Go Green for Good
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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to “go green.” As I’ve been exploring my toxin-free journey and switching to clean beauty, I’ve learned a lot about green living. I always thought I was green. Not hardcore, but at least in small ways. Using glass instead of plastic, and making cleaner choices. But my choices revolved around the health factors for my body, and not the environment.
So, now, I realize how many things I do and own that are, in fact, not green. And I can’t ignore that anymore. Because we need to be more aware of our impact on the earth. It’s not only about being eco-conscious but circles back around to our own health, too. If we keep poisoning and polluting water with toxins, where does that end up? Inside our crops, in our tap water, raining on our heads.
Now that I’ve finished switching to green beauty, I’ve decided to start focusing on how I can be green and sustainable around my home and with my habits. I am by no means an expert on sustainable living or zero-waste. But I wanted to share the things I’ve researched and learned and what I plan to do, because I believe all small steps matter! It’s going to be a journey like anything else. It’s easier to find eco-friendly and toxic-free products now than years ago. Don’t get overwhelmed. Take it one step at a time, and tackle one area of your life. I started with food, then beauty. Now my home!
Ready to go green with me and move towards sustainable living?
What makes something Green?
A product or item is green and eco-friendly if it’s recyclable or made from recycled materials. The best products are made with sustainable energy and biodegradable packaging and ingredients. While recyclable is great, biodegradable is even better because then you can compost it and save the energy it takes to recycle.
It’s toxin-free if it contains only natural, non-toxic (or at the very least, low-toxic) ingredients. I have a list of the worst Dirty 30 to avoid on my Green Beauty resources page. You can also sign up for my email newsletter to receive a free PDF checklist of the ingredients to avoid. Other options are the Think Dirty app or the EWG database for product and ingredient ratings.
Another thing to look for is certified products. Certifications like Energy Star, USDA Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Forest Stewardship Council, Green Seal, Leaping Bunny, Rainforest Alliance, and more. You can read more about these from this great article here.
21 Sustainable Living ideas and Tips
1. Ditch your plastic kitchenware
Switch things like cups, sippy cups, bowls, plates, silverware, straws, lunch boxes, and food storage containers to safer options. Better options would be glass, food-grade silicone or stainless steel. You can recycle your old plastic things when you decide to switch.
Also, a note: Silicone is essentially sand turned into a rubber-like substance. It’s considered a green option because it’s high-heat resistant and has little to no health hazards. It’s not biodegradable, but it’s easily recyclable.
2. Stop Buying Plastic Water Bottles (or At Least Recycle Them)
Opt for a stainless steel or glass water bottle, fill it up before you leave, and take it with you.
3. Stop Using K-Cups and Single-Use Coffee Cups at Coffee Shops
If you have a Keurig, switch to a reusable K-pod and fill it with coffee grounds. It’s way cheaper anyway. And when you hit the coffee shop, bring your own cup. Even though Starbucks has those nice “recycle / trash” bins, their coffee cups aren’t recyclable (most aren’t). They’re paper coated in a plastic film. So, BYO cup. Most coffee shops give you a small discount for this, too. If you forget your cup and you’re dining in, ask for a real mug instead.
4. Skip the Straw and Lid
If possible, ask for no straw or lid and drink from the cup. Or, bring your own cup and metal straw. I’ve even seen bamboo straws popping up lately!
5. Stop Using Non-Stick Pans
They’re FULL of chemicals. A budget-friendly alternative is stainless steel. You could also use cast iron, glass, or silicone, but be aware that cast iron probably isn’t best for glass stovetops. Here’s a good blog about switching to toxic-free cookware.
6. Bring Your Own Shopping Bags
Aldi’s been doing this for ages, and other stores should catch up. Ditch the plastic bags that aren’t easily recyclable, and bring your own canvas shopping bags.
7. DIY Your Cleaning Products
You can make almost any cleaning product for a fraction of the cost with normal, natural household ingredients. You can add essential oils for a pleasant scent. Just make sure to use a glass bottle, because the oils can affect the plastic (and, plus… plastic). Check out some cleaning formula recipes here.
8. Try Plastic-Free Oral Care
9. Try Soap & Shampoo Bars
Soap and shampoo bars often come in minimal, biodegradable packaging. You can find toxin-free alternatives at many local shops or health food stores. If you don’t want to switch from your favorite organic shampoo, then recycle the bottles.
10. Go Old School with a Handkerchief
Instead of getting boxes of tissues, try using handkerchiefs instead. You’ll reduce waste, and you can pick out a pretty pattern.
11. Learn Your RECYCLING Center’s Guidelines
It can be surprising what is and isn’t recyclable, and not all facilities can accept the same things. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your effort, find your local area’s guidelines for dropping off recycling.
12. Try composting
You can use your biodegradable scraps to make compost to add to the soil for your garden and plants. It cuts down on what’s getting sent to the dump and mixed with plastic, which can’t break down. And the compost helps your plants grow stronger and healthier since it adds tons of extra nutrients to the soil. Here’s an article about getting started.
13. Go Thrifting
Instead of buying new, buy second-hand. Reuse what you can, donate what you can’t, and thrift when you need something new.
14. Practice Minimalism
Did you know clutter can cause you stress? Once you start switching things over as needed, notice if you need to replace it at all. Can you do without it? And when shopping for something new, is it necessary? Why do you need it? Can it be repurposed later, or is it multi-functional? I recommend Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
15. Do Instead of Buy
Going along with minimalism, if you shift your focus from stuff to experiences, you’ll reduce waste and clutter and gain fun memories. Instead of going shopping, go to a yoga class. Instead of buying a new book, explore the library or used bookstore. See what books and music come free with your Amazon Prime membership, anyway, and then take it with you on a road trip.
16. Cancel Your Junk Mail and Switch to Paperless Billing
You can set this up online, usually. For junk mail, check out this article about how to reduce and cancel junk mail.
17. Be Mindful of Your Power, A/C, Heat, and Water
All those bills rack up in cost, after all, and you can reduce your energy and water waste. Unplug what you’re not using. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Try running your A/C and heat a little warmer in summer and cooler in the winter. And turn off the water when you’re not using it, like when you brush your teeth. Switch to LED light bulbs to be even more energy efficient.
18. Switch to organic, eco-friendly Makeup
There are tons of non-toxic makeup brands that are cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and sustainable. Brands like W3ll People and Vapour Beauty are clean beauty brands, made in biodegradable, recyclable and eco-friendly packaging. They also use sustainable energy when creating their products.
I’ve got a whole list of clean beauty brands on my Green Beauty resources page. Every brand has different levels of environmentally friendly behaviors or clean ingredients. So, do your own research and see what you’re satisfied with.
19. Ask for No Plastic in Packaging
It’s crazy to me how packages are put in boxes much larger than needed, and then stuffed with packing peanuts made of styrofoam. Not only is it wasteful on space and materials, but it’s unnecessary most of the time. Styrofoam is among the worst plastics out there because it’s extremely toxic and never breaks down. So, if you have the option to leave a note for the order, ask for no plastic materials when packing.
20. Switch to Coral-Safe Sunscreen
A recent study discovered that the sunscreen we slather on pollutes the oceans, and it’s one of the reasons the coral reefs have been dying. So, switch to a green sunscreen that is labeled coral reef-safe, like Goddess Garden Organics. Not only is it better for the ocean, but regular sunscreen has a lot of toxic chemicals. This one is organic, non-nano, and a safer alternative.
21. Wrap Gifts in Repurposed or REUSABLE Wrapping
You could wrap your gifts in burlap, reuse an Amazon box or scrap paper, or try it Japanese-style and use pretty clothes and silks. Or, at the very least, you could pass old gift bags back and forth until they are completely worn.
Sustainable living can be a change from the normal, grab-and-go convenience mentality. But once you start making the changes, it becomes part of life. Green living doesn’t have to be super challenging. Get used to one small change at a time!
What other tips do you have for going green? Let me hear them in the comments or send me a tweet @RebelHeartBty.
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