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The Biggest Mistake You’re Making When You Buy New Sustainable Products

When you are passionate about being eco-friendly there is nothing quite as exciting as getting a new sustainable product, whether it is plant based trash cans, paper packaged deodorant, bamboo toothbrush, recyclable toothpaste, beeswax wrap or anything else. Your first instinct might be to immediately open it and start using it, I know mine is, but by doing that you may be wasting the last of the previous product you had before. 

If you ignore your old products and start using more sustainable ones, you are actually causing more waste by not using all of the product you have left. I am all for reusable products but if you immediately throw away all your plastic bags after getting a reusable one you are wasting the product and actually being less sustainable. Try to hold off on your new product and finish using your old stuff first. Here are some ways that have helped me keep from skipping straight to my new product: 

Don’t buy it until the other one is empty or ready to be thrown out 

The easiest way to keep from using a new product is to not purchase it until you are ready to use it. I got really excited when I saw the paper tube deodorant, but in order to keep myself from wasting my regular deodorant I didn’t buy the new tube until my current one was empty. 

Put it out of sight 

If there is a product that I bought but I haven’t quite used yet I will put it somewhere where I won’t see it everyday. I was placing an order at a zero waste shop and I wanted to get a bamboo toothbrush, but my toothbrush is still in good condition. I didn’t want to have to place a second order just for the toothbrush, so I went ahead and bought it and when it came in I placed it under my sink. Now I don’t see it everyday so it doesn’t tempt me, but I can easily find it when I am ready to switch. 

Use both 

This only works with some products, but if you are really excited to try out a new product then go for it. But instead of throwing your old stuff away, keep using it until you run out. I have done this with both my silicone baking mat and my beeswax wraps. I used them once or twice to try them out but I am still using my parchment paper and my plastic wrap. I will just use different ones based on the situation. For example, if I am baking a lot of cookies I might use both my parchment paper and my silicone baking mat so that I can use two cookie sheets at a time. If I want to save something in my fridge I might use my beeswax wrap but if I want to take a snack with me to work I will use my plastic wrap. 

Give it to a friend 

This obviously doesn’t work for everything but I did this when I was trying out a new, sustainably packaged toothpaste. I wanted to try it and my boyfriend just ran out of toothpaste, so I seized the opportunity to help both of us. I gave him the rest of my toothpaste and started using my new toothpaste. This was a win-win-win, he got more toothpaste (for free), I got to try my new toothpaste and nothing was wasted (yay for being green).

Repurpose your old stuff 

Let’s say you just got a new dish brush and you are ready to use it and get rid of your sponge, but your sponge is still in good condition. You can repurpose your sponge and use it to clean your bathroom instead of the dishes, for example. 

These are just some ideas, but these methods have dramatically helped me from just ditching my old products and creating more waste by trying to be sustainable! 

(she/her) Madison Thompson is a junior at The University of Missouri- Columbia and has direct admission into the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism School. She is an older sister and loves to read and write. In addition to Journalism, Madison loves creative writing. Madison has a self-published poetry book titled "The Journey". Her Poem Supermarket was a finalist in the 2019 KET writing contest.
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