For the past several months, I’ve made a significant effort to reduce my plastic usage — and while it’s hard to go completely plastic-free, I’ve found it pretty easy to find reusable alternatives for some every day items that contribute to a ton of plastic waste.
Growing up in California, in a family that loves camping and backpacking to get away from the crowds, has made it easy to see the impact humans have had on our environment — you wouldn’t believe how much plastic trash has found its way into the most remote parts of the world.
But it’s also easy to forget how much plastic you buy and throw away on a daily basis — a bottle of soda here and there, your medication, and even your regular grocery items like coffee and milk! So I thought I’d pull some of my favorite reusable, non-plastic alternatives that I started purchasing to help me remember to waste less, and avoid buying plastic altogether.
Note on shipping: When it comes to reducing your plastic usage, it’s also a good idea to think about where you get your products. You’ll see some Amazon links in here for convenience, but Amazon tends to send you a large box filled with plastic packaging that isn’t suited to what you’ve ordered. Eco-conscious shops, on the other hand, ship with really thoughtful packaging that uses zero plastic (and honestly, is designed so well, it’ll make you smile).
Shampoo & conditioner: One of my recent favorite ways to cut back on plastic bottle consumption is by minimizing what you use for shampoo. This might get controversial, but on our recent trip to Vietnam, Emily brought shampoo and conditioner in bar form, and I was pleasantly impressed!
As someone with color-dyed hair (but tbh, can’t wait for it to grow out), the shampoo and conditioner from this plastic free shop was our favorite — it left my hair feeling silky smooth and grease free, which is an issue for me in humid climates. Plus, the traveler’s kit comes with perfect sized metal tins to keep your bars in between locations.
Other bathroom goodies: Emily’s my plastic-free guru, and when she purchased these mouthwash tablets, my mind was blown. You simply drop a tablet into a glass of water, and it dissolves into mouthwash. And on top of that, this eco-friendly dental floss gets the gross stuff out of my teeth way better than your run-of-the-mill drug store floss. Both come in glass containers.
Want to go super eco and Tokyo-futuristic? Get a bidet — and be super clean, and go sans-TP. (We haven’t done this yet, but whenever I can buy a house, you better believe we’re installing heated floors and a bidet). The Tushy bidet starts at $70 — not bad for cutting back on your toilet paper costs forever.
Kitchen essentials: I’ve been ready to switch from plastic Ziplock baggies to Stasher bags for far too long — just waiting to be out of these damn baggies to replace the entire drawer with Stasher bags, which come in some pretty fantastic colors. Not into the Stasher price tag? This variety kit gives you plenty of size options, and has more than 900 five-star reviews.
Beeswax Wrap: Film plastic is one of the biggest waste culprits in the US, since there aren’t many domestic plants that can recycle any film-based plastics (think plastic grocery bags, the bags your shredded cheese comes in, and saran wrap). Instead of going through a roll of that plastic wrap, invest in a set of beeswax paper — the wax has a natural adhesive that seals up bowls or plates, and it’s perfect for wrapping up that loaf of turmeric lemon cake you’re bringing to the office. Just don’t let anyone treat it like a cutting board, or else you’ll have mini beeswax sheets.
Quick Bowl Covers: When you need to simply cover a mixing bowl or plate with something to save for later, these stretchy silicone bowl covers are ideal — they come in multiple sizes so every dish you own is covered. Even that dish you lost the lid for 3 apartments ago.
Washable kitchen goods: switching to reusable produce bags was a game changer for me — I get major plastic guilt every time I have to pull one of those green plastic bags in the produce section of the grocery store. Now, I put a couple of these in my go-to grocery bag and keep it hanging near my front door so I never forget them.
Bruce’s mom got me a set of reusable paper towels as a stocking stuffer for Christmas, and I had always wanted to try them — I saw them selling everywhere in Norway. Long story short: I’m hooked. They absorb 15x their weight in liquid, and after a few uses, just toss ’em into the laundry for a good old scrubbing. These reusable dish cloths are similar and just as amazing — and they come in so many cute patterns!
And last but not least, a dish soap bar — I’ve seen this sold in plenty of gourmet kitchen stores all over the US, and the design is juuuuust my kind of minimalist. Definitely switching to these once we run out of our old cartons of dish soap!