10 Simple Sustainable Switches for Your Everyday Life

Gen Z is a generation of powerful, change-seeking leaders, so it comes as no surprise that there is a surge in more sustainable habits and lifestyles recently. I would like to preface this piece by recognizing the fact that not everyone can afford or access a sustainable way of life since it can come as a tricky investment; I will also highlight this multiple times throughout the list. If you can invest in reusable containers, biodegradable hygiene products, eco-friendly cleaning supplies, etc., I promise it will benefit your life and Mother Earth. Here are some sustainable products and choices I have tried (and loved!) in my life, as well as a few things I am looking to explore in the near future:

  1. Staying hydrated helps your body and mind, so going the extra mile to help the environment and use a refillable water bottle will save you from mountains of unnecessary throw-away plastic than regular water bottles contain (while keeping your water extra cold). Grab a reusable straw and you’ve upped your game even more.

  2. I’ve only used Ziploc bags and plastic Tupperware for as long as I’ve prepared food in the kitchen, but these have made everything so much better. Beeswax wraps are beautiful and practical options for wrapping produce or leftovers, and glass containers are a safer alternative to reheating leftovers. It’s a win-win-win for your cooking addiction, your wallet, and the environment.

  3. I think this is one of the most well-known yet underused options for reducing everyday waste. Canvas bags can be cute and reliable, and they reduce the number of trips I have to make to carry everything in after grocery shopping. Produce bags are less of a hassle versus the fragile plastic bags and twist-ties you find around the grocery store. If you live near a bulk store that allows you to refill containers, TAKE ADVANTAGE!

  4. This is a recent discovery I have come across thanks to social media. Regular toothbrushes take forever to break down after being disposed of, but the bamboo version is naturally biodegradable and eco-friendly. Do some research to find an option suitable for you and your personal dental health. Chewable toothpaste tabs are an additional way to make your daily brushing routine less wasteful!

  5. Everyone uses shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc., so we rarely consider how those products affect the ecosystem. Switching to package-free options would be ideal, but it is entirely unrealistic for everyone’s budget and hair type; plastic-free (or low-plastic) packaging is more attainable. Brands such as Lush provide these shower items in bar form and still do the job well! If you can find brands that push good products with sustainable package designs, support them 100% and share the word.

  6. Menstrual cups are intimidating, I know. It’s difficult enough for many people with periods to access pads and tampons, but as someone who can afford a switch to a washable and reusable hygiene product, I hope to never have to buy those products for myself again; instead, I hope that one day I can spend my usual period product money on hygiene product donations for those in need. Even if you choose not to do something like this, still look into washable pads or period underwear like Thinx… whatever you feel comfortable in during your time of the month. Take the leap if you’re able, but understand it is a privilege to do so.

  7. A simple switch from throwaway paper towels to washable ones will save tons of waste each year. This option once again requires access to a washer of some sort, so it is not an accessible choice for many. This requires more frequent maintenance, but you will save so much money on not re-purchasing paper towels every single week!

  8. How often do you use aluminum foil when you bake? If I use the oven, chances are I’m also using foil. This is such an unnecessary waste that can be avoidable with easy-to-wash silicone sheets that will act as a worthy substitute. Again, you can save money by investing in a few liners and never worry about running out of an essential cooking tool (in my opinion).

  9. Billions of gallons of water are wasted on producing fashion items. Fast fashion and consumerism largely contribute to enabling big corporations who utilize unethical and non-environmentally-friendly practices. The low costs of some fast fashion brands are incredibly accessible, but those who have the lifestyle to support and access secondhand clothing (and other household items) should consider the option. You can find fantastic pieces to round out your unique style and prevent old items from ending up in a landfill.

  10. Using cold water when washing your clothes will prevent shrinking and color bleeding while saving money and energy at the same time. Air drying — or just reducing dryer time — lessens your carbon footprint and is gentler on your favorite fashion pieces. If you do use the dryer, look into something like reusable dryer balls to avoid disposable dryer sheets.