20+ Clever Ways People Are Making Normal Things “Green”

In case you haven’t heard, climate change is a hot topic lately — and we do mean hot thanks to those worldwide heatwaves. The bees are dying, the glaciers are melting, and our oceans are filling with plastic.

The problem is that all these issues seem so overwhelming that it’s easy to feel like what you do in your daily life can’t possibly make an impact. Well, we’re here to tell you that’s not true. There are tons of small, simple ways that you can reduce your environmental impact. Take a look at these clever little changes people and companies have made.

This Straw Is An Impasta!

using pasta as straws instead of plastic
Photo Credit: Reddit / SeaCows101
Photo Credit: Reddit / SeaCows101

We’re all out here trying to save the turtles by eliminating the use of plastic straws. Alternatives to plastic could be paper, glass, stainless steel, or silicone straws, or simply opting for no straw.

One restaurant has come up with a new alternative: a pasta straw. It solves the “paper straws get too soggy” debate, and is a consumable alternative to stainless steel or silicone straws. Of course, pasta straws only work for cold drinks because they’ll get too warm with something like coffee. It’s an easy solution that will only cost a penne.

The Future Is Now

reusable resealable can
Photo Credit: Reddit / Noremac77
Photo Credit: Reddit / Noremac77

A resealable, recyclable can of water is the latest alternative to plastic water bottles. According to the company’s website, aluminum cans are infinitely recyclable and they go through the process from the recycling bin to a store shelf within 60 days so they’re believed to be an all-around better alternative.

Once you finish it the first time, you can rinse it out and put whatever drink you want in it too. The product also reduces overall waste because rather than throwing out half-drunk cans, you simply reseal and take it with you.

Helpful Suggestions

walgreens plastic bag with suggestions on how to reuse
Photo Credit: Reddit / SwivalShot
Photo Credit: Reddit / SwivalShot

Everyone has that bag of plastic bags in their house right? It started off as one or two that you were saving “just in case” but now it’s grown into a giant plastic bag stuffed full of smaller bags and you have no idea what you’re saving them all for.

Walgreens has started printing ideas for how to reuse their plastic bags directly on the bag, so you don’t have to wonder anymore!

‘A Real Dirt Bag’

compostable bag
Photo Credit: Reddit / YoureNotAGenius
Photo Credit: Reddit / YoureNotAGenius

Picture this: it’s Cyber Monday and you did a whole bunch of your Christmas shopping online, and all the packages start to arrive on your front step. You unwrap them all and are left with so many scraps of plastic, parcel bags, Styrofoam and other random bits of packaging that serve no actual function.

This company is now sending its products in bags that are “a real dirt bag” which means they’re 100% compostable. You can feel great about that new top you bought, and your new composting bag.

It’s Poppin’

company using popcorn for packing peanuts
Photo Credit: Reddit / kevpoo
Photo Credit: Reddit / kevpoo

There are companies out there – like this one – who, rather than using something like styrofoam packing peanuts, are using actually food to pack their products.

This company, in particular, says “we use organic air-popped popcorn or recycled paper inside our packages except when we are re-using materials that we receive in packages that are sent to us.” They recommend you can then share the popcorn with birds or wildlife outside your home, but you could also snack away if you feel like some probably-stale popcorn.

Food For Thought

spot for throwing away gum
Photo Credit: Reddit / Ollymotion
Photo Credit: Reddit / Ollymotion

Rather than having a garbage bin filled with used chewing gum that won’t be properly recycled, some countries are placing designated chewing gum bins next to regular bins. Even better, the containers themselves are made from recycled chewing gum, so you know that it’s actually effective!

Chewing gum never fully disintegrates in a landfill due to the number of non-biodegradable products used to make it, but these designated bins are an easy way to reduce the impact.

Holy Guacamole!

engraved avocado
Photo Credit: Reddit / chimponabike
Photo Credit: Reddit / chimponabike

No, this isn’t a rock with writing stamped into it. This right here is an engraved avocado. There is a company that decided that rather than wrapping their avocados in packaging and labeling, it engraves all the product information directly onto the produce.

For those of you who immediately thought “that must be expensive,” the Reddit user who posted this photo said this product actually cost less than the products wrapped normally, and it wasn’t because it was a lesser product or brand. We love any new ideas to reduce unnecessary plastic packaging!

Get Planting

biodegradable envelope from dutch bank
Photo Credit: Reddit / HandsUpNL
Photo Credit: Reddit / HandsUpNL

One Reddit user from the Netherlands shared a photo of an envelope their bank uses that proves the Dutch are living in 2030. The paper has flower seeds within it so you can plant in the ground after you receive it, it will decompose, and you’ll get a lovely bed of flowers from it!

It also helps to lessen the blow of your latest credit card statement to know that some good will come from it, right?

Leaf The Plastic At Home!

using leaves as packaging of vegetables
Photo Credit: Reddit / Falino
Photo Credit: Reddit / Falino

Who needs saran wrap or plastic packaging when you could sell vegetables wrapped in giant leaves? A clever alternative, once you get the vegetables home you can toss the “packaging” into your compost or into the backyard and not have to worry about it.

One Reddit user commented that these leaves can also be used for plates, though they would be a one-and-done alternative. It could still be a better option than plastic plates!

Canada Loves Compost

canadian garbage slot
Photo Credit: Reddit / claricezc
Photo Credit: Reddit / claricezc

Those clever Canadians designed a garbage can with a particularly small slot for garbage and much bigger spots for recycling or compost, in an attempt to get people to actually recycle.

The idea is that you actually have to stop and think about what you’re putting in the garbage slot and realize that things like cans, bottles, or cardboard containers could probably be recycled, not just shoved into the garbage because you were too lazy to sort it out!

And Just Like That, The Job Becomes A Game

5 minute shower challenge
Photo Credit: Reddit / as3jul
Photo Credit: Reddit / as3jul

This is some Mary Poppins-type of stuff right here. If you turn something into a game, people will definitely participate. This hotel has a timer stationed next to the showers to encourage guests to take shorter showers, so it can be both informative and fun.

This game doesn’t have to end just because you’ve checked out of the hotel either. Luckily it’s 2019 and most people have these handy things called smartphones that have timers on them, so you can race against the clock even when you’re back to reality.

Making The Dentist’s Office A Little Better

eco friendly dentist
Photo Credit: Reddit / kaconal
Photo Credit: Reddit / kaconal

This smart dentist’s office decided rather than waste paper every time someone fills out an intake form, they’d laminate a few sheets so whenever they’re done with the info, they can just wipe and give to the next person!

It’s an easy way to reduce your paper waste, and it basically costs nothing considering getting sheets of paper laminated costs less than a dollar. If you’re not a dentist, you can implement this by laminating a weekly grocery list or even a chore list for your kids.

Beeswax Wraps Are The Bees Knees

beeswrap beeswax reusable wrap
Photo Credit: Instagram / @beeswrap
Photo Credit: Instagram / @beeswrap

Have you heard of beeswax wrap? It’s basically the better, more successful older sibling of saran wrap. Beeswax wrap is a reusable, easily washable, sustainable alternative to saran wrap that leaves no waste behind.

Beeswax wrap typically lasts around a year before it’ll need to be replaced, and once you’re ready for a new one, you can just toss the old one into your compost or into the garden. One company says it’s an effective fire starter as well, so your disposable method is really up to you.

Mutually Beneficial

free coffee in exchange for trash
Photo Credit: Reddit / WayBig3
Photo Credit: Reddit / WayBig3

Shared on Reddit, one poster wrote “a local breakfast van offers a free coffee to anyone who fills a bucket with roadside trash” which seems to be a brilliant way to encourage others to clean up the area around them.

Everyone who goes camping knows the rule “leave no trace” i.e. don’t leave garbage all over. So why don’t we apply that in regular life too? This company is at least doing something about it, and giving away coffee as a reward.

Hydrate Yourself And These Plants At The Same Time

plants beneath taps that use excess water
Photo Credit: Reddit / halfandhafu
Photo Credit: Reddit / halfandhafu

This cafe is making sure no plant in their shop ever dies again because it doesn’t matter if they forget to water them. These smart staff decided to place the plants below their water taps so any residual water drips go directly into the plants.

It means there’s no water wasted and no dead plants. It’s a win-win situation. Some people were concerned that the plants would be overwatered from this but they seem to be thriving.

Endlessly Reusable

rocketbook reusable notebook
Photo Credit: Instagram / @getrocketbook
Photo Credit: Instagram / @getrocketbook

This notebook is the only notebook you’ll ever need to buy again. You can write on it just like you would with a regular notepad. Go ahead an jot down meeting notes or write out your to-do list for the day, but then at the end of the day you can wipe the pages clean with water and reuse those pages the next day!

The digital notebook also connects to an app that can translate your notes into a PDF that you can email to yourself, for those notes that you’re not quite ready to delete.

Dell Is Doing Their Part

dell recycling
Photo Credit: Reddit / BlazkoTwix
Photo Credit: Reddit / BlazkoTwix

Dell is showing up everyone else with their recycled plastic packaging. They write on their website that they believe being environmentally conscious is about more than just an initiative, it’s about “incorporating sustainability into everything [they] do.” Their packaging is reportedly made of 100% recycled plastics, 25% of which was collected or removed from oceans.

The company has also collected 2.1 billion pounds of electronics since 2007, and they’ve used 100 million pounds of recycled materials since 2013.

There’s An App For That

donegood app
Photo Credit: Instagram / @donegoodteam
Photo Credit: Instagram / @donegoodteam

If you’re looking to buy from more ethical brands or support more eco-friendly companies but you don’t know where to start, there’s now an app to help you out. The DoneGood app lets you know where you can buy products locally that are “good for people” and “good for the planet.”

The app’s goal is to promote brands that use eco-friendly production processes and/or recycled or upcycled materials, and also to advertise companies that pair fair wages free of child labor or trafficking, and unsafe working conditions. What more could you want?

Pack Your Own Snacks With Reusable Food Pouches

reusable food pouches
Photo Credit: Instagram / @peekabee.au
Photo Credit: Instagram / @peekabee.au

Every parent knows you should have snacks on hand at all time, especially if you have babies or toddlers. Rather than buying those ‘on-the-go’ products like applesauce pouches or even juice boxes which often are primarily made of plastic, you can bring your food from home with reusable food pouches.

It’ll save you money in the long run if you just buy a regular jar of applesauce and put it into a grab and go package yourself, rather than buying the more convenient but more expensive option! Less plastic, less expensive, and you know exactly what’s going into your kid’s mouth!

Soap Nuts Are Exactly What It Sounds Like

soap nuts for laundry or alternative soap products
Photo Credit: Instagram / @happee_hippie
Photo Credit: Instagram / @happee_hippie

If you’re looking for a cost-effective, natural, all-purpose, green household cleaner, then it seems like soap nuts could be just what you need! Their title is fairly self-explanatory. They’re nuts, that you use as soap. Simple as that!

You can use them for doing laundry, doing the dishes, and some people even use them as a substitute for shampoo or toothpaste. One reviewer said that a 1-pound bag (which usually costs around $20) lasted her an entire year, so they’re better for the environment and for your bank account.