Simple, Sustainable Swaps for Environmentally Friendly Living in the New Year

By Manasa Mantravadi



Time to Read: 9 min

Sustainable Swaps for Your Home

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to live more sustainably? Many of us share this same goal and are eager to make sustainable swaps in our households but don’t know where to start. From reducing plastic waste to choosing eco-friendly alternatives, there are numerous simple swaps that can have a big impact on our environment. I have made the following simple swaps in my household as much as possible- remember that any little step can have a big impact! Every family is different, and it is perfectly okay to not be able to make all the changes all at once. We’re focused on small, sustainable changes that shouldn’t overwhelm you or your family, providing the same quality in sustainable home products as you’d get in their plastic counterparts.

So what are some easy sustainable swaps to incorporate environmentally friendly living in your home this year?

About Ahimsa

Founded by a pediatrician and mom of three

Stainless steel is the only kid-friendly material recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics 

We are guided by a Scientific Advisory Council comprised of environmental and medical experts, guiding us in creating the safest products, following the latest science and promoting policy to protect human health and our planet

Want to know more? Check out our story and our products

Our list of sustainable swaps

1. Reusable Shopping Bags

Single-use plastic bags are a major contributor to environmental pollution. Plastic bags take hundreds of years to decompose, switching to reusable shopping bags is so easy but so impactful! Be sure to keep your bags handy to avoid forgetting them when you go shopping. I like to keep a bunch in the car so that I always have some on hand when I need them. This is a great first step if you’re looking to reduce plastic waste, as you probably can’t avoid going to the grocery store, but you can be prepared to ensure you don’t create more waste by using these bags.

2. Ditch the Plastic Dishes

Similar to plastic bags, plastic dishes are one of the largest contributors to environmental pollution. Not only are plastic dishes harmful to the environment, they also leach harmful chemicals into your food. Doctors recommend two materials to avoid the harmful chemicals in plastic- glass and stainless steel, making this sustainable swap one of the easiest, fastest choices you can make. I might be biased, but Ahimsa stainless steel is the perfect choice because not only are the dishes beautiful, but they are made from 100% recycled stainless steel, are durable, and will last a lifetime so there is no need to ever replace them!     

Mealtime Essentials

3. Meatless Monday

Try incorporating Meatless Monday into your routine! If you are able to do just one meatless  dinner a week you can truly make such a difference. By opting for meatless meals, you are contributing to reducing the environmental impact associated with meat production. Livestock farming is a major contributor to deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and excessive water usage.

This is also a great opportunity to try new plant-based recipes and expand your little one’s palette. Packed with nutrients, plant-based meals are a delicious way to introduce variety into your diet while lowering your intake of saturated fats. It's a win-win for your well-being and the planet.

4. Avoid Individually Wrapped Snacks

I know how busy things can get and it can be hard to make time for snacking, so it’s okay if you are in a rush and need a quick option for when you are on the go. However, try to avoid single-use snack packs when possible as they can contribute to unnecessary waste and environmental harm.

Instead, opt for buying in bulk when possible to avoid some of that additional waste. This is also more cost-effective in the long run! When I am on the go I always use the Circle Trios as they are so easy to just throw in your purse, the car, and the stroller. There is also my personal favorite, the Smart Snacking Bowls. These are perfect for snacking at home and are the perfect size for healthy portions of your favorite snacks. Should you need something just a little bit bigger, we also highly recommend the Ahimsa Square, an all-purpose container that’s great for snacking.

5. Cloth Napkins and Reusable Paper Towels

Say goodbye to the disposable paper trail and make the switch from single-use napkins and paper towels to reusable cloth alternatives. Unfortunately, traditional paper products contribute significantly to deforestation and waste. 

Cloth napkins and towels are durable, washable, and designed for the long haul. This sustainable swap not only conserves trees but also lessens the demand for energy and resources used in paper production. Reusable cloth options are also a cost-effective choice in the long run. While a pack of paper towels might seem convenient, the constant need for replenishment adds up over time. In contrast, investing in quality cloth napkins and towels pays off both economically and environmentally. This is a sustainable swap that saves you money in the long run, on top of the environmental benefits, and its low cost makes it a great first step.

6. Invest in a Reusable Water Bottle

Single use plastic bottles are a major source of plastic pollution, taking centuries to decompose and leaving a trail of pollution behind. Invest in a stainless steel water bottle, they are durable and eco-friendly. By opting for stainless steel, you're actively reducing your carbon footprint every time you refill it rather than grabbing a single-use plastic bottle. These bottles are built to last, plus, stainless steel ensures your water stays pure and untainted, free from the harmful chemicals found in plastic. Be sure to read about why pediatricians recommend steel in dishware for people of all ages.

7. Switch to Compostable Toothbrushes

Traditional toothbrushes can take centuries to break down so consider switching to a compostable bamboo toothbrush! Compostable toothbrushes are made from bamboo, making them sustainable and fully biodegradable. Additionally, compostable toothbrushes are most often free of harmful chemicals found in many plastic toothbrushes.

8. Avoid Plastic Wrap and Containers

Try to swap out plastic wrap and containers for glass or stainless steel containers when possible. Stainless steel is a great option because it is so durable, they stand up to wear and tear which eliminates the need for constant replacements and reduces the demand for new plastic production. Not only are stainless steel containers environmentally friendly, but they also contribute to a healthier kitchen. Free from harmful chemicals found in some plastics, stainless steel keeps your food fresh without any unwanted side effects. If you are looking for the perfect stainless steel container, check out the Ahimsa Squares, they are the perfect size for lunches and snacking on the go. 

9. Ditch the Single-Use Coffee Cups

When you are able to, opt for a reusable coffee mug or cups rather than a single-use disposable cup. The single-use cups are often not recycled and end up in the landfills. Many coffee shops actually offer you a discount if you bring in a reusable cup, so it’s a win-win! 

10. Switch to a Compostable Bamboo Brush

Ditch the traditional sponge and opt for a compostable bamboo brush instead. This sustainable swap offers many benefits for both your kitchen and the environment. Sponges are synthetic and take hundreds of years to decompose, whereas bamboo is a fast-growing, renewable resource that can be composted. 

Traditional sponges are breeding grounds for bacteria and have a limited lifespan. Bamboo brushes outperform the traditional sponge in hygiene and durability. Bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, inhibiting the growth of bacteria and keeping your kitchen tools cleaner for longer. This is a small sustainable change that you can immediately feel better about making.

Some Final Thoughts on Sustainable Swaps

Each sustainable swap you make is a step in the right direction, and the collective impact of these small changes can make a big difference on our environment. As we enter the New Year let’s support one another to make these small changes! Share what sustainable home products are working for you with your family and friends, because that is how we can all truly make an impact. Additionally, sharing why you are making these swaps with your little ones is a great way to raise little planet protectors! Together we can make a big difference.

If you have any questions on why we so strongly recommend using stainless steel for your kitchenware, be sure to read our page of frequently asked questions and get the answers you’re looking for. We’d love to hear what sustainable swaps have worked for you! 

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi is a board-certified pediatrician whose dedication to children’s health drove her to launch Ahimsa, the world's first colorful stainless steel dishes for kids. She was motivated by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ findings on harmful chemicals in plastic affecting children's well-being. Ahimsa has gained widespread recognition and been featured in media outlets such as Parents Magazine, the Today Show, The Oprah Magazine, and more.

Dr. Mantravadi received the esteemed “Physician Mentor of the Year” award at Indiana University School of Medicine in 2019. She was also named a Forbes Next 1000 Entrepreneur in 2021, with her inspiring story showcased on Good Morning America. She serves on the Council for Environmental Health and Climate Change and the Council for School Health at The American Academy of Pediatrics. She represents Ahimsa as a U.S. industry stakeholder on the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for the Global Plastics Treaty, led by the United Nations Environment Program. Dr. Mantravadi leads Ahimsa's social impact program, The Conscious Cafeteria Project, to reduce carbon emissions and safeguard student health as part of a national pilot of the Clinton Global Initiative.

She is dedicated to educating and empowering people to make healthier, more environmentally friendly choices at mealtime. Her mission remains to advocate for the health of all children and the one planet we will leave behind for them through real policy change within our food system.

More Mealtime Essentials

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use stainless steel instead of plastic? Is stainless steel better for health?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a report in July 2018 suggesting ways that families can limit exposure to certain chemicals at mealtime, including “the use of alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible.” The report explained that “…some additives are put directly in foods, while “indirect” additives may include chemicals from plastic, glues, dyes, paper, cardboard”. Further, “Children are more sensitive to chemical exposures because they eat and drink more, relative to body weight, than adults do, and are still growing and developing.” While stainless steel items meet the recommendation to avoid plastic products in children, Ahimsa® products have the obvious advantage of not breaking like glass.

Is stainless steel better for the environment than plastic?

According to the Steel Recycling Institute, steel can be recycled over and over and over again without losing its integrity and requires less energy to recycle than to make anew. Most plastic unfortunately ends up in landfills and it is estimated to take 700 years to decompose. Our special coloring process that allows Ahimsa® products to be fully metal is environmentally friendly, so it does not produce toxic run-off into the ecosystem.

Will Ahimsa products break or peel?

No. Our steel is durable, so it won’t break or shatter with everyday use, like glass. And it won’t peel, like other colored stainless steel products you’ve seen. We use a special process that allows the colors to naturally occur in the metal.

Which Ahimsa products are best for my little one(s)?

Our products are meant to last, you can use Ahimsa at ages 1, 8 and 18! We thoughtfully design our products to be safe for little ones and our planet while reducing consumption. Once your child outgrows the Starting Solids Set  and can use regular cups and utensils, the training cup is the perfect size rinse cup in the bathroom, the infant spoon doubles as a tea stirrer and the bowl is great for snacks or as an additional compartment to our modular divided plate. Our plates are great for any age as they encourage choosing a variety of healthy foods at each meal and help visualize portion sizes easily. It’s the lasting beauty of stainless steel - grows with your child and reduces waste.

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