The world has been a scary place since November. Sometimes I feel helpless about it. But some dear friends and I have been more earth-conscious lately, feeling like it’s the only way we can help the planet and feel like we’re making a difference. Even if it’s just a tiny one.

Here are the ways I’ve been working on creating less waste. They’re easy and relatively inexpensive and will save lots of money in the long run.

No more paper towels. They are such a waste! I don’t know why paper towels became the go-to for cleaning. I much prefer using an old washcloth and dish soap to clean my kitchen counters, rather than six paper towels and harsh chemicals. Plus, having fewer cleaners means less waste, too!

Menstrual cup. I finally did it. There are tons of brands, but I went with Ruby Cup, which sends a cup to someone without access to menstrual health products with every purchase! Win-win, if you ask me.

It takes about three cycles to get used to using a cup, but I promise it is not gross and it will not get lost in you and it will not look like a murder scene when you remove it. You just have to figure out what works for you and your body.

I wrote a half-joke, half-serious 20-step guide to mastering menstrual cups at my friends’ blog, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Wool dryer balls. Dryer sheets leave a weird residue on your clothes. Wool balls bounce around and make your clothes dry faster AND they’re all-natural fabric softeners. Also, cats like them. I went with these on Amazon, because they were the cheapest when I was shopping. Bonus: You can drop some essential oil on them to make your laundry smell like lavender.

Cloth pantyliners. Another menstrual product that people think sounds gross but is not! Cotton pantyliners (or full-on pads, if that’s your jam) are comfy on your skin and good for the environment! I went with Glad Rags because their Instagram game is excellent. Lil cotton pads wearing googly eyes, going on adventures around town? Sign me up.

Sales pitch: I’m an ambassador with Glad Rags, and have a referral code for you if cute pads that feel like clouds instead of sweaty plastic all up in your business sound good to you: GRA1733 will save you $5 on a $35 purchase, plus free U.S. shipping. Woohoo!

Reusable shopping bags. If you aren’t on the reusable bag train, please, hop aboard. It’s the easiest thing you can do to save a little bit of the world. I recommend getting your hands on the cloth ones because you can throw ’em in the washing machine if something spills! I keep them in my trunk so I never have an excuse not to use them. I also fold one up and keep it in my backpack, because you never know when you’ll need an extra bag.

What about you? Please share your favorite methods for zero waste, or just, you know, less waste. I am a sponge just waiting to absorb all the information.