Updated: Feb 15, 2021
I don't post or talk about it a lot because honestly we are still learning and trying to figure out how to be better about living greener and using products in our home that are more environmentally friendly.
#1 Cleaning products: This year we ditched and switched a lot of things in our house, the first to go was all of our harsh chemical cleaning products. That was an easy switch for us because my toddler likes to help me clean and I really didn't want her touching all of the cleaning products we had. And then I thought, well now all that crap from the cleaning products is just lingering around on all the surfaces that I wiped down, on all of the toys that I sanitized that now my babies are touching and playing with. So duh, easy switch to toss all that nasty stuff and switch to a plant based cleaning product that works WAY better than the other cleaners we had.
#2 Paper towels: I think the hardest switch we did was paper towels. We went through SO many paper towels everyday, like almost a roll of paper towels a day. Rolls on rolls on rolls of wasted paper products and for what? We realized how wasteful we were being and that we needed to figure out another solution. Then we found microfiber cloths and thankfully they were super affordable. You can get like a 5-10 pack for $10. We use microfiber cloths for everything, spills, food messes, dusting, basically cleaning up all the things. They work really well, they are very absorbent and again, very affordable. You can buy a pack of them for the same price as a pack of paper towels but microfiber towels are re-usable just throw them in the washer and boom, investment at its finest.
#3 Napkins: Aside from paper towels, we also used paper napkins constantly. Well, we already had an entire drawer in our buffet cabinet of cloth napkins but we never used them on a daily basis, only for special occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Well, we ran out of paper napkins and at that point, I wasn't going to buy more. This forced us to use our cloth napkins regularly. Again, re-usable and so much better for the environment. Often times when we have people over and we pull out the cloth napkins for just a casual dinner, they are surprised because it's no longer the norm. But isn't it? I mean, you use cloth napkins at most restaurants don't you? Pop those suckers in the next wash with your towels and then you're done. Cloth napkins are also really easy to make, if you're able to sew a straight line, you can make your own napkins.
#4 Shopping bags/produce bags: When shopping, we use tote bags. We have acquired these throughout the year and have a pretty nice collection of them so we don't have to bag our groceries or goodies in plastic bags. For buying produce, we use these mesh produce bags found on Amazon. Our local grocery store actually sells them as well for a pretty affordable price. So, anytime we buy fruits or veggies, we put them in these mesh baggies instead of the plastic bags provided to you at the store.
#5 Tupperware (plastic): Ohhhhh Tupperware. We had so much, and not even everything matched or had a lid. Why? Trashed it all, literally took all of the plastic Tupperware we had and tossed it in the trash and invested in glassware with silicone lids. We food prep in our house, which means we bulk prep food for the week and then measure all of our macros out into individual containers. I found these glass containers on Amazon and you get 16 pieces for less than $40. When you microwave food in plastic Tupperware, you are releasing chemicals into your food which are harmful to your overall health. There are lot's of articles on plastic and microwaving but here is one that is clear cut and to the point.
#6 Plastic baby bottles and water bottles:
There are several things we were surprised by when looking more into the products that we used for our children. Baby bottles, sippy cups, plates, bowls, etc. They were plastic and I guess we assumed they were safe for our children because what kind of deceiving company would put harmful chemicals into our children daily drink ware, or even laundry detergent. Welp, after researching and researching we got a big slap in the face. Companies don't care, they don't care what chemicals they put in your tiny humans products. There are so many articles out there about plastic bottles and the dangers of chemicals leaching into your babies system. We switched from our beloved bottles to these really cool glass baby bottles that can also be turned into sippy cups. They are an investment but they are worth it, they grow with your baby, kind of like those car seats that can grow with them.
For our toddler, since she was already using "sippy cups" or big girl cups with straws, we switched her over to these awesome insulated stainless steel cups. They have several different topper options, bottle top, straw top, sippy top, whichever you prefer. She only has this one cup now so we take extra precautions to not misplace it because this was for sure an investment for us. Especially letting our toddler have a $25 cup. I mean c'mon, but hey, no chemicals are going into her system and we are confident we are using good products for her.
For me, I use these awesome glass water bottles with a silicone sleeve. I use glass because I put essential oils in my water and if you add essential oils into your water while using a plastic bottle or cup, it can leach petrochemicals from the container into the oil or substance containing the oil, aka your water bottle. This means, you are now ingesting these harmful chemicals. Therapeutic grade essential oils are powerful, which is why they are stored in amber glass bottles.
#7 Sponges: I used sponges for everything, there was one sponge in every single bathroom for cleaning and scrubbing, we have multiple for the sink and tossed them in the trash as soon as they became any amount of slimy or smelly. Which was like every two weeks. We tried more natural sponges made from recyclable materials but went through those just as fast, so were those really environmentally friendly? I found these little silicone sponges at Home Goods but they are also on Amazon. They are not as abrasive as regular throw away sponges but that's why we have a separate scrubby bamboo brush. These silicone sponges can be tossed in with your dishes in the dishwasher.
The bamboo scrubby brush I also found at Home Goods but recently saw them at TJ Maxx as well for only $3!
#8 Plastic wrap: I saran wrapped all the things, I even made a mock green house out of plastic wrap, no lie. We used it to cover our bowls with leftover foods, to wrap bread up to keep it fresh, if it needed to be sealed, we used plastic wrap. Our alternative to this is beeswax wraps. I like to run them under warm water to make them a little more playable and then just cover your items just like you would with plastic wrap. Only in this case, you are using a better and reusable alternative.
#9 Zip lock bags: Oh man did we use zip lock bags for stuff! For snacks - daily, for misc household items, random food, buttons, googly eyes, glitter, you name it - there was a zip lock for it. We have slowly transitioned into throwing things out that we didn't use or replaced the zip lock bag with a more appropriate alternative like a glass jar. Our toddler brought snacks with her everywhere. She had a zip lock for gold fish, one for fruit, one for trail mix, etc. After she was done eating her snacks we just tossed the used zip locks in the trash, over and over and over like paper towels. Just going into the trash being wasted. A better alternative were the sealable silicone bags that were easily cleaned and used again and again.
An important thing to remember, like mostly everything else I post about, start slow. Do one thing at a time. This is pretty much the order in which we switched our products. One month at a time, we would pick 1-2 things that we were going to switch over to and went for it. Keep in mind that reusable products or products that are not harmful to you or the environment do cost slightly more but it is an investment and well worth it. They pay for themselves in different ways financially and wellness wise. It is a good feeling not having to continue to buy paper towels and zip locks every time we go to the store. Knowing that we are making a small impact on the environment humbles me.
What will you start with?