags
Use Your Own Bags
I always forget to bring my own bag to the grocery store. In California they charge you 10 cents for a bag at the store so it not only saves the environment but it saves me money if I bring my own bag. To help fix this problem I bought an Apolis Market bag. I figure if I have a really cute bag I’ll be more inclined to bring it with me. Plus, this bag is made to hold up to 100lbs and has a wipeable lining which makes it perfect for groceries.
I also need to get better at not using the plastic produce bags at the grocery store. I actually have a net bag that’s meant for produce. I was using it more as a fashion bag but I think I’ll get more use out of it as a produce bag.
Shop Reusable Bags
Switch to Reusable Straws
California has also started to get rid of plastic straws so at restaurants and cafes you’ll get paper straws sometimes. Guys – I HATE paper straws with a passion. They disintegrate really fast and make your drink taste like paper. I end up going through 2-3 paper straws because I’m a slow drinker and they just don’t last. The solution to this problem is to bring my own reusable straws with me. I’ve been resistant to this solution because I feel like I would forget to take my reusable straw out of my cup before I throw it away. (I’ve already accidentally thrown away a reusable straw at home). But I’m just going to suck it up and try it out anyway.
I have several reusable straw options. I bought these foldable silicone straws to keep in my bags when I’m going out. It was actually a great deal and came with two carrying cases, 6 straws, and 3 straw cleaners. So if I end up accidentally throwing away a straw it’s not a big deal. The only downside about this pack is that the case doesn’t stay shut that well. It has a hook to attach to a key ring but I don’t think I can do that because the case would pop open and the contents would fall out. So I just keep the whole thing in my purse. I originally wanted a stainless steel foldable straw but I saw reviews that said they were hard to clean and mold would get in between the steel and inner silicone straw.
I also just got these stainless steel straws. These aren’t foldable so they will be better used at home. They are really pretty though!
Shop Reusable Straws
Use Reusable Cotton Rounds
I go through a lot of cotton rounds as well. I use them morning and night to apply toner and sometimes I use them to remove makeup. So I thought I’d give reusable cotton rounds a try. All you have to do is wash or rinse them and let them dry! Since I use 2 a day I’m thinking that I might have to stock up on a lot of these so I can maybe go about 2 weeks before I have to throw them in the wash. But in the end it will be cheaper than buying packs of cotton rounds.
Shop Reusable Cotton Pads
Ditch the Loofah
I’ve been using plastic loofahs for years because I love a good lather! However, loofahs don’t last that long and I eventually have to throw them out. Plus, they can harbor bacteria and actually aren’t that sanitary. That’s why I’ve switched to a Boie USA body scrubber!
This body scrubber is made from a BPA-free anti-microbial material with flexible bristles that gently exfoliate. I was worried that it wouldn’t lather as well as the loofah but it actually does a great job! I also love that you can just stick it on the shower wall to store it. The scrubber should last about 6 months with normal use. It’s also 100% recyclable so you can recycle it on your own or send it back to the company to be recycled. I especially like that because my apartment doesn’t have a recycling system so I’m more likely to just send it back to the company. I’m really happy with this scrubber and won’t be going back to a loofah!
Rethink Your Shampoo and Conditioner
Think about switching to shampoo and conditioner bars instead! There’s no packaging so you won’t be throwing away empty plastic bottles anymore! I just partnered with Spring and Vine to try out their shampoo bars and I love them! I don’t miss the shampoo bottle at all. You can read my full review here.
Shop Shampoo Bars
There are obviously a lot more ways to be sustainable and eco-friendly but these are just a few things that I thought I could tackle this year. My goal isn’t to be perfect at creating less waste but just to do my best. If I expect perfection I know I’ll fail.
What ways are you trying to be more eco-friendly and sustainable this year?
Update on Eco-Friendly Practices for 2020
I’m happy to say that I successfully implemented most of these products into my life in 2020! My favorite discovery was the reusable cotton rounds. They feel exactly like disposable cotton rounds and I haven’t had to buy disposable cotton pads all year! I’m also LOVING the Boie Body Scrubber. It was a bit weird to use at first but now I’m totally used to it. I just bought a second scrubber because my first one started to wear out. I will be sending back the first scrubber to the company for recycling. I also started using reusable “plastic” bags. I bought a set of reZip bags and one bag from Stasher. I like using the reZip baggies better because they are thinner and feel more like regular plastic bags. However, they have started to fall apart (I’ve had them about 10 months). Still, it’s better than throwing away plastic bags after one use! The Stasher silicone bag is still working great but it is thicker and bulkier so I don’t use it as much.
I didn’t end up using the reusable straws as much as I could have. I still prefer plastic straws so if a coffee shop offers one I’ll usually take it…oops! However, a lot of places have switched to sip lids (which I hate) so I will use one of my reusable straws with those lids! Another item I could incorporate more is the beeswax “plastic” wrap. I actually really like the beeswax wrap but I kind of didn’t wash them right and they started to deteriorate after a couple uses. It’s totally my fault and I can still save the beeswax wrap BUT I’ve been lazy and haven’t fixed it yet.
I feel like I get a pass on the reusable shopping bags this year because of Covid. We haven’t been reusing bags from the grocery store because we don’t want to bring germs in! And I’m not currently using shampoo bars because I get sent a lot of PR products from beauty brands that I want to test out. So I’m currently using natural shampoo products in a bottle because I was sent some from a brand. But the bar shampoo worked just as well for me! My only suggestion would be to get a case for the bar – otherwise it just starts to deteriorate in your shower from the water.
So overall, I think this was a pretty successful year! This year I’m going to try to be even better at using the reusable wraps and bags (I’m currently still using some disposable bags). I’ll have to brainstorm other ways to use more eco-friendly products so if you have a suggestion – let me know in the comments!