How to Swap Your Everyday Supplies with Eco-Friendly Products
Doing right by the environment doesn't necessarily mean you need to run out and buy a $500 bike or new hybrid car. There are many tiny ways you can make a difference right now without breaking the bank or significantly changing your routine.
We researched and found great, affordable eco-friendly products to replace your everyday supplies and shrink your carbon footprint.
Best Sponge Alternatives
Stop throwing away sponge after sponge and bottle brush after bottle brush! The Peachy Clean Sponge was the only silicone sponge we found that offered a sponge-like feel. Silicone sponges dry faster, so they're less likely to harbor mildew or odors, extending the life of the sponge. We found that squeezing the sponge a few times dispersed soap suds and gave us a long-lasting lather.
We agree with Amazon reviewers that it's not easy to use on items like glasses and bowls due to its stiffness, so we also recommend The Crown Choice's Dish Scrubber.
The dish scrubber is much better with fragile dishes and we like that it's dishwasher and washing machine safe. This way, you don't have to toss it or use harsh chemicals when it starts to smell. Unfortunately, the holes are food magnets and the silicone sponge outperformed it when dealing with caked-on food.
Finally, we recommend AmeriGood's Bottle Brush because it's dishwasher safe and easy to use on long glasses, bottles, and vases.
Best Paper Towel Substitute
It's hard to say goodbye to paper towels for eco-friendlier options like dish towels and cloth napkins, so walk before you run with these reusable Bambooee Towels. These are the original towels as seen on Shark Tank, but many knockoffs have popped up over time.
Each roll holds 20 towels that are machine washable up to 100 times. After you've removed all of them from the roll, you will lose the familiar paper towel dispensing method. But storage doesn't have to be difficult! You can keep washed Bambooee Towels in a basket or empty tissue box.
Best Compostable Trash Bags
Instead of using regular plastic bags, try bags made from plants!
Unni makes great, sturdy compostable bags in various sizes, but note that they don't have drawstrings/handles and are very biodegradable. If a bunch of food sits at the bottom for a few days, it will start to compost. In bathroom and bedroom waste bins, however, the bags hold up well.
Best Recycled Trash Bags
Want to take a smaller step with your kitchen bags? Seventh Generation makes reliable bags from recycled plastic with convenient drawstrings. They won't decompose like Unni's bags, but they aren't necessarily as tough as household name plastic bags. Though these bags have never broken in any of our uses, we don't recommend overfilling them. Special care aside, we still like Seventh Generation's overall performance the best over the recycled plastic bag competition.
Best Biodegradable Poop Bags
Biodegradable dog poop bags are great for limiting the amount of plastic in landfills. We looked at reviews for dozens of companies' bags, but Unni was the top dog again in this trash bag category. These bags are easy to open and sturdy while managing to break down at a faster rate because they are primarily made from cornstarch.
Best Disposable Recycling Bags
Are you using paper grocery bags to hold your recycling? Start carrying reusable totes to the store and use these Clean Cubes at home instead! They cover the same amount of space and are reusable.
Each comes lined with a plastic bag that you can replace with compostable bags every time you take the recycling out. When the cube is on its last legs, just toss it in the recycling bin. We also love the larger version for parties, so say goodbye to trash bags tied to a chair that inevitably get non-recyclable trash in them.
Best Space-Saving Recycling Bin
Recycling can be as simple as getting another trash bin and labeling it accordingly, but not everyone has the kitchen space for two bins. Luckily, the Rubbermaid Hidden Recycler fits on the cabinet door under your sink. You can line it with a compostable bag or use it as is and wash the bag. The bag is removable and has a handle for an easy trip to your recycling bin or local recycling center.
Best Recycling Sorting Bags
If your city requires separated recyclables, we love these two options. Sort your paper, plastic, and cans (or glass) in this Whitmor recycling bag. There are three deep sections and a sturdy handle so you can carry it to a recycling center.
Need a bigger sorter? Using laundry sorters is a great hack and Honey Can Do makes two of the sturdiest ones we came across. You can choose from three compartments or four and just roll your recyclables to your bins. Each compartment is removable and has a carrying handle.
Best Biodegradable Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets are great allies in the battle against static cling and unscented clothing, but they don't play nice with the environment. Before you feel dirty in your clean clothes, relax and get some biodegradable dryer sheets. Mrs. Meyers makes dryer sheets from natural products in a few scents, but we're partial to the lavender version.
Best Eco-Friendly Power Strips
To avoid sending phantom power to electronics and appliances that aren't in use, an individually switched power strip or a smart power strip can come in handy. Rosewill's Power Strip allows you to turn six electronics on and off, plus you can turn the entire power strip off. It's budget-friendly, but a little analogue.
The Smart Strip LCG3 gives you 10 color coded outlets: three red always on outlets and a blue control outlet that is tied to six green outlets. You could plug a TV into the control outlet and any speakers, streaming devices, or Blu-ray players plugged into a green outlet. These peripheral electronics would turn on and off when you turn your TV on and off via remote.
Best Plug with On/Off Switch
GE makes a sleek outlet adapter that allows you to turn items on and off from an onboard switch. Turn off items like toasters and electric kettles when they are not in use or use the plugs for products lacking a power button. If your outlets need two prong plugs, we also like these, admittedly bulkier, individual plugs.
Best Rechargeable Batteries
Toss your regular batteries away (responsibly) and get on the rechargeable battery train. This starter pack provides a wall charger, C and D battery adapters, AA batteries, and AAA batteries. The charger can hold four batteries at a time and has a tiny charging LED for each. Though you might be more familiar with Energizer's rechargeable batteries, we prefer these Eneloop batteries because they hold a little more charge over time.
Contigo travel containers seriously keep your beverage hot (specifically up to 6 hours) — a perfect gift for the caffeinated commuter!
This 20 oz. stainless steel insulated travel mug is a best-seller on Amazon for good reason. It features a leak-proof lid, handy handle, and it fits in most car cup holders. The double-wall, vacuum-insulated stainless steel is the secret to its stay-hot capability. And if you’re a lefty, don’t worry, the lid can switch sides. Contigo travel mugs come with a lifetime warranty. Available in pink or gunmetal gray.
A completely useful gift, S’well bottles are functional beverage containers, and they’re also really cool looking. Thanks to triple-walled insulated stainless steel, drinks will stay cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours.
That’s a long time! Available in 9, 17, or 25 oz. sizes, there’s a wide range of styles, from a bedazzled breast cancer awareness pink, to the iridescent Milky Way, to the natural Teakwood. S’well bottles are BPA-free.
This is the perfect water bottle to bring just about anywhere, but it’s a great gift for a gym-bound buddy.
Best Eco-Friendly Coffee Filters
Disposable coffee filters make for easy cleanup in coffee makers and pour over apparati, so we understand it's hard to move on to the reusable ones. We found these compostable coffee filters from If You Care that are sold in bulk (less packaging!) that haven't been treated with bleach or chlorine.
We didn't forget about you, Keurig users. Keurig makes a universal, reusable coffee filter that fits into any of their coffee machines. And we didn't stop there! There are some adorable, unbleached paper filters for your Keurig as well.
Beeswax food wraps are gaining popularity as a sustainable alternative to disposable food storage. Instead of using and tossing plastic wrap, aluminum foil, wax paper, and/or plastic baggies, you reuse these food wraps for up to a year. Each Abeego wrap is a biodegradable cotton and hemp square cloth infused with beeswax, tree resin, and jojoba oil. The beeswax and resin help the cloth create a seal via the warmth from your hands.
We recommend Abeego's food wraps for their stickiness, general lack of smell transfer (not sure if you've heard, but onions are strong), and overall ease of use. Abeego comes in a variety 3-pack (small, medium, large), small 6-pack, medium 3-pack, large 2-pack, and one giant wrap that can hold items like long bread loaves and heads of lettuce.
We weren’t just going to give you rigid containers!
These reusable silicone food preservation bags are great for all kinds of food storage. The bags can be hermetically sealed, meaning they simply do not spill, even when storing liquids. They’re BPA-free and can be used in the freezer, refrigerator, and microwave. You can even use them to sous vide! They are also dishwasher safe and completely recyclable.
Best Reusable Mesh Produce Bags
In addition to reusable totes, you should invest in reusable produce bags. This set from purifyou includes nine bags of different sizes that can be closed via a drawstring. Each bag lists its weight when empty on a brightly colored tab in order to prevent you from overpaying for produce at checkout.
While most guests come equipped with one of their own, having a few toothbrushes on hand is a good idea—after all, forgetting to toss a toothbrush in a travel bag is not unheard of.
We like these brushes because they're not only inexpensive, they're biodegradable and come in 100 percent recyclable packaging. That way, even if your guest is only using the brush for a couple of days, you won't feel bad about tossing it once he leaves.
Best Low-Flow Showerhead
The Niagara Earth Massage Showerhead only releases 1.25 gallons of water per minute (GPM), but we doubt you'd really notice. This design of this showerhead offers great water pressure in regular or massage mode. We tried to find a great low flow showerhead that has a pause feature, but couldn't find one up to our standards.
Best Showerhead with a Pause Feature
We also recommend Aqua Elegante's Luxury Showerhead. It releases the standard 2.5 GPM of water, but has six spray settings, one of which works as a "pause button" and releases a very small amount of water. You can use this setting while you lather up or shave to conserve water.
Best Eco-Friendly Tampons
Alternative menstrual products are having a moment, but we understand if you want to stick with what you know. Plastic tampon applicators are much worse for the environment than cardboard applicator or applicator-less tampons, but easier and more comfortable to use.
Seventh Generation makes organic tampons with an applicator that is 95 percent plant materials. It's still technically a plastic applicator, but it stands a better chance in a landfill.
Best Sewing Kit
How many clothes have you thrown away because they were torn? Yes, this sewing kit may require some of you to check out a YouTube tutorial or two, but the skill is worth it. We love that this kit is comprehensive and compact without sacrificing tool and spool quality.
Any item of clothing torn at the seams is easy to fix without exposing beginner stitch work. We know that some tears will still require a sewing machine or a professional eye. Pro Tip: many dry cleaners employ a tailor or two who can mend and alter clothes, often for around $5 or less.