1. Buy your coffee or tea in compostable bags.
Check your coffee bag or tea box to see if the packaging used is compostable. Some coffee bags have plastic components or are coated with film, which makes it difficult to recycle or compost them. Likewise, not all tea bags are created equal. Make sure the brand you buy uses natural fiber-based bags and strings instead of nylon.
2. Choose compostable or mesh coffee filters.
Although most paper coffee filters will biodegrade, it’s better for the environment to buy unbleached filters. Bleach filters may carry residual chemicals that can leach into the ground. My preference is to use a mesh, metal filter that simply requires a quick rinse after use each morning.
My favorite sustainable option: Coffee Gator Pour Over Coffee Maker
3. Wash your hands with bar soap.
Bar soap requires far less packaging than liquid pump soaps. Some varieties come completely free of packaging, which makes them zero-waste on the consumer end. Best to stay away from antibacterial hand soaps anyway, as they contribute to the growth of super-bacteria that can become resistant to antibiotics, making us less able to fight serious infections. We don’t need antibacterial ingredients to rid ourselves of germs: soap works by physically loosening grime and microbes from our bodies and rinsing them away.
My favorite sustainable option: Freedom Soap Company*
4. Buy recycled or Sustainable Forestry Initiative certified toilet paper.
According to Leotie Lovely, US residents alone require about 7 million trees’ worth of toilet paper each year. For a more sustainable option, choose toilet paper made from post-consumer recycled paper (Trader Joe’s sells a version) or, at the very least, find brands that are part of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative program.
5. Buy your shower care items in refillable containers from Plaine Products.
The amount of plastic a typical woman requires just to get ready for the day is mind-boggling. I don’t even want to think about how many bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash I’ve purchased over the years, but I’m sure it numbers in the several hundreds. According to EWG’s Skin Deep, the average adult uses 9 personal care products each morning, most of it packaged in plastic or glass that, even if recyclable, is destined to go through an exorbitantly inefficient system – and probably travel the world a few times – in order to be reused. And plastic never biodegrades.
I’ve been furiously seeking out alternatives, but shampoo bars weren’t working on my thin hair, especially as it grew longer (a bit of residue doesn’t hurt in a pixie cut, but is pretty obvious on fine, straight hair). I needed something gentle, lightweight, and natural.
Plaine Products was, quite honestly, my last hope, and they came through. The company, which produces all natural shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in refillable, stainless steel pump bottles, was founded by sisters, Lindsey McCoy and Alison Webster, after Lindsey had an aha moment in the shower one day.
My favorite sustainable option: Plaine Products Three Pack Subscription