Published on October 18th, 2022
Trying to make your household more eco-friendly? You’re not the only one, and swapping out plastic straws for metal reusable ones isn’t the only way to do it.
Most of the products we use in our households today (and have been using for decades) are either environmentally toxic, produce unnecessary plastic waste, or both.
But as the world becomes more and more environmentally conscious, new products pop up on the market that are intended to help decrease or eliminate our carbon footprints.
Some eco-friendly products seem like no-brainers, like reusable straws. Others, like laundry detergent sheets, are a little more innovative.
Either way, for most of the environmentally harmful products in your home, there’s an eco-friendly counterpart out there on the market. Here’s a roundup of some of the best products out there to decrease your household’s carbon footprint.
1. “Just Add Water” Cleansers
Did you know that about 90% of your average household cleaning product is water? This means every time you spend money on a bottle of cleaner, you’re really just paying for the plastic packaging, a few drops of ingredients, and several ounces of water. “Just Add Water” cleansers change all that.
With these cleansers, you make a one-time purchase of the appropriate container (spray or squirt bottle, typically).
The actual cleaning product comes as a tablet or a drop, and you put in the water yourself. Say goodbye to the single-use plastic bottle and the cost of buying new products regularly; rather, you’ll have a stash of refills, you’ll have the bottle, and you’ll have the water. Not only is it eco-friendly, it’s also convenient.
2. Laundry Detergent Sheets
There’s a lot we can improve when it comes to laundry detergent, and laundry detergent sheets are pretty much doing it all. Say goodbye to the massive plastic jugs that will sit in landfills for eternity (after taking up all the space in your closet or cupboard).
And say goodbye to the chemicals and microfibers that traditional laundry detergent dumps into the environment. These are the perfect laundry detergent replacement.
Laundry detergent sheets are dissolvable, waterless, and free from those toxic chemicals that are harmful to humans, animals, and the environment.
You put one of these papery laundry detergent sheets in with your laundry and you end up with a load of clothes that are clean in all senses of the word.
Laundry detergent sheets are zero-waste and they ensure that you’re not paying for a gallon of water.
The packaging for laundry detergent sheets is cardboard and recyclable, and for a cherry on top, you’ll have a much easier time finding storage for a little box of laundry detergent sheets than for those giant bottles of liquid detergent.
3. Dryer Balls
If we’re ditching liquid detergent for laundry detergent sheets, then we’re ditching dryer sheets for dryer balls.
Dryer balls are wool balls, usually about the size of a baseball or slightly larger, that are intended to fluff clothes and reduce static and wrinkles.
If you add essential oils to them, they can also add fragrance to your dryer load (like dryer sheets) but in a natural manner. But much unlike dryer sheets, they’re completely reusable and they have the added benefit of reducing the time your clothes will take to dry.
They’re a perfect eco-friendly, waste-free alternative to dryer sheets, which end up in our landfills after one use.
4. Reusable Sponges
While most people get a week or so of use out of their sponges, if you want to be effectively cleaning your dishes or surfaces, you should really toss them out after that.
Disposable sponges are just another product that can be easily replaced by an eco-friendly version.
There are silicone sponges, scrub sponges made of recycled fabrics (like coffee sacks and cotton), and sponges made of natural materials like coconut fibers.
All of these options last much longer than traditional sponges, and not only are they often made from recycled materials, but they’re also biodegradable themselves.
5. Cling Wrap Alternatives
Plastic wrap is a 10 on the convenience scale, but it’s horrible for the environment. Eliminating single-use plastic in any way possible is the name of the game, and the reliance we all have on plastic wrap is totally avoidable. Here are two plastic wrap alternatives you should be using instead.
6. Fit-Everything Lids
“Fit-everything lids” are exactly what they sound like: lids that are flexible and stretchy enough to fit (nearly) everything. Of course, they still come in different sizes, but the key is that they’re not rigid like hard plastic lids. These lids can be used on fruits that are cut in half, on containers, on pots and pans, and more. It’ll save you from covering things up with a layer of plastic cling-wrap that you’re only going to toss out later.
7. Wax Wraps
For when you need to wrap something up on all sides, there’s another direct alternative to plastic wrap: bee’s wax wraps. These wraps are made of cotton, like an extremely thin cloth, then covered in bees wax that allows them to be water-resistant, washable, and gives them the sticky quality that makes cling wrap so convenient. They’re perfect for anything from covering a plate of leftovers to wrapping up a half-cut onion.
8. Shampoo Bars
If eliminating single-use plastics is one major key to an eco-friendly household, then eliminating plastic packaging is the next, and shampoo bars allow you to do just that.
These are solid bars that resemble a bar of soap, but it’s actually shampoo meant for your hair. They’ll wash your hair just as effectively but don’t require a plastic bottle for packaging.
They’re also typically made to be eco-friendly, so they don’t contain environmentally-harmful chemicals that many shampoos are full of. If you’re rubbing something in your hair, wouldn’t you rather it be all-natural?
9. Mesh Produce Bags
Ok, so your state has banned plastic bags, effectively causing you to make the switch over to reusable grocery bags. Now it’s time to step it up another notch: bring your own mesh produce bags.
These mesh, drawstring bags can be found in stores and online for just a few dollars, but they’ll save you from using several single-use plastic bags every time you need to stock up on salad ingredients. If you’re already bringing reusable grocery bags to the store, why not tuck in a few produce bags, too?
10. K-Cup Alternatives
Convenient as they are, K-Cups for Keurig machines are horrific for the environment. They’re everywhere from offices to waiting rooms, and they’re just another example of single-use plastics that end up in our landfills. Here are two great alternatives for brewing a quick cup of coffee.
A reusable K-cup is the same shape and size as a regular K-cup, but it’s typically a plastic structure with mesh material in between plastic panes to let the coffee steep out. You fill it up with a scoop of coffee, close the lid, and use it like it’s a regular k-cup.
The difference? You don’t trash it after, you simply rinse it out and use it again next time. Sure, having to fill it up and rinse it out takes some of the convenience away, but it’s worth it to help reduce the plastic plastic waste humans produce from K-cups every single day.
Steeped Coffee Bags
If convenience is a must for you, steeped coffee bags are the way to go. They’re pretty much what they sound like:
little bags of coffee that you treat just like a tea bag, steeping them for a few minutes to create your perfect brew.
They’re also made of biodegradable materials, so you can compost the bag when you’re done. Toss a steeped bag in your travel mug and brew your coffee on your way to work. Kiss those K-cups and all their plastic waste goodbye.
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