Plastic-Free July: Lighten your Footprint with Easy Eco-Swaps

One of the easiest ways you can support the environment and reduce waste is right in your shopping cart. Take the Plastic-free July challenge by swapping out polluting plastic and wasted precious resources with environmentally conscious replacements. It’s never been easier since more and more eco-alternatives are available at mainstream outlets. green design GOODS carries nearly all of these items – but wherever you fulfill your waste-free, non-plastic goods is great…. well, maybe try to avoid Amazon – but that’s another post.

Here are some easy eco-swaps to keep in mind on your next shopping run – physically or virtually.

Laundry Pods & Sheets

I personally use the laundry pods shown here. But laundry sheets are becoming more available as well. And hopefully soon, the big plastic detergent bottles will be gone from grocery shelves for good. Since liquid soaps are 90% water, and water is heavy, consider how much extra carbon is required to simply get this product to market! A 10 oz. box of pods cleans the same 32 loads as the large detergent bottle shown here. Be sure to look for products only packaged in cardboard. Pick your favorite natural, earth-friendly option, and bid adieu to those giant, liquid or powder detergent bottles and buckets.

 

 

Solid Dish Soap

Solid dish soap reduces plastic in the same way that laundry pods & sheets do. And like laundry or pump hand soaps, liquid soaps are 90% water – so economically, solid soaps make sense. One dish soap puck replaces 2-3 bottles of liquid dishwashing soap! The all natural, solid soap shown here is made from just coconut and castor oils with a touch of lemon and orange essential oil. Use with a brush, sponge, or cloth. It’s helpful to keep the soap dry between uses for a longer life.

 

Cloth Napkins

Cloth napkins may seem fussy or old fashioned, but that is part of the charm. In my household, I find that they can be re-used multiple times before washing. If they just catch crumbs and haven’t gotten greasy or messy, a quick shake and fold makes them ready to use again. If messy, I use them a bit more around the sink before tossing in wash. Go completely tree-free and use cloth napkins when packing food to-go as well. When ordering delivery or take-out, be sure to request no utensils or napkins. 

 

Reusable Swedish Dish Cloths

Like paper napkins, paper towels are easily replaced. One Swedish dishcloth replaces 17 rolls of paper towels! Absorbing 20x its weight, these cloths are made with FSC certified wood cellulose and cotton making them incredibly durable. Easily rinsed or washed in machine or top rack of dishwasher – a minimum of 200 times! 100% biodegradable, so once the cloth has reached its end of life, cut up and compost!

 

Reusable Zip-Close Bags

Having trouble quitting the zip-close plastic bag habit? Switch over to food-grade silicone bags. Not only can they be heated to 450 degrees in oven, microwave, boiling water, and freeze to -80, but they are durable and reusable for 2 years and beyond. You may get sticker shock from some brands out there, (although the 6″x 8″ bags shown here are very economical at two for $12) when you factor in how much continually replacing disposable bags cost, you will be ultimately saving. And there is no price you can put on ridding the planet from disposable plastic.

 

Beeswax Wraps

You will never buy plastic cling film again once you’ve tried these beeswax food wraps. Reusable for a year – or longer in my experience – if you keep them away from heat and follow the care instructions. The wraps shown here are made of GOTS-certified organic cotton, sustainably sourced beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin. This combination of ingredients creates a malleable food wrap with natural antibacterial properties that can be used again and again. Beeswax wraps keep foods fresh longer because they breathe just enough to release excess moisture. You’ll be stunned by how long cheese is preserved once opened, as compared to storing in the usual plastic skin. These wraps are great for nearly everything except for raw meats, fish and liquids – this is where your silicone bags are useful!

 

Net Produce Bags

If you go to the trouble of bringing your own shopping bags, why not carry produce bags as well? Organic cotton net bags make it easy to see the produce at check out. With recycling all over the map these days, it’s never been more important to make the effort to avoid single use plastic bags whenever possible. If you are finding that your store uses bio-bags for produce, be honest, are you composting them? Can your food scrap collection take them? It’s best to avoid materials that you do not have a viable end of life solution for. Reusables for the win!

 

 

Tea Strainer

There has been so much news lately on the contaminants and toxins associated with traditional teabag materials. Not only is it extremely important to purchase organic tea, but apparently the bag itself may release billions of micro-plastics. And yes, like coffee grounds, loose tea can be composted, but if the teabag is anything but non-treated paper, you can’t toss into compost. An ‘old timey’ tea strainer is such an obvious choice! Get yourself a strainer and box or bag of your favorite loose, organic tea for a non-toxic, plastic-free brew.

 

Shampoo Bars

Have you been curious about shampoo bars? Well, I’ve vetted quite a few and have landed on my favorite. My hubby, with his thick, curly hair, has been a great tester for me as well. The bottom line is they work, but coming to a universal agreement on the ‘best’ is not easy. This coconut and lavender shampoo bar has just the right lather, rinsing, and conditioning properties. That’s right, no conditioner necessary. Another plus is that this shampoo bar is not over-frangranced. Made with 100% natural ingredients: coconut milk, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, sodium hydroxide, shea butter, castor oil, and lavender essential oil. For oilier or dandruff prone hair, you may like the Aloe & Tea tree shampoo bar. Comes package-free or in a reusable/recyclable metal tin.

 

Disposable Razors & Shaving Cream

Admittedly, a safety razor takes some adjusting to, but people that have switched over vow never to go back. The great thing about an all metal razor and blades is that they are 100% recyclable – not that you’ll be upcycling your ultra-durable safety razor anytime soon. 

As for shave cream, there are great solid cream options out there. Many offer a container-free replacement puck once yours is depleted. Invest in a quality brush. Good shave brushes really work the cream into the skin making for an ultra close and conditioned shave.

 

 

Cloth Facial Pads

Tossing cotton anything in the trash is problematic not only because of organic materials in landfills, but because cotton is a highly pesticidal, water intensive crop. Even if you buy organic cotton facial pads or balls, you are still throwing away the precious resources dedicated to that crop. Reusable cloth facial pads make a lot of sense because they can be rinsed and air dried after each use, and even machine washed, just like clothing.

 

Bamboo Toothbrush

Ok – this is a no-brainer. You can get bamboo toothbrushes in most stores now. You will need to snap the head off before composting because the majority are made with nylon bristles. The toothbrush shown here is made with fast growing, regenerative Moso Bamboo and 62% castor oil bristles – cutting petrolium content by more than half!

 

 

 

The plastic-free tip that I never get tired of repeating is BUY IN GLASS OR METAL. Both materials are infinitely recyclable. In fact, did you know that 75% of the cans you buy at the grocery are recycled metal? Did you also know that every minute of every single day a garbage truckload of plastic enters the ocean? Metal always has value, so there is always a market for it. Glass is made of sand. If not recycled, it is not toxic to the earth or ocean.

Please let me know what ways you’ve reduced your plastic consumption and waste. I want to know so that I can congratulate and thank you!

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About the Author

Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have.

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