You have hundreds of choices when it comes to reusable products vs. disposable products. Even if you just choose just five or ten of these choices, and use them year-round, it’ll cut down on your disposable footprint, save you money and make a big difference for the planet.
*NOTE: All estimates below are based on an average family of four.
Reusable Kitchen Goods
- 25 reusable cloth napkins replace 4,380 disposable paper napkins per year.
- 1 reusable coffee filter replaces around 365 disposable filters per year – or if you’re a coffee-addict like me, a lot more.
- 10 to 12 decent food containers with lids replaces many boxes of foil or plastic wrap per year.
- 1 refillable dish soap bottle + bulk dish soap replaces 18 to 26 disposable dish soap bottles per year.
- 1 reusable tea ball + herbs purchased in bulk food bags replaces 365+ disposable tea bags per year (if you’re a tea drinker)
- 1 set of reusable silicone baking cups can replace as many as 624+ disposable paper muffin cups per year (assuming you make one batch of muffins per week).
Reusable Home Goods
- 25 to 50 reusable cleaning towels replace somewhere around 22,152 paper towels per year.
- 3 refillable hand soap dispensers + 3 refillable soap bottles replace 36 to 72 disposable bottles of hand soap per year.
- 1 refillable laundry detergent container replaces around 12 to 24 disposable containers of detergent per year.
- Homemade cleaners made in reusable bottles can replace anywhere from 36 to 72+ disposable containers of cleaners per year.
Reusable Personal Goods
- 1 refillable shampoo bottle + 1 refillable conditioner bottle replaces around 48 to 96 disposable bottles of shampoo and conditioner per year.
- 1 refillable body wash bottle replaces around 48 disposable bottles of body wash per year.
- 1 reusable maxi-pad set and/or 1 period cup replace 12 to 24+ disposable boxes and bags of period gear per year.
- 4 toothbrushes with reusable heads replace 16 disposable plastic toothbrushes per year.
- Homemade body care, such as sugar scrubs, facial scrubs, toner, face wash, lip gloss and more can replace an untold of amount of disposable containers per year.
- A set of 28-50 cloth handkerchiefs replaces 24 to 50+ boxes of disposable tissues per year.
- 2 electric razors or 2 reusable safety razors replace up to 104 disposable plastic razors per year.
Reusable Bulk Food
Without knowing how and what your family eats, it’s hard to calculate how many resources reusable bulk food bags will save you so the estimates below are for my family. However, any family that uses reusable bulk food bags for food bought in bulk vs. food in packages will save a ton of resources annually.
- 1 reusable bulk food bag + 1 refillable flour container replaces about 12 disposable bags of flour per year.
- 5-10 reusable produce bags replace about 520 plastic produce bags per year (assuming you eat a decent amount of produce).
- 1 reusable bulk food bag + 1 refillable rice container replaces about 8-12 disposable bags of rice per year.
- 1 reusable bulk food bag + 1 refillable oatmeal container replaces about 552 disposable packets of oatmeal per year.
- 2 reusable bulk food bags + 2 refillable cereal containers replace about 156 disposable boxes of cereal per year.
- 1 reusable bulk food bag + 1 refillable pasta container replaces about 52 disposable pasta boxes or bags per year.
- 3 small reusable bulk food bags + the spice and herb containers you already own replace about 12-24 disposable jars of herbs and spices per year.
- 1 reusable bulk food bag + various reusable containers replace countless disposable bags of baking grains per year.
- 1 reusable bulk coffee bag + 1 refillable coffee container replaces 40-80 disposable bags or containers of coffee beans or ground coffee per year.
- 1 refillable peanut butter container + peanut butter bought in bulk can replace around 24 disposable jars of peanut butter per year.
Assuming you purchase baking and cooking ingredients and supplies in bulk food bags and use fresh, not canned produce for recipes, homemade food can save you a bundle in packaging.
- 104 batches of homemade bread replace 104 disposable bread bags per year.
- 12 reusable ice pop molds + some decent ice pop recipes replace 17 to 52 boxes of store-bought ice pops (assuming everyone eats just one ice pop a week).
- DIY soy milk can replace 104+ disposable containers of soy milk per year.
- Homemade pasta sauce can replace up to 52 disposable jars of sauce per year.
- Homemade hot cocoa can replace around 416+ disposable cocoa packets per year.
- Homemade pop tarts can replace about 26 disposable boxes of store-bought pops per year.
- If you’re addicted to coffee, 1 reusable cold coffee cup + 1 reusable hot coffee mug + 1 coffee maker can replace 730 disposable coffee cups per year (if two people in your family drink 2 cups per day).
- Homemade fruit roll-ups can replace 52o disposable packets of fruit snacks or roll-ups per year (if your kids like these in their lunches).
- Homemade cookies can replace up 20-52 disposable packages of cookies per year.
- Easy homemade applesauce can replace around 52 disposable jars of applesauce per year.
- Homemade granola or fruit bars can replace around 780 disposable packaged bars per year (assuming at least 3 people at your house like bars for lunches or snacks).
- Some reusable jars + self-picked berries + 1 homemade jam recipe can replace about 24 disposable jars of jam per year.
On-the-go Reusable Goods
- 8 to 10 reusable bags replace around 468 disposable grocery bags per year.
- 4 non-toxic refillable water bottles replace 5,832 disposable water bottles per year. Plus, saves you about $1,200 a year!
- 4 reusable lunch bags or boxes replace around 1,040 disposable paper or plastic lunch bags per year (assuming everyone in the house takes a packed lunch to school, camp or work).
- A decent set of 30 to 40 reusable cloth snack and sandwich baggies and reusable lunch food containers replace around 4,160 disposable plastic baggies per year (assuming everyone in the house takes a packed lunch to school, camp or work).
Reusable Baby Items
- Breastfeeding replaces countless plastic baby bottles per year, not to mention around 393 cans of formula.
- 50 reusable cloth baby diapers replace about 2,760 to 3,000 disposable diapers per year.
- 55 reusable baby wipe cloths replace about 6,000 disposable baby wipes or around 93 of those plastic boxes of wipes per year.
Miscellaneous Reusable Goods
These items will save you various amounts of resources, depending on how often your family uses them.
- Refillable printer ink cartridges replace new ink cartridges.
- A set of rechargeable batteries replace disposable batteries.
- Library books and magazines replace freshly printed, store-bought books and magazines.
- Refillable pens replace disposable plastic pens.
Just for fun, let’s look at how many disposables you’ll replace with the items above…
If you replace all the disposables above with their reusable counterparts, you’ll end up reducing an average of 47,738 disposables in your life. Assuming you choose just 5 of the above actions, you’ll still reduce the disposables goods in your life by an average count of about 5,000, depending on the actions you choose.
No matter how you slice it, even reducing just a few disposables in your home is an amazing tactic to reduce waste and lower your footprint.