Well! I originally wanted to have this post up yesterday, but we had a little bit of a crazy weekend, and then Monday was busy, and I just let it slip. So…
Happy Super-Belated Earth Day!
Now, we all know (unless you’ve been living under a rock) that climate change is real, and we’ve all got to start doing our part to help turn things around and take better care of our home. Fortunately, the human race is quick to create solutions, and we already have great products to help us with reducing our waste.
However, it’s our habits and behaviors that we need to change if we really want to make the most impact. That being said, it’s not as easy for some people or families to do as it is for others. Eating sustainable and organic is not exactly simple when you have a family of five on a shoestring budget, so believe me, I get it.
That’s why I want to give you some suggestions today on baby steps you can take toward reducing your carbon footprint. These are small, simple changes, that, with some planning, a little time, and a small investment, are completely feasible no matter who you are.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means, at no extra cost to you, I receive a small commission when you click on certain links below, or if you make purchases as a result of visiting the retailers directly from my website. Please note, I only recommend products that I truly love and think that my readers will also love.
1. Use a French Press
We have been long-time fans of the Keurig in our house. However, those cups put so much trash into landfills. They have reusable cups, but with as many dishes as I have to wash already, it's just not all that convenient. Using a regular coffee maker is better if you use biodegradable coffee filters, but you’re still using paper, so it’s not as green as it gets.
That’s where the French press comes in. Not only do you get wayyyy better tasting coffee, but you make literally zero waste by using it!
This insulated stainless steel version from MIRA is great if you’re serving multiple people or if you just drink a lot of coffee like my husband and I do.
This copper press from Primula is super cute, and comes with its own measuring spoon for convenience.
Or if you’re on the go and don’t want to brew a whole pot, Bodum makes a great little single-serve thermos press.
If you're uber impatient like me, an electric kettle is super helpful when using a French press. My brother-in-law got us this one from Bella, and it's one of my favorite presents I've ever been given (such a mom). If I ever need to upgrade, I'll probably pick this cordless version from Sonyabecca, which has an LED indicator and is double-walled to keep it cool to the touch.
2. Avoid Single-Serving Food
Many companies are becoming more eco-conscious with their packaging, but it’s still difficult to avoid plastics if prepared food is to be kept fresh on shelves. Ziploc storage bags and plastic wrap are also very wasteful even if you’re not buying prepared food from the store.
Making your own snacks or freezer meals and storing them in reusable containers is a great way to avoid all that extra waste.
These organic reusable food wraps from ETEE are a great alternative to plastic wrap. They form really well to bowls or plates, they’re good for about 150 uses, and when you’re done with them, you can just toss them in the compost heap!
Silicone food storage bags are a great alternative to Ziplocs for kids lunches, as well as many other things. These are freezer- and microwave-safe, as well!
BPA-free meal-prep containers are a great way to make sure you don’t eat out too much, and are especially helpful when you’re working on portion control. There are great re-usable plastic options as well as glass options.
If you’re looking for inspiration on meal prep ideas, my Pinterest board has plenty of great options, from snacks to main dishes. Be sure to check it out!
3. Reusable Shopping Bags
I know, DUHHHHH. But let’s be honest, how many times do you actually bring those reusable bags into the store with you? If you’re anything like me, they’re stuffed God-knows-where in your car, and you can’t seem to remember to grab them as you’re hurrying into the store.
These bags from Urban Market are a great solution to that problem. They come in a set of six, with a compact carrying case, so you can just roll them all up and stash them easily in your purse. You just gotta remember to pull it out at the checkout 😉
I also really love these collapsible boxes for helping tote groceries into the house. They’re helpful when you have extra-heavy loads. Plus, they’re made from recycled plastic, so you’re doing double-eco-duty! -
Finally, reusable produce bags are another great way to cut down on plastic at the grocery store. This set from Bekith comes in three different sizes, and the bags can go straight from the store to your fridge, and often prolong the life of your produce. You can wash produce directly in the bags, and they have other uses, such as for laundry delicates. Woo!
4. Stock Up on Cloth
Seriously though, how many paper towels do you go through in a week? Or paper napkins, or crappy plastic dish brushes? Besides, I actually paid attention to the price of Bounty paper towels a few months ago (because let’s be real, that’s the only brand that really works), and holy shit! It’s ridiculous! Using cloth napkins, knit washcloths, etc. saves a ton.
If brushes are more your style, this compostable dish brush is a great way to avoid adding to landfills.
Amala magic sponge cloths are great for cleaning surfaces and drying up spills, in place of paper towels. They’re also biodegradable.
Speaking of reusable cleaning supplies, that brings me to my next step...
5. DIY Household Cleaners
You can find recipes for literally everything. From liquid dish soap, to toilet bowl cleaner, to natural bleach alternatives, if you clean with it, there’s a way to DIY it. Check out my Pinterest board for some great resources.
6. DIY Beauty
Making your own beauty products really helps with cutting down on waste from plastic packaging. You can find re-usable containers on Amazon, or better yet, up-cycle old containers from previous products. Reusable cotton rounds are great for using with makeup remover or micellar cleanser.
If you need some ideas for DIY beauty recipes, check out my Pinterest board for everything from DIY shampoo to facial masks!
7. Eco-Friendly Feminine and Maternity Products
Yeah, I’m going there.
Because let’s be honest, we ladies put a lot of nasty stuff in landfills. Organic tampons are great, but once again, all that packaging still gets trashed. Menstrual cups are a great way to go “zero-waste,” and they’re really not that bad. Once you get the hang of it, they’re really easy to use, aaaaaaand - drumroll, please - period sex is no longer gross (if you’re not too crampy to have it in the first place)! You just keep your cup in and it keeps everything nice and tidy. Hallelujah!
For nursing mamas, reusable nursing pads are a good way to be eco-friendly.
8. Rotate kids' toys
...or buy eco-friendly toys.
One thing I have been wanting to do is just bag up like 75% of my kids’ toys and hide them in the attic. Then, next year, I’ll pull them out, and boom! It’s like Christmas all over again. I think this is a fantastic way to keep re-using their toys until they outgrow them.
If you absolutely have to buy them, eco-friendly toys are the way to go. Green Toys makes their toys from recycled milk cartons, and they’re so cute! I really want to grab their fire truck for Elliot.
9. Meal Plan
This sounds like a no brainer, but when you don’t plan your meals, it’s really easy to fall into the fast food trap, which is not only bad for you, but bad for the environment (we’ve all seen the video of the poor sea turtle with the drinking straw stuck in its nose). I’ve found that the best method for me is to do a mix of half homemade frozen meals and half fresh-cooked meals.
Erin Condren and Inkwell Press both make great meal planners, but if you’re looking to up the eco ante (slap me next time I say that), Pepper Plate is a great way to organize your recipes and plan meals. You can import recipes directly from URL’s on the web, or manually input recipes from your cookbooks and other sources. I just started using it and I love it!
If you don’t have a whole lot of time to meal plan, PlateJoy offers a meal-planning service for around $10 a month, depending on how you choose to pay. You answer questions about your diet restrictions and goals, and family size, etc., and they give you recipes which you can pick and choose from to adjust your plan. I really like that they allow you to take the survey and look at their sample meal plans before you even opt in to the free trial. If you have some extra change lying around, this is a great option for busy families!
10. Make Your Garden Greener
This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but guys. I just suck at gardening. My mom is like, the plant whisperer, and of course, she didn’t pass that gene onto me, so I kill everything. Like, plants that are supposed to survive everything, I will find a way to kill, despite my best efforts. That being said, if you aren’t as cursed as I am, growing your own produce is a great idea.
Herb gardens are great for helping to save the bees as well, specifically oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
Also, speaking of produce, buying seasonally is a great way to reduce waste associated with farming. It means that you can buy locally, which helps reduce the amount of emissions (among a ton of other things) associated with shipping produce.
Rain barrels are also a great way to conserve. If you live in a place that gets a lot of rain during any season, they’re really helpful with keeping your garden watered during the dry months.
You can also compost to help get rid of food scraps and feed your garden.
Check out my Pinterest board for some great resources on eco-friendly gardening!
That's all ten! What ways are you looking forward to using this year? Let me know in the comments below!