From cleaning up messes to wrapping up leftovers and going grocery shopping, having kids can lead to a lot of garbage. If you’re looking for ways to help your family produce less waste, I’ve found some great eco-friendly solutions that don’t sacrifice style or quality.
Think of all of the stuff you throw away in a typical day.
There’s the plastic straw you stick into your smoothie on the way out the door. Or the disposable cup you grab at the local coffee shop. There are the flimsy plastic bags you shoved some fruit into at the grocery store to corral them in your cart and the giant wad of paper towels you used to mop up that juice spill. There are also all of those layers of packaging for individually wrapped items and the cotton balls you used to scrub the mascara from under your bleary eyes at the end of the day. And that’s just you!
A whole family can create a ton of garbage in a single day. It’s crazy if you start to really think about how many things we throw away. And while I’m not suggesting we all run out and plan to become zero waste familyies, I do think there are some simple changes we all could make to produce less waste.
I took to Etsy to find some creative—and really freaking pretty—products that can help us all be just a little bit more eco-friendly.
9 handmade products that will help your family produce less waste
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Marleys Monsters’s reusable facial rounds help eliminate the use of disposable items like cotton balls when removing your makeup or applying toner. Made from black and white cotton flannel scraps, I love their prints and the fact that they look awfully pretty sitting out on your counter. I ordered myself a set and can’t wait to try them out!
How pretty are these Annabelle Taylor Co mesh produce bags?! I love the bohemian feel and the look of the dip-dye. And these guys aren’t just pretty—they expand and hold up to 50 pounds! Perfect for farmers markets and staying away from plastic bags at the grocery store.
The Little Miss Madame’s reusable duster is washable and made to fit a standard duster (like the Swiffer version). Instead of throwing out the duster’s head after a few cleanings, this one can be reused again and again. Just throw it into the washing machine on gentle cycle or soak it in warm, soapy water.
If your family is anything like mine, you do a lot of wrapping of food. There are always half eaten things laying around that I don’t want to throw out, but I’m not quite sure how to save them and the idea of constantly using disposable wraps and bags just seems so wasteful. Beeswax Wrap Sydney’s beeswax wrap is a great alternative. Super pretty and made with beeswax and a mixture of hemp and organic cotton, beeswax wrap can be reused for up to a year if cared for properly.
If you tear through sponges like crazy, Marleys Monsters’s reusable sponge might be the answer for you. These washable and reusable sponges are mildew resistant, washable, hypoallergenic and made from recycled materials. One side is terry cloth and the other is flannel and mesh, so that you have multiple scrubbing options. And they’re so pretty! I love the look of the bright, bold patterns underneath the mesh.
If you’re looking to reduce the use of chemicals in your home, these Comfy Mountain wool dryer balls are a great place to start. Subbing in these felted balls in place of dryer sheets helps to eliminate static cling and wrinkles and reduces drying time by 25%. They bounce around in your dryer, absorbing moisture and helping your clothes dry faster. Even better, they last for over 1000 loads of laundry. If you think you’ll miss the scent you get from your dryer sheets, you can add a few drops of essential oil onto the balls.
Disposable items like napkins make me a little crazy because it is so easy to tear through a ton of them without even realizing it. Not only does that make a lot of waste, but it ends up costing a lot of money. Enter cloth napkins. Yeah, you have to wash them but you’re doing laundry anyway, aren’t you? This set of cloth napkins from Magic Linen makes me giddy. They’re so pretty and sophisticated and would even make eating dinner scraps off the floor while chasing your toddler seem more luxurious.
When it comes to kids, snacks are important. Like, really important. I can’t imagine going out on any excursion without an arsenal of snacks at the ready and my kids aren’t even really little any more. But with toting snacks around comes the inevitable question: what am I going to store them in? Plastic baggies can be enticing since you just throw them out and don’t have to worry about them after the snacks are gone. But if you’re trying to reduce waste, Warm Grey Company’s reusable snack bag seems like a solid option. These lightweight snack bags are washable kraft paper made out of natural cellulose fiber (I mean, the coolness factor of that statement alone has me sold) and can be used again and again.
Paper towels are probably the biggest source of waste in our family. With kids, there are a lot of messes. And, while I try to reach for rags and towels for the bigger messes, it’s so easy to just grab a paper towel for the small stuff. That’s where Marleys Monster’s unpaper towels come in. Made in bold and graphic prints (like the facial rounds and the sponges), these fun flannel towels naturally cling together, making them easy to roll up onto a paper towel roll without any snaps. Once you’re done with it, you can throw it into the wash and use it again. One thing to keep in mind with these is that a few of the reviews mention that the lighter color prints show stains more. Still, these are the next things I plan on investing in!
Looking for more eco-friendly tips for families?
- Get kids thinking about their environmental impact with Earth Day Books for Kids.
- Another way to product less waste: rethink things before throwing them away with these Eco-Friendly Organization Ideas.
- Go green with your cleaning products—whether you use DIY Green Cleaning Recipes or purchase some tried and true favorite green cleaning products. You also might like this eco-friendly hack for cleaning your microwave.
- Trying to remove chemicals from your day-to-day life? Consider going shampoo free.