Sometimes you’ve gotta spend a little to save a lot. And when it comes to being eco-friendly, a little upfront investment (we really are talking little–think under $20) can pay major dividends in both money-saving and planet-saving over the long term. So instead of buying yet another roll of disposable paper towels, next time shell out for a $10 reusable bamboo towel roll that you’ll pretty much use forever. (In fact, the Electric Handdryer Association reports that even if every household aimed to use three less paper towel rolls per year, it could save 120,000 tons of waste from being dumped in landfills. Incredible!) These easy swaps will help you feel good about doing something environmentally friendly–and leave a little extra green in your wallet, too.
Tin spice jars
Not only are bulk spices cost-effective (typically about half the price of those little bottles), plastic shakers are a single-use plastic. And, you can buy exactly the amount you’ll need, which is good since spices lose their potency pretty quickly. A one-time purchase of cute tin spice jars or mini mason jars will give your kitchen a Pinterest-y upgrade, and save money over time.
Refillable toiletry bottles
Even if you’re in the habit of recycling wine bottles and seltzer cans, there’s a good chance that your beauty empties aren’t making it to the recycling bin. In fact, nearly half of Americans don’t recycle toiletry bottles, which instead pile up in landfills. To skip as much plastic packaging as possible, sign up with a brand like The Good Fill, which offers refillable aluminum toiletry bottles with your first shampoo purchase. Then, you can order refills that come in a reusable pouch; once you’ve transferred the contents to your bottle, you just mail it back to be cleaned and put back into circulation.
Reusable sandwich wrap
Have you ever recycled plastic wrap? Didn’t think so. Since it’s another single-use plastic, not to mention expensive (a small roll can go for around $5), try a reusable sandwich wrap, like those made of beeswax, instead. For about the cost of two rolls of plastic wrap, you’ll get a cloth that’s washable and chemical-free to pack up your sandwich or produce for an on-the-go lunch or to cover your food in the fridge.
Cloth towels for kitchen and cleaning
To cut back on paper towel use in your kitchen and bathroom, try “unpaper” towels, many of which are made of a cotton and terry cloth blend to make them more absorbent. You can toss them in the wash with the rest of your towels between uses. A $10 reusable roll will absorb many more spills than a $15 twelve-pack of paper towel rolls from the store.
Reusable makeup remover cloths
Disposable makeup wipes clear away your cosmetics in a flash–and then take years to break down in landfills. Now there is a whole selection of soft, reusable makeup remover cloths, mitts, and pads in stores and online. You can treat them like a washcloth and stick them in the laundry with your other linens. And with a one-time cost that’s on par with a two-month supply of disposables, you’ll definitely end up saving some money.
Wool dryer balls
Your laundry process could be much more eco-friendly if you ditched the disposable dryer sheets you use in each load, which are typically made from polyester and can’t be recycled. (They may also contain a whole host of harmful chemicals in the “fragrance” used to give them that fresh scent.) Instead, switch to reusable wool dryer balls, which you toss in the dryer with your clothing. They’ll help the drying process go faster (which saves time, energy, and money), and help soften fabrics, too. They only cost between $10 and $20 and can last for as many as 1,000 loads of laundry, compared to a $5 box of 100 dryer sheets.