Quantcast

Ditch the Disposables (And What to Use Instead)

Popular
With safety razors, only the blades need replacing. Your Best Digs / Flickr

By Meredith Rosenberg

Disposable items have become so ingrained in our daily habits that we may not realize all of the small, everyday actions that are adding to the amount of disposable waste that ends up in oceans and landfills. Here are five lifestyle changes you can make today to ditch the disposables and reduce your environmental impact.


Instead of: Shampoo bottles

It's estimated that more than eight million tons of plastic end up in the ocean—every year. But water bottles aren't the only culprit; plastic packaging contributes 40 percent to the amount of plastic used by the average consumer. Shampoo bottles are included in that figure, and plastic is still the most common packaging for them.

Use: Shampoo bars

But shampoo bars, which are simply concentrated shampoo in bar form, are steadily becoming more popular. Not only are they packaged in recyclable materials (or none at all), but they also tend to last longer than two bottles of shampoo. Plus, shampoo bars are more likely to be made with all-natural (and eco-friendly) ingredients.

Micheal Foley / Flickr

Try: Ethique

New Zealand-based Ethique claims to be the world's first zero-waste beauty brand. Not only that, but Ethique's shampoo (and conditioner) bars are made with sustainable materials that are free of palm oil, a commonly used product that's partly to blame for deforestation.

Instead of: Disposable razors

Based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's last estimates from 1990, Americans toss more than two billion disposable razors a year. The majority of plastic handles and blades can't be recycled, and disposables aren't designed to last more than a week or so.

Use: Safety razors

Safety razors debuted in the 19th century as an at-home alternative to the straight blades used in barbershops. Though the single-blade razors fell out favor with the introduction of disposable razors, they never disappeared. While the earliest versions were rust prone, today's models are made from stainless steel, and only the blades need to be replaced.

Your Best Digs / Flickr

Try: Edwin Jagger

The Edwin Jagger razors (also available on Amazon) are reminiscent of their earlier counterparts, and like most safety razors, provide a closer shave than disposables.

Instead of: Floss picks

Disposable floss picks have become more popular in recent years, but unless specified, they're not recyclable. The majority of traditional dental floss brands can't be recycled either, and even if they can, they're typically coated with chemicals that aren't biodegradable.

Use: Water flossers

The American Dental Association approves flossing alternatives, such as Waterpiks. Water flossers replace disposable plastic by using water to clean gums. Besides being just as, if not more effective, than flossing, reusable water flossers eliminate the daily waste created by flossing. A good one should last for years, and the water and electric use is negligible.

Your Best Digs / Flickr

Try: Philips Sonicare Airfloss Ultra

The compact Philips Sonicare Airfloss Ultra doesn't hog as much counter space as other waterpiks, and is even small enough to take on the road. It can even pull double duty by using mouthwash instead of water to help remove plaque and clean gums.

Instead of: Dryer sheets

We've been conditioned to use dryer sheets for softer, static-free clothes, but not only are single-use dryer sheets not recyclable, they're also not necessary.

Use: Wool dryer balls

However, if it's hard to break the fabric softener habit, wool dryer balls are a more eco-friendly option. Effective wool balls should last for about 1,000 loads, or up to five years. Plus, they're a natural alternative to chemical-laden dryer sheets.

miromiro / Getty Images

Try: Woolzies

Eco-friendly Woolzies makes its dryer balls from New Zealand wool; they also help with energy efficiency by reducing drying time by 25 percent. Plus, the product is hypoallergenic, which is good news for those who are sensitive to wool.

Instead of: Plastic water filter

Yes, plastic water filters are one way to combat the global bottled water trend; a recent report showed that one million plastic bottles are bought every minute. So while this option is better than bottled water, many water filters aren't recyclable.

Use: Charcoal sticks

Thank to charcoal's natural ability to remove toxins, you may have noticed the activated charcoal trend appearing in everything from beauty products to ice cream. But charcoal sticks can be used on their own in a glass pitcher of water, replacing the need for plastic filters. Though they can't remove fluoride, charcoal does appear to reduce everything from lead to mercury. Sticks typically last about four months, after which they can be composted or repurposed to deodorize an area in your home.

Japanese Binchōtan (Japanese high-grade charcoal produced from ubame oak)STRONGlk7 / CC BY-SA 3.0

Try: Morihata

Though charcoal sticks aren't yet a mainstream water filter alternative, Japanese-brand Morihata has developed a reputation for its Kishu binchotan charcoal sticks.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Mike Mozart / Flicker / CC BY 2.0

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder on Friday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found trace amounts of asbestos in one of its bottles.

Read More Show Less
Electric towers during golden hour. Pixabay / Pexels

An international group of scientists released a report today detailing how the fossil fuel industry actively campaigned to sow doubt about the climate crisis and what steps need to be taken to undo the damage, as the Los Angeles Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Justin Trudeau delivers remarks during an election rally in Markham, Ontario, Canada, on Sept. 15. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. / NurPhoto via Getty Images

By Chloe Farand for Climate Home News

Canadians are voting on Monday in an election observers say will define the country's climate future.

Read More Show Less
Activists Greta Thunberg (2ndL), Iris Duquesne(C), and Alexandria Villaseñor (3rd R) attend a press conference where 16 children present their official human rights complaint on the climate crisis to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child at the UNICEF Building on Sept. 23 in NYC. KENA BETANCUR / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Taft

Fifteen kids from a dozen countries, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, recently brought a formal complaint to the United Nations. They're arguing that climate change violates children's rights as guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a global agreement.

Read More Show Less
Cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on could fall heavily on the public.
Susan Vineyard / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Justin Mikulka

Increasingly, U.S. shale firms appear unable to pay back investors for the money borrowed to fuel the last decade of the fracking boom. In a similar vein, those companies also seem poised to stiff the public on cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Blue tarps given out by FEMA cover several roofs two years after Hurricane Maria affected the island in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP / Getty Images

Top officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed to lawmakers last week that they knowingly — and illegally — stalled hurricane aid to Puerto Rico.

Read More Show Less
Actress Jane Fonda (C) and actor Sam Waterston (L) participate in a protest in front of the U.S. Capitol during a "Fire Drill Fridays" climate change protest and rally on Capitol Hill, Oct. 18. Mark Wilson / Getty Images News

It appears Jane Fonda is good for her word. The actress and political activist said she would hold demonstrations on Capitol Hill every Friday through January to demand action on the climate crisis. Sure enough, Fonda was arrested for demonstrating a second Friday in a row Oct. 18, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Only this time, her Grace and Frankie co-star Sam Waterston joined her.

Read More Show Less
Visitors look at the Aletsch glacier above Bettmeralp, in the Swiss Alps, on Oct. 1. The mighty Aletsch — the largest glacier in the Alps — could completely disappear by the end of this century if nothing is done to rein in climate change, a study showed on Sept. 12. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Switzerland's two Green parties made historic gains in the country's parliamentary elections Sunday, according to projections based on preliminary results reported by The New York Times.

Read More Show Less