Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Affordable Reusable Items

Most of us care about being a little greener, but it can be inconvenient or expensive to make eco-friendly switches in our day-to-day lives. We’ve put together a list of practical & affordable items you can buy to make your life more zero waste.


1. Reusable straws. It is estimated that over 500 million straws are thrown away every day in America, and the ones that don’t end up in the landfill contribute to the 8 million metric tons of plastic trash that end up in our oceans every year. Buying a pack of reusable straws cuts down on this waste and allows you to drink in style!


2. Portable utensils. To avoid single-use plastic while eating out, bring your own utensils! These travel utensil sets are light, convenient, and be reused over and over again. For extra convenience, check out spork options!


3. Bamboo toothbrush. In the U.S., each person uses an average of 156 toothbrushes over their lifetime. Where do these end up when it’s time for a replacement? The landfill or worse: the Great Pacific Plastic Patch. Bamboo toothbrushes can be recycled or composted! Plus, check out this great graphic that Mother’s Vault made to show how you can reuse bamboo toothbrushes.


4. Reusable produce bags. Instead of searching for the plastic bags in the produce department, bring your own! These mesh bags are perfect for storing and separating your fruits and veggies, and can be used for other organizational needs such as laundry, lunches, and travel.


5. Reusable grocery bags. Much like the produce bags, these help cut down on plastic waste when buying food. Plus, they can hold more and be used for carrying much more than groceries! Most grocery stores now sell reusable bags near the checkout, but they can also be found online.


6. Reusable food storage. Washable ziploc bags and cling wrap? Yes please! These products are sturdier than their traditional plastic counterpart, and they save you money in the long run.


7. Unpaper towels. Instead of using disposable napkins and paper towels for meals and cleaning, pick up a pack of “unpaper towels” (cloth napkins). These save waste and money over time, and can be found in fun colors and prints.


8. Water bottle. An absolute must-have for travel, workouts, outdoor adventures, heading to class…you name it. Plus, an insulated bottle like this keeps your water cold for hours and is perfect for the refilling stations all around campus!


9. Travel mug. For your on-the-go hot beverage needs, a travel mug is the way to do it. They come in so many colors and styles, plus many stores will give you a discount for bringing your own mug, just like the Mug Project here at UT!


10. Natural deodorant. Aside from not having harsh chemicals in it, this natural deodorant’s packaging can more easily be recycled or reused for other things.


11. Makeup remover pads. To take your beauty routine to the next eco-level and even add in a little luxury, a reusable makeup remover pad is the way to go. These can be thrown in the wash with your dirty towels, and you don’t have to worry about running out or having to buy more!


12. Menstrual cup. Women spend on average $80-$120 on menstrual products each year, and all of them end up in the landfill. A reusable cup reduces waste and has a lifetime of up to 15 years, reducing expenses as well!


13. Safety razor. With these all-metal razors, nothing needs to go in the trash can! The blades are recyclable and refills are typically cheaper than plastic alternatives, and the handles can be reused many times.


14. Dryer balls. Substituting wool dryer balls for dryer sheets cuts down on waste, chemicals, and cost of laundry. Adding a few drops of essential oil can help to freshen up your clothes.


15. Laundry egg. These detergent substitutes come with a year’s worth of refills, and for such a low price! With these eggs, there’s no big detergent bottle or container to get rid of when it’s time to restock.


Most local grocery stores have reusable bags you can buy on your next trip, many farmers markets have zero-waste food items such as cloth napkins, and your local outdoor store has great options for water bottles, travel mugs, and cutlery sets.

If you’re concerned about the packaging that comes with buying online, Package Free Shop makes it a priority to provide quality, zero waste items online with no plastic packaging. Products they carry range from kitchen and cleaning products, to eco-friendly pet toys.

Many cities also have co-ops that stock dry goods in bulk, reducing packaging and promoting zero waste. Three Rivers Market is a local co-op in Knoxville, and it stocks many zero-waste products from local vendors in addition to their bulk section.

We hope these tips have helped you to find the affordable alternatives needed to #MakeOrangeGreen!