a guide to reusables (+ why you should switch!)

What do water bottles, straws, K-cups, and bags all have in common? They come in reusable forms! Their alternatives are becoming more and more common in today’s day and age as we trail away from single use items – especially plastics.

You’ve more than likely heard about metal straws and the 2019-ish trend of Hydro Flasks. You’ve probably seen people at stores toting along tote bags and mesh produce bags. Some are completely into zero-waste, living sustainably, and having a low carbon footprint. Some are in it for the trends.

And you know what my controversial take on both sides is?

Good on them. Whether someone engages in a more sustainable lifestyle out of choice or trend, good on them. I know some people are against sustainability being ‘trendy’ but at the end of the day, if that’s what it takes for more people to make the switch to reusable alternatives, then so be it.

And to further that, you don’t have to be perfect. Some people are completely zero waste. Some are doing what they can. In my opinion, sustainability is not about being perfect at all. It’s about doing what you can, when you can, to help yourself, your community, and the Earth.

what is sustainability?

For example, to meet the needs of the present generation, we need water, but to not compromise future generations, we should not purchase water (gallon jugs, 24+ packs, etc) as the plastic production to create those jugs and bottles and the private monopolization of water causes harm to the Earth and future generations and, therefore, we should resort to fridge water, filtered water, etc.

But that is based in a perfect, utopian world, where clean water is accessible to all, of which we do not live in. In our realistic world, many do not have access to clean water and therefore have to rely on gallon jugs and 24+ packs.

The idea of sustainability that I am presenting to you is doing what you can, when you can, because there is essentially no ethical consumerism. If you have access to clean water, you should consider purchasing a reusable water bottle if you can afford such, and using your filtered water (either from the fridge or elsewhere).

how can reusables help?

So, now you’re wondering, how do reusables work to further sustainability? Let’s go back to our water example. As we do not live in a perfect world, people do not have access to clean water in their homes and must rely on what is available to them. People can go to any corner store or grocer’s and pick up bottled water. Water has been exploited as such, it’s inevitable.

The ability to purchase reusable water bottles (and other reusables) is the ability to help sustainability efforts. It’s the ability to do what you can, when you can, to help yourself, your community, and the Earth. Using the clean water freely available to you (and using a reusable when on the go), you allow those who actually need access to clean water to have the chance to get it.

But the world of reusables is so much bigger than water. I put together a list for you to browse through and make the switch:



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at home

reusable Brita water jug

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This jug allows for you to take any tap water in the house and filter any and all impurities out. This is the exact one I used while in New York! Every two days, I’d refill it under the kitchen tap and have fresh, clean water to use for drinking and cooking. No plastic bottles required! The filter in the pitcher is to be changed every 3 months of which you can set a reminder on their website of when the time comes.

Growing up, we had sandwich baggies for everything. Snacks, leftover pizza, screws, even for travel. Reflecting back, we’ve probably gone through thousands of bags without a second thought. Now, reusable bags seem like a no brainer. You save money, they’re easy to clean, and you reduce your plastic waste!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I made the switch May 2021 and I’m never going back! Not only do reusable K-cups reduce waste, they save you so much money in the long run. For reference, a 10-pack of K-cups costs around $8 depending on brand. That will only give you 10 cups of coffee before you have to purchase again. On the other hand, a 30-ounce canister of coffee grounds will give you way more than 10 cups, and only cost around $10, depending on brand. Who doesn’t love making better choices and saving money?!

Not only is saran wrap just a plastic sheet, it’s really annoying and really only sticks to itself. It’s sort of a lose-lose situation. Beeswax wraps offer a more sustainable alternative. These specific ones are organic and, with proper care, can last 1+ year. You can wrap literally anything, rinse them off, and use them again.

(These are also great to use alongside silicone bags, like above.)

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at the store

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I purchased these in October and let me tell you, how in the world did I manage with those flimsy store-provided bags?! No more struggling to open them, no more nearly dropping produce on the floor.

They come in 3 different sizes in a pack of 15 and hold so much in terms of volume and weight. To clean them, all I do is give them a rinse and turn them inside out over a jar to dry.

plastic grocery bags > reusable tote bags

These are the exact bags I use and love! They’re sturdy, well made, and can handle heavy loads. Reusable totes provide a more solid structure and room than flimsy bags you get at the grocery store. Meaning, your groceries won’t roll all over your trunk, you can carry the bags in one load, and you don’t have to worry about that sudden hole in your bag.

Stores sell them near the checkouts and they usually cost around $1 a bag. I have Target, Walmart, and Michael’s, but Target is my fave for its sturdiness.

(And if you happen to forget your reusables, paper is a better alternative to plastic if the store offers it!)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Plastic reusables are good because they’re reusable, but glass is a more sustainable option.  So is shopping in bulk to avoid any excess packaging. Think, a box of 5 bags of plastic wrapped rice. Rather than that, you can buy rice in bulk and BYOC (bring your own container). The best part is that you can bring literally any glass container – just be sure ot tare, aka weigh, it first. You can even reuse old pasta sauce jars (and the ones from the Whole Foods 365 brand have measurements on them!!!)

Freshly baked cookies?! Donuts?! Literally every baked good imaginable, including bread, from the bakery can be put in a cloth bag, rather a paper or plastic that store bakeries usually have. Not only are they a better alternative, but they can keep things fresh for longer.

A more sustainable option and keeping baked goods fresher longer?! I think yes.

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on the go

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Straws are great. For myself, it’s the only way I’ll finish a cold drink. No idea why, but whatever works, right? Some people omit straws completely. Some people prefer silicone straws. Others, glass. (There’s probably a rare 0.5% that like paper straws. But doesn’t it get soggy?)

I’m recommending metal straws. Because there are so many straw options out there. They’re sleek, thin, and less prone to breakage. These are the ones that I own and I love them. I keep some at home and some in my tote for when I’m on the go. Bonus: they don’t taste like metal!

Resuable water bottles are like the most convienent thing on Earth since sliced bread. I never leave the house without one and carry water, tea, or coffee in it. Some coffee shops – Starbucks and Dunkin, that I know of – even offer a slight discount when you bring in your reusable in place of their plastic cups. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This one is super easy to do! You can bring your own from home or, grab this set that even comes with a straw and chopsticks! This helps to reduce waste when you go to say, Chipotle, and the only option to eat your bowl is with a plastic fork.

It’s inevitable. You sit down, enjoy a good meal, and then realised you’ve ate a bit too much and have to take the rest home. You ask the waiter for a box and they return with a styrofoam one.

A good alternative is to just bring your own, just in case. You can use whatever container you own or opt for one make to take on the go.

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The world of reusables is so big. I hope that the items listed help to give you an idea of where to start. Not only do these options help you save money in the long run, they help to promote a world of sustainability and the move away from single-use plastics where reusables can fill in.

What reusables do you have? Have you made the switch?

Until next time!

Hi, I’m Jade Madison!

When I am blogging, I work to bring you quality lifestyle and personal content, as well as printables to make your life easier.

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