This customized drawer unit from the Container Store is one of the most practical purchases I’ve made for my small apartment

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  • When looking for a nightstand for my small city bedroom, I found the Elfa Mesh Closet Drawer System at The Container Store.
  • While it’s not technically a nightstand, I customized the unit so it wound up being the perfect size.
  • It’s a multipurpose unit I know I can make good use of for years to come.

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White Mesh Closet Drawers (small)Related Article Module: The best hanging shelves for closets

Being in my twenties in New York City, I know that the apartment I’m in now won’t be mine forever. That’s why, when I first moved in, I decided to prioritize buying pieces that are functional rather than ones that just look good. That fact – plus a small room and closet situation – prompted me to search for a nightstand that could serve double duty and provide some extra storage.

My search led me to the epicenter of all things storage: The Container Store. There, I designed my own Elfa Mesh Closet Drawer System and it’s probably one of the smartest purchases I’ve made for my apartment.

The Elfa Mesh Closet Drawer System comes pre-made or you can customize it based on your needs

Elfa is exclusive to The Container Store, known for its best-selling closet solutions that maximize space and make organizing easy. The Mesh Closet Drawer System is a free-standing storage unit with a durable, epoxy-bonded steel frame and finely-woven mesh drawers that can hold all sorts of products.

You can choose to purchase a pre-made unit or customize your own with specific dimensions for what you’re looking for; both options come in with all-white or silver mesh.

I chose to make my own unit to be sure it would fit in my room. Elfa has a custom drawer planner online, which guides you through the customization process and helps you see what the unit will look like in real time.

Here’s how you can customize the Elfa unit

1. Pick a color: The options are easy – white or platinum. The platinum definitely has a more industrial look, so I went for white.

2. Pick a height: Options range from 17.5 to 81 inches tall. The taller you go, the more storage you can get. I chose a 29-inch unit, which works perfectly as a bedside table next to my 1- inch bed frame and 10-inch mattress.

3. Pick a width: Sizes start at 10 inches (extra narrow) and go up to 22 inches (extra wide). I went for medium at 18 inches.

4. Top it off: You can cover the unit with a surface of either white melamine, driftwood melamine, a butcher block, or leave the top open. I went with the white for a monochromatic look.

5. Pick feet, labels, and stops: Choose frame feet for a unit you want to stay in place, or casters (which are like wheels) if you want more mobility. Add stops if you want to ensure your drawers never fall out. I didn’t buy stops, but my unit is pushed against a wall, and I haven’t had any issues with drawers coming out of the frame. I didn’t add label holders, but if you’re trying to get really organized, these could be a good addition.

6. Choose your drawers: Instead of S, M, L, drawers are sized as 1, 2, or 3 – indicating how many runners each drawer needs to fit in the unit. One is the shallowest drawer and 3 is the deepest. How tall you make your unit will determine how many drawers you can fit.

My 29-inch unit has seven runners, so I filled it with one 3-runner, one 2-runner, and two 1-runners. The 3-runner is on the bottom, holding bulky items like backup toiletries and cleaning supplies. The 2-runner is in the middle, holding similar products, though it fits a tad less. The top two drawers are 1-runners, which hold paper goods and other small supplies. Ultimately, my unit cost just over $150.

The bottom line

These drawers are not cheap, but their value lies in their functionality. With ability to customize height, width, and drawer sizes, you can easily build a system that’s perfect for your storage needs. If you have the space and aren’t too particular, you can make it even easier and just buy one of the pre-made systems.

The drawers make everything I put inside easily accessible, and the finely-woven mesh construction provides the perfect balance of visibility and privacy, so I can find my objects easily without putting everything on display. The neutral colors and minimal style make this unit a timeless piece that can fit in just about any room or apartment I’ll move into in the future and be used for storing just about anything, making it well worth the up-front expense.

White Mesh Closet Drawers (button)

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32 eco-friendly alternatives for things you use every day

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Lifestyle Photo Earth Day
  • While climate change has gained mainstream traction, research suggests it remains a partisan issue.
  • Individual responsibility isn’t a silver bullet, but it can help strengthen the environmental movement.
  • If you’re interested in adopting more eco-friendly habits, you can browse 32 ideas below.

Climate change has entered the mainstream conversation. Up 44% from 2009, six out of 10 Americans said in a survey that global climate change is a major threat to the country. In 2019, Time’s Person of the Year was then 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, the internationally known environmental activist.

But while more Americans say protecting the environment and dealing with global climate change should be top priorities for the president and Congress – and a majority of them already see at least some local effects of climate change – it remains a deeply partisan issue, meaning grassroots efforts and individual actions take on heightened importance.

And it’s surprisingly simple to make positive changes to your lifestyle just by figuring out where to start. Instead of using a K-Cup, swap it for a reusable coffee filter. Out of laundry detergent? Try one with better ingredients. You don’t have to subsist on whatever your backyard garden grows to make a difference or feel guilty that your trash doesn’t fit in a mason jar. Try to shop local when possible, only buy what you need, bike or walk or use public transportation when able, fix what you own before replacing it, and eat less meat. While individual responsibility isn’t a silver bullet and isn’t effective when it distracts people from the outsized impact of corporate and political responsibility, it can help expand and strengthen the political movement for environmentalist practices.

Read more: B Corps are businesses committed to using their profit for good – these 14 are making some truly great products

Even if you just make one change rather than turning your entire household eco-friendly overnight, you’re working to build better habits in your corner of the world.

If you want to replace everyday essentials with eco-friendly alternatives without any inconvenience, check out the 32 below:

Swimwear made from recycled materials

Everlane swim collection

Clothing retailer Everlane just released its first line of swimwear, and every item in the collection is comprised of 82% regenerated nylon derived from recycled plastic. It’s part of the retailer’s initiative to remove virgin plastic from its supply chain in 2021. The swimwear collection offers seven styles and eight colors that you can mix and match.

The Square-Neck One-Piece (small)
Allbirds footwear

allbirds wool runner

Allbirds gained fame for being known as the “world’s most comfortable shoes” (a claim we find ourselves agreeing with) and their commitment to sustainability.

The cult-favorite startup uses super soft, moisture-wicking, temperature-regulating merino wool for its iconic wool runners and tree fiber for its Tree line (sourced from South African farms that minimize fertilizer and rely on rainfall instead of irrigation).

We’ve tried the tree loungers and runners as well as the wool runners and loungers, and even the newly-launched clothing line, and we don’t think you can really go wrong.

Read our full reviews of nearly every item Allbirds has ever made.

Reusable, organic cotton dish towels

Sur la table ORGANIC COTTON KITCHEN TOWELS

If it doesn’t have to be single-use, it probably shouldn’t be. Using 100% organic cotton dish towels is a great substitute to paper towels, as you can throw them in for a wash in the washing machine repeatedly. 

Reusable grocery bags

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Each year, we use an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags around the world.

Using reusable grocery bags is a simple way to cut down on the habit without missing out on convenience — if you make sure to only buy enough to meet your needs, and remember to bring them every time.

Some grocery stores even offer incentives for people who bring their own bags, and some states have banned plastic bags

Rechargeable batteries

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Batteries are made up of a variety of chemicals, some of which are toxic and can cause soil and water pollution. To prolong the usage of your batteries and keep them out of landfills, you may want to look into rechargeable ones. 

If you need to check how to dispose of electronics you no longer need, check out this list of stores with incentives for recycling or are better equipped to dispose of electronics than the average person. 

A long-lasting toothbrush with a detachable brush head

BoieUSA toothbrush 1

Not only does a Boie toothbrush have silver embedded into the bristles to kill germs, but the startup is also making a much more environmentally friendly option.

All of Boie’s toothbrushes are made out of a rubber-like material that cleans your teeth more gently and effectively than alternatives and is built to last twice as long as a regular brush, so you have to replace it less often. Boie brushes are also designed with detachable brush heads, so you can replace only that without having to buy an entirely new brush every time.

You can also check out Bite’s $12 bamboo brush pack, which comes with two toothbrushes with detachable heads. 

A great reusable water bottle

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Even though recycling programs exist, 91% of the water bottles we use every year wind up in a landfill. And we use about a million per minute. Grab a cool water bottle you’ll enjoy using and skip the plastic disposable bottles.

A cycling helmet that raises money for 1% for the Planet

Explore Thousand Helmet

Cycling brand thousand launched a special Climate Collection of its signature Heritage helmet to raise money for 1% for the Planet, a foundation dedicated to raising awareness about climate change and sustainability. The collection features three unique colorways, each symbolizing a specific element of the planet. Coastal Blue represents Earth’s oceans, Terra Cotta Earth’s clay, and Arctic Grey Earth’s polar environments. The helmets sell for $89 with $10 from every purchase going to 1% for the Planet.

Rick Stella, health & fitness editor 

A showerhead that uses 70-75% less water than what you have now

showering

Putting in low-flow fixtures and taking shorter showers can reduce your water consumption by at least 50% and save you about $145 every year.

If you’re looking for the most buzz-worthy and luxe of options making a difference in the space, you’d do well to look at Nebia — a Kickstarter-funded startup that counts some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley as investors (including Tim Cook of Apple and Eric Schmidt of Google). You also might have seen it in the upscale fitness world of Equinox gyms.

The Nebia Spa Shower 2.0 maximizes the water that comes into contact with your skin by atomizing it, and Nebia claims the shower lends twice as much coverage as a standard shower and saves 65% of water. You can read more about it here

Another inexpensive option is a showerhead by Niagra, which the company claims uses up to 75% less water than typical “low-flow” showerheads. It also uses patented pressure compensation technology so there’s always a consistent flow rate regardless of available water pressure — and it’s guaranteed for 10 years. 

Biodegradable trash bags

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These trash bags are 100% compostable, meet the stringent requirements of municipal composting programs, and are BPI certified. For reference, they’re almost half the price of Glad bags (also 13 gallon, also 50-count).

Buy carbon credits to offset your lifestyle

reformation carbon

Feeling guilty about a destination bachelorette trip you took this year? Already live an extremely eco-friendly lifestyle and still want to help? 

Reformation lets you purchase climate credits (carbon offsets) on its site. Its partner, NativeEnergy, will direct your purchase to support projects that actively reduce CO2 emissions.

You’ll also get a $100 Reformation credit when you switch to wind energy.

Face Masks (5-pack) (small)
Reusable straws

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According to the National Park Service, you could fill over 125 school buses with the straws Americans use every single day (500 million in all).

Using disposable utensils of any kind introduces a lot of unnecessary waste into the environment, but straws are a particularly easy fix.

An Earth Day package

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Even if you can’t live a completely eco-lifestyle, you can still offset some carbon footprint by planting trees. Canadian sustainable apparel maker Tentree has an Earth Day package that will plant 50 trees, which can help offset 7.7 tons of CO2. — Les Shu, guides editor

Ballpoint pens made out of recycled water bottles

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Need a couple of pens around the house? Grab a few that were made from recycled water bottles (86% PCR). 

A programmable thermostat that lets you know if you’re saving energy

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Programmable thermostats can save up to $150 a year in energy costs when used properly.

Not only does Nest’s thermostat work with Amazon Alexa voice control, but it was also the first one to earn an Energy Star. Since your thermostat supposedly controls half your energy bill (more than appliances or electronics), it’s a great place to focus your attention if you want to cut down on use and costs. Using the Nest app (yes, there’s an app), you can view how much energy you use and why, so you can make the right decisions for you using your own energy history. 

Plus, since most of us are busy and potentially beginners with this, Nest will display a leaf when you choose a temperature that saves energy.

Reusable coffee filters

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With the popularity of instant coffee systems like Keurig, single-serving pods have also seen an uptick.

Instead of popping in a new K-Cup every morning only to toss it into the waste bin, consider saving yourself space and money with your choice of fresh ground coffee and a reusable filter pod

Loose tea infuser

the best tea infuser overall

Love tea? look into a loose tea infuser to cut down on how many tiny disposable packets you rip open and throw away. Here are the best ones you can buy.

Shampoo, conditioner, and lotion

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With over 80 billion plastic bottles being disposed of around the world every year just from shampoo & conditioner alone, things like environmentally-conscious packaging are increasingly important. 

If you’re looking for a single solid beauty routine —pun intended— New Zealand startup Ethique (French for “ethical”) makes sustainable beauty that works exceptionally well. And they’re available at Amazon.

Everything — from shampoo to lotion — comes in bar form. The bars last 2-5x longer than their bottled counterparts, dissolve completely, and come in entirely eco-friendly packaging (even the sleeves they arrive in are 100% dissolvable and compostable, so there’s zero consumer waste). 

Overall, Ethique has prevented the manufacture and disposal of more than 350,000 plastic containers worldwide. 

Natural laundry detergent

Method Laundry Detergent

If you want to introduce fewer chemicals to the water supply and your skin, you might look for a laundry detergent alternative. 

Method’s detergent is made from naturally derived, plant-based ingredients and has a hypoallergenic formula. Its transparent bottle is recyclable and made from 100% PCR (post-consumer recycled) materials. It’s tough on dirt and stains, but you won’t be introducing more chemicals to the environment or wearing traces of them next-to-skin.

You can also use the all-natural Nellie’s powdered laundry soda that comes in a reusable metal tin (which is what I personally use). Nellie’s is biodegradable, non-toxic, hypoallergenic, non-GMO, lasts for forever, and, of course, works really well also. You can find it on Amazon, but it’s typically cheaper at Walmart

Reusable notebooks

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The US uses about 69 million tons of notebook paper each year. If you want to cut down on your own paper waste (and add some convenience and savings to your own life) you might be interested in Rocketbook’s forever reusable notebooks. This one can be written on with a special pen and wiped clean to be used new with moisture. It got rejected on Shark Tank, but I use my own many times throughout the day. Plus, you can use the app to digitize the notes you take — making it easier to keep a digital archival. 

Buy and gift secondhand clothes and accessories

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Instead of buying something new, look for something that already exists first — like previously owned designer goods on The Real Real. It’s also a great way to save money on premium goods.  

Eco-friendly sheets

Cloud Brushed Organic Flannel Minimalist Set1

Coyuchi is a San Francisco startup that makes luxe, modern sheets that are also eco-friendly. The company has a partnership with Fibershed that supported closed-loop carbon farming practices at the local ranches that produce its Climate Beneficial Wool, and has now announced a partnership with White Buffalo Land Trust that supports regenerative agriculture. 

A shower timer

Shower timer 1

This shower timer helps you keep an eye on how long you spend zoned out under gushing hot water. It can help you monitor yourself, so if your goal is to cut down on water and heating energy, you’ve got an easy way to adjust. You can also just set a timer on your phone, but if you’re looking for a shower radio, you can knock out both with this. 

Solar powered phone charger

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Made of eco-friendly silicone rubber and ABS + PC material, this #1 best-seller solar charger is an eco-friendly alternative to the traditional rechargeable battery pack. It’s water-resistant and shock-proof, so it can go where you go (and soak up solar power while at it). 

The company notes that it is comparatively slow for the solar charger to recharge via solar power, but if you’ve got the time to wait or hang it on a backpacking pack on a day trip, you can get the convenience of a charger without the guilt. 

Compostable cutlery and bowls

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If you absolutely need disposable cutlery and can’t carry a reusable metal kit everywhere you go, why not grab some that are compostable? 

FirstChoice makes a great option, and donates 10% of its annual net profits to non-profit environmental organizations. The utensils are FDA approved and are 100% biodegradable. 

Outlets that actually draw zero energy when turned off.

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This energy-saving power switch draws zero energy when the switch is flipped off. 

An eco-friendly air dryer brush

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This brush is designed to act as a diffuser, drying hair 40% faster for less heat damage and faster prep time. It’s also made from recycled aluminum and plastic.

The packaging is made of 100% Tree-Free paper (20% cotton and 80% bamboo fibers), and the handles are made from bamboo, which is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world — making it a convenient naturally renewable resource.

An e-reader

Kinle

While the feel of a great paperback in hand is satisfying in and of itself, you might have an opportunity as an avid reader to cut down on a production cycle that uses ample paper and transportation. Unless you’re a regular patron of the library, an e-reader can help diminish the carbon footprint of someone who frequently buys new books.

We’ve got a guide to the best e-readers you can buy if you’re looking into one, and here’s a list of what each Kindle does to figure out which best fits your needs.

Eyewear made from natural materials

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Shwood makes premium wood sunglasses and prescription eyewear that’s handcrafted using sustainable materials in the US. 

Natural cleaning products

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The cleaning products you use around the house can be full of environmentally harmful chemicals, and they may be some of the plastic products you throw away most frequently. If you want the same result but with less potential collateral damage, there are effective options to consider.

Uniquely J is an affordable, comprehensive option that spans the cleaning gamut and is comprehensive and affordable. 

Blueland is a buzzy startup that makes reusable bottles and dissolvable cleaning tablets with non-toxic ingredients so you can cut down on your plastic waste and chemical exposure. While Blueland products are effective for general cleaning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend using alcohol-based products to disinfect surfaces as they’re effective in killing viruses.  

For tough cleaning, we’d recommend looking at CleanWell’s Disinfectant Spray. It’s EPA-approved for use on surfaces to protect against the novel coronavirus. It’s a botanical formula that cleans, disinfects, and deodorizes multi-surfaces and kills 99.9% of household germs, including cold and flu viruses. The package is also recyclable.

Reusable, non-plastic meal prep containers

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Instead of adding more plastic, grab some glass meal prep containers for a non-toxic solution. 

You may also want to look into U Konserve for their low-impact, reusable lunch containers with moveable and/or removable dividers. You can also pick up reusable sandwich bags, like these from ChicoBag or unbleached paper sandwich snack bags.

Sustainable clothing

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Instead of buying new every time you have an event, consider renting from Rent the Runway and get designer names at a much lower rate, without contributing to a huge pile of textile waste from a $20 fast-fashion dress you didn’t love. Or, if you do buy new, take a look at stores that repurpose recycled materials, like Cotopaxi and Girlfriend Collective, or companies reducing their overall footprint through eco-friendly practices like Everlane’s denim factory

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10 black finish accessories to complete a kitchen remodel

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SOKA Faucet

Interior design trends are always changing, and it’s normal to want to spruce up your own space after living in it for a while. Black kitchens are becoming increasingly popular. From cabinetry to appliances and paints, people are gravitating towards the sophistication of a darker cooking space.

If you’re interested in darkening up your kitchen, there are lots of great products to do so on Amazon. Whether you’re moving to a new home and looking to design a kitchen from scratch or you’re just in the mood for a sleek spring refresh, we’ve got you covered. We rounded up 10 pieces to add a modern touch to your kitchen, from faucets to pot racks, all with rich black finishes.

A touchless faucet

Moen black faucet

Moen Motionsense Kitchen Faucet, $416

This sleek touchless faucet uses MotionSense technology, making it easy to get the water running when your hands are full or dirty.

Check out our guide to the best kitchen faucets.

A pot rack

KES Pot Rack

Tehome Rounded Rectangular Mirror, $120

This matte black pot rack has a shelf and 12 hooks for hanging. Not only does it provide great storage, but it makes for an eye-catching piece of utilitarian decor.

Check out our guide to the best cookware sets.

A sink stopper

InSinkErator

InSinkErator Sink Stopper, $8

A sink stopper is important to make sure your pipes don’t get clogged with grease and food. This one comes in over 10 finishes if you want something different.

A soap dispenser

Gappo soap dispenser

Gappo Sink Soap Dispenser, $18

This durable stainless steel soap pump can be installed in just a few minutes. The matte black is a sophisticated touch.

Check out our guide to the best hand soaps.

A fun light fixture

ALISADABOY Sputnik lighting

Alisadaboy Sputnik Light, $65

This sputnik light fixture has eight bulbs for lots of light and a unique style that goes with all sorts of home decor.

Check out our guide to the best light bulbs.

A garbage can

MDesign Trash Can

MDesign Slim Profile Trash Can, $25

This simple trash can has over 6,000 5-star ratings and comes in a variety of colors. It’s an affordable, modern upgrade to your basic plastic option.

Check out our guide to the best trash cans.

Kitchen cabinet knobs

Ilyapa Cabinet Knobs

Ilyapa Cabinet Knobs, 25-pack, $29

These knobs have a timeless, classic shape and come in multiple different shapes and finishes.

Check out these 10 easy DIY projects to upgrade your space.

Cabinet handles

Ravinte Cabinet Handles

Ravinte Cabinet Pulls, 30-pack, $27

If you prefer something more modern than traditional cabinet knobs, these handles feel a lot more sleek. The matte black is particularly sophisticated.

A single-handle faucet

SOKA Faucet

Soka Single Handle Kitchen Faucet, $89

A great faucet is a fixture in any kitchen. This one has a pull-down sprayer with has 3-functions — spray, stream, and pause — so you can avoid splashing and get the right stream for whatever you need to do.

Check out our guide to the best dish soap.

Floating shelves

Bayka Shelves

Bayka Wood Floating Shelves, 3-pack, $26

Show off photos, mugs, or small appliances on these cute floating shelves. Each shelf is strong enough to hold 40 pounds.

Check out our guide to the best storage shelves.

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The 22 best ‘Shark Tank’ products for the home and kitchen that we actually use

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shark tank useful home products 2

  • “Shark Tank” often impresses us with its wide variety of creative solutions to everyday problems.
  • Products from the show are helping us clean and cook more efficiently, waste less, and sleep better.
  • From kitchen gadgets to pet products, these “Shark Tank” alums have earned their spots in your home.

Twelve seasons in and hundreds of products later, the show “Shark Tank” (where entrepreneurs pitch their inventions to a team of celebrity investors) continues to entertain us. However, that doesn’t always mean the products are actually good. Some end up being a little too creative or out-there and border on plain gimmicky or “Who would even use that?”

We looked through all the “Shark Tank” products available for purchase and came away with a selection of star items for the home and kitchen. Many solve for the wasteful designs of common products you already use, while others address the annoying inconveniences that everyone experiences.

Check out the “Shark Tank” home products that are worth buying below.

A tray that fits neatly on your wheelbarrow and holds your gardening tools

burro buddy

The Burro Buddy, $39.95, available at Amazon

It’s no fun lugging around all your gardening essentials as you do yard work. The Burro Buddy attaches to most wheelbarrow sizes (4, 5, 6, and 7 cubic-foot wheelbarrows) and has a neat organization system for short-handle and long-handle tools, personal items like your phone or wallet, and even a drink for when you want to reward yourself. 

A safe and organic alternative to pesticide

shark tank useful home products

First Saturday Lime Pest Barrier (20-pound), $29.99, available at Amazon

While chemicals in traditional pesticides can be toxic to people and animals, First Saturday is derived entirely from natural ingredients and still effectively dries out insects, eggs, and larvae. 

A small tool that protects your fingers when you hammer nails

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Safety Nailer Framer, $8.99, available at Amazon

We’ve all been there: you’re quickly hammering away and with one careless swoop, you hit your fingers instead of the nail. This cool magnetic tool holds the nail securely in place while protecting your fingers. 

A tool that turns you into a gift-wrapping pro

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Little Elf Gift Wrap Cutter (2-Pack), $11.95, available at Amazon

Using scissors to cut wrapping paper always seems to result in uneven or jagged cuts. The Little Elf cutter, which slides on over your tube of paper, makes smooth and perfectly straight cuts every time. 

A bottle tool that reduces product waste

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Flip-It Bottle Emptying Kit (2-Pack), $13.99, available at Amazon

It’s always a shame when you can’t make the most of your condiments or bath products. This kit comes with a few adapters for different size bottles and has a clever design that gets all the product out of the bottle. 

A DIY kit for kombucha enthusiasts

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The Kombucha Shop Kombucha Starter Kit (1-gallon), $44.99, available at Amazon

Sure, you can buy bottles of kombucha at the store, but if you have extra time on your hands and want to appreciate the full process, you can use this kit to make your own. It includes starter culture, pH strips, organic sugar, and more. Reviewers love how easy to follow the instructions are. 

Eco-friendly cleaning supplies

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The Clean Essentials, $35, available at Blueland

Blueland’s products are free of triclosan, parabens, phosphates, ammonia, or VOCs, plus they save space and plastic — the bottles are made of glass and the actual cleaner comes in tablet form so you only need to add water to make your cleaning solution. Read our review here.

A spring-loaded laundry hamper

Household Essentials hamper

Household Essentials Lifter Hamper, $44.20, available at Amazon

This hamper drops down as you add clothes and rises as you remove them, meaning doing laundry will no longer be that uncomfortable chore you never look forward to. It eases the strain on your lower back, so it’s especially great for expecting mothers, people with bad backs, and the elderly. 

A rapid ramen cooker

rapid ramen cooker $7.99

Rapid Ramen Cooker, $10.98, available at Amazon

Granted ramen is already a pretty convenient meal to make, this tool makes the process even easier. The water line stops you from overfilling the bowl, the bowl doesn’t get overly hot, and you don’t need to use a pot and stove. It’s perfect for anyone who doesn’t have access to a kitchen, including students living in dorms and office workers. 

A tiny spatula to get every last drop of sauce or makeup

small spatula tool $11.99

The Spatty and Spatty Daddy Spatula Tool Set, $11.99, available at Amazon

Think about all the ketchup, nail polish, and foundation that goes wasted because you can’t get to the last remnants in the bottle. This small tool helps you get in all the nooks and crannies of bottles — so you’re really getting your money’s worth. 

A splatter screen that still lets you access your pan to cook

splatter guard

Frywall Medium Splatter Guard, $18.95, available at Amazon

While traditional splatter screens cover the pan, making it difficult to check on your food and resulting in condensation, the funnel-like Frywall surrounds the perimeter of the pan. The BPA-free silicone accessory still protects from oil splatters, while allowing you to continue cooking. Read our review here.

Reusable bamboo paper towels

reusable bamboo paper towel $11.59

Bambooee Bamboo Paper Towel Roll, $8.99, available at Amazon

These durable, absorbent towels are an eco-friendly paper towel alternative made of organic bamboo. Each sheet looks and feels like a regular paper towel, but can be washed up to 100 times. Each roll of 30 Bambooee sheets is equivalent to 429 paper towel rolls. Read our review here.

A suction silicone placemat

suction silicone placemat $24.99

ezpz Happy Mat, $24.99, available at ezpz

The fact that you just spent an hour lovingly cooking a homemade meal and even organized it into easy-to-eat compartments often means nothing to a baby or toddler, who can hurl dinner to the floor in one easy swoop. This placemat will stay right in place on any flat surface, making it that much easier to get food from the plate into your child’s mouth. Read our review here.

A home gym rack

home gym rack $549 $799

PRx Performance Profile Rack, $799, available at PRx Performance

This profile rack transforms any small space into your own gym. It comes with 11-gauge steel uprights and a 42″ kipping pull-up bar and can be folded away when not in use. 

A more effective way to sweep your floor

wisp broom

WISPsystem One-Handed Broom, $29.95, available at Amazon

Sweeping is a pain, especially when you realize traditional broom and dustpans don’t even catch all the dirt and debris on the floor. This special broom has electrostatic bristles to collect all types of debris, and uses a push-and-pull motion to scrape it into a foot-operated dustpan. You only need to use one hand to operate it, plus you never have to bend or stoop over. 

A smart baby changing pad and scale

smart baby changing pad $166.44

Hatch Baby Grow Smart Changing Pad and Scale, $149.99, available at Amazon

It’s easier than ever to track your baby’s development with this modern nursery innovation. The soft foam pad tracks changes in weight to the .25 of an ounce and automatically syncs with the Hatch Baby app so you can view progress and learn new insights about your baby. The product grew out of the co-founder’s own experience as a mother when she couldn’t tell whether she was breastfeeding enough. 

Reusable silicone food bags

stasher

Stasher Reusable Silicone Food Bag, from $9.99, available at Amazon

This eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags has multiple uses: for storage and transportation, marinating, or sous vide. Its air-tight, pinch-lock seal keeps your food fresh, and it doesn’t require any additional lids or seals. The BPA-free silicone is also dishwasher-, microwave-, and oven-safe. 

A natural flea and tick spray for your pets

natural flea tick spray $24.99

Wondercide Flea and Tick Spray For Cats and Dogs, $24.99, available at Amazon

Wondercide, a safe and natural alternative to monthly chemical treatments, was conceived after the founder’s dog got pesticide poisoning from a vet-subscribed flea and tick treatment. It has no toxic effects, won’t stain fur or flooring, and comes in fresh lemongrass, cedar, and rosemary scents. 

Damage-free poster and picture hangers

damage free picture hanger $14.99

GoodHangups Damage-Free Magnetic Poster and Picture Hangers (8-Pack), $14.97, available at Amazon

Hang up all your movie posters, concert posters, and photos without ruining them or the wall with these magnetic stickers. Just place the sticker on the wall, then place the magnet and poster over the sticker. It works on all different types of wall textures. 

A WiFi-enabled sous vide

wifi sous vide $199

Nomiku WiFi Sous Vide 1100-Watt Immersion Circulator, $199.98, available at Williams Sonoma

This sous vide connects to your phone to make sous vide cooking more streamlined than ever. You can create and send recipes to the machine and precisely control the temperature from your phone with the app, letting you keep tabs on your meal even when you’re not in the kitchen. 

Pre-cut parchment sheets

precut parchment sheets $8.49

The Smart Baker 9-Inch Round Perfect Parchment Paper (24-Pack), $9.99, available at Amazon

You’ve baked a beautiful cake, but now you’re faced with the trouble of getting it out without ruining it. This parchment paper is cut in a unique shape that lets you lift your baked goods out of the pan in a breeze. You won’t have to worry about greasing the bottom enough or cutting the parchment paper yourself. If you bake a lot, you’ll love this product.

A self-cleaning dog potty

self cleaning automatic dog potty $159.99

BrilliantPad Self-Cleaning & Automatic Indoor Dog Potty, $149.99, available for preorder at Brilliant Pad

If you’ve already tried many indoor potty training systems, your search ends here with the world’s first self-cleaning dog potty. You can adjust the timer to automatically change a dirty pad one, two, or three times a day, or manually change it with a push of a button. The machine will wrap and seal the waste, keeping your home clean and odor-free. It’s best for dogs under 25 pounds.

Read more about the ‘Shark Tank’ products we love here:

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The PlayStation 5 is getting its first major system update this week, but one much-requested feature is still missing

PlayStation 5
Sony’s PlayStation 5.

  • Just about six months after launch, the PlayStation 5 is getting its first major update.
  • The software update adds a variety of quality of life features.
  • Unfortunately, a highly-requested feature – adding additional storage space – is still in the works.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Just over six months after the launch of the PlayStation 5, Sony is giving the console its first major software update – but it still doesn’t address the core issue PS5 users have been complaining about.

On Wednesday, April 14, the first major update is scheduled to roll out with a slew of additions and changes to the wildly popular game console.

Prime among those changes is support for USB game storage – a solution intended for users running into the PS5’s limited storage space. The PlayStation 5, like Microsoft’s Xbox Series S and X consoles, uses a new type of solid-state storage which enables much faster game loads. But games like the latest “Call of Duty” can gobble up huge portions of precious storage space, and PS5 users have been forced to decide which games to keep on their consoles.

Since PlayStation 5 games cannot be played from external storage, the addition of USB storage is intended as a temporary solution to a longer term problem. Rather than having to delete games to make space for new ones, PS5 users will be able to move a game temporarily to a USB storage device.

Sony has said that support for additional solid-state storage is in the works for the PlayStation 5, but no date has been given.

PlayStation 5 update, April 2021
Another such addition in the update is the ability to share a gameplay stream with a friend on PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5.

“It is faster to reinstall PS5 games from USB extended storage than to re-download or copy them from a disc,” Sony platform planning and management senior VP Hideaki Nishino said on the PlayStation blog. “It’s a great way to extend the storage capabilities of your PS5 console, and you can seamlessly copy your PS5 games back to the console’s internal storage when you’re ready to play.”

Beyond the storage changes, a variety of smaller “quality of life” features are being added in the update: The ability to share your screen with friends over the internet, pre-downloads of game updates while the console is resting, and the ability to change which games show up in your game library are just a few.

Check out the full list of changes right here.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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The 6 best reusable shopping tote bags of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

A durable, reusable shopping tote is versatile for groceries, library books, and retail returns, among other errands. Whether stored on your passenger seat or inside your trunk, it’s an easy carrier for your items and will save time otherwise spent unloading too many plastic bags.

Of course, reusable bags have the added benefit of being sustainable. Most are made of nylon or canvas and come in all shapes and sizes. Though they look similar on the surface, there are subtle differences that make some perform better (and last longer) than others. Some, like our top pick, come with their own storage solutions, and others are sturdier than the competition.

Here are the best reusable shopping tote bags of 2021

The best reusable bag overall

bagpodz reusable storage system

The BagPodz Reusable Bag and Storage System comes with multiple nylon shopping bags, a pouch for on-the-go storage, and an affixed clip to attach to your shopping cart.

Pros: Comes with multiple bags, storage pouch, clip for shopping cart, water-resistant material

Cons: Limited designs

The BagPodz Reusable Bag and Storage System comes in a set of five or 10 sustainable, machine-washable nylon shopping bags. They’re ideal for transporting groceries and are especially unique for their compact pouch that holds the bags when you aren’t using them.

Aside from their smart storage, there’s a clip on one end of the pouch that attaches to a shopping cart so you don’t have to juggle bags in the middle of the produce aisle. Each bag holds up to 50 pounds yet can easily be stored in your purse or glove compartment. BagPodz’s material is water-resistant, too, so you won’t have to worry about leaks in the event of a spill. 

The best reusable canvas bag

Duck Bag Canvas Tote copy

The Baggu Duck Bag is a sturdy canvas tote suitable for a variety of lifestyles and purposes.

Pros: Durable, machine washable, multiple handles

Cons: Not as large as some picks

For a reusable, practical, and multipurpose shopping bag, the Baggu Duck Bag is our favorite canvas tote. You could easily take it from the office to the grocery store because it snaps shut, has an interior zipper pocket, and two sets of straps: top handles and shoulder straps.

Despite the deep compartment, its restrictive shape makes it better for smaller runs than your big weekly shopping haul. It will last you a while, too, as the machine-washable, artfully-worn fabrics are thicker and more durable than some of its nylon counterparts. 

The best reusable waxed bag

colony waxed canvas

The Colony Co. Reusable Grocery Bag is a sustainable take on old-school paper bags and will last you for years of grocery trips.

Pros: Durable waxed canvas design

Cons: Only has top straps

The Colony Co. Reusable Grocery Bag is made of waxed material that’s stain-resistant and easy to clean. It’s also vegan, so it’s free of beeswax and leather.  Though not machine washable, the 16-ounce bag is an all-in-one carrier for cereal boxes and baked bread alike.

The brand also sells reusable produce bags, which would make a nice addition to any sustainable shopping routine.

The best reusable bag on a budget

easy fold

Easy Fold Bag’s Reusable Grocery Bags are an affordable set of three nylon bags that conveniently fold for your shopping trips.

Pros: Affordable, machine washable

Cons: Fabric is a little shiny, not as sturdy as other picks

If you’re not looking to splurge, Easy Fold Bag’s Reusable Grocery Bags are a great option. The set comes with three ripstop nylon bags that fold easily. They’re machine-washable, too, so it’s a practical option for your essential items. 

They’re also extremely functional and come in three colors for less than $10.  They aren’t as sturdy as some of the pricier options, but if you’re looking to reduce waste on a budget, the bags’ reinforced stitching should last you a good while. 

The best insulated reusable bag

veno bag slide image

Veno Bag’s Insulated Grocery Bag is a durable, boxy tote that will keep your vegetables and other perishables cool.

Pros: Made with 80% post-consumer recycled material, aluminum covered thermal insulation, can hold up to 30 pounds, flexible fabric sides for odd-shaped items

Cons: May be bulky to carry

For days when you’re hopping from the grocery store to the library to the post office, it’s important for your perishables to remain cool and fresh. The Veno Bag ensures just that with its aluminum-covered thermal insulation, ideal for avoiding unnecessary pit stops home before heading out for other errands.

A novelty feature of this tote is its recyclable fabric sides which allow for simple storage of irregularly-shaped items. Though the box style may make it inconvenient for carrying, the added bonus of temperature regulation doesn’t make it a dealbreaker.

The best large reusable bag

Standard_Baggu_Ripstop_Black 04_170e81d6 99cf 4ae7 8bd4 7a72550e89bc_2048x2048

The Baggu Large Reusable Shopping Bag is great for buying canned goods and other items in bulk, holding up to 50 pounds at a time.

Pros: Holds up to 50 pounds, machine washable, folds into a small square

Cons: Short handles, shapeless

The Baggu Large Reusable Shopping Bag comes in a host of cute colors and patterns, is durable and flexible, and is made of 100% ripstop nylon. Despite its large capacity, it folds down to a neat 7-by-7-inch square for easy storage. 

The material is both thin and strong, too, allowing for hassle-free carrying. And, when you’ve unpacked your goodies, just throw it in your washing machine before its next use. 

Check out our other grocery guides

groceries
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