Here are some easy product swaps for low-waste living. Pick the products that work best for you!
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Product swaps are MY FAVORITE. I’m always looking for fun and easy things to swap out in our daily routine that reduce our environmental impact AND help us save money.
We’ve discovered quite a few over the years and here is a list WITH my opinions on which ones make the biggest impact…. as well as which ones are the hardest to commit to!
Product Swaps for Low Waste Living
Here are the pro's and con's to these product swaps for low waste living. SWAP THESE ITEMS for their disposable counterparts.
Unpaper Towels for Paper Towels
Unpaper towels are probably my #1 EASIEST to use product swap. If you don't want to make fancy ones, dish cloths are the SAME THING. They're also cheap to buy. They absorb a ton of liquid so they're great for big messes. They're easy to clean.
Tip: MAKE SURE to wash these regularly. It takes a while to make a pile of these big enough for a large wash. You need to wash them at least weekly. Don't let them sit for a few weeks in a wet bag.
Kitchen Wet Bags instead of a Pile of Wet Dishcloths on the Counter
This is legit a must-have if you have an eco-friendly kitchen. It is essentially a laundry basket for the kitchen, but you can hang it off a door knob so it's one less thing to trip over. No complaints here. I just toss it in the wash with the dish cloths.
Reusable Bowl Covers for Foil / Plastic Wrap
Honestly, these were just a huge win for me because I don't like messing with plastic wrap or foil. Plastic wrap and foil is SO EXPENSIVE. These were made with scrap PUL and they just fit snug over the top of my bowl and casserole dishes.
The downside is you need to store them. I shove them in the drawer with my plastic wrap and foil and they don't take up too much space (comparatively).
Washable Mats For Fridge Shelves for Plastic Wrap
While these aren't as ecofriendly as just wiping your shelves down the old fashioned way, many people use plastic wrap and toss to keep their shelves clean. These are a good alternative to that.
They're also a good use of leftover PUL fabric which is why I made them.
Fabric Gift Bags for Wrapping Paper
WRAPPING PAPER IS THE WORST! Okay maybe not. But some of the new wrapping papers aren't even recyclable anymore and it's SO wasteful, particularly if you have big Christmases. These reusable bags can be laundered and reused. They're also great for storing holiday decorations off season.
Fabric Easter Basket for the Flimsy Store Ones
A well made Easter basket should be able to make it through your child's entire childhood. Skip the flimsy store baskets that fall apart and don't store well and consider a basket that's easy to launder and store. This particular Easter basket is made from upcycled fabric braided together and hand sewn into a basket. SUPER easy.
You can also check out these taller DIY Easter baskets.
Fabric Lunch Bag for Paper / Plastic Bags
This is another situation where a quality fabric lunch bag can out survive a cheap counterpart or paper/plastic bags. This lunch bag has survived a few years and while the Velcro could be replaced, it's otherwise still in good shape. It's also washable.
Want to skip the Velcro? This zippered square lunch box is SUPER cute.
Grocery Bag Holders for the Garbage Can
Instead of tossing the plastic grocery bags, consider keeping them to reuse. Plastic bags CAN be reused if you store them properly. These grocery bag holders allow you to store yours until you're ready to reuse them.
Soap Bags for Lost Slivers
Do you lose a lot of soap down the drain? Using a soap bag to help contain the soap until it's ALL GONE is a great way to save those slivers.
You can also try using felted soap if you prefer. This also helps save the slivers.
Cloth Diapers for Disposable Diapers
Cloth diapers are often the first thing people try on their road to being ecofriendly. They're not THE EASIEST product swap though- they require a bit more knowledge and research. But they save a LOT of money. And they have the added benefit of being cute.
Family Cloth for Toilet Paper
While toilet paper probably isn't breaking the bank, many people opt to switch to family cloth to reduce their TP use. Some people use them for only #1. Some people use for all potty time. Others use them to dry off after using a bidet. When you're already washing other ecofriendly items, it makes sense to use these too.
Bidet Use for Toilet Paper
This is an AWESOME alternative to toilet paper. You can use a real European bidet, but for most of us in America that's just not in the budget. These $30 bidet sprayer seats will "freshen things up" and you can pat yourself dry with toilet paper or cloth wipes. Super easy.
Cloth Wipes or Napkins for Disposable Wipes or Paper Napkins
I lumped these together because they're the same exact thing, just with different uses.
Cloth wipes are a great option to use wet with water for wiping babies. Usually parents who cloth diaper use these.
If you can't quite work yourself up to use wipes for potty time, they're also great NAPKINS for kids at the table. You can even wet them with water so you can easily wipe your faces!
Wet Bag for Plastic Bags
A regular wet bag is a FANTASTIC alternative to those thin plastic bags they give you at the gym. You can use them for dirty gym clothes or wet bathing suits (wring them out first). Made with PUL, they're waterproof enough to contain a damp bathing suit inside the zippered bag.
Tip: Make sure you get the right size for what you plan to use it for!
Menstrual Cups for Tampons
Many people swear by menstrual cups as a reusable, washable alternative to tampons. You'll save money long term (ugh menstrual products are NOT cheap) and save yourself a ton of garbage.
Buy a set of two menstrual cups on Amazon to try them. Don't forget to get a steamer to sterilize your cups!
Mama Cloth for Disposable Pads
Disposable pads are uncomfortable and can cause health issues for many women. Mama cloth is an alternative. These fabric pads can be washed and reused. They snap around your underwear, similar to how a pad would stick on, to hold them in place.
Handkerchief for Tissue
This is definitely a forgotten favorite of mine. Handkerchiefs should have never gone out of style! They're not as drying as paper tissue and I've found that if I wet a piece of flannel, it feels a bit like humidifying my nose when I'm sick.
Reusable Nursing Pads for Disposable Pads
These are pretty convenient and you can wash them with your clothes.
Beeswax Sandwich Wraps instead of Ziplock Bags
These are a great alternative to plastic bags and they're easy to diy.
Reusable Snack Bags for Ziplock Bags
Make or buy some reusable snack bags to replace Ziplock bags. You'll save a TON of money!
Reusable Cage Liners for Disposable Pet Bedding
This was HUGE. We swapped out our guinea pig's paper bedding for reusable pads and it's a HUGE savings for us. I calculated that we probably are saving about $1000-2000 over the life span of our guinea pigs (assuming they live 8 years).
Fabric Mug Cozy for Cardboard Cozies
These are a good option to swap out for the cardboard cozies you get at the coffee shop.
Aprons so you don't ruin clothing
These aren't quite a product swap, but they'll help preserve your clothing so you can wear them longer!
Steam Mop for Cleaning Products
This was an item I swapped out because I can't handle a lot of chemicals (I have asthma). The mop and a smaller steamer both clean with steam so I don't have to deal with the fumes from common household cleaners.
Laundry bag for plastic bags
Laundry bags for your suitcase are a good option to swap out for plastic bags if that's how you store dirty clothes while you're on vacation.
I wish I could say I was the PERFECT eco-warrior; I’m not. But I try REALLY HARD. We’ve reduced how much garbage we make by a LOT over the past eight years.
Some products, like cloth diapers, save me a lot of money. Others, like the bidet sprayer, I use because I like how they work. And some do both- like using dish cloths and cloth menstrual pads.
We’ve made some other changes too- using a compost bin makes a HUGE impact on how much garbage we make.
Which products have you already tried? What’s your favorite? Do you use ecofriendly products because you want to help the environment, to save money, or both? Leave me a comment below!
Don’t forget to pick up my book on ecofriendly products and how to sew them! I cover cloth diapers and a TON of other products too!
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