7 Cheap and Sustainable Alternatives to Common Disposable Items

Alternatives to Common Disposable Items

Sometimes it feels like it’s really expensive to “go green.” After all, buying eco-friendly cleaning supplies and other items may cost more than their chemical counterparts. However, in many cases, the choice that’s good for the earth is also good for your bank account. You can save money immediately and/or in the long run. For example, when you purchase alternatives to common disposable items, you often save over time. You’re buying something that lasts instead of something you have to replace again and again.

Here are seven great examples:

1. Cloth Instead of Paper Products

We use so many throwaway paper products in our society. Paper towels, napkins, and Kleenex are just a few examples.  Green Matters points out that for much of history, we used cloth instead.

From handkerchiefs to blow our noses to rags to clean our counters and floors, cloth alternatives to common disposable items have been around a lot longer than these paper products. And yet, we often use disposable paper products as though we could never live without them. Whether you purchase the cloth alternatives or make them from materials you already have, this is a significantly more affordable option.

Look around your home. From diapers to Swiffers, you can probably use a cloth alternative for many clean-up jobs. Replace gift wrap with wallpaper samples or decorated brown bags or newspaper or cloth gift bags. Use a permanent coffee filter instead of a paper one. Look around and see how many trees you can save with alternatives to common disposable items.

2. Mason Jars and Steel Food Containers

Skip the plastic. Don’t put your sandwich in a plastic baggie. Don’t put your leftovers in plastic “Tupperware.”  Instead, use glass and metal. Yes, you’ll pay a little bit more for steel food containers than for plastic ones. However, they’ll last a lot longer. Moreover, they’re better for the earth. So, you save money while going green. That’s the case with many of the smartest alternatives to common disposable items.

3. Stainless Steel Straws

First of all, you probably don’t even need a straw. However, if you really feel that you do, then invest in straws that last. Some places, like San Francisco, have banned plastic straws in restaurants. Therefore, you’ll find an increasing array of compostable and recyclable alternatives. However, a stainless steel straw is the best option. Again, you’ll pay more up front for one of these than for one plastic straw. On the other hand, you’ll save a lot of money over time if you regularly purchase disposable straws.

4. Long-Lasting Cutlery and Dishes

Tru Earth points out that disposable plates and cutlery are wasteful. Bamboo or sustainable wood utensils are a good alternative. Secondhand sets of china and pottery are far superior than paper plates. Additionally, recycle glass (from jam jars, for example) for drinking and food storage.

5. DIY Household Cleaners

Cleaning products marketed as “green” often have a higher price tag at the grocery store. However, you can easily make your own household cleaners for a very low cost. Lemon and vinegar will go a long way, for example. Make sure to store these in reusable spray bottles. This means you won’t throw away a disposable plastic spray bottle or soap dispenser every time the cleaner runs low. Instead, you can just replace it.

6. Travel Mugs and Water Bottles

Make your coffee at home. Then put it into a long-lasting travel mug. Likewise, get water from your tap if you can. Or at least purchase a water filter and/or get water in five gallon jugs. Don’t purchase small plastic bottles of water that you’ll just throw away. For water to-go, get a long-lasting refillable water bottle. Finally, consider ridding your diet of juices and sodas. They’re not good for your body and their disposable containers aren’t good for the earth.

7. Reusable Grocery Totes

If you’re still using plastic bags at the grocery store, then you should definitely make the switch. In areas that charge you for getting a bag, you’ll save money. Even if you don’t save money, it’s better for the planet and still easy for you to switch to canvas tote bags. Get re-usable options for produce bags and bulk dried goods as well.

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