When you think about it, the home goods you use could very well be the weak link when it comes to your personal sustainability goals. It's easy to clean up a spill with a single-use paper towel, leave the water running while cleaning dishes, and throw away food waste instead of composting it. Those habits, which can be incredibly hard to break, fit hand-in-hand with the environmental impact caused by toxic cleaners, single-use plastic wrap, and the set of plastic utensils that came with your takeout.
Changing every part of your daily routine can be difficult, if not impossible, based on where you live, the size of your space, and the needs of the people you live with. We get that, and understand that trying to go entirely "waste free" can lead to stress and burnout. Instead, the Futurism Commerce team is launching a monthly series that compiles the best sustainable products for different parts of your home or life. In some cases, that means switching to a different version of the exact type of item you're used to using. In others, making the leap to improving your personal level of sustainability in the kitchen will take more of an investment.
Regardless, we hope a couple of new companies or sustainable alternatives that you weren't aware of. We'll continually update our list as we continue to test new gear.
— Materials: 100 percent recycled paper
— Made in the U.S.A.
— Certified carbon neutral by ClimatePartner
Amazon's newly-launched Aware sub-brand is exclusively focused on making sustainable clothing, cleaning products, and cosmetics easy to find, and affordable to shop. We tried the Amazon Aware Paper Towels because they're a better version of a kitchen staple most of us use reflexively several times a day. The verdict? They're pretty good. Not quite as good as our go-to non-sustainable paper towels — Amazon's towels aren't as absorbant — but not bad, either.
We encountered two (pleasant) surprises while testing Amazon Aware's Paper Towels that caught us off guard. First, the shipping box the towels came in fit them snugly. Most of us have had the experience of ordering a small item online, and having it arrive in an oversized box full of plastic wrap. That wasn't the case here; the shipping box seemed custom-designed to hold these towels, which was a nice touch.
Another problem we've encountered with paper towels is that they immediately start to break apart when they're fully saturated with liquid. Again, that wasn't an issue here. Amazon Aware's Paper Towels stayed fully intact even when they were full of liquid. While not perfect, we can easily recommend switching to these paper towels from a less eco-friendly roll. —Brandt Ranj
— Materials: Bottle made of 30 percent Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic (PCR)
— Volume: 16 fluid ounces
— Comes in a range of scents
For someone who grew up thinking that the antiseptic smell of Comet and Windex constituted the ultimate clean, the lemon verbena scent of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Cleaner is a breath of fresh air. The Wisconsin-based manufacturer has an entire line of household cleaners, soaps, and detergents that are made with plant-based ingredients and essential oils. While the labels of other cleaners contain precautionary statements about hazards to humans and children, the Multi-Surface Cleaner is made without potentially harmful parabens and phthalates. The cleaner works on wood floors, countertops, in the bathroom, and more and comes in a range of scents, including Daisy, Clementine, and Mint.
From a sustainability perspective, Mrs. Meyers is certified by the USDA as a bio-based product, which means that the agency has verified the amount of renewable biological ingredients it contains. While I don’t love purchasing new plastic bottles, they’re made from 30 percent recycled plastic. And the company provides a helpful option to avoid buying more bottles by recommending you purchase its Multi-Surface Concentrate and mix four tablespoons with half a bottle of water to reuse in your original bottle.
Finally, though the line is made with high-quality ingredients, Mrs. Meyer’s products are priced competitively with other less environmentally friendly cleaning products. One quibble is that Mrs. Meyer’s leaves glass somewhat streaky, but glass is not among the surfaces the company recommends you clean with the formulation. — Jen McCaffery
— Materials: Plant based and recycled ocean-bound plastic, organic cotton
— Available Products: Tissues, cotton swabs, makeup wipe rounds
— Products come in a variety of colors and kits
Single-use products like cotton swabs, makeup wipes, and tissues are often tossed seconds after being used. Many of these products are made with petroleum grade plastics that don’t biodegrade, which also increase demand for fossil fuels. Cotton swabs use non-organic cotton that’s doused in chemicals during production. Paper strips land of its forests that plenty of species call home. All in all, single-use products are as far away from eco-conscious as you can get. Designer Isabel Aagaard sought out better, innovative solutions to deal with the sustainability of single-use products. After a very successful Kickstarter, LastObject was born.
Last Object products are designed to use over and over again, up to 1,000 uses in fact. Its tissues, makeup wipes, and cotton are made from plastic that would otherwise end up in the ocean. How many popular tissue brands do you know that are actively helping protect sea life? Even the manufacturing of these products is done in an eco-friendly fashion. Plus, each of LastObject products comes in attractive carrying cases that fit in any purse or backpack, so you won’t be tempted to go disposable anywhere you trek. There’s no compromise in quality here either. LastTissues are softer than any Kleenex ever was, and LastSwab’s grooves clean ears better than any disposable swab ever did. — Jaime Carrillo
— Materials: Plastic shell, aluminum bucket
— Volume: 1 liter
Are you composting yet? Many cities and municipalities are making separating food waste mandatory now. For those without sprawling yards or with small kitchens, everyday food waste can be spun into nutritious dirt with the click of a button with Lomi.
This attractive indoor composter takes up no more space than a stand-mixer, and the magic it performs has to be seen to be believed. The large, easy-to-clean and easier to fill aluminum bucket gets filled with all the day’s food waste. Banana peels, egg shells, onion skins, moldy bread, wilted lettuce, and zucchini you forgot to cook are placed into the liter-sized bucket. A button press and a few hours later, and the stuff that would normally be thrown away to rot in a landfill becomes nutrient-rich compost for your plants. There are even different modes of composting. You can prioritize speed, or, if more nutritious dirt is your aim, you can use the device’s Grow Mode. Best of all, this miracle of decomposition from the comfort of your kitchen comes without caveats. The carbon filter keeps the smell of rot away, and cleaning the bucket is as easy as rinsing out a bowl. It even breaks down some bio-plastics, and runs quieter than a bar blender. This is just a peek at Lomi’s capabilities. Check out our full Lomi review here. — Jaime Carrillo
— Materials: Quilted Gel Memory Foam, Thermic Phase Change Cooling Cover, Energex™ Temperature Responsive FoamSmartFlow Support Foam, SmartFlow Support Foam, Reinforced Edge Coil Support Pocketed Coils, Base Support Foam, and non-chemical hydrogenated silica
— Available Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, Cal King, Split Cal King (One Side)
When you hear “sustainable mattress,” you might think of an incredibly uncomfortable bed stuffed with leaves and branches and other nonsense. But rest assured, sustainable mattresses — or, at least, Nest’s bedding — are as comfortable as they are good for the environment. The Sparrow Signature Hybrid Memory Foam Mattress is CertiPUR-US Certified, meaning the foam used in the mattress is ozone depleter-free; doesn’t use PBDEs, TDCPP, or TCEP flame retardants; doesn’t include mercury, lead, heavy metals, formaldehyde, or phthalates; and reduces air pollution by ensuring low volatile organic compound emissions.
Of course, while a sustainable mattress sounds great, you’ll probably want something you actually want to sleep on. Luckily, the Sparrow Signature Hybrid Mattress delivers. Nest makes it easy to tailor the mattress to your exact liking — the side of the mattress unzips to allow you to swap out the inner foam layer depending on your firmness preference (you can choose between medium, plush, or firm). The Energex foam mimics memory foam in its feel, but not in its results, so you don’t wake up to a lumpy, indented mattress every morning. Side, back, and combination sleepers alike report comfortable nights of sleep. — Natasha Roy
— Materials: Recycled plastic and renewable sugarcane
— Dimensions: 14.75 inches L x 10.75 inches W x 0.375 inches H
— Colors: Sand (yellow), Coral (peachy orange), Tide (light blue), Deep (forest green), and To Pó-Po, with Love (taupe)
Material Kitchen’s reBoard is a kitchen sink of sorts. Made from recycled kitchenware plastic scraps, it’s completely upcycled and still functions well in the kitchen. The material is also BPA-free. The plastic and sugarcane combination make the board durable, and a hole in the top right corner makes it easy to hang. Make sure to place a towel or cloth underneath to prevent the board from sliding around.
reBoard is available in six colors, and 50 percent of profits from its “To Pó-Po, with Love” color go to Heart of Dinner, a nonprofit organization that delivers food to New York City’s East Asian elders. The best part is that it’s dishwasher-safe and small enough to not be cumbersome to fit in the appliance. — Natasha Roy and Billy Cadden
— Materials: 100 percent recycled PET plastic
— Multiple pattern and color options
— Sizes: 24 x 35 inches and 33 x 51 inches
Whether you’re pro- or anti- wearing shoes inside, Heymat’s Sand Mat will keep excess dirt from getting tracked into the house. The 11mm-thick mat is made of 100 percent recycled PET plastic, and it comes in two sizes: 24-by-35 inches, and 33-by-51 inches. The minimal design and neutral color will fit well in most homes. It can also be used indoors or outside. Its substantial weight and rubber bottom prevent the mat from moving around too much when you wipe your feet over it. The bristles are also stiff enough to really kick off any dirt. — Natasha Roy and Billy Cadden
— Dimensions: 4.2 inches diameter; 8.2 inches tall
— Weight: 3 pounds
U.S. dairy cattle alone are responsible for 83 metric tons of carbon emissions every year, according to the Journal of Dairy Science. An easy way to put a dent in this environmental impact is to switch to more carbon-friendly kinds of milk. The Nutr Machine grinds nuts into thick, creamy, and delicious milk for your cereal and morning joe. It works with almonds, cashews, and my favorite, hazelnuts, but it works with whatever nut you have on hand. It works equally well with oats, rice, and other grains that make for great dairy alternatives. Just plug it in, fill it with water and your milk fodder of choice, and Nutr Machine does the rest. Like any great kitchen appliance, Nutr lets you play with your food. My favorite milk alternative is a mix hazelnut with a little coconut for extra creaminess and a touch of sweetness. — Jaime Carrillo
— Dimensions: 6.3 inches diameter; 8.6 inches tall
— Weight: 1.9 pounds
Keeping indoor plants can do wonders for the air quality in your home. Granted, you can only tap into this science if your thumb is green enough to keep them alive. Briiv doesn’t simply have the air purification qualities of one plant, it packs the power of 3,043. It’s made from 90 percent natural materials, its filters are biodegradable, and uses an unfathomably low 5 volts to operate. Briiv filters out harmful gases, pollen, bacteria and mold spores, and harmful particulate matter. It doesn’t hurt that it just plain looks cool. It’s a great way to add a smack of green to any workspace. — Jaime Carrillo
— Uses less water than hand-washing dishes
— Can be used with eco-friendly detergents and pods
— Comes in a variety of colors
We're generally skeptical of recommending products before they officially launch, but Bob, the countertop dishwasher, is a notable exception. It's been available in Europe for quite some time, and will make its debut in the USA in the next few months. We've tested a prototype unit, and think it's worth preordering the machine, which starts at $349.
Daan.Tech, the company who makes Bob, says that cleaning your dishes using its machine consumes 80 percent less water than traditional dish washing. While we can't prove that figure — everyone washes dishes a little differently — it is impressive how many items can fit inside the machine, and how well it cleans. Bob can be hooked up directly to your home's pipes, like a traditional dishwasher would, but it also has its own water tank, which you can fill manually. We tested Bob in a New York City apartment, so choosing the manual option was the way to go.
In practice, Bob performed very well, thoroughly cleaning food residue off of plates, bowls, glasses, and utensils. To be as eco-friendly as possible, we stuffed as many items into the dishwasher as possible, getting the most environmental bang for our buck. Each cycle requires about a gallon of water, so Bob's impact on your personal sustainability will ebb and flow based on how full it is.
We'll have a full review of Bob shortly, but our initial impressions are very positive. If you've been looking for a way to sustainably clean your dishes without doing any work, this Bob is a great solution. — Brandt Ranj
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.