At the beginning of the year, one of my goals was to be more eco-friendly. Last year, I started getting more serious about recycling, I stopped using plastic grocery bags once I moved to Austin (almost five years ago), but I know there were more small changes I could make, right in my own home.
For Christmas, I got some of these items as gifts and I’ve been using them ever since, so I can finally report my thoughts!
Wool Dryer Balls
By skipping dryer sheets and fabric softener, you can save money, save electricity and still have soft, dry clothes. I got a set of four wool dryer balls and have been adding a few drops of essential oil to them before tossing them in with my wet laundry.
The oils add a natural scent without using any chemicals and because the balls bounce around in the dryer, it separates your clothes and cuts down on drying time. Plus, you’re not throwing away anything in the trash (like a dryer sheet) every time you do laundry. So far, I like them! I also like that I can choose what scent I want at any time or go without.
Beeswax Reusable Wraps
I got a pack of these “wraps” — it’s a 4-pack of wax sheets that you can use to wrap leftovers instead of using plastic wrap. The pack I got has different sizes to fit a plate, bowl or container. Or, you can wrap it around the food itself, such as a wedge of cheese or an avocado half. Then, when you’re done using it, you rise it off with warm water and air dry it. I love these!
For awhile, I was using disposable plastic straws when I would make a drink in a big jug, simply because I felt like I couldn’t clean my reusable straws well enough. That’s really silly! So, I bought a pack of reusable straws and a cleaner, and its so much easier, affordable, and guilt-free. My friend also got me a reusable silicone straw that folds up and fits into a small purse so you can bring it to restaurants or when you travel.
Reusable Paper Towels
My friend got me these and said, “I hope you’re down for these” and yes! This is a roll of “paper towels” but they are much thicker than paper towels. This particular brand also plants a tree for every roll purchased. So, you use the paper towel as a napkin or to wipe down counters or whatever you need… then toss it in the wash. Each sheet can be reused 100 times… isn’t that insane?! They are really durable, so I love these much more than standard paper towels.
Reusable Coffee Filter
I didn’t even know these existed! I make coffee at home every day. I have always purchased the unbleached filters, but this reusable filter (called a coffee sock) is awesome! You can use one filter for six months. I simply dump the grounds out, rinse it and let it air dry and then use it again the next day. Once a month, you can give it a good cleaning by putting it in boiling water for a few minutes.
Concentrated Detergents and Cleansers
For a few years now, I have been purchasing my laundry detergent and household cleaners from Melaleuca, which doesn’t use toxins. They also sell all of their cleaners and detergents in concentrated forms, which means the bottles are smaller, but when you dilute them at home, one small bottle equals three or four big bottles, and you’re reducing plastic production. I have always loved these products and will never go back — it makes no sense to pay for water in giant jugs!
Reusable Zipper Bags
I got a few different sizes of these for Christmas and they come in handy. Since I work from home, I don’t have to pack a lunch and I don’t have a daily use for these. However, there are times when you just need a ziplock bag and these are perfect for that. Once you’ve used one, you simply wash it out (I put them in the dishwasher) and then use it again.
Mesh Produce Bags
I was gifted a set of these and didn’t even know they existed. But, now that I have them and use them, I see other people in the store using them. Before I had these, I just used no bag — I refuse to use the plastic produce bags — but these come in handy for smaller items like jalapenos and limes… for all the margaritas.