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Tiny Swaps: 4 Clever, Eco-Friendly, Low-Cost Switches to Try Around the House

Confetti From Living Without Plastic Book by Christine Wong and Brigette Allen, Photo by Christine Wong

So you’ve switched plastic grocery bags for long-lasting (and good-looking) net versions and traded in your cling wrap for reusable beeswax sheets. Looking for more ways to get rid of plastic around the house?

Behold, four smart, simple swaps—many of them no-cost or free—from the new book Living Without Plastic: More Than 100 Easy Swaps for Home, Travel, Dining, Holidays, and Beyond by Brigette Allen and Christine Wong.

Take note:

1. No more packing peanuts

Packing Tip from Living Without Plastic Book by Christine Wong and Brigette Allen, Photo by Christine Wong
Above: Somehow those irritating polystyrene packing peanuts tend to get stuck to everything in your house. And the same thing happens once they’re thrown out: They get everywhere, in landfills, waterways, and more. A better way to pack things up, according to Wong and Allen? With shredded newsprint, re-used gift wrap, or—our favorite—plain popped popcorn. Photograph by Christine Wong.

2. The anti-disposable pen

Pens From Living Without Plastic Book by Christine Wong and Brigette Allen, Photo via Besjunior and Adobe Stock
Above: Here’s an old-fashioned idea worth returning to: “Buy a new or used fountain pen that can be refilled with ink from a glass jar,” Wong and Allen write. It “might seem like a big investment up front, but it’s more cost-effective in the long run and much gentler on the environment.” No more using—and tossing—plastic ballpoint versions. Plus, think how charming a grocery list written with a fountain pen would look. Photograph by Besjunior via Adobe Stock.

3. DIY cotton squares

Cotton Squares From Living Without Plastic Book by Christine Wong and Brigette Allen, Photo by Christine Wong
Above: A DIY we’re eager to try: make-your-own cotton squares. Disposable cotton balls “are often blended with plastic fibers,” Wong and Allen write, “bleached, and treated with pesticides.” Instead, sew your own reusable square versions from organic cotton flannel or bamboo fabric. Just pre-wash the fabric, cut into 2- or 3-inch squares, and sew two pieces together with a blanket stitch; rinse in the sink and air-dry to re-use. (For the full instructions, see page 146 of Living Without Plastic.) Photograph by Christine Wong.

4. Better confetti

Confetti From Living Without Plastic Book by Christine Wong and Brigette Allen, Photo by Christine Wong
Above: Celebrating something? Opt for eco-friendly confetti—made with fallen, dried leaves and a hole punch—over the store-bought stuff. Photograph by Christine Wong.
Living Without Plastic Book by Christine Wong and Brigette Allen, Artisan
Above: Living Without Plastic is available via your local bookseller.

For more simple no-more-plastic swaps, see Use This, Not That: Expert Advice on 5 Easy, Eco Swaps for the Kitchen.

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