If you follow along on my Instagram stories, you may know that I’ve been making some changes to be a more eco friendly in my personal life.
I started with hiding the paper towels I already had under my sink to see if I could go without using them. And guess what? It’s been months now and I still have yet to dig out a single paper towel from under the sink. PLUS, my grocery bill is a little lower now too since I’ve stopped buying them.
Seeing how easy it was to switch to unpaper towels, I wondered what else I could replace with more eco-friendly options. In my searching, I stumbled onto SO many options from water bottles to reusable straws… even reusable ear swabs (sounds a little gross, but they’re silicone so you can easily wash and disinfect). And thought I create a list of the cutest / coolest items I found.
In order to make the list, it had to be functional AND fashionable / well designed. Because let’s face it, the cuter something is the more likely you’ll be to use it, right? At least that’s how it is for me. And the more zero-waste or eco-friendly options we can use in place of single use items is a step in the right direction. So, here it is: 24 cute reusable and eco-friendly items to replace single-use products for good.
Aside from just sharing my picks for cute, eco-friendly and zero waste items though, I also wanted to talk about how you can use them and why it’s helpful to replace the single use stuff with reusables, where you can.
I don’t want anyone to feel overwhelmed or like they have to make all of these changes at once…or at all. Even if you see one single thing on this list that you can make a switch on, that’s a great start in my book! Every little bit helps. So after you’ve checked out the links, be sure to scroll down for more info.
P.S. I know the images aren’t numbered and the list is…I just went left, right, left, right in order down the list.
2. These all-natural shampoo bars from By Humankind are super pretty and help eliminate single use plastics from your shower. It’s an eco friendly shampoo you can feel good about…and it looks good too.
3. These Stasher bags are popping up everywhere – even Amazon has them now. BUT the agave and honey colors are my absolute favorites and I only find them at Bitte, which is one of my fave places to shop for Hayes.
4. This little compost bin is perfectly minimal and small enough to fit on your kitchen counter.
5. Like a warm rainbow for your mouth. Haha. These colorful glass straws are seriously so pretty, if you’re wanting to cut out paper and plastic straws from your routine.
6. Last Swab makes reusable swabs that you can use for beauty / makeup application AND a basic version for your ears. Plus, they come in a cute case and are available in several different colors.
7. Okay, I haven’t tried these By Humankind mouthwash tablets BUT it sounds pretty cool. You just drop a tablet in water and then you can refill it. Each time you refill you save 2.91 oz of single-use plastic from your routine. Pretty cool.
8. These Baggu bags are so convenient and cute. I usually have one in my purse and a couple in the car in case I need them for anything – groceries, hauling around supplies, etc. I especially love the colors and pattern in this seaweed pattern bag.
9. These collapsible coffee cups from Stojo (available on Urban Outfitters) come in four colors and replace disposable coffee cups. Did you know that a lot of coffee shops give you a discount if you bring your now cup?
10. These food safe bee’s wax food wraps can be used for so many things…covering bowls for leftovers, wrapping sandwiches, apples, etc
11. This natural bath sponge from Package Free Shop is so pretty, right? Bye bye plastic loofas.
13. Another great set of bags to have around for produce? Cotton net drawstring bags like these from Ever Eco – they’re made of organic cotton too.
14. Reusable bamboo cutlery is a great alternative to plastic silverware that you get when you pick up to-go food. And if you have a little roll up case for them, you can keep it in your purse and always have it with you.
15. These cute wood and enamel containers from Leif are great for buying non-food items in bulk to avoid extra packaging, for you to stock up on.
16. Reusable canvas sandwich bags! Not much to say here, expect they’re super handy to have around and a great replacement to throw away plastic baggies.
17. Market totes like this one (form Anthro) are great for shopping at the grocery store (or framers market). I like them especially for produce. They came in eight different colors too.
18. These airtight silicone lids are handy for storing leftovers and look at those colors. Available on Food 52.
21. What I love about using wool dryer balls, instead of dryer sheets, aside from the cost savings and eco-friendliness is that you can essential oils to the balls before trowing them into the dryer so everything smells amazing when it comes out. AND they’re great for drying duvets and sheets bc the balls are heavy enough that the sheets won’t get all tangled up in the dryer.
22. I feel like this set of silicone straws is the best option for reusable straws out there. The colors are cute and it comes with several silicone carrying cases (you can even attach the case to your keychain) that make bringing a start with you compact AND cute.
23. Use these snap and separate laundry bags for well…laundry OR recycling. They’re not necessarily a replacement to single-use plastics in this case BUT they’re great for organizing items like paper and plastic if you go that route for recycling.
24. More Stasher bags, but this time snack size. What’s not to love?! These would be great for kids lunch boxes or small travel items, etc.
More Thoughts on Replacing Single Use Items
Again, every little bit helps. Just wanted to share the info all in one place, but that doesn’t mean that you have to do all of these things.
Reusable Food Storage Options
There are plenty of options for reusable food storage. Instead of packing your snack in a plastic baggie try a cloth bag or silicone baggie (like the Stasher bags) that can easily be washed and reused. Cloth baggies are great for dry items that won’t cause quite a mess. Items like pretzels or trail mix. While silicone baggies are best for fruits and veggies or any items that are wet or might get squished.
If you use plastic wrap for your food, try a wax reusable food wrap. You can use this to wrap up your sandwich for lunch or over a bowl of leftovers to put into the fridge.
Replacing Single Use Straws with Reusable Straws
Sadly, I’ve used plenty of plastic straws in my day. Whether it’s a smoothie on the go, an iced coffee, etc. But I’m working on it and it’s really not that hard, honestly. There are really great reusable options for straws that require just the tiniest bit of extra effort, that are much better for the environment (and look pretty too).
The three main options for reusable straws on the market are stainless steel, glass, and silicone.
Stainless Steel straws are available pretty much everywhere and are usually pretty cost effective. They’re perfect for coffee, but I wouldn’t use them for a smoothie or any other thick drink. They can be tough to clean since they have to be hand washed, but they come at a great price and are super durable.
Glass straws come in a variety of colors making them a really pretty accessory on your smoothie date. I’ve never personally tried glass straws but have heard that MOST glass straws can be put in the dishwasher. Just be careful where they’re placed in the dishwasher because they are delicate which makes me weary to travel with them, but if you’re looking for a straw option at home, glass is the way to go.
Silicone straws have to be my favorite of all the options. They can be folded down to a compact size which makes them perfect for travel, and they come in a variety of colors and sizes. I have a smaller straw for coffee and thinner liquids, and a larger size for bubble tea and smoothies. They can go in the dishwasher which makes taking care of them really easy.
Using Reusable Grooming Items
There are so many single use items in a bathroom (including mine – but again, I’m working on it). It’s kind of overwhelming trying to figure out how to reduce my waste in a daily beauty and grooming routine, but there are some good options out there to ease the amount of waste created in front of your sink.
Instead of using a cotton swab, try a silicone swab, like the ones from Last Swab. These silicone swabs are pretty new and are only available for preorder, but they look like a great alternative to cotton swabs. Whether you’re using them for make-up or to clean your ears, the silicone swab seems to do the trick and is a great reusable option that also comes in really cute colors!
Try reusable cotton rounds for makeup removal instead of single use cotton balls. Bonus: Being able to reuse and wash again and again can save you money too.
Your plastic loofa can be swapped out with a really pretty, natural sponge. Some people use these for decor, but in addition to looking nice they’re a great alternative to your standard loofa and are 100% compostable.
Using Reusable Shopping Bags
Reusable shopping bags are everywhere nowadays, but they’re not always attractive. Baggu makes super cute reusable bags in really great prints and colors. They come in a small bag that you can throw in your purse so you never leave it behind, plus they make grocery shopping a little more fun.
Skip the plastic produce bags at the grocery store, and bring your own! They come in really great prints and fabrics like these linen striped bags that can hold anything. Just take your produce out when you get home, and toss em’ in the wash for your next grocery trip when they start to get dirty.
Trying a Compost Bin
So composting is a little bit scary, I know. But maybe you can make it a little easier with a really cute composting bin? If you have a yard or space for a compost pile, here is a really good guide on how to get started and what you can compost.
And if you’re ready for a bigger commitment, try a compost tumbler! This is something you’d need to store outside – maybe on the back patio or porch, etc. FYI – They’re generally not cute but they get the job done. If you really want to splurge and get a super nice one that is relatively attractive, this option is your best bet. Every night when you make dinner, throw your scraps in your small composting bin. Once it’s full, take it outside and add it to you tumbler. Having a small bin on the counter will remind you to keep up the composting.
Using Reusable Bottles and Cups for On-the-Go
I’m sure there’s a water bottle or a travel mug in your cabinet. If you’re like me, you have tons that go unused. As soon as I had a cute water bottle to carry around, I always had it with me. Not only do I save myself money I’d normally spend on plastic single use bottles, I drink much more water than before. Did you know you’re supposed to drink half of your weight in ounces of water? Just learned this.
And that’s it for now. If you made it all the way down here, you probably deserve some kind of medal…but maybe you’d settle for a reusable set of straws?! Hehe.
Did I miss anything? Do you have any other questions about getting started? Let me know in the comments!
I’m far and away no expert on this topic. Just someone who is trying to do better when it comes to all of this stuff and asking people (that are far more knowledgable than I am) how I can do that. Then sharing what I’ve learned here.