Single-use items have an awful impact on our ecological footprint. Our minds often try to justify or minimize their consequence, but there’s no way around it. They leave a nasty trace. Luckily, we can steer around and head in a direction that is more environmentally responsible with just a few easy product swaps. And over the long run, these reusable products actually become money savers. Here are our top-10 faves.
Plastic bags, plastic wrap, … plastic is a major source of pollution because one, we use it so much, and two, it takes about 450 years to decompose. Its presence in our kitchens is definitely something we can reduce. In comes the reusable beeswax food wrap. Simply warm it up with your hands to mould it around a piece of avocado for instance, or seal the bowl containing your leftover salad. It will retain its shape, so you can even use it in your lunch bag to wrap your sandwich. Wash with water and mild soap, and it’ll be ready for its next use. Easy to “bee” earth-friendly here :)
Are you one of those individuals who loves baked goods but can’t seem to master the art of cooking with non-stick cooking ware? Well, silicone baking moulds are a lifesaver. Works for cakes, but the best eco-friendly innovation has to be the cupcake version (works great for muffins too of course). No more little paper thingies sticking to your precious treat. Just colourful and reusable moulds that bring a smile to your face as you cook, and eat!
Let’s face it (no pun intended), in your house there’s probably at least one disposable cotton pad per day that makes its way to landfills, no? Think of it—makeup, toner, micellar water. Well, consider makeup reusable pads instead. They’re good for mascara, lipstick, concealer, you name it. To be efficient, grab a few more than your average weekly use. This way, you can toss them in with one of your weekly washes, and not worry about running out midway through your beauty routine.
This swap is actually becoming a necessary one as more and more grocery stores are banning plastic bags in their fruits and vegetables section. Reusable cotton mesh bags come in different sizes, which is great when you have to bag that impressive cauliflower and those delicate cherry tomatoes (in two different sized bags, obviously…). Oh, and how about this. Next time you go to the beach, use a cotton mesh bag for your stuff. When you leave, store your belongings, shake, and the majority of the sand will fall out instead of following you home. High-five for that alone.
We’ll be honest here; we weren’t convinced about these at first. But they won us over. Hands down. A reusable cotton swab is made out of … silicone! (We got you there, right?) Super-soft silicone brings super-efficient cleaning power, and makes it easy to clean them after use.
Here’s another source of plastic you can reduce (or even eliminate) in your home: those nasty one-time use zip lock bags. You’ll be happy to learn that reusable storage bags are actually better, because they are sturdier, freezer safe, and you won’t struggle with the leakproof locking mechanism either. You can even use them for hot items which would make your dear-old plastic bag melt. A quick clean and dry, and they’re ready for their next mission.
Did you know that if you were a bacteria, your dream home would be the kitchen sponge? And forget about cleaning or microwaving your sponge. According to a team of researchers in Germany, the best option is to “replace your sponges regularly, on the order of once a week.”1 Eeek. We say stop the vicious sponge drama, and go for a silicone scrubber. Just as efficient to clean your dishes, but with the added advantage of being environmentally friendly. You simply sterilize it in boiled water or toss it in the dishwasher. And it dries quickly too, leaving that bacteria little to no time to settle in.
Plastic food wrap sure is handy. But there’s that word again, plastic. What if you could have something just as good, no, even better… Silicone stretch lids are a great food storage alternative. They grip the edges of whatever you’re stretching them over, and won’t come loose like we know plastic food wrap can. Say goodbye to wrap clinging fighting or unwanted odours in your fridge, and hello to fresh half-eaten fruits among other things. Once done, wash and reuse. Handy, impressive, eco-friendly. We like.
For those who don’t know, wheat straw is the stem that’s left behind once wheat grains have been harvested. It’s one of the latest and greatest alternatives to reduce our dependence to plastic. Ecological tableware made out of wheat straw is sturdy and strong (read unbreakable), as well as microwave and freezer safe. But the fact that it’s biodegradable is probably the greatest advantage of it all. A crushing win over plastic if you want our opinion. Instead of taking the road to the nearest landfill, worn out wheat straw tableware (think plates, cups, cutlery) can be placed in your compost bin along with your food scraps. Pure genius, that’s what it is.
10. Wool Dryer Balls
No one likes static. But no one likes the residue left behind in their dryer by liquid fabric softeners and disposable dryer sheets either. Get the best of both worlds by switching to wool dryer balls. Your clothes will come out soft, fluffy, and static free. Pet hair? These little wonder balls will attract that nasty pet hair so you don’t look like your cat’s long-lost cousin next time you wear that sweater you like so much. Simply use, and reuse (for years).
We all know our consumer culture makes it an everyday challenge to steer away from single-use items or plastic-based products. But it is possible, and it’s not as hard as one may think. It’s all about making sustainable choices, and there are so many great products out there. Life is a journey, and we’re all simply passing by. If throughout our own passage we each try to leave the smallest possible ecological footprint, then together our world can only get better. Are you in?