Reduce, reuse, recycle: Eco-friendly alternatives to start using today

Leonie Leonida/Staff

Approximately 12.7 million tons of plastic pollute the ocean each year, with reportedly 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating around altogether — that’s enough plastic to wrap around the planet more than 400 times. Since only roughly 9 percent of plastic is actually recycled, it’s crucial that we do our part in reducing our consumption whenever we can. Here’s a complete list of reusable alternatives that you can seamlessly incorporate into your life while simultaneously diminishing the plastic waste that journeys into the environment.

Reusable water bottles

If you haven’t jumped on the reusable water bottle wave yet, it’s never too late to ditch your harmful routine of purchasing plastic bottles. Insulated bottles come with the additional perk of keeping your liquids nice and icy throughout the day. The environment is not the only place that’ll benefit from your switch — your wallet will also be heard letting out a much-needed sigh of relief.

Reusable straws

With single-use plastic straws slowly but surely getting the boot from multiple cities and corporations, now’s the time to invest in a reusable straw you can conveniently carry around wherever you go. There are tons of options to choose from to ensure you look as stylish as possible while sipping away your environmentally detrimental habits.

Silicone food bags

Are you a fan of Ziploc bags? Give your storage bags an eco-friendly upgrade by switching to their silicone cousins, which you can reuse endlessly. You can even microwave, cook with and freeze silicone bags. We bet your standard plastic version could never handle all of that functionality.

Reusable grocery bags

Have you ever gone to the market only to encounter the cashier’s menacing glare because you neglected to have brought a bag for your items? From here on out, be a sustainable shopper and bring a tote along on your next trip to the grocery store. We’re almost certain that you already have something suitable lying around your household, so you don’t have to travel out of your way to purchase anything with this suggestion.

Reusable makeup remover

Ditch the makeup wipes that you spend a hefty $5 to $10 on with every repurchase. Instead, look into buying a reusable makeup remover cloth or pad that takes off even the trickiest mascaras. They’re also gentle on the skin, so even the most sensitive skin types can use these without worry. Keep both your skin and the planet cleaner with every use.

Silicone dishwashing sponges

The conventional dish sponge used in most homes is unfortunately made up of polyurethane, bleach, chemicals, sulfates and synthetic foam. All of that is to say that your sponge is not exactly fabricated from the most eco-friendly materials, and you probably go through several of these sponges every month. And to make matters worse, its porosity makes it the perfect host for bacteria. Silicone dish sponges, on the other hand, are reusable and easy to clean, so you won’t have to lose hours of sleep wishing you could have made that fitting and delicious complement to your dinner.

Dish towels

Using paper towels for all cleaning purposes has become the norm these days. However, dish towels are an economical and sustainable solution to wiping away all of your household spills and messes. With dish towels, you no longer have to remember to replenish your stash of paper towels once you’ve run out because you can always give your rags a wash.

Compostable party cups

If you’re planning on throwing a party or event in the near future, opt for compostable beverage cups instead of your typical plastic ones. While they may appear more expensive than your standard red Solo cups, you can’t put a price on saving the environment.

Reusable food wraps

Made from organic beeswax, these food wraps are a great alternative to the plastic wraps you have stored away in your kitchen cabinets. They’re just as adhesive to your containers and jars as plastic wrap, so you can conveniently and just as effectively preserve your leftovers. Because of their natural makeup, these wraps are also 100 percent biodegradable. It’s really none of our beeswax, but you should definitely make this transition.

Wool dryer balls

Soften your laundry with the most natural and chemical-free method possible. Wool dryer balls replace the need for dryer sheets and fabric softeners, and you can use them for more than a thousand loads. Interestingly, they’ll also help shorten drying time by improving the flow of air in the dryer.

While these lifestyle changes may seem like insignificant tweaks to your daily habits, they can make a tremendous difference for the future of our planet. A majority of our daily waste — from coffee lids to plastic straws — end up overflowing in landfills, but it’s not too late to turn the tide on our overuse of plastic. By making slight adjustments to our current routines, we can drastically improve the direction our environment is heading in.

Contact Erika Lee at [email protected] .