It seems every time you turn around, there is a story about how another everyday item is killing the planet. “Don’t use this” or “stop using that” appears on the screen along with an image of a polluted beach or stream.
Of course, you want to do your part, but you also don’t want to sacrifice the functionality of these items. Well, now you don’t have to. More and more sustainable alternatives are available for many common goods.
Check out the list below to see what items you can exchange for an eco-friendly alternative.
Several restaurants and businesses have announced their plans to do away with using plastic straws. California has already banned plastic straws for their harmful effects on the environment and other states could be next.
But many people still prefer to sip from a straw—and for people with disabilities, they’re often quite necessary.
Fortunately, there are a few environmentally friendly alternatives. Depending on your budget, you could get straws made from metal, silicone, glass, straw, bamboo or paper.
Like everything else, each straw has its own pros and cons, so do your research before making a purchase.
For example, paper straws break down after a while, so they can’t be reused as many times as the other types, but they do require the least expensive upfront cost.
Nylon bristles and plastic handles aren’t great for the environment, but you need to brush your teeth every day. There are a few options you can use to be eco-friendly and preserve your oral hygiene.
The type of brush you pick will depend on your personal preference and how eco-friendly you want to be.
For example, a Neem chew stick is completely biodegradable. It’s an all-natural, plant-based stick made from a neem tree.
People nibble part of the stick off to expose the bristles before brushing their teeth.
Then, they cut the used bristles off and start again for the next cleaning. This continues until the stick is gone, which leaves little to no waste.
Bogobrush also has biodegradable toothbrushes available.
Alternatively, you can find bamboo toothbrushes like these at Brush with Bamboo.
Binders are a great way to package important documents—and if you opt for a reusable material such as vinyl or poly, they can be used for multiple purposes rather than end up in the trash.
Leather production is harmful to animals, the environment and employees of the industry because of the toxic chemicals used to transform skin into leather.
It also uses massive amounts of fossil fuels in the production of livestock, but you don’t have to give up on style while trying to save the planet.
Company Folders, Inc. offers sophisticated vinyl binders that mimic a leather style while also being durable and water-resistant.
The earth-friendly design comes in six different stocks and can be printed with six metallic foil options to add more elegance to the product.
When it comes to flooring, there are a variety of eco-friendly options for any kind of budget.
As with straws and toothbrushes, bamboo can also be used for flooring. Recycled material such as reclaimed woods, glass, porcelain and ceramic tile, metal and carpet also make good choices.
Other materials that can be used include cork, linoleum, wool carpet, rubber, stained concrete and even leather, though it’s best to use leather flooring in a dry area that doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic.
Flooringinc.com can guide you to select the best type of flooring for your budget and the area of your home.
For example, linoleum (which is made from all natural materials) is one of the more durable types of eco-friendly flooring, great for high-traffic areas as well as kitchens, bedrooms and hallways.
When it comes to selecting environmentally friendly bedding, be sure to look for linens meet the Global Organic Textile Standard.
Organic cotton is great, but there are other materials that also can be used to produce great bedding.
Living Fresh adds eucalyptus and other botanicals to cotton, which helps the environment because the eucalyptus tree doesn’t need irrigation, farming or pesticides.
Bamboo is a pretty versatile plant, as it can be used for sheets, pillows and even mattresses. Alternatively, consider bedding filled with a polyester down alternative made from recycled bottles from Under the Canopy.
There’s more to linens than bedding, however.
Bottle Cloth produces tablecloths, placemats, runners and napkins made from recycled plastic bottles. The fabric is durable, spill resistant and easy to clean.
Like straws, plastic bags are also getting banned across the country. California became the first state to ban the bags in 2014.
Other municipalities have imposed fees or surcharges on plastic bags.
To do your part, you can opt for paper bags next time you’re at the grocery store or bring something a little more durable.
Eco-Bags offers recycled cotton totes as well as string market bags.
Grocery bags aren’t the only bags that have a sustainable alternative. There are a couple of options when it comes to replacing your plastic sandwich bags.
Blue Avocado’s (re)zip line is made from recycled material and offers a reusable, leak-proof storage bag in a variety of sizes for sandwiches and other snacks.
Another sandwich bag alternative is available from Nordic by Nature.
They are made from cotton fabric in various colors and patterns and have food-safe polyester inside that can be easily cleaned by hand or put in the dishwasher.
As you can see, reducing your carbon footprint doesn’t have to leave you scrambling.
Companies are releasing eco-friendly alternatives to their already existing products each day as part of their sustainability plans.
In addition, new products that do the same things are also being developed. You can’t save the planet by changing your entire lifestyle overnight, but every little bit helps.