We probably all see the need to make more sustainable choices. Yet it can still be ‘one of those issues’ that we’ll get to when we’ve got time, money or head space. If you’re not the ‘no-waste vegan’ out there, this post is exactly for you! A list of 15 simple sustainable swaps that you can make today without needing to invest lots of time, effort or money (most of them will actually save you money). These swaps are for everyone, anyone who would like to make some changes and is willing to start today!
I’m in no way perfect when it comes to living a green lifestyle – we still end up with too much plastic in our bin or wasting food at times. But it’s not about being perfect, it’s about all of us our taking own responsibility and just starting somewhere! These swaps are all things I’ve put into practice in my life and have often found of great benefit, and not only for the environmental side of things. They are easy to start with and won’t alter your lifestyle much (if it does at all), but they will contribute towards a cleaner, greener lifestyle. I challenge you to pick a few of these sustainable swaps from this list and make some subtle changes to reduce your carbon footprint, waste and clutter.
Let’s dive straight into it, shall we?
15 Easy Sustainable Swaps To Make Today
Swap 1: Disposable wipes –> Reusable wipes
If you’re still using disposable wipes around your home, start replacing them by reusable ones. Most disposable wipes aren’t biodegradable and contain plastics which means they can take over 100 years (!!) to disappear from landfills. They often also contain harmful chemicals that aren’t all that safe for your health or the environement! Replace cleaning wipes with washable cotton cloths, make-up wipes with a flanel or reusable cotton rounds (see swap 8). For baby wipes, use a simple cotton cloth for hands and faces at home and pick a biodegradable wipe for on-the-go and diaper changes.
Swap 2: Buying new plants –> Propagate your own
This may sound hard, but it’s actually the most rewarding and in a lot of cases quite easy. If you like to own some more house plants, you can easily take cuttings from your own plants or from someone else’s when you visit. By doing so, you save on greenhouse time, transport and plastic and you probably will look after your new plant baby even better. They also make the best sustainable gifts! There’s many Youtube videos around if you need a little help to get started.
Swap 3: Buying no-waste products –> Use what you have
If feel like this is a big one: the best way to be more sustainable is by not buying something new. Low-waste and no-waste has become a selling point in itself…While there’s many great companies making products that are really helpful, chances are you already own something that will suit your need. You don’t need another ‘recycled plastic’ water bottle or reusable shopping bag if you already have them at home!
Swap 4: Buying plastic containers/ziplock bags –> Save up glass jars
Along the same lines as the previous post: use what you already have around your home! Glass is a very safe & attractive way to store your food and leftovers and means you won’t have to replace plastic containers or use ziplock bags. Save up food jars in different sizes, clean them thoroughly and use for as long as you like until you recycle them again. Easy peasy. If you do prefer an close alternative to ziplocks, you should check out these Stasher Bags!
Swap 5: Fabric softener –> White vinegar
This swap I made YEARS ago and I won’t ever look back. Regular fabric softeners contain a whole lot of chemicals that are harmful to the environment, your own skin and the air inside your home. It’s very easy to swap with half a cup of white vinegar which helps to remove any soap residue from your clothing (the smell won’t linger afterwards). White vinegar still comes in a plastic bottle (so choose an eco-packaging and buy in bulk if you can), but the vinegar itself is totally environmental friendly and safe to use.
Swap 6: Throwing out broken stuff –> Try to mend it first
The easiest (and frankly: laziest) way to deal with your stuff when it’s broken is to just throw it out. Put a little effort into trying to mend it first: no matter how small or cheap the item was, it’s worth fixing it if you can! This goes for all kinds of items: broken appliances, clothing, toys, furniture…Even if you don’t like the item anymore, by mending it you can actually donate it to be used again by someone else. If it is beyond repair, make sure to recycle all the parts you can rather than just throwing it into the bin.
Swap 7: Having one trash bin –> Set up a recycling system
If you throw all your waste in the same trash bin, it’s time to make a change. We all know the benefits and need of recycling our waste, yet it can still be a struggle to make it work! Start by checking out what you can recycle in your area (your local council will have all the info) and set up an achievable system for your home. If you don’t have a lot of space, make a habit of bringing any glass or paper along when you’re out running errands. There’s many smart recycling storage systems out there to suite any home environment so go and get some inspiration and start recycling!
Swap 8: Disposable Cotton rounds –> Reusable cotton rounds
There really is no reason not to make this swap straight away – if you are using regular disposable cotton rounds to remove make up, clean your face or apply skin care, make the swap to a reusable option instead. There’s reusable cotton rounds available that you simply toss in with your laundry, but obviously you could use a simple flanel cloth instead too.
Swap 9: Holding on to things –> Declutter & donate
Decluttering is not just for minimalists – it holds a great deal of benefits for anyone! Owning less is great for your wellbeing, time management (less stuff to look after, clean and tidy) and the planet. There is so much stuff stored in our homes, that experts reckon there’s enough to go around for years (especially when it comes to clothing!). For any items in your home that you haven’t used in a while (or a long time), declutter and donate or sell and let someone else get to put it to use again. This limits the amount of new products that need to be made which obviously helps the planet!
Swap 10: Buying new –> Look for second hand first
Along those same lines, but then in reverse: if you need to purchase a new item, try to find it second hand first. There’s actually many new or nearly new products around to buy second hand if you’re struggling with used items or looking for electronics, fashion items etc. Make it a habit of checking out your online marketplace first before heading to the ‘easy’ option of next day delivery. Added benefits? You’ll save a stack of cash and avoid impulse buying.
Swap 11: Using plastic grocery bags –> Bring your own reusable ones
Everyone knows this one, yet I still see SO many people grabbing plastic bags every time they shop! It’s all about habits and convenience so make it easy for yourself. Stash a few reusable bags in the place where you won’t forget them when shopping: whether that’s your car, backpack, bicycle and have them when you need them! Always bring some small ones for loose produce and breads too – you won’t need to use any single use plastic bags again.
Swap 12: Regular period hygiene products –> Menstrual cup
This one is for the girls: look into sustainable and healthier alternatives to tampons, pads and other female hygiene items. Regular products usually contain lots of plastics, bleach and artificial fragrances – all in contact with your most intimate skin areas. Not so great for your health or the planet – an individual goes through approximately 11.000 disposable pads/tampons in a lifetime! There’s many alternatives available to suit your body and comfort. I made a switch to a menstrual cup about 7 years ago and I won’t ever look back: it’s way more healthy, sustainable, comfortable and frugal. I use this one and it’s been great for me, but there’s many options out there.
Swap 13: Buy new tools –> Borrow instead
This one may be a little more applicable for the men (but I like my tools too): you don’t need to buy a new tool for every job. Sure, there’s a few basic tools that are great to have around and use regularly for many years. But more job specific tools? Check your motivation for wanting to buy first (will you need it regularly or just like the thrill of a new tool) and see if you can borrow it instead! Too many people have a shed full of unused or single used tools, which is just purely wasteful and expensive. If you don’t have a neighbour, family member or friend you could borrow from, check out your local warehouse for renting options or have a look at some online platforms specific for this purpose.
Swap 14: Cling film or alu foil –> Silicone lids or beeswax cloths
A simple swap to make around the kitchen is to get rid of the cling film and aluminium foil when storing leftover food items. Grab a few of these silicone lids or beeswax wraps for easy storage of cut lemons, half an apple, a block of cheese etc. The wraps also come in handy when taking food out on the go!
Swap 15: Conventional cleaning products –> Homemade or eco-friendly cleaners
Conventional cleaning products contain a whole lots of harmful ingredients so while you may think you’re cleaning your home, you are most likely polluting the indoor air and your health at the same time! You only need a few, simple cleaning items for all your chores and they are easy to make yourself. Vinegar & baking soda are some of your best friends! Alternatively, opt for buying eco-friendly cleaning products that won’t put nasty chemicals into your home, the air or our waterways.
Need more inspiration? Check out my ‘Sustainable Swaps To reduce Waste’ series:
Five Simple Bathroom Swaps to Reduce Waste
Five Dishwashing Swaps to Reduce Waste
Five Favourite ‘On The Go’ Swaps To Reduce Waste
Have you made any sustainable swaps lately? Which one is your favourite? Leave a comment below and let me know which of these sustainable swaps you’ll start with!