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While there’s so much talk right now about Christmas, which is such a wonderful time, many of us are also looking forward to a new year and fresh start. A great way to do this is by taking inventory of our daily lives and things used.
Why not revisit everyday household things for more sustainable options? It means more money in your pocket, because you get more uses for each dollar; Plus, it is good for the environment, because there’s less waste in the landfill. It’s a win-win for us natural minded mamas.
Here is a list of many different household items you can switch out for more sustainable options; whether it affects usage, safety, waste, or something else, finding products to “ditch and switch” is a good thing to plan and implement for a new year and fresh start.
Also – it’s pretty easy to find these items around the home… You just have to know where to look…
Microwave >>> Toaster Oven
It may take longer to cook with a toaster oven, but it’s much better method for your food and health. Also – many think the food tastes better, too.
Plastic Tooth Brush >>> Bamboo or Charcoal Tooth Brush
A typical plastic toothbrush will need to be replaced a few times a year (keep it sanitary!) A bamboo or charcoal toothbrush lasts longer because of the materials its made with.
Plastic Water Bottles >>> Stainless Steel or Glass Reusable Water Bottles
If you carry your water around each day, consider using your own water bottle rather than buying a package full of plastic bottles at the store. The stainless steel and glass bottles are great sustainable alternatives that don’t end up in a landfill.
Synthetic Fiber Clothing >>> Wool / Organic Cotton Clothing
Choosing more sustainable items includes clothing! Wool and organic cotton are more ethically made for good reason.
Paper Confetti >>> Punched Out Leaves
Choose the biodegradable options wherever possible – even confetti! Use a holepunch from the office supply section of the store to punch holes of leaves to use as confetti, rather than paper. Then sweep it all up and throw into the yard when you’re done having a party. Easy peasy.
Scouring Powder >>> Baking Soda / Kosher Salt Mixture
A lot of household products use harsh ingredients that aren’t safe to touch with the human hand – it’s why we need gloves for many cleaning tasks (not to mention its more sanitary, for things aren’t getting in your nails). Start switching out cleaning products for homemade alternatives – baking soda/kosher salt works great as a scouring powder.
Single Use Baby Food Pouches >>> Reusable Squeeze Baby Food Pouches
Start making your own baby purees at home – it’s easy – just take a steamed veggie with water or, fruit with water, and blend it up. Save it in the freezer or in glass containers in the fridge until you are ready to feed, and use reusable baby pouches instead of single use baby food pouches from the store. You make your own food and produce less waste this way – saving money on multiple fronts.
Plastic Sandwich Bags >>> Reusable Sandwich Bags
Ditch the single-use sandwich bags for everyday things and snacks, and instead use reusable bags that you wash and dry. It’s pretty self-explanatory and will save hundreds of plastic bags from the landfill each year. That really adds up over time and multiple households.
Tylenol >>> Feel Better Fast
Skip the synthetic chemicals and use herbal remedies from traditional knowledge which has been passed down for centuries, since the beginning of time. Yes, herbs are even used in the Bible! While everything has its time and place, making the switch to natural remedies is beneficial for your wallet and body; The body recognizes herbs as food, so while healing your body, tinctures nourish your body too.
Desitin >>> Baby Balm
Switch out the traditional, synthetic diaper rash cream for an herbal balm that’s gentle enough to nourish the skin, yet tough on rashes. It comes in an easy to apply tube, and a little bit goes a long way.
Plastic Dishes and Cups >>> Metal – Bamboo – Wood Dishes and Cups
Fairly self explanatory, skip the plastic in the kitchen and opt for a more sustainable option, which will last years longer with less wear and tear.
Tampons >>> Menstrual Cup
Mamas, once you make the switch, you won’t go back. Why use a chemical saturated product for such a personal and sensitive time? A cup is reusable, which means less in a landfill, and much more comfortable / easy to use.
Paper Napkins >>> Cloth Napkins
Napkins are a must in any household for meals, and it’s often overlooked. Opt for cloth napkins which you can throw in the wash after every meal, rather than paper, which goes to a landfill.
Paper Towels >>> Cloth Towels
Same concept as above; When giving the chance, choose reusable cloth over paper, even if the paper is biodegradable (over time). Cloth “paper” towels are found online and a great reusable alternative – it means less in a landfill, and less money out of your pocket (because you aren’t buying more paper towels each grocery visit! You wash your own instead!)
Plastic Bag >>> Canvas Tote
Can you see a trend in the ditch and switch mindset yet? Get reusable shopping bags and canvas totes for your groceries and everyday haul from the store, and save a lot of plastic from the landfill. You can wash these bags and use them over and over for pretty much anything. Less waste is always a good thing!
Single Use Tea Bags >>> Reusable Tea Bag
Less waste can also translate to making drinks. Have you ever heard of a reusable tea bag? These can be silicone, metal or mesh, and have a clasp to keep the tea leaves in while brewing. A sidenote of this means that you have to buy bulk looseleaf tea – but that’s easy to find, online or at your local herbal store.
Plastic Cutlery >>> Bamboo Cutlery
Save something else from the landfill – the list is getting a bit long already – and switch to a sustainable version of cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, etc). Bamboo is a natural alternative to plastic, and many prefer this over metal (not mentioned) because it’s biodegradable as well.
Saran Wrap >>> Beeswax Wrap
Saran wrap is – you guessed it – plastic, which is something we are trying to avoid when we ditch and switch. Use beeswax wrap, which is made from beeswax – bees produce it – and usable over and over again. It’s a really wonderful, sustainable option, which is also biodegradable.
Shampoo Bottles >>> Shampoo Bars
Skip the packaging and synthetic chemicals and fragrances in the new year… and get yourself some shampoo bars. These come packaged in paper and look like a bar of soap – just lather in your hands and use as shampoo, then rinse your hair. It’s an easy switch, which causes less waste and more natural hair care – win-win.
Disposable Diapers >>> Cloth Diapers
Fairly self-explanatory – and often-times overwhelming, it takes some getting used to. But cloth diapers are more than just a fad with the pretty patterns – they are incredible for penny-pinchers and the budget! Review my top 5 reasons to use cloth diapers and see for yourself. You are saving hundreds of diapers from the landfill, filling your compost, and using fun, cute diapers – by only adding one extra load of laundry per week.
Disposable Swim Diapers >>> Cloth Swim Diapers
Very similar concept to above – get a few cloth swim diapers and use them for the pool, lake, or beach. They take the same concept as disposable swim diapers – except they are cloth, which means you can use them over and over.
Disposable Coffee Cup >>> Reusable Travel Coffee Cup
If you take your coffee with you each morning (or just around the house!) why not get your own reusable travel mug? Take it with you and keep in the car to fill up your favorite drink at the coffee shop, in place of the disposable cups offered. Coffee shops are happy to do this for you, as it saves them cost of material too. Less in the landfill, right?
Plastic Spray Cleaning Bottles >>> Amber Glass Spray Cleaning Bottles
Amber glass bottles are used mostly for essential oils, because the sunlight cannot affect/alter the contents of the material. In other words, it’s safe to use for stronger substances, and a more sustainable / reusable option, as well. Switch to glass bottles and make your own cleaner – happier on the wallet, and landfill, too.
Packaged – Pantry Foods >>> Fresh Food
Packaged and processed foods contain – you guessed it – more packaging, which means more material, more energy output, and so on. Eat fresh food wherever you can, and see the difference in your health, as well as sustainability and personal carbon footprint.
Synthetic Perfume >>> Essential Oil Perfume
Sythnetic products are man made in a lab – not exactly natural-minded. ditch the synhtetic chemicals and opt for that which is made directly from nature, and nothing else. It’s easy to make your own essential oil perfume – check out this one from a company I trust.
Wooden Chopsticks >>> Stainless Steel Chopsticks
You may not use chopsticks that often, or you may actually use them a lot. Either way, for the times which you do, get a couple pairs of stainless steel chopsticks, so that you never have to use the to-go wooden ones again. It saves money for the restaurant, and leaves room in your trash can. Less waste is good for everyone.
Dryer Sheets >>> Wool Dryer Balls
Dryer sheets are made from – you guessed it- synthetic materials. They also contain a lot of man-made chemicals that in turn get filtered through your clothes. By using wool dryer balls, you are using something chemical-free which reduces wrinkles, softens fabrics, and shortens drying time for your clothes. Its a win-win!
Toilet Paper >>> Family Cloth
This one may take some getting used to – and I admit we don’t do this currently – but many do. Family cloth is basically the same concept as a cloth diaper – except for toilet paper, for everybody else. You get the idea.
Plastic Veggie Shopping Bags >>> Mesh Drawstring Shopping Bags
You know those produce bags available at every corner in the fresh produce department of the grocery? There are reusable options for that, too. It’s an easy switch, and the same concept as the reusable shopping bags. Mesh drawstring produce shopping bags are just what the name says.
Kleenex >>> Handkerchief
It may sound a bit ancient, but a handkerchief is still useful. Sometimes I wonder why the kleenex was invented to replace it in the first place. Regardless, if you want to save waste, switch to a handkerchief for sneezes and the sniffles. Then just wash with the regular laundry load, and reuse.
Aluminum – Baking Soda Deodorant >>> Natural Mineral Deodorant
There are a lot of reasons for this one, and it actually seems to be the most common switch when looking for natural solutions initially. We’ve all heard what aluminum does and how dangerous this can be in deodorant (along with anywhere else its found). Now we have a natural alternative. Made with arrowroot powder to keep you dry and apricot oil to moisturize , and more, mineral deodorant is a great solution.
Potpourri – Synthetic Scents >>> Essential Oils
Synthetic means man-made….And man-made isn’t always the best thing out there. Often times, it’s made because of shortcuts which offer the illusion of ease, but oftentimes complicate things with long-term side effects, which take decades and close attention to actually show up as anything other than what we perceive as “normal.” A long-winded explanation for the argument of finding natural solutions anywhere you can – so start with diffusing your favorite essential oil scents rather than using potpourri or wax melts for scent in the home.
Tupperware >>> Glass – Pyrex
Another easy switch is taking the plastic out and replacing it with glass… as with many other categories. One of the first places to look for this switch is tupperware. Throw out the plastic and start using glass. It lasts longer with less wear and tear, plus it doesn’t soak in the smells and residue from every past meal which was saved in it. It looks better, and is easier to organize in the cabinet, too!
Tap Water >>> Filtered Water
There’s a lot of mystery in local tap water… Just because it’s easily accessible doesn’t always mean it’s the best thing for you. Check out this chart and see what’s really in your water. Then, opt for a high quality water filter, or even better, Berkey. I hope to get one of these in the near future!
Plastic Shopping Bags >>> Reusable Shopping Bags
Fairly self-explanatory and similar to some other areas to make the switch, reusable shopping bags can be used for anything you buy – from clothes, food, books, toys, and more. Less plastic in the landfill, more money in the wallets of the companies you shop from (maybe an effect you didn’t think about when you stopped accepting plastic bags!)
Paper Cupcake Liners >>> Silicone Cupcake Liners
While paper is a great switch for many things because it’s biodegradable and recyclable, it’s also another form of waste. Switch to something you can use again and again – silicone cupcake liners for baking.
Single Use Floss >>> Water Pik
Everyone should floss morning and night – have you ever wondered if there’s a way to simplify this process and cut back on waste, too? Get a water pik and do just that.
Single Use Coffee K-Pods >>> Reusable K-Cup
A reusable k-cup is so easy to use, plus you can fill it with your favorite brand of coffee. Also, it saves a lot of money, because you aren’t having to buy k-cups in the boxes at the grocery store anymore.. Not to mention the waste from the plastic disposable k-cups. It’s a win-win for us coffee lovers (if you have a keirug!)
Loofah >>> Bath Brush
A loofah is a bit wiry and hard to clean. While it’s a great addition for the bath and shower, sometimes we need an easier to use and more sustainable option, which lasts even longer. A bath brush is just that, generally wooden, with bristles that work in a similar way to clean as a loofah does. It’s a great thing to ditch and switch!
Sponges >>> Copper Dish Scrubber
Something is needed for scrubbing the dishes, and sponges are usually the go-to. But give a copper dish scrubber a chance, and you may find it cleans better, plus it lasts longer. It also doesn’t hold on to all the grime the same way a sponge soaks it in. Just imagine some of the dirt and stuff that never leaves the crevices of your sponges – gross!
Teflon Pans >>> Cast Iron – Stainless Steel Pans
It’s fairly well known that cast iron and stainless steel are more durable and last longer than teflon or nonstick pans – with the extra coating in manufacturing. Cast iron especially is greater for cooking because of how it holds in the heat, and more.
Disposable Nursing Pads >>> Cloth Nursing Pads
For nursing mamas, it’s pretty well known that you will need nursing ads at some point to catch leaks. By choosing or making cloth nursing pads – just a few layers of circle fabric sewn together – there’s less of a man-made creation in the landfill. As usual, a win-win.
Plastic Baby Bottles >>> Glass Baby Bottles
Again, when given the option between glass and plastic, where possible, choose glass. Many glass bottles have a silicone sleeve on them to help with durability. They are easier to clean than plastic, and also don’t hold onto or absorb what’s used in them.
Synthetic Skin Care >>> Natural Skin Care
When looking for something you will put on your face – why not choose something found in natural rather than made in a lab? It’s a no-brainer for us natural minded moms. This is my favorite natural skin care set!
Brown Bag Lunch >>> Bento Box – Stainless Steel Lunch Box
While using a paper bag for lunches is better than plastic bags, there isn’t usually an accessible option to recycle it. A stainless steel or metal lunch box, as well as a bento box, is a great option to fill in the gap. Bento boxes are becoming even more common here in America, especially for school-aged kids.
Plastic Bottle – Pantry Storage >>> Glass Spice – Flour – Sugar – Pantry Storage
When looking for more sustainable options, switching from plastic to glass is always a good option. It lasts longer, it looks better, and over time, you are keeping even less out of the landfill, be cause you aren’t having to renew your plastic storage set every few years when they get too dirty to clean well.
Egg Carton – Grocery >>> Ceramic Egg Crate – Local Eggs
Eggs are a commonly found item in kitchens – so versatile in cooking and baking! When possible with food, buy local, or better yet, have your own chickens for eggs in your backyard, or get local eggs at the farmer’s market. Skip the carton this way by using a ceramic egg crate.
New moms often get caught up in the whirlwind of a newborn, no matter if it’s your first or fifth. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. Ditch the synthetic chemicals and switch to more natural alternatives for care in this special time. There are some basic things such as herbal help for healing, by using salves, teas, sitz baths, and more – take a look at the products offered here.
Babies need sustainable products, too! For the new year, why not get your home and baby off to a positive, more natural start? You can ditch many of the common, though synthetic products for more natural options, such as diaper cream, baby powder, lotion, and more.
What are some items you have made the switch for? Would you try any of these? Let us know in the comments!
~Katherine Newsom writes at Simple Natural Mama
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