Hi. My name is Linda and I have been privileged to work with this wonderful group of Girl Scouts for almost a decade.
As my family continues to strive to use less single-use plastic, we have tried many products over the years. The purpose of this page is to share with you products I have found useful and economical. I hope to help you to make a smaller impact on our planet. I have in no way tested all the options available. I welcome your feedback and additions.
Tissues The paper and pulp industry is the third-largest industrial emitter of global warming gasses. Every year around 8,000,000 trees are cut down to make facial tissues for the US alone. Every time you blow your nose with a LastTissue, you save 2 liters of water. Each tissue can be washed up to 460 times. The tissues come in a silicone case that holds 6 tissues and separates the used from the clean. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/193289139/lasttissuetm-the-reusable-tissue-pack/description
Laundry Detergent My family has changed to using TruEarth laundry strips. Each laundry strip packs ultra-concentrated, hypoallergenic, eco-friendly cleaning power into a tiny, pre-measured strip of liquidless laundry detergent that you just toss in the wash. Its packaging uses zero plastic, and its light weight reduces transportation fuel consumption and global-warming carbon emissions by 94% compared to today’s leading-brand liquid and powder detergent. https://www.tru.earth/?utm_expid=.1h0cJN0eQWWu2eLkF65a_Q.0&utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F
Microfiber Cleaning Clothes – Thanks to microfiber, we have almost completely eliminated the need to use chemical cleaners in our home. We are able to clean our whole house with just the EnviroCloth and water. I am a big fan of the Norwex brand. We began using Norwex microfiber over 5 years ago, and our clothes still have plenty of wear in them. https://norwex.com/
Metal Straws Reusable metal straws are a great way to reduce plastic waste that is harmful to animals. Metals straws can be purchased from a variety of vendors.
Cloth Diapers Cloth diapers are not as gross as they sound. There are many options on the market today that make them even more user friendly than they were years ago. There is a significant initial investment, but the savings over time more than pays for the initial investment. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that about 20 billion disposable diapers are dumped in landfills each year, accounting for more than 3.5 million tons of waste.
Cloth Pads The average disposable menstrual pad is equivalent to four plastic grocery bags. Washable/reusable menstrual pads might sound even grosser than cloth diapers, but I can assure you that they are easy to use and wash. There are quite a few small companies out there making these products. The one I have personal experience with is Party In My Pants and I couldn’t be happier with their products. Their FAQ page is very helpful. They will even send you a free liner if you want to give it a try. https://partypantspads.com/collections/pads
Reusable Shopping Bags I’ve tried to switch to reusable shopping bags many times, but I always find myself in the check-out line realizing my shopping bags are in the car. My mom got me these bags for Christmas and they have been great! They easily roll up and I can carry one in my small purse so that I am always prepared to say “no” to plastic bags. https://www.amazon.com/Reusable-Grocery-Bags-Foldable-Machine-Washable-Reusable-Shopping-Bags-Bulk-Colorful-Reusable/dp/B07XFLT4TS/ref=redir_mobile_desktop?ie=UTF8&aaxitk=.tIqBj-56OEmqc54LwuXdw&hsa_cr_id=5433450460901&ref_=sb_s_sparkle
Reducing Laundry (towels) Over five years ago we purchased a Norwex towel for each member of our family. Because the towels self-clean as they dry (due to the embedded silver), they only need to be washed every 2-4 weeks. This has significantly reduced our weekly laundry. I also highly recommend the Norwex body cloth. You use it in the shower to wash your body without soap! I haven’t used soap or body wash to wash up for over five years!
Bamboo Toothbrushes There are many brands available, especially on Amazon. They are all pretty much the same. The handles are made of bamboo and totally compostable. I have my doubts that the bristles are compostable, so we remove the heads with a saw and then compose the rest.
Silicone Covers Even though I love reusable products, I really hate doing dishes. There are a lot of reusable wraps and so forth that can be used to pack lunches, for example, but I find them annoying to wash, and especially to dry. Instead, we save our bread bags and use those (several time) instead of sandwich bags in lunches. Silicone covers are great for covering bowls to save things for later, and they are also oven safe up to 400 degrees, so they can be used for baking instead of aluminum foil. I prefer the silicone covers that are flat (they don’t wrap around whatever they are covering) because, again, I find them annoying to dry fully before pulling away. If I want something to seal tightly enough to bring it somewhere, I use a Tupperware-type container.
Silicone cupcake cups As I already mentioned, I hate doing dishes. One dish I particularly hate washing is a muffin tin, so I always use paper muffin cups (which are compostable, by the way). This wasn’t a bad solution, but now I am using silicone. Yes, you still have to wash the silicone cup, but they are very easy to wash.
Reducing Laundry (merino wool) The idea of a shirt that can be worn over and over again without washing was very intriguing to me as I was planning for a long term trip. I have to admit, however, that I was very skeptical that it would actually work, especially since I tend to sweat a lot. I am happy to report that I have been wearing the same merino wool shirt every day for over 40 days, and so far, it has lived up to its promises. It doesn’t smell (even the armpits), and it doesn’t loose its shape after being worn like a cotton shirt.
Food Waste This is’t exactly a reusable product, but I have to give a shout out to Waste Not, a food diversion service that creates compost and worm castings, servicing north shore Milwaukee area, Ozaukee and Sheboygan areas. Residential and businesses are able to participate. For a small fee, your food waste is picked up each week. Throughout the summer months the compost that is created is shared with subscribers. https://www.facebook.com/foodwastecomposting/
Shampoo Bars I have tried to make my own shampoo and I have ordered shampoo bars from different companies. I think everyone’s hair is very different, and products that work for one person might not work for another. I have yet to find a recipe or shampoo bar that works for me. I am currently using shampoo bars from Silver Falls Sustainability Company. I really like them, but I find that I still need to use store-bought-in-plastic-bottle shampoo every 3 or 4 washings to keep my hair from building up grease. I figure using 1/3-1/4 less plastic bottle shampoo is still an improvement over all plastic bottle shampoo, so for now, I’m going with it. We learned from our European exchange students that shampoo bars are common in Europe.