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I know sometimes making sustainable swaps can get a little overwhelming. You might have a bunch of questions – Where do you start? What do you do with what you already have? What is a sustainable replacement? Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it seems.
I put together a list of different everyday sustainable swaps you can easily make in your life!
When you’re making these changes, remember that this is a process. Take what you can do and leave the rest. If you can’t do a particular swap, that’s okay! Sometimes less is more. 🙂
Another thing to keep in mind is to make these changes when you actually need them. For example, say you have store-bought deodorant but want to make your own. Don’t throw the deodorant that you already have out, as that would be a waste. Finish it first, and then make your own deodorant. You could probably even reuse the same container to put the one you make in!
Just do your best and trust yourself! It’s not as hard as it’s made out to be. 😉
- 1. Buy Less
- 2. Swap Plastic Soap Bottle
- 3. Bring Your Own Utensils
- 4. Ditch Disposable Cups
- 5. Dryer Ball
- 6. Period Panties
- 7. Toothpaste Tabs
- 8. Refillable Pen
- 9. Soap Nuts for Detergent
- 10. Buy Secondhand
- 11. Compost
- 12. DIY Cleaning Supplies
- 13. Regrow Veggies
- 14. Use Veggie Scraps for Broth
- 15. Swap Plastic Sponge for Loofah
- 16. Swap Single-Use Ziploc Bags
- 17. Get a Compostable Phone Case
- 18. Ditch Straws
- 19. Use Reusable Grocery Bags
- 20. Walk, Cycle, Public Transport, Or Carpool
1. Buy Less
This is number one because it’s the most important swap. The best way to reduce your overall waste and carbon footprint is to buy less things. I’m not saying you have to live a minimalist life, but maybe ask yourself (twice) if you REALLY need that new thing.
Overconsumption is not sustainable, even if you’re buying from ‘sustainable’ brands.
2. Swap Plastic Soap Bottle
This is by far one of my most favorite swaps. I’ve been slowly switching out all my bottled soap for bars and honestly now that I’m using soap bars, I wouldn’t go back.
I then swapped my dish soap for No Tox Life Vegan Dish Soap Bar and absolutely love it! It lathers just like regular soap and cleans just as well.
3. Bring Your Own Utensils
Keep a pair of utensils in your bag for when you eat out so you don’t accidentally end up having to use plastic utensils. I recommend taking a pair from your home and repurposing a little baggie to put it in if you have one. If not, you can find some handmade ones on Etsy. You could also wrap it in a cloth that you already have.
An alternative if you choose not to take utensils from home, is to buy a set of travel bamboo utensils. This one from Earth Hero is kept in a pouch made of recycled plastic water bottles. (Get 10% off with my code: farahaljallad)
4. Ditch Disposable Cups
This may be one that you don’t pay much attention to since disposable cups are single-use. You most likely throw it out and don’t give it a single thought. But that doesn’t mean it actually goes away any time soon, especially if it’s made from plastic or styrofoam.
Using a reusable cup will save so much waste, especially if you drink out of them often. It’s very likely you already have a reusable mug in your home, so dig one out and put it to some good use!
I know right now during COVID, many places, like Starbucks and Dunkin, are understandably not letting you use your reusable cup. If that’s the case, start making your own coffee at home. It’ll save waste from ending up in a landfill and also save you some money!
5. Dryer Ball
I love that there is a sustainable alternative for dryer sheets because it really shows you that even the little things matter. To be honest, I didn’t really pay much mind to dryer sheets before. I’ve been using them my whole life, and it was just kind of the “normal” thing.
That really just shows you that things that we’ve been using our entire lives aren’t sustainable in the long run, and we do have the power to change them and make a difference.
Dryer balls are a really cool, and obviously sustainable, alternative to dryer sheets. You can get over 1000 uses of these dryer balls and they are a natural and non-toxic replacement (made of New Zealand wool) for dryer sheets and fabric softener.
6. Period Panties
I got so excited when I first saw these! I don’t think they are a complete replacement for pads or tampons, but I recommend using it with a menstrual cup in case you leak with that.
Thinx is a great brand with a bunch of different options. They have different kinds of underwear depending on your flow and the style you want.
7. Toothpaste Tabs
Did you know that 400 million toothpaste tubes are thrown away in the U.S.? That’s why toothpaste tablets are becoming more popular; they’re a great alternative!
They typically always come in a glass jar or paper packaging, so it’s usually always completely plastic-free.
8. Refillable Pen
How many pens do you go through every year? Honestly, I don’t know either, but probably more than I’d like to admit. That’s where the refillable pen comes in!
I mean, with something as small as a pen, we don’t usually pay attention to throwing it out or the impact it makes, but everything matters (yes, even the really small things) because it’s not just you throwing these things out. It’s millions of other people too, and that adds up.
I invite you to pay attention to what you’re consuming on a daily basis and make conscious decisions when it comes to everything, even the little things. 🙂
9. Soap Nuts for Detergent
On the contrary to the little things, laundry detergent usually comes packaged in a pretty big bottle. That’s why I love this swap for soap nuts. Who would’ve guessed you can clean your clothes just the same with nuts? Not me.
It’s honestly amazing that we can use an all-natural alternative to laundry detergent. It just goes to show mother nature really provides us with everything we need. There’s always an opportunity for sustainable alternatives, we just have to look!
10. Buy Secondhand
This swap is just as important as the others! When you buy something new, even if it’s from a sustainable brand, it still has an impact on the planet. It still needs to be made, packaged, and shipped. All this use of extra resources can be avoided by buying secondhand.
Think about it, the item is already made and you’re not doing any harm by buying something that’s already been made and used. In fact, it’s quite the opposite of harmful. You’re helping prolong its life and avoid a landfill. Plus, thrift stores are so much cheaper, so save the extra resources and your wallet by buying secondhand!
Did you know that 95% of food scraps are thrown away? When food scraps go to the landfill, they don’t naturally break down on their own as you’d think. There isn’t enough oxygen circulating in a landfill to allow this to happen. Instead, they sit there and release an insane amount of methane (15.1% just in the U.S.), which is 35 times stronger than carbon dioxide in increasing the rate of climate change.
We can all easily do our part in helping reduce this number by composting! You can do this at home or even in an apartment. Even if you can’t or don’t want to compost on your own, there’s most likely a compost drop-off near you or you can get it picked up with CompostNow.
12. DIY Cleaning Supplies
Do you actually know what’s in your cleaning supplies? You probably have to know it has a bunch of chemicals that aren’t good for you or the planet. You saw how simple it was to replace laundry detergent with something natural that still does the job, and your cleaning supplies are no different.
This youtube video shows you how to make all the essential cleaning supplies! The best part: you can reuse your bottles to keep making them, which means little to no waste!
13. Regrow Veggies
This is actually much easier than you’d think! I’ve regrown scallions and lettuce before by just placing them in water. They start growing within a few days. All I did was change the water every few days and place them under sunlight, easy-peasy. I’m actually regrowing 3 individual lettuce and one celery. The above picture is how they’re doing after about a week and a half. Some of them are taking their time and might not even grow fully and that’s okay. I like to at least try! (Plus it’s so exciting watching them grow!)
I wrote a post on a few different veggies you can regrow that you can read here.
14. Use Veggie Scraps for Broth
Make the most out of your veggies before tossing (composting😉 ) them by using them to make veggie broth! You can use it in any recipe for added flavor and nutrients!
I found this one recipe, but you can search for more by simply googling ‘vegetable broth recipe from scraps’.
15. Swap Plastic Sponge for Loofah
Swap your sponge for an all-natural alternative: loofahs! I love my loofah, I use one for my dishes and one for the shower (they’re different sizes). It’s made from the loofah vegetable. They pick and dry them, remove the seeds, and then you have a ready to use sponge!
16. Swap Single-Use Ziploc Bags
Not gonna lie, I cringe every time I see a plastic Ziploc bag. I just find them so unnecessary and wasteful. You can find tons of different alternatives to them, including:
- Cotton-hemp cloth wrap
- Silicone Stasher sandwich bag
- Silicone Stasher snack bag
- Compostable & reusable BioBag
You can even just use your Tupperwares for things you would normally put in a sandwich bag. If you need some, I use these glass Tupperwares that come in a bunch of different sizes. I love them!
17. Get a Compostable Phone Case
You may have heard about these phone cases by now, but I had to include them because I’m obsessed! We go through phone cases so often sometimes, we don’t even think about what happens at the end of their life. Pela Case is the world’s first biodegradable phone case and they’re amazing.
They have a pretty wide range of different phones their cases fit. They also have compostable cases for Airpods and watch bands. They have a huge selection of different designs and styles, so you don’t have to compromise for a cute phone case!
18. Ditch Straws
The most popular swap trend: the plastic straw. As you probably know, swapping plastic straws for reusable ones became a huge trend not too long ago. Thankfully, it did stick with some people.
I really do think this is a simple and important swap, but it honestly started feeling like an excuse for some people to do the bare minimum and feel good about themselves. Yes, every little thing matters, as I’ve said before, but when you’re making a big deal about plastic straws and then using it for your Starbucks drink that’s in a plastic cup, it kind of feels counterproductive.
I appreciate the movement because it did make a lot of people aware of the effects plastic has on the environment and oceans, but I felt like we’ve been talking about the effects of plastic for a long time now and no real change has been done on a grander level.
Instead, we could’ve made a big deal about plastic bags, which have a way bigger impact on the environment, and actually made some big changes with that. Plastic straws only make up about 0.025 percent of the plastic in the ocean, so while it is an important switch, it shouldn’t be the main focus.
However, yes, please avoid plastic straws if you can and switch to reusable ones. This swap is still important, it’s just not the be-all-end-all of the environmental movement is what I’m trying to say.
That being said, Simply Straws has a huge selection of straws! You can even get some embedded with a word or name as a gift!
19. Use Reusable Grocery Bags
The most obvious and one of my favorite swaps. Something that I think is important to keep in mind when searching for a reusable bag is what it’s made from and how it’s made. Since the production of reusable bags does have a larger environmental impact, it’s important to buy sustainable, take care of the bag, and actually use it.
Some things to keep in mind when looking for reusable bags:
- use it as many times as possible.
- buy bags made from recyclable material.
- avoid bags that have printing or decorations; this can add to the environmental impact.
- recycle, reuse, and repurpose the bag.
Another great tip is to keep it in your car! This way you don’t forget it and would end up having to use a plastic bag, making the environmental impact larger.
20. Walk, Cycle, Public Transport, Or Carpool
And last, but not least, walk or cycle when you can. Even using public transportation or carpooling will help reduce your carbon footprint! I know this isn’t always available to everyone, so just do what you can! If one day you can walk somewhere instead of drive, do that!
If cycling is something you’re interested in, get a bike and ride it to the grocery store! It’s also great exercise ;).
I hope you found these everyday sustainable swaps useful! Let me know in the comments what you’ve tried, what’s worked for you, and if you have any more tips!
Lots of love,