The Plastic-Free or Low-Waste Swaps I Made Before 2021

featured photo taken by Scott Osborn | Source: Unsplash

Before 2021, I was still fairly Earth-conscious. I didn’t get serious about reducing my use of plastic (especially single-use plastic) and reducing my waste until the very end of 2020. Then I decided at the beginning of 2021, I would gradually make changes every month. More on those changes in a different post!

Today, I want to share with you guys the swaps I made pre-2021! I truly made these swaps without really ever thinking about it from an environmental standpoint; a lot of these swaps were just to save money. Now that I think back, I realized not only was I saving money, but I made an eco-friendly swap. Yay me!

MakeUp Eraser

I received the MakeUp Eraser in a FabFitFun box. Truth be told, I don’t wear a lot of makeup. I have no clue how to contour, apply perfect eye shadow and liner, or match my lips to my outfit or other makeup. I’m a tomboy, what can I say?!

I wear makeup maybe once or twice per month. Sometimes when I want to look like I’m alive, I throw on some mascara. In the past, I used Neutrogena makeup remover wipes or the liquid with a cotton ball. Both are pretty wasteful! The wipes are self-explanatory and the liquid comes in a plastic bottle plus the cotton ball or round adds to the waste.

I was skeptical of the MakeUp Eraser at first. It just looks like a furry washcloth. How the heck was this thing going to remove my makeup?

It does the job, though, and it does it well! I’ve reached the point where I prefer the MakeUp Eraser! I love that it doesn’t leave my skin oily and gross feeling like the liquid eye makeup remover did and it doesn’t burn my eyeballs as the wipes did!

HydroFlask water bottle

I made this swap FOREVER ago. I’m talking years here.

As a child, I drank tap water at my mom’s house out of a glass cup. At my dad’s house, we all had our own (plastic) water bottle, but we reused those things until they would start getting holes in them! I grew up on tap water and not filtered, single-use bottles.

After moving to Arizona, I realized that I needed a high-quality water bottle that I could take on hikes, leave out in the car on a hot day, go camping with… and not feel like I am drinking boiling water when I’m thirsty. We discovered the HydroFlask water bottles back when they were really the only stainless steel insulated water bottles on the market and we haven’t looked back.

These things are perfect for beach days (now that we live in Florida) and I guarantee that no matter where I am at, you can find one of my water bottles close by because, you know, hydration!

Stainless steel straws

This was an add-on I purchased through FabFitFun and to be honest, I don’t know why I purchased it other than to have something to drink iced coffee with. We didn’t have plastic straws in our house before so this wasn’t much of a “swap.” It was truly one of those random purchases where I didn’t realize how much I’d grow to appreciate the fact that I impulse-bought these fancy straws.

I also had silicone straws on a keychain to travel with for a bit, but the keychain/holder of the straws got super discolored and dirty on the outside AND inside. I’ll be looking for a replacement. Thankfully my teeth are not sensitive, though, so I don’t need to use straws, though it is a preference because… germs.

Reusable cotton rounds

I purchased the reusable cotton rounds around the time I got the Make Up Eraser. I was in the early stages of researching a more sustainable lifestyle, talking to friends about their transitions, and figuring out what easy swaps would be. After buying the Make Up Eraser, I thought, “well I don’t need cotton rounds… unless I’m applying something to my face that I can’t do with my hands or I’m taking off nail polish…”

I went onto Amazon and purchased reusable cotton rounds after I ran out of the disposables. Instead of tossing them in the trash when they get dirty, I have a machine-washable bag that I put them in and then the bag goes into the wash. Saving the environment AND money with this one! 

(Yes, I know, cotton rounds don’t cost that much, but little things do add up!)

Click and Grow Smart Garden

My husband got me the Click and Grow Smart Garden for Christmas back in 2018. He described it as “the gift I didn’t ask for, but wanted.” Since then, it has been a staple in our kitchen. I put this on the list because I think it helps us with food waste and not using plastic produce bags at the store.

The gist of it is that you order pods with seeds already in them and “plant” the pods in the garden. You keep it full of water and plug it in. The light is on for 16 hours per day and then it turns off automatically for eight hours. 

Since getting the smart garden, we often grow our herbs; typically cilantro, basil, and chives. We’ve switched it up a couple of times and added dill, rosemary, and even random pods like wild strawberries!

The only complaint I have about the Click and Grow Smart Garden is that the pods come in plastic packaging. If only the company would switch it to something non-plastic or even compostable, then we would be golden!

Selling and buying my clothes from ThredUP

I am saving the fashion industry for a future blog post because I am still researching its impact on the environment, but I was shocked to hear that clothes DO affect it! I’ve been buying most of my clothes from ThredUP for a few years now. My original reason for doing it that way is because they’re affordable on ThredUP and I also like to wear things that no one else has. Perhaps that is the small-town girl speaking. I grew up where there were two clothing stores in town so I was always dressed the same as at least two other girls in my grade. Then later on in life, I wore a school uniform so, again, I was always dressed the same as others.

I love consignment stores for this reason. I also like to sell my gently-used clothes to ThredUP because if I’m not using them but someone else could wear them, then why the heck would I throw my clothes away?!

ThredUP also gives sellers the option to have their clothes donated if ThredUP decides to not sell some of their items. I have that option turned on, so whatever clothes of mine ThredUP decides wouldn’t sell on their site goes to someone in need.

These small swaps might not seem like much, but they helped me get into the mindset of, “well if I can swap out these things or change my behavior in this way, then what else can I do?”

They didn’t happen fast, either. Finding plastic-free and/or low-waste alternatives have been slow going, even before I made this a lifestyle. That is the way it should be! You never want to overwhelm yourself to the point where you decide to give up.

Looking back, I’m proud that I was already unconsciously making better decisions for my life and the environment. I know I won’t always get it perfect, and that is okay. We don’t need perfect! We just need an effort.

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