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7 Reusable items to reduce waste
There has been a lot of buzz lately about zero waste lifestyle. While it’s fun to watch videos of people who are living with little to no waste, it may not be completely attainable for all of us. That being said, there are plenty of ways to reduce waste and save money in the process! Here are a few of my favorite reusable items to save money and reduce waste.
Did you know that we use over 500 million plastic straws every day in the U.S. alone? That statistic is staggering. Many of those straws end up in landfills because they are not or cannot be recycled. Even worse, many end up in the ocean.
I’ve been using Koffie Straw for my morning coffee for two years. I really need to buy new ones because they are stained, but they’ve held incredibly well. If you’re worried about your teeth but also worried about plastic, they are the perfect solution.
I love using stainless steel straws for smoothies. You can buy them on Amazon really cheap and I’ve had the same set for a long time. There are so many options for reusable straws now, far more than when I started using them! You can even buy reusable Boba straws.
If you’re concerned about plastic, the environment or excess waste, you’re probably already using a reusable water bottle. I’ve used everything from cheap plastic water bottles (don’t,) glass water bottles, silicone travel bottles and now, a Hydroflask. My husband loved my Hyrdoflask so much that he stole mine for work, and I had to buy another one!
If you don’t feel like forking over the money for a Hydroflask, the off-brand double-wall insulated cups seem to work just as well. While reusable plastic water bottles are still better, they are still plastic. Want to reduce your plastic even further? Check out my post about 5 easy ways to reduce plastic. I recommend using either a stainless steel bottle like the Hydroflask or glass water bottle.
It seems like every single course online compares itself to your “daily Starbucks beverage” in cost. Well, not all of us buy coffee every single day, but if you do, you should definitely have a reusable mug. Even if you make your own coffee at home, it’s nice to have a portable cup when you’re on the go. I really love this glass reusable mug by Joco.
For whatever reason, periods still seem to be a taboo topic among women. I’m not really sure why – we all have them! There has been a definite push for more environmentally and body-friendly tampons and pads in the recent years. I think that the solution was already out there, the menstrual cup. It’s a one time (well, maybe yearly or every couple of years) purchase, it works well, it’s better for you, you don’t have to change it as often, and it saves a LOT of waste.
If you’re a little skeptical, I understand. I was a little grossed out at first too, but it’s really much less gross than using pads or tampons. I have tried reusable pads post-partum and I definitely didn’t love them. Some people do, so they’re worth a shot if you are a regular pad user. If not, they’re still a great option for after having a baby when things like menstrual cups or tampons are a no-go.
The original Diva Cup is a great option, but I’ve also used off-brand cups with no issues. Some only cost 410-$15, so think of how much money (and waste) you will save! If you want to learn more, check out everything you need to know about menstrual cups.
It seems a little obvious, but single-use plastic shopping bags are a terrible waste. My favorite reusable bags were purchased at Target in Hawaii, where plastic bags are banned! You can buy reusable bags pretty much anywhere, but I love this 5-pack from Amazon. The colors are really cute, and they fold up for when they are not in use.
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Cloth napkins and paper towels are one of my favorite reusable items to reduce waste. I haven’t used paper towels or napkins in years, and I don’t miss them! There are some nicer “unpaper” towel or cloth napkin options, but regular washcloths work just fine for daily use.
Diapers and Wipes
I don’t have babies anymore, but I used cloth diapers and wipes to some extent on all three of mine. When my oldest was a baby, there wasn’t quite as much information out there as there is now. I tried gDiapers (which are terrible!) but fortunately, I learned a lot more by the time baby #2 and baby #3 came around.
Cloth diapers come in a variety of options at a variety of price points. One of the cheapest options is doing prefolds or flats and covers. All-in-ones are the most convenient option and are essentially as easy to use as a disposable. My favorite diaper is the BumGenius all-in-one.
Cloth diapers do have quite a learning curve, but even the most expensive diapers are quite a bit cheaper than disposables. Did I mention how much they reduce waste? One of the best parts about cloth diapers is that they can either be used for multiple children or sold when you’re finished with them!
I don’t believe the myth that children in cloth diapers are potty trained faster. I believe that kids potty train when they are ready despite what is on their butt. That comes from a mom with one who was potty trained very young, one slight past an average age, and one very, very late.
Want to learn more about cloth diapering? I’m working on a cloth diapering series. Check out the first installment, the 6 different types of cloth diapers, if you’re curious about the benefits of cloth diapering.
What about items that you can’t re-use?
There are some items where it’s really, really complicated to have a reusable version, like trash bags. Of course, recycling will limit the amount of trash total, but most of us still accumulate some trash. Thrive Market sells compostable trash bags, which is a great alternative. They also have more earth-friendly options like recycled aluminum foil, unbleached paper towels, and more.
I primarily use Thrive Market to buy healthy food staples, but they also offer great prices on natural home products. I like that the prices on Thrive Market are typically much lower than you’d find in a health food or specialty store. You can save an extra 25% off your first order and get free shipping here.
Were any of these reusable items to reduce waste things that you were already using? Do you have anything else to add to the list? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Want to get more sustainable living tips sent straight to your inbox? Sign up to get the latest every Saturday.