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Whether or not you’re a planet saving activist, we can all agree it’s a waste of money, time and resources to buy things just to throw them away.
Still, too often, the reusable items are inconvenient, unattractive or require a lot of extra effort to use.
And, trust me, I’m all about convenience, attractiveness and running on auto-pilot whenever possible.
It’s a really good idea to make full use of things we spend our hard-earned money on by passing them on to others who can use them or by turning them into something else when we’re looking for a change or even recycling.
So, in the name of replacing throw away items with more reusable things without sacrificing convenience, function and beauty, I’ve found some ways you can really incorporate reusable things into your life to help reduce your use of throw aways.
Here are seven reusable items that are cool and easy to use again and again and will fit seamlessly into your life.
Hopefully, a couple of these items will be easy to incorporate into your daily life.
1. Portable and foldable shopping bags
This isn’t a novel suggestion.
Everyone suggests using reusable shopping bags.
But they’re usually big, square, clunky things that don’t store easily and open to hold half a car’s worth of groceries.
Plus, they're minimal in the convenience factor since they take up so much space in the car.
I have found these amazing reusable bags on Amazon that tick all the boxes.
They’re so small when folded that they fit into a pants or jacket pocket or a purse.
They hold up to 50 pounds each and are machine washable.
And on top of all that, they have a large capacity, not only in weight, but in number of items.
All 10 bags come in a zipper pouch about the size of a medium size purse.
You could really put the entire lot into your glove compartment for easy access if you wanted to.
After a while, you’ll probably just do what I do – grab one or two out of the back seat and stick it into a pocket or purse.
I don’t fold them all the way anymore.
If you reuse your old grocery store bags to pick up dog waste, this suggestion may not be for you.
I mean hey, you’re already turning those plastic bags into another use.
And dog poo bags are plastic anyway, so you might as well get them for free with your groceries.
But if you save those plastic grocery bags hoping you’ll use them one day only to find yourself stockpiling them or throwing them away, try these reusable shopping bags.
They’re a winner in my book!
Plus, I love to take them to farmer’s markets to save the farmer’s the use of bags and be able to carry only one bag that holds everything while I’m walking around.
Bonus: IKEA sells a monster shopping bag that’s amazing. They charge 99 cents for it, and it’s strong enough to bring in a carload of groceries in one trip.
You might not walk upright for days, but you didn’t have to go back to the car!
Seriously, the next time you’re at IKEA, grab a couple of these. They’ll last for years!
2. Washable mop and floor cleaning pads
It’s an easy switch from throw away mop pads to reusable ones.
And you know I like easy!
The reason this one is so easy is because you literally use the mop pads exactly the same way you would a disposable one.
But instead of tossing in the trash, you toss this one in the washing machine.
Who isn’t always doing a load of towels or bedding anyway?
I know I am.
And that’s exactly where I toss these pads.
No carrying extra items around.
No remembering to do something different.
No extra space needed.
Just grab one of these reusable mop pads instead of a disposable one.
I still have disposable ones on hand for when I just need a quick spot area and also for puppy stains.
Honestly, I don’t want puppy stains mixed in with my bedding and towels, even though they’re going through the wash.
But this is kind of like replacing paper towels with microfiber or reusable towels.
If you’re like me, you’re never getting rid of paper towels.
You just use them less often if you’re trying to move toward the reusable items lifestyle.
Here’s a great set of reusable mop pads that get 4.8 stars on Amazon with over 25,000 reviews!
3. Refillable shampoo and conditioner dispenser bottles
Instead of buying hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, dish soap and other household soaps in single-use plastic bottles every single time, consider buying in bulk or pouches and using Bottiful Home refillable and reusable bottles.
Yes, they’re plastic.
I'm trying to save your toes and tiles in the shower.
I learned the hard way it's not worth having glass in the shower.
Plus you’ll be saving the planet a lot of plastic by purchasing a liter or gallon of soap at a time and just refilling your shower and kitchen bottles over and over again.
And you'll be improving the beauty factor in your home with our refillable bottles.
They're not just a great way to reduce plastic use over time.
They're also the best way to take your shower from cluttered to classy in one simple purchase.
We offer three neutral color options to coordinate with any décor style and several different bottle sets to accommodate your refillable shower and kitchen bottle needs.
When you buy something in a gallon, you’re reducing your plastic impact since the same amount of soap in smaller bottles takes a lot more plastic.
Our refillable pump bottles will last you for years and will keep hundreds of pounds of plastic out of the waste stream while beautifying your home.
Take a look at some of our beautiful options:
|Shop Refillable Shower Bottles
|Shop Bottiful Home
|Shop Refillable Shower Bottles
4. Reusable notebooks
This is a strange one for some people.
Maybe it takes a little getting used to.
But a reusable notebook is a great paper and space saver!
Convenience factor is a bit harder to assess on this one because the notebook saves both space and paper, but if you are used to taking notes on a bunch of different paper pads all over your house, then it will take a little discipline to get used to using this one.
The idea is that you write down all your notes in this reusable notebook then scan the page with your Rocketbook app and you send your notes and pages to Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, OneNote, OneDrive, Slack and more, according to their website.
I send my scans to Dropbox.
This isn’t the same thing as taking a photo and sending it to “notes” on your phone.
This is an organized, folder system software-compatible way to take all your notes.
If you’ve got your Google Drive, Dropbox or other cloud-based storage system available on your phone then you have all your notes, thoughts, ideas and important task lists and calendars available to you anytime you have your phone with you, which is basically 24/7 for me.
And, I hate to admit, I’m a notebook addict.
I love pads of paper.
What is that all about?
I have no idea.
But I purchased this Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook on Amazon and have been so impressed by it.
I have to tell myself not to purchase notebooks just because they’re pretty.
I'm getting there.
I now use the Rocketbook for all my notes.
And I love that thing!
I highly recommend it.
5. Cupcake and muffin liners
This one is another super easy switch, like the reusable mop heads I mentioned earlier.
You use these reusable cupcake and muffin pan liners exactly the same way you use the paper ones.
You just don’t throw them away when you’re done.
Ugh. So then I have to wash them right?
These liners go right into the dishwasher.
They’re silicone so very heat, cold and water resistant, not to mention stain and odor resistant.
Maybe place them on the top rack of the dishwasher so they don’t go flying around or end up on the bottom of your dishwasher on the heating element.
But otherwise, these little cuties aren’t any extra care, thinking or remembering.
The reusable liners are part of the Amazon Basics line, which means they are offered by Amazon itself instead of a third party vendor at a very attractive price.
There may still be a time and a place for paper liners, like a party where you’re taking the cupcakes instead of consuming at home, or even a cupcake display where the liners are part of the décor.
But, at the very least, we can cut down on our paper use if we use the silicone liners as often as possible, when it makes sense.
6. Rechargeable batteries
For those of us who tried rechargeable batteries when they first came out, they didn’t last long and were a pain to recharge. Batteries have come a long way.
Today's reusable batteries are easy to recharge, last almost as long as their disposable counterparts, and are much less expensive in the long run. Bonus: You can find them everywhere, including Walmart, Walgreens, and Amazon.
Maybe you won’t replace every single battery with a rechargeable one, but I’ve found that it makes the most sense for batteries in toys, flashlights, and battery-operated lighting.
This is because you’re always replacing these batteries and they generally use AA or AAA (the most common batteries used), so you’ll save the most money and repurchases in the long run by getting rechargeable ones.
Of course, that does mean you’ll have to purchase a battery charger for those rechargeable batteries, but I found this highly-rated battery charger on Amazon that includes an indicator for battery life remaining.
That’s probably my favorite feature.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had batteries in my “battery drawer” that I have no idea how old they are and whether they still have charge on them.
This device saves you the frustration of replacing batteries only to find out it was a dead one.
7. Washable chopsticks
I’m not Japanese.
I haven’t been to Japan.
And I don’t often eat sushi.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention these beautifully crafted reusable chopsticks.
Not only are they utensils you’ll go to every time you eat fried rice, sushi or wok fried veggies, but they’re made from natural bamboo, which is one of earth’s most renewable resources.
Eating with these chopsticks will add class to your meal while keeping the throw away chopsticks out of the landfills.
Again, I love this swap because it’s easy and convenient.
The reusable ones don’t take up much space, aren’t used in any different way than their disposable counterparts and really amp up the experience of eating and cooking.
Even if you purchase plastic or metal chopsticks, you’re coming out ahead if you usually use the disposable ones.
Bonus: 5 Things That Aren't Worth Making the Switch to Reusable
There are many “reusable” products available now.
Reusable sandwich and food wraps made from beeswax coated fabric, reusable baggies made from silicone, reusable straws made from metal or plastic, and so much more.
It’s clear to me, after doing some research, that these types of products have loyal followings and justification in a lot of families and lives.
Maybe that’s you.
Maybe you find the greener way of life to far outweigh the inconvenience or gross factor.
If that’s you, well done!
But it’s not me.
So here’s a list of some things I find too inconvenient, useless or disgusting to bother switching to:
1. Reusable straws
I know, I know.
The ocean is filling up with plastic straws, or so you’ve been told.
But I find the metal straws to be a terrible feeling on my teeth and lips and would never be able to switch to those.
And no matter the material, I never feel like they are clean. Even with the included straw brush, I can’t help but wonder if I got them clean.
And it grosses me out to consider that I’ve just drunk my water through a straw with yesterday’s smoothie stuck to the inside of it.
And the same goes for washable hard plastic straws, silicone straws and all other supposedly reusable straws.
They're not easy enough to clean.
To me, straws are a single-use item no matter what they're made of.
The good news is straws are rarely used in my house. So my household isn't really contributing to plastic straws ending up in our waterways.
2. Silicone food baggies
I genuinely tried to switch to these.
The truth is the convenience factor is a really big deal when sending food in school lunches or even storing in the fridge.
I would have to run the dishwasher twice a day if I stored everything in these silicone baggies.
And that's if I can place in the in the dishwasher in a way to actually get the inside clean.
And does that extra dishwasher run offset the reduced plastic impact of throwing away plastic baggies?
I can’t answer that.
But I can say I just don’t personally find the silicone storage bags to be convenient enough to make the switch.
I don’t like adding to the dishwashing pile so significantly.
Plus, they are difficult to clean by hand due to their shape.
Small portions of food are just best stored or transported in a disposable bag that doesn't have to come back home.
3. Beeswax coated sandwich wraps
This is someone’s idea of a great replacement for silicone storage bags and plastic baggies.
But I can’t make this switch either.
Why? Because they don’t perform well.
If you don’t mind your tuna sandwich making your after-lunch chocolate square smell and taste like tuna, then have at it.
But these wraps aren’t the best at wrapping food up and keeping it secure.
Plus, I'm not sure exactly how you clean an item coated in wax.
It seems like they would break down in effectiveness pretty regularly and quickly.
4. Reusable face wash pads
Again, this one comes down to convenience and justification.
You wash your face every single day, maybe even more often than that.
At the end of every day, you’re going to have this little piece of fabric added to the laundry pile, and you have to keep track of it in the laundry, but more likely you’ll need a separate load or lingerie bag so it doesn’t get lost in someone’s shirt sleeve.
And really what’s the difference between these and an old-fashioned wash cloth? Size? That’s not enough of a difference to matter to me.
If you love reusing, I say a washcloth works just fine as far as I'm concerned.
5. Reusable diapers
Isn’t this where we started before technology and invention advanced?
Before disposable diapers, there were cloth diapers.
Guess why disposable diapers were invented?
Because cloth diapers are so gross!
And now, there’s a whole new wave of cloth diapers to hit the market called reusable diapers.
They’re only different in that they have little buttons on them instead of using a pin to close them.
And some of them have removable inserts that look like menstrual pads that can be frequently washed.
That’s an improvement over the original cloth diapers, I guess.
And I’m sure I’ll catch some flack for throwing shade at reusable diapers.
I mean there are whole clans of people who think this is a worthwhile sacrifice to make on behalf of planet earth or mother nature.
And to those people I say, I only have one child and she’s well out of diapers, so this isn't a switch I even need to consider.
But this would never be a worthwhile switch for me.
I don’t like standing over the toilet dunking poo-soaked cloth into it.
And I’m not about to wash those things with any other laundry, meaning they would have to be yet another separate load.
Not everything is worth switching to reusable in my opinion.
Getting Away From a Disposable Life
Getting away from throwing everything away is a great way to exercise care over the resources we’ve been generously provided.
But it works best when the changes we need to make are fun, simple and feel worthwhile to implement.
That doesn’t mean all worthy changes should be easy, but with life often pulling you in many different directions at once, making real change is easiest taken in baby steps and prioritized with things you can do quickly, easily and seamlessly.
Choose the ideas that work for your lifestyle, create the impact you can, and together we can make a massive difference.
What reusable items do you have in your house that make life a little greener and a little easier?
I can’t wait to hear!