Since ordering my plantable thank you cards, custom designed + created by Whole Weddings, I wanted to share some of the easiest eco-friendly switches I've made in my journey to reduce waste. I've found that it can get overwhelming pretty quickly as you start to realize just how much plastic + general waste has infiltrated every aspect of our daily lives. But it all starts with baby steps (especially unfortunately, eco-friendly is not always easily accessible), so I wanted to share some of the products/switches that I've actually stuck with and that I think are easy to make. Let me know what you've tried!76
A water bottle
As simple as this seems, making the intentional switch to a reusable water bottle can save hundreds, if not thousands, of plastic water bottles from your waste stream. There are so many brands + cute colors out there; I found mine (in my favorite color) at Marshalls well over a year ago and I still use it every school/work day.
And I say "intentional" because sure you could buy a water bottle, but if you leave it at home, that defeats the point. Set a reminder on your phone when you leave for work or when you're going out; leave it by your keys; fill it up at night and put it in the fridge so you can just grab it in the morning; keep it with you as often as you can so if you're out and suddenly thirsty, you're already all set.
Reusable, foldable coffee cup
Silicone cups that can be reused for coffee, tea, juice, anything - over, and over, and over again. If you bring your own cup to Starbucks, you even get a discount. The best part about these is that when they're not being used, they can be disassembled and folded down to take up less space in storage, or to throw in your bag when you're going out.
My first one of these I had found on Amazon and loved the idea and price. I later discovered the brand Stojo - although they're the same concept, and I completely understand that not everybody has a budget to be buying name brand, Stojo has proven to be of much better quality. Plus they have a huge array of colors (and products, water bottles, too!) and have bundles!
These are such a simple replacement to plastic wrap. They just wrap around your plate/bowl/mug, keeping your food airtight as it stretches to fit. I had also tried beeswax covers (they stick to the sides of your plate setting as opposed to the silicone? stretching and gripping around it) prior to these. Although those are great too, I personally found these covers to be easier if you don't have time/space to thoroughly wash and lay the beeswax covers out to dry (they lost their stick after a while without proper upkeep). These are super easy to rinse off, wipe dry, and store.
Glass food containers
These take the previous item a step further by not even needing food covers: glass food containers with lock-on covers. It's like Tupperware but better. They don't stain, because they're glass. They're easy to stack. And...they're not made of plastic. I bought these on Amazon and honestly, I haven't even used half of them yet. I'm so glad I have them though for when I start meal prepping, or even just for leftovers which is how I use them now!
This! Why are we still using single-use plastic baggies and creating all that waste when you can use REUSABLE ones!? I've gotten a few on Amazon but the ones that have held up the best so far are Stashers. However, they can be a little expensive if you're just starting out with them (although they have starter bundles which are great! And in the long run, it's an incredible investment). So if you look elsewhere, the ones that I've found to be the most efficient are ones that have a flat bottom so they can stand (easier to fill, but honestly I like that better mostly because it makes them easier to clean), and - hard to test out if you're buying online - but a sturdy zip-lock. Some of the cheaper ones I have are a pain to close all the way which makes the whole thing frustrating. But my Stashers have not failed me.
Fast fashion is such an easy, fun way...to create waste! Yikes. Most of us are looking for cheaper, affordable clothes, especially as college students. Which is so valid...but it contributes to waste because: 1.) you're not thinking as hard about the purchase because it's so cheap 2.) you might not even love it, but the deal makes it irresistible 3.) it makes the purchase easier to get rid of sooner because "oh it wasn't that much money." If you're buying pieces of clothing that you really think about, know that you love, and know that you'll get years' worth out of, you will hopefully keep it + love it longer. On that same thought, thrifting is double great because it's more affordable than full-price clothes AND you're giving them a second life, keeping them out of waste streams longer.
One of my favorite thrifters is right on Instagram! The Casual Thrift
These are definitely the most expensive waste-free purchase I've made (well, my boyfriend - thank you for my Christmas gift, Matt ♥), but their point is that they will last forever. Rothy's create shoes and bags made from recycled plastic water bottles, and are meant to be thrown in the wash to wear for years to come. The first pair I wanted was a simple pair of black flats that could go with any of my outfits for work. Sure, a lot of people's everyday sneakers could probably make it through the wash - but flats? Styled shoes? I don't think so. Rothy's are so amazing, comfortable, and overly sustainable. I highly recommend!
I know they do referral discounts, so let me know if you're interested in purchasing any and I'll get the code from Matt's email. ;)
People with periods:
Hi, people with periods! This is the most recent eco-friendly period product I've purchased over the past year and a half, and honestly, I'm not sure why I didn't start out with these to begin with. They are designed to have no leaks, wick away moisture + odor, and are comfier than anything else you could use instead - because it's just your underwear. I only wanted to spend the money on 3 of them upfront, so I can't use them during my entire cycle - but I usually use them overnight and/or on my heavy days. After you wear it, you rinse it out before throwing it in the wash - even with your regular clothes - and then hang to try.
There are so many brands out there but I chose Joyja, pictured here (PS if you buy through this link, you'll get 10% off! This is not sponsored, just a referral link I got when I purchased mine!). After following them on Instagram for a while first and seeing how authentically body-positive and confidence-building their brand is, I felt connected and really appreciated their brand values.
These are the second most-obvious period product replacement to help reduce your waste. If you use 2 pads a day, with an average 5-day cycle each month, you're looking at 120 pads a year. With an averaged 40 years of menstruating, that's 4,800 pads a lifetime...per person. PLUS these are better for your skin - since they're fabric, and not layers of plastic particles, your body and skin can breathe and there's less feeling of irritation. The idea of them skeeved me out at first but I was so determined to reduce my waste that I gave them a try anyways. But honestly, there's NOTHING to be grossed out about. After you wear it, you just rinse it out in the sink and then throw in your laundry. I've been using a smaller wash bag to keep them in after they dry, and then wash them in my laundry all at once at the end of the week.
If you're crafty you can even make them yourself with the right materials. But I purchased my first batch from Charlie Banana (who also has cloth diapers!) and my second batch (so I'd have enough to last me through the cycle) from this Etsy shop (pictured above...she has a variety of bundles + patterns, too).
This was the first period product replacement I tried, with the same thought as above: If you use at least 1 tampon a day, say for 3 days of your cycle, that's 1,440 tampons during your lifetime. The cardboard inserts are easier to recycle than the plastic inserts and can probably even be composted, but a lot of period-havers have a much easier time with the plastic inserts.
This is another product that you might have to get used to if you're squeamish, but once I got used to it, it became like regular clockwork. All you have to do is remove it when you're done (and it can last up to 12 hours, whereas tampons are only safe up to 8 hours max), empty it into the toilet, rinse it out in the sink, and then it's good to go again, or be dried and stored away. I didn't even feel it and it was more comfortable than tampons. There's so many brands but I personally chose the Lena Cup.
I have stopped using it since I've made my reusable pads and underwear more regular, but it's a great alternative to tampons if you're active and/or don't like the feeling of pads.
What eco-friendly switches have you made? Share them with me! Comment or reach out, I'd love to know!