6 single-use swaps you can try today

We've picked some of the easiest ways to live more sustainably, thanks to some quick and clever swaps.

Updated

bamboo toothbrushes over the bathroom sink

When it comes to sustainable living, you can make the biggest difference by doing little things consistently. Here are six seemingly small changes that, with time, can make a big impact.

1. Try a more eco-friendly toothbrush

One of the easiest swaps you can make to reduce plastic waste is to go from a plastic toothbrush to a bamboo one. With proper care, a natural bamboo toothbrush should last as long as any plastic one, but the big difference is that bamboo is biodegradable so you can compost the handles (just make sure to remove the bristles, which are often made out of nylon).

2. Go plastic-free with your floss

Another bathroom-focused change you may not have thought of is to swap your plastic dental floss container for a refillable. long-lasting glass one (often available at dedicated green living stores or easily sourced online). You can even go one step further and opt for plastic-free floss too (these are usually made from spools of biodegradable silk).

3. Linen bags: your new shopping companions

Linen tote bags are a great way to reduce plastic use and save you from binning literally hundreds of their plastic counterparts. Take a few minutes to make sure you have a few stashed in handy places – maybe a foldable one in your handbag, some large ones in the boot of your car and even one at your desk for those emergency post-work grocery runs. (And if you do have lots of plastic bags hanging around, why not transform them into valuable ecobricks?)

4. Start using a reusable coffee cup

While you may not want to think about just how much coffee you drink, it’s estimated that switching to a reusable cup could save up to 500 disposable coffee cups per coffee drinker from heading to bins. There are a huge variety of reusable beverage cups on the market, with many coffee shops now giving you a discount for bringing your own.

5. Say no thanks to plastic straws

Investing in a metal or bamboo straw is one of our favourite green living tips. Many come with tiny brushes for cleaning, so you don’t have to worry about bacteria build up. Better still, using a reusable straw and refusing a plastic one sends a message to cafes, bars and restaurants that will hopefully inspire them to begin using more suitable alternatives. Same goes for cutlery; if you tend to get take out lunches a lot, avoiding the plastic stuff and bringing your own metal or wooden knives and forks is an easy eco-friendly lifestyle change to make.

glass beaker with stainless steel straws

6. Give cloth kitchen towels a go

If you’ve been exploring how to reduce plastic waste in the kitchen, you may have overlooked one area, and that’s paper towels. Unless you have a compost bin to throw your kitchen roll and soiled napkins into, it’s worth exploring rolls of washable cloth towels. They often come in pretty patterns, and, though they can be a bit pricey, they’ll save you money in the long run.

Now, you’ve got a good start, why not make your kitchen more eco-friendly too?

Originally published