20 Products to Break Up With in 2020
Every day we use many single-use products simply out of habit. From cleaning supplies to hygiene products to gift wrap and more, we are continuously guided to purchase (and repurchase) products that don’t serve us or the environment with the promise that they will improve our lives or save us money.
The truth is, most plastic-laden, eco-unfriendly products don’t improve our lives and even when they do come with a slightly lower price tag (which is not always), it doesn’t cover the cost of the negative impact they create on our bodies and the world.
As we enter 2020 we have so many fantastic opportunities to switch out those non-recyclable, non-biodegradable items in our lives for more environmentally-friendly (and often wallet-friendly!) options.
Here are 20 everyday items that we can easily replace with more eco-conscious options. Don’t feel overwhelmed by the need to tackle them all – start with one small change you can make today. When that becomes a steady habit, add one more. We don’t need a handful of perfect zero-waste aficionados, we need a whole bunch of us imperfect types just committing to try is a difference. Enjoy these ideas.
If we don’t want to drink Drano, we should stop putting into our water supply. Liquid toxins ultimately end up on our rivers, streams, and the ocean, and take its toll on plants and wildlife, possibly even contaminate food and water supplies. Luckily for us, the environmentally friendly solution is also more effective and faster than Drano. If you have hair, you should own a drain snake, like this one from Cobra Products. I once gifted all of my employees a drain sludge and got some crazy nasty pictures of what they were able to remove with it. I loved it.
2. Weed-killers and Pesticides
If you pick only one change from this list, please pick this one. Stop using weed-killers and pesticides with neonicotinoids (“neonics”) such as Round-UP, Knockout Ready-to-Use Grub Killer, Ortho Bug B Gon, Ortho Rose Pride Insect Killer, All-In-One Rose & Flower Care, Lesco Bandit Insecticide. It’s healthier for our bees and for humans too. One-sixth of pollination happens with the help of bees, who are facing mass extinction. To reduce your exposure, choose organic or farm-fresh produce and wash it before you consume. Have your own home garden? Use a natural product like diatomaceous earth to control pests. For bonus points, buy local honey to support your beekeeper neighbors – many of whom have suffered from losing half or more of their hives, and plant flowers and a community garden to create more habitat for bees.
3. Plastic Straws
It’s so exciting to see how quickly the change in sentiment towards single-use plastic straws has evolved. What once seemed like a necessity at every food-service establishment is now being abandoned, but not fast enough.
You can help speed this positive change along by choosing to carry a reusable straw with you to use when the need arises. We like metal straws in particular – they’re easy to use and last a long time. Most come with a little stick or scrubbing brush to ensure that your straw stays nice and clean inside and out. Other options include naturally anti-bacterial bamboo, ceramic and glass, and some are even made to be collapsible to reduce the space it takes up in your pocket or purse.
4. Plastic Wrap and Plastic Bags
Each year the average American family spends nearly $200 on plastic bags and plastic wrap that then ends up in a landfill. Not only is that bad for the planet, but it’s also bad for your pocketbook. Ditch the expensive and eco-unfriendly plastic wraps and bags for reusable beeswax wrap instead. Each one of these wraps can last for over a year and sets like this one from Superbee costs less than what you’d likely spend on plastic food supplies in a month.
5. Single-Use Water Bottles
With all the reusable options and water filling stations popping up everywhere, it’s easier than ever to ditch single-use plastic bottles. In fact, if you don’t jump on this trend, you might find yourself thirsty as more and more establishments stop selling plastic water bottles. (Yay San Francisco Airport!). I love how my Hydroflask keeps my cold water cold and hot tea hot (and yes, sometimes I use it white wine too, but that’s another story….). Plus there are a zillion colors and sizes, so you can choose the option that best matches your personality.
6. Plastic Shopping Bags
If you’re not in an area that charges for bags yet, you probably will be soon. The move away from plastic bags is happening rapidly in America and will no doubt continue. We love this change and see it as an opportunity to choose a fun, reusable grocery tote that adds a little pizazz to your shopping trip. Check out this cute option from CleverMade.
7. Store-Bought Greeting Cards
Alright, I'll admit it – I loooove getting and receiving holiday photo cards each year and will more than likely keep that tradition going. But for every other event that requires a card, I'm digital all the way. Our Tokki bands were created to help reduce the negative impact single-use paper greeting cards have on the environment – all while making the card-giving experience more special, interactive and fun. Check out how they work here.
8. Single-Use Gift Wrap or Gift Bags
If you caught our article on the truth about gift wrap, then you know that this shiny, glittery, basically un-recyclable paper product is a big no-no for anyone looking to reduce their environmental impact. Here at Tokki, we have designed a beautiful solution that allows you to keep your gifts looking sharp, all while doing your part to cultivate a healthier planet. Our reusable, limited-edition gift wrap options are crafted to last, and, when paired with our magnetic Tokki bands that double as a fastener and ecard, creates a perfect look your loved ones will swoon over.
9. Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets contain quaternary ammonium compounds which damage your clothes over time and can cause respiratory and dermatological reactions. Switch out those old dryer sheets for wool dryer balls instead. They’re cute! They’re reusable! And much kinder to your clothes. Plus they make pulling clothes out of the laundry more fun.
10. Antibacterial Soaps
Sure, these germ-killing powerhouses eradicate up to 99.9% of bacteria, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. The rise in usage of hand sanitizers and antibacterial soaps has paved the way for antibiotic-resistant superbugs to emerge. In addition, these soaps and sanitizers interfere with immune system development in children, which can lead to health problems down the line. Aim to remain clean rather than hyper-sanitized by washing hands regularly (with natural soap alternatives whenever possible) and wiping down germ-contaminated areas with a reusable cloth and natural cleaning products like vinegar. I've made it a habit to try vinegar first before moving to other solutions (in my smelly dishwasher, for example) and I haven't yet found anything vinegar can't do.
11. Disposable Razors
Disposable razors are convenient, but nearly two billion of these steel-and-plastic puppies end up in landfills each year. Luckily, there are many alternatives to replace your disposable razor habit. Choose a heavy-duty refillable safety razor (you’ll only need to replace the steel blade itself), a straight-razor, or a rechargeable electric razor. We like this safety razor from Rockwell.
12. Tea Bags
Many fancy tea brands use bags that are treated with the same chemical compound that goes into epoxy resins, which has been known to cause cancer and infertility in animals. Beyond that, tea bags can be coated in a variety of different types of plastic that render them non-biodegradable.
Make sure your tea bags are compostable, or better yet, ditch the tea bag altogether for high quality, organic, fairtrade loose leaf tea. Not only will you avoid harmful chemicals and plastics in your brew, but the tea will taste much better as it is whole leaf, rather than the dust normally used in pre-packaged tea bags.
13. Single-Use Coffee Pods
These are THE WORST. Tens of billions of K-cups have ended up in landfills, and the plastic can take thousands of years to break down. I am always shocked at how many of my environmentally conscious friends still use K-cups. Make 2020 your year to break this habit!
For the most delicious coffee, try the Technivorm Moccamaster Coffee Maker. As I mentioned in this wedding gift blog post, we have owned cheaper and more expensive versions, but this coffee maker makes the best tasting coffee hands down. You can take your morning coffee with you in a reusable cup, like this set from Klean Kanteen. It comes with two lids – one for cold drinks and one for hot – as well as a reusable metal straw and straw cleaner. And if you want a refill later in the day, you can save an additional single-use coffee cup.
When regular batteries end up in landfills they will eventually corrode and leak harmful chemicals into the earth. While not everything has been transitioned to rechargeable, there are plenty of household items you can swap from battery-operated to electric and rechargeable. If you do still need to use batteries, check out these rechargeable batteries from Panasonic.
15. Wipes of Any Kind
Those wipes you use to change your little one or to clean up around the house are used once and then straight to a landfill they go or, worse yet, right to our coastlines. More and more single-use wipes have been found on the beaches of multiple countries. Our worldwide usage of wipes has grown ten-fold and it’s time to slow down that pace before we’re drowning in the things! Trade those environmentally unfriendly wipes for reusable cloths or compostable wipes. Try these microfiber cloths from VibraWipe or you can ease into cloth by trying these compostable baby wipes from Jackson Reece.
16. Plastic Toothbrushes
These days there are plenty of sustainable alternatives to the old plastic toothbrush. We love this aluminum toothbrush from The Goodwell Company. Yes, it’s an investment upfront, but the handle is reusable for life. The heads are biodegradable and are meant to be replaced every three months. The Goodwell Company even offers multiple subscription options if you want your teeth-cleaning products regularly delivered.
17. Plastic Utensils
Ask for no plastic utensils when ordering takeout and get your own kit of reusable bamboo cutlery instead. It’s easy to clean and easy to pack in your bag or briefcase. This set from BEWBOW comes complete with a straw and a set of chopsticks. At home or while traveling, reusable cutlery is an easy, inexpensive way to go green in 2020.
18. Teflon-Tough Dental Floss
Not only does most dental floss come in plastic cartons, but did you know that many options available today are also coated in Teflon?! Now, sure, the harmful PFOAs in Teflon are said to have been eliminated but still…I don’t need that going in between my teeth. Ditch the old floss and grab a floss coated in candelilla wax and packaged in a glass or metal tube instead. We like this refillable option.
Okay, so I'm Korean, so not wearing antiperspirant is easier for me because Koreans have dry ear wax and less stinky sweat (let me know if you smell me and I'm wrong, but I understand it's because of the ABCC11 gene... but I digress). Parabens, triclosan, formaldehyde, aluminum…traditional deodorant offerings are full of toxic compounds – not to mention that they come in plastic tubes that are largely unrecyclable. If you’re using traditional deodorant, try something new this year. Taylor’s makes a fantastic eco-friendly natural deodorant that comes in a reusable glass jar. This deodorant comes in multiple scents – try a few and see which one suits you the best!
20. Anything with Palm Oil
Palm oil has caused massive deforestation as plantations have taken over what used to be tropical forests and peat soils. Palm oil is an issue not because it is harmful to use or consume – it’s just fine, actually – but because the continued deforestation of carbon-rich soil has caused both increased greenhouse gas emissions and reduced populations of multiple species such as orangutans, the Sumatran rhino, and pygmy elephants. The less we consume of this widely-used ingredient the better. Check labels before purchasing shampoos, soaps, and foods. Whenever possible, choose options that do not contain palm oil. Check out this article for more info on foods free of palm oil.
When it’s time to give a gift, swap out regular paper gift wrap with one of our unique, reusable, and totally cute Tokki wraps. Our limited-edition styles make your present picture-perfect – all while helping to reduce the impact on our environment. 10% of our profits go toward helping protect our planet. Learn more at www.tokki.com