A lot of the products we use daily are a result of habit, we grew up using them or have been using them for a while without considering the alternatives. The problem with a lot of common household products is that they’re far from sustainable. Globally, one garbage truckload of plastic waste enters the ocean every minute, and that amount is increasing steadily.
So, while it may seem like just one plastic bag, or one tooth brush, it adds up to a staggering amount.
The good news is there are so many great alternatives available now that will not only greatly reduce the amount of waste produced, but will also save you money in the long run. So we put together a list of 20 sustainable alternatives to your everyday household basics. Before we get into the list, we want to note two things. The first being, the most sustainable thing you can do is use what you already have. So before you switch to one of these sustainable alternatives, use what you have, then make the swap!
The second is a reminder that you’re not failing if you aren’t living a fully zero-waste lifestyle. We are strong believers in progress over perfection, because every time you choose a more sustainable option, you’re making a difference. As Anne Marie Bonneau, Zero Waste Chef said, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
1) Swedish sponge cloth
Speaking from experience, these are great! Ten and Co. sponge cloths replace the use of up to 17 rolls of paper towel, and at the end of their life cycle they’re biodegradable.
2) Reusable cotton rounds
If cotton rounds are a part of your daily skincare routine, these are a must. They can last you years, saving you a lot of money and the planet a lot of waste. Our fave is these ones, made from organic bamboo and organic cotton.
3) Metal/glass straw
Plastic straws are an especially harmful form of plastic waste, as their size makes it easy for them to be consumed by marine wildlife. Yet, it is estimated that Americans use 500 million straws daily. This is one of the easiest changes we can make, so if you haven’t already picked up a reusable straw or few, check these out!
4) Beeswax wrap
Plastic wrap is definitely an item to try and stay away from if you can. It’s a difficult form of plastic to recycle, so it rarely goes through the process. A far better option is beeswax wrap, a natural alternative that can last more than a year and is compostable and biodegradable.
5) Reusable Water Bottle
Did you know it takes at least 450 years for a plastic bottle to degrade? So if you haven’t made this sustainable swap yet, there’s no time like the present to opt for a reusable water bottle like this one from Klean Kanteen. At Encircled, every new employee received a cute reusable water bottle upon hire - no plastic bottles in our office! To learn more about our commitment to sustainability visit the “our promise” page.
6) Reusable coffee filters
For our fellow coffee addicts, this one’s for you. Not only will the Coffee Sock organic cotton reusable filter save you money, but it will also create a better cup of coffee as cotton imparts no flavor on the finished brew unlike paper.
7) Reusable bags
Canadians use almost 15 billion plastic bags every year- a colossal amount of plastic waste. Any reusable bag you already own is great, but if you’re looking for one, Baggu bags come in tons of prints and can be folded into a pouch for on-the-go!
8) Eco dryer balls
By reducing drying time, wool dryer balls save on electricity & preserve the lifespan of your clothing. You can officially take dryer sheets off the shopping list. For more tips on taking care of your clothes, visit out blog post, "5 Tips for Longer-Lasting Clothes".
9) Sustainable bedding
If you’re in the market for new bedding, consider a more sustainable brand like White Terry for a set that’s safer for you and the planet. Their bedding is GOTS™ Certified Organic, Oeko-Tex Certified , and ISO 14001, each of these are environmental certifications to keep an eye out for. At Encircled, our clothing is Oeko-Tex Certified, checkout our fabrics page for more details on the sustainability of our fabrics.
10) Reusable ziploc bags
Save your snacks and save the planet at the same time with Stasher reusable silicone bags.
11) Compost bin
No local compost system? No problem. Convert your own organic waste into compost to enrich the soil in your backyard with this composter. All the pieces are made from biodegradable bamboo fiber.
12) Sustainable toilet paper
Seventh Generation Bathroom Tissue is made from 100% recycled paper and is whitened without chlorine bleach. Even the plastic packaging is 100% recyclable.
13) Guppyfriend Washing Bag
Though not as visible as a plastic water bottle or bag, microplastics are an equally pervasive form of pollution that is even more challenging to clean up. Synthetic fabrics like polyester shed microfibers each time they’re washed, which ends up in our oceans and is digested by wildlife. Guppyfriend Washing Bag captures the microfibers that break while washing inside the bag.
14) Sustainable Jogger Set
Our While most people wouldn’t classify a hoodie and jogger set as a “home basic” we want to make the case for it. They’re incredibly comfortable, so perfect for lounging and maybe even sleeping in on cool nights. They’re equivalent to a robe or pj’s in comfort, with the added benefit that you can leave your house in your set and look effortlessly put together. Our Fair Cloud Terry Jogger Set is the sustainable lounge set of dreams. Ethically-made in Canada from ultra-soft, sustainable TENCEL™ Lyocell and organic cotton, this set if soft on the skin and gentle on the planet.
15) Shampoo/conditioner bars
The BKIND package-free hair care trio includes a Bamboo box, a Shampoo bar and a Conditioner bar: the perfect kit for a plastic-free shower.
16) Reusable period products
Disposable pads and tampons are minefields of plastic. A standard tampon not only can have a plastic wrapper and applicator, but the tampon itself often contains polyester in the wadding and string. Fellow Certified B Corp, Aisle makes reusable period products that are both safer for you and the planet.
17) Solid dish soap
Ditch the plastic bottled soap for a solid dish soap bar. It works just as well and the only waste is a small recyclable cardboard box!
18) Safety razor
Well-Kept Safety Razors are a sustainable plastic free alternative that’s made to last a lifetime. In the long run, it is more cost effective, offers a more precise and closer shave, and is less likely to irritate your skin. And best of all - you're not tossing plastic handles and blades into landfills.
19) Bamboo toothbrush
Most of us will replace around 300 toothbrushes during our lifetime, yet they’re not recyclable. The simple swap for this essential is a biodegradable toothbrush like this one from BKIND made from bamboo!
20) Cabin Socks
Soft, cozy and easier to wash than slippers, Cabin Socks are a must to have around the house - especially if you live in Canada! Our Fair Cabin Socks are ethically-made locally in Toronto and perfect for everyday wear!
Do you have a sustainable basic you think everyone should try? Let us know in the comments!
For more tips on sustainability, checkout these posts: