Taking on climate change is no small feat, but there are small ways people can make a difference.
From metal straws to reusable dinner napkins, here are some of our editors' favorite eco-friendly items.
Avoiding paper towels or paper napkins at dinnertime cuts down on waste — plus, cloth napkins are so much prettier.
"I am a longtime fan of cloth dinner napkins," said Kavita Varma White, senior editor for TODAY Parents. "That sounds bougie ... but it's really not. I get the buffet napkins at World Market, 6 for $10, so many great colors, all cotton, easy to throw in washer/dryer, and if you fold right out of dryer, no wrinkles."
"When I moved in with my roommate, we started going through so many paper towels and I just got tired of throwing them away after one use," said TODAY editor Sam Kubota. "My mom went to Sweden and came back with one of these bad boys for me and I was hooked. I've been using them ever since. I toss them in the laundry once or twice before replacing them. They've saved me so much money in paper towels and I can feel better about the environment at the same time. Plus, they come with cute patterns! "
TODAY senior editor Phil Caulfield is also a fan, saying the cloths come in handy to clean up "little kid messes."
"They are durable and you can wash them," he added. "You can also apparently microwave them to kill bacteria, but I'm suspect on it. They come fairly cheap in packs of 3 or so."
Reusable stainless steel straws are a simple way to reduce plastic waste.
"The metal straw is sturdy, reusable and can stir drinks," said TODAY senior editor Shane Lou. "It doesn't have any sort of metallic taste to it, either."
The ones above have colorful silicon tips and a 5-star rating on Amazon, with more than 4,000 reviews.
"I love these!" said TODAY social editor Jordan Muto. "I use them every day since working from home. I am an iced coffee drinker all year-round. Yes, even in a snowstorm! And they truly keep my coffee cold even on the hottest days of summer."
Stephanie Larratt, a researcher for TODAY All Day, loves this $26 water bottle.
"The Iron Flask water bottle is affordable, it doesn’t sweat and it keeps my water cold all day long," she said. "The fun colors and many different sizes makes staying hydrated fun! I will never use a plastic water bottle again."
Weekend editor Maura Hohman opts for biodegradable bags when walking her dog, Layla.
"They feel pretty much the same as regular plastic bags and function in the same way, but knowing that I’m not throwing away a plastic bag multiple times a day that’ll end up in the ocean or a landfill makes me feel like I’m doing a small part," she said. "Plus mine are bright green, so when I’m looking to grab one before a walk, it makes them easier to spot lying around my apartment."
Gabrielle Frank, TODAY senior health and wellness editor, likes that this bag folds up small enough to tuck away in her purse, so she never finds herself without a reusable bag. "It's a lifesaver," she said.
These produce sheets help extend the life of your produce, and Claudia Amato, TODAY supervising multimedia producer, swears by them.
"I stick a sheet into the crisper drawers and one in the fruit bowl that I keep on my kitchen counter," she said. "It keeps it all of it fresh a little longer than it would stay otherwise — which is great for things like basil or cilantro that I don't use every day. It's a little pricey, $10 for an 8-sheet pack, but it's less than having to throw out and re-purchase produce that's gone bad and more importantly, it reduces waste."
Amato also loves these reusable lids from Earth and Friends.
"They come in various sizes and are stretchy," she said. "I can save a can of Coke, I put it over a bowl of leftovers, half a can of San Marzano tomatoes and over watermelon halves in summer. I use a lot less cling wrap now!"
TODAY writer Chrissy Callahan turned to these reusable silicone pouches to cut down on the number of disposable plastic snack bags she uses.
"One of the first things I liked about the Stasher bag was the feel," she wrote. "It is made with a soft platinum silicone that is free of BPA, BPS, lead, latex, dyes and phthalates.
"The bag is a lot stronger than it looks — and a lot stronger than plastic bags. It's safe to pop in the microwave, oven and even dishwasher. That's probably my favorite part, because I absolutely hate doing dishes and will often only buy kitchen essentials if they're dishwasher-friendly".
"Blueland is a line of eco-friendly cleaning products and the concept is all about re-using bottles," said TODAY senior editor Bryanna Cappadona. "I bought the starter set that comes with glass cleaner, multisurface cleaner and bathroom cleaner. All you do is fill the bottles with water, drop the little soapy tablets in them and voilà. When your cleaner runs out, use another tablet in the same bottle. It’s so easy, and it’s affordable, too."