We live in a society that has come to appreciate convenient and disposable a bit too much. Why clean it when you can just throw it away right? What could be more convenient than to use a brand, spanking new product each time you need one and then throw it away and make it someone else’s problem when you are done. There are many of us though that realize that it is just lazy and selfish to to get hooked on one use disposables. Not only are we throwing our money away on what is essentially garbage…we are contributing to the endless supply of products heading into our landfills. Many times these products will stay there for decades or even hundreds of years…all because we couldn’t be bothered to wash a dish or bring a reusable bag to carry our groceries. I don’t want to be THAT guy (or gal). Do you??? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
We all know (hopefully) not to use those red Solo cups or paper plates, and to bring our cloth bags to the store. But are there disposables lurking in your home that you never really thought about? Here are 15 products that you may not have realized you can buy reusable:
Produce Bags – We are used to taking our reusable shopping bags to the store with us but do we still grab for the plastic produce bags to bag our fresh leeks, green beans, and loose apples? If so, there is no need. You can get thin cotton bags, see-though nylon bags, and even mesh bags that can hold loose produce like this. Skip the plastic! The photo above is one of the brands I use…Flip & Tumble. Love them!
Panty Liners and Sanitary Napkins – Plastic based panty liners and sanitary pads are bad for the planet in much the same way baby diapers are and there is no need for them. Cloth pads and liners are not only washable they are infinitely more comfortble. After giving them a go you will never want to go back. Try Sckoon Organic or GladRags.
Straws – Sometimes it is preferable to drink though a straw. I know I prefer to drink smoothies with a straw but there is no need to buy plastic straws when there are other great options out there that will last you a long time. Stainless steel straws and glass straws work great and you can take them with you to restaurants and eateries. You can even buy straw sleeves and cases for trips and eating out. How much more convenient could it get?
Cotton Balls and Rounds – Okay I have yet to see an reusable cotton BALL but rounds work just as well and those are available. They make it easy to remove makeup, apply toner, etc.
Sandwich Bags – These are one of the biggest lunch time waste items and it is understandable because they do make it super easy to package up all sorts of foods for easy transportation and consumption. They are also hugely wasteful though since we only use them for a few hours and then relegate them to the landfills where they will remain entombed for hundreds of years. Are Cheetos in our lunch box really THAT important? Try some of these great reusable lunch baggies.
Wrapping Paper – Birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions need not be so wasteful any longer. There are several companies that make reusable fabric bags that you can use instead of paper. Imagine how much time and money will be saved too.
Coffee Filters – No more paper coffee filters. Get one filter and use it over and over again. I am not a coffee drinker myself but my husband insists that these perform very well.
Dryer Sheets – These products are especially bad for our health because they have lots of nasty chemicals but they are also very wasteful. These reusable cloth dryer sheets last for more than 500 loads and they eliminate static and wrinkles just like conventional ones.
Furnace/AC Filters – We are supposed to replace our furnace and AC filters every four months. This ensures that our unit runs smoothly and efficiently and also that our indoor air is cleaner and free of allergens. There actually is a filter though that can be washed and reused instead of completely replaced. Each one last for about ten years.
Paper Towels – The standard for replacing paper towels is usually cloth rags but there are some options that look and feel like paper towels. Bambooee makes bamboo towels on a roll that look just like the real thing.
Sweeper Cleaning Pads & Mop Heads - Ditch the plastic and use microfiber pads and mops covers.
Chopsticks – If you love sushi and Asian restaurants, like I do then you might be interested to know that several companies make reusable chopsticks that you can take with you. The ones in the eateries are wood and wrapped in paper so why waste them if you can bring your own? If you are serious about your sushi then be serious about bringing your own chopsticks. I have and use a pair of Collapsible Compact Chopsticks. They fit nicely inside a purse or pocket.
Squishable Food/Juice Pouches – The squishable pouches filled with applesauce and juice seem to be all the rage right now but the disposable ones are a big waste. You can still provide these in your kiddos lunch box just get the ones you can wash and reuse. Sqooshi makes some that are adorable plus they can be put in the dishwasher and freezer, and they are BPA, PVC, Lead and Phthalate Free.
Take Out Food Containers – Plan in advance and you will never have to use the Styrofoam takeout boxes found in restaurants. There are several small lunch containers that can double as takeout boxes. One that comes to mind immediately is the LunchBot. Perfect size for takeout! You can also take a Tiffin box with you and then you have space for a couple different meals…perhaps your leftovers and your child’s?
Electric Shaver – Yes, they make these for ladies too. You can ditch the disposable razors and the cuts that come along with trying to make them last longer than they should. This Panasonic shaver for ladies can be used wet or dry.
Have you spotted at least one thing you need to try? Do you have any to add to this list?
This really has nothing to do with natural living although ebooks are certainly green. I just wanted to share this awesome deal I spotted on Amazon this morning. You can get all three of the Hunger Games books for only $5. This is the ebook version of the books and you can read them on a Kindle OR the free Kindle reader that works on your computer or mobile devices. I read Kindle books on my Android tablet with the Kindle reader app.
I was a hold out on the ebook craze and now I am sold: hook, line, and sinker. I am purging many of my physical books and I would have kept this trilogy except I only had two of them, the other I borrowed from the library when it came out. I loaded them into a box for donation and kept thinking I need to check ebook prices so I could read them again that way. I am glad I waited because you can’t beat $5 for all three!! Enjoy!
Looking for some unique stocking stuffer ideas for the adults in your life that won’t break the bank or the planet? I have compiled a list of some of my favorites. I am not big on cutesy stuff or novelty items that have no real function in every day life. Yeah, that Santa that poops jelly beans is cute but I would not want to find it in my stocking. Impractical items just seem like a waste to me so everything on this list is functional and would be most welcome in the life of your treehugger. Or perhaps you are the treehugger and the recipient is not, don’t sweat, these stocking stuffers will work for them too.
Glass Straws: Very functional yet small enough for stocking and beautiful to boot. If you buy a set then you have an affordable gift for 4-5 people too. Greenies will love them and those who are not will be intrigued. I am a long time user and it is hard to go back to anything else once you see how lovely it is to drink a smoothie through a piece of glass artwork!
If you are worried about breakage try stainless steel drink straws.
Lip Balm: Perfect for men or women this time of year. I recommend Eco Lips.
Seeds: The gardeners in your life will love heirloom seeds varieties.
Recipes: This could be a sneaky way to help the recipient get healthier or maybe you know they will enjoy Aunt Esther’s peanut brittle you modified with a healthy twist. Either way you might want to get some blank recipe cards, fill them out, and give the gift of healthier, greener food!
Spices: Foodies will love to try new and exotic spices. Buy a bottle or two (in glass or stainless tins) and maybe attach the aforementioned recipe cards for meal ideas.
Gloves: Hand knit gloves can be found on Etsy and in stores. Try to find some made with organic materials or recycled materials. I found these fun Sock Monkey Fingerless Knit Gloves on Amazon (recycled materials).
Journaling Materials – Have a writer or journal lover you need to gift? Try some eco pens and poo poo paper (yes it IS paper made from animal dung).
Rechargeable Batteries: Did you give someone an electronic gift or give one to their child, that requires batteries such as a gaming system, clock, ect. Well this is the perfect companion gift…batteries that they can keep using over and over, saving resources and money! I like Eneloop personally and this charger and 4 battery pack is perfect for Christmas stockings.
Pine Cone Fire Starters: Make them yourself or buy them but if your giftee has a fireplace and loves a roaring fire these make a practical gift.
Eco Perfumes: Small yet fragrant and healthy for the wearer. I wrote a post with a few ideas here.
Soy or Beeswax Candles: Many people LOVE candles and soy and beeswax are better alternatives. Natural fragrance is ideal too. I am really liking Mrs. Meyers Clean Day candles for gifting. They come in a nifty tin that is perfect for a stocking and they are made of soy. This brand also sells glass candles with lids.
Do you have any ideas to share?
Are the Black Friday deals starting early??? I don’t know but this is an awesome price for the Lorax DVD…only $3.99. If I didn’t already have it I would be buying it for my kiddos and for myself since I happen to know this cuddly creature IRL. Oh yes, we are pals. :)
Hope this helps you get a great deal on an eco themed movie the whole family will love.
Purchase at Amazon.com
Photo: Me and bloggy friend Stephanie Moram of Good Girl Gone Green (photo credit). Taken in New York City.
There are lots and lots of green toys on the market. I have posted about hundreds of options over the years and I have a constantly updated Green Christmas Gift Guide that highlights many of them. I like green toys from small family owned businesses and I like to support the larger companies who happen to make sustainable toys. More and more though I look for things that are unique and not likely to be found on any bestseller list on Amazon. Here are some of the gems I found this year at one of my favorite stores…Magic Cabin.
Ice Cap Game – Kids love games and this is one is especially cute but I like it because it may just be a great primer to teaching even the littlest ones about climate change. Players must balance some polar cuties (whales, bears, seals) on a precarious glacier, being careful not to upset the stack. Made of eco-friendly beechwood!
Gingerbread Baking Kit – Made of felt and oh so cute…much better than the crap plastic toys from Walmart that get squished and tossed in a month or cause kids to lose interest because they are so fake looking.
Cloth Baby Dolls – These are of Swedish design and made of cloth. I love that they are weighted to make them more realistic, like holding an actual baby. They are just flippin adorable too. I love their clothing and the fact that they can suck their thumbs. These are classic.
And if you need a bottle for them…
Toadstool Solitaire – Maybe I am just big on games. I love this unique and whimsical take on a classic game! This Mouse and Cheese solitaire is equally awesome.
Pan Drum – Okay so this has a special place in my heart because I played the pans in a orchestra once upon a time. This pint sized steel drum would be perfect for little music lovers.
Build Your Own Magnetic Vehicles – We love magnetic blocks in this house and build your own wooden cars. This concept kind of combines the two. So simple and yet so fun.
Paint Your Own Russian Dolls – My little girl is getting a bit big for dolls for these she would totally love! You get a nifty suitcase, paints, and three ceramic dolls.
Hope this post gives you some fresh gift ideas for the holidays!!