According to the EPA, in 2018, 27 million tons of plastic were landfilled, while only 3 million tons were recycled. And this does not account for the staggering amounts of unprocessed litter on land and in our waterways and oceans.
It’s difficult to grapple with one’s own impact on the environment. Although small changes can seem futile in the face of the millions of tons of single-use plastic thrown away each year, change has to start on an individual level. Thinking about the disposable products that we use in our everyday lives can help us make better choices as consumers.
A sustainable product is one that minimizes its negative effects on the environment and society, uses resources responsibly and efficiently, and is profitable during its entire life cycle.
Sustainable products are made with an emphasis on social and environmental responsibility as well as with consideration for the environment. The goal of creation is to satisfy the demands of the present and coming generations without compromising the capacity of the environment to do so.
There are many examples of sustainable products, ranging from everyday items such as clothing, furniture, and electronics, to more complex items such as renewable energy sources and green building materials.
Here are some examples of sustainable products:
- Clothing made with eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton or bamboo.
- Furniture made with recycled or reclaimed wood.
- Electronics made with recycled materials and energy efficient components.
- Renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power.
- Green building materials, such as low-VOC paints and recycled insulation.
- Products made with sustainable supply chains, such as fair trade materials.
- Products and services that use natural resources responsibly and minimize waste.
Following a few simple guidelines, such as choosing reusable items over single-use ones and buying products made of recycled materials, is one way to lead a sustainable lifestyle.
Another is to confirm that the information you are receiving about how businesses manufacture their products and their transparency regarding their production method is accurate by doing some research and checking for those third-party labels.
1. The Right to Shower Joy Shampoo Bar and Bar Soap
The shampoo and shower bar makes this list because it lacks extraneous and non-biodegradable packaging. The packaging is recycled paper, and the soap, which you can use to cleanse your whole body rather than using separate cleansers for body and hair, is made of Rainforest Alliance Certified palm oil. This palm oil is produced without damaging or harming rainforests, a valuable resource already under attack.
2. Readystasher Silicone Reusable Food Bag
Instead of disposable snack and sandwich bags, a reusable silicone bag reduces waste and keeps plastic out of landfills. You can find these bags in all sizes, from the smallest size for snacks to a bag that can hold a half gallon of anything.
All of the bags are dishwasher, freezer, and microwave safe. The brand also has a line of stacking bowls when you need larger containers.
3. Beautycounter The Clean Deo
Phew, now we can smell good and stay sustainable! Deodorant is tough to avoid breaking with since most brands are single use and no one likes to be smelly.
However, Clean Deo is a refillable deodorant. The company reviews the actions of the mica companies that provide them with that ingredient to verify that their mica production does not cause any humanitarian harm.
4. Nespresso Chocolate Fudge
Nespresso is a coffee company that has made some strides to make single-serve coffee makers more responsible. While their coffee makers use capsules, they make them out of recyclable aluminum rather than plastic. It runs a recycling program where the company pays for UPS shipping of the used pods back to Nespresso for recycling. Nespresso’s coffee is not only convenient but delicious.
5. Vitamix FoodCycler
If the thought of making your compost box makes you despair or if you don’t have enough room, here is a more straightforward solution. Vitamix sells a FoodCycler to compost your food waste on your kitchen counter.
It has two pieces, the inner bucket and a larger unit that does the work. You can gather the food scraps with the inner bucket on the countertop and then place the material and the inner bucket back into the central unit to be processed.
Another plus is that the central unit handles the entire process and keeps smells to a minimum as it dries, cools, and grinds the leftovers. It’s that easy, and when the FoodCycler has finished composting the remains, you can take it out to the garden to fertilize your plants or donate it to a compost site.
6. Bee’s Wrap Beeswax Food Wraps
Bees Wrap made reusable wraps made of beeswax, cotton, jojoba oil, and tree resin to cut down on single-use plastic wrap. While these wraps are not airtight, they are food safe. To clean a wrap, wash it with soap and water; it is ready to be used again.
7. Tide Purclean Plant-Based Laundry Detergent
Even a big brand like Tide is getting into the act with its first thoroughly plant-based product. Purclean is certified by the USDA as a bio-based cleaner. The plant that makes the cleaner uses renewable wind power and has a zero-waste policy, so nothing goes to the landfill.
8. JAWS Glass Cleaner Bottle With 2 Refill Pods
The name of this product has nothing to do with great white sharks and is an acronym for the phrase “just add water system.” It is a reusable bottle where you add a pod of concentrated cleaner and “just add water.” The company also has a line of reusable cleaning products for the kitchen, bathroom, granite, and other needs.
9. Yihong Reusable Stainless Steel Straws
The plastic straws’ damage to the ocean and ocean wildlife is appalling, so this product is a great way to avoid contributing to that tragedy. In one pack from Yihong, you get eight reusable metal straws, four straight and four bendable ones, so that you can be free of plastic straws forever.
10. Green Toys Fire Truck
When thinking about living sustainably, you probably never considered some items on this list. They thought of everything to make a toy that has the future of the children playing with it in mind.
One unlikely product is this fire truck made of one hundred percent recycled milk jugs with no added coatings or paints and comes in a recycled cardboard box printed with soy ink.
11. Grove Collaborative Multi-Purpose Cleaner Concentrate + Twist & Slide Glass Spray Bottle
Grove Collaborative is an online ordering service that sells and ships responsible and sustainable products. This cleaner has a concentrated refill that you put into reusable and recyclable glass bottles with aluminum caps.
Each order comes with a silicone sleeve to make it easier to hold the bottle securely. You can order by the piece or get a subscription for products.
12. Bissell Little Green Portable Cleaner
This tiny but mighty cleaner is made of recycled plastic and packaged in a recycled box, so it is already ahead of the game at the start. You can use it to spot clean areas like stains on carpets and armrests so that your furniture and rugs will stay cleaner and last longer.
13. Seventh Generation 100% Recycled Bath Tissue Paper
Toilet paper is an item we need, but it needs to be more sustainable because it is used with tree pulp. Seventh Generation is one of the top brands that get high marks from such observers as Good Housekeeping because this toilet paper does not create the need for new tree pulp usage. While there are other options, this is a great way to deal with this issue.
14. Burt’s Bees Glossy Lipstick
How is it sustainable? Can lipstick be sustainable? The answer is also yes, as proven by Burt’s Bees lipstick. It is made with fifty-two percent recycled plastic and doesn’t come in a box. Along with a smaller carbon footprint than most other lipsticks, it doesn’t have magnets or metal in its packaging, so it is a great way to look good and be good to the planet.
15. Allbirds Women’s Wool Runners
This women’s shoe is ethically produced and made of natural fiber, merino wool. Ninety percent of the shoe’s packaging is recycled cardboard. In addition, recycled water bottles are the materials used to make the shoe’s laces, so it is truly a responsible and cute shoe.
Trying to shop more sustainably is a worthy endeavor, but it can also be complicated and perplexing. Even when you buy items that are marketed as environmentally friendly, you’re still purchasing new products, which means raw materials, water, and energy were all used to create and ship them — and that in itself can negatively impact the environment.
Not only that but in a world where corporations and governments are responsible for the majority of emissions, it’s hard to know which brands to trust. More and more companies are guilty of greenwashing — promoting false or misleading claims that they’re environmentally friendly — so it’s important to do your research.
Your best bet for sustainable shopping is to shop locally, shop used and reuse and repurpose old items instead of throwing them away. However, depending on your lifestyle, your budget, and where you live, that’s not always possible.
To that end, we’ve rounded up another list of products that in one way or another can help you create a more sustainable home, and perhaps even minimize your ecological footprint in the long run. Whether you’re looking to reduce waste, save energy or live a healthier lifestyle, these products aim to help you make small steps towards more sustainable living.
Baggu Standard reusable bag
Most of us already have far too many reusable bags, but if you haven’t made the switch yet from single-use disposable bags, we highly recommend Baggu’s Standard bag. It’s the perfect size for toting groceries, and it can hold up to 50 pounds. It folds up easily into a tiny square, and it comes in 25 colorful patterns, so you’re sure to find a print you’ll like. And did we mention that it’s machine-washable?
Furoshiki wrapping cloths
When it comes to gift giving, presentation is almost as important as the gift itself. The problem is, not all gift wrapping is recyclable. Enter furoshiki, traditional Japanese wrapping cloths. The great thing about furoshiki is that, unlike wrapping paper, it can be used again and again. And the clothes come in so many gorgeous colors and patterns, it’s almost like giving someone a second gift. You can find plenty of options online, but we’re big fans of this double-sided wrapping cloth from Bento&co. The cloth is a beautiful, durable material, and the size works well for both small- and medium-size packages.
U-Konserve Recycled Insulated Lunch Tote
This might be one of the most stylish reusable lunch totes we’ve come across. It’s got a functional over-the-shoulder strip; it’s not too bulky, but it’s roomy enough for a lunch container, snacks, an ice pack, and a water bottle. It’s made from recycled plastic bottles and is BPA- and phthalate-free. Plus, the insulated fabric lining helps keep food items cold or warm for hours — great for bringing your own meals to the office or to school, especially if you’ve got kids who are past the Paw Patrol lunch box phase.
Avocado organic cotton sheets
These sheets aren’t cheap, but they’re ultra-breathable with luxurious quality and feel. They’re made with 100% GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) organic certified cotton from India, without the use of pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. You’ll sleep better knowing that your sheets are chemical-free, nontoxic and made from responsibly sourced materials. Prices start at $109 for the twin-size 400-thread count single-ply weave. A standard queen set with a 600-thread count costs $229.
Oxo Good Grips reusable straws
As someone who enjoys my daily iced chai from Starbucks, these stainless steel straws were a worthwhile investment. They’re an affordable and eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastic straws, and a whole lot better than the taste and feel of paper straws. Oxo’s reusable straws are durable, lightweight, and have removable silicone tips for easy cleaning. The set comes with a small scrubbing brush — a must if you want to thoroughly get that icky residue out.