Hi. Hello. Good day! My name is Vee and I hate single-use items. I hate, hate, hate them with the fire of a thousand suns.
Today I want to share some of the reusable alternatives that I’ve implemented in my home and life. I believe each of these items are affordable and have the potential to eliminate a lot of waste from daily life. I’m sharing because there’s a huge misconception that leading a sustainable or eco-friendly lifestyle is expensive. It can be, if you choose that, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of really affordable alternatives out there that everyone can implement in their lives.
Disclaimer: I took these pictures at 9 pm whilst there was a giant rain-storm outside and a tornado warning. The light was going in and out and as a result, there’s a different variation of lighting in these pictures. Hopefully it’s not too distracting.
HAND-KNIT DISH CLOTHS/SCRUBBERS
There’s this saying: “You know you’re an adult when you get more excited for home items then anything else”. That’s me! That’s totally me. My mom makes these dish cloths/scrubbers with yarn that she finds at thrift stores. They rarely match, which makes them feel even more like a one-of-a-kind set, and they eliminate the need to purchase sponges, dish cloths and even paper towels (she makes various sizes for different needs around the home).
I highly recommend cloths knitted in this fashion, as they’re tough and can scrub any ‘caked-on’ mess made in the kitchen. They’re also great for cleaning, too! Just throw in your washer with towels and reuse.
These cloths can be purchased in varying sizes on Etsy. Or, if you’re really crafty, you can teach yourself how to make them! One ball of yarn can make 12 cloths, so they’re very cheap. One of the big bonuses to purchasing them from Etsy is that the platform has become a place for Grandma’s to sell their hand-made kintted goods. So, if you do buy them there’s a good chance you’re supporting a grandma through her retirement.
BEESWAX FOOD WRAPS
Beeswax wrap is an incredible alternative to plastic wrap. Made of beeswax, these items are completely biodegradable and cover your food in just the same way as plastic wrap. This alternative can be quite pricey, depending on where you buy it from. But, if you’re someone who keeps leftovers in your fridge often, they’re a great investment to make.
I’ve read studies online that say beeswax wrap keeps your food fresher longer than plastic wrap. I cannot prove this as it’s been several years since I’ve owned plastic wrap, but if it does, that’s a pretty cool bonus. And even if it doesn’t, you’re still eliminating single-use product waste.
REUSABLE FOOD-STORAGE BAGS
I hate Ziploc bags. I hate no-name single-use bags of any type. I really do. The entire premise of the product is that it carry something for you for, at times, just minutes before it gets trashed. With the average use of a Ziploc or no-name single-use bag being a half day, they are an extremely wasteful product.
I purchased the bags pictured for $12. They’re freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe and made from food-grade silicone. They’re leak-proof and an incredible alternative to to all single-use bags. Point of note – I actually stored spaghetti sauce in one of these bags last week and not only did it not leak, but it also didn’t stain.
I highly recommend a set of these if your budget allows it! They’re available online and are starting to pop up more and more at grocery stores, if you’re looking.
REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES
Let’s remember that plastic is not the enemy. The eco-friendly movement is about eliminating or minimizing single-use plastics. The point is to purchase things intentionally so that they can be used over and over and not just trashed. While reusable water bottles can get quite expensive, depending on the type you buy (I’ve seen glass bottles cost $75) they don’t have to. The blender bottle of the left of this photo cost me $7.99 and I bought it four years ago. Reusable water bottles are an easy, cheap and eco-friendly way to keep single use plastics out of your home. Bonus points for the fact that it encourages you to drink more water… which everyone can benefit from.
Caveat: If you don’t have safe drinking water at your home, I realize that this product likely won’t be of any use to you. And yes, I do understand that not everyone in this world has safe drinking water at home.
STAINLESS STEEL STRAWS
Stainless steel straws are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO cheap. So are reusable plastic straws, bamboo straws and glass straws. I realize that COVID has put a damper on being able use your own straws in a lot of restaurants and coffee shops, but you can absolutely still use them at home.
Single use plastic straws are too small to be recycled. Because of this, all disposable straws are winding up in landfills, or worse… in the ocean. For something that is used for just a few minutes at a time, and then trashed, purchasing a set of straws (which can be done for as little as four dollars depending on the type that you get) helps save our sea creatures and means that you’re always smoothie ready.
MAKEUP REMOVER PADS
Disposable cotton rounds have sat atop bathroom vanities across the world for decades. They’re easy to get, cheap as heck and you can buy them from virtually any drug store or grocery store. Most important, they’re easy to throw away, which I hate. I’m genuinely really proud of the fact that they seem to FINALLY be going out of style.
Reusable makeup remover pads/cotton rounds are exactly that, reusable. With it estimated that the average woman can possibly go through as many as 100 disposable cotton rounds in a single month, purchasing one package of reusable makeup remover pads can eliminate more than 1,200+ pieces of waste in a single year.
This particular set that I have was actually made by my mom. She used an old towel (because upcycling is cool) and sewed around the edges to ensure they wouldn’t fray. That being said, you can purchase a single set for as little as $10 for 20 online. In store, they tend to run more expensive.
If you don’t mind the stains, white is a pretty common colour. To me, the stains just remind me that they’ve been used. That being said, they do come in a variety of colours, including dark fabrics that will hide stains if that might bother you.
Dryer balls are an eco-friendly and natural alternative to both dryer sheets and fabric softener. Whilst there are many types of dryer balls – wool, plastic, rubber, etc.. dryer balls made from wool are completely biodegradable.
Dryer balls work by retaining the heat they soak up when the dryer is turned on. Using that heat, they keep your laundry from clumping allowing the heat emitted from the dryer to be more evenly distributed through your laundry. These actions will help to cut your drying time considerably, and in turn, lower your electric bills. Wool dryer balls also work as a softener, helping smooth out wrinkles and keeping your clothes looking smooth and feeling cozy.
I bought a set of six for $15. It’s estimated dryer balls can last up to a year, depending on how much laundry your household does. When they have worn out and just aren’t fulfilling their purpose anymore (as they do deteriorate over time), you can literally just take it and drop it in your garden or compost, if you compost at home. (Plastic/Rubber dryer balls are obviously not biodegradable, this is a perk specific to wool balls)
It doesn’t have to be expensive to lead a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle. Looking at this post, it might look expensive seeing everything together, but please keep in mind that all of these items were purchased or given to me at different times. A one time investment in every item together would be very costly and hard on the bank account. But, if you slowly implement meaningful, intentional changes over time, you’ll come to realize just how helpful it can be to have high-quality, reusable items in your home.
It’s a cliche statement, I know, but remember that you might not be able to do all of the good that this world needs, but the world needs all of the good that you can do. And minimizing, eliminating single-use disposable items and trash is a very good thing!