Two years ago, I decided to test myself to go plastic-free for the month and WOAH. The exercise changed me, for real. I felt like I woke up to my consumption habits and suddenly became hyper-aware of the waste I create and, more importantly, where it ends up. But, in an effort to self-preserve and not feel like I’m a terrible, awful human being personally responsible for trashing the planet, I took it one step at a time. The biggest thing to remember about personal sustainability is to always aim to do your best and consider what's in your power to change. At times you'll feel like you're not doing enough, but don't panic. It’s not a competition or an opportunity to compare one another—each step in the right direction is an important one.
How can I get started with more sustainable product swaps?
The most important first step that I learned from zero waste queen, founder and CEO of Package Free, Lauren Singer, is to examine your trash. Sounds gross, but it’s the only way to really know what you toss out. Then, ask yourself if it’s possible to eliminate some of the things you are throwing away OR try a more positive swap. In this process, I’ve personally tried a ton of different things, so I put together this easy and sustainable swap list. I hope this list can help point you in the right direction to be able to evolve with time, leading the way to a better future for us all.
It's safe to say that this may be most important household essential, so maybe it's time to green up your TP (if bidets aren't quite your thing). Bamboo-based Reel paper is a toiled paper subscription service that involves zero plastic wrap (even the tape on the box is without plastic) and now is available at Target!
Marley's Monsters are made from super absorbent cotton that stick together on a roll to give the illusion and space-saving nature of a roll of paper towels. Just drop into the wash and they’re good as new.
I LOVE CleanCult’s refillable oil-based all purpose cleaner that arrives in a milk carton-type cardboard container. You can buy the bottle they offer, but I personally just refilled an empty spray bottle for an all-purpose cleaner I bought years ago and it still works great.
Package Free’s Founder and CEO Lauren Singer created this powder detergent as a need for a simple and chemical-free option for doing laundry. The unscented version only has three ingredients, and pretty much the only things you really need for clean clothes.
This heavenly concentrated detergent is great for super dirty or large loads and the magnolia/bergamot/cedar scent is super natural without being overpowering.
I was shocked how much I loved the newly-launched powder dish soap from Blueland. Sprinkle a little on a sponge and the result is shockingly bubbly and leaves a very clean rinse. The silicone shaker is great looking too, but you could easily reuse a large sugar or cheese shaker as well.
Who Gives a Crap also stocks toilet paper and paper towels but their “forest friendly” bamboo tissues are very durable and are wrapped individually in cute printed boxes with no plastic packaging.
Dropps may be known for being leaders in the dissolvable laundry pod revolution, their dishwasher pods are just as strong. Their pods are mailed and stored in a very compact cardboard box—a total space- and plastic-saver.
Ditch the one-time use dryer sheets and invest in wool dryer balls ASAP. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oils onto the wool and not only will your laundry smell amazing, but the moisture-absorbing wool leads to a more efficient dryer cycle, saving you time and energy.
This is less of a swap and more of a "what the hell was I doing before" item everyone needs. Microplastics shedding into waterways via laundry is very scary. Do your part by throwing synthetic materials (like your workout clothes) into this bag for washing. Your Guppyfriend acts as a barrier to make sure shedding does not occur and also help keep your gym look fresher, longer.
While I love a bar soap, a foaming handsoap feels a bit better for food handling in the kitchen. Blueland's takes the cake. Buy the glass and recyclable plastic pump dispenser once and refill with the soap tablets that are mailed in a pouch. If you buy the 9-piece refill, the refill tablets work out to a $1.50 each: money saving AND plastic saving!
Microplastics are terrifying. Synthetic sponges are a huge player in shedding them, so sub them out for a natural alternative like these walnut-based scouring pads.
Beeswax wraps may seem a little hippie, but they’re so much easier on the planet than clingy plastic wrap. With just an easy wipe down and air dry after using, they’re good to go for another round. I suggest getting a variety of sizes to match anything you’re meant to keep covered.
I mean, this is a game-changer. Once you get one of these sturdy silicone resealable baggies, you’ll never reach for the flimsy go-to’s again.
These biodegradable bamboo bandages are a no-brainer alternative and wonderful for sensitive skin.
Now, I know everyone has their own personal needs but period underwear (scary to say out loud!) has been an utter and true life saver for me. Don’t think about it TOO hard, but just trust me that they work and the maintenance is really no big deal. You will not regret these ones from Ruby Love—period. Ha!