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10 Everyday Products You Can Use to Help the Environment

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8th Oct 2019

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For each indispensable everyday item you’re using, there’s an eco-friendly alternative. And most of the time, it’s not expensive or hard to get.

Small changes make a big impact, and that’s especially true when it comes to protecting the environment. Governments can only do so much to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if we leave behind us a trail of disposable coffee cups, plastic toothbrushes, and polypropylene phone cases choking up landfills.

By choosing eco-friendly alternatives to these everyday items, you can help the planet without making any compromises.

Admittedly, not all products marketed as green are useful to everyone. After all, what’s the point of buying ecological wool footwear or an eco-friendly umbrella if you live in California?

But some everyday items can really make a difference. Discover them now.

1.    Bamboo Toothbrush

Your plastic toothbrush could pose a greater threat to the environment than you may suspect. Most plastic brushes are made of or contain polypropylene, a non-biodegradable material.

Polypropylene is derived from non-renewable, hydrocarbon fuels. It’s one of the plastics contributing to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

If you’re changing your brush once every 3 months, as most dental associations recommend, that means you’re likely to use over 300 brushes in your lifetime.

Multiply that by the total number of people who conscientiously brush their teeth every day, and landfills around the world will keep on groaning under the weight of tones of discarded polypropylene.

But don’t worry – you don’t have to give up brushing. The alternative is lightweight, inexpensive, and quite cool – a bamboo toothbrush.

Bamboo brushes last as long as your average plastic brush. They feature ergonomic designs, are splinter-free, and often come in plastic-free packaging. The most eco-friendly of all bamboo brushes has biodegradable plant-based bristles.

You can grab a bamboo brush online as well as in pharmacies, supermarkets, and local grocery stores.

2.    Eco-Friendly Coffee Cup

Your average coffee cup may take up to 30 years to decompose in a landfill. Recycling coffee cups isn’t all that easy either, because most of them contain a plastic membrane.

You don’t want disposable coffee cups to become the new plastic bottles, do you? Enter eco-friendly coffee cups.

Admittedly, that’s just a fancy term for reusable coffee cups made from bamboo fiber, rice husks, silicone, stainless steel, glass, or BPA-free plastic.

You’ll find an equally impressive diversity of styles and sizes to choose from. Whether you shop online or check out your local specialty coffee shops, it’s impossible not to find an eco-friendly coffee cup that doesn’t suit your personality.

There’s only one small downside – you’ll have to wash it.

3.    Recycled Toilet Tissue (Or, Why Not, a Bidet)

Tens of millions of trees are pulped every year to make toilet paper. That’s hardly surprising when you consider that the average person uses about 100 rolls a year.

Every roll of common toilet paper is the result of a wasteful manufacturing process that causes the demise of old-growth forests and water pollution due to chlorine bleaching. What’s more, to make a single roll, most manufacturers use around 37 gallons of water.

So, what are the alternatives?

Shop for 100% post-consumer recycled toilet paper. This alternative is made of materials that have been already processed once and don’t require additional bleaching.

According to the NRDC, the brands to look for include Green Forest, Earth First, Seventh Generation, and Natural Value.

But you can also go a step further and install a bidet. A bidet uses less water than the process of recycling toilet paper – and no paper at all.

4.    Solar Charger for Phone/Tablet with Bluetooth Speaker

There’s no lack of solar chargers or mobile Bluetooth speakers on the market. Amazon alone has a whopping selection across all price ranges.

But when you look at the actual product descriptions, few of them claim to be eco-friendly. And that’s a bit of a problem when you consider how handy solar chargers or Bluetooth speakers can be. (Can you imagine going camping without them?)

However, you don’t have to make compromises for the sake of mobile portability. Reveal’s Bluetooth Solar Speaker and Phone Charger packs 15-hours’ worth of battery life and a 33-feet speaker range into an environmentally conscious bamboo design. To boot, the brand has pledged to plant a tree for every product it sells.

That’s only one example of a mobile accessory that’s bringing environmental awareness to a market that really needs it.

5.    Eco-friendly Phone Case and Screen Protector

Scratches, drops, and spills – a good phone case needs to handle a lot. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for plastic or leather cases, most of which are anything but eco-friendly.

There are more phones on the planet than people, according to Radicati. What’s more, people upgrade their phones on average every 22 months. So, when we add up all these numbers, we’re talking about an important choice with serious long-term consequences.

The good news is that there’s no shortage of sustainable choices. Eco-friendly cases are available for the iPhone and most Android devices. They’re made from natural, biodegradable materials like cork and bamboo, or bioplastics derived from compostable flax straw.

Screen protectors are also a threat to the environment – over 1 billion screen protectors are thrown away every year. But Pela is one brand that provides a green alternative, a zero-waste liquid screen protector.

At the end of the day, you can have a pretty cool case and screen protector combo that’s 100% environmentally friendly.

6.    Reusable Shopping Bags

Conventional shopping bags continue to be an environmental risk despite the efforts grocery chains make to provide more sustainable alternatives.

Even when they are biodegradable, shopping bags still take months to degrade and can clutter landfills. The manufacturing process behind them may also lead to carbon emissions.

Reusable shopping bags are a handy alternative. Plastic-free, durable, and stylish, they can help you reduce plastic waste from single-use bags. Choosing reusable nylon bags or recycled plastic bags is an important step in the right direction.

But you can help the environment even more by opting for plastic-free alternatives made from organic cotton and muslin, like True Natured Co’s reusable bag set.

7.    Reusable Produce Bags

Talking of bags, produce bags are just as useful. You need them for storing groceries, fruit, veggies, and healthy snacks, or for packing your kids’ school lunch.

Choosing to use reusable produce bags can help you reduce waste and the side effects of the manufacturing process. But most of these bags are made from plastics and other materials that aren’t ideal for the environment.

Green alternatives are BPA-free, stress-free, and machine-washable. And, of course, they last.

An interesting choice is the line of organic cotton reusable mesh produce bags from Purifyou. Available in different sizes, these bags are versatile and hardy. You can also use them for storing laundry, beachwear, toys, gym clothes, and more.

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    Recycled Copy Paper

Did you know that recycling one ton of paper saves 7,000 gallons of water, 2 barrels of oil, and 17 trees? Using recycled paper daily significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps preserve natural resources.

Recycled paper is widely available, but you need to pay attention to the labels. Not all recycled paper is 100% fully recycled, and some of it may be bleached. Bleaching paper is a toxic process for the environment that many manufacturers have tried to root out. But it’s not entirely gone.

Also, it’s important to make the distinction between the two main types of recycled paper:

  •       Pre-consumer recycled paper is made from manufacturer scraps and waste.  
  •       Post-consumer recycled paper is made from paper products previously used by consumers, such as magazines, newspapers, and cardboard boxes.

Post-consumer recycled paper is a more sustainable choice because it helps preserve forests.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while chlorine-free paper is better for the environment than bleached paper, it’s not necessarily recycled.

9.    Clothes Made from Recycled Fabric and Sustainable Materials

Eco-friendly fashion brands combine ethical manufacturing principles with stylish designs to inspire you to dress green (and most other colors).

Examples include brands like Alternative Appeal, Reformation, Tentree, People Tree, or PACT. These brands are known for their:

  •       Eco-friendly, sustainable, and organic fabrics (usually cotton or hemp)
  •       GOTS-approved low-impact dyes
  •       Carbon-neutral manufacturing processes
  •       Use of recycled materials and fibers
  •       Eco-friendly packaging
  •       FSC-approved labels

But you don’t have to be stuck on these brands. In recent years, organic cotton has made its way into the catalogs of big brands like Nike, Gap, or Levi Strass.

From basic apparel and sports items to formal wear and wedding dresses, eco-friendly clothing is widely available online and in brick-and-mortar stores. Pay attention to the labels to make an informed decision.

10. LED Lamp

We take electricity for granted, but its production has a far-reaching impact on the environment, generating air pollution, using large quantities of water, and sometimes requiring land mining. Renewable energy power plants may also affect the environment by disrupting local wildlife. 

Using less energy is a big step forward in the right direction, and one of the best ways to put this into practice is to start using LED lights more.

LEDs are about four times more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs (which actually generate more heat than light). At the same time, LEDs don’t contain toxic compounds and can last for 15 years or more. To boot, they can be fully recycled.

One easy way to bring LEDs into your home is to get a simple LED lamp. It’s ideal for reading or for when you’re working at your desk late.

But you don’t want to stop there. Fit your entire house with LEDs, and you’ll reduce your long-term energy costs.

The Wrap-Up

From bamboo toothbrushes and eco-friendly coffee cups to organic cotton clothes and LED lamps, your eco-friendly choices are nearly endless. And the best part is that these products aren’t just green – most of them are as enjoyable to use as their traditional counterparts.

To help the planet, you don’t have to sacrifice quality or change the way you use everyday items. You simply have to remember that you’re not stuck on using the same old items that have been quietly clogging landfills and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Today, there’s almost always an affordable, eco-friendly alternative around the corner. You just have to look for it.

So, what’s the next eco-friendly product you are going to buy?