What are the basics you use everyday? How many of these things come in plastic packaging or in other unsustainable forms? If you look around at home and actually pay attention, the answer is 😳.
Since this is a platform to inspire sustainable living we put together a list of things we use daily that you can swap for more sustainable options and lead a healthier life. What will make the decision to switch a little easier is to really understand that ultimately you are not doing this to “Save the Planet”, but yourself.
From where I stand, the planet doesn’t need saving as it possess a resilience and intelligence that is beyond human comprehension. It has existed for billions of years and will continue to do so. The environmental messes humans have created are surely challenging for the Earth but not lethal. They are detrimental for human beings because we have created so much pollution and made our environment very toxic to live in that it’s causing demise and diseases for the entire planet.
If you think about plastic pollution in the ocean (ingested by fish) and the microplastics in our air, soil and waterways on land, it will only end up in our bodies. We are ingesting up to a credit card’s worth of plastic weekly through food and water. If this is hard to believe, read this consumer report. Plastic contains chemicals such as BPA and phthalates that are endocrine disruptors causing all kinds of hormonal imbalances.
That being said, you have to shift your mindset and understand that being environmentally conscious isn’t just a trend, a hip thing to do, a political statement or pleasing environmentalists, – it’s about YOUR health and the health of future generations.
We are not affiliated with any of the brands or companies we recommend here. We simply bought them before and were satisfied with our purchase, or researched and used good judgment. Rule of thumb is use up and reuse what you already have before buying new stuff.
Here’s our 12 SHS list:
1. Switch to 100% recycled toilet paper with no plastic packaging, if possible, or toilet paper made out of bamboo!
The latter is a bit pricier BUT you will use less because it’s very absorbent. I almost get twice as much out of my bamboo toilet paper than regular recycled toilet paper, so that evens out the price point actually. I bought mine at Grove Collaborative, which primarily works with a membership program, but that might not be everybody’s cup of tea. I have also seen options on Amazon. In store I have seen bamboo toilet paper at Erewhon. 100% recycled toilet paper individually wrapped without plastic is also sold at Trader Joe’s.👇🏻 If none of these are an option for you, then go for the regular 100% recycled toilet paper.
2. Buy soap bars!
Look into getting a soap bar after your liquid soap pump is out of soap. If you’re running low on liquid soap, add a little water in the container to extend its life and use every last bit of it.
3. Replace your plastic cotton swabs with biodegradable swabs made of bamboo!
Many online retailers (Zero Waste stores, Amazon, Thrive Market) sell them, so they are easy to find. Or look into reusable swabs here.
4. Use a low-flow shower-head to save water at home!
Also showers are better than baths. However, in order to actually save water compared to a bath, you have to take 5 min showers (or less). By using a low-flow head, you could even save more water, and allow yourself up to 10 min under the shower. If you are using a power shower head, you might be using more water than a bath, no matter how long you stay in there. You can buy low-flow shower-heads at Home Depot or online.
On a side note, but VERY IMPORTANT:
Water is a big issue for several reasons. You might not be aware if you live in Los Angeles and your landlord pays your water bill, but America is in an expanding water poverty crisis, to learn more read this Guardian article.
Also as Californians, you should be concerned, because a lot of our water supply comes from the Colorado River. Droughts and climate change are diminishing the river’s flow. If you want to read more on this topic click here.
“There’s a reckoning coming, unless cities and farm districts across the West band together to limit (water) consumption.”LA Times
5. Replace your plastic toothbrush with a bamboo biodegradable one!
You can easily get it in any department store.
If you want to go the extra mile, make your own toothpaste and keep it in a small glass container:
- Two tablespoons of baking soda (neutralizes the pH of the oral cavity. It has mild abrasive properties to remove stains from teeth)
- Two tablespoons of coconut oil (has natural antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties. It also protects the teeth against cavities.)
- Ten drops of peppermint oil (gives a fresh breath and nice taste!)
Benefits of making your own toothpaste:
First, the packaging waste: toothpaste tubes are almost impossible to recycle. Also, they are often packaged in a box, which only adds to the waste. Second, the ingredients: most toothpastes contain chemical ingredients like triclosan (antimicrobial), sodium lauryl sulfate (detergent for better foam) or propylene glycol (emulsifier).
6. Switch to reusable face pads instead of disposable cotton rounds to clean your face and remove make-up!
You can get them online at many places. Most of them are made from bamboo. Look for sustainable sourced bamboo.
7. Clean your indoor air with houseplants!
3.8 million deaths are attributed to household air pollution annually, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Indoor air pollutants include mold, building materials, home products, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and naturally occurring gases like radon. NASA researched ways to clean indoor air in space stations back in the 1980’s. They identified air-purifying plants that are highly effective at cleaning the air from pollutants.
The TOP 10 air-purifying plants are:
- Aloe Vera
- Areca Palm
- Bamboo Palm
- Boston Fern
- Devil’s Ivy/Money Plant
- English Ivy
- Ficus/Weeping Fig/Rubber Plant
- Mother in Law’s Tongue/Snake Plant
8. Use a DIY ‘All Purpose Cleaner’!
You can reuse the plastic spray bottle of your store bought Purpose Cleaner over and over for this one:
- Use a funnel to pour 1/2 cup of white vinegar into the spray bottle.
- Add 2 tbsp of baking soda into the spray bottle and wait for foam to calm down.
- Add 10 drops of eucalyptus and/or tea tree essential oil into the bottle, and fill the rest of the bottle up with water.
- Shake well and clean away!
Some other essential oils with strong anti-microbial activity are cinnamon, clove, oregano, rosemary or thyme.
9. Get a refillable water countertop dispenser instead of buying plastic water bottles!
You can either get water delivered by your favorite water company or you can look for local refill stations, if you don’t want to pay for a delivery service. Make sure the water container is either made of glass or is BPA free, if made of plastic, otherwise that chemical can leak into the water you drink. Or you can invest into a water filter or a water filtering system for your house.
To carry water around with you, use a refillable water bottle. Stainless steel is a great option.
10. Get reusable produce bags for veggies and fruit and forever ditch plastic produce bags at the store!
You can get them pretty much everywhere. Whole Foods sells them as well as Trader Joe’s!
11. Use beeswax food wraps!
When you run out of saran wrap, look into getting beeswax food wraps and bags. They’re reusable, can last you a year or longer, and you can get biodegradable wraps. Trader Joe’s sells them.
12. Use laundry detergent sheets!
Switch to laundry detergent compressed into powerful eco-friendly sheets. Each packs ultra-concentrated, hypoallergenic, eco-friendly cleaning power into a tiny, pre-measured sheet of detergent that you just toss in the wash. I used Tru Earth before, but they are other companies such as Earth Breeze. The sheets dissolve in the washing machine and are packaged in a cart box envelope, in which they are also shipped in. Or walk into Whole Foods and buy them!
Approximately a billion plastic jugs are used in North America yearly, about 700 million of them are going to landfills. 🤦🏼♀️
If this is all you do, you are contributing a lot to reduce plastic waste and to your health. All of these adjustments are very easy, not very costly, and go a long way. Well done!