I’ve always had what I like to call an “I’ll do what I can do” approach to leaving a lighter environmental footprint on our planet. I recycle. I eat less meat than I did in the past. I buy from the farmer’s market when I can. But in recent years, I began to notice the insidious ways that wastefulness shows up in my life and in my home. From plastic shower curtain liners that will never biodegrade to heaps of dryer sheets filled with chemicals, my home has not always been as environmentally friendly as it could have been. The solution? I’ll do what I can, and it turns out that what I can do is shop more responsibly and replace many of my disposable, plastic, chemical-laden home goods with more eco-conscious products that are made in sustainable ways, will biodegrade when I have no more use for them, and don’t need to be replaced after every use. Shop some of my favorites and reduce your footprint in small but impactful ways every day.
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A Landfill-friendly Shower Curtain
Shower curtains may not seem like an obvious source of wastefulness in your home, but consider their size, and the thick plastic they are made from. Once they attract a bit of mildew or you tire of their design, they end up in the garbage, and they will never biodegrade. Bean Products makes a natural shower curtain out of cotton duck, which is both biodegradable and water-resistant, making it a great choice that lends your bathroom a breezy, natural look.
Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bags
As a mom of a four year-old, I recently realized how many sandwich bags and snack bags I run through in a given week. I use them to carry snacks to the playground, to store play-doh and slime, and to keep small LEGO pieces in one place. I was going through a tremendous amount of plastic until I switched to reusable, washable bags. These bags made by Nordic by Nature feature cute designs, sturdy zippers, and washable interiors.
Stretchable Silicone Lids
First of all, let’s all just agree that cling wrap is incredibly annoying. It’s hard to get out of the box, it sticks to itself, and it never seems to stick properly to the bowl or jar you’re trying to cover. Plus, if you add up all of the cling wrap you use to store leftovers, bring food to potlucks, and keep fruit fresh, it adds up to way too much plastic. Enter these Tex-Seal Silicone Stretch Lids. Use the tabs to stretch them over the top of the container you’re sealing, and they’ll stay put. They leak less, they won’t break under pressure, and they can be thrown in the dishwasher and re-used.
Sustainable Dryer Balls
Laundry is basically a part-time job for me. I’m constantly racing to keep up with marker-covered kid t-shirts, sweaty gym clothes, bathing suits, and towel after towel. And I am very committed to fabric softener. But those dryer sheets that eliminate wrinkles and static also get tossed in the trash after every load, and contain materials and chemicals that clog up our landfills. These SnugPad Wool Dryer Balls are made from sustainably harvested wool, are free of chemicals, and are reusable for up to a year. They even help your clothes to dry more quickly, helping to curb your electricity expenditure.
Stainless Steel Drinking Straws
Restaurants and even cities are beginning to ban plastic drinking straws. Not only do they wind up in our landfills without biodegrading, they also pollute our oceans, harming plants and animals. You can replace your drinking straws at home with these stainless steel straws. They’re rust-resistant, anti-bacterial, and you can clean them after use. They even come with colorful silicone attachments which keep them from banging up your glassware and your teeth!
Eco-Friendly Bamboo Safety Razor
Once you’ve used up your disposable safety razor, it’s done. It winds up in the garbage, and it is made of the kind of thick plastic that never biodegrades. Instead of tossing out multiple razors per month, invest in a razor with a reusable handle. This razor by Bambaw allows you to simply replace the razor when your previous one has become dull. It’s made of sustainable materials and can be reused for years. Plus, it looks very spa-chic in your shower.
WBUR Guide Picks
An Eco-Friendly Shower Curtain: Bean Products Cotton Shower Curtain
Say Goodbye to Plastic Snack Bags: Nordic by Nature Sandwich and Snack Bags
A Reusable Alternative to Plastic Wrap: Tex-Seal Silicone Stretch Lids
Replace Your Dryer Sheets: Snugpad Wool Dryer Balls
A Sustainable Straw Option: Puoneto Drinking Straws
Ditch Disposable Razors: Bambaw Safety Razor
Rebecca is an outside contributor providing content for WBUR Guides. Based on her experiences as a professional writer and editor, frequent traveler, and busy mom, her product guides share her unique perspective with her fellow WBUR listeners and readers.
Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Barnard College of Columbia University. When she’s not writing, Rebecca enjoys cooking without stopping to measure precisely, swimming a poorly executed freestyle, and spending time with her husband and son near their home in Somerville, MA.