Forget those one hit wonders and toxic products you use everyday, and instead opt for these greener product alternatives that last longer and prove healthier.
The start of a new year is usually the catalyst for positive life changes. From getting healthier to becoming a more patient person, whatever your goals may be, we have one that you should definitely tack onto your list. The everyday items that you normally use do have greener alternatives, and we’ve chosen a few to help put the wheels in motion. Things like paper towels, plastic baggies, laundry detergent, and, yes, even that quick one-cup coffee maker that perks you up at the crack of dawn has a substitute, and you can likely use it even through those matted slits you use for eyes first thing in the morning.
1. One-Time Coffee Pods
The Atlantic reports that almost one in three households has a coffee maker that uses pods, or cups, like the Keurig to brew their morning cup of joe. While some die-hard fans (and probably shareholders) argue that k-cups are recyclable and make up for the extra energy that regular coffee pots use, as well as the superfluous amount of grounds in a traditional maker, there is evidence supporting the lack of available recycling facilities that will accept a used plastic pod.
But fear not, there are greener alternatives that will save you money and drastically reduce k-cup waste. Keurig produces its own version of a reusable cup that’s guaranteed to fit the brand’s machines, as does Ekobrew. With at least two versions, including a stainless steel model, that only requires a quick rinse to clean between uses, you can use your own grounds and customize your brew.
2. Paper Towels
This might sound absolutely ridiculous to some of you reading this (I, too, am a serial paper towel waster), but this seems doable. By hanging up a hand towel right by the sink (we did this using a metal towel bar affixed with magnets to the side of the fridge), and putting your paper towels out of sight — get them under those cabinets and off of the counters — you can reduce the number of daily sheets you use. Converting old towels (by cutting them into smaller pieces) and washcloths won’t cost you a dime, or buy a pack of bar towels. Keep them washed regularly for germ-free, greener alternatives to paper.
3. Lunch Supplies
Ditch those plastic baggies and plastic lunch pails, and treat yourself to a bento box. Not only are these super cool and trendy, but they’re amazingly practical. There are stainless steel versions you can pick up and they come complete with little compartments to separate all of your lunchtime goodies. Plus, the grid-like perfection arranging each grouping of food is eye candy for people like me who have a touch of the obsessive compulsive.
4. Laundry Detergent
With an overload of perfumes and chemicals in traditional laundry detergents, I have long since switched to a free and clear eco solution made by Seventh Generation. Apparently, though, you can take this a step further by using soap nuts. Research led me to this option, and it’s something I plan to try.
The berry shells of the Sapindus mukorossi (soap berry) contain a natural surfactant known as saponin. Eco Soap Nuts are said to be ideal for sensitive skin and are safe for those with nut allergies. In addition to the organic properties of the soap nut, they are reusable for up to ten washes and make your clothes noticeably softer and fluffier, while also extending the life of your fabrics.
5. Storage Containers
Ditch plastic Tupperware and canisters in favor of glass. Not only is it easier to clean, in my opinion, but it also doesn’t stain or hang onto weird food smells that have a tendency to linger on plastic. Glass can be used forever, and it’s possible that you won’t have to pay a dime for your containers if you reuse empty jam, pasta, or pickle jars. Another idea is to make a small investment in a magnet strip and a set of jars with metal lids that you can affix under your upper cabinets. This saves interior cabinet and counter space.
6. Menstruation Supplies
Yes, yes, and more yes to reusable pads and menstrual cups. With chlorine bleach and several other undisclosed chemicals being used to treat regular drugstore pads and tampons, cloth pads and period cups that can be washed and reused are great economical and greener alternatives. Cloth pads are easily found and are often made from organic cotton, while the DivaCup is made of medical grade silicone that’s safe for your body. Both of these products will save you money and seriously cut back on waste, especially when you consider that the average woman will use up to 16,000 disposable menstrual products in her lifetime.
Even if the progress seems slow-going or small, it all adds up over time to something truly meaningful and worthwhile. With this worthy slew of greener alternatives to everyday products, we challenge you to come up with one of your own. Once you do, share it with us over on the EcoSalon Facebook page!
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