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4 Sustainable Swaps to Make This Month (Batteries, Reusable Baggies, + More!)

Every step you take has a positive impact on the planet. Here are some sustainable swaps to make this month.

Written by
Angelica Pizza

Here at Brightly, one of our goals is to help you navigate consumerism while keeping the planet in mind. Part of that is sharing eco-friendly swaps for things you use every day.

In this week's episode of Good Together (coming out Wednesday!), Laura Wittig chats with Kendall Harris, Brightly’s operations manager, about how consumers can make more eco-conscious choices. "We're going to talk about what the problem is, what's the state of the world, and how you can potentially shift your own behavior," Wittig says.

Keeping the planet in mind in our day-to-day routines can be difficult, and it may seem like making small swaps and changes don't matter. But every step you take has a positive impact on the planet. That could be reducing the amount of plastic in landfills by swapping single-use plastic baggies for a long-lasting reusable option. Or rethinking the way you dispose of batteries by opting for easily-recyclable options.

This month, make it your mission to make some simple sustainable swaps. Here are some ideas to get you started—plus, helpful products that are just a click away in the Brightly Shop.

4 Planet-Friendly Swaps to Make This Month

1. Swap Plastic Storage Bags with Reusable Alternatives

Plastic bags have been the go-to storage bag for as long as many of us can remember. And while plastic bags are technically recyclable, they don't always get recycled. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 4.2 million tons of plastic bags, sacks, and wraps were generated in 2018, and 3 million tons of them went to landfills.

Plastic storage bags actually can't be recycled in your curbside bin—they get tangled in the machinery at facilities. And when this happens, machinery gets damaged and the recycling process slows.

Instead, most plastic bags need to be dropped off at specialized collection bins. But those bins aren't always accessible, so it's not uncommon for people to throw away plastic bags without a second thought. To combat the issue of single-use plastic storage brands, we recommend using a long-lasting, reusable alternative. This could include reusable glass containers or Stasher bags.

Reusable Stasher bags are a more planet-friendly alternative to single-use plastic bags. They’re made from platinum silicone, which won't degrade over time, and they’re free of BPA, BPS, lead, latex, and phthalates.

"They're very, very durable, which is what I love about them. And they can be used for so much more than just food," Harris says. "We talk about using them for food to replace single-use plastic bags, but you can use them in the car to store coins, which is what I randomly do with mine. You can use them for supplies; you can use them for travel; you could actually put them in the microwave and pop popcorn in there if you wanted to."

When you're ready to make the swap, check out Stasher bags.

2. Swap Disposable Batteries with Rechargeable or Recyclable Batteries

Batteries are another hard-to-recycle product that can be difficult to avoid. According to the EPA, millions of single-use batteries are bought, used and recycled, or disposed of in the trash. And according to Consumer Reports, most batteries contain toxic chemicals that can pollute and contaminate the environment.

Finding a local recycling center that accepts batteries is part of the hassle. And we're looking for the most eco-friendly and convenient way to dispose of batteries.

If you need single-use, easy-to-recycle batteries for your electronics, we recommend Better Battery Co. When you finish using Better Battery Co.'s carbon-neutral batteries, you can send them back to the company to be recycled for free.

"What's cool about them is it comes with a prepaid label, and it makes it so easy to put your used batteries in the bag and send it right back to them to recycle," Harris says. "That kind of takes all the guesswork out of it. You're not sitting on these batteries; they're going back to the right place to be responsibly recycled."

However, you can also opt for rechargeable batteries as often as possible to avoid single-use batteries and toxic waste.

When you're ready to make the swap, check out Better Battery Co.

3. Swap Plastic K-Cups with Compostable Steeped Coffee Bags

Most of us start our day with a cup of coffee, whether it's brewed using our home machine or we're going to the drive-thru. But this part of our routine can be wasteful. From single-use coffee pods to plastic to-go cups, our morning coffee creates a lot of hard-to-recycle waste. And individuals aren't the only ones contributing to this waste: Hotels, airports, and many public coffee bars use K-Cups or other single-use cups.

K-Cups specifically are made of numerous materials, making them tricky to recycle. They're a #5 plastic, and they contain a plastic cup, a filter, coffee grounds, and an aluminum foil top—all of which need to be removed and cleaned prior to recycling. Even if you do all the work, K-Cups are still too small for most recycling machines, so they may not actually get recycled.

There are a number of ways you can avoid creating waste when making your morning coffee, such as using a machine that doesn't require single-use pods. You can also use refillable K-Cups. However, if you're looking for a more eco-friendly—but still convenient!—way to brew your morning coffee, try steeped coffee bags.

Steeped coffee bags are easy to use, and Brightly even has an option for you to try: Brightly Brew.

"It just works exactly like a tea bag. You dunk it, you let it steep for a few minutes, and then you've got some really, really tasty brewed coffee," Harris says. "We took the next steps and thought about the packaging too, which is totally compostable. It's also organic and Fair Trade Certified, so it has a lot of elements of coffee that we find very important and we value."

When you're ready to make the swap, check out Brightly Brew.

4. Swap Traditional Baking Mixes with Upcycled Baking Mixes

Food waste is another major component of landfill waste, and there are several ways to decrease our food waste. First and foremost, composting organic food waste helps decrease the amount of food we send to landfills. You can compost from the comfort of your own home.

However, about one-third of all food produced globally still goes to waste. And when this happens, food waste in landfills emits methane and other harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. So to combat the issue of food waste, and to fulfill your sweet tooth, we recommend Renewal Mill—a food company that uses upcycled flours for baking mixes.

"What was so cool about Renewal Mill is they're taking upcycled ingredients, and it's not trash," Harris says. "They're working with plant-based milk companies—in this case, soybean, so soy milk—and they take the pulp that is leftover from that process, and they dry it out and make flour with it. Then they use these flours to make their baking mixes."

Featured in our shop are Renewal Mill's brownie mug cake mix, chocolate chip cookie mix, and matcha cookie mix. The ingredients are also vegan, gluten-free, and Fair Trade Certified.

When you're ready to make the swap, check out Renewal Mill.