bars of organic handmade soap in different colours and textures, as an environmentally friendly alternative to liquid soap or shower gel
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Sometimes, living green is just a case of making one simple adjustment at a time. Maybe you’ve run out of batteries or need a new toothbrush? Take the opportunity to check whether the item needs to be replaced like-for-like, or if there’s an affordable eco-alternative. We’ve picked out 10 simple switches you can make, both to inspire you and to show how straightforward it can be.

SWAP: Shower gel and liquid soap
FOR: Organic soap bars

The obvious benefit to bars over liquid soap, is that the latter are usually supplied in plastic bottles. The contents also contain detergents which are derived from fossil fuel reserves. Soap is generally a more eco-friendly choice, especially if you choose organic bars which don’t contain palm oil. Places like Etsy are a great place to search if you can’t find organic soap locally.

SWAP: Washing powder
FOR: Laundry balls

As well as saving you money in the long run, these reusable balls are kinder to the environment and your skin. Filled with mineral pellets, you place them in the washing machine with your clothes, and run it as normal. We like Ecoballs, which cost £12-14 for up to 1000 washes

gifts, presents and parcels wrapped in brown kraft paper with string and natural decorations, a green alternative to wrapping paper

SWAP: Gift wrap
FOR: Brown paper or fabric

If you use gift wrap which is glossy, metallic or glittered, there’s a good chance it won’t be recyclable. Brown (or white) kraft paper is far cheaper, safe to recycle and easy to decorate with ribbon, string or markers. Alternatively, why not present your gift in a reusable bag, or try Furoshiki , the Japanese tradition of wrapping with cloth.

SWAP: Cotton wool pads
FOR: Reusable cotton wipes

Although cotton wool pads are made from natural material, the way cotton is processed means the disposable pads aren’t biodegradable. Instead of buying single-use wipes which will end up in landfill, try a set of washable, reusable cotton pads. Most of them, including this set from Etsy, come with a small bag, which you can fill with the used pads, ready to throw in the washing machine.

SWAP: Paper kitchen towel
FOR: Reusable cloth towels

Did you know kitchen roll can only be recycled if it’s clean? Once used to wipe up food spills or mess, the paper fibres are impossible to separate during the pulping process, and the food residue becomes a major source of contamination. As a green alternative, bamboo towels are made from renewable, organic material and can be washed, then reused up to 85 times. They’re stronger and more absorbent than paper towels, and fully biodegradable once you do need to throw them away.

loose leaf tea leaves with a tea strainer, an eco-friendly alternative to teabags

SWAP: Teabags
FOR: A tea-strainer

Most manufacturers use plastic polymers to seal their teabags. This can lead to plastic pollution when you throw away or compost the bags, as well as leaking micro and nano plastics into your tea as it steeps. For a healthier, greener brew, you can either look out for teabags which are plastic-free (including some Clipper and Teapigs varieties), or switch to loose-leaf tea with a simple infuser.

SWAP: Plastic kitchen sponges
FOR: Sustainable sponges

Typically made from non-renewable synthetic fibres, standard kitchen sponges pollute waterways and inevitably end up in landfill after you throw them away. The good news is there are a growing number of reusable alternatives made from natural fibres, such as cellulose, bamboo, hemp and coconut. Most of them are washable, and so last far longer than disposable sponges, making them a cheaper option in the longer term, too. You could also consider adding an eco-friendly brush to your washing-up arsenal.

SWAP: Cling film
FOR: Beeswax wraps and silicone lids

Cling film or plastic wrap is great for packed lunches or storing leftovers in the fridge, but not for the environment. Make the switch to beeswax sandwich wraps, bento boxes, silicone lids for the fridge, or invest in a set of glass containers for your leftovers instead. We love the budget-friendly options at IKEA.

If you want to save even more money, how about learning to make your own beeswax wraps? This class on Skillshare shows you how, and if you sign up via our reader link, you’ll get your first month of Premium access for free.

KEEP READING: Check out this post from on ethical online shopping destination,