We all want to be less wasteful, but sometimes we use products—like paper napkins, for example—that are less environmentally-friendly because it's the easiest thing for our routines, and the alternatives seem to require much more effort. And sometimes, they're just not a stylish option for your home. But, there are plenty of product swaps that won't make your life harder and will be easier on the environment—you just need to have a plan.
Paper Napkins → Patterned Cloth Napkins
If you're hesitant to make the switch to cloth napkins because of the effort they require (paper napkins get thrown out, while cloth napkins require frequent washing), the key is to get patterned napkins that won't show stains as easily and invest in enough of them that you don't need to wash them constantly. It's a tree-free swap that will help the environment and will look stylish in your home.
Paper Towels → Snap-Up Cloth Paper Towels
Another way to go a little bit more tree-free? You could swap your regular paper towels for a bamboo alternative (reusable or otherwise), or if you'd like to continue on the cloth route, you can find plenty of beautiful handmade "unpaper towels" on Etsy that are made with snaps so they can be put in a roll just like your usual paper towel rolls. But again, invest in ones that are easy to clean and won't show stains as much, and get enough that you won't feel like you have to wash them all the time.
Plastic Food Containers → Glassware
A great way to reduce how much plastic you use is to invest in glass food containers instead of the typical plastic ones. They cost a little bit more, but they also last longer and don't have the same tendency to warp or retain any weird leftover food odors. Along with lidded glassware, you can also use mason jars as food storage. Plus, glassware will just look sleeker in your kitchen, unlike a toppling tower of plastic lids.
Plastic Baggies → Reusable Silicone Bags
It's convenient to reach for a plastic zipper bag when you just need to stash a snack or store up half-used produce. These reusable food storage bags work just the same way, but can be used again and again. The best part is that they're dishwasher safe (and microwave and freezer safe, too).
Plastic Bags → Reusable Produce & Grocery Bags
Most people have a stockpile of plastic grocery bags in their home, some of which get reused, but to cut back on how much plastic you use, try switching to a few reusable grocery bags—and while you're at it, get some reusable produce bags, too. Put them somewhere you won't forget about them and maybe keep some in your car for last-minute store trips. Bonus: Many stores give you a small discount for bringing your own bags.
Bottled Water → Built-in Faucet Filter
If you're frequently buying bottled water rather than purifying the water in your home, it's time for a major—and more eco-friendly—upgrade. If you don't want to deal with the effort of refilling a filtering pitcher every day (although we have plenty of recommendations for those), for the cost of a few cases of water , you can add a filter system to your faucet so you can drink straight from the tap. It's super convenient and you won't have water bottles taking up valuable storage space anymore. There are several highly-reviewed options on Amazon for under $40, including this one from PUR.
Keurig Pods → Refillable Pods
Already a Keurig owner but want to be more conscious of the environment? Swap out the boxes of single-use pods you have to store in your kitchen for a refillable Keurig pod and a bag of your favorite coffee. It'll only add a few extra seconds to your morning routine, will free up storage space in your kitchen and potentially save you money in the long run, and will be a little bit friendlier to the environment.