The girls are concerned about an environmental apocalypse. Okay, yes, I am, too, but on any given day it competes with many other fears and stressors about current events. But it’s absolutely true that doing a little something makes us feel better than doing nothing.

Honestly, how much better is the reusable stuff than the disposable stuff? I have no idea. I remember reading up on disposable vs. cloth diapers and the cost of making them vs. laundry vs. whatever and at the time I was just so exhausted by trying to figure it out that I gave up and went disposable gal. At least I could console myself that there was zero waste in bottles and formula containers since my girls started as food snobs as infants and were adamant about Sucking Local.

Anyway, the girls specifically asked for substitutes for plastic baggies. Growing up, we’d always avoided baggies with their Bento lunch boxes. But they’ve outgrown those and after they’d started packing their own lunches in middle school, they had gradually started slacking off and using plastic bags. But the guilt caught up with them, and they started requesting new options. I bought a couple of reusable bags, and they’ve worked out so well that I thought I’d collect some of our favorite reusable stuff to share.

I bought all of the above items at Target. The Full Circle cactus lunch bags are super-duper adorable, and they were on sale whenever I got them. They’re a little less substantial than this Stasher reusable bag, and I was a little skeptical that they’d last, but we’ve used them a ton already, and so far both kinds have held up really well. They’re also easy to clean. You can put them in the dishwasher, but my preferred technique is to just put a little soapy water inside and then seal, shake, and rinse. Drying is a bit more of a pain, because you really need to prop them open if you don’t want soggy chips the next day, but I’ve been so happy with these that I ran out and got more. The same cannot be said for the wax paper sandwich bags I tried. The girls don’t find them appealing, and I’ve tried to use them in place of plastic bags for food storage, but they’re not airtight, so that doesn’t really work, either.

There are all kinds of straws at Target, but I was particularly thrilled that the girls recently found these soft silicone straws. M had received one from a friend, I think as part of a goody bag, and the single straw in the house was highly coveted by both girls for months and months. They especially like to use them with water bottles, bending them to fit when the bottles are sealed. I’m psyched to have enough of a supply that some can be in the dishwasher while the girls each have one to use in their water bottles for school or sports practices.

Once I started this post, I realized that we have a couple more less-waste items that are in constant use at our house.

On the left, this is a microwave spatter screen to use instead of a paper towel. Cute W ordered one of these after seeing one at my parents’ house, and it has saved us a ton of paper towels. Of course, then you still have to wash it, which sometimes grosses me out. I find soggy food particularly disgusting, so scraping old melted cheese out of this fine mesh isn’t my favorite thing to do. But we get tons of use out of it, and it’s especially good when we’re all heating up leftovers and can just throw it onto multiple plates before a wash. Meanwhile, the manatea silicone tea infuser is just plain adorable, right? Cute W saw it and bought it for J, who is a loose tea enthusiast. In the process of looking for that link, I also found these fun ones: llama tea infuser and elephant tea infuser.

Oh, and another thing I realized recently is that we can recycle a lot of our plastic packaging by dropping it off along with grocery bags at the grocery store. Here’s a list of places you can drop off plastic to be used in decking materials.

Yes, we still produce tons of waste. But a little bit less than before, at least.

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