26 eco-friendly alternatives for things you use every day

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15 your showerheadAnna Omelchenko/shutterstock

As I’m writing this, it isn’t possible for millions of humans to live on Mars. The closest we’ve gotten so far is watching Matt Damon try to grow potatoes there in a futuristic space film

Becuase of that, many people are worried about how we treat the planet we already have, and with good reason. The alarming data surrounding climate change and necessary resources has forced the average person to consider their own footprint and ability to change.

But while three-quarters of Americans are concerned about the environment, far fewer say they make an effort to live in a conscious way all the time. Only 1 out of 5 say they make an effort all the time. 

This might be because we always talk about climate change in the Arctic or other far-away places, or because we don’t want to lose convenience, know how, or never get around to doing the research.

However, when “1 out of 5” amounts to millions of people (and that’s just the US), “never getting around to it” is a problem that adds up.

And it’s a surprisingly simple fix. Instead of using a K-Cup, us a reusable coffee filter. Out of laundry detergent? Try one with natural ingredients. You don’t have to subsist on whatever your backyard garden grows to make a difference or feel guilty that your trash doesn’t fit in a mason jar.

If you want to replace everyday essentials with eco-friendly alternatives without any inconvenience, check out the 26 below: 

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Allbirds footwear

Allbirds footwear

Allbirds

This Silicon Valley cult-favorite shoe is made from sustainable wool, a naturally existent material, unlike cheaper synthetics.

We’ve tried their loungers and sneakers, and they really might be the most comfortable shoes in the world. 

Women’s Wool Runners, $95

Men’s Wool Runners, $95

Dish towels and bamboo alternatives

Dish towels and bamboo alternatives

Amazon

If it doesn’t have to be single-use, it probably shouldn’t be. Using 100% organic cotton dish towels is a great substitute to paper towels, as you can throw them in with a load of laundry repeatedly.

If you really need paper towels, consider grabbing some made out of bamboo (which are also reusable). This version ($11.59) by Bambooee was on Shark Tank and the company plants a tree for every roll they sell.

Bambooee Reusable & Machine-Washable Bamboo Paper Towel Replacement, $11.59

Reusable grocery bags

Reusable grocery bags

Amazon

Each year, we use an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags, which causes a lot of avoidable waste.

Using reusable grocery bags is a simple way to cut down on the habit without missing out on convenience. Some grocery stores even offer incentives for people who bring their own bags.

Earthwise Deluxe Collapsible Reusable Shopping Box Grocery Bag with Reinforced Bottom, Set of Two, $13.97

A long-lasting toothbrush with a detachable brush head

A long-lasting toothbrush with a detachable brush head

Boie

Not only does a Boie toothbrush have silver embedded into the bristles to kill germs, but the startup is also making a much more environmentally friendly option.

All of Boie’s toothbrushes are made out of a rubber-like material that cleans your teeth more gently and effectively than alternatives and is built to last twice as long as a regular brush, so you have to replace it less often. Boie brushes are also designed with detachable brush heads, so you can replace only that without having to buy an entirely new brush every time. 

Boie Toothbrush, $12

A great reusable water bottle

A great reusable water bottle

Hydro Flask

Even though recycling programs exist, 91% of the water bottles we use every year wind up in a landfill. And we use about a million per minute. Grab a cool water bottle you’ll enjoy using and skip the plastic disposable bottles.

Hydro Flask Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle, from $36

Biodegradable trash bags

Biodegradable trash bags

Amazon

These trash bags are 100% compostable, meet the stringent requirements of municipal composting programs, and are BPI certified. For reference, they’re almost half the price of Glad bags (also 13 gallon, also 50-count).

Unni Certified 100% Compostable Bags, 13 Gallon, 50-Count, $15.95

Rechargeable batteries

Rechargeable batteries

Amazon

Batteries are made up of a variety of chemicals, some of which are extremely toxic and can cause soil and water pollution. 

Most of us know batteries aren’t a great thing to throw into landfills, and rechargeable ones solve that problem while saving you money and space.

If you need to check how to dispose of electronics you no longer need, check out this list of stores with incentives for recycling/can better dispose of electronics than most people.

8 Bay AA, AAA Battery Charger with AA 2800mAh (Set of Four) and AAA 1100mAh (Set of Four) Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries, $16.99

Reusable straws

Reusable straws

Amazon

According to the National Park Service, you could fill over 125 school buses with the straws Americans use every single day (500 million in all).

Using disposable utensils of any kind introduces a lot of unnecessary waste into the environment, but straws are a particularly easy fix.

SipWell Extra Long Stainless Steel Drinking Straws, Set of Four with Cleaning Brush, $7.88

Ballpoint pens made out of recycled water bottles

Ballpoint pens made out of recycled water bottles

Amazon

Need a couple of pens around the house? Grab a few that were made from recycled water bottles (86% PCR). 

Pilot B2P Retractable, Refillable Ball Point Pens, 5-Pack, $8.39

A programmable thermostat that lets you know if you’re saving energy

A programmable thermostat that lets you know if you're saving energy

Amazon

Programmable thermostats can save up to $150 a year in energy costs when used properly.

Not only does Nest’s thermostat work with Amazon Alexa voice control, but it’s also the first one to earn an Energy Star. Since your thermostat supposedly controls half your energy bill (more than appliances or electronics), it’s a great place to focus your attention if you want to cut down on use and costs. Using the Nest app (yes, there’s an app), you can view how much energy you use and why, so you can make the right decisions for you using your own energy history. 

Plus, since most of us are busy and potentially beginners with this, Nest will display a leaf when you choose a temperature that saves energy.

Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation, from $234.28

Reusable coffee filters

Reusable coffee filters

Amazon

With the recent popularity of instant coffee systems like Keurig, single-serving pods have also seen an exponential rise in use.

Instead of popping in a new K-Cup every morning only to toss it into the waste bin, consider saving yourself space and money with your choice of fresh ground coffee and a reusable filter pod

Single K-Cup Solo Filter Pod with Stainless Mesh for Keurig Brewers, Set of Four, $10.95

13. Tea bags

13. Tea bags

Finum

Love tea? look into a loose tea infuser to cut down on how many tiny disposable packets you rip open and throw away. Here are the best ones you can buy.

Finum Brewing Basket, from $12.15

A showerhead that uses 70-75% less water than what you have now

According to government data, putting in low-flow fixtures can reduce your water consumption by at least 50%, and save you about $145 every year.

The extreme Kickstarter success, Nebia, uses 70% less water than a traditional shower head, which translates to 20,000 gallons saved per year for the average household. It’s designed to spray water droplets instead of shooting out water. You can read more about it here, but suffice it to say that it’s an exciting eco-development.

One inexpensive option, though, is by Niagra, and claims to use up to 75% less water than traditional “low-flow” shower heads. Though it promises drastic water usage reduction, it also uses patented pressure compensation technology so there’s always a consistent flow rate regardless of available water pressure. It’s also guaranteed for 10 years. 

Niagara Earth Massage 1.25GPM Low Flow Showerhead, from $8

Nebia Spa Shower, Sustainable Atomizing Shower System, $399

LED light bulbs

LED light bulbs

Amazon

LEDs are up to 80% more efficient than traditional lighting options. How? 95% of the energy in LEDs is converted into light and only 5% is wasted as heat. They also use much less power, which reduces the demand on power plants and decreases the accompanying greenhouse gas emissions.

These bulbs have multiple color options and are dimmable, as well as being WiFi amd Alexa enabled so you can control them by your devices.

Kimitech Smart Bulb LED Light Bulbs, $22.99

A shower timer

A shower timer

Amazon

This shower timer helps you keep an eye on how long you spend zoned out under gushing hot water. It can help you monitor yourself, so if your goal is to cut down on water and heating energy, you’ve got an easy way to adjust. 

HITO Multifunction LCD Bathroom Shower Clock Timer with Temperature, $26.99

Watches made out of sustainable materials

Watches made out of sustainable materials

Original Grain

Original Grain makes beautiful watches handcrafted from premium sustainable wood suppliers and 100% stainless steel, and many are made out of repurposed wood from whiskey barrels. 

For every watch purchased, Original Grain plants one tree with Trees For The Future – Senegal, which helps families by alleviating hunger and reducing poverty. Learn more here about its Forest Garden Program.

Pictured: Rosewood Black, Classic 43MM, $199

Compostable cutlery and bowls

Compostable cutlery and bowls

Amazon

If you absolutely need disposable cutlery, why not grab some that are compostable? 

FirstChoice makes a great option, and donates 10% of its annual net profits to non-profit environmental organizations. The utensils are FDA approved and are 100% biodegradable. 

First Choice 300-Piece Disposable Wooden Cutlery Set, $15.75

Outlets that actually draw zero energy when turned off.

Outlets that actually draw zero energy when turned off.

Amazon

This energy-saving power switch draws zero energy when the switch is flipped off. 

Belkin Conserve Energy Saving Power Switch, $17.64

Natural laundry detergent

Natural laundry detergent

Amazon

Method’s laundry detergent is made from naturally derived, plant-based ingredients and has a hypoallergenic formula. Its transparent bottle is recyclable and made from 100% PCR (post-consumer recycled) materials. It’s tough on dirt and stains, but you won’t be introducing chemicals into the environment or wearing traces of them next-to-skin.

Method 4x Concentrated Laundry Detergent, 53.5 Ounce, 66 Loads, $21.45

An e-reader

An e-reader

Pictured: Kindle Oasis.Amazon

While the feel of a great paperback in hand is satisfying in and of itself, you might have an opportunity as an avid reader to cut down on a production cycle that uses ample paper and transportation. Unless you’re a regular patron of the library, an e-reader can help diminish the carbon footprint of someone who frequently buys new books.

We’ve got a guide to the best e-readers you can buy if you’re looking into one, and here’s a list of what each Kindle does to figure out which best fits your needs.

Kindle Oasis E-reader, 7″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi), Waterproof, Built-In Audible, 8 GB, Wi-Fi, $269.99

An eco-friendly air dryer brush

An eco-friendly air dryer brush

Amazon

This brush is designed to act as a diffuser, drying hair 40% faster for less heat damage and faster prep time. It’s also made from recycled aluminum and plastic.

The packaging is made of 100% Tree-Free paper (20% cotton and 80% bamboo fibers), and the handles are made from bamboo, which is one of the fastest growing plants.

EcoTools Cruelty-Free, Eco-Friendly Ultimate Air Dryer Brush, $8.85

Eyewear made from natural materials

Eyewear made from natural materials

Shwood

Shwood makes premium wood sunglasses and prescription eyewear that’s handcrafted using sustainable materials in the US. 

Shop Shwood here.

Natural cleaning products

Natural cleaning products

Amazon

The cleaning products you use around the house can be full of environmentally harmful chemicals. If you want the same result but with fewer ramifications for the environment, natural ingredients can do the trick with less collateral damage. 

This option was developed and tested by doctors and is plant-based. It’s natural, non-toxic, hypoallergenic, vegan, gluten-free, biodegradable, and certified cruelty free. 

Puracy Natural All Purpose Cleaner, Green Tea and Lime, 2-Pack, $13.99

Solar powered phone charger

Solar powered phone charger

Amazon

Made of eco-friendly silicone rubber and ABS + PC material, this #1 best-seller solar charger is an eco-friendly alternative to the traditional rechargeable battery pack. It’s water-resistant and shock-proof, so it can go where you go (and soak up solar power while at it). 

The company notes that it is comparatively slow for the solar charger to recharge via solar power, but if you’ve got the time to wait or hang it on a backpacking pack on a day trip, you can get the convenience of a charger without the guilt. 

Solar 5000mAh Portable Power Bank, $19.95

Natural beauty products

Natural beauty products

Amazon

Introduce your skin and the earth to fewer synthetics by opting for an organic face wash. This option is paraben-free, sulfate-free, and cruelty-free. 

If you’re looking for slightly cheaper, check out this option by Insta Natural ($19.97). It’s a best-seller on Amazon.

Living Libations Organic Best Skin Ever: Seabuckthorn Facial Cleansing Oil + Moisturizer, $36

Reusable glass meal prep containers

Reusable glass meal prep containers

Amazon

Instead of adding more plastic, grab some glass meal prep containers for a non-toxic solution. 

Glass Meal Prep Containers, 3-Compartment, 3-Pack, $23.99

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