Working towards less waste:

Sustainable Industry

  • February 2021
  • 3 Minute Read
Sustainable IndustryAndo Investing

Our Favorite Zero-Waste Products You Didn’t Know You (or Your Home) Needed

These six sustainable materials will make your everyday life a little more planet-friendly.

Most of us have spent more time at home (in our sweatpants) over the last year than we ever expected. Working from our couches, washing hands, waiting for stay-at-home orders to lift—it’s easy to start noticing how much waste you’re producing when you’re constantly taking out the trash and rolling out the recycling.  

The EPA estimates that the average person produces about 4.9 lbs of waste a dayEww. And since there are billions of us producing waste on the daily, the total number of all that trash is truly mind-blowing. It seems like the easy answer to cut our carbon footprint is eliminating all the non-renewable products in our lives. But you don’t have to overhaul everything to have a positive impact on our planet.  

By making small changes and incorporating sustainable materials into our routines, we can collectively work towards reversing the climate crisis, together. From paperless paper towels to eco-friendly construction supplies, sustainable materials are considered to be products that are created in large volume without depleting non-renewable resources (and protecting our environment). Bio-based polymers, glass, highly-recyclable materials—sustainable materials are constantly evolving.   

So how can incorporate sustainable materials and products into your everyday life in favor of helping to fight climate change? Here are ten of our favorite zero-waste items that you’ll *actually* use (and love). Your routine and your planet will thank you.

On a roll:

“Unpaper” towels

We are on track to have more plastic by weight in our oceans than fish by 2050.

- National Geographic
How small changes make big differences

We get it, paper towels are a convenient way to clean up even the messiest messes—but they are literally the least green way to dry your hands, especially during a pandemic where stockpiling them seems to be a protective priority. Paper towels alone are responsible for 110 million trees getting cut down everywhere and they amount to 3,000 tons of landfill waste.

But is swapping out these not-so-ecofriendly cylinders really an option? Do these alternatives really work? If cleaning up messes, quickly, (and having a squeaky-clean home) counts, finding paper-less towels is easier (and less expensive) than you think.   

Our product pick: Grove offers a line of affordable, tree-free “paper” towels (and other paper-less home products) made from sustainable bamboo fibers. Not only are they super strong 2-ply sheets (we just did our Sunday deep clean with them), every purchase helps to replant U.S. forestland. 100% green, 100% clean.

A clean catch

Wool dryer balls

Did you know the Consumer Product Safety Commission doesn’t require manufactures to disclose what’s in their dryer sheets on the label? Now that’s concerning. From questionable chemicals to polyester, and fake fragrances, a lot of dryer sheets on the market are contributing to VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Those are gases being released into the air from these not-so-sustainable sheets. According to the Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health study, VOCs emitted from dryer vents using popular brands of dryer sheets included carcinogenic chemicals, like acetaldehyde and benzene. Clothes with chemicals? No thank you!   

Wool dryer balls are the easiest way to make your laundry routine cleaner. An all-natural way to soften your clothes, wool dryer balls last hundreds of loads, softening your clothes, eliminating static, and reducing energy usage by separating clothes and drying them faster, without drying out our planet.

Our product pick: Made from New Zealand wool (you know those sheep are living their best life), Public Goods’ Wool Dryer Balls contain zero chemicals and are fragrance-free, cruelty-free, and planet-friendly, keeping your clothes looking sharp—and feeling soft—without breaking the bank or harming Mother Earth .

Soak it up:

Sustainable sponges

Dishes are just a part of life, especially when you’re under stay-at-home orders. Raise your hand if there’s a pile of plates staring at you right now. But that yellow and green sponge (potentially laden with bacteria) you’re scrubbing away with post-dinner poses a problem for our environment long after you throw it away.   

Traditional sponges made of plastic or oils are can’t be recycled or broken down, meaning every sponge can take centuries to "disappear”—and all the microfibers that make up your sponge have washed down the drain and into the ocean. With a suggestion to dispose of your sponge at least every two weeks (and over 400 million sponges being tossed out in the U.S. alone every year), your dishwashing is having a detrimental impact on our planet. Whether it’s trying a linen dishcloth or swapping out for a sustainable dish brush, there are affordable, green (and clean) ways you can wash your dishes every day while reducing your waste.  

Our product pick: While we love a good dish brush, sometimes cleaning every nook and cranny of that baking pan with a sponge just feels good (am I right?). Meet Full Circle’s Walnut Scrubber Sponge. Plant-based and made of walnut shells, cellulose, and cycled plastic, the non-allergy-inducing, scrubbing power of walnut shells are simply amazing and sustainable—and makes us think, what have we been waiting for? 

Sustainable shower suds:

Shampoo and conditioner bars

How we wash our hair might be having a bigger impact on climate change than we are aware of. Every shampoo, every hot shower is heating up climate change. Showering drives almost 17% of water use in homes—and an average family in the U.S. uses 40+ gallons of water per day in the shower (equaling 1.2 trillion gallons of water in America every year). But outside of our water waste, mainstream shampoos and conditioners are not only supporting single-use plastic, they are washing chemicals down our drains.  

The haircare bottles in your shower contribute to the over nine million tons of plastic that end up in our ocean every year. Right now, we are on track to have more plastic by weight in our oceans than fish by 2050. Yep, that’s in our lifetime. And what is in those bottles require a little extra reading. For example, the chemicals in shampoo can contain toxic carcinogens and pose health risks, like memory and hair loss. Also, what you’re washing with is going straight into your skin—and our waterways. One way to eliminate this harm to our planet (and your body) is in the form of shampoo and conditioner bars.   

Our product pick: Wrapped in paper with zero waste, it's never been easier to keep your hair (and the planet) healthy. Shea Moisture’s battle-tested shampoo bars keep almost every hair type clean and chemical-free—we like the Jamaican Black Castor Oil Bentonite bar because, well, all those DryBar blowouts. And for conditioner, Lush’s American Cream’s lavender, vanilla, sage scent is a dose of much-needed, sustainable hydration. Plus, it’s hot pink and equals two bottles of liquid conditioner, so it will brighten up your bathroom, your routine, and last for a loooong time.

Turn up the heat:

Silicone baking mats

How many cookies, kale chips, roasted cauliflower, and banana bread loaves have you made since quarantine began? Newbie baker or experienced cook, many recipes ask you to line your baking sheets with parchment paper. But every rip, every roll, goes straight to the garbage can—contributing to 26% of total landfill wasteA simple alternative that will make your kitchen greener (and your baking even better)?  Silicone baking mats.   

If you’ve never used (or heard of) a silicone baking mat, they make perfect sense for a more homemade, more sustainable lifestyle. With a silicone mat, you don’t need any non-stick sprays (which just add more yuck to the atmosphere) and they keep food from contacting potentially unhealthy non-stick and metal surfaces. They also eliminate the need for single-use parchment paper and don’t take up any room in your kitchen. That’s a win-win for baking and a better future.    

Our product pick: You can’t go wrong with the original (and authentic) silicone baking mat, Silpat. Made in France, a Silpat might be a little more pricey than other brands, but they are the gold standard of silicone baking mats—it's so good your cookies will just glide off your baking sheet. And they can be used up to 3,000 times, so that’s a little non-stick magic for your oven and Mother Earth.

Written by:

Brittany Raine Parry

Brittany is a well known lover of all things, but she is most notably known for being: Copywriter. Environment Advocate. Editor. Journalist. Marketer. Strategist. Storyteller. Creative content connoisseur with a wealth of diverse experiences. Challenges accepted.

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