Solar panels, programmable thermostats, double pane windows, electric cars… you get the idea. Sustainable living can be pricy, but the good news is that there are lots of easier ways to go green at home!
We’ve slowly been making an effort to be less wasteful, and the switch made us realize how much money we were also saving. Yep, going green can actually save you some green!…I know, Mom jokes…they’re bad.
Here are 12 eco-friendly items (all under $50) to erase your carbon footprint one small step at a time…
Easy Eco-Friendly Items to Substitute in Your Home
1. Wool Dryer Balls
Did you know that dryer manufacturers don’t recommend dryer sheets? Load after load, residue from the sheets build up on the filter (which is why you start seeing more lint). Yikes! Avoid this issue with dryer balls. They contain no fillers, chemicals or synthetics. These are all things found on dryer sheets that transfer onto your clothes and then your skin.
We love the Smart Sheep Dryer Balls ($16.95 Set of 6) because they cut down your dry time. They’re made of organic wool, a material that wicks away moisture faster. The balls also keep your clothes separated by allowing the hot air to better circulate. They last 1,000 loads (that’s 2-3 years of washing)!
2. Reusable Grocery Bags
The average American goes through 6 grocery bags per week. One plastic bag takes 15 to 1,000 years to break down! Thankfully, there are now many options and types of reusable bags. Most grocery stores even sell their own and offer discount incentives if you opt out of plastic.
The BAGGU Reusable Shopping Bags ($10) wins the prize for the prettiest bags. Ever season, the New York line releases a collection of new custom prints. Their standard sized bag holds up to 50-lbs (that’s 2-3 grocery bags). This is especially helpful since we have to take a flight of stairs to our kitchen. The bags are machine washable (always a plus), made of nylon (to be tear-resistant) and fold up into a pouch. They’re also available in Big ($14) and Baby ($9.95) sizes.
3. Reusable Food Wraps
Ever wonder why you can’t recycle cling wrap? It’s because they’re not biodegradable. They just sit in the landfills for thousands of years. Bees Wrap Reusable Food Wraps ($18 Set of 3) offer an alternative to wasteful plastic wraps. Wrap your fruit, veggies, sandwiches and bowls. They literally just require the warmth of your hands to seal your food. The organic cotton wraps are coated with beeswax and jojoba oil, both which have antibacterial qualities that help to keep your food fresh.
4. Stainless Steel Straw
In hopes of curving plastic consumption, Starbucks is aiming to phase out plastic straws by 2020. Stainless steel straws are an eco-conscious substitute to plastic straws. They’re BPA-free, rust-proof, food-safe, durable and won’t break.
We’re crazy about these Metal Bendy Straw ($3) for your cocktails. Stainless steel also doesn’t always have to be silver. Gold fans will love these Gold Stainless Straws ($16 Set of 4). For something on-the-go, the Life Without Plastic Travel Straw ($13) features an organic cotton carrying sleeve and cleaning brush.
5. Dish Towels
Switching to dish towels has been the easiest way for us to live more waste-free. Even if we use the heat dry setting on our dishwasher, we still have to dry our dishes! Plus, the dish towels act as our hand towels. They also add a pop of color as with the Lilian Dish Towels ($24 Set of 3) to the kitchen too!
6. Cloth Napkins
Whose kid loves ripping up paper towels like ours? Our cat has just as much fun too. It’s cute until you’ve realized that they’ve gone through a whole roll! The great thing about cloth napkins is that they don’t rip apart! They’re softer on your skin and absorb spills more quickly. BONUS: They also look way fancier and classier than paper napkins. Spruce up your table setting with these Alicia Galer Juliette Napkins ($38 Set of 4) or make your own DIY Napkins and DIY Napkin Rings.
7. Biodegradable Trash Bags
The biggest plastic bag used in households? Trash bags! You can be more green with biodegradable trash bags that are BPA and chemical-free. The Unni Compostable Bags ($10.95) have over 1,000+ reviews on Amazon. (We always trust the ratings.) The eco-friendly bags are plant-based so they easily break down in the landfills. It’s also certified for backyard disposal.
8. Silicone Mats
Hi, bakers! Swap your parchment paper for silicone mats. First of all, lots of parchment paper is bleached and contains dioxin. Wax paper also consists of paraffin and is derived from petroleum. Basically if something is made of chemicals or words you’ve never heard of… it’s probably terrible to ingest. Silicone Mats ($8) offer a safer solution. Though a man-made material, its composition remains contained when it is heated and cooled. The mats can also be reused thousands of times. Because, the mats do not need to be greased, you cut down on your oil/fats usage AND that means they’re non-stick!
9. Reusable Snack Bags
We always have snacks on hand. They’re not just for Gwen either. Jared has never heard the term hangry until he met me. An alternative to single-use plastic bags are the Stasher Snack Bags ($10). They’re freezer, microwave, dishwasher and boiling water safe (a perk if you wanna sous vide)! They’re also air-tight and just pinch shut (like your usual Ziploc Bags).
10. Tea Infuser
Ditch the tea bags! They’re typically chlorine bleached and non-biodegradable. Instead you can seep loose leaf tea in a tea strainer or tea infuser like this Fred & Friends Unicorn Tea Infuser ($15). Besides it being economical and sustainable, there are many other benefits to brewing loose leaf tea. Tea bags are stuffed and therefore, often contain broken leaves. Breaking the leaves lessens the antioxidants that help you ward off that cold. Being tightly packed also results on having less space for the tea leaves to expand. You’ll get a bigger flavor punch brewing loose leaf tea in an infuser.
11. Reusable Coffee Filters
The CoffeeSock Chemex Filters ($12.99) and CoffeeSock Cone Filters ($12.99) cost the equivalent to a pack of paper filters, except one cotton filter can last you up to a year! These organic cotton filters are handmade locally in Austin, Texas by a family-run company. They only need to be hand rinsed and hung dry between each use.
Another good reason to do away with paper filters? Cloth filters catch more oils that are linked to high cholesterol levels in coffee. Cotton is also flavorless and tasteless so you don’t get the paper taste in your brew.
12. Water Bottle
If you don’t know where to start, swapping out your disposable plastic bottles is the easiest first step. We’re suckers for buying items based on looks and packaging, and the Ban.do Drinking Enough Water Bottle ($20) checks all our boxes: reusable, eco-friendly, safe and stylish! The BPA-free bottle has a spout (so it’s more leak-proof), and we love the reminders and measurements to hydrate. Drop in these fruit ice cubes in your bottle for some flavored water to go!
Have you made any other eco-friendly switches at home? We’d love to hear your tips! P.S. Since we’re on the topic of going green, check out our Detox Green Smoothie Recipe for a healthy body restart and our DIY Recycled Cardboard Pendant Light.