Green Living

10 Sustainable Alternatives You Might Not Have Thought Of

Discover eco-friendly swaps that you might not have considered yet to reduce your environmental impact and make your daily routine more sustainable.

We all know reusable water bottles and stainless-steel straws are good for the environment, but there are plenty of other sustainable alternatives out there that can reduce your impact – many of which you probably haven’t heard of. Here are 10 sustainable alternatives you might not have thought to incorporate into your routine.  

1. Books 

Have you ever considered how your love of books might be harming the environment? Most people haven’t, and the result is significant. In the U.S. alone, over 2 billion books are published each year, equating to around 40 million tons of paper. In fact, paper production is one of the largest users of fossil fuels - the third largest in the world. Instead of buying a new book, consider stopping by your local library. There are over 110,000 libraries in the U.S. that often go underused. The best part? It's free! 

assorted-title of books piled in the shelves

2. Plant Potting Soil 

Most plant potting soils dare not environmentally friendly. How can you tell if yours is? Make sure it does not contain peat! Peat is native to peat wetlands and acts as an important carbon sink. Peat extraction releases an abundance of greenhouse gases and contributes to the degradation of these environments. According to an article by the Washington Post, peat wetlands grow only one-sixteenth of an inch per year and take around a century to develop. Sustainable alternatives include the DEN Sustainable Potting Soil Mix, which is diverted from landfills instead.  

3. Car Maintenance 

If you have to drive frequently, try making small changes to reduce waste. For example, wiper fluid can produce a lot of plastic waste and increase your carbon footprint. Instead, try buying a wiper fluid concentrate that you can dilute at home. This way, the wiper fluid will last longer, and you do not have to keep buying plastic containers. Another easy switch is cutting down on AC by opening your windows. Using AC in hot climates can reduce vehicles' MPG by a quarter.  Keep your tires inflated, reduces the weight you keep in your car, and keep on top of regular car maintenance. 

cars on road

4. House Plants  

Have a green thumb? Cut down on how often you buy plants to help reduce your carbon footprint. The ecological footprint of buying new plants can be largely attributed to transportation emissions. Many plant experts encourage propagating plants you already have or growing plants from seed – thus reducing your footprint. If you are looking for a more in-depth guide on how to propagate plants, here is a helpful guide

5. Pet Toys 

Pet toys made of organic cotton are a great way to include your pets in your sustainable lifestyle. One great option is this Jax and Bones toys! Look for companies with a closed-loop recycling models to ensure your pet's toy will be reused instead of sent to a landfill. One brand that does this is West Paw, whose recycling program lets you send back toys for repurposing. 

white and brown cat on white table

6. Wipes 

Whether it’s Clorox wipes or makeup wipes, most wipes take around 100 years to disintegrate, creating microplastics that often contaminate our water supply. Instead of using store-bought disinfectant wipes, try organic cotton towels that can be reused. If you are looking for an alternative to makeup wipes, try cotton pads. Some cotton pads still contain microplastics, so it is good to be mindful of this when you buy. Check out Holland and Barett’s full list of recommended reusable cotton pads.  

7. Coffee Cups 

Instead of getting a paper cup or a plastic cup every time you buy coffee, try investing in a reusable coffee cup. In the U.S., approximately 50 billion paper coffee cups with lids are thrown away every year. These cups often contain plastic linings that decompose into microplastics . If you can’t avoid disposable coffee cups, compostable cups are a great option. This list of four compostable coffee cup brands is a great place to start! 

coffee filled white ceramic mug on brown wooden surface

8. Razors 

Disposable razors are often thrown out in just two to three weeks, costing the consumer money and the planet waste. Safety razors last longer, and when your safety razor reaches the end of it’s life, can be recycled. Check out these safety razors to get started: 10 Best Safety Razors and Blades 2022 . 

9. Shower Head 

Water demand is estimated to increase by around 20 to 30 percent by 2050. If you are one to take long showers or just want to cut down on water usage it is worth considering a smart shower head! Oasense creates smart shower heads that can reduce water usage by around 50%. The all metal, premium showerhead providdes an automatic high pressure rinse with it’s a 6" shower face. It automatically reduces water use when you step away from the showerhead. Oasense is one of our FuturePartners, so you can earn 6% cashback* on your smart shower head when you use your FutureCard Visa Debit Card**.  

grey stainless steel shower head

10. Local Produce 

The carbon footprint attributed to global food supply chains is significant, with approximately 5.8 billion tons of greenhouse gases emitted in 2019 alone. Plus, pesticides often contribute to harmful runoff in freshwater streams. Buying local is great when looking to decrease your carbon-footprint. Try checking out the Ecology Center’s Farmer’s Market Finder to see the closest options for you.   

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