Since our appearance on the show Dans l’oeil du dragon, a significant wave of people has thought: "I'm ready for change!"
Without having tested the product (but seeing that it looks great), they have embarked on the adventure of reusable tissues and/or toilet paper because they understood the environmental impact of the gesture.
There are many gestures like that! Some are easier than others... and, by the way, "easy" is relative to each person. We all have our limits and baggage.
However, little by little, by crossing out here and there the everyday items we use that harm the planet, we realize that we can always do a bit more! No more plastic bags at the grocery store, no more detergent gallons, no more paper tissues...
By opening our eyes and looking beyond what multinational corporations want us to consume (they love single-use, plus, we have to buy more and more! $$), we discover small local businesses that really care about the environment and their community. Businesses like ours depend on you and the future of our children. For real.
SAY GOODBYE TO DISPOSABLE AND SINGLE-USE ITEMS
For a healthy planet, small gestures here and there are important.
So, for fun, I've created an eco-friendly bingo so you can see where you stand on different disposable products in everyday life.
Download the image and mark all the disposable and single-use products you've said GOODBYE to for good (replacing them with reusable alternatives)
How many lines do you have? Share your cards, your observations, and your challenges. PS. Items like plastic utensils, napkins, disposable straws (including cardboard straws)... we constantly get them if we go to a take-out! To mark crosses on these items, you always have to refuse them because we have more ecological options with us. It's not easy, we know... It's like the second level of zero waste! In the meantime, you can always make yellow X's or half-X's
WHAT TO REPLACE DISPOSABLE PRODUCTS WITH?
We guide you to replace all these items with reusable or bulk items:
What was available on the market in terms of reusable paper towels was more or less interesting. Flannel is not very absorbent, and Swedish dishcloths become very stiff when dry. That's the reason why we now propose an ultra-absorbent paper towel, soft and thick, which absorbs up to 100ml of water! and is made of natural fibers. To learn more about why and how to use paper towels, we have a blog article on the subject here.
The silicone menstrual cup is the invention of the century! Of course, you can also choose not to use tampons at all and only use washable sanitary napkins during menstruation. It's just very useful when you go in the water. We tested the Diva Cup and Saforelle here, the latter being less known (which I bought in France because I had forgotten my Diva while traveling). It comes in a pack of two with its microwave sterilizing cup and is really softer, so perhaps easier to insert for some. Since then, Nixit is also gaining ground in the market with its new menstrual cup.
They also exist in reusable form! Many small companies make them. The choice is vast! I invite you to try different ones from various brands before fully committing to one, just to see if the fit is good, if they absorb well, if they don't slip in your underwear, and if the blood doesn't leak through. And a little tip: if you don't feel like dealing with blood stains before each wash, go for a fabric with a black interior! Our favorite product here is definitely menstrual underwear! Because the issue with sanitary napkins (whether washable or not) is those darn leaks at night onto the sheets! That's solved with menstrual panties that are well-padded both in the front and the back. Our favorites are those from Mme L'Ovary.
To replace plastic wrap, several options are available depending on how you use plastic wrap. For wrapping fruit or cheese, there are beeswax food wraps. You can also use Tupperware containers (the FridgeSmart ones are great for fruits and vegetables, it's truly magical). To cover dishes without lids, beeswax wraps can also be used. Alternatively, there are PUL dish covers that resemble shower caps, but I'm not a fan as they are not as airtight. There are also round silicone bowl covers. At that point, I prefer transferring the contents of the dish into containers with lids.
Reusable diapers are part of a vast universe to explore! There are many diaper brands on the market, some are locally made in Quebec and some are produced in China. Therefore, people often choose based on their values or budget. In any case, the fit is also a crucial factor! I suggest trying out a few brands before committing to one. Here, I loved Bummis cotton flat diapers and diaper covers. I also tried pocket diapers (in which I placed the flat diapers), which are more convenient for daycare. For nighttime use, you need diapers with great absorption capacity! I tried to boost molded diapers like crazy. Sandy's from Motherease were a revelation for the night! One thing I learned that I wish I had known earlier: avoid microfiber.
It's becoming more and more common to have a reusable bag for groceries. They are easily available at the checkout. If ever forgotten, you can ask for a paper bag; it can be used as a liner for the small compost bin.
Once again, many little make fabric snack bags! Here, we LOVE those from Demain demain, which are printed and entirely made in Quebec (even the zippers). It's a great company with values closely aligned with ours.
To replace plastic utensils, it's simple: use metal utensils from home! Where it becomes annoying is when they are included in take-out orders! You have to consistently say NO! and carry your utensils (there are more convenient travel sizes).
Sponges and scouring pads
When we think of disposable scouring sponges, we often picture the yellow sponge with the green scrubber. It lasts a month, maybe two? In any case, we always end up buying more because it doesn't last. But most importantly, it ends up in the water and in our trash. There are some solutions to replace these sponges (that decompose quickly). The most natural option is the luffa sponge gourd. It's an exfoliating plant material that can be used both in the shower and for dishes. At the end of its life, it's compostable!
Baby wipes (or moist wipes for hand cleaning on the go) can be replaced with reusable wipes or cloth towels that you moisten with water. You can also use Boaty tissues as moist wipes. Alternatively, dry flannel wipes, with a splash of oleo-limestone liniment, are perfect for baby's bottom. The liniment acts as a moistening agent while cleaning and leaving the skin soft and moisturized. In fact, as moist wipes, it's truly the only worthwhile use for flannel, as it's not very absorbent.
Reusable tissues replace disposable paper tissues. Ideally, we don't want to disrupt our habits too much, so we'll choose those from Boaty, which come with a fabric box for storage and a basket for placing used tissues until the next wash. This way, there's nothing gross. Reusable is so gentle on the nose, but the right choice of fabric still plays a role in comfort! We've tried cotton, flannel, and many other textiles, but truly, our favorites are the bamboo-cotton ones from Boaty!
Reusable toilet paper is an alternative to traditional toilet paper. Another option would be a bidet that automatically dries after rinsing. Between the two, reusable toilet paper is more affordable and faster! Again, we've tried several fabrics, but our favorite TP is the Boaty rolls!
No need to use paper liners in your muffin tin! Choosing not to use anything but butter to grease your tin is an option. Otherwise, there are silicone muffin molds that are great. They are convenient, as everything unmolds easily with high-quality silicone. There are also individual silicone muffin cups. We haven't tested them, but they exist.
An eco-friendly solution to avoid buying laundry gallons is to refill our laundry gallon with bulk detergent once it's empty. Soap nuts or laundry pods are other good options, but we don't have any to recommend at the moment. Tide pods and laundry sheets, even though they use less plastic, aren't great because they're filled with chemicals.
To replace both parchment paper and aluminum foil, there are silicone sheets, but there's an even better option: Cookina's Parchminum! This metallic-looking sheet replaces both without tearing or burning. It's fantastic!
For wrapping birthday or Christmas gifts, there are 4-5 possible options. Many companies during the holiday season offer furoshiki: large pieces of fabric folded carefully using Japanese techniques to wrap our gifts. A pillowcase with a ribbon can also be elegant if wrapped nicely! Reusable gift bags are another option, and we really like those from Ficelle & Baluchon. Lastly, you can use circulars, old newspapers, or grocery paper bags.
A good way to replace those cunning thin plastic bags is either to not use anything at all: our 5-6 apples don't need to be in a bag. Neither do our two broccoli. Otherwise, there's the option of mesh bags. The idea of the mesh is for the cashier to see the contents. Also, pay attention to the weight of your bags! Prefer lightweight bags or ones with the weight indicated. While a homemade bag with old curtains and denim may look nice, if it weighs 200g, you'll pay that weight at the checkout if you put products by weight inside (unless you're in a store where you can tell them the tare weight of your bag).
Makeup Remover Pads
Replace disposable cotton rounds with washable makeup remover pads. There are round ones, square ones, white ones, black ones, patterned ones, sometimes made of hemp, terry cloth, double-layered cotton, or flannel. We tested our handkerchiefs and toilet paper as makeup remover squares... it was OK but not PERFECT. The best we've tried is the FaceMitzz from ChipieCharlie. A face mitten! Otherwise, a small piece of advice for makeup remover pads: avoid minky and microfiber.
Fabric Softener Sheets
It's widely advised to avoid them when using reusable products because fabric softener waterproofs the fibers and strips them of their absorbent power. To replace the sheets, you can use nothing at all. It works very well. If you have static problems, it's because you've over-dried. A customer told us that a spray of vinegar in the dryer can prevent static, worth a try! Otherwise, you can use drying balls to reduce drying time and for a fresh scent! There are drying mists to put on these balls for a "Bounce" scent! Caution: do not use essential oils in the dryer, it's extremely dangerous.
Instead of buying napkins for picnics or parties, opt for cloth table napkins. Boaty now offers cloth napkins to replace paper napkins. They are soft and comfortable for cleaning fingers and mouths. In take-out situations, say NO to the napkins they give you and remember to bring a reusable option with you!
A reusable water bottle works just fine! Especially since water is a free resource available almost everywhere! If you ever need to drink and don't have a reusable bottle, look for a water fountain or a sink, ask for a glass of water, or if you need to buy something to drink, prefer a beverage in a can (returnable and recyclable) rather than in plastic.
To replace cotton swabs, there are swabs made of wood, metal, or silicone. However, none of them provide the satisfaction of drying and cleaning the outer ear canal well (remember, we should never put anything in our ears!). For drying, the best option for now is to use a reusable tissue and our little finger.
There are various types of reusable straws available—silicone, metal, glass, bamboo. Each material has its qualities... and its drawbacks. Another excellent option is to not use a straw at all!
Shower Gel Bottles
Soap, shampoo, and all liquid body products can be purchased in bulk. If there's no bulk option nearby, you can also buy a regular bar of soap! There's no need to wash with a plain white Dove... you can choose fancy soaps that look and smell divine. There are also bulk or locally-made bar soaps with native plants. Hundreds (if not thousands) of soap makers offer such products. The same goes for shampoo—there are plenty of dry shampoos available on the market these days.
We have undoubtedly forgotten some disposable items on our list! One can think of coffee cups: that's a challenge because it can be difficult at some places to get our own cups filled! We might just have to never grab a coffee on the go (Good luck).
There are also disposable coffee filters, coffee pods... Anyway, I forgot everything related to coffee because I don't drink it.
Then, there are so many food packaging items that end up in the trash, but we can hardly bid farewell to them. For example, the plastic wrapping of frozen pizza, cheese packaging, milk cartons, chip bags...
Do you see any others that we forgot?
In the meantime, we play bingo, we are proud of our accomplishments! We stay motivated!