I never really paid attention to how much trash my household produced until I had a toddler.

Case in point: With baby-led weaning and other messy adventures, paper towels were making their way to the grocery list on a weekly basis. When I realized the cost of replacing a roll every few days, and having a roll in every room of the house, something had to give. When I thought about all the consumables in my home, I realized just how many items claim a place in the household budget, get used, and then get thrown away. I couldn’t believe it. Not only was there an impact on my wallet, the environmental footprint of our household was increasing at an alarming rate.

I try to find small ways to make more sustainable choices in my daily life and home, for both environmental and financial reasons. It isn’t always easy, but it can be simpler than you think! One of the ways I’ve managed to reduce waste has been by swapping some of the consumable products I use every day. Here are some easy replacement products that can help you get started.

Swedish dishcloths to replace paper towels and sponges

This single 10 pack of Swedish dishcloths has replaced all the dishwashing sponges and 90% of the paper towels used in our house for the last two years — and they are still going strong! I throw them in the washing machine and let them air dry after each use, and they are ready to use again and again. These small-but-mighty cloths are made of cellulose and cotton, and they are gentle, yet durable for just about every type of household cleaning.

Reusable silicone covers to replace plastic wrap

These reusable silicone covers stretch to cover just about any container in your home. They are a great way of saving leftovers and have completely replaced plastic wrap in our household. They also minimize our dishwasher loads because I’m not moving leftovers into separate containers every night. They are easy to clean and come in a wide variety of sizes. I even use the tiniest ones to cover onions, avocados, and other fruits and veggies when I am only using half of one.

Reusable snack bags to replace plastic baggies

Plastic Ziploc bags used to be our go-to for toddler snack transporting, as well as a staple in the school lunchbox. Reusable ones get the job done even better and can be used for years! These adorable handmade ones (from Boston-area small business Murph and Moose!) are a great locally made option, with tons of cute patterns your kids will love to see in their lunchbox! I am amazed at the boxes and boxes of tiny baggies that reusable ones have replaced in our home!

Whether you’re striving to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle or are just looking to reduce your spending on household consumables, there are lots of products available to help reduce waste. By substituting more sustainable versions of everyday products you use at home, you can minimize your environmental footprint, reduce your trash output, and recover some of your household budget. Every little bit counts, right?

Hannah DeLisle-Stall
Hannah grew up in rural central Massachusetts and now lives in a teeny tiny town in the Berkshires. Hannah has BS and MS degrees in engineering and has spent most of her career working as a manager in the manufacturing industry — where there are few women, and even fewer moms. She is currently a Senior Manager in the Aerospace Manufacturing industry, working on parts that go into Commercial and Military Airplanes. Hannah and her husband met during college, when they were both volunteering at a local food bank. After graduating, building their careers, traveling, and even living on opposite coasts for a few years, they were married in 2015 and welcomed a son in 2019. Together, they love to camp, travel, and hone their DIY skills. In 2023, they completed a 3-year project to design and build their family's forever home. Hannah loves to volunteer, especially with organizations that help women and mothers advance their careers.