When I started researching how to reduce my impact and waste, I was overwhelmed. It seemed like I needed to purchase all new products to make sure I had the most organic, environmentally things to help me through the transition. This seemed super counter-intuitive to me though – I’m supposed to buy new things to help me consume less?
This is always a catch-22 of businesses promoting sustainable products – they want you to be more environmentally friendly, but they also want to make sure they’re making a profit. After all, they are businesses. So watch out for this,! You really don’t need much to help you avoid waste. Many of my essentials I found at home!
Here are the products that helped me get started, and actually make a big impact by helping me lower my waste day to day:
- A vessel for your water/coffee/tea/leftovers – I was at brunch with a friend in the summer and the portion size was huge. I asked if I could pack up the rest to bring home, and the lady in the cafe was so interested in the jar I brought with me to pack it away! Saves them money by not needing to provide plastic takeaway boxes, and it keeps your food way better as well – no take-out spills or gross smells in your bag.
- Any cotton/general reusable bag with handles – I have a cotton bag I purchased in Chile last year that I roll and pop in my handbag every time I go out. It’s small and compact, so I don’t notice it until I need to use it.
- A small cotton napkin – I usually have my cotton bag to use instead of this, but I try to remember a napkin when I can – great for grabbing a sandwich to go and popping it in your napkin instead of a plastic box, or for cleaning up small spills, or for dirty hands! Just be sure to pop it in the laundry once you’ve used it.
- Reusable veggie bags for grocery shopping – This is one product I did purchase, and I bring them with me only for grocery shopping. The great thing is they also double as nut mylk bags for making almond/oat mylk at home, and snack bags! Tip: If you don’t have these, either just put fruits & veggies directly in your cart (you’ll rinse them at home anyway), or use the paper mushroom bags at the grocery store for other veggies as well – paper>plastic.
- Potentially necessary: A stainless steel straw. These are excellent if you’re a big smoothie drinker, have sensitive gums (like me!), or just like using straws. Regardless, always ask for no plastic straw!
Other easy swaps at home:
- Bamboo toothbrush – the easiest switch I ever made. And compostable (depending on the composition of the bristles)!
- Once you run out of your bottled products (make sure you use all of these up and reuse or recycle!), buying or making products that are in bar form – face cleanser, soap, shampoo, body lotion, all of it! See what I currently use in this post.
And that’s it! These are the products that I actually use on a daily basis to help lower my environmental impact. Do you have any sustainable products you purchased but never actually use? Or any products you think I should really add to my list?
Let me know in the comments!