There’s a high cost for living in a throwaway culture. The never-ending appetite to consume and toss away only to consume again is not only expensive in the long run, it drains the earth of finite resources and creates environmental and ecological disasters like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
The glut of cheap, disposable goods may be a thing of convenience for the end user (to the ceaseless benefit of the corporation of course), but if contributing to the earth’s destruction isn’t actually part of your evil master plan, there are plenty of long-lived products that can help thwart the throwaway trend.
Here are 20 products that were created with durability, longevity, and repeated uses in mind:
1. Bee’s Wrap
In lieu of single-use plastic cling wrap, Bee’s Wrap can be used repeatedly for up to one year. Made with a blend of beeswax, organic cotton, jojoba oil, and tree resin, it adheres to any shape – bowls, fruits, plates, sandwiches, blocks of cheese, and beyond – just give it a light rub with your fingers to create a tight seal. Available in three sizes, Bee’s Wrap is very easy to clean – simply rinse in cold water and thoroughly dry before reuse.
Buy Bee’s Wrap here.
2. Rechargeable Batteries
Purchasing good quality rechargeable batteries may have a higher upfront cost than the standard disposable ones, but they will pay for themselves since they can be recharged hundreds of times.
It might be tempting to pick up no-name rechargeables, but they tend to lose their charge much quicker than other brands. Earning top marks from users and reviewers alike, Eneloop is among the longest lasting rechargeable on the market today.
Purchase Eneloop Pro here.
3. Stainless Steel Water Bottles
The scourge of plastic bottle waste – in the US, 1500 plastic bottles are consumed every second – could be drastically curtailed if each person committed to using reusables. Stainless steel bottles will last a lifetime, can hold water and carbonated beverages, and will help to keep your drinks nice and cold.
We love Sfee 17 ounce stainless steel bottles because they are double wall insulated, are available in several fashionable colors, and come with a handy cleaning brush.
Buy Sfee stainless steel bottles here.
4. Reusable K-Cups
Ever since single cup coffee brewers became all the rage, those little brewing pods have generated so much plastic waste that in 2014 alone, the pods would encircle the earth more than 12 times. Recently Keurig launched their first recyclable K-Cups but they are neither reusable nor biodegradable and still create tons of needless plastic waste.
Fitting many Keurig models, Reusable Single K-Cup Filter Pods are easy to clean and feature a permanent stainless steel mesh filter.
Buy Reusable K-Cups here.
5. LED Light Bulbs
At $1.56 per bulb, LEDs have surely come a long way when it comes to achieving energy efficiency at an extremely affordable upfront cost. Lasting 4 times longer than CFLs and 25 times longer than incandescents, LEDs also use 90% less energy than standard bulbs.
Purchase a 16-pack of Philips LED light bulbs here.
6. Menstrual Cups
Much kinder to your health and the environment than disposable tampons and pads, making the switch to menstrual cups means you’ll save money too. Costing between $20 and $40 and lasting about 10 years, the cup is a safer way to manage your monthlies without contributing to the massive amount of waste generated with conventional feminine products.
There are many great menstrual cup options to choose from but we particularly like the Diva Cup.
Purchase the Diva Cup here.
7. Bamboo Towels
While awareness of the environmental costs of disposable plastics is growing, lesser acknowledged is the devastating impact paper production has on the planet. Between deforestation, pollution of the air, water, and soil, and the massive amount of energy needed for manufacture, paper making is indeed a dirty industry.
A sustainable alternative to paper towels, heavy duty bamboo towels are made from certified organic bamboo cotton and can be washed and reused more than 120 times. They are much kinder for the planet because bamboo trees are a sustainable, renewable resource, and the fastest growing plant in the world.
Buy Bamboo Towels here.
8. Glass Containers
Free of BPA and other harmful chemicals, glass containers for stowing food and leftovers are an excellent substitute for plastics. Made from silica, soda ash, and limestone, these containers are freezer, microwave, dishwasher, and oven safe, and will last a lifetime when properly taken care of.
Purchase the 18-piece assorted glassware set here.
9. Reusable Snack Bags
Cut down on single-use plastic baggies with these zippered polyester snack containers for on-the-go munching. BPA, phthalate, PVC, lead, and vinyl free, these bags are food safe, can be cleaned in the washing machine and dishwasher, and are available in several adult and kid-friendly designs.
Buy Bumpkins reusable snack bags here.
10. Cloth Baby Diapers
The amount of waste generated with disposable baby diapers is pretty epic – an estimated 18 billion are added to landfills each year in the US. Considering that a baby will use around 7,000 diapers before being potty trained – costing families anywhere between $1800 and $3000 from birth – disposable diapers are a financial burden as well.
We’ve come a long way from the cloth diapers of yesteryear. Cute and stylish cloth covers prevent leaks, are waterproof, and breathable. A reusable 3-layer microfiber cloth insert will absorb the mess. Fully adjustable, these pocket diapers will fit babies from 0 to 2 years.
Purchase reusable baby cloth diapers by LBB here.
11. Safety Razor
The EPA estimates that each year 2 billion disposable razors are thrown away in the US. That figure is even more alarming when you consider that they are not recyclable.
Before the invention of plastic disposables, people shaved with high quality and durable safety razors – long-lived stainless steel shaving tools with a replaceable blade. Providing a much smoother shave than cheap plastics, it works equally well on faces and legs and will last a lifetime. Once the blade is dull, it’ll cost you about ten cents per refill.
Buy the Vikings Blade safety razor here.
12. Mesh Produce Bags
Another way to lessen the burden of plastic pollution, mesh polyester produce bags are reusable, semi-transparent, and can be tossed in the washing machine. Since the fabric is breathable, using these bags in place of plastic can help extend the shelf-life of your perishables. Available in various sizes, the tare weights are clearly labeled and each can hold up to 11 pounds of produce.
Purchase reusable mesh produce bags here.
13. Wool Dryer Balls
Instead of using chemical laden dryer sheets every time you run a load, wool dryer balls are 100% natural, help save on energy since they speed up drying time, and will soften and fluff your clothes. Lasting for at least 1000 spins in the dryer, put a few drops of your favorite essential oil on the wool balls to add a lovely scent to your fabrics.
Buy Smart Sheep dryer balls here.
14. Cast Iron Skillets
There are plenty of good reasons to invest in cast iron cookware – not least of which is that the foods you cook taste so much better and, when properly taken care of, they will last pretty much forever. And unlike non-stick pans that are coated in toxic Teflon, seasoned cast iron skillets improve with repeated use and impart delicious flavors to your foods the more you use it.
This Lodge Logic Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet is one of the most popular and well reviewed cast iron skillets.
15. Silicone Baking Mats
Instead of single use aluminum foil, parchment paper, and wax paper, these reusable baking mats are non-stick, non-toxic, easy to clean, and can endure temperatures up to 482°F. Made of silicone coated fiberglass mesh, they won’t absorb flavors or odors from previous cooks.
This three piece set of non-stick baking mats is a perfect option.
16. Cloth Napkins
Class up dinnertime with these 100% cotton cloth napkins in an array of vibrant hues – and ditch the one-use paper variety.
Purchase cloth dinner napkins here.
17. Reusable Tea Bags
Perfect for loose leaf tea, herb infusions, and coffee, these cotton muslin sachets can be used again and again to brew up your hot beverages. They can also be used to hold soap nuts in the washing machine.
Buy reusable tea bags here.
18. Velcro Plant Ties
Velcro plant ties have a lot of advantages over the traditional plastic twist ties. They are green so they blend into plant foliage really well. They are easy to adjust as your plants grow. They are soft and won’t damage delicate plant stems. And they can be collected and reused for the next growing season.
Purchase Velcro plant ties here.
19. Reusable Makeup Remover Pads
Eliminating the need for throwaway cotton pads, these inexpensive makeup removers are made from plush microfiber that are softer and more gentle on the skin than terrycloth washcloths. Once soiled, they can be tossed in the washing machine. Use them in conjunction with one of these natural makeup remover recipes.
Purchase these pretty makeup remover cloths here.
20. Stainless Steel Drinking Straws
If you love imbibing through a straw but hate the waste it creates then these stainless steel straws are for you! Elegant and durable, these straws won’t impart a metallic taste to your beverages, are dishwasher safe, and include a cleaning brush.
Buy SipWell stainless steel drinking straws here.
Help Spread The Word
If everyone who reads this article makes the switch from just two or three throwaway items to a reusable product, we can start to make a real difference – even if it is just a drop in the ocean.
We can make a difference to the quantity of waste being deposited in landfills, to the carbon emissions poisoning the atmosphere and we can keep more money in our pockets, rather than filling the pockets of giant corporations.
Help make a difference by sharing this article with a friend or two. Send it to them in an email, post it on your Facebook profile (you can use the button below) or Tweet about it.
Let’s help change the world!