Seven Small Sustainable Swaps
Reusable shopping bags and straws are pretty ubiquitous now (Yay!). Have you wondered what environmentally-friendly change to make next? Below are seven sustainable swaps I’ve made over the last year.
Did you know that a standard plastic toothbrush can take up to 400 years to break down? Every year, about 450 million toothbrushes are sent to US landfills. Bamboo toothbrushes only need six to eight months (minus the bristles if they’re synthetic)! If you compost at home, you can chuck your bamboo toothbrush in there when you’re done.
Bamboo toothbrushes are slowly working their way into mainstream stores. Unfortunately, I don’t see them for sale very often (or they’re out of stock) when I’m out shopping and so I recommend checking out Simplified if you’re looking for a bamboo toothbrush.
2. Ditch zip lock bags for reusable silicone snack bags
I’ve thrown away so many plastic sandwich bags! These reusable bags work just like regular Ziploc/sandwich bags except you can use them ~200 times. I really like these bags! They’re useful for carrying snacks to school, for storing leftovers and they don’t take up as much space as lunchboxes do. It can be a bit annoying at times leaving the bags out to dry (I turn them inside out to wash them) but that’s the only downside I’ve experienced.
I’ve tried two different types of silicon sandwich bags:
I have a couple of Gosili sandwich bags. As per the description, these are good for putting homemade sandwiches in. They’re not airtight and so I think they’re better for things like berries or nuts on the go. I find the most useful feature of these bags is that they can go in the microwave. (If you sign up to their newsletter, they’ll send a 10% discount code.)
These bags are good for making sure food is kept airtight. I hate when crisps go soggy and these bags keep them crunchy. I’ve had mine since November, and they’re lasting well. I even got some for my mother in law and she ended up recommending them to her colleagues.
3. Use a safety razor
I was worried how badly I’d butcher my legs with a safety razor and so it took a while to muster up the courage to make this swap. At first, I fumbled around like Edward Scissorhands and nicked myself a lot. I’d only used plastic razors with the special guards that simultaneously prevent you from cutting yourself and moisturise your body.
I’m happy to share, that after altering my shaving technique slightly, I won’t be needing a Gillette-venus-goddess-of-the-razorblades razor anymore. All I had to do, was slow my shaving strokes down.
Aside from the fact, the razor blades can be recycled. My favourite thing about safety razors is how easy they are clean. You can easily open the casing where the blade goes and clear out all the soap and hair. So satisfying! Also, the blades can be recycled.
My razor is from Amazon. I was tempted by an Oui Shave razor because they’re especially “weighted and balanced to provide the right amount of pressure,” but I think I was mainly drawn to their aesthetic. I couldn’t justify $75 pop vs my $20 dollar one.
Plenty of stores online offer safety razors. Here are just a few:
- Package Free Shop
- Zero Waste Store
- West Coast Shaving
4. Use reusable cotton rounds
These are just like cotton wool pads except once you’ve used them, you pop them in the washing machine and use them again (and again). I now prefer the size of my reusable cotton rounds because they’re much larger and I can use half for toner and the other half for micellar water. A friend of mine tried some and felt that the fabric soaked up more liquid than cotton wool but I haven’t had that issue.
The cotton rounds above are made from Bamboo and I found them on Amazon. There are a bunch of Etsy stores selling them. I know a lot of people like Marley’s Monsters for their kitsch designs. (They offer 10% off when you sign for their newsletter.)
If you’re crafty, you could make them yourself. My mum crocheted these out of cotton.
5. Pack reusable produce bags
Americans use more than 100 billion lightweight plastic bags a year. Most of the plastic bags we use in grocery stores for fruit and veg can’t be recycled. The majority of recycling centers can’t deal with them. They clog up their machinery and get sent to a landfill. Reusable produce bags are a good way to avoid this plastic waste.
I got worried that the checkout staff would get annoyed by the fact they’d have to open these bags to see what I’d put inside so I also got the netted ones (pictured below) from All Cotton and Linen. (They offer a discount for first-time buyers “ACK15 for 15% off.)
You don’t even need to buy special net bags. If you have some drawstring fabric bags, they can be used to hold your loss oats and rice etc.
6. Change to tree-free toilet roll
According to Greenpeace, Americans could save more than 400,000 trees if each family bought a roll of recycled toilet paper—just once! I’ve tried a bunch of eco toilet rolls. The toilet roll by Seventh Generation’s and Brandless both sound great, but they’re thin (two-ply) and this meant we used more paper. I recommend Pure Plant Club. Their toilet paper is three-ply, plastic-free and made from bamboo and sugar cane. The thickness and feel is noticeably better. I also like Grove’s tree-free TP line.
I’ve also heard good things about Who Gives a Crap and Hello Tushy but I’ve not got around to trying them yet. I did notice that Hello Tushy offers new customers $5 off if you subscribe to their newsletter.
7. Swap the cling film (saran wrap) and use wax wrappers
Last but not least, I wanted to share “wax wraps” with you. These are cloth wraps that are covered with melted wax to make them malleable. Just as you’d use cling film, you use wax wraps on top of bowls and plates to cover them instead of cling film. Unlike cling film, wax wraps can be rinsed and used again. I have to admit that the cute designs wax wraps come in are part of their appeal of me. The cacti wrap below was made by Ideal Wrap. Bumblebee wrap has simpler designs and works really well too.
I hope some of these swaps inspire you. I’d love to hear about others you’ve made.