12 Household Items I Swapped to Increase Sustainability
BY TAYLOR VEST
Wool dryer balls
Instead of using single-use dryer sheets made of synthetic polyester, use wool dryer balls which can be reused for up to 1000 loads. Wool dryer balls help to soften clothes, reduce static cling, and speed up the drying process, which in turn saves on energy costs. You can even drop some essential oils on them to add a fresh smell to your drying clothes.
One reusable water bottle can save up to 1,460 plastic bottles per year, considering the average human should drink four bottles of water per day. Even if only one plastic bottle was purchased per day, a reusable water bottle saves more than 300 non-reusable containers.
An exceptionally environmentally friendly brand, Klean Kanteen, is a certified B-Corp and supports 1% for the Planet by giving back a portion of its profits directly to environmental nonprofits. All Kleen Kanteen products are Climate Neutral Certified, BPA-free, dishwasher-safe, and have multiple lid options.
Glass Travel Coffee Mug Stainless Steel Mug
Similar to the reusable water bottle, if a person purchases one cup of coffee per day, that person is utilizing over 300 single-use cups. Two standard reusable coffee cups are either glass or stainless steel. For glass, the KeepCup Brew Cork is made from durable tempered glass, light-weight, easy to drink from, BPA, BPS, and phthalates-free. For stainless steel, the SUNWILL Insulated Coffee Mug includes a comfortable handle, an eco-friendly lid with a drinking hole for easier sipping, which is also straw compatible. Both options are great for hot or cold drinks.
An article by National Geographic shows that Americans use and discard more than 500 million straws in a single day. There are multiple alternatives, but my favorite is glass straws because I can see through them to make sure they’re clean. These straws are handmade by glass artists, can easily fit through the lid of mason jars, Tervis tumblers, and are made of lead-free borosilicate glass.
The average person uses around 500 single-use plastic bags per year. Silicone bags have many of the same advantages of plastic, but they benefit from being reusable and free from chemicals like BPA and Phthalates. These specific bags can store liquid and be used in microwave, oven, dishwasher, refrigerator, and freezer.
Glass food storage, as opposed to plastic food storage, is oven, microwave, dishwasher, and freezer safe. These snap-locking containers form an airtight and watertight seal, so I don’t have to worry about my lunch spilling in my bag on my way to work.
Reusable Produce Bags
The single-use plastic produce bags at the grocery store can be easily replaced with reusable produce bags—the ones I used I snagged from Trader Joe’s.
Glass cups, instead of plastic, are an easy switch! I used Weck jars because I can also use them as a smoothie or food container on the go since they seal with clamps.
Washable Paper Towels
Americans use about 13 billion pounds of towels every year, which is equivalent to throwing away 270 million trees annually. Reusable paper towels are one of the more difficult switches because paper towels are so convenient, but reusable paper towels are worth the switch. Made of bamboo, reusable paper towels are more absorbent and durable and can be used 120+ times before discarding. One roll of bamboo paper towels replaces 60 traditional paper towel rolls, about six months’ worth.
Not a typically considered swap, but e-readers, like a kindle, are more sustainable than traditional paper books. Since e-readers don’t require trees, paper, ink, or glue—nor do they take up as much space and weight as a traditional book, an e-reader reduces the environmental burden.
Most dental floss picks are made of hard plastic that is not recyclable. Quip has developed a reusable flosser, and one refill pod replaces over 180 single-use plastic picks, which helps reduce plastic waste.
Disposable plastic razors can’t be recycled because they’re made from mixed materials. A standard disposable plastic razor is good for three to 10 shaves before it must be thrown away. Leaf has developed an all-metal fully recyclable razor with replaceable straight blades. It took me a couple of shaves to get used to a safety razor, but now I’m sold!