Person wrapping onion in bee's wax wrap

14 Reusable & Eco-Friendly Alternatives for Common Household Products

Last Updated: June 27, 2022

Single-use products are convenient for us but awful for the planet because they can only be used one time. With these reusable equivalents, you can kiss those single-use trash monsters goodbye.

Sometimes it can feel like we live in a world of disposables. Pick up your takeout food, and suddenly you're bombarded with paper napkins, plastic silverware, plastic straws, plastic wraps, plastic containers, and other throwaway bits and bobs. While convenient, it certainly feels bad throwing all that junk away. And that’s just takeout food! In your home, there are tons of items designed to be bought, used once or twice, and then thrown away.

It doesn’t have to be this way: With new products and materials, there are modern swaps you can make to help reduce “single-use” waste in your life. And most of these reusable versions of products are hidden gems — that is, most people don’t know there are swaps for some of their favorite products that they don’t have to throw away. We’ve rounded up our favorite options below.

What are single-use products?

Single-use products are items (often plastics) designed to be used once, then immediately disposed of and usually taken to a landfill. Things like the plastic wrapping around takeout silverware, styrofoam containers, paper wrapping around straws, or even plastic straws themselves are all single-use products.

What are single-use plastics?

One of the most common forms of single-use products is single-use plastics — items like plastic straws, silverware, bottles, packaging, and containers. Single-use plastics make up half of all plastic produced worldwide. Most single-use plastics cannot be recycled, and those that can be recycled are often more expensive to use than simply buying new plastic.

How can I reduce my single-use waste?

Reducing single-use waste can seem daunting, but this is one instance where striving for improvement is better than trying to achieve perfection. A simple step everyone can take to reduce single-use waste is to start phasing out household use of single-use products.

It turns out, when you really look into it, a ton of single-use products have reusable equivalents that make for easy daily swaps to help your home produce less waste and to help the environment stay cleaner.

4 common reusable household products

Reusable water bottles

While single-use plastic bottles are recyclable, only about 21% of recycled bottles end up actually being recycled.

Carrying a reusable water bottle is a great way to reduce plastic bottle and cardboard cup consumption, while expressing your personality and looking healthy and stylish.

Reusable shopping bags

This one’s a pretty easy swap, especially since most of your favorite brands, stores, and workplaces make their own tote bags for all occasions.

With all these options, bringing a couple of your own reusable tote, grocery, or day bags to the store to cut down on single-use plastic and paper bag consumption should be a breeze.

10 surprising swaps for reusable household items

Woman putting snacks into Grove reusable storage bags

1. Swap plastic snack bags for reusable storage bags

We get it. When it comes to school lunches, the plastic bag is hard to beat. That’s why instead of reinventing the wheel, Grove offers reusable plastic storage bags.

Often made with strong, flexible, food-grade silicone, reusable bags are the perfect substitute for all those lunchtime goodies. Check out this first-person review of transitioning to reusable food storage for a full breakdown of the different reusable options.

Blue napkin illustration

2. Swap paper towels for reusable paper towels

Similar to plastic snack bags, the convenience of conventional paper towels makes them hard to get rid of. While classic kitchen towels can take care of most spills, sometimes you need something different.

Cue reusable paper towels. Disposable bamboo “paper” towels and heavily reusable European dish cloths can be used repeatedly and cut down on paper waste. Read about what it's really like making the switch to reusable paper towels — and how they stack up against traditional alternatives, with our first person review of reusable paper towels.

Bee's Wrap wax wraps

3. Swap plastic saran wrap for beeswax wraps

Another kitchen staple that’s the epitome of single-use plastic is saran wrap. Try swapping this garbage stuffer for one of the many reusable wraps available nowadays. Some of the most common reusable food wraps are beeswax wraps, made with beeswax, cotton, and tree oil.

Peach body lotion

4. Swap plastic lotion bottles for reusable lotion holders with plastic-free refills

This lotion has a case made from 100% infinitely recyclable aluminum that can be refilled again and again with lotion refill sticks in different scents and textures. Saying goodbye to huge plastic lotion bottles with big plastic pumps is fantastic for the planet and saves some serious space in your home as well. This convenient travel-size lotion case is also cute and compact: a real win-win.

Gray dryer balls illustration

5. Swap dryer sheets for wool dryer balls

In the laundry room, there are many opportunities for reusable and eco-friendly swaps. One of the easiest is trading out single-use dryer sheets for reusable wool dryer balls. Just like dryer sheets, these wool balls reduce wrinkles, but they can also reduce drying time by creating more air pockets in your laundry load.

Lint brush on bed with clothespins

6. Swap lint rollers for a reusable lint brush

When you notice pet hair all over your jacket, that plastic lint roller can be your best friend. But it is also a single-use fiend with all those little sticky squares that go straight in the garbage. Try trading it out for a reusable lint brush.

Lint brushes can be reused thousands of times and are often much better at freshening up outfits. Plus, it looks a lot more stylish than those plastic sheet rolls when you pull it out of your bag.

Makeup remover towel hanging on hook on bathroom wall

7. Swap makeup remover wipes for a makeup remover towel

When it comes to quickly taking off makeup, most people immediately grab for disposable wipes. But with new specialty cloths and towels, you can remove all your makeup with just water, and reuse the makeup removers again and again. For more on making the transition, read this review of makeup remover towels — and how they stood up to teens and adults alike.

Mesh produce bags with produce on countertop

8. Swap plastic product bags for reusable produce bags

When it comes to reducing single-use waste, the grocery store bulk aisle is your best friend. But bulk items are often purchased using a single-use plastic bag. And the produce section is often a prime culprit for plastic, with single-use bags often used to corral vegetables and fruit.

Easily avoid this added waste by bringing your own reusable produce bags. Cotton and mesh produce bags are great for shopping for bulk items, fruits, vegetables, and more.

Toilet brush and toilet

9. Swap a conventional toilet brush for a reusable toilet brush & handle

Even if you’ve switched to a reusable toilet brush (instead of the plastic ones with the throwaway pads), you still probably replace it fairly often because, let’s face it, the brush touches some unsanitary stuff.

But, you can actually purchase a brush that has a reusable handle with this Grove Co. Toilet Brush. Although you can’t preserve the brush from going into the trash eventually, you can at least reduce how often you’re disposing of it with this different take on the old toilet brush. The brush also comes with a stand filled with diatomaceous earth, a natural rock that, when ground, absorbs excess water while resisting mold and bacteria.

Peach Refillable Deodorant Set in Coconut Jasmine scent

10. Swap plastic deodorant for reusable deodorant holders with plastic-free refills

Refillable deodorant cases are becoming more and more abundant, but finding a natural deodorant that works in one of the cases is a different story. Peach put out this refillable deodorant and aluminum-free deodorant refill stick in May 2021, with deodorant that lasts up to 48 hours for odor protection. If that doesn’t intrigue you, the colorful case and different refill stick scents may just draw you in.

What is Grove Collaborative?

From natural household to personal care, everything at Grove is healthier for you and the planet — and works! We recommend monthly shipments and product refills that you can edit or move at any time. No monthly fees or commitments required.

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