Being “green” and eco-friendly doesn’t require spending tons of money on the latest gadgets and solar panels. There are lots of small and inexpensive things we can do to make our home and life more eco-friendly. A “greener” home not only saves us money, but saves the earth too!
A Few Ideas for the Kitchen
Plastic store bags are being phased out in many states. Jute or hessian bags are absolutely the best option to replace them, followed by canvas, cotton bags, reusable paper or polypropylene “green” bags. To replace plastic zip baggies, reusable zip-lock bags made of PEVA material are PVC-free, lead-free, chloride-free and BPA FRE. One reusable storage bag can save up to 400+ pieces of plastic bags! They are available in stores and on Amazon for a set of 19 for less than $15.00. Beeswax wrap is a great alternative to plastic wrap. Clear glass storage containers will cut down on plastic and allows us to clearly see the items inside, and determine if we are running low and need to purchase more at the grocery store. Instead of single-use coffee pods in plastic cups, purchase a refillable, reusable cup and use ground coffee to fill it. Melitta makes a good one called JavaJig for $5 at Walmart.com. A great stainless steel water bottle replaces tons of plastic disposable water bottles.
We all love our paper towels for messy spills, but use dishtowels and cotton cloths for other kitchen needs and save a few trees in the bargain. Many people have switched to bamboo paper towels and napkins that are now regularly available at places like Target.
The average American wastes one pound of food per day. One way to cut down on this waste is to put an “eat quick” box in the front of the fridge for items that need to be eaten soon. This way those strawberries don’t get forgotten in the back of the fridge and turn to mold. Plan to make a dinner at least once per week using leftovers. Starting to compost with coffee grounds, egg shells and veggie peels is a great way to keep food scraps out of landfills and create great fertilizer for your plants. Also, collect water from rinsing veggies and fruits then use it to water your plants and to fill flower vases.
Some “Green” Bathroom Changeovers
While many of us have gotten used to shower gel, using bar soap helps cut down on single-use plastic bottles. There are many companies who are even making shampoo, face cleansers and other items in bar form. Streamlining your products by using a smaller number of skincare, hair and makeup items means less containers ending up in landfills. Try to choose products without a lot of extra outer packaging like boxes, etc. Shorter showers means less water waste. Experts say three minutes is all you need to get clean and you only need to soap up targeted areas, not your whole body. Many dermatologists agree that frequent showering strips the skin’s outer layer of moisture. Shampoo also strips essential oil (called sebum) out of the hair, which is why most hair experts agree you should clean your mane at most once every two to three days. Using recycled toilet paper or bamboo toilet paper is a good way to save trees, and many stores now sell generic brands of recycled “tp” that is very cost effective. The bamboo toothbrush is the most environmentally friendly toothbrush. Plastic toothbrushes take over 400 years to decompose and remain in landfills indefinitely. Amazon, Target and many other stores sell them. They are inexpensive and work well.
Some Tweaks for your Livingroom/Bedroom
When buying a rug, consider reducing waste and purchasing rugs made with recycled materials which are very soft on your feet. Karastand’s Everstrand has gotten great reviews. Mattresses and toppers made with natural-latex are made from rubber trees. IKEA’s Mausund is one natural latex mattress. It is also important to consider chemicals used in mattresses as we lay on them every night. CertiPUR-US applies to mattress foams, and bans the use of harmful chemical compounds. Both Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) are considered the highest standards for natural, “green” mattresses.
We all enjoy burning scented candles but many are made from wicks containing lead. When going candle shopping, look for beeswax, soy wax or coconut wax candles with cotton wicks. Dryer sheets are wasteful and full of chemicals. Wool dryer balls are a great reusable alternative for your laundry.
Many of us have gotten on the thrift store bandwagon when buying clothes. Buying something used, instead of new, helps the environment. Sites like Poshmark and Ebay as well as local thrift shops can hold designer treasures and cool vintage looks. Rental clothes, especially for fancy dress occasions have become very popular. When you do buy new clothes try to stick to well-made classics that will stay in style longer, instead of trendy pieces. Splurge on a beautiful classic white blouse or little black dress. Keeping something as long as you can not only helps the environment, but makes the cost of a good piece more economical the more times you wear it.
The Benefits of Being More Eco-friendly in Our Homes
Using energy-efficient, renewable or recycled materials lessens a person’s environmental footprint. Even just a few budget-friendly “green” changes in your home produces fewer carbon emissions through efficient energy use, keeps trash out of landfills and lessens the impact of new construction on the world’s finite resources. We can all make these small changes without sacrificing style and comfort while also improving our health. Let’s go “green!”