This Month, in honor of one of my most favorite “Holidays” – Earth Day, I am choosing to blog to promote methods in which you can become more Eco-friendly and less toxic to the planet, as well as to yourself and the people around you.
What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to start with the topics this month of: “3 Ways to Avoid Toxins in Everyday Products“, and now this fresh and green topic “10 Easy Ways to Become an Eco-Friendly Household.” Expect even more related topics before the month’s end.
If you’re like me, you may already have an environmentally-conscious mindset, but I wasn’t always this way. This eco-friendly side of mine has come with lots of practice and self awareness, as well as being mindful of the world around me.
Pocahontas probably had something to do with it, as I may have taken the lyrics of “The Colors of the Wind” all the way to heart at a very young age. (also, you’re welcome for getting that song stuck in your head as you read on 🙂
At any rate, joining the movement to become greener and cleaner in your everyday life can be very clarifying and rewarding, especially when you start with your immediate space – your HOME.
#1. Bring Reusable Bags With You to the Grocery Store
So I figured I would start small here.
This is a very easy task to incorporate into your usual shopping habits. Also, I love shopping so its no surprise that I would start here.
Nowa days reusable shopping bags have become very stylish and come in all shapes and sizes. Even some of them come insulated! (This is always nice because they can double as a drink bag and snack for those times you’re at the beach or the park for the day – when you’re not using them to tote your ice cream and frozen goodies to and from the grocery store.)
You can even buy and use reusable bags at some department style stores like my favorites Target, Marshals and TJMaxx. I’ve gotten some very durable waterproof material ones at Marshalls lately, and they are a great size.
EXTRA TIP: After my shopping trip, when I am done unloading my bags, I put them all into one of the larger reusable bags and keep them in my trunk so that I don’t forget them at home while I’m out on my next shopping trip.
Of course there is the occasion in which I forget to bring my reusable bags into the grocery store, which brings me to my next point…
#2. When Offered “Paper or Plastic”, Choose Paper
Now I know that these paper bags are made from trees, but when you forget to bring your reusable bags into the store, it is always more eco-friendly to choose paper.
Why, you ask?
Well because these paper bags are more easily composted and are bio-degradable than plastic bags. We actually use them to collect our kitchen scraps, paper towels, and other bio-degradable waste before we place them into our homemade compost can. (more info on Homemade Compost Can to come in my DIY tab.)
I always cringe when I see a plastic grocery bag flying in the wind while driving in traffic. My mind automatically thinks about where that bag can be flying off to, and unfortunately it isn’t going to just fly its way into a recycling type of receptacle.
#3. Compost All of Your Biodegradable House Waste
To compost is to simply allow organic matter to decompose. In this case organic matter is considered to be decaying plant and animal materials – non plastic or metal substances.
This point makes the most sense to do when you ask yourself:
why package something -that can easily decompose or is biodegradable- in something that will take hundreds of years to decompose or biodegrade?
Raked leaves are a prime example of something we throw into the compost can. The leaves easily break down in days to weeks and make new soil to use around the house. These leaves and yard waste would otherwise be packaged into plastic trash bags to then be shipped off to the dump where it would take hundreds of years for the plastic bags to breakdown.
We also add the dog waste from the yard, and as mentioned before, paper bags filled with waste from inside the house.
I like to package any food waste inside of paper bags to cut down on the smell and the presence of rodents. It’s also important to add a layer of dirt/leaves/yard waste on top of any food waste to help aid in decomposition as well as to keep rodents at bay as the food waste and smells are buried.
There are many composts cans on the market that range in size, price, and functionality. 3 main compost can styles are:
- Small counter top or kitchen cabinet style cans that make for easy access of use when composting kitchen scraps. Click HERE for a cute and stylish in home compost can that is reasonably priced at Target.
- Medium sized yard waste compost bins. Target also has these available and if you click HERE you can find one that can compliment your yard decor while you decrease your plastic bag waste.
- Large compost bins can also be found at Target (obviously one of my most favorite stores). This one in particular is made of two 50-gallon containers that rotate in order to aerate the contents and aid in decomposition. Check out this great product HERE.
At our home we just simply used an old garbage can to make our own outdoor compost can. I will have a blog post about this Homemade Compost Can located in my DIY section later this month. But the cost was very minimal for us because we had all the supplies already around our garage.
A super big plus to having our own source of compost is that the decomposed material is a great source of eco-friendly fertilizer for our garden and yard.
#4. Reuse/Refill Cleaning Supplies Containers
I mainly use this tip for hand soaps around the house. I prefer to use the liquid soap over a bar soap in public hand washing spots around my home because it feels more sanitary (Nurse Valerie over ruling crunchy eco-friendly Valerie here).
You can also achieve a trendy look for cheap by buying glass soap dispensers at Target, or Marshals, or even the dollar store. Its even cute to have one for the dish soap.
The more ideal and less wasteful option would be to use bar soap. That way you could recycle or even compost the cardboard packaging.
#5. Only Use Paper Towels for the Messes that You Don’t Want to Launder
Now I’d love to become a household that only uses reusable towels and eliminates paper towel use altogether, but it’s just not feasible at my home. Simply because we have pets that tend to have accidents in the house despite their years of training – accidents happen.
In the case when our “Frank the Frenchie” pees on the floor, I prefer not to use a towel to clean it up. The pheromones in the urine just stick in the towel no matter the laundry technique. That towel would spread the message to Frank to continue to pee in every spot in our home that we chose to clean with said pee cleaning towel. Not to mention, I don’t want to make the mistake of using the dog mess towel to clean the dining room table with.
With all that being said, we try to limit our use of paper towels to clean messes “of no return” – aka dog pee type of messes. And so we use kitchen and hand towels to dry/ clean surfaces to decrease paper towel use.
This is another easy task. And you’ll notice that less paper towel use costs you less money – a win win in my book.
Don’t forget to throw those used paper towels into your compost can…
#6. Replace Your Plastic Toothbrush With a Bamboo One
As I mentioned before, using plastic trash bag can take many years to decompose. Well a toothbrush can take hundreds of years to decompose!
This waste is easily eliminated nowa days by way of making a different choice as a consumer, buy a wooden or bamboo toothbrush.
#7. Use Reusable Snack and Drink Containers
I’ve recently become more mindful about decreasing my use of zip-loc bags. I tend to pack snacks for work and do a great job in saving my wallet by buying snacks in a bulk size, but I’ve been hurting my environmental efforts by using so many zip-loc bags.
The idea to reduce my use of zip-loc bags struck me when I had my daughter use these wonderful snack cups by munchkin that allow her to reach in and grab a snack without spilling. I thought how great of her to be able to reuse that container. Then I decided I would go ahead and follow that example myself and package my snacks in tupperware the next day.
Don’t get me wrong, I still use a zip-loc here or there, but I’m working to convert that habit in the future to no longer use these items. I have recently tuned into the fact that there are reusable silicone bags that can quench my zip-loc needs.
and so finally…..
#8, 9, & 10. REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE!!
All throughout this post I have mentioned numerous ways to reduce your everyday consumption of non-recyclable goods.
- Use re-usable grocery bags to reduce your use of plastic bags
- Choose paper bags and place them in your compost, again to reduce your use of plastic bags
- Use a compost for biodegradable waste, which will reduce your use of plastic trash bags (there is a theme here)
- Use re-usable snack containers to avoid and reduce your use of plastic bags
- Reduce your use of paper towels by using cloth towels for cleaning easily laundered messes
In efforts to REDUCE your contribution to the growing trash mounds, aka the community dump, you can always choose to REUSE items around the house. Some simple ways to do this are to
- Reuse old furniture by refinishing these pieces, often adding more character to your home decor
- Reuse your biodegradable waste as fertilizer and soil for gardening and yard improvement projects around the house.
- Cut up old, bleach stained bath towels to make cleaning rags for around the house chores.
- Salvage any material during home renovation projects/DIY projects and reuse for future projects.
- Donate gently used clothes and other items instead of just throwing them away.
RECYCLING at home is one of the easiest habits you can adopt in order to make the biggest positive impact on the environment.
There are many different ways in which you can recycle around the home too! Most items that are recyclable tend to you let you know on the packaging, it will even ask you nicely by stating “Please, Recycle.” How could you pass that up?
Don’t forget to:
- Rinse and wash plastic and glass bottles and packaging and place in your recycling receptacle.
- Remove and plastic bags.
- Remove lids from containers before placing both into recycling bins.
- Recycle cardboard and cardboard packaging as well.
I hope you feel inspired to live a cleaner and greener lifestyle by adopting some of these easy steps! Feel free to share with me how you plan to takes steps towards becoming a more eco-friendly household! I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment below!