We all want to live lighter upon the planet, but let’s face it, greener living takes thought and, well, effort. With busy lives, we often have good intentions to do our part, but it’s so easy to forget our reusable bags at home or to toss food scraps into the garbage because we don’t have a compost bucket within easy reach. Here are 10 of the most common obstacles to going greener — plus solutions!
The problem: You want to quit using plastic grocery store bags, but you don’t want to buy bags or you always forget your reusable sacks at home.
The solution: Make bags from old T-shirts.
These are no-sew and too cute to forget! Get the complete tutorial at this post on the Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom blog.
Or try this set of reusable bags from the Container Store. All six bags fold into a tiny package, and can be hooked onto your keychain or tucked into your purse so you never forget them.
The problem: You can’t believe how many plastic bags accumulate from just one trip to the store for produce.
The solution: Reusable mesh produce bags.
Not only can these be tucked in your purse, but the mesh allows for airflow, so that you can store your veggies in the bag in the refrigerator. If you prefer organic cotton, try these. Or, these Flip ‘n’ Tumble mesh bags are the #1 seller on Amazon in reusable produce bag.
The problem: You want to collect your food scraps to compost, but you don’t want a compost bucket in the kitchen causing odors.
The solution: Try a compost keeper with a charcoal filter.
These containers are cute enough to leave out in plain sight, and the filter keeps odors in the bucket, where they belong!
Here are four great options:
- Stainless steel (#1 on Amazon)
- Vintage red compost bucket from World Market
- White vintage herb compost bucket from World Market
- White ceramic compost bucket from World Market
The problem: You want to cut down on using paper towels, but don’t like the look of a stack of old rags sitting on the counter.
The solution: Try decorative “un”paper towels ...
... like these Snapkins from the Etsy shop Sewing Along 2. These double-layer, colorful towels snap together and go right on the paper towel dispenser you already have.
Or, try a reusable replacement for disposable disinfecting wipes with this recipe from the blog Live Simply. These look pretty and smell nice!
The problem: You’ve thought about replacing your paper napkins with cloth, but you aren’t sure where to buy them, how to wash them and you certainly don’t want to iron them!
The solution: Check out these low-maintenance options.
Store folded napkins in a basket or regular napkin holder on the table, then have a bag handy for tossing in used ones until you get enough to add to a load of laundry. And for heaven’s sake — don’t iron them! For everyday use, napkins don’t need to be perfect!
Check out these beautiful handmade, machine washable napkins from the Etsy shop Green Little Nest. These napkins are crafted from two layers of soft cotton flannel, and each measures 8 by 7 inches.
Or here’s another option in colorful cloth napkins from Amazon.
The problem: You’ve switched over to unpaper towels and cloth napkins, but where do you put the wet, used cloth until you have time to do laundry?
The solution: a hanging wet bag
A wet bag is a bag with a waterproof or water-resistant interior. Many feature straps and snaps to hang in a convenient place in the kitchen.
Try this cute wet bag custom made by the Etsy shop The Unpaper Tree. Each bag is made to order with designer fabric on the outside and waterproof fabric on the inside. It even has two straps so you can hang it where you need it. Or, try this hanging wet bag from Planet Wise, available on Amazon.
The problem: You are worried about the chemicals in dryer sheets, but you don’t want static-y laundry.
The solution: Replace dryer sheets with wool dryer balls or homemade reusable dryer sheets.
Wool dryer balls such as these from the Etsy shop Eco Chic Soaps work by bouncing around in the dryer, separating wet items and decreasing dry time. These are made of wool, which reduces static. You can even purchase them with added scents.
Recipes for homemade reusable dryer sheets are plentiful on Pinterest and around the blogosphere. Here’s an easy one to try: Add one-half cup vinegar and eight drops essential oil (whatever scent you like) to a resealable container or jar and mix. Next, add pieces of cloth to the solution. You can use cut-up T-shirts, washcloths, whatever you have on hand. Close your container and use these in place of regular dryer sheets.
The problem: Cotton rounds and cotton balls are useful for makeup removal and facial cleansing, but they add up fast in the trash can.
The solution: Replace disposables with reusable cloth pads for facial cleansing jobs.
They look pretty in a small jar or bowl next to the sink. Just machine wash the used pads (in a lingerie bag so they don’t get lost in the laundry) then reuse.
These are from Etsy Shop Her Tiny Mind are made of organic cotton, and you can even order a washing bag to go with them. Or, try Lamazuna Lingettes Organic Reusable Makeup Remover Pads, made of an ultra-absorbent fabric so all you need to do is wet them with water to remove makeup.
The problem: You want to stop packing the kids’ snacks in plastic bags, but what else do you use?
The solution: Reusable, washable snack bags!
These stylish bags from the Etsy shop RKEM designs are made of cotton fabric with a water-resistant interior that is food safe. And they offer many designs to choose from. Or, check out this set of three cloth, zipper bags from Yummi Pouch on Amazon.