Best Reusable Products to Replace Your Disposables [Reviews]

Reusable Items - Best Reusable Products

The amount of waste that the typical American household produces every year is staggering. This is something you’ve probably heard so many times that you don’t need the statistics to prove it, but those statistics are here if you want them.

Reducing the amount of waste we produce sounds simple. It actually requires a bit of forethought and planning, however, because the most easily accessible consumer options available to us for the things we use every day are going to be disposable options. If the most efficient way to reduce waste is not to produce it in the first place, we have to do a bit of an end-run around mainstream, disposable options and actively look for sustainable alternatives.

You’re already on board with reusable grocery bags and water bottles, but there’s a whole world of alternatives for the products we use and throw out every day. Here are our reviews of some of the best reusable products.

Best Reusable Straws


OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel 5 Piece Reusable Straw and Brush Set

Stainless steel reusable straws that come with bent silicone tips in 2 different colours. Kit includes 4 straws in 2 different lengths, as well as a cleaning brush.

Features & Benefits

  • Stainless steel
  • Removable silicone tips
  • 8-inch and 10.5-inch lengths
  • 5/16-inch external diameter

Pros

  • BPA-free
  • Dishwasher safe
  • OXO commits 1% of their annual sales to supporting environmental non-profit organizations

Cons

  • Some users found the silicone tips hard to clean

Editorial Review

These straws combine the best of a few different worlds. Their stainless steel construction makes them more durable and long-lasting than glass straws. For those who don’t love the feel of stainless steel as they sip on a beverage, are sensitive to hold and cold temperatures, or are concerned about jabbing themselves in the roof of the mouth, the silicone tips provide some cushioning.

The straws come in 2 different lengths (8-inch and 10.5-inch) that are suitable for a variety of sizes of mugs and glasses. Those who are looking for reusable straws for kids, however, or who usually drink out of shorter glasses, might find these too long.

What Others Are Saying

The reviews of these straws are generally really positive. People found them sturdy, well made and easy to clean. They generally reported that the silicone tips fit securely and that they were comfortable to use. Users almost universally said they hadn’t encountered any strange smells or tastes with these straws, which they especially loved.

The biggest complaint people had with these straws was with the silicone. Some found it a hassle to have to remove the tips for washing. Others wondered whether the tips would be a choking hazard for small children. People also warned that these straws are not going to be wide enough for thick smoothies. If that’s primarily what you need these for, look for a straw with a wider diameter.

Best Reusable Food Wrap


Bee’s Wrap Beeswax Food Wraps

These reusable beeswax wraps are infused with beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin. The warmth of your hands molds them around containers and a seal forms when they cool.

Features & Benefits

  • Made with GOTS certified organic cotton
  • Chemical and synthetic wax free
  • Set of 3 different sizes – small (7 x 8 inches), medium (10 x 11 inches) and large (13 x 14 inches)
  • Various prints available

Pros

  • Organic materials
  • Biodegradable
  • Bee’s Wrap is Green America and B Corp certified

Cons

  • Can trigger people with allergies to pine
  • More difficult to manage in a hot climate

Editorial Review

If you’re looking to go plastic free in your life, these wraps are a great resource. They’re easy to clean and easy to store. Most importantly, they’re easy to use. The wax softens when you hold it and forms to the shape of whatever you’re wrapping.

These wraps do have their limitations – they can’t be used with meat and they won’t create an airtight seal, but for most purposes, they’re an excellent substitution for cling wrap. You should also be aware that there’s a distinct honey smell to the wraps, which could be a plus or a minus, depending on how you feel about honey.

What Others Are Saying

People were typically very satisfied with these wraps. Reviewers loved having a plastic free option to keep lunches, fruits, veggies and leftovers fresh. These wraps get a lot of praise for being functional, versatile and easy to care for. While most people say they haven’t completely replaced their cling wrap, they’re happy to have reduced the amount of plastic they use.

Some users found that the wax wore off after a while, and that washing made matters worse. Others wanted a tighter seal than these wraps could provide, especially for things like avocados. Finally, people with pine sap allergies reported that they had reactions when holding the wrap, so exercise caution there.

Best Reusable Baking Mats


KPKitchen Set of 5 Silicone Baking Mats

A set of 5 reusable, non-stick silicone baking mats for sheets, cake pans and pie plates. Safe for ovens, microwaves, dishwashers and freezers.

Features & Benefits

  • 100% silicone
  • Fiberglass core
  • Set of 5 mats
  • Variety of sizes

Pros

  • BPA-free
  • 3-year warranty
  • Dishwasher safe

Cons

  • Uncovered surface areas can be blackened in the oven

Editorial Review

The perfect replacement for parchment paper, silicone baking mats are safe, simple to use and simple to clean. Even if you’re not looking to eliminate disposable products from your life, these mats are still a good investment. They’ll save you cash on tin foil and parchment paper. They’ll also save a ton of time that you’d otherwise spend cutting and fitting parchment paper, not to mention scrubbing your pans.

This set is especially handy because it comes in a range of sizes. While it would be ideal to have 2 round cake mats for baking layer cakes, it’s still a very versatile set.

What Others Are Saying

People who reviewed these baking mats were vocal about their value. Most people felt the mats were a great deal for the price. They also loved the variety of mats that are included in the set. Users said that they’re easy to clean and that they had no issues with food sticking.

Some users reported that when baking, the uncovered areas of the mats became burned or blackened. While that didn’t seem to affect the functionality of the mats, those users did note that it was impossible to scrub those marks out. Others said they had issues with the mats bunching while cooking.

Best Reusable Paper Towels


Ecosophy Bamboo Unpaper Towels

Ecosophy’s bamboo towels can be used for any of the reasons you’d reach for conventional paper towels, but when you’re done with them you just wash them and reuse.

Features & Benefits

  • 2 pack
  • 20 sheets per roll
  • 11 x 12 inches
  • 100% bamboo

Pros

  • Compostable and biodegradable
  • Kraft paper packaging
  • Cruelty free

Cons

  • Sheds fibers after washing

Editorial Review

Think of these sheets like a cross between conventional papers towels and cloth towels. They’re durable like a kitchen towel and can be thrown in the wash after use. They’re biodegradable, however, so they can be composted once they start to wear out. That means you won’t have to try to find a cloth recycling facility or throw a polyester towel in the trash.

These towels are tough, long-lasting and versatile. For food messes, bathroom cleaning or whatever you use a paper towel for, these are a great alternative. We especially liked that the packaging is as eco-friendly as the product.

What Others Are Saying

Reviewers frequently commented on how impressed they were with the durability of these towels. For most people, the sheets were thick enough to handle kitchen spills and tough enough to use on greasy messes. Users said they wash up nicely and dry soft. People also loved how many paper towels they saved. Many reviewers remarked on how many paper towels they tend to go through, and how much more economical it was to be able to wash and use these towels over and over again.

Reviews of the towels’ absorbency were mixed. Some people thought they worked great and others found them less than absorbent. Many users mentioned that the sheets start to get fuzzy after a few washes, and that made them less useful for tasks like carrying food items.

Best Silicone Sandwich Bags


Stasher Reusable Sandwich Storage Bags

Made of 100% silicone, Stasher’s reusable sandwich bags are non-toxic, leakproof and dishwasher safe. Can be used in the microwave or freezer, for food storage or sous vide.

Features & Benefits

  • 100% silicone
  • 7.5 x 7.5 x 1 inch
  • 15-ounce capacity
  • Many colours available

Pros

  • Dishwasher and microwave safe
  • No BPA, PVC or latex
  • Stasher commits 1% of their sales to supporting environmental non-profit organizations

Cons

  • Expensive option
  • Some reviewers found the seal ineffective

Editorial Review

Although these reusable sandwich bags are expensive, they do make up for it in the long run if you tend to buy a lot of disposable baggies. The bags are a convenient, lightweight option for lunchboxes, and take up less room in the fridge than larger food storage containers.

They’re straightforward to wash and hold up well over time. The material is very sturdy, to the point where you really can’t force food into the bag if it’s too large for the opening. For us, that seems a small trade-off for the quality of the construction. The seal can take a bit to get the hang of, so be prepared for that.

What Others Are Saying

These bags get a lot of good press for their durability. Reviewers generally praised their quality, as well as their versatility. Having a sandwich bag that can go from freezer to microwave was a big plus for many users, along with being able to toss them in the dishwasher afterwards. People also appreciated that the material didn’t give a smell or a taste to their food.  

Some users experienced tearing in the material early on, especially along the seams and in the corners. Other than that, the biggest complaint was the price. Even users who really loved these bags took issue with the cost. They wished they were a little less expensive so that they could replace more of their plastic food storage containers with them.

Best Reusable Dryer Balls


Friendsheep Wool Dryer Balls

These adorable wool dryer balls replace fabric softener and conventional single-use dryer sheets, reducing wrinkles and static and reducing dryer time. They work with any fabric and machine.

Features & Benefits

  • 100% organic wool
  • 6 pack
  • Handmade
  • Many plain and animal designs to choose from

Pros

  • Fair-trade and Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Fragrance and chemical free

Cons

  • Loud in the dryer
  • More expensive than other options

Editorial Review

Cute and ethically produced, these dryer balls are a solid substitution for single-use dryer sheets. They’re well made, don’t leach colour onto fabrics, and last a long time. They’re fragrance-free, but can be used with essential oils if you want to add a scent to your clean clothes.

The cost is probably going to be a factor in your decision making, but for us, the price seems to simply reflect the cost of paying people a living wage. Friendsheep seems deeply committed to fair trade, ethical wages and cruelty-free farming, which we always appreciate. The compostable packaging and eco-friendly storage bag were also a nice bonus.

What Others Are Saying

Honestly, the most common thing people say about these balls is that they’re adorable. Users also commonly found them to be effective, though, and commented that their clothes were much less staticky. People loved that they kept their sheets from clumping up in the dryer and felt that their clothes dried more evenly when they used the balls.

That said, reviews are mixed about whether these dryer balls (and dryer balls in general) actually work to reduce drying time. Many people didn’t find they made a difference, either in drying time or in levels of static. Some users didn’t love, and were surprised by, the noise these little balls make as they bounce around in the dryer.

Best Reusable Swabs


LastSwab Reusable Cotton Swabs

A flexible, silicone alternative to cotton swabs. With a plant-based carrying case, these swabs are designed to be easy to use, to store and to travel with.

Features & Benefits

  • Nylon core
  • Textured silicone tips
  • 4.37 inches long
  • Biodegradable carrying case

Pros

  • Plant-based packaging and carrying case
  • Easy to wash

Cons

  • Doesn’t absorb like cotton
  • Centre can break with too much pressure

Editorial Review

This is a handy, practical alternative to conventional cotton swabs. It’s easy to store and travel with and takes up much less space in the bathroom than an entire package of disposable swabs. It works essentially the same way that a disposable swab does, and takes very little effort to clean after use.

Since the ends are not made of cotton, the feel is very different, which might be an issue for you. It also will not dry your ears, so if you like to use swabs in your ears after a shower, these might take some getting used to.

What Others Are Saying

The majority of people who tried this product liked it. They appreciated not having to throw out cotton swabs on a daily basis and found this swab easy to wash and keep clean. They reported that the tips were secure and that the size and thickness of the swab were on point.

Some users couldn’t get past the feel of the silicone. Since it’s not as soft as cotton, and doesn’t absorb, people sometimes found the sensation too strange to get used to. The lack of absorbing properties was a deal breaker for many. Others felt the construction was too stiff and ended up scraping themselves. Another common complaint was the swab breaking in the middle.

Best Reusable Menstrual Product


DivaCup Menstrual Cup

For people who menstruate, this silicone menstrual cup offers a lower-waste alternative that replaces disposable tampons and pads. It’s BPA free, dye free and chemical free.

Features & Benefits

  • 100% medical grade silicone
  • Comes in 3 sizes
  • 0.67-ounce – 1.08-ounce capacity
  • Can be worn up to 12 hours

Pros

  • Chemical-free
  • Recognized by the Society for Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada
  • Certified B Corp

Cons

  • More expensive than other options

Editorial Review

Your choice of menstrual product is going to be highly individual and depend on many unique factors. For some people, menstrual cups are a lifesaver and for others, they’re a disaster. If you’re interested in trying menstrual cups for the first time or already have experience with other brands and are curious about this one, the DivaCup is a good bet.

The cups are well-made and easy to care for. Folks who find them effective find them very effective. We liked that the company has a ton of resources for users, too, so if you have questions or need detailed advice on how to use the cup, they can likely help you out.

What Others Are Saying

Many reviews of this product are more reviews of the concept of menstrual cups in general, with folks either preferring or not preferring this method.

Reviewers who loved this specific product liked how sturdy the silicone was. They reported that the firmness of the product made the cup open easily, compared to other cups. People generally found it effective and comfortable to wear. They also loved being able to go a long time before having to empty it.

People who didn’t love this specific product, as opposed to others they’d tried, found that its stiff construction made it more difficult for them to position correctly. Some users found the grip at the bottom uncomfortable, even when trimmed down.

Bottom Line


DivaCup Menstrual Cup

For product quality, user satisfaction and effectiveness at reducing waste, we’re giving this bottom line to DivaCup. Menstrual products are increasingly made with plastics and other non-biodegradable materials. Considering that disposable menstrual products can amount to 300 pounds of waste over a person’s lifetime, switching to a reusable option makes a big positive impact. If you’ve never tried a menstrual cup before, that’s an excellent reason to give it a go. And if this one doesn’t work for you, maybe it will inspire you to explore other sustainable options. In either case, that would be a win.

Image credit: alleksana

Written By
More from Mary Read
Gas Boiler Alternatives
Most homes in Britain currently run on either an oil or a...
Read More
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *