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Reusable alternatives to the single-use stuff you use every day

Cut down on single-use plastic with these reusable products.
Cut down on single-use plastic with these reusable products.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Recycling plastic is a good thing. However, stopping the cycle — and the plastic waste — before it starts is better.

Along with selling reusable shopping totes and plastic straw alternatives, sustainability-savvy retailers and manufacturers are increasingly stocking well-designed, mainstream and often affordable options to cut down on single-use plastic products. Think reusable cloth napkins and refillable containers (à la the milkman model).

Lily Cameron, co-founder of online store Wild Minimalist, is all for disrupting the status quo when it comes to our throwaway culture. She calls plastic pollution — the 300 million tons of plastic waste the United Nations estimates we generate globally per year — one of the most serious problems of our times.

“It’s really scary,” Cameron said. “I have a 2-year-old son, and I think it’s not just about polluting the environment but also the health concerns of what plastic does to our bodies. We’re finding that plastic is in everything. It’s finding its way into our water sources. ... I think it’s something we all have to be aware of and do our part to reduce it.”

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Don’t get overwhelmed. Start with doable goals in your quest to cut back on plastics.

Sustainable solutions may seem easier said than done. However, most people can participate in ways big and small. “You don’t have to buy a bunch of new, fancy, reusable supplies to get started,” Cameron said. “There’s lots of things you can do for free, like taking a container when you dine out [for leftovers]. You can bring Tupperware you already have. Or reuse a yogurt container.”

Here are some other eco-friendly possibilities:

Reusable razor

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Reusable razor
Rose gold safety razor.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

According to market research by Euromonitor, more than 1.2 billion disposable plastic razors were sold in the U.S. in 2018. Instead, opt for a rose gold safety razor. $32.50 at Eco Roots, ecoroots.us

Dryer balls

Reusable dryer balls
Friendsheep dryer balls.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Friendsheep dryer balls naturally soften laundry and reduce static cling, drying time, chemicals and waste from dryer sheets and plastic jugs of fabric softener. $28 for a set of six, at friendsheepwool.com

Cloth napkins

Cloth napkins
Anthropologie cloth napkins.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Skip paper napkins in plastic packaging. Here’s a set of six cloth napkins. $32 at Anthropologie, anthropologie.com

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Rechargeable batteries

Reusable batteries
Eneloop rechargeable batteries.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Make a power play with Eneloop rechargeable batteries (with plug-in charging station) by Panasonic. $17.99 at amazon.com

Reusable paper towels

Reusable paper towels
If You Care reusable paper towels.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Use, rinse and repeat. Each sheet of reusable paper towels lasts for a week. A set of three rolls is available from If You Care. $32 at food52.com

Refillable dispenser bottle

Dispenser bottle
Dissolving tablets and refillable dispenser bottles by Blueland.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
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As seen on ABC’s entrepreneurial reality TV show “Shark Tank,” dissolving tablets and refillable dispenser bottles by Blueland can replace single-use plastic containers of hand soap and household cleansers. Foaming hand soap starter kit with one glass “forever” bottle and three tablets, $16, and bathroom starter set with shatterproof reusable bottle and one tablet for 20 ounces of cleaner, $12, at blueland.com.

Angelenos have already trained themselves to bring reusable bags on grocery store runs. Are reusable bottles next?

Refillable makeup cases

Reusable makeup case
Kjaer Weis refillable makeup cases.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Here’s a way to make your beauty choices sustainable. Replace disposable plastic containers with refillable makeup cases from Kjaer Weis (pronounced “Keer Why-s”): Lush Up Volumizing Mascara, $38 for life version with case, and Embrace Cream Blush, $56 in Sun Touched for life version with case, both at kjaerweis.com.

Bye-bye baggies

Stand-up bag by Stasher
Stand-up bag by Stasher.
( Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Reusable silicone bags with Pinch-loc seal are microwave and dishwasher safe and come in a range of sizes and shapes from wildminimalist.com. Stand-up bag by Stasher, pictured, $19.99 at stasherbag.com.

Skip the single-use plastic bags in your lunchbox. Here’s a DIY for making your own reusable beeswax food wraps.

Mouthwash tablets and container

Personal mouthwash tablets and container by Humankind products
Personal mouthwash tablets and container by Humankind products.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Keep these personal-care products with cool, contemporary packaging and refill as needed. By Humankind sells mouthwash tablets and container, $10; refillable deodorant cases with paper-based pod inserts, $12; and shampoo bar with soap dish, $15, all at byhumankind.com.


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