Simply put: The use of disposable items comes at a significant cost.

According to a recent World Wildlife Fund (WWF) study, plastic leakage—at current rates—will reach 104 million metric tons by 2030. That adds up to 229 billion pounds of plastic. Since the 1950s, USA Today has estimated that we have already produced 18.2 trillion pounds of plastic—the equivalent to 157 Great Walls of China.

What’s worse is that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has increased this number due to our dependence on single-use plastics. People have been relying on disposable items to ensure that the virus is not spread. As individuals continue to make an effort to keep themselves healthy, they can safely do the same for our environment.

While you do not need to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle, minimizing the number of disposable items you purchase can positively impact the environment and your wallet. You can even lower the cost of groceries by making a one-time purchase instead of returning to buy another round of disposable products.

In this blog, looks at various disposable items and their eco-friendly alternatives to help you follow a healthier lifestyle.

Sandy Water Bottle on a Beach

1. Water Bottles

Food Business News reports that there were 14.35 billion gallons of bottled water sold in the United States in 2019, and for every single second that passes, 1,500 bottles of water are consumed. Plastic water bottles are harmful to the environment due to their chemical composition. They are also harmful to our bodies because they can leach chemicals into the water they contain that we drink.

Our alternative: a reCAP® Mason Jars Water bottle set with Infuser Screens. These water bottles are created with glass Mason jars that eliminate the use of (and need for) plastic bottles. In addition to being dishwasher safe and BPA-free, this set has several uses that are not limited to consuming water. Our shaker screens make these water bottles perfect for creating the best protein shake!

Plastic Soap Dispensers and Containers with Masks

2. Soap & Hand Sanitizer Containers

Plastic soap containers and their dispensers are another source of pollution that is easy to replace. National Geographic has confirmed that only 9% of plastic waste is recycled, and even then, these plastics do not always break down. Alarmingly, on average, plastic, depending on the type, takes between 400 to 450 years to decompose. From hand sanitizers to laundry detergents, many of these product containers are being discarded after use only to be purchased again.

Our alternative: a reCAP® Mason Jar Soap Dispenser Lid & Pump Cap with a 16oz glass Mason Jar. While our lid is crafted from plastic, it is far more durable, BPA-free, dishwasher and freezer safe, and stain-resistant; it will hold up for years to come if cared for properly. By making a one-time purchase of multiple dispensers and containers, you eliminate the need to buy disposable soap dispensers over time and become more eco-friendly in the process. Buying eco-friendly containers in bulk will also reduce packaging waste. Our lid and pump cap may also be used for homemade lotions, massage oils, body soaps, and gels.

To-Go Food Containers with a Colorful Lunch

3. To-Go Containers

Many of today’s to-go containers may be washed and reused after purchase, which means many of us clean and keep them for reuse. While it's great to do so, some of these containers are crafted out of low-quality plastic that could be harmful to our health. Plastic also can stain easily, which leads people to throw them out after a handful of uses. Glass on the other hand is safer, more durable, and has a longer shelf life than plastic.

Our alternative: a reCAP® Mason Jars lid FLIP cap paired with a 16oz Mason jar. Using a BPA-free FLIP cap makes it easy to store and bring food on-the-go! You can even use this combination to store items in your kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. What’s more, our reCAP® Mason Jars Insulated Tote Bag eliminates the need for plastic bags and is perfect for carrying containers.

Plastic Utensils on a Beach

4. Plastic Forks, Spoons, and Knives

According to Forbes, “some estimates put the number of individual plastic utensils wasted at 40 billion per year in the United States alone.” Because these utensils are small in size, they are often missed during recycling, which means that plastic cutlery is left to decompose on its own. Moreover, when left to their own devices, these utensils will experience breakage and scatter into smaller, sharper pieces that are harmful to the environment and the animals within it.

Our alternative: a Reusable Eco-Pack Travel Stainless Steel Cutlery Utensil Set. This utensil set not only includes a stainless steel fork, spoon, knife, set of chopsticks, straw, and straw cleaner, but also an organic cotton pouch to store them in. While the utensils are colored rose gold, the pouch comes in available in a variety of patterns.

Plastic Straws on a Beach

5. Straws

During the 2017 International Coastal Cleanup, Ocean Conservancy found that single-use plastic straws were among the top 10 items found in the ocean since they are not biodegradable. Additionally, single-use straws are often too small to be broken down by most recycling machines. While many individuals believe that compostable straws are the answer to this dilemma, Our Last Straw argues that they are just as bad because they do not break down in the ocean due to the lack of sunlight and oxygen.

Our alternatives: a Classic Single Glass Straw, Skinny Single Glass Straw, or Wide Single Glass Straw. Our glass straws are useful for all types of beverages, hot or cold. They are also eco-friendly, dishwasher and microwave safe, BPA-free, and hypo-allergenic. SimplyStraws’ stainless steel, rust-free Mason Straw Lid removes the need for plastic lids as well and fits any size Mason jar.

Looking Towards a Plastic-Free Future

Beginning to swap out disposable products for reusable ones is an excellent step towards a sustainable future. From soap dispensers to food containers, Mason jars and their lids have a plethora of uses. Visit our Get Inspired page for more eco-friendly tips, delicious recipes, and exclusive product details. If you’re unsure of how to sanitize your Mason jars for reuse, we have a blog post for that too!