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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

Amid growing concerns about the climate crisis, I have noticed more and more people on social media are looking for sustainable alternatives to products they use every day. These alternatives can be reused, so they are not polluting the earth or sent to landfills after a single use. After researching and trying various products, I have compiled a list of five of my favourites below.

1. Paper Towels ➡ Swedish Dishcloths

Single-use paper towels can be swapped with a reusable and cost-effective alternative: Swedish dishcloths. Swedish dishcloths are fast drying and absorb 20 times their weight in water. They are composed of compostable organic material and can be hand-washed and thrown in the laundry or dishwasher to be used again. For the past six months, I have been enjoying using the one I purchased from Ten and Co. You can purchase them from SwedethingsSimonsThe Bay, and many other stores as they become more popular. Many Swedish dishcloths feature beautiful patterns, and they are popping up more and more across storefronts at various price points.

2. Plastic Produce Bags ➡ Mesh Bags

Mesh produce bags can be washed and reused repeatedly, replacing flimsy plastic bags you find at the grocery store. These plastic bags are easy to rip and more often than not, end up in landfills, where they can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. Mesh bags are often sold in packs that carry a variety of sizes. I purchased mine from my local supermarket, but you can find them online or at places like Canadian Tire. I bring them along whenever I go grocery shopping. Using them over the past couple of years has definitely saved me from wasting tons of plastic bags.

3. Plastic Wrap ➡ Beeswax Wrap

Beeswax wrap is an environmentally friendly swap for plastic cling wrap. It is used to keep food fresh and can function as a cover, wrapped around food items, or crafted into a pouch to carry things like snacks and sandwiches. Certain beeswax wraps are so strong they can even store liquids in them. They are generally sticky to the touch but rest assured, the residue doesn’t come off on your food products. You can wash the wraps again and again, so they are more environmentally friendly than their single-use counterparts. Beeswax wraps are biodegradable, so when the product reaches the end of its lifespan, you can cut it up into pieces and dispose of it in the compost bin. Tons of Canadian small businesses sell Beeswax wraps like AbeegoBee Kind and Mind Your Bees Wraps. The beeswax wraps I have used are adorned with beautiful patterns and smell good. 

4. Parchment Paper ➡ Silicone Baking Mats

Silicone baking mats are a handy replacement for parchment paper. The fact that you don’t have to buy rolls of parchment paper makes these much more cost-effective than their counterparts. They are generally dishwasher-safe, non-stick and reusable. These mats come in multiple sizes to fit different pans. I use mine to line trays for baking cookies and roasting vegetables. I purchased mine from Superstore, and you can find them at stores like Canadian TireTarget and Indigo. Mats like this one from Kitchenaid sold at Walmart, this one from Crate&Barrel and this one from Michaels have measurements on them, which is super convenient for baking. 

5. Cotton pads ➡ Reusable Cloth Facial Rounds

Single-use cotton pads are awful for the environment. People generally use them to remove makeup or to apply products as part of their skincare routine. Unfortunately, the deforestation, chemicals and water used to manufacture this product harms the environment, and their plastic component does not biodegrade. Instead, you can utilize reusable cotton pads, which can be used the same way as single-use ones. However, they are great because you can pop them in the wash and use them repeatedly. I stumbled across a pack at Shoppers Drug Mart, but they can be found at SephoraThe Body ShopNudestixIndigo, and your local green markets.  

Alternatives to single-use products are often better for the environment and much more cost-effective in the long-term. We can all make a difference by being intentional with our purchases and reusing items whenever we can!

💄 Related: 5 Must-Have Sustainable Beauty Products
Sakina Chaudary

Toronto MU '24

Fourth year journalism student based in Toronto.