4 Plastic Alternatives Every Mom Needs in Her Purse (Like, Now)

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Did you know that 6 million tons of single use plastic materials are thrown away each year? No, I’m not exaggerating, and yes, you read that correctly: tons. That’s 12,000,000,000 pounds of plastic! Learning that fact was what first drove my partner and I to push towards a plastic free, waste free life, and while we’re still not there, we’re making little changes as we go and doing the best we can.

So, how do we cut back? We start with something minor and figure out how we can (at least) cut the waste and plastic usage in half. Last week, it was our grocery store trip, and this week, it was my purse, since that’s where almost everything ends up at some point. I started looking around, and I found 4 items that have managed to become amazing waste free companions and a must have in my every day life. Without further ado, here are the top 4 plastic alternatives I have in my purse that I think every mom needs:

1. Paper Free Tissues
Paper free tissues? Why and how would that be feasible? Well, it’s important that we consider the health and environmental impacts of every product we use, so this was a no brainer for me. Normal tissue paper is bleached, not safe for septic tanks, and can take up to 6 months to compost. Bamboo Pocket Facial Tissue, on the other hand, is BPA free, bleach free, non-GMO, septic-safe, 100% biodegradable, and compostable in as fast as 28 days. It’s an easy alternative at exactly the same price, and there are tons of brands to test out and choose from.

2. A Reusable Water Bottle
I don’t think I’ve ever met a mom that didn’t have at least one water bottle on hand, and I could personally go through six in a day. The problem with that is that when water sits in a disposable plastic water bottle for too long, harmful chemicals can leak into your water. The effects of that can be seriously compromising and potentially lethal, so switching to a reusable, sustainable alternative, was a no brainer for me. As it turns out, your options range from the cheaper BPA free plastic water bottle to a more long-term but slightly more expensive stainless steel water bottle with plenty of others (including bamboo!) falling in between. So far, though, I have to admit that I’m preferring the stainless steel.

3. Travel Utensils
Our little family really, really likes food trucks, dive restaurants, and weird “should I really eat here?” places, but those almost always give you a set of plastic wrapped plastic utensils that are single use. That has frustrated me for years, so I started taking them home, washing them, and reusing them. It seemed like a decent option until I had a drawer full of slightly tinted plastic utensils, and then I realized that the best way to avoid that problem would be to just stop using the plastic, and a friend of mine showed me his awesome reusable set. There are plenty of options on the market, including bamboo and stainless steel, and the majority of them are under 15 dollars. So, I bought every member of the family one, and we stick them in their cases and drop them in my purse to avoid having to use plastic. They don’t take up very much room at all and, as weird as this may sound, I think my food actually tastes better now. (Is that possible? TBD…)

4. Reusable “Ziploc” Bags
It’s common knowledge that any mom with a child between the ages of 2 and 12 needs to have snacks on hand at any given moment. Little B lives chips and Cherrios, but those kept ending up packaged in plastic bags that we toss shortly after she finishes her snack, and recycling only does so much. It took me a while to find exactly what I was looking for, and we tried several brands of fabric and reusable plastics that gave me a headache. Finally, we found the one, and I’m not looking back. They’re so much easier to clean than any other brand I tried, and they make me feel infinitely better about our snack-on-the-go habits.

We’ve done our best to make little swaps here and there without letting our desire to be waste free take away experiences from us, and I think my purse was the easiest thing to take to an eco-friendly level. There are probably a couple of things that could save us a bit of heartache, but they haven’t wound up in my purse just yet. I’ll let you know what we add as we go!  What are your waste free purse alternatives? Do you have any suggestions to add to this list?


  1. I’ve been looking for a good reusable “Ziploc” bag! I keep saying I’m going to make my own, but I haven’t had the motivation. We definitely go through some ziploc bags though so I’d love to make the switch over soon! I’ve never heard of paperless tissues but I’m super interested in trying them. This was a great post.

    1. I am too lazy and too uncoordinated/unconfident in my sewing abilities to make my own, but I seriously swear by Nordic By Nature. They’re so cheap but the quality is awesome!
      I hadn’t heard of the paperless tissues either, until I started specifically thinking of my purse. It’s so soft, and I genuinely don’t think I’d go back even if regular Kleanex was compostable.

      In the meantime (before you’re ready to make the switch to a reusable bag) studies say it’s perfectly safe to wash your Ziploc bags out with soap and hot water (no dishwasher) up to 5 times before tossing them out, and there are loads of crafts for the baggies when you’re done!

  2. These are great ideas. I didn’t realize how many reusable products were available! We decided when our kids started taking lunch to school that we would use the reusable containers rather than a paper bag and an endless supply of plastic baggies. It’s much easier to make the switch to reusable when you realize how much money you save too!

    1. Since heading down the path to a “waste free life”, I’ve learned there truly is reusable everything. My kitchen now has reusable paper towels, which was a really easy switch, but there will never be reusable toilet paper in my bathroom! (Yes, some people really are that dedicated, and more power to them, but I’m not going to do it.)

      If you want to go plastic free at any point, there are also some awesome stainless steel reusable containers that I’ve been obsessed with lately!

  3. I had an idea to make reusable ziplock bags a few months back… gonna definitely get to it now! I think its a wonderful idea to reduce plastic usage… and a great way to store food from air and the drying effects of the fridge.

  4. I totally need to get on board with the re-usable plastic bags! We go through so many between the boys and lunches and mine also. We go through a ton!

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