By Megan Fuller and Maya Murillo
It takes some time and thought to Greening Up the holidays, and the household in general, and often just feels overwhelming. There are so many little things that we need to use every day that are adding to the world’s waste. To relieve some of that Greening Up stress, KAZB put together this list of some ideas for practical reusables to gift to others or get for yourself.
- Produce bags: Those thin plastic produce bags are the bane of many green shoppers’ existence. Reusable mesh bags for produce are available on Amazon and Ebay but you can go even greener and make them yourself from an old t-shirt or pillowcase. Check out KAZB’s Pinterest Everyday Reusables board for ideas on making your own bags. Please don’t forget to wash them between uses to reduce the risk of food borne illness.
- Drinking straws: The plastic straw has been getting much (well deserved) bad press lately. According to the National Park Service, Americans use around 500 million plastic straws every day. That’s one to two straws for every person in the United States every single day! Many individuals and families are committing to be plastic straw free but not everyone can, or wants to, give up using straws. Straws are useful for small children, elderly people, people with disabilities, and really anyone who rides in a moving vehicle. There are options for those who need or want to use straws but not create waste. A variety of biodegradable straws are available on Amazon made from paper, wheat, hay, and other plant-based materials. These are certainly a better option than plastic if you need straws in bulk, or do not have the time to wash a reusable. However, if you are able to keep a straw with you and keep it clean, there is a nice selection of reusables available. Strawesome.com has a great assortment of glass straws that are fun and eco-friendly. Greenssteel.com has a useful stainless-steel set of straws that comes with a brush for cleaning. Finally, brushwithbamboo.com has bamboo straws that can be bought in bulk or a travel kit to take on the go. With all the non-plastic straw possibilities it should be easy for us to Be Straw Free.
- Dental floss container with biodegradable floss: Nothing qualifies as single use plastic more than dental floss. We are all (or should be) flossing at least once a day so there is probably around the same number of floss fragments or plastic floss toothpicks ending up in the trash every day as plastic straws. The cute little dental floss canisters are not practical for reuse either, so they are just adding to the waste stream. At dentallace.com they recognized this flossing issue and created refillable containers and biodegradable floss of silk and bamboo, so your daily dental hygiene routine no longer requires the use of plastics. Bamboo toothbrushes are available at brushwithbamboo.com if you want to eliminate the use of plastic in brushing as well as flossing.
- Tiffin: A billion people in India take their lunches to work in a tiffin, that’s quite a consensus that tiffins are useful food carriers. Using a tiffin eliminates the need for plastic sandwich bags at lunchtime. In addition, they can be taken with to restaurants to carry home leftovers, so you can leave the plastic or Styrofoam clam shells behind. Meal preppers could use multiple tiffins, one for every day of the week. Tiffins come in an assortment of sizes, styles, and price ranges.
- Period proof underwear: Somewhere between 20 and 45 billion tampons, applicators, and sanitary pads are disposed of annually. What’s an environmentally conscious woman to do? It’s not like our bosses or families or society is going to let us spend the week in a red tent sitting on a bed of straw. Happily, there are now companies that make undies that eliminate, or at least reduce, the need for disposable sanitary products. Panties are available in a variety of styles, absorbencies, and prices. THINX is possibly the most well-known period proof panty company and have proved to be super useful and absorbent. They do what they are supposed to do and are holding up wash after wash. Other brands to choose from include Dear Kates, Lunapads, Anigan, modibodi, and PantyProp.