17 Cheap and Awesome Reusable Replacements for Disposable Products


The average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste every day, and well over half of this waste (about 220 million tons) ends up in a landfill. Not only is this rate of trash production terrible for the planet, it wastes lots of your hard-earned money. While that single-use item or throw-away packaging feels convenient, disposable items are the same as throwing money in the trash. Save money, and be kind to the planet, by switching to one of these cost-effective reusable replacements instead. (See also: 21 Disposable Products You Can Reuse)

1. Rechargeable Batteries

While rechargeable batteries cost more initially, they can be reused hundreds of times and last for years, if used properly. At the end of their life cycle, rechargeable batteries can be recycled to keep toxic chemicals out of the landfill.

2. Water Bottles

Bottled water has to be the biggest scam ever. Despite what the industry says, bottled water isn't any cleaner or healthier than tap water. The production of one plastic bottle uses more water to produce than actually put into the bottle for drinking! Skip the scam and carry tap water in a non-BPA water bottle instead. (See also: The Best Eco-Friendly Water Bottles)

3. Diva Cup

Disposable pads and tampons aren't the only option. Ladies, if you'd like to save money and be kind to the planet during your time of the month, consider a reusable option like menstrual cups or washable pads.

4. Glass Food Storage Containers

Plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and cheap plastic containers are all money in the trash. If you've got leftovers, or want to bring your lunch to work, store food in reusable glass containers instead (glass is better than plastic because it won't leach toxins into your food or retain food residue).

5. Cloth Shopping Bags

Those plastic bags they give you at the store aren't free. You pay for them in the form of increased food prices. They also take hundreds of years to break down in the landfill, often becoming microscopic plastic waste in the ocean. Buy or make your own cloth shopping bags, and you could receive a nice credit at the register. (See also: 20 New Things You Can Make With Old Denim Jeans)

6. DIY Swiffer Pads

If (like me) you've only got a small uncarpeted area, a full size mop and bucket are unnecessary. With a Swiffer you can give your kitchen and bathroom a quick once over without all the fuss. Instead of constantly buying disposable pads, make your own Swiffer pad or buy a washable one on Etsy.

7. Safety Razor

Most of us shave at least one body part, and disposable razor heads are astronomically expensive. There are lots of greener alternatives to disposable razors, however, including some that can be sharpened repeatedly. (See also: Save Money On Shaving With These Razor Tricks)

8. Cloth Napkins and Cleaning Wipes

Paper napkins, paper towels, tissues, and disposable cleaning wipes are convenient, but incredibly wasteful. Using washable cloth napkins and handkerchiefs, and turning old t-shirts into reusable cleaning cloths, will save heaps of money and drastically reduce your garbage production.

9. Permanent Coffee Filter

Still using bleached paper coffee filters to brew your morning java? Save lots of money with a permanent, reusable coffee filter instead. When dirty, simply run it through the dishwasher.

10. Diapers and Baby Wipes

Unlike disposable diapers, which cost a fortune, cloth diapers are softer, less-toxic, and result in zero landfill waste. Same thing goes for baby wipes. Consider using cloth diapers and making your own reusable cloth baby wipes kit.

11. Dryer Balls

Fabric softener and dryer sheets are an expensive way to get the soft, clean-smelling clothes that you want. Save time, money, and energy with these DIY wool dryer balls instead (tennis balls also work in a pinch, but they're loud).

12. Reusable Straws

Unless you're a baby (or have a physical condition that makes drinking difficult) I'm not really sure why you need a straw. Nevertheless, using a washable glass or metal straw instead of the plastic ones drastically reduces waste.

13. Permanent Air Filter

To keep your home and car running efficiently, you need a clean air filter. Many people simply replace these disposable filters every few months, not realizing there are permanent alternatives.

14. Wrapping Paper

Paper wrappings and gift bags look good, but are often only used for minutes before being tossed in the trash. Save money and reduce paper waste with eco-friendly alternatives like cloth gift bags and upcycled wrappings.

15. Paper Plates and Plastic Utensils

Whether you're planning a picnic (or simply packing a lunch) strive to use traditional metal cutlery that can be washed repeatedly. Really need a disposable option? Try compostable alternatives made from corn or bamboo.

16. Toothbrush

Toothbrush bristles wear out quickly, so to maintain a healthy smile, they've got to be replaced. This doesn't mean the entire toothbrush needs to end up in the trash, however. You can reduce 93% of toothbrush waste by using toothbrush handles with replaceable heads.

17. Vacuum Bags

Vacuums that require disposable bags are, well, vintage to say the least. Upgrade to a vacuum that features an easy-to-empty canister and washable air filter, and never waste money on vacuum bags again. (See also: The 5 Best Robotic Vacuums)

Anything I've missed? Use the reusable comments box below to share your favorite reusables!

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Guest's picture
Patricia Bennett

Fabric Softeners are extremely toxic too. The way they work (liquid or sheets) is they become airborne when heated in the dryer. This way they can put a thin film on your clothes to stop static, but they are also putting a thin film on your lungs at the same time. Besides, static is just from over-drying your clothes. So reduce the heat or time to eliminate the static. ~ Also, Norwex sells awesome chemical free cleaning products that use just water to clean with! Including a fantastic microfiber mop.

Guest's picture

#2 - bottled water - some times it IS cleaner than tap water, depending on where you live.