18 Sustainable Swaps and Alternatives That Cost Less Than $10

sustainable swaps

Let’s be real: living sustainably isn’t exactly affordable for most people.

Because of our capitalistic, consumer culture, it’s cheaper to burn down a forest than to use renewable resources.

And without wide-scale, government intervention, that puts the responsibility on individuals to find ways to lower their own carbon footprints.

Unfortunately, most people can’t afford solar panel installation on their homes, go to local farmers markets, buy low-waste clothing, or go vegan.

There’s still a debate as to whether individual choices can make enough of an impact on climate change. But if there are affordable, accessible, sustainable options out there, why not at least try?

Below, we’ve found easy and cheap swaps that can help get you on the road to a zero-waste lifestyle.

Full disclosure: everything comes with sacrifices. If you don’t have much money to spend, you’ll most likely have to buy from larger businesses.

While it would be optimal to shop small and support independently-owned businesses, that can get costly. And since this article is all about price, we’ve gone with indie brands sold out of larger online stores.

Check out our top picks below.

1-3. Oral Care

affordable sustainable alternatives

It takes a regular plastic toothbrush nearly 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill. Meanwhile, a bamboo toothbrush could only take a few years to decompose (depending on your disposal method). So, yeah. we think we’ll go bamboo on this one.

Add toothpaste tablets and floss in glass jars to cut down on your plastic usage even more.

4. Reproductive Health

sustainable organic tampons

Over the course of one person’s lifetime, they could use between 5,000-15,000 tampons and pads, most of which end up in the landfill.

Obviously, menstruation isn’t exactly optional. But the products you use are. Go for non-applicator tampons to reduce your plastic waste.

Not ready to ditch the applicator yet? Opt for a reusable applicator (like this one) or spring for a menstrual cup.

5. Beauty

reusable makeup wipes cloths

I know it’s tempting to reach for the disposable makeup wipes but you must resist! Choose reusable ones instead and the trees will thank you.

6-8. Personal Care

affordable sustainable alternatives

Plastic packaging is such a waste — literally. And even if you try to recycle your plastic, sadly most of it might just end up in the ocean. Look for shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant with minimal packaging or glass packaging instead.

Bonus: Find creative ways to repurpose those little glass jars after the product is all used up to go the extra mile

9-13. Household Essentials

sustainable swaps

Toilet paper, paper towels, dish sponges — these aren’t exactly things we can live without. Luckily, there are innovative choices out there like bamboo/sugarcane toilet paper and walnut sponges you can buy instead.

Cut back on your usage even more by purchasing washable cleaning cloths and bamboo dish brushes that can be used over and over again.

14-17. Dining

metal straw alternatives

You probably already know about metal straws, but how about bamboo and silicone straws?

Find other ways to cut down on your plastic waste by adding reusable snack and sandwich bags and reusable beeswax food wrap to your pantry.

18. Pets

sustainable pet supplies

Let’s be clear: you *must* pick up your dog’s poop. Not doing so is just plain rude (and also illegal depending on where you live).

Luckily, there are alternatives to plastic bags that can make your morning walk a little more sustainable like recycled and/or plant-based baggies.


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Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her hanging out with her tuxedo cat Tom.