The average person in the U.S. produces about 4.5 pounds of waste each day, according to a 2017 study by the EPA — that adds up to over 267 million tons of trash per year. If you're trying to be mindful of your environmental impact, it makes sense to look for eco-friendly products as alternatives to single-use, disposable items. But since so many products from dish soaps to sheet sets have "green" claims on their packaging, it can be hard to recognize which ones are truly eco-friendly.

That's why the Good Housekeeping Institute is here to help you make better decisions for your home and the environment, thanks to our rigorous testing and expert advice. Our team is passionate about sustainability and the environment, and our work shows it. We regularly evaluate products for the Green Good Housekeeping Seal (an emblem earned based on its environmental impact) and we host an annual Raise the Green Bar sustainability summit. Just last year, we launched our first-ever Sustainable Packaging Awards to highlight brands that are making an effort to use minimal packaging.

It's much easier to adjust to an eco-conscious lifestyle than you think (and there's more to it than recycling your plastics and composting at home). You just need to know what to look for before you get to the store. Here's what our environmental experts suggest:

FYI: Our environmental experts prefer to use the term "sustainable" rather than "eco-friendly" because the latter implies that a product has no negative impact on the environment. It's also considered a greenwashing term, and the FTC has strict guidelines on eco-friendly claims. It's important to note that with all of our recommendations below, we're saying that a single attribute is good for the environment — not necessarily everything about the product. For more information on the importance of eco-friendly products and examples of what to look for, check out our eco-friendly guide.

Aveeno's bath treatments are made of 100% pure colloidal oatmeal, which can help relieve itchy skin to due eczema. Our experts like that the packaging and ingredients are sustainably sourced. Plus, its manufacturing process produces lower levels of greenhouse gases (a factor in climate change) and generates reduced industrial and hazardous waste.

This shampoo is formulated to tame frizzy hair and smooth each strand — and it's backed by the GH Seal! The coconut oil and cocoa butter used are purchased fairly and sustainably to support local farmers and communities. The bottle is made with 30% post-consumer recycled material. Pair it with the matching Whole Blends conditioner.  

This glossy lipstick is formulated with moringa oil and red raspberry oil, so it'll moisturize your lips and provide rich color. It doesn’t come with unnecessary packaging (like secondary boxes), and the tube is made with 52% recycled plastic. It’s lighter than other lipsticks since it doesn't contain any metals or magnets — that means it has less of a carbon footprint during transportation.

Designed to add volume to thin hair, this 2-in-1 product reduces the need to purchase shampoo and conditioner separately. Our pros say that bars have much less water content in comparison to liquid shampoo and conditioners, which can contain 50% or more water. Less water content means that it helps preserve water resources.

This eco-conscious body wash has an uplifting, herbal scent (a mix of geranium, rosemary, and sage!), and it's a favorite of Birnur Aral, Ph.D., director of the GH Institute's Health, Beauty, and Environmental Sciences Lab. The bottle is made of 100% recycled plastic — 20% of which is from ocean plastic. Since the pump has no metal spring, it's fully recyclable as-is. 

This classic hand lotion won a GH Sustainable Packaging Award. It's made with shea butter to nourish your skin and smooth rough patches. We love that the aluminum tube is fully recyclable, unlike plastic tubes that often end up in landfills. Pro tip: squeeze it from the bottom so you can use every last drop. 

For an invigorating shower experience, cleanse your hair with this rosemary- and mint-scented shampoo. The bottle is made of 100% recycled plastic and it doesn't have any secondary packaging. Plus, our experts note that the recyclable press caps make it easy to dispense the right amount of product so less potentially goes to waste.

Not only does this multi-tasking bar soap clean your entire body, but buying it will give back to the community — the proceeds help create mobile showers for homeless people. It comes in a no-frills box made of recycled paper, and the open window on the front means it uses less materials. Plus, it's made with Rainforest Alliance Certified palm oil, meaning it's harvested in a way that won't destroy forests.

This rockstar dish soap uses plant-based cleaning ingredients, proving that "green" products can actually work well, too! Our experts especially like that the brand chooses to list all the ingredients in its products. Its biodegradable formula contains no fragrances or dyes, and it's also EPA Safer Choice certified. The whole bottle (even the cap!) is made from recycled plastic.

Purclean laundry detergent is Tide's first plant-based formula, and our home care pros say it cleans very well. What really makes this product stand out is the fact that it's made using renewable electricity (wind power!) at a site where zero manufacturing waste goes to a landfill. It's also a USDA certified bio-based product.

This hardworking machine can easily tackle dirty armrests, carpet stains, and more using a combination of water, cleaner, and suction. Our cleaning pros love that it's made from recycled plastic, while the box it comes in uses recycled materials. Plus, Bissell eliminated styrofoam from this product's packaging, which helps cut down on waste. It carries both our GH and Green GH Seals!

With this refillable glass cleaner, there's no need to purchase an entirely new bottle each time you run out of product. The bottles from JAWS (the name stands for Just Add Water System) are reusable, so all you need to do is fill it with tap water and place a refill pod inside.  The brand also makes refillable cleaning products for the kitchen, shower, granite, and more.

Baking soda can be used for nearly anything — use it as a mild abrasive for cleaning scuffs and marks, to deodorize stinky fridges and garbage cans, and so much more. Since baking soda (a.k.a. sodium bicarbonate) comes from minerals found in the earth, you don't have to feel as guilty about using it for everything. 

GH Cleaning Lab Director Carolyn Forte says these Swedish dish cloths, which are made of cotton and cellulose,  "are an alternative to germy sponges that get thrown out after only a few uses and paper towels." They can be washed and reused multiple times for things like washing dishes or cleaning spills.

Using fabric softener is a great way to prevent clothes from looking worn, so our cleaning experts recommend this one from Gain. The plant-based formula is USDA certified to be 70% biobased, and it doesn't contain any dyes, parabens, or optical brighteners (a.k.a. chemicals that make fabrics appear whiter).

Athleta's workout pants regularly impress our Textiles experts with how well they perform in our tests, but the brand is also great from a sustainability aspect: Athleta says that 60% of its products use sustainable materials. This pair is made from recycled polyester sourced from post-consumer plastic bottles. 

Allbirds are an GH expert and editor favorite because they're comfortable, lightweight, and machine-washable. Our pros like the brand's sustainable approach to materials: the merino wool is a natural fiber and follows ethical standards, the polyester in the laces is from recycled water bottles, and the packaging is made of 90% recycled cardboard.  

This cute color-block sweater is made of 52% recycled polyester. It belongs to H&M's Conscious collection, where each affordable piece has an aspect that reduces its environmental impact. H&M stores have a recycling program that offers a discount on new items when you trade in unwanted clothing.

Great for outdoor adventures and all kinds of travel, this duffel bag from Eagle Creek comes in various sizes and colors. You can easily clean the exterior by hosing it off outside — the water repellent coating is made from recycled windshield plastics, making it durable and sustainable.

Even though it's an outdoors brand, Patagonia is often considered one of the best sustainable and ethical clothing companies. This specific jacket is made with Bluesign-approved fabric, which means the supply chain is safe for the environment, workers, and consumers. You can read more about Patagonia's sustainable materials and initiatives here. 

Jeans require thousands of gallons of water just to make one pair, so Levi's took a step in the right direction with its Water<Less collection that is supposed to use up to 96% less water than regular denim. GH Textiles experts say that since Levi's is such a big, well-known denim brand, there's a better chance of steps like this making a difference.

These timeless ankle pants are just one of Eileen Fisher's offerings, but it's really the whole brand that is sustainable: it considers every part of a product's lifecycle, from the beginning of the production process to the waste after it's no longer of use. The brand will also buy back its own gently used clothing and then resell it on the separate Renew website.

Vera Bradley's ReActive collection is made using recycled water bottles — each yard of fabric was once 16 recycled water bottles, so this particular bag uses 23. On top of being recycled, this tote bag is lightweight, water repellent, and easy to clean. The drawstring mesh closure is perfect for shaking out sand after a beach trip!

Composting can really help reduce the amount of garbage that goes to a landfill.  "I keep this on my countertop for used coffee beans, which stink up my regular pail," says Nicole Papantoniou, senior testing editor and producer in our Kitchen Appliances Lab. Plus, it's Cradle to Cradle certified, so it meets environmental and social requirements across five sustainability categories. 

Beeswax food wraps are an earth-friendly replacement for single-use plastic wrap. They're made of cotton, beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. Beeswax wraps are food-safe and can be used over and over again — just rinse them with cold water and mild soap between uses. Just note that they're not airtight, so they won't keep highly perishable foods fresh.

Stasher's reusable sandwich and snack bags are great because they take the place of single-use plastic baggies (that would likely end up in landfills and oceans). They come in a ton of sizes, ranging from small pocket-size bags that are perfect for nuts to a half-gallon size that fits up to two strip steaks. Plus, these bags are safe for use in the dishwasher, microwave, and freezer. 

A reusable mug is a great alternative to disposable coffee cups, which are wasteful. This sleek option from Zojirushi is one of the best travel coffee mugs we've seen — it won't leak and it'll keep your coffee hot. Plus, some coffee shops (Starbucks included!) offer small discounts when you bring your own mug.

A trip to the grocery store means you'll probably stock up on fresh fruits and veggies, but skip the baggies next time to help cut back on plastic use. Instead, safely store your food in one of these reusable produce bags. This set lists each bag's tare weight, so you know exactly how much the empty bag weighs.

These reusable straw and lid combinations are made of silicone that stretches to fit over any cup. Not only does the combo help reduce waste by taking the place of plastic lids and straws, but it also conveniently makes any cup easier for kids to drink — and harder for them to spill. They're even dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.

If you typically use disposable plastic containers to bring your lunches to work, then it's time to switch to these durable glass containers. They're great for meal prepping when you want to avoid plastic and reduce waste. These can be frozen, refrigerated, microwaved, and even put in the oven and dishwasher. 

Perfect for picnics, beach trips, and tailgate alike, this innovative cooler is biodegradable and reusable — it's also from the same brand as the best cooler we've tested. It's a great alternative to typical coolers that are heavy and styrofoam coolers that are notoriously difficult to recycle.

We all know that plastic straws are polluting our oceans, so the best way to make a difference is by opting for reusable straws instead. Our kitchen appliance pros like that this affordable set comes with four straight and four bent straws, so there's no need to drink from a disposable plastic straw again. It also includes two brushes so they're easy to clean. 

During toilet paper testing, this recycled option was one of the top performers among the "green" brands. "Recycled is the most sustainable option for toilet paper because you're diverting waste and skipping new pulp to create the bath tissue," says Lexie Sachs, Textiles Director at the GH Institute.

Most mattresses aren't made of organic materials, but this one is made of natural and organic materials like wool, cotton, and latex. It's certified by the Global Organic Latex Standard and Global Organic Textile Standard, so "the entire manufacturing process follows strict guidelines on the materials and ingredients used," says Sachs. Plus, our testers loved sleeping on it!

Since plastic bags can't be recycled in your blue bin, it's best to bring a reusable bag with you every time you go shopping to avoid wasting single-use plastic bags. This cult-favorite tote is a great option to stash in your purse or car: It's super lightweight, it comes in fun patterns and colors, and it folds into a compact pouch. 

In our Textiles Lab's test to find the best bed sheets, this set from Boll & Branch proved to be a great organic option. It's GOTS certified, so the entire manufacturing process is organic, and Fair Trade Certified, so it meets rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards. Plus, our textiles experts say the high-quality fabric was strong during lab tests.

This device is an easy way to monitor energy usage from appliances and electronics to figure out which are wasteful. It needs to be installed into your electrical panel by an electrician, but it's a super quick process (about 30 minutes). You can quickly see if anything was accidentally left on, all in real time through the app. 

This direct-to-consumer paint brand makes it easy to sample colors with its convenient peel-and-stick swatches. It contains zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs, a.k.a. gases emitted from paint that can cause health problems), and it's Greenguard Gold certified, which means it meets strict criteria for chemical emissions limits and considers safety factors for sensitive people (like children and the elderly). 

During our Textiles Lab's test on baby diapers, this one ranked among the best of those with "green" claims. Our experts like that the packaging clearly lists every single material used — these are made with FSC-certified wood pulp, which means it comes from responsibly managed forests. It also earned the Nordic Swan Ecolabel so its entire environmental impact was evaluated.

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This fire truck proves that even toys for kids can be sustainable. It's made entirely of post-consumer recycled plastic milk jugs and has no extra coatings or paints. Even the packaging is impressive: The box is made of recycled cardboard and it's printed with soy-based ink, which is considered more environmentally friendly because it makes materials easier to recycle. 

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