This year I have committed to lessening my footprint on this earth in small, simple ways that over time will make a larger impact. The topic of eco-friendly and sustainability is really intimidating to me, is it to you? We all need to make changes if we want this world to exist for the next generation and beyond, yes, but I think the “all or nothing” mentality (while it is well meaning and important) can be hard to hear and more discouraging than encouraging.
I always feel a lot of shame when it comes up, like I’m not doing “enough” and I’ve found that to be very counterproductive. But instead of feeling that way and therefore not doing anything, I’ve decided to make a list of all the things I hope to improve upon, and slowly work on checking them off. A lot of people I know are making similar changes, which is SO exciting, and I’m finding we’re learning a lot from each other as we do. So I thought today I would publish my list of changes I’m hoping to make, and ones I’ve already made because maybe it will help motivate you to do the same, and perhaps maybe you’ll have already made one of these changes and can help me along the way too. If we’re going to make an impact on this planet, we’re going to have to do it together, so let’s do this!!!
Sustainable Swaps + Changes I’ve Made
Reusable Towels: At the end of February 2020, we made the switch from paper towels to reusable “unpaper” towels and it was the best change we’ve made, and one that was FAR easier than I expected. We were previously using multiple rolls of paper towels per week but do not miss them at ALL.
We’ve designated two drawers in our kitchen for them, one for clean and one for dirty, and use the baskets below to organize. We try to rinse out any major stains in the sink and let dry (to prevent mold) before tossing them into the “dirty” basket. We run a load of them through the wash on hot 1-2 times a week. So easy and so much cheaper and more sustainable in the long run.
Products I love:
Our favorite ‘unpaper towels’ are these (we have the organic unbleached), but these unpaper towels are also great!
We love these kitchen towels that are thicker than normal flour sack ones and these hand towels!
We use these white baskets for storing the clean towels, and this larger basket for dirty rags/napkins!
Reusable Bags: Keeping reusable bags in our car for groceries and shopping trips is one of the biggest efforts we made in 2019. We aren’t perfect by any means but we’ve made huge improvements. We have a random assortment of larger bags that we use for big shopping trips (mostly just ones we’ve bags we’ve bought at grocery stores), and then I have produce and bulk bags too.
Products I love: Produce Bags | Bulk Bags
Food Containers + Storage Bags: I have a good set of glass tuperware and just bought some of these reusable snack bags for park outings, Disney trips, etc and they’ve been great. I still haven’t figured out what to replace disposable zip bags with for things freezer storage (Suggestions?) but otherwise feel good about where we’re at here!
Products I love: Glass Tupperware Set | Silicone Zip Bags
Lunch Containers: I package 99% of Arlo’s lunch in reusable containers, with no excess wrappers/disposable bags/etc. This is actually strongly encouraged by the school, for their ease of cleanup if nothing else. It’s been a great system for us.
Products I love: LunchBots Lunch Box | Snack Containers | Silicone Cupcake Liners
Cotton Swabs: I had no idea how bad cotton swabs were for the environment. My friend Whitney recommended a reusable (washable, obviously) one and it’s been great.
Product I love: Reusable Cotton Swabs
Dryer Sheets: I’d been hearing about the chemicals in dryer sheets for a LONG time (never mind how disposable they are) and had been meaning to buy some wool balls instead for over a year. Finally passed some at Target and got ’em, never looked back!
Product I love: Wool Dryer Balls
Water Bottles + Coffee Tumblers: This was our grand finale of 2019, we all got new reusable water bottles and a coffee tumbler for Jeff. I try to be good about bringing it with me when I’m out so I don’t end up buying a plastic water bottle. Jeff brings his coffee tumbler with him to get coffee and they will just fill that instead of a plastic/disposable cup!
Products I love: Reusable Water Bottle | Reusable Coffee Tumbler | Reusable Kids Water Bottle (This one is great because it can grow with your kid, they have all different lids for different stages of life!) | Reusable Kids Drink Tumblers (These are great to have at home, or for when kiddo friends come over!)
Sustainable Swaps + Changes I’m Working On Right Now
Single Use Plastic: Once I started being more aware of our plastic use, I couldn’t believe how many things were unnecessarily wrapped in plastic. Like… cucumbers? Why? So I’ve been *really* trying to purchase product and snack items too that are in minimal (or no) packaging.
Where I really struggle here is with berries. We go through about 3-4 containers of strawberries a week and even at our farmer’s market the containers are plastic. I need to purchase a reusable container we can put them in so we don’t have to take home the plastic but I haven’t found one yet, any recs?
Eating Less Animal Products: From various podcasts and articles I’ve absorbed, the commercial animal product industry is one of the BIGGEST problems for our environment. I’m trying to be really conscious of making meat-free choices where I can. We eat vegan one night a week and vegetarian probably 2-3 nights a week. I eat vegetarian almost every day for lunch.
I still eat a LOT (LOT!) of cheese but am hoping to cut back on that. Eggs are the other thing I’d have a hard time fully giving up. But I firmly believe after listening to this podcast episode that if everyone even cut out animal products from just one meal a day or week, it would make a huge difference.
Cleaner Beauty + Hygiene Choices: Every time I run out of a beauty or hygiene product, I’ve been trying to replace it with a cleaner option. So far I’ve been really happy with the mascara, eye liner and deodorant I’ve done this with. Got a LONG way to go on these swaps but I feel good about making little changes as needed. Currently looking for toothpaste, translucent powder and concealer, if you guys have any recs!
Products I love: Ilia Mascara | Ilia Eyeliner | Native Deodorant
Less Waste: This is really an overall and broad goal, and it will be an ongoing one. I’m trying to bring less things into our home that I know won’t last long, I’m trying to re-use things where I can. Just all around trying to generate less waste in our home.
Sustainable Swaps + Changes I Want To Make
Farmer’s Market Shopping: We have this bad habit of going to the farmer’s market, mostly just walking around and eating breakfast and then NOT buying produce. Embarrassing, I know. But we always manage to forget bags or cash or don’t know what we need. I know shopping locally for produce can make a huge difference so I really want to make a better effort to actually SHOP our farmer’s market this year for as much as possible.
On-The-Go Flatware: I’d love to research a great on-the-go flatware set to bring with us when we’re out, in order to avoid single-use flatware. We eat out a lot so I think this would be a great addition to our arsenal. Any recommendations?
Makeup Wipes: I currently use disposable makeup wipes. I’m super lazy when it comes to skincare so this is about 99% of my nighttime skincare routine. 😉 I have a few packs of them left but once I use them, I’m hoping to switch to a non-disposable makeup wipe or makeup remover option. I’ve heard good things about micellar water?
Composting: We’re hoping to set up a compost system at our home this year. Not going to lie, it totally grosses me out. But it’s really important and we have SO MUCH food waste in our house.
Recycling: I want to take a class to learn more about recycling. I’m actually shocked that they don’t teach anything about recycling in schools, I feel like that would be such a useful life skill. I realized I really know nothing about all the different numbers and items, and what needs to be removed before recycling an item etc. I feel super guilty about how many items I’ve probably contaminated by improperly recycling things.
Bulk Buying Food: I told you that I buy my chocolate covered almonds in bulk (haha!) but I want to start buying other basics like cereal, flour, nuts, etc. in bulk too. Again, to reduce the one-time-use packaging it all comes in typically. Whole Foods and Sprouts both seem to have great bulk sections!
Products I love: Bulk Bags
Refill Stores + Stations: There are several refill stations that have popped up around LA. You bring in your own containers and they have bulk items like beauty products, shampoo, household cleaners, laundry detergent so you can fill up your containers and not have to deal with one-time-use ones. I’m excited to check one out and try some products!
Silicone Baking Mats: We used to have silicone baking mats but we must have lost them in a move. Need to look for new ones for our house, and especially curious if there’s one that exists for a (very small) toaster oven!? We heat stuff up and bake things in our toaster a LOT.
Photos by Jeff Mindell
I’ll try to come back and update this list as I make changes, and may add some more to it too! I’m excited to make each one of these updates to our lifestyle. Anything in this list that you’ve done or are hoping to do? Or anything else that’s on your mind surrounding this topic?? Would love to hear!
I’ve been paper towel-free for almost 13 years. We also use cloth napkins. Both the napkins and the towels live for two generations in our home as they eventually become cleaning rags. Honestly, our day-to-day dish towels are quite worn and stained (but clean!), and it doesn’t bother me. I’ve also found the more worn they get, the better they are at absorbing. I do have nicer towels reserved for when we have guests over, and those are stored in the back of the drawer. I also don’t mind the additional laundry from these, it’s an easy load to run mid-week, and leaving them (dry) in the dyer for a few days is fine for my OCD/fold clothes as SOON as the dryer cycle is done-personality 🙂
That’s super encouraging!! Thank you for sharing!
How inspiring! I am trying to be better but with twin 1-year-olds it is hard (so many diapers!) to cut back and maintain convenience. But small steps not all the steps feels right for me too.
For berries… we keep them in the Rubbermaid Freshworks container (mostly to keep them from going bad!) but maybe that could work as a Farmer’s Market solution too? I meal prep a lot of the food for our kids and freeze and have been eyeing these Russbe bags for that (https://www.worldmarket.com/product/russbe+reusable+freezer+gallon+bags+8+pack.do).
For makeup wipes, I would recommend trying a Makeup Eraser! It is just a towel that takes off most of your makeup with just water.
And last one… We are Silpat loyalists for lining baking sheets. Not only is it reusable and washable but I find it SO much better than foil at easily releasing things. I believe they make a toaster size and it’s fairly inexpensive!
Found it! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C4W5TYO?tag=silpatwebsite-20
Hi there! Exciting! I’m on the same journey and have been making the same swaps. I’ve found the Tupperware (the actual brand) has great options. Yes, it’s plastic, but it is really good quality and can last a lifetime if you take proper care of it. They have good options for freezer storage and also for on-the-go meals. Good luck and keep on sharing your progress!
Paige Cassandra Flamm says
We’ve been working hard to make these changes in our home over the last year too! Bento boxes have been a huge help for our kids, and using reusable snack bags as well!
Chelsey G says
You are making so many wonderful changes! As for the freezer bags, I love Stasher & reZip bags, they are both wonderful! Silicone, easy to clean and perfect for freezing. I bought my makeup remover wipe off amazon, it just uses water and it’s great! Also, my reusable cutlery kit is from amazon too – came in a little container to make it easy to carry! These changes are so important, thanks for using your platform to spread the word!
Thank you for sharing your freezer bag recommendations! This is at the top of my list for 2020.
I like these so far, been using in the freezer for over a month now.
Reusable Gallon Storage Bags 5-Pack, LEAKPROOF Freezer Bags, EXTRA THICK Gallon Ziplock Bags for Marinate Meats, Vegetables, Fruit, Cereal, Sandwich, Snack, Travel Items, Meal Prep, Home Organization https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07V9DMRSC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_kJftEb7JGQTZC
Also just got a box of Who Gives a Crap. Really cute wrapping for sitting on the back of the toilet 🙂
I found a toaster oven sized baking mat on amazon! Had to try a couple as some were too small (we have an XL sized toaster oven which we use as an oven right now), but I’ll share a link. It works as well as my standard sized Silpat.
I also bought a flatware kit that comes with a pouch that’s great for taking to the office BUT not so much eating out. But it did make me consider that with reusable flatware it’ll need something to put it in dirty until you can wash it at home. So maybe look for a couple with hard cases and you can store cleans and dirties together! This logistical thing is important and will cut down on ziplock or another single use item like a paper towel.
Baking mat: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009L5BTUU/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_QBctEb7906A1F
What kind of car do you drive? Switching to a plugin or at least a hybrid would have a big impact. Also, solar panels for your home. We love getting an electric bill with a zero balance!
Great point! Both our leases are up this year and we’ve been looking into hybrid and electric options.
These are still plastic, but I’ve used this set of to go utensils for YEARS! It’s dishwasher safe and I just keep it in a drawer in my kitchen/a reusable zip lock bag for on the go.
I never used make-up wipes, but started to have sensitivity to some face cleansers. I saw people using the Lates by Kate face clothes https://latesbykate.com/products/reusable-make-up-removing-cloths-4-pack and it looks crazy, but they totally work! I have no idea what magic is in them, but you just get them wet with water… and it takes off your makeup!
Oh and we switched to these cleaning products and they are also amazing! https://www.blueland.com/
Oh yea, we use Blueland too and LOVE them! Great product and refills are inexpensive
This is amazing! I’m trying to be more environmentally aware and use more reusable items. I wasn’t aware that they made reusable cotton swabs! I can’t wait to buy some and try them out. Also I would love to hear if you find any classes on recycling, as I also don’t understand what the numbers mean and would love to learn more. Thank you for all the information, definitely learned a lot!
Will definitely share what I find re: recycling!!
For to go flatware – so long as you don’t need serious cutting… I have one of these tucked in my wallet! Love it! https://www.bambuhome.com/products/spork-cork
For makeup wipes/remover. Eye makeup is often the toughest… I just use a little vitamin e oil (but ultimately any oil would work… including coconut! And doesn’t in paper make small rounds or squares that are reusable wipes? Or similar concept… cotton material rounds that have been surged around the edges.
For makeup wipes, I replaced them with the Makeup Eraser (https://amzn.to/38KVTjK) and have found it to do a better job and my face feels better after using it! And if you use cotton rounds for toner or other products, replace them with bamboo rounds (https://amzn.to/2SV9AFV). These have been so much better for my face and they are super easy to just throw into the wash with everything else once a week.
Love all of these things you are doing around your house, there are some great suggestions here! I felt really similar during 2019 and have started doing a lot of what you’ve posted about, too!
I want to look into composting as well but I’m SUPER intimidated by the process, which especially with a baby feels like a lot of work, but I know it won’t be bad once we actually are in the swing of things. I’m also trying to find a balance with the whole paper towel issue – with dogs and a baby we definitely use WAY too many but sometimes messes are very gross… I’ve bought some Swedish Towels (they are the same absorbency as paper towels but they’re super thick and reusable!) and that has helped to use a lot so we only use regular paper towels in a pinch.
For the stuff you are looking for suggestions on:
I use Stasher silicone bags for the freezer (and on the go snacks in our diaper bag, and for bulk items in the pantry like the peanut butter pretzels from Sprouts we eat too many of lol) and they work great! Those things are crazy- they can go in the freezer, the oven, apparently you can sous vide with them? (I don’t know how to do that haha)
And I’ve been using and liking David’s Toothpaste For a while- I get it on amazon, and it comes in a metal tube that you can cut open and rinse out when you’re done to recycle it
Totally share your feelings on composting, especially with little ones. But you’re so right, once we’re in the swing of it it will just be normal and all work out!!
I really like the shampoo, conditioner and face wash from plaine products. They have really clean ingredients and once you are done with your bottle you send it back to them without extra charge and they reuse the bottles.
Tamara Townsend says
Our family uses glass jars for food storage- all those salsa, pasta sauce, condiment jars work great for freezing soups and taking lunch to work, smoothies, storing beans, rice, chia seeds, popcorn etc. To prepare the jars, soak them in the sink to remove the label, then wash in dishwasher with everything else.
1) its RE- Using
2) Reducing waste (our community doesn’t have a glass recycling program)
3) saves $$$ because you don’t gave to buy “special” containers to use/ all these fancy green containers are great and all, but still creating a drain on natural resources.
Any change is great! Keep up the good work!
I switched to Face Halos to remove my makeup about a year ago, and I am OBSESSED. It’s amazing how well they take off makeup (even mascara) and just use water. After a few uses, you throw them in the washer/dryer and good as new!
I’m working my way through so many of the same things!! I switched to Bite toothpaste about 6 months ago and love it!! And I use reusable cotton rounds with coconut oil for makeup remover. It works better than anything else i have tried and would use it even if i didn’t care about the environment 😂 and I keep a mix of water and apple cider vinegar to wash my face with a few times a week. We have been stocking up our dish towel supplies but my husband isn’t 100% on board with no pepper towels yet so I’m just focusing on using them less! We also have bamboo straws that we take with us everywhere, and we keep Tupperware in our cars for when we go out to eat and want to bring leftovers home. We keep all our reusable bags in our cars and I use them when shopping at big box stores too like old navy! I have amazing ones that fold into tiny squares so I keep one in my purse all the time too. So inspired by you and the honesty and humility you are approaching this with! We can all make small changes that add up fast!
Oh I’m so glad to hear that about Bite! Just heard about it and had been wanting to give it a try!
Sarah Judge says
You might enjoy the book “Sleeping Naked is Green” – a funny look at going more ecofriendly! And may have some more ideas 🙂
Thank you for sharing these! “Cucumber condoms,” as my husband calls them, are the most ridiculous thing and they make me so mad. We’ve been trying to use kitchen towels instead of paper towels more and more. Restaurant supply stores sell kitchen rags that are fairly inexpensive (and sometimes come in fun colors) — we keep them in a drawer next to our sink and just wash them on high with bleach every couple of weeks. It’s apparently not great to wash those sorts of things with your clothes, but we do sometimes, and have never had any issues.
Another big green move for those of us who have monthly cycles is to consider period products. I just purchased a Dame — a reusable tampon applicator that self sterilizes — and I couldn’t be more excited to try it out. The amount of plastic and waste in one cycle was really starting to appall me, so I’m hopeful that this switch will help cut back on my plastic. Why tampon retailers couldn’t figure out how to make a rounded tip, biodegradable tampon is absolutely beyond me.
Who Gives a Crap toilet paper is made from bamboo, comes wrapped in (cute) paper, and they donate some of their profits to developing waste management infrastructure in other countries.
Yes, thanks!! I’ve heard such great things, need to make the switch!
First of all, thanks for this post! My family is currently on a similar journey — it’s always so helpful to hear what products are working well for others. This is fantastic.
Secondly, I have a recommendation! I’m truly obsessed with the refillable deodorant from byhumankind. I use the Eucalyptus scent and it is by far the best natural deodorant I’ve used (and I’ve tried a lot). The company provides a pretty, reusable container, and the refills are predominately packaged with cardboard and recycled paper. I cannot emphasize enough how happy I am with it.
They offer a small assortment of other items that minimize daily routine waste. I’ve tried the mouthwash tablets, which take some getting used to but are a great sustainable option. Looking forward to trying the shampoo and conditioner bars.
For makeup remover I would highly recommend either micellar water or coconut oil! Those are my favorites and both work really well. The coconut oil will leave your face a little bit oily, but you can rinse it off, or it can also be used as a moisturizer for dry skin (which is what I often do!)
Question about the wool dryer balls- do they also reduce static? My clothes tend to have a lot of static in the winter and I’ve heard that wool dryer balls don’t really work for that. I have switched to a more natural dryer sheet but would love to eliminate them altogether.
I switched to a Makeup Eraser cloth last year to remove my make up- it’s a game changer. It removes make up without cleanser but also works if you use cleanser as well. I use Face Halo reusable wipes for Micellar water or to remove my eye makeup with coconut oil.
My roommate got me a makeup eraser for Christmas and it is seriously AMAZING. Takes off all my makeup (including waterproof mascara) with just a little bit of water. Just throw it in with your towels once a week and bye bye disposable makeup wipes! https://makeuperaser.com/
Laura Bogert says
Great post! I’ve purchased some great health and beauty products from Urban Oreganics. www.urbanoreganics.com. Their products come in glass containers that can be reused or recycled.
I have two bags that I always take to the farmers market and stuff them with reusable cloth produce bags so that I don’t have to think about it when I go. I started the habit of grabbing the bags when I leave and I have everything that I need. I return containers to the vendors I regularly buy from (mostly for eggs) The next week and suggest you do this with your berry containers. That way the plastic is kept in use.
Shopping at the farmers market is all about setting the habit and making it routine. My family preplans meals for the week. We shop Whole Foods on Saturday and Monday. And I go to the farmers market on Sunday. Since I go to the market most weeks I have an idea of what’s in season. And I treat it like a grocery shopping trip. A fun one that I get to buy fresh flowers at as a treat. 🙂
I am looking at using Stashers silicone pouches for the freezer. I’m planning to stock up on blueberries at the farmers market this summer and freeze a bunch for the rest of the year since they have a much better taste than ones flown in from South America in the winter. I’ve got my eye on the large stashers pouches for this.
I also got rid of all our cleaning supplies and started using Branch Basics instead which is completely non toxic. I LOVE it! No toxic fumes and it works just as well. Highly recommend.
Also forgot to mention – for composting you can see if your trash company offers a composting bin. That way it’s like taking out the trash instead of creating your own pile in the backyard.
Great work! I’m making small changes whenever and however I can manage too.
I love this post! Thank you so much for all the little bits of activism you’re posting that help to improve the world. You’re such an influence on so many peoples lives and I’m sure that sharing these things has a much greater impact than just doing them in your own home.
One thing I’ve become increasingly aware of (I’m Australian), is how unethical Amazon is. As someone not state side I can see how ingrained in culture it is, but if we are talking ethics, it might be something worth looking into.
You however didn’t ask about that side of ethical consumerism, so here’s some solicited advice (haha).
Stasher bags are my favourite for freezer etc – but they look similar to the target bags. Do Americans use something different?
You can buy speciality bread bags (https://www.onyalife.com/product/reusable-bread-bag/) which are great for storage and not just for holding the item – these ones can be frozen too!
Bubble tea (Boba? Is that the term?) reusable cups & straws are so fab as well! Mine is from https://ecojarz.com/ (which seems to be American!).
I use bamboo rounds for my face (http://www.bugseybee.com/Set-of-10-Bamboo-Facial-Wipes-p/set-of-10-bamboo-facial-wipes.htm; Australian makes!), with my face care products. My tip is to get a lingerie bag to pop them in before washing, otherwise they pop out everywhere haha. (https://www.instagram.com/p/B8DqQPbH2TC/?igshid=43una90cg9q8; small insta post I did).
When taking off makeup I use micellar water to lift the makeup, use a cloth to take it off – then go in for a double cleanse with my face care products. The idea behind a double cleanse is kinda like sweeping before mopping – you get EVERYTHING off your face. Especially important when wearing SPF (so just so it at night), which is also an important point.
Lush make a bunch of naked skincare items – one that’s great for makeup is 7-3, and it’s designed to look like a cotton makeup removing round. (https://www.lushusa.com/face/cleansers-scrubs/7-to-3/9999909058.html)
I love the ideas of face halo type products (ones that remove makeup with just water), but I don’t find them very gentle – hence my other method. But they obviously also have a market!
Get a sunscreen that is reef safe! Mostly reef safe sunscreens use zinc based ingredients that are fine to be in water and washed off at night. For people in australia, always use 30+ (and I would assume elsewhere in the world too!).
I also think using cruelty free / vegan beauty products is important, alongside that “clean beauty” point you made. The good thing is that mostly they go hand in hand 🙂
For berries, we use Sistema stay fresh (?) containers – the smallest is basically a standard punnet in Australia. https://sistemaplastics.com/products/freshworks – looks like they have distributors in the US! I know some humans take these to the farmers markets and they just transfer them directly into the container and recycle the punnet there.
Great composters are tumbler ones! (https://compostrevolution.com.au/products/compost-bins/eco-tumbler-composter).
Australian ABC did a great show called War On Waste which also delved into different types of businesses and the ethics behind there. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_Waste
Fashion Revolution is another great resource! Talking about the impact of fast fashion etc. (https://www.fashionrevolution.org/) I find their Instagram really informative in bite sized pieces. (https://instagram.com/fash_rev?igshid=1nl38rm2xlt6w)
Year of the planet is also a great starter insta for people making the change. (https://instagram.com/yearoftheplanet?igshid=1biigyobrtery)
By flatware I’m assuming cutlery – I have this set (https://www.floraandfauna.com.au/green-kind-bamboo-cutlery-set-essentials?gclid=Cj0KCQiAs67yBRC7ARIsAF49CdWDS-Z-XGhJznm-g6bTyvuA2vNecGTDg4eqtICeizeFt7F_RVnfdO0aApB0EALw_wcB; flora and fauna is a great Australian based vegan / Eco friendly shop, and green & kind is one of those hero brands). Bamboo is great because you can take it on planes! Otherwise I have one of these (https://www.mountaindesigns.com/equipment/cooking-food/utensils/light-my-fire-spork-original-orange/90147070?gclid=Cj0KCQiAs67yBRC7ARIsAF49CdWKhJqH1gzh0hTEcMGzM_JWe_LK7E4Rx4isKyWUywDUhDrOFhZzHoUaAtlaEALw_wcB) I’ve had for 10+ years that’s great to throw into bags etc. yes it’s plastic, but it’s durable?
I use these cute daisy silicone lids to cover plates / bowls when microwaving (stopping cling wrap), and great for covering food in the fridge. (https://www.floraandfauna.com.au/charles-viancin-daisy-lid-medium-small-20cm) We mostly keep leftovers / open food in glass decor (Tupperware?) style containers, but these lids are great if you’re a in a bowl with cling wrap over the top person.
We also have these (from a variety of brands now), silicone food covers (https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/oevermaett-food-cover-set-of-3-silicone-multicolor-80417311/). People affectionately call them food condoms haha. But great for things like cut cucumber (but also those are great in those sistema stay fresh containers too).
We also use Who Gives A Crap toilet paper! The paper it’s wrapped in is great for composting… and great for wrapping presents.
Furoshiki (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furoshiki) is the act of gifting with fabrics; we use vintage/recycled scarves – the recipient can use them for fashion, re gift them, or you can do what we do – and ask for them back.
Klean Kanteen are my fave water bottles (I LOVE iced cold water, the insulated bottles are incredible), and they’ve made my favourite straws (https://www.kleankanteen.com.au/products/steel-straw-4-pack-for-pints-and-tumblers). I just really love the soft soft silicone (gives me the good mouth feel / ability to chew) but has the metal end.
Anyway I’ve far overshot the giving advice thing, but as you can tell I’m very passionate about this as a topic! Thank you again for sharing. I can’t wait to see more of what you pick up and change 🙂
Stasher bags have been great for replacing plastic bags at our house! I use them for packing lunches, marinades and they even help store cut avocados without browning! They are dishwasher, microwave and even oven safe! And they come in lots of pretty colors 🙂
Gwendolyn Mumford says
I’m sure there are other brands out there, but the Makeup Eraser has changed my world!! You can buy it at Sephora or on the brand’s website. I was looking for an alternative to wipes or liquid eye makeup remover, and this replaces both. I am still shocked sometimes by how quickly it removes my eyeliner, and it’s also really great for exfoliation. I bought a few so I don’t have to wash them as much, but the big ones usually last about a week before needing a wash. 🙂
This post is awesome! Thank you for sharing so many ideas!
I think our biggest environmental decision was cloth diapering. I can’t say enough good things about Grovia and honestly, washing diapers every few days on the sanitary cycle of our washer and then line drying is a lot less daunting than you might think. It’s not for everyone so there’s always diaper services too but the environmental impact of just one person’s diapers is staggering!
Definitely would be interested in a recycling class so please share if you come up with a good one!
Have you thought about cloth diapers for future babies? I’m no where close to babies yet, but some of my friends are using them. It’s something that grosses me out a little, but knowing how many diapers one baby sends to the landfill is also kind of gross. Not to mention how much money you can save, especially if you’re having multiple kids.
Jeanne Disney says
Has anyone mentioned unpaste toothpaste tablets?
I’ve been switching to reusable ziplocks and have gotten some from target and even home goods. I also just started making my own mini ‘cotton rounds’ using some towel and flannel material to use with micellar water. As for the toaster, I have a ceramic tray, almost like a pizza stone, from pampered chef that I love! Sometimes you just need to heat up the toaster and not the whole oven! Next on my list is cloth napkins. We used to have them growing up that my mom would let us decorate with fabric markers, and they made great gifts!
Recycling is very specific to your area so call your recycling company and ask them for the specifics. I know that they usually have lots of hand outs and posters. where I used to live we could recycle almost everything, but we just moved and can no longer recycle glass of all things.
if you are going to start composting, see if your city has a green bin that allows food waste. We cut our trash by 3/4 when we were able to do that. The company will usually take more than you can compost at home. All green waste, food water, coffee filter/grounds, food containers made of paper, pizza boxes, paper napkins/paper towels, cardboard milk containers etc.
Also if you do start to compost you can compost parchment paper if you can’t find silicon sheets that fit the toaster.
I work for a solid waste company and love talking about recycling!
When you put all of your recyclables in a single bin that get sorted at a facility, that is called single stream recycling. As Johanna said, what is accepted varies based on location – this is due to varying abilities of the recycling facility your stuff is sent to. But In general with single stream, you can recycle clean and dry bottles, cans, paper, and cardboard. When in doubt, DON’T include! When you send a bunch of stuff that can’t be recycled, there is a cost to the facility to sort it and then send it to a landfill. And if a load is contaminated enough, they’ll send the whole load to the landfill.
Unless your facility specifies otherwise, DON’T bag your recyclables. They won’t open the bags as they could just have gross stuff in them (dirty diapers, dead animal…). And DON’T include plastic bags or plastic film in single stream because it jams the sorting machines. Recycle those at grocery stores or retailers like Walmart that collect them…they won’t have to be sorted – they just get immediately baled and shipped off to the commodities market.
A few other things mentioned in some comments: the numbers inside the triangles specify the type of material the product is made out of (ex: 1 is PET) but doesn’t necessarily mean you can recycle it. And glass, more and more, is being excluded from municipal single stream contracts as a cost cutting measure. You can’t make much off of it on the backend (which helps offset the cost the city pays to recycle), plus it tends to just get broken in the sorting process.
Do you already have a green yard bin from your garbage company? Check with your local garbage pickup/recycling service to see if they do a yard debris/composting program. Most big west coast cities have this already. In Portland, you can put your compost in the bin instead of having an in-yard compost pile. It’s way easier to start and then you don’t have to deal with the pest issue too.
We use an on-counter compost bin https://www.amazon.com/Full-Circle-Odor-Free-Kitchen-Compost/dp/B004XWGS1G – white and grey and really nice looking for a compost bin, lol. We use compostable bags in it, and it sits right by the sink – which makes it really convenient to use. I tried under counter ones previously and it was a mess and more than a 1 step process, and we take it out every 1-3 days or if it’s smelly or full. Good luck!
I have been on the same journey since my first daughter was born. Is it something about babies that makes you be more aware of how we destroy our planet?
In addition to your swaps and all the comments, we try to buy second hand whenever we can. Not only clothes for the kids, but also toys, books, and furniture! And we try to resell or donate things we don’t need/want anymore instead of just throwing them in the trash.
I truly believe that all the small steps count!
I bought this set of reusable utensils about a month ago and they’re surprisingly good quality. I feel proud of myself every day I use them at work! Plus, the carrying case is just my style!
Devico Portable Utensils, Travel… https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FR7LNXY?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share
Loving these reusable flatware https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/reusable-travel-flatware?category=kitchen-on-the-go&color=028
Also, love silicone molds for the freezer! Great for saving soups and sauces in smaller portions. I find it’s helped me waste less because I’m less likely to reheat more than I’ll use/eat each time!
Beeswax wraps in place of cling wrap have been the most surprising success for me in this arena! They come in tons of fun and colorful patterns and work great for covering containers, but work great with fruits and breads too!
We use the bamboo tooth brushes
Also we buy milk in glass bottles
Hope this helps!
I love this post! I would add phasing out Amazon and the convenience culture they perpetuate.
The problem with online learning is that since students have different learning styles, you need to try different things to reach them, said Cheney. “Oral is one element. Since I’m not a big books-on-tape guy because I am get tired of listening after 25 minutes, I suspected that students might be the same,” he said.
Shelley Rogers says
Regarding berries – my local farmers market sell their berries in cardboard containers and they gave out little elastic hairnet looking things that you place over the top to keep them in, it’s pretty nifty.
With regard to paper towels, toilet paper and tissues I always try to buy brands that use recycled materials, although we don’t use the paper towels too often.
Plastic wrapped vegetables in the supermarket frustrate me to no end!
I love beeswax wrappers for a lot of things I would have originally used plastic wrap.
The one sustainable switch I made for my skincare was a cleansing oil. I thought “oil on my face? No WAY!” But it truly works 100% better than any makeup wipe. I found a clean beauty oil at ulta, then use a washcloth to wipe away (so no waste there). Then I follow up with a quick micellar water cleanse. I feel like micellar doesn’t get all the makeup off by itself, personally. You can find reusable “cotton” rounds too! Cleansing oil is amazing, and super moisturizing right before bed. Love it!
Very good to try more environment friendly solutions. Best of luck with all your choices. What really makes an impact is to not use your car so much (maybe that is impossible in your country? I’m European and live in a city with subway and many buses)and I’m trying to reduce flying as much as possible. I also understand the clothes industry to be a big enemy to the environment, especially cotton fabric. Have you been considering to buy more second hand clothes? I’m trying not to buy as many new clothes and also to order less online to avoid the shipping but I find that quite hard. Reducing the plastic and recycling is much easier in my country as we have a lot of good options and many recycling stations.
Hi, fellow germaphobe here. What are your thoughts on washing all of your kitchen towels & napkins with your bath towels? Do you do them in the same load or separate?
Hi Kate! Also a fellow germaphobe… I was dish towels, bath towels and hand towels together. Cloth napkins in a separate load and cleaning rags in a separate load. I use all white cleaning rags so I can wash on hot with bleach
Recycling in the states is tricky, there’s actually a very high likelihood of the end up in the landfill anyways either due to contamination or your county may not be able to handle it or lastly because it’s shipped out overseas. The goal is to actually reduce and reuse. Which has become so difficult because everything comes with packaging!
Ask for makeup wipes, so bad for your face! They’re going to age you prematurely. Use a cleansing oil and then you some gel cleanser and use reusable bamboo face rounds to wipe. Don’t use those makeup wipes at some people length that are reusable. They don’t get everything off your face just like miceller water does not
I’ve understood that recycling is kind of tricky in the US. In Sweden we recycle very much. In two years all households in Stockholm are meant to separate their food waste, for many buildings it’s already implemented. We also have a special fee for plastic bags etc. But it’s still annoying that many producers still have unnecessary packing material.
For makeup remover I use almond oil and washable wipes. Works very well and makes my skin really soft.
My New Years resolution was to try to buy less new clothes in favour of second hand items. And to reduce my online shopping. I find it hard sometimes as it’s so easy to shop onthe internet. Also I don’t have a car, but I confess I have booked a flight to Edinburgh this summer 😬🙈
For composting – perhaps you could look into a public service that picks up your food waste and composts it for you? You’d still be keeping the food scraps in a bucket between pick ups, but then you’d avoid the super dirty work. The service here in Nashville returns final compost back to you once it’s ready! I’m sure LA has a service like this.
I love posts like these. I truly believe if we all make one change, it will add up to something big. Like many others commented, switching to the makeup eraser was the first and easiest switch I made. I also use washable cotton rounds for micellar water.
I switched to stashed bags for snacks and metal straws for my water (I sit at a desk all day and drink way more water out of a straw compared to a bottle I have to open). I found a metal coffee tumbler I love. I take forever to drink coffee and it keeps it hot for HOURS. I take it with me to my coffee shop and they have no issue making any type of drink in it. I was just in Australia and noticed bringing your own coffee tumbler is very popular there. At a cricket game we went to, the line to fill your water bottle was long than the beer line! Can you even imagine?
I’ve been seeing refill stations pop up in LA and have been dying for one to come to my little town. To my surprise our local natural foods store has a nice little section! This is my next big step for 2020 😄
Love this! I have been trying to do this for myself and our family over the last year as well. I’ve also vowed to only purchase clothing (when needed!) from companies that that make them using sustainable materials and methods.
I’d recommend United By Blue for reusable flatwear. They have a neat little rolled set that includes reusable straws as well.
Also, By Human Kind has a fantastic natural deodorant that also has refillable cardboard insert so the plastic container can be reused.
Now I’m going to check out the replacement you found for paper towels. That’s one we haven’t been able kick that habit yet.
I swear by Fourth Ray Beauty’s BFD Cleansing Oil. You can use it with a cotton pad or your fingers. It removes more make up than any other method I’ve tried. I also like pairing it with the make up eraser cloths (you can always get them at TJ Maxx or Marshalls). Fourth Ray products are 100% cruelty-free, vegan, and made in the US.