Low-Waste Swaps for Everyday Products

By: Karis Gladieux

In college, we as students prioritize convenience over all else. It’s easy not to think about the consequences of our choices when we stop for a coffee or go to a grocery store to pick up snacks and essentials. We also value price pretty heavily, because let’s face it: we’re all going broke. By shifting our mindsets and teaching ourselves to also value our environmental impact, making simple swaps in our daily routine can save us time, money, and can keep plastic out of our landfills. Most of these products can either be purchased on campus, in Oxford, or can be found online on sites such as PackageFreeShop and EarthHero!


Did you know that every plastic toothbrush that has been created is still around today? If everyone in America was to change out their toothbrush every 3 months as our dentists recommend, that would be nearly 1.31 billion toothbrushes thrown out every year. Bamboo toothbrushes are biodegradable and much better for the environment, and can be found in bulk packs for cheaper than your average toothbrush!

Hair and Skin Care

Our shower essentials like shampoo, conditioner and body wash all come in heavy plastic bottles and can be hard to recycle. Thankfully, many alternatives exist online and in stores, such as solid shampoo, conditioner and bar soap. You can buy package-free soap at many health food stores and farmer’s markets, and stores like Lush sell solid haircare in reusable tins. Lush’s storefronts even have recycling programs where you can receive free products for turning in your old containers. 


We have all heard about the trouble with plastic straws, but all plastic utensils have become a problem in our waterways and landfills, too. Thankfully, many accessible alternatives exist made from more sustainable materials. I, for one, have a travel set of bamboo utensils that I keep in my backpack so I don’t find myself reaching for plastic utensils in different dining locations around Miami. Metal utensils are also inexpensive, easy to clean,  extremely long-lasting and easily transportable. Reusable utensil sets can be found on the internet and in stores, and many even include straws! Here’s the set of utensils I use.

Drinking Vessels

Every college student needs a reusable water bottle. Hydration is important, and it’s easy to refill your Hydroflask or Nalgene with the drinking fountains and dining halls across campus. More importantly, these fill-up spots are free of charge. Luckily, it’s also extremely easy to come across a reusable cup. Many student organizations give away free water bottles throughout the year, and Starbucks sells cute cups for both iced and hot drinks for a low price. Starbucks even offers discounts for using your own personal cup in-store. On campus, Brick and Ivy also sells a host of different Miami-emblazoned cups, mugs and bottles for all of your hydration (or caffeinated) needs. If you’d prefer to reuse rather than make a new purchase, a mason jar is also great for holding iced drinks and looks cute while doing so!


Whether you’re grabbing some essentials on campus at Dorsey Market or heading to Kroger to buy your favorite snacks, reusable bags are a must. Canvas reusable bags are the easiest to find and can be given out for free during Miami events, purchased at most big grocery chains, or even found in the marketplaces around campus. They’re inexpensive, easy to transport, and most importantly less wasteful!

These easy swaps are a great way to begin or continue your path to sustainability! If we all start implementing small changes like these into our daily routines, we can easily decrease the amount of plastic waste we produce on a regular basis. Living a low-waste or even waste-free life is achievable with time and adjustments to the way we go about our everyday lives.


Cover photo courtesy of Pixabay

2 thoughts on “Low-Waste Swaps for Everyday Products

  1. Love this! My daughters daycare collects and recycles toothbrushes and empty toothpaste tubes, playgrounds are made from them. I know it is not the same as living waste free but it is something!

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