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Emily Henderson

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by Ryann Miller
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photo by David Tsay for Styled | from: how to add personality to a white kitchen

Last week during our brainstorming session, the team agreed that talking more about eco-everything and aiming to make more environmentally friendly changes in our everyday lives should be a 2019 goal. Great. No problem because I for one create no waste. No boxes ever arrive at my house, and they definitely aren’t full of plastic bubble wrap. But seriously this subject can be tricky because I find that a lot of the best eco-friendly products are expensive and recommending products that are super expensive for your basic needs aren’t really my jam. Besides, is there anything we can say here that you guys don’t already know?

We’re all told to not buy disposable anything. Don’t put a chemical near a body hole or on a surface of your house, and for goodness sake, if your cocktail has a plastic straw in it, you must quickly pull it out and jab the waiter’s eyes or closest organ with it. (I’m actually extremely anti-straw but was just at a restaurant in the mountains who thought this new law was ridiculous and gave them out anyway and I was like “I DID NOT ASK FOR ONE PLEASE REMOVE IT” in my nice EH manner).

But I was quickly reminded that one of the best traits about being a millennial (of which I am not) is their persistent care about the environment. My issue is I don’t want to be preachy, pretentious, and general “liberal hipster.” Ryann, our resident passionate millennial reminded me though that going more green doesn’t HAVE to mean buying $40 hand soap and being self-righteous. It can be a lot of affordable, simple day-to-day switches that are easy to accomplish. So I’ll hand it over to her to recommend 24 products that make going green, easier in 2019.

Hey all, Ryann here, making my EHD debut on a subject that I care VERY much about. It seems as if every day, I go online I see a headline that essentially screams at me THE EARTH IS DYING AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT. As much as I know that is not entirely true it is hard to not to feel guilty when I, you know, use a plastic straw. The slightly embarrassing thing is, I do use plastic straws (and plastic water bottles) way more than I should despite knowing that doing so adds to a heaping amount of waste. So in the spirit of 2019 and all this “new year, new me” talk, I am finally making a real effort to go green.

If you are on the same wave, or if you are not quite on board with the eco-friendly thing yet (because change is hard and I get that), we pulled together a list of affordable products that will hopefully help you make the switch. This is not a “no plastic, zero waste” roundup, because we’re not experts and there are a lot of things to consider. What this is is a place to start with small changes. Swapping out your laundry detergent for something biodegradable; saying no to plastic zipper bags in place of reusable ones; making the move away from paper towels…small changes that can make a difference if only we all did a little every day.

Before we really get going though, I want to bring up the waste that comes with shipping and specifically that go-to online store that is notorious for using way too much plastic in their packaging (you know the one). Frankly, I understand the convenience of shopping online creates a hard habit to break, and I personally feel like if we start small with reducing waste in our own homes, then we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about things out of our control. However, if you are still feeling iffy about it, my best advice is to click the option at checkout that bundles your items into as few packages as possible (though that does mean waiting a day or two more to get it all).

Okay, now let’s get into it.

Cleaning Products:

You have your beautiful, perfectly styled home so, of course, you want to keep it clean and sparkly. The thing is, not only do we need to worry about waste, we also have to worry about polluting the environment with toxins. Luckily for us, there are brands that do a lot of the leg work when it comes to making affordable natural and sustainable products. Let’s dive in.

Emily Henderson earth friendly products

Organic Wool Dryer Balls: These will replace your single-use dryer sheets which basically means you have one less thing to buy at the grocery store. (Hot tip: Splash a few drops of your favorite essential oil on them for the best smelling laundry ever). Also, they are supposed to reduce drying time.

Concentrated Laundry Detergent: A little goes a long way with this detergent so you can save your money and buy yourself something nice. You deserve it! Also: Dye-free, phosphate-free, bleach-free, animal by-product-free, contains naturally derived ingredients, vegan and paraben-free.

Soap Nuts: If you’re only just dipping your toe into creating a more sustainable, earth-friendly, waste-free (or reduced) home, this one might throw you, but if you’ve been in the game a while and are looking to step things up, welcome to soap nuts. They’re actually a berry that has a natural cleaning agent. They are said to remove odors (instead of masking them) and soften clothes so you don’t need chemical-filled laundry detergent. You throw 5-6 of them into your wash in a muslin satchel, and that set can be used about five times before being spent (and are compostable after that).

Reusable Paper Towels: I am admittedly an abuser of paper towels which I realize is counterproductive to my going greener goals. I recently switched to these reusable ones and I promise you my life has changed for the better. Mostly because I am not running to the store weekly for more rolls of paper towels. They’re made of bamboo (which is sustainable), and one 20-sheet roll is said to replace 60 rolls of traditional paper towels. I have set aside a container in my kitchen to stash dirty sheets, then just throw them in the wash with my regular towels and reuse.

Natural Paper Towels: If you think reusing paper towels are too much work and not for you, I hear you but there’s still hope to be had. Consider these bad boys that are made from unbleached, 100% recycled paper. (They are also compostable for those of you that are way ahead of the game).

Glass Spray Bottle: Maybe by this point, you are already ready to start making your own cleaning solutions from scratch. If that’s the case, first of all, I applaud you and second, you’ll need to stock up on some spray bottles. This one is made from recycled, lead-free glass and is also great for stirring up concentrated cleaning solutions like this one.

Emily Henderson earth friendly products

Glass Cleaner: Seriously you guys, there are so many brands that are committed to making plant-derived, sustainable products, it’s making my job almost too easy. Common Good is one of those brands that you can blindly pick any of their products and you will be doing the earth (and yourself!) a huge favor. Their glass cleaner is readily biodegradable (which just means it breaks down quickly and leaves no negative traces on the earth).

Reusable Sponge: I never realized how many sponges I went through until I made the switch to reusable. Honestly, why was I buying so many sponges? Also, how annoying is it when you realize you just threw away your last sponge and you have a sink full of dishes. So annoying. This one should last you about 4 to 6 months, and we recommend throwing into the laundry every few days with your regular wash (just let it air dry, no dryer). When it’s time for another, you can recycle it (the Etsy listing says a fabric bank will take it) or cut it into small pieces and compost it.

Mrs. Meyer’s Dish Soap: Biodegradable and plant-derived dish soap makes for the start of an eco-friendly household. Mrs. Meyer’s products are quickly becoming my go-to (I use their hand soap, too) because they are good for the earth and smell AMAZING. To further reduce waste, buy the concentrates (like this multi-surface cleaner that lasts FOR.EV.ER.) and use a reusable glass spritz bottle with the prepared solution.

Dish Soap Dispenser & Brush Set: Made from renewable bamboo, recycled plastic and recycled sterling silver, this set is actually beautiful and goes perfectly with your environmentally friendly dish soap, of course.

All-Purpose Cleaner: This all-purpose cleaner by Method has all the certifications you’d want from your cleaning products. It is free of phthalates and parabens, cruelty-free, biodegradable, non-toxic, and plant-based. What’s even better is it’s inexpensive and can be found at pretty much every grocery store ever. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world so this affordable, accessible option comes in a plastic bottle like so many others (ugh). BUT if you are interested in finding out why Method is a better option than other chemical-using brands, go here.

Recycled, Degradable Trash Bags: Trash bags are a necessary evil because let’s face it, it’s INSANELY hard to live a zero-waste lifestyle. So since we have to use them, it’s at least good to know there are options that are a little friendlier to our dear earth than traditional plastic ones. These are made of 100% recycled plastic, are oxo-biodegradable and degrade within 5 years (which means the stuff inside of it will also have a chance to biodegrade).

Food Prep & Storage:

So much waste comes with how we make, store and ultimately consume our food. We’ve all heard about the 600,000 SQUARE MILE island of trash that currently lives in our ocean, right? That number is horrifyingly bad so we did our best to pull products that will encourage us all to reuse, reuse, reuse. Here goes:

Emily Henderson earth friendly products

Reusable Grocery Bags: California banned single-use plastic bags almost five years ago now, so us hippies over here on the west coast are used to toting around reusable grocery bags. If you’re looking to re-up or grow your collection (or just want to transition from relying on paying 10 cents for each bag you take home with you from the grocery store), Baggu has really great options. They have a one-year rip-free guarantee, plus these fold up really small (5″x5″) so you can keep a few in your car, in your purse, and at home without taking up too much space.

Mesh Produce Bags: Raise your hand if you’re done with plastic produce bags. Okay, enough of you didn’t raise your hands, so we’ll help you out. This set has nine mesh bags that each hold up to 11 pounds, come in three sizes, can go straight into your fridge, and, because the mesh lets the produce breathe, your fruits and veggies will last longer (yay for less food waste).

HydroFlask: You can’t be climate-conscious without a trusty reusable water bottle. I am not kidding when I say everyone in our office is obsessed with their Hydro Flasks. Note: These are on the expensive side, so if you are like some of us and are known to lose things regularly, maybe try this cheaper option first.

Stainless Steel Utensils: Repeat after me: single-use plastics are not our friends. Stash this cute little set (that comes with a straw, too) in your purse or backpack to avoid using plastic cutlery. Your friends and coworkers will be so impressed.

Mason Jars: Mason jars may just be the unsung hero of food prep and storage. I think they are great because you can buy them in bulk, store refrigerated and non-refrigerated items in them, and they make you look super hip. Also, you can prep full blown meals in them for on-the-go lunching. That means no more buying plastic wrapped salads, sandwiches, SOUPS, etc., on your lunch break.

BPA Free Drinking Lids: Yet another use for Mason jars. Just slip these on your mason jar to take all your liquids on the go (and for bonus points, bring in your lidded jar to your favorite juice or smoothie place to avoid using throw-away plastic cups).

Emily Henderson earth friendly products

Glass Storage Container Set: Need I say it? These are EHD-approved and perfect for souping. Store and reheat all in one container because less dishes to wash equals less water usage and more time to spend doing anything but dishes. 

Reusable Storage Bags: If you have a habit of using plastic baggies for everything (like me), here is your solution. All you have to do is hand wash and keep on reusing (are you noticing a trend here?).

Beeswax Wrap: Say goodbye to plastic wrap, my friends. Beeswax wrap is the new everything. You can store virtually any and all foods with this stuff and avoid using plastic altogether. Just warm it up a little in your hands and when it cools off, it creates a seal to keep food fresh.

Fresh Vegetable Storage bags: Anyone else feel hopeless because buying vegetables and eating them before the time they go bad is seemingly impossible and also wasting food is equally as bad as using plastic? Say no more. 100% organic cotton vegetable bags that actually keep your veggies fresh longer. Yes, these are pricey, but we’ve heard amazing things and the money you spend here will hopefully pay for itself in less food waste.

Reusable Coffee Filter: If you still have a Mr. Coffee like me, there really is no reason to buy single-use coffee filters ever again. This reusable one works just as well AND saves you from getting in trouble for forgetting to buy coffee filters at the grocery store.

The Simply Vegetarian Cookbook: Michael and I are the resident vegetarians here at EHD and I’ll tell you why we both stick to it: cutting meat out of your diet is the single most effective thing you can do for the environment as an individual. Hopefully, you didn’t completely tune it out at the sight of the word vegetarian, because even if you eat LESS meat, you are doing a great thing for the earth. Anywho, if you are interested in cutting meat from your diet, this cookbook is a great place to get started.

EMILY HERE…See? It’s all about little affordable changes and switches but if everyone did it, it would make a big difference in our environment (and our commerce). So after reading this post, I’m going to task myself to make the following switches in 2019:

  • Beeswax wrap instead of plastic wrap
  • Mesh grocery store produce bags instead of one-use plastic
  • No more paper or plastic grocery bags (I’m already pretty good at this)
  • Buy any and all detergents and soaps in bulk when possible. I got this company’s line as a gift and LOVE how it smelled and worked and I plan on rebuying ASAP.
  • Try my hand at composting (and crossing my fingers it doesn’t make my house smell like garbage.)
  • And for THE MOST challenging one: NO MORE PAPER TOWELS. I’m not sure how a mom of two is supposed to do this but I’m going to try very hard, and worst case is if I can’t (I mean, Brian doesn’t know about this) I’m going to buy biodegradable ones and compost them.

So…what do you think? Are you willing to make some of these changes? What is something you just cannot get on board with? (don’t worry, none of us are judging). We would LOVE to hear your guys’ favorite eco-friendly products/zero-waste tips so please share in the comments below. Also, what other lifestyle changes are you making this year?! TELL ME YOUR SECRETS. 

  1. I highly recommend the book Climate Justice by Mary Robinson. It’s not “hipster liberal” to care about the planet our kids will hopefully inherit. This is a serious issue.

    1. thank you for saying this. i hate when environmentalism is painted as a liberal thing. it’s a survival thing. for us and all the other living things on the planet. including conservatives. it’s a human thing.

      1. I am a Canadian Christian and taking care of God’s creation is a natural and necessary extension of my faith. So I would second that people from all across the board should be concerned and working towards this.

      2. This is such an important point. Thank you! Labelling environmental consciousness as something only a certain type of person cares about is polarizing.

        We all share this earth regardless of political leanings. If there’s one thing that should bring us together, it should be saving our home for our children!

    2. Thank you for this!! I love love reading books on this issue. And I agree, whether you identify as liberal or not, we all share the same planet!

    3. I haven’t read the book, but I am a huge Mary Robinson fan. She is in no way a hipster, she was the first female President of Ireland and she was the UN Commissioner for Human Rights too. And in addition to the book she has founded the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justine (I’m Irish, we’re very proud of her).

      1. Also Irish and also very proud of Mary. She is the most inspiring woman

  2. SO excited about this!! Please, all of the vegan/veggie/eco/green posts :))). My experience: Washable, bamboo paper towels was the easiest green swap I ever made. and 2019 is the beginning of my vegetarian life…going great so far! Thank y’all for spending time on this important topic.

    1. yes, please please please do some soup posts on easy vegan soups!

      1. Another vote for healthy vegan/vegetarian soups, please!

    2. I know I’m raining on the parade, and I am sorry about it, but bamboo is sustainable only with regard to the fact that it can be grown quickly. Everything else about turning a thick, hard, woody plant into thin sheets of soft, pliable cloth and paper is unsustainable and really terrible for our waterways and water-dwelling plants/animals/organisms. It takes a LOT of harsh, often synthetic, chemicals to change bamboo into the “green” products we are encouraged to buy. Also, the water use in the manufacturing process is very high, putting quite a strain on water supply. This water, because of the chemicals used to turn bamboo wood into paper or cloth, is toxic and can not be safely returned to the natural watershed/water table of the land surrounding the manufacturing place. It could be treated by the factories to reclaim some of their chemicals and make it safe and reusable, but that is not happening due to the cost and time involved as well as the improved science needed to make such reclamation feasible.
      Bamboo is a very good, sustainable resource as long as it is not being too processed: just like anything else. We need to look at bamboo and use it for things that are most like its natural form: flooring, cabinets, anything that we might use a slower growing wood for. Once we try to make drastic changes to the natural form of *anything* we start harming the environment and end up with a net loss of sustainable, earth-friendly living.

      1. Thanks for pointing this out! It often irks me when people talk about “bamboo clothes” or “bamboo paper towels” without recognizing how energy intensive the process is of converting bamboo into those products.

        Also a quick PSA that that going green doesn’t have to mean buying more things and getting rid of what you already have. We don’t need to keep consuming/buying to be green :). But thank you for this post and the sentiment behind it.

      2. So true! I appreciate the idea behind this post and there are some great ideas here, but we need to think about the urge to buy new stuff in the name of environmental responsibility.

        For example, there is another term for “reusable paper towels”: rags! Just cut up your old cotton t-shirts instead of throwing them away. Keep them handy and use in place of paper towels.

        But guess there isn’t an amazon affiliate link for that.

      3. This is great to know, thank you! Also, any suggestions/information/tips you have are greatly appreciated and I wouldn’t say you are raining on our parade at all. We sincerely appreciate you taking the time to share your knowledge with us xx

      4. I didn’t know this! A bit depressing since bamboo paper towels are marketed as being “green”. *now wonders what to do about my newly bought bamboo paper towels*

    3. YAY for more vegetarians! I have been vegetarian for 3+ years and I promise you it only gets easier and easier. You got this!

  3. I love that you did this post! There are so many great tips and the no guilt approach is wonderful! One quick thing… my understanding is that even biodegradable bags do not degrade in landfills (not their contents) because of the dark, packed in nature of a landfill. So while it’s definitely admirable to encourage buying bags that aren’t single use plastics, I think it’s a bit misleading to tell people that their contents will degrade. Not trying to nitpick, as I really do appreciate you using the platform for this cause, just trying to make sure people are informed.

    1. I’ve heard this too! So that even if you use compostable plastic cups, forks, etc. it still has a hard time breaking down in landfills because they’re designed to contain trash, not help it decompose. And when stuff actually does decompose, it releases tons and tons of methane in the process. So yep, it’s probably best to focus on stuff you can re-use again and again instead of products that are labeled as biodegradable 🙂

      1. I’m tooting this horn with y’all! We’ve been composting for a few months now, and have been tossing biodegradable materials in the mix with success.

        We use biodegradable containers that we come across in restaurants or packaging, and bring them home. Then, we put them in the freezer and toss our composting in those (keeping it in the freezer cuts the smell off and keeps your counters clear). Then, when they’re full, throw the whole shebang into our compost pile. Super easy 🙂

    2. This is such an important point. Thank you! Labelling environmental consciousness as something only a certain type of person cares about is polarizing.

      We all share this earth regardless of political leanings. If there’s one thing that should bring us together, it should be saving our home for our children!

  4. kinda disappointed. as a huge environmentalist (and design fan), this was basically all about stuff you can buy instead of lifestyle changes.
    you don’t need to spend extra money to be eco-friendly. you just have to be conscious of what you do and what you buy.

    1. use towels instead of paper towels. use cloth napkins (we use those little facial towels because they work best) instead of paper napkins.

    2. Stop eating meat. that’s one of the biggest, if not the biggest, causes for global warming due to rainforests being cut down to create room for grazing cattle. along with so many other environmental disasters caused by the meat industry.

    3. Don’t buy products with palm oil in them. The rainforests of Indonesia have been clear cut for palm oil plantations. Like, the majority of the rainforests there are now gone because of this. And orangutans there have lost their homes are endangered.

    4. cloth diapers: save a bundle of money over time and save the environment. i did this with 2 kids. nowadays cloth diapers are so easy.

    5. recycle your stuff. with your mail envelopes, rip off the plastic part before putting in your paper recycling bin. rinse out your plastic bottles because the stuff you leave in there ruins the batch for recycling.

    6. turn off the water when you brush your teeth. turn off lights when you leave the room.

    7. stop getting your lawn sprayed. not only is it bad for the environment, but it’s bad for your health.

    8. Don’t use exfoliating products with those little beads in them. those are little plastic balls that cannot be removed from our water, so they end up in the ocean and if you have been paying attention, the oceans are full of plastic now.

    9. BYO water in a reusable bottle. single use water bottles are ridiculous. and bottled water is actually less regulated than tap water.

    10. i do like the BYO silverware thing. but you don’t have to buy a new set. just take a set of yours to go.

    11. instead of buying pump soap bottles for your bathroom sink, use bar soap. WAY less waste.

    this list could go on and on. but the point is that being green isn’t about buying all new stuff or spending more money. it’s about being CONSCIOUS of what we use. people generations ago were more “green” than anyone now. it’s all about reusable stuff and lifestyle choices.

    Okay, getting off my soapbox now.

    1. sorry if that was a kinda negative post. this is my passion project in life.
      i totally appreciate that you guys are tackling this topic because i never see any influencers do this. again, another reason i LOVE your site is that you actually address topics that matter, along with the fun design stuff we all love.

      1. I did not read your comment as negative but a fair point about watching out for consumerism. And you offered some really great ideas too.

      2. Love your comments! Also to throw out one more thing, cleaning supplies can be made simply at home. Bea Johnson and Trash is for Tossers have great recipies for making cleaning supplies—cheap, easy, and all non toxic.

    2. Yes, I too was disappointed to see all the recs for buying products, rather than simple lifestyle changes.

      Also, I believe the suggestion should be for Stainless Steel utensils, not “sterling silver.”

      1. It made me laugh to see all the references to stainless steel written as sterling silver 🙂 I actually do use an antique silver fork at work that I keep in my desk but it’s silver plate not sterling (I guess I’m not that fancy).

        1. Whoops! haha, that is my bad. Not sure why my brain got those mixed up. Thanks for pointing it out xx

    3. crap, i posted that last comment before i was done.

      the soapnuts laundry things: we use them and they are great. so, those are really good if you want to avoid putting chemical laundry detergents into the water system.

      regarding the reusable bamboo paper towels. if you wash them in the laundry a few times, why not just use regular towels? i don’t see how this is more convenient than regular towels?

    4. Just wanted to point out that 1, 2, and 9 from your list were all included in this post. While yes, they included specific products you can try to help out with those goals (like the silverware set in 10, the waterbottle in 9, etc.), I think this was a fun post where they encouraged lifestyle changes and we got to see some cool, inexpensive products that can help out if we need a kickstart for those changes. I think we all know that if we already have a water bottle, you don’t have to go out and by a HydroFlask just to be green, but if having a fun new water bottle that you love would make you more likely to do it, isn’t that great motivation?

      Your list does have some great suggestions, and I appreciate you sharing those! I had never thought about bar soap being a more green choice, but you’re totally right! I just kind of wish your comment had been more about “here’s some other great things to think about!” rather than “I’m disappointed you approached this in the way you did” because posts like this are really helpful and fun for people like me that are not necessarily living the green lifestyle so well at the moment, but are inspired to try harder.

      1. reply to Jessie:
        Thanks for your reply!
        Yes, I realized after I posted it that it came out more negative than intended. I was genuinely disappointed at first, but then realized that some of the things i mentioned were addressed. Which is why i had to come back like a total comment stalker to apologize slightly 🙂

    5. I totally agree and thank you for the tips! The reason we went with rounding up these products was to encourage people who (like me) really want to replace buying not-so-earth-friendly products with more sustainable ones. I understand there are sooo many other life style changes that are more effective and as this is my year long goal, I will be striving to get there! That said, we all have to start somewhere xx

      1. Thanks, and i do appreciate your post 🙂 I get fired up when it comes to the environment!

    6. I do think it’s nice to have a resource like this for when you DO need to buy something. If something you have has genuinely worn out, making the best choice possible for the planet is the goal. So if you have plastic tupperware that is still functional, if not beautiful, make it last as long as possible by taking good care of it. If and when it is truly worn out, replacing it with glass containers is a great option. But tossing perfectly good stuff in the name of being “green” certainly defeats the purpose.

      1. I would not continue using plastic tupperware if it is old enough to possibly contain BPA. You can re-purpose it as storage for other, non-food items, like art supplies. But I would replace any older plastic food storage container with a glass container.

    7. I do all of those and wish everyone else would do the same. One thing you didn’t mention (or did you) – most mail has a blank back side. Put those in your printer. Saves paper. Use reusable straws. Many come with own carrying case. Since I’ve started to compost I throw garbage out far less frequently since most waste goes to composting. The biggest thing anyone can do to save the planet – STOP EATING MEAT!!

    8. Thank you for even more ideas!!

    9. And going beyond just turning the water off while brushing your teeth, if you live in SoCal like Emily, the biggest thing is getting water efficient climate-appropriate landscaping. And also researching things like Culligan and the water waste of those systems before blindly buying it for the sake of your faucet.

    10. Rather than shout STOP EATING MEAT at people, why not just say “eat less meat,” and when you do eat meat, eat farm-raised meat. My son shot a deer a while ago and we had enough venison for a year. It was fantastic to eat something that we knew hadn’t been loaded up or sprayed with chemicals. It’s not just about not eating any kind of meat. It’s about eating less processed, factory farmed meat.

  5. I love this, and I’m so glad you + Ryann shared! Transitioning to cloth napkins is a great way to start the transition away from paper towels. We keep a small basket in our pantry where we drop the dirty ones and wash them every few days with the dish towels. We do keep a roll of paper towels on hand for big messes or when we clean the toilet. Public Goods is a great company to check out. Not only are their products all natural and affordable, but the design and packaging is minimal and beautiful, too.

    1. I have heard of Public Goods and have been meaning to check them out! Thank you for the tips and support xx

  6. I highly encourage the “no paper towels” home practice. I haven’t bought a roll in 12 years, and I don’t miss them a bit. Yes, I wash more dishtowels, but as a mom of young kids I’m already Mayor of Laundryville. I have older towels for “clean-up” jobs, and use my nicer ones for in the kitchen. Additionally, you then have a reason to buy a few extra adorable tea towels – and USE THEM!

    Skipping the plastic produce bags is an easy one, they are really not crucial.

    I do joke with my husband on the plastic grocery bags – I have really nice reusable ones (the baggers at the stores always compliment me – they’re from http://www.mixedbagdesigns.com/), but my husband does not. In San Diego, plastic bags are banned, so you have to buy the bags – the thing is, every grocer I know has made these new bags about TWICE as sturdy as the old bags (so you can re-use them)….so essentially the joke is all us women have migrated to (real) reusable bags, but since the men haven’t and the new plastic bags are twice as plastic-y, we’re really back where we started……baby steps, baby steps….

    Also, can we mention Trader Joe’s? I cannot believe the amount of plastic/wrapping they have on their produce…..it really drives me mad. Someone needs to start a petition for change on that front.

    1. So true about Trader Joe’s. I like to shop there but cant stand to but produce there.

  7. We use rags/washcloths in place of disposable paper towels and cloth napkins in place of paper. Another change we’ve made is severely cutting down on plastic bags in our packed lunches, and the kids never get juice boxes anymore – they have reuseable water bottles (I rinse them out every night and run them through the dishwasher at the end of the week). It’s more dishes but most of it fits in the dishwasher each night.

    I also try to repair things when I can instead of buying new. Those reuseable shopping bags always have seams coming loose, but they can usually be sewn back up in a few minutes on a sewing machine. Also with the kids clothes – if a seam comes apart I can usually repair it, instead of tossing them in the trash. (And I know that not everyone has access to a sewing machine…. )

    1. Yes!!! This. I send reusable plastic containers, reusable plastic spoons/forks (the ones from ikea are great) and aluminum water bottles in my kids’ lunches. I also never buy individual serving sizes of food for lunches. I am disgusted by how many kids bring EVERY SINGLE lunch item in a ziploc to be thrown out daily. It truly perplexes me because it’s such a waste of $, even if one didn’t care at all about the planet. Not only that, but the kids at school will throw away an uneaten item instead of taking it back home. Like a bag of chips that is untouched and totally could be eaten another time. It kills me. Seriously, my kids beg for cute little pre-packaged containers of apple sauce instead of a plastic bowl that I fill in the morning. And they know not to dare get a ziploc unless there is NO ALTERNATIVE. Ziplocs are my nemesis. Useful at times but way less necessary than most seem to realize.

  8. So glad y’all are taking this on! I’m the Sustainability & Recycling Coordinator for a municipality in Missouri and do lots of workshops on waste consumption and lifestyle changes to help the environment and reduce waste going to our landfill. (Emily, I’m teaching a course on home composting here in MO, and I know that LA county actually offers these workshops and even discounts on backyard bins!) Of all of the education we do on waste there are a couple of really important things to remember:

    – Once trash goes to the landfill, it enters an anaerobic environment due to trash compaction, which SIGNIFICANTLY slows the decomposition of everything, even things that in nature with sun and air and water would break down very quickly. Paper, for example, will degrade very quickly in the right circumstances, but in a landfill, can take decades longer to break down. So yes, bio-bags and the like a definitely a better choice than plastic, but the number 1 thing we can all do is really reduce the amount of stuff going there at all. Composting materials is WAY better (considering that compostable materials are a large part of our waste stream.)

    – Just because an item says its recyclable, doesn’t always mean that it is, and still must be handled/disposed of properly. Contamination of recycling is the biggest nationwide problem we’re facing at our recycling facilities, both by the users, who put too many non-recyclable items in with the recycling (we call this “wish-cycling”) or because their items are often not clean and covered in food waste. Its best to check with your local recycler to ensure that the products that say they’re recyclable, actually are.

    I could go on and on and on, but I will save your readers from my boring soapbox :). It sounds like y’all are doing a lot of awesome, I hope to see more of these posts about your successes!

    1. I agree – “It sounds like ya’ll are doing lots of awesome”. Thanks for this post!

    2. I’ve always wondered what the rules were for recycling (for instance, purina says on their website that dog food cans do NOT have to be rinsed and can just be put into the “metals” section for recycling, but this seems really odd to me). Do workers at a recycling plant end up sending things to be rinsed out if they need be before they get recycled or are they just excluded and never recycled? so many questions! I would watch a documentary on recycling.

      1. I get this question all the time, I REALLY wish dog and cat food companies would stop saying this. I’ve never seen or worked at a recycling facility that will rinse any of the recyclables of food waste, there really just isn’t enough time on the line for that. Food waste is the #1 reason an item will go straight into the garbage, it just can’t be marketed. Now we aren’t asking people to scrub out their cans and bottles, a simple rinse will generally work. One of our local recyclers will use this rule of thumb when talking to people, “would you want to pick that item out of the bin with your bare hand after a few days? If you don’t, then it shouldn’t be there.” And girl, there are some FANTASTIC docs on recycling! My favorite is Wasted! A Food Waste Story, another is Bag It!

        1. Ashley, thank you for replying! And for the documentary recs, I am totally going to watch these! Also good to know that rinsing out my dog food cans was not time wasted 🙂

      2. I’m sure that every community is different, but my county does a great job keeping us informed about their recycling “rules” and this recent post was eye-opening for me! https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/adjusting-to-new-recycling-realities-5-ways-you-can-help-stop-wishful-recycling/

    3. I really don’t think this is boring at all! I even would go so far as to say that EHD should have you write a post about this! I feel like there is so much information out there that it’s very easy to get overwhelmed or know if you’re even making the right choices when you’re trying to make these changes. Understanding more about landfills and what actually happens in the recycling process is a key piece of that.

    4. I learned SO much working for my county and getting to know more about recycling. I hail from Oregon where we’re all crunchy and obsessed with recycling because it makes us feel good, but I learned that Reduce and Reuse are endlessly more important! Especially given the current circumstances with China, TONS of recycling ends up in a landfill. People get really mad about this, and I tell them to channel that energy into reducing consumption if they really care about the earth! I’m no angel and have a long ways to go, but I truly believe education is the first step. Kudos to all those out there working on this, teaching others, and making lifestyle changes. It all makes a difference!

  9. Great post! There’s a good article on the 1millionwomen website about the pros and cons of soapnuts – https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/adding-soap-nuts-your-load-pros-and-cons/

    Also, @treadingmyownpath is a really inspiring Instagram account for anyone trying to live with less waste.

    P.S. did you know that even teabags contain plastic?!
    P.P.S. one of the things that threw me was the difference between ‘degradable’ and ‘biodegradable’. From my understanding degradable is not a good thing – it basically just means that the product will break down into smaller pieces. So if that product is made of plastic, you can never really get rid of it.

  10. How do the mesh produce bags work? Are your grocery stores scales set to allow for the weight of the mesh bag or are you just paying extra for your produce?

    1. I searched the questions and answer portion of the product since I had the same question. Looks like there is a “tare weight” listed on the bag and the grocery store is required by law to subtract that from the total weight of the produce plus bag. So yay! No extra dollars spent

      1. I have mesh produce bags and I have never asked nor been asked if the tare weight can be removed. The bags I have don’t list a tare weight, probably because they are SO light they might be adding a couple of pennies, if even that. I encourage you to buy one to test it out and see what you think! They are SUPER thin and basically weigh nothing and therefore should add almost nothing to your bill… especially when what you are putting in them are watery and heavy fruits and vegetables, the additional weight from a mesh bag is negligible!

    2. Yes to the tare weight, but I also wouldn’t buy the mesh bags. They are usually made of plastic. I got a set of organic cotton bags that I use and wash every two weeks. They are awesome!

    3. I use produce and grocery bags from https://www.chicobag.com/t-reusable-shopping-bags

      I love these because they are very durable as well as light and the stuff bag is integrated so you never lose it. I prefer the bags from the rePETE line made from recycled plastic.

      I mostly use them at farmers markets where the produce is weighed before I put them in the bags. But what others said about the tare weight would still apply if you put items in them before weighing. If they aren’t marked with a weight, just do it yourself and write it on the bag in a permanent marker.

  11. I switched from paper towels to rags last year and it was…. so easy? Like I’m embarrassed it took me so long. Bonus: no paper towel roll on my counter makes my kitchen look prettier 🙂

    1. HA. Yay! So there is hope for me after all! I am using the reusable ones now but I’m thinking I might jump the gun and just graduate to using kitchen towels…

    2. We cut out paper towels by accident about 4 years ago – we ran out right before having a friend over for a drippy taco dinner and I sheepishly handed out tea towels to everyone. We’ve never gone back. I AM glad most of my towels are darker and patterned – less stains show, no need for bleach. I keep a roll of paper towels under the sink for really nasty crud and we only use maybe a roll or two a year. We could probably switch to rags for the crud, but the rags are saved for paint/woodworking grossness or rug making materials.

  12. Thank you so much for this list. It makes everything so much more accessible. My partner and I were just saying we want to learn more about reusable paper towels last night and now you have made this change as easy as possible. One tip I just heard about for composting (that I myself have not yet tried): keep a small compost bag in the freezer so you can add your trimmings without things going bad during the week. Perhaps this may help…

    1. yes! to keeping compost in the freezer! cuts out gnats and smells. then my husband puts it in his worm bin and the worms eat it up and he gets great dirt out of it for his plants!

  13. Those Baggu bags are the BEST! They actually hold a ton of stuff and stay tidy in their matching envelopes. I get a compliment from the folks at checkout in Trader Joe’s every time I go through. I still have any raw meat bagged in a plastic bag and wipe them out frequently. They’re also awesome for travel–emergency beach bag, holding shopping, etc. I got two included in a Birch Box YEARS ago and they’re still holding up well.

  14. This is such a great round up! Love the mesh produce bags, already added to my amazon cart!

    One natural cleaner that I’ve been using for a while is distilled white vinegar – seriously this stuff is AMAZING. I use it for SO much cleaning!!
    -mix with water in a spray bottle for general cleaning – it’s a disinfectant & great glass cleaner (i do still use clorox if poultry/meat was prepared on my counters to make sure all germs are killed)
    -add it to your dishwasher to get rid of hard water spots,
    -wash produce in it (mix vinegar and water in a bowl and let fruits/veggies soak for a few minutes – the grime that has come off some of the stuff is disgusting)
    -use it for pots and pans, I love my cooking to brown and crisp which is delicious IMO but my pans have that lovely baked on look after. While the pan is still hot i pour white vinegar in and let sit while i eat – seriously ALL burnt on crud wipes right off – i have not had to do the crazy soap & scrub in years!

    Suddenly have an urge to deep clean my entire apartment (in an eco friendly way of course)…. thanks a lot EHD Team 😛

    1. Just a caveat: vinegar is pollutant. It is hardly biodegradable and it’s very toxic for fishes. Also if used on metal (dishwasher or washing machine) helps release of nikel. Not good for us nor the environment.
      However it is good when a little is needed: to remove limescale, clean the countertops…

      1. I think you may have your cleansers confused. Vinegar is not a pollutant since it is produced from a variety of plants & can actually help cleanse the air of pollutants. It is in fact biodegradable and white distilled vinegar can even be used to clean the sides of fish tanks since it is not harmful to fish. It can break down metals/ plastic over time if used at full strength since it is acidic- but is much safer than bleach/ ammonia etc and is safe for the environment (again, because it’s made from plants)

  15. For most day-to-day cleaning purposes some vinegar + hot water will do the trick, cheapest cleaning product of them all.

    1. I make my own cleaning solution by letting citrus peels sit in vinegar in a mason jar for 2 weeks. Strain out the peels, put it in a spray bottle. It can be diluted up to 50% with water. It is a great degreaser, scum remover (I use it to clean the tub too), and has some anti-microbial properties (I think it’s a bit weak against the worst baddies like E. coli as far as killing them, but the citrus oil and the vinegar still work together to make even E. coli slippery so it can be wiped up). An extra benefit is that I no longer have to wash my counters with soap and water after cleaning them with kitchen cleaner – if my kids are lazy and make a sandwich on the counter rather than a plate or cutting board they aren’t getting poisoned by orange peel oil and white vinegar. So I’m making it safer for my kids to be active in the kitchen and cutting down my time spent cleaning.

      1. Back in my restaurant working days, they always cleaned out the kitchen with vinegar (at least I’m guessing due to the smell) but the citrus peel in the vinegar is such a good idea for so many reasons. I might try this this weekend! I have oranges as my “snack fruit” for the week so I’ll be sure to save the peels. Thank you for this suggestion!

  16. Love it! My city will cart away compost in our yard debris bins; so now I need a composting bin for the kitchen and need ideas. Looking forward to more posts like this!

  17. Compost won’t smell. We keep one of the stainless steel bins under our sink, and we built a compost heap in our backyard.

    Also hot tip, paper towels are compostable.

  18. My favorite new Instagram account to follow is Easy Eco Tips. I’ve implemented some of their tips recently (including things like changing the font on my work documents to reduce the amount of ink used). And, as far as cutting meat, if readers can’t quite make the leap to full vegetarianism, then at the very least, cutting beef is a GREAT start. The environmental impact from industrial cattle raising is astounding.

    1. I follow tiny.trash.can on instagram. It’s by one woman who has so many tips on how to reduce waste and she shares a shot of her weekly trash–it always fits into a tiny mason jar! 0.0

  19. Oh, you guys! 🙂
    Now THIS is using your status as an “influencer” for good!
    Yaaay for you!

  20. Thank you for doing this MUCH needed post and tackling a major worldwide issue! I’ve already added those mesh bags to my amazon shopping cart and I can’t wait to use them. I’m also thoroughly enjoying the helpful tips in the comments section! Keep em’ coming!!

  21. Loved this post!!! I am hoping to switch to reusable sponges and tissues this year (nervous about the tissues! Haha!) Sometimes the expensive part of making the switch to green products comes from buying products you don’t love and having to start over so thank you for making so many great recommendations!!!

  22. Okay here’s the easiest way to jump off the paper towel train in an affordable manner. It involves going to target which is everyone’s favorite store so really it’s a treat yourself kinda deal.

    Buy the cheapest target washcloths. The come in packs of 6 or 8 for $2.99. Get 3-4 packs. Bring em home and fold them in quarters and stick them under the sink. Use them in place of paper towels. Get a metal or plastic bin to toss the dirty ones in and wash the dirties every couple of weeks. Yes I let them fester in their own filth for a couple weeks, but I wash them on hot with some 7th generation bleach and they turn out just fine.

    Seriously, changing how you clean up for things like this is so much easier than trying to use reusable paper towels that you have to clip together and roll together and all that Jazz.

    I have these towels in 3 colors. White for cleaning rags, blue for kitchen rags, and tan for washing makeup off my face with. It’s so simple and they last FOREVER!!

    1. Okay, color coding your towels so you know where you used it?! GENIUS. I’ve never thought of that and I am always deathly afraid of accidentally using the sponge/towel I use to clean the bathroom to clean something else.. THANK YOU xx

    2. THIS. This is the comment I am taking away from all of this! The color-coding is such a great idea. I am going to buy a new set of washcloths in a nice color and reserve those for body/face, and relinquish all the old ones to the rag bin (they’re getting ratty anyway), but I’ll use specific colors for specific places. (I really don’t want the bathroom rag to be used to wipe down counters!!!) Thank you, Laurel! Love this post and LOVING all the comments.

  23. “Clean House, Clean Planet” by Karen Logan. Book was published in 1997, and as a *new mom* in 2000 starting using the home made cleaning recipes to get away from chemicals. Everything in it WORKS. I’m a librarian… so I say get a copy at your local library or Google CHCP and author name and see what recipes you can find online.

    Club soda in a spray bottle as a window/ mirror cleaner is better than the commercial products; bought a bag of microfiber cleaning cloths, and those are washed after use— they shine up the tile in your shower and other hard surfaces.

    Good luck fellow Earth mammas and pappas

  24. Ooh, would love to know which places will dispense their product into our own drink bottles! I’m assuming most restaurants would think this is a health/safety issue? I’ve been wishing this could be a thing for awhile!

    Can anyone confirm that washing sponges in a regular load of laundry won’t ruin the rest of the load? I stopped using makeup brushes because I can’t believe that the dirty rags used to clean the brushes won’t get makeup all over the rest of the laundry…

  25. If you’re on the fence about having the time/energy to compost everything in your own backyard, maybe check to see if there’s a compost pick-up service (or drop-off) near you? I had tried over and over to keep up with composting myself, but I just couldn’t. Then I felt guilty about not composting for weeks. When a pick-up service debuted in our area, I said YES TAKE MY MONEY. It is the easiest thing to do as they come to my curb (same as trash and recycling) to empty my little bucket and insert a new liner. Twice a year I have the option of receiving 25 lbs of compost (that I helped make!) to use in my garden. But you can also opt out of this if you wouldn’t need it. I live with my husband and between composting and recycling, we take a small bag of trash to the curb once every 10-12 weeks now (nothing in there smells because it’s the rotting food that contributes to that!). It’s taken us time to get to this great place now.

    The biggest thing about making any eco change is to do something that you can keep up with. If it’s not sustainable for you, it will fall by the wayside. Better is not perfect, but if we’re all waiting for perfection, no progress will be made to help our environment! Thank you for encouraging everyone to reflect on this topic. It was one of my suggestions in the survey and happy to see it show up here 🙂

    Here’s also a small resource that might help people find composting in their city/state! https://www.litterless.com/wheretocompost/

  26. Hi! Thanks for taking time to give people attainable resources 🙂 I am concerned that bloggers continue to recommend Mrs Meyers products, which unfortunately use artificial fragrance. While their ingredient list is mostly awesome, the fragrance is not and artificial fragrance is one of the most toxic things you can bring into your home. I wish Mrs Meyers would make a change!

    1. oh noooo I didn’t know this! I switched out so many of my products to Mrs. Meyers so I’m so bummed to hear this. Any idea of the same is said about Castille Soap from Dr. Bronner’s??

      1. Arlyn, Dr Bronner’s is the best option, IMO. So easy to dilute and make any combination of washing liquid you could need.

      2. Castile soap is clean! Any product that lists ‘fragrance’ in their ingredience list is unfortunately not using clean ingredients. The think dirty app is helpful in weeding popular products out but not every product is in their dats base so reading labels is also helpful!

    2. Was going to reply with the same thing (already did on ChrisLovesJulia a few weeks ago when they posted about Mrs. Meyers). Same with Method. If you use the unscented, Method is pretty clean, but other than that, it’s all synthetic fragrances.

      You can easily make your own cleaning products with castile soap (this is clean, Arlyn!), washing soda, baking soda, vinegar, borax, etc. Tons of great recipes online, and always sent with essential oils, which add to the disinfecting power.

      Some brands (7th gen, Better Life) already do this if you don’t want to make your own, but it’s really so easy and economical.

      1. Hah! I commented in that thread on Chris Loves Julia too and was searching for like minds in this thread before posting! 😂 Mrs. Meyers frustrates me because they masquerade as a natural, organic brand that is actually chock full of nasty toxic chemical fragrance. I’m mostly talking about their counter spray here but I’m sure that’s not the only product. Download the Think Dirty app to check your products and get an unbiased assessment! I do it more from a health standpoint, but I am sure that what’s damaging to our health must also be damaging to the earth. The method counter spray (lavender, as least) is rated much better than Mrs. Meyers. I also like 7th Generation— both are super easy to find. Someday I’ll jump to making my own!

    3. I also find the Mrs. Meyers products to be way too smelly! I bought one of the cleaners and hand soaps and had to get rid of them because they gave me a headache and brought on allergies!

      Finding unscented dish soap, dishwasher soap, laundry soap, etc. that doesn’t smell has been a recent goal of mine, due to increasing scent sensitivity, and to just wanting something a little less toxic.

    4. Michelle – Many thanks for your post. I am allergic to fragrances, especially the artificial ones. I find it so frustrating that there is a whole segment of the green movement that does not “get” that fragrances pollute the air we breathe. For me, laundry dryer sheets that vent to the outdoors are just a killer – weepy eyes, cough, asthma, migraines. Some communities are addressing the stinky dryer sheet venting issue in their laws.

      And Ryann – No need to add fragrance to the wool balls for the dryer either – clean clothes don’t need to smell like perfume. And essential oils are not hypoallergenic. But overall – great post and excellent ideas. Thank you.

  27. we bought the “final straw” over the holidays and its amazing. its stainless steel with a silicone liner and comes in a carrying case (it folds down 4 times), its easy to clip on to your keys so you always have it with you. and its super easy to clean. you need to buy it directly from the company, they’ve said there are a ton of knockoffs on “that site” that don’t work as well, leak, etc. I’m sure a bunch of people will jump saying “just dont use a straw at all!”, but with my kids and I, I know that’s not realistic and this is a solution we’ve found that works well for us. Our effort in the new year, not to be perfect, but be better and be conscious.

  28. Loved this post! So many great tips that definitely left me feeling inspired to make some changes this year! Thanks Ryann!

  29. Best composting tip ever! Keep a bin in your freezer for your food scraps. This accomplishes two things. It provides a convenient place to keep the things headed to the compost until you’re ready to take it outside AND keeps it from stinking up your house. The more convenient you make the task the more likely you are to follow through with it. Good luck!

  30. I love this! Thank you for discussing little changes anyone can do to protect our environment!

  31. This is a lovely start and I so admire that your team is making green a goal for the year. I’d love to see a shift in the approach, though. This post seems to be about acquiring (which, of course, a starting point), but in my experience, any lasting green changes that I’ve made in my life are not about what products I swapped my plastics and papers with but about the systems I adopted that have made the swaps fit into my life. I would love to see you do a post about kitchen/pantry/mud room/laundry room/ bathroom mini makeovers that suggest system and tips that make greener choices WORK. For example, when giving up paper towels, I wasn’t just giving up the paper towels but also the convenience of the system I already in place , the habit (put a roll in the paper towel holder, store the extras in the garage, toss the dirties in the trash). It was easy and brainless and I had to come up with a new system for using cloths. Where do the clean ones go? Where do the dirty one? (I use a counter top basket for the clean ones and a bin under the sink for the dirties). If I was designing a kitchen, I’d put an additional garbage/recycling pull out bin for dirty cloths (and napkins and table cloths). The questions I’d love to see you tackle are not “what should I get?” but “How do I incorporate this new thing into my life?” Excited to read more about how EHD goes greener. xo

    1. I love this idea! It’s the same with organizing: You can KonMari your closets and pantry, but if you don’t have a plan to keep new clutter from creeping in, you’ll just end up back at square one with a messy home.

    2. Great suggestion!

  32. Great list! The mountain of paper towels I went through a day cleaning up after little kids is what I tackled recently. I got a 50 pack of small microfiber cloths (in 3 colors so I could use one for kids hands/faces, one for kitchen cleaning and one for bathroom cleaning) and baskets to hold clean ones ready to grab and toss dirty ones till laundry day. It’s been a few weeks and I love it! It’s a super easy system, rinsing them between used during the day is no big deal, and the cloths clean better for most jobs than paper towels did. Not going back! Next up, plastic baggies and paper napkins!

  33. Yay! Thank you thank you thank you for shining a light on this! For your readers who want to be even more impactful, they should also sign up with https://350.org/ (and give money, if possible). 350.org “uses online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions to oppose new coal, oil and gas projects, take money out of the companies that are heating up the planet, and build 100% clean energy solutions that work for all. 350’s network extends to 188 countries.”
    Also, call or email your senator and representatives offices and tell them that you support the Green New Deal. https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/12/21/18144138/green-new-deal-alexandria-ocasio-cortez
    This is harder, but my husband and are also working on moving our bank accounts to a credit union since Chase uses our money to invest in oil and gas companies and we support divestment from these companies. https://gofossilfree.org/divestment/what-is-fossil-fuel-divestment/
    Thanks again Emily and Ryan!

  34. Oooohhhhh, see if Compost Now is available in your area. It’s awesome! My yard doesn’t have space for composting but this is a service. For $25/month they come and pick up your compost each week. We always fill one 2.5-gal bucket and often fill two. It’s so awesome to see all the things you can compost. I love composting the paper napkins and paper towels that are a must with two small people running around! When you’re ready to do a garden project, they’ll bring you compost to use (they weigh your buckets each week). I’m not affiliated with them at all; I’m just a big fan of their service (18 months and counting!).

    1. Yay for CompostNow! We used them for years when living in NC, and not only was it convenient, but the compost we earned helped to grow the most beautiful tomatoes ever! We moved, and I miss them a lot.

  35. A great alternative to paper towel, and are biodegradable sponge cloths! They absorb more than a paper towel and can be washed in the washing machine or top rack of the dishwasher!
    Checkout http://www.tenandco.ca

  36. I reduced plastic in 2018 and went with all glass food storage. It was a struggle at first especially when getting a snack but it’s worth it. I too want to try replacing plastic wrap with beeswax and the reusable produce bags.

  37. This is all awesome, but I *think* I’ve bought those Re-zip bags before and the “ziplock” function quickly stops working. I’ve had much better luck with Stasher bags, that use a slightly different mechanism. So, really just a word to the wise to do some research on those types of bags, so you don’t waste your money on supposedly reusable bags that you’ll end up disposing of.

    1. I’ve had a lot of luck using these silicone bags that come with a slide-y top thing (https://www.amazon.com/Conscious-Kitchenware-Friendly-Reusable-Silicone/dp/B07D8TXWHB). They’re a little floppy, but well worth the slight extra effort!

  38. I have 3 kids under 5 and have been doing no paper towels for a year. We use hearth and hand cloth napkins for every day use and then have a system around our kitchen where dish towels are placed to use for hand drying, spills and drying dishes (each gets a different towel). It’s been GREAT and, if you love linens, it’s fun to have pretty linens around the kitchen. Just a thought as you consider eliminating paper towels!

  39. LOOOOOVE this post!!!! As others have already pointed out, buying LESS is the best way to go greener, but the resources above are such a great way to baby step your way to being greener, so hooray!

    Our house composts — it’s super easy! We have a small, lidded bucket on the counter. It’s small enough that it needs to get emptied into our outdoor compost bin every other day, so there’s no chance for smells to build.
    I bought Ikea’s Tekla dish towels and that’s what we use for napkins. They’re so soft! And so absorbent that I use them as dish cloths and cleaning cloths, too.
    I use white vinegar for cleaning and as a fabric softener.

    I do other stuff, too, but I want to point out that this has been years of evolution for us, so find what works for you and then build from there. You don’t have to be perfect about it, just a little better than you were before!

  40. Another green product that is totally worth its salt is the Jude’s Miracle Cloth [https://judesmiraclecloth.com/]. I recently received it as a gift from a Canadian friend, used it, loved it, purchased a bunch on Black Friday for xmas gifts. One of my recipients told me it’s their fave gift of 2018!

  41. Thank you for this post, glad to see this on EHD. Re paper towels: I am European and have lived in the U.S. for 20 years. I have two kids, and I never understood the American love for paper towels. So wasteful. I do own a roll of paper towels, but use them very very sporadically (e.g. milk spills on the breakfast table on a weekday morning …). I use rags made out of ratty towels or faded flannel sheets (or pld burp cloths when the kids were little). They will take care of any spill or wiping countertops or what have you. I have a bucket in the garage for rags, and once that’s full, I wash them all in hot water, and they are like new, no bleach needed. Most people’s houses don’t get that dirty.
    Same with napkins: use cloth napkins; they last forever – I have everyday cotton napkins that are more than 10 years old, and they get washed often. We have napkin rings for each family member, so that we know whose napkin it is. The trick is to have enough rags and napkins to not run out too quickly.
    I also bring my lunch to work, and bring a napkin and a dishtowel to dry off my containers afterwards. Yes, you might be that weirdo in your office, but it saves money and the environment.
    It’s a no-brainer to use re-usable shopping bags. Just keep some in your car or in your purse. I also have a huge African handle basket for fruits and veggies, with small cotton bags right in there, so that I don’t have to use plastic bags to bag my fruits and veggies. I live in the suburbs, so unfortunately, I have to drive, but in order to not forget, I put the bags and basked right back into my car after emptying them out.
    There are so many little ways to be a better stewart of our planet, and they don’t require to buy more stuff. It might be a bit of a pain to make this changes initially, but once you get used to it, it’s very cool, and you will start thinking of more ways to get better. The best thing is that you pass this way of thinking and acting on to your children.
    Comment below re using bar soap vs. pump bottles: I have tried, and my children or husband do not use bar soap, when it’s there, they wash their hands only with water, I know it’s strange.
    So, I have purchased two soap foamer bottles and use Dr. Bronner’s soap to create foaming hand soap. The Dr. Bronner’s is concentrated and lasts for a long time. I use this in the shower and the bathroom sink. Sometimes, you have to pick your battles …
    Kids: reusable water bottles, and little metal snack containers. Unless they get lost, they last forever and can be recycled at the end of their lifes.
    I believe the most important action you can take for the environment is to buy less stuff, and be really thoughtful what you buy. Reduce, re-use, recycle, and have fun with it!

  42. Love this and the comments are really helpful as well!

    Speaking of shipping, one of my friends has a fantastic company LimeLoop.com, which rents usable shippers to small (and large) businesses, completely eliminating the need for traditional packaging. So, so smart, right?!?! I want everyone using it so I can do my online shopping guilt-free! 😂

  43. I store my compost in a plastic container in the fridge so I never have to smell it. Just FYI. : )

  44. I agree this is so important and if we keep talking about these changes it will become normalized!! Have to instill this in all generations too – we can turn this ship around!!!

  45. When we lived in southern California, I realized that line drying (on racks in our tiny apartment) was just as quick as using the dryer. It’s just so dry out there. This is a very easy way to save energy.

    The other big impact things we do are 1) save meat for special occasions, focusing more on plant foods 2) buy secondhand for as many things as possible, especially clothes for kids 3) we subscribe to a service called “Ungraded Produce.” They deliver produce that is just fine, but too ugly for the stores to sell, so it would otherwise go to the landfill.

  46. Great post; thank you. I find that the hardest thing about reuseables is not sourcing and buying new products (that’s the fun and easy part, thanks to supply and demand capitalism/western materialism) but remembering/schlepping/not losing/cleaning said products. Between my water bottle, coffee mug, sippy cups, reuseable snack containers, reusable grocery and produce bags, and cloth diapers, and then cleaning/storing all those things… it’s just a lot of extra time and mental energy. Certainly the least we can do, of course, to try and repair some of the damage we’ve done, but still. Tedious, slow, time consuming. For the past 100 years, companies have been selling *convenience*. I would say that 90% of the effort required to go green has more to do with getting accustomed to things taking longer and being a little… tedious. Withthat said….. any tips?

  47. Emily & Team – Great post, and I hope you all continue to support and promote greener options. However, I must echo many of the other commenters: As an influencer, please don’t continue to paint these options as “hippie” or “liberal”. Climate change and clean water are economic and public health issues. An as an added bonus, many greener choices are lovely design choices and over time will save a few bucks as well. I am a professional in this field (on the East Coast) and many of our greatest partners identify as conservative. They are essential allies and inclusivity runs both ways. Thanks for your great work!

  48. I’ve recently been referring to recyclebycity.com for recycling guidelines, it has specific info for about a dozen cities but includes generally useful tips for anywhere, including the appropriate way to recycle shredded paper, plastic bags, pizza boxes, etc. Another useful site is stilltasty.com, a huge database of food expiration info and proper storage. It has stopped me from wasting a lot of food over the years.

  49. I haven’t had to use dryer sheets (or wool balls) since changing to Country Save powdered laundry detergent. Reminder that people with wool allergies shouldn’t use them in the dryer. It seems obvious, but I didn’t think about it until we started sneezing and itching!

  50. A great alternative to paper towels are Swedish Dishcloths. They’re like a super flat sponge made of natural cotton cellulose and you can use them everywhere you’d use a paper towel: on counter surfaces, your stovetop, windows, mirrors, etc. You can wash them in the dishwasher or washing machine and you can compost them when you’re done. I get a good three months of use out of mine, which saves a boatload of paper towels. They dry really fast and they don’t get gross like sponges. My favorite company making them is called Three Bluebirds. I own a little kitchen shop in VT and they’ve been my best-selling item for the past few years 🙂

  51. Great post, but come on – nobody should have paper towels in their house. If you don’t have them you’ll use a damp cloth and a tea-towel like the rest of the world and in a week you won’t even miss them. I think they’re important to get rid of because they embody the “single-use” culture more than almost anything else, because you use them for a second before throwing them out. (At least with a bottle of water or a cup of coffee the container you use it for at least 20 minutes before you toss them). And and as long as you’re using paper towels(even if you’re using bamboo ones) you still have a “single-use” mind-set. So getting rid of them literally changes your perspective. You can do it!

    1. Except in times of drought. We were told, washing was worse for us than paper towels, because we can compost those here in our water district.

  52. Check out Norwex Cleaning products. That was an easy switch I used to get rid of chemicals in my home, which in turn has become more eco-friendly. No paper towels, no sprays, chemicals etc. They clean with silver. It’s pretty amazing.

    1. Yes! I just commented about making your own cleaning products, but we also use the Norwex at my house. LOVE!

  53. This is really great, being a millenial, this is just what we all needed. Just one thing, Emily, if you plan to composte, you can try putting your compost outside if you do not want it smelling. If you need it it composte indoors, get yourself some worms! If you don get worms, unfortunetley, there is a high chance that it will stink.

    1. Plus, kids love to take care of the worms and help them build their secret underground homes by composting. All the kids I know who’ve been able to try it anyways.

  54. I’ve started using shampoo and conditioner bars and they are game changers (https://unwrappedlife.com). A local woman (Calgary, AB, Canada) started a company and she’s been going gangbusters. They are also WAY easier to travel with rather than the tiny bottles of liquid. They smell awesome, last an impressively long time and your hair is soft and manageable. Big fan.

  55. Thanks for bringing these ideas to the masses! I’ve been delving into making my home greener and less wasteful for a little over a year … a little at a time. One quick note, the trash bags you recommend only break down into smaller pieces of plastic. I suggest looking for a plant-based compostable option instead. I found Hippo Sak to be a great alternative, but there are a number of options on Amazon. Thanks again for this blog post!

  56. Thank you for this post! We are trying to live more green/zero waste. Especially since reading last years Nat Geo article Planet not Plastic. You have listed some great new resources!

  57. Cloth kitchen towels (instead of paper towels)— make the switch! I have a kid and still made the change, and it was way less of a big deal than I thought. I got a bunch of small white flour-sack material towels, and I keep them in a cute basket on my kitchen counter, throw them in a small “hamper” basket in the kitchen, wash, repeat. I like them better than paper- I find that they feel nicer, clean better, and I can always rinse the towel and keep wiping up the spill, which is not only eco-friendly, but easier because I don’t have to find the cleaning spray and another roll of paper towels every time my kid makes a huge mess. You can do it!

  58. If you’re interested in composting, you might want to check out BOKASHI – a japanese method for fermenting fruit and veggie waste. Doesn’t smell at all and is super easy to do even in a small apartment!

  59. I don’t want to be a debbie downer, but one of the thing that strikes me whenever designers tout going green is that by nature they are always looking to change up the furniture, the rugs, replace the tile, repaint, etc. I’m guilty of this as well, but then again I don’t pretend to be particularly green, other than recycling what I can. -Straws and paper towels are great, but if you’re constantly changing out your decor, you’re not being particularly green. Yes, it’s helpful if you can sell and recycle your furniture, kitchen cabinets, etc, but a LOT of that stuff goes in landfills too. Perhaps we need to think a bit bigger when we really talk about being environmentally conscious.

    1. I do not disagree with this at all. The nature of what we do is, well…wasteful BUT, I do think it’s important to start talking about little things that we can tackle every day, which hopefully leads into “medium” level things, then much bigger things…we all have to start somewhere.

  60. The thing that always amazes me about the USA is your reliance on clothes dryers. From an environmental stand point it seems crazy, particularly in parts of the country with pretty good weather year round. Washing lines are not only environmentally amazing, they are also great for your clothes.
    I am well aware that Australia has a shocking record in many things, but the ‘Hills Hoist’ is definitely a proud moment!!

  61. Thank you for doing the research! I will definitely be referring back to this post!

  62. Baby muslins are great to replace paper towels as they are so absorbant and dry in no time. Plus they come in so many cute designs now they are much prettier than paper towels. We just did not throw them away when the babies turned to toddlers!

    Also it would be amazing if you could do more posts on making your home more environmentally friendly when renovating for example fixtures and fittings that reduce water and energy use. These differences can make a massive difference to bills as well as the environment!

  63. I have to agree with the comments on Emily’s connection to Liberal = eco-conscious, I’m a proud Canadian Conservative and am extremely conscious of how I run our household and reduce waste, we compost, use beeswax wrap and haven’t used paper towel or dryer sheets in years. Wool dryer balls have been my favourite switch personally! I wish people didn’t think Conservatives don’t care about these issues, I’ll stop at that. I know why Emily often adds these explanation paragraphs to the blog posts – its to help decrease the amount of people who are offended (these days I’m sure that is so tricky to navigate!) I would love to see less justification about the topics you write about and your opinions of them, just give it to us straight Em! haha

    Another topic I think would be HUGE for Emily to consider covering is furniture/decor manufactured within North America – its a topic relevant to your industry and would have a massive impact on the environment if we purchase locally made on these bigger items (even the environmental cost of shipping large items across the globe alone!) I for one do not care about spending more on something that is produced with integrity and close to home.

    Bravo on exploring these important topics, love from Canada!

    1. As an American expat in Canada, I generally associate a Canadian Conservative is more aligned with an American Liberal than an American Conservative… the political system up here in the Great White North just tilts left, comparably speaking.

      I LOVE your suggestion for more resources of North American made furniture. We had almost all our major furniture made by a local duo and it was the same price/a bit cheaper than the big box stores. I was floored how reasonable it can be if you make an effort to look.

      In other news, for a great Calgary company, check out shampoo and conditioner bars by Unwrappedlife.com. I hold zero affiliation to the company besides trying to support a lady entrepreneur and loving their products 🙂

    2. Unfortunately advocating for North American made furniture would be in direct odds with the EHD Target shill game.

  64. Thank you for this post. It’s great to see all of these wonderful products in one place. I do get overwhelmed with choices sometimes trying to do the right thing. Since I learned that my city burns all of our refuse, there is not much incentive for me to spend more money to buy compostable/biodegradable products. I do realize the chemicals/process going into making plastics are not good. Does anyone have any insight into this?

    I reuse the cotton shoe bags I receive from Stitchfix and Toms as produce bags. Perfect size, they have a drawstring at the top and you just throw them in the wash after awhile.

  65. Great post!! I also have a reusable coffee cup. It made me sick when I looked at how many unrecycleable takeaway coffee cups were in my bin that I switched. I bought a Frank Green one (frankgreen.com.au) and I just make coffee at home, throw it in my bag and go. Also obsessed with taking my lunch in containers that can be washed and reused. It’s not hard but even little changes add up!

  66. Just want to chime in and agree with those here encouraging less consumption. My New Year’s resolution for 2018 was a “no shopping” year. What this meant for me was that I could only shop for things that would be consumed — food and toiletries. No new clothes/shoes/coats/handbags etc. for a year. And no new toiletries until the old ones were used up. No books shipped to my house (all were borrowed from the library or purchased digitally). It was pretty much life changing! I cleared out clutter (and didn’t bring in more) and really appreciated the clothes and shoes that I already owned. Without new stuff coming in, I was actually excited about taking out clothes (that I already owned) for the next season. Most of us already have everything we need — adding another pair of boots to the ones you already own — well, for me, that is just mental and physical clutter. The simple act of hitting the pause button on consumption for a year forced me to really look at what I own, and determine what I really need (and so far, for me, that turned out to be one pair of pants). I can’t imagine going back to my old ways. Just a consideration for people as the new year begins!

    1. I love this and think everyone would benefit from a year without buying new. I think I’m going to try it! Thanks for the idea!

  67. I wouldn’t worry about compost smelling! I know from living with and without compost, putting food/biodegradable materials in your regular garbage smells WAY WORSE. If you keep your main compost outdoors and a small bucket or bin indoors that’s emptied at least once per day, you shouldn’t have any issues. However, I do have a genuine question: do most places not have compost pickup, similar to garbage and recycling pickup? I live on the east coast of Canada (in Halifax), and have to separate out the compost into the “green bin” that gets picked up by the compost truck on our bi-weekly garbage day. They won’t take your garbage if there’s compost in it (and vice-versa) AND they’ll slap you with a fine. I lived in Montreal for 3 years and know that they *just* started a composting program, so maybe Nova Scotia is different? I’m always shocked that people still don’t compost, but maybe we’re just lucky out here!

    1. Our condo in Colorado Springs USA pays for trash pick up (we try to reuse any unavoidable plastic/chip bags for garbage). When hubs & I collect enough recyclables, we must drive it to the recycling center to unload ourselves (open 2 afternoons/wk, assuming they’ve enough room to accept it-last few attempts the bins were full & we brought everything home to try later). I don’t think our city has a composting program, but we save food scraps in the freezer to make stock.

      1. I did a quick Google and am shocked to find our that the vast majority of the US doesn’t have a compost program in their community! In 2019! We’ve had mandatory compost for over 20 years here, and we’re a
        small, poor province. But I also discovered in my research that most Americans are not willing to have their taxes increased to allow for composting programs (as a middle-class Canadian who pays higher taxes than even the top 1% of Americans, this makes me roll my eyes a little bit haha).

  68. Thank you for mentioning the positive impact that vegetarianism has on the environment! ❤️

  69. I don’t buy paper towels because I am lazy and cheap. You seriously don’t need them. If I have them I use them, if I don’t I don’t notice. I have a few paper napkins that I can use in a pinch, but you really don’t need paper towels! Also buy recycled toilet paper, stop wiping you a** with America’s forests. (Its okay to keep a few soft rolls for those times you need something soft).

    Finally my favorite “green” product is Charlie’s Soap. It is the single best all purpose cleaner. Spray it on, even it out, walk away for 30 minutes and come back and wash it away (or a quick scrub). I use their laundry detergent in my washing machine, and no more mildew. The gallon bottle seems expensive, but you mix it down at home, and it is reasonable.

  70. Question for Emily (or other moms!)- what’s your take on diapers? I’m going to be a new mom in a couple months and cannot decide on cloth/disposable and am unsure if biodegradable disposables work well enough. I don’t mind the extra work for cloth (I hear bumGenius is the best brand here) but I will be a working mom eventually and know not all caregivers/daycare facilities will be ok with cloth. Furthermore, there’s studies that the additional water and detergent you’ll use to sanitize cloth diapers will reduce the benefit, so is it really worth the effort? For disposables, any great biodegradable brands you’ve found/loved? Thanks in advance!

    1. I used cloth nappies and they were great. I think cloth is way better, simply for the landfill result. This article has some good images that steered me towards cloth: https://babyology.com.au/baby/care/i-have-disposable-nappy-guilt-after-seeing-this-image-do-you-too.html
      I don’t know how true it is that ‘biodegradable’ nappies are truly biodegradable – my understanding is they all have plastics in them.
      I will say I found cloth really hard in the early days. My boy was weeing every ten minutes so I ended up using disposable (guilty) until he was about 6 months, when my husband encouraged me to try the cloth again. From then on, I used cloth all the time. So if you find it hard to start with, (because having a new baby is HARD) – don’t give up completely. Just give it a rest then have another go when you feel up to it.
      They are more expensive up-front, but I saved money in the long term, because the sheer number of nappies you go through is enormous. Washing saved me heaps of money, and the water I used is still less than the amount of water used to make disposables.
      My boy is now toilet trained, and I’ve handed my cloth nappies on to another family to keep saving money and reduce waste.

    2. I read that biodegradable diapers will not break down in a landfill. City compost services will not take them. You would need to live somewhere that specifically offered diaper composting.

      I used cloth diapers on two boys, from birth to potty training (age 3 for the first, age 2 for the second.) I got the diapers secondhand so I had the opportunity to try lots of different types. My favorite system was using a prefold folded into thirds with a snap on cover. I actually thought this was a lot less trouble than the more modern all in one type.

      There are all kinds of deals you can find online where you can try out various types and see what you like best. There is a very robust market for secondhand diapers, so if you try them and hate them, it’s pretty easy to recoup at least some of your expense.

  71. PSA: If you have a backyard, composting is very easy and does not make your kitchen or backyard smell like trash!!!

    Get yourself a cute container to keep on the counter or under the sink by your regular trash can. Empty it regularly and then follow SUPER simple instructions for keeping the compost pile healthy – they are all over the internet! You will feel great about how much less waste you are producing. You can literally reach out to me personally if you want tips. If you have a backyard, I honestly feel there is no reason to not compost and I think once people have tried it, they will be surprised how simple it is and wonder why they haven’t done it before!!

  72. I grew up using grocery paper bags as my recycling and garbage bags under the sink. It works because 1) no plastic bags and 2) smaller bags means you have to take out the stinky trash more! I balance it out by bringing reusable bags half the time, other half asking for paper. And my grocery stores have recyclable or compostable paper bags to boot!!

  73. This post is the best post ever!! I am so trying to come closer to net zero waste and it is hard. After reading this I am motivated to get some recycled, lead free spray bottles and fill with great smelling cleaning concentrates!! To get a mason jar drinking lid – how cool! Also, wool dryer balls, reuseable sponges (and compost them) and recycled degradable trash bags and more….Thank you so much for this post!!!!

  74. Hurray for small changes that can have a big impact!! Buy swedish dish cloths also known as cellulose sponges! They are natural, last forever, are washable and compostable AND they work!!
    Also, walnut shell scouring pads- also compostable!! I just got on to both of these and wish I had sooner. What we do to compost is we have it in the fridge or freezer- no smell! Then when it’s full it goes outside! I have so much more to say but your list is a great start!!

  75. I really enjoyed this post. An important topic, good information and helpful ideas from Ryann, Emily and many of the commenters. I appreciate Ryann “putting herself out there” for something she feels passionate about and risking negative feedback.

    It didn’t bother me at all that the post included things you had to “buy” – its a personal decision if you want to go that route and, truly, this entire site can lead to making non-essential purchases in search of beauty, comfort and function. I mean we could all take Aunt Jane’s couch she’s putting on the curb – but do we really want to? (LOL)

    1. Ha! The Aunt Jane comment made me actually lol. Thank you for the support xx

  76. Yes! Please DO try composting! It’s insanely easy to do—I have this very affordable one (https://www.amazon.com/Yimby-Tumbler-Composter-Color-Black/dp/B009378AG2) and it totally does not smell at all (instead, it smells like fresh dirt). If you find your compost getting a bit wet, just add more paper/carbon products. It’s way easier to deal with than a compost heap, too.

    I’m always encouraging anyone with the backyard/balcony space in LA to give it a try—it’s so easy and makes me feel okay about throwing out veggies that have gone moldy. I’ve even composted a few of our Halloween pumpkins and I swear, it was totally composted in a few weeks. Try it—I believe in you!

  77. I recently looked carefully at all the plastic bottles in my bathroom. I think I can replace all the liquid soap and body wash with a bar of soap wrapped in paper. Why are moisturizers packaged in little tiny jars and bottles -so we don’t realize they are more expensive than gasoline? I’m trying to figure out how to eliminate all the plastic bottles in my home.

    The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of plastic, floating trash halfway between Hawaii and California, has grown to more than 600,000 square miles, a study found. That’s twice the size of Texas.
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/science/2018/03/22/great-pacific-garbage-patch-grows/446405002/

    I am contributing to that garbage heap and I want to stop.
    Thanks for this post.

  78. Hi Emily,

    I’m in my early 20s, and I just want to point out that straws are an accessibility issue. Bendable plastic straws were actually invented for the disabled community, and then went mainstream like fidget spinners or weighted blankets. This actually makes it easier for us to access those aids when we need them.

    I don’t look disabled at a glance, but straws are important for many people with fine motor deficits, or people with swallowing disorders. If I don’t have a straw, I will either out myself as disabled by spilling a whole cup of coffee on myself, or have to ask for one, and there’s a lot of gatekeeping that people do because I don’t “seem like I need it.” So that’s why things like making no straw the default, but not banning them or raising a fuss about who seems like they “deserve” one, is a good middle ground.

    Here is a great article on the subject: https://www.eater.com/2018/7/19/17586742/plastic-straw-ban-disabilities

    Best,
    Kelly

    P.S. I’m a card-carrying hipster hippie so I’ve been on the BeesWrap train for years! The secret is to wash it in cold water. And don’t buy off-brands like the Trader Joe’s one, they smell strongly of pine instead of like honey.

  79. Planet box for lunches! Zero baggies etc and NO smelly soggy mess. Easy to clean, easy for my kids (even one with special needs) to open, and promotes bento style food choices—tear up some cheese and it is a food group! Life changing! No plastics!

  80. Shecology laundry powder is a more approachable version of the soap nuts you featured. I used their laundry pills for a few years, but now they offer the powder in an easy scoopable form. Highly recommend!
    http://www.shecology.com/laundry-powder/

  81. Odorless composting: Put kitchen waste in a reusable lidded container in the freezer. Empty into compost bin in your garden regularly.

  82. Awesome post! My husband and I gave up paper towels about 10 years ago and had kids three years ago. It’s not hard at all. Just have a bunch of dish towels handy. We’ve never once missed them.

  83. hi there! my interest is piqued whenever this topic comes up. one thing I haven’t seen mentioned is bringing your own containers to the grocery store and buying from the bulk section. you can do this by saving jars from pasta sauce, etc and getting them weighed when you first walk in the store. then fill them up, and write the code and the tare weight on the lid with a sharpie. food ends up being cheaper (nuts and oats and dried fruits are great to buy this way!) and there’s nothing to dispose of when you’re done, just an empty jar to fill up again when you go back to the store. you can also do this with spices, you just might need to bring a funnel with you. 🙂

  84. I appreciate this post and would be glad to read more. I really use these bags, in addition to being super convenient, recycled and washable (imperative when carrying food) they are durable. I have some Chico bags that are a decade old and still going strong. https://www.chicobag.com/category-vita-repete-20

    We use a lot of similar products to many of these, replacing gradually over the years. Stainless steel straws are great and also enamel cups for filling up at the coffee shop or farmers market. I love the sippy tops for jars too: I drink my daily water this way and it’s so easy. Dr. Bronner’s is the best natural stain remover as well as general soap for the shower, home etc.

  85. I keep my compost bin in the freezer during the week then empty it on weekends – no smell ever!

  86. Here on the East Coast none of these things are standard amongst my peers (in a Philly suburb). To me, eco friendly IS good design, because plastic is ugly. I first found out about zero waste because of her beautiful house on pinterest! It is basically doing things how people used to do them before plastics were common. Emily I have 3 kids and went paper towel free. You just need A LOT of rags. Also we compost and smells are not a problem. The kids take it out every few days and hubby turns the pile twice a year, once you set up a system its pretty easy. I don’t think you need to do all the things, all the time, but something is always better than nothing. I’m not a hippy millennial, just a middle aged Mom, but I’m very happy to see you include eco concious design posts. I’d love to see more posts like this related to home design (at multiple price points)! Thanks!

  87. For moms: reusable nursing pads are gold. I felt so wasteful throwing out the disposable ones along with their packaging every single day for months. I got some reusable washing machine friendly pads for my second baby and even ended up spending less than i did on disposables in the long run!

  88. Ii’m torn in regards to this post. Yes there are some wonderful items you have brought to our attention. What I’m having trouble with is replacing prefectly good granite in kitchens and baths just to have new trendy quartz. Pulling out wood floor to achieve the prefect new lighter shade. Out with the outdated mirrors and on to those that communicate with us. Don’t forget to repaint all those white Wall’s with the it color. I would like to convince myself to go ahead don’t worry about. But I feel guilty just throwing in the trash the earths beautiful gifts. Much of what I read here is about how to change , in turn becoming waste. so it seems judgmental to post products that might help saving the earth.
    I’m sure there’s a landfill of no longer trendy or not my colors home materials polluting someone’s back yard

  89. I love 99% of this… but I wish that Mrs Meyer’s wasn’t labeled a “clean” product. (I’ve seen it done elsewhere too). I use this app called Think Dirty that tells me if something is clean and Mrs Meyers *isn’t*. It makes me really sad that this product has tricked so many people (myself included) into thinking it’s clean. 🙁

  90. I love the fact you wrote this, and I already use a bunch of these, but I don’t really understand how reusable paper towels are different to actual towels. I have a drawer in my kitchen with old tea towels, so easy

  91. We compost our food scraps in SF. We found we got lots of gnats quickly even when we took out the compost bin almost daily. We found a nook in the freezer where we toss our food scraps into green compost bags. No smell and no bugs! It does take up a bit of freezer space but it works great for us and I feel better knowing and seeing how much we actually can compost but were previously choosing not to. Food for thought..

  92. Try Full Circle towels – we swear by them for paper towel replacements. And use egg cartons to sop the grease off your bacon.

  93. Put your compost in your freezer so it doesn’t stink 🙂

  94. This may be a bit off topic, but we reuse the plastic produce bags from the store for picking up after the dog. Does anyone have any eco strategies for dog poop pickup? I have not seen any. Thx for such a timely post!

  95. The amazing products that changed how I clean: Norwex microfiber cloths. My sister’s friend was selling them like an Avon lady and I bought some to be nice, but now I adore them. They have a fiber woven in made out of silver, so they’re naturally antibacterial. You can wipe down counters without any cleaning product at all – the texture scrubs off gunk really easily, and the silver legitimately cleans the counters. Cooking grease too. I use a body cloth to wash my face now at night (again, zero product besides water) and it’s cleared up the last of my VERY persistent adult acne. Nothing has ever gotten my makeup off as well. They have a nice shower tile scrubber and a window cloth I use in my car when the windshield gets dingy. I swear they should pay me because I proselytize, but I adore them and they have eliminated my use of: counter sprays, face wash, tile cleaner, Magic Erasers, and Windex. And they scrub so well. LOVE THEM. You just pop them in the wash and if they get ragged eventually you ship them back to the company and they get recycled into new cloths. OBSESSED.

  96. Fashion post request: A round-up of work bags that a roomy enough to accomodate a laptop and a water bottle without being a super tight fit. These must exist. I’m diligent about my reusable water bottle, packed lunch, and silverware but the bag situation I uses (usually 2) to get to work is not chic.

  97. Love these ideas! I actually didn’t like the beeswax covers… they smelled weird and thought they kinda made my food stink too. The silicone bowl covers however- GAME CHANGERS. Charles Viancin Lilypad Lid – Small 6″ https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009SMB5SC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_egkqCbKHSDS4A

    There’s also a subscription to mighty nest that is $10 a month and they send you a green product every month! It really helped kickstart my change.

    1. Do you choose the green product? Is it “green” to receive something random you may not want or need? I’m just confused about the concept of an “eco” subscription box.

  98. Thanks so much. Very excited about this!!!

  99. Bar soap in the shower/bath, at the kitchen sink for hands and also for dishes! Lots of beautiful bar soap available and same for attractive/practical soap dishes. So much plastic avoided that will never get into the waste stream – shower gel containers & hand soap bottles/pumps. A fancy liquid may look pretty in the bathroom or by the kitchen sink, but not so nice in the landfill, bobbing on the ocean or even in the recycling system. Recycling takes energy/fossil fuels too!

  100. http://www.leevalley.com/en/garden/page.aspx?p=10025&cat=2

    This is an awesome option for compost and keeps the smells at Bay. We just line the inside with old news paper. It’s also easy maintenance and doesn’t absorb the smells of the foods in it. We’ve been using our for at least 5 years now and it’s good as new. Good luck with your goals, Emily!

  101. I fell pretty deep into the comments section abyss, but didn’t notice that anyone had mentioned Grove Collaborative (www.grove.co) yet. It’s sort of like a subscription service (“a fully-customizable auto-replenishment service”) for non-toxic, sustainable, cruelty-free products. Anything from the bee’s wrap paper already mentioned, to shampoo, toilet paper, pet care items, and everything in between. IF you’re interested in purchasing ‘greener’ products (every little bit helps, amirite?!), I highly recommend this service. Not only can you shop from home in your sweatpants (less gas emissions – woot!), Grove guarantees they’ve got the best prices – a win-win in my book!

  102. Method foaming pump soap dispensers last forever! I personally fill mine with 1/4 cup of Dr Bonners bulk purchased soap and top off with water. Still some plastic involved but I nice alternative to those who prefer pump soap to a bar soap. The last Method foaming pump bottles I had lasted almost 8 years!

  103. Thanks for sharing the products! Regarding the paper towels, I have some thoughts. Ever since I started staying at home with my son I realized what a mess mealtime was and began a system that works for us. I now have two children under three at home with me for all meals and snacks, so I have a ton of basic, inexpensive white wash cloths that I keep in a pretty gold wire basket by my sink. I pick up one (sometimes two) for the day to wipe down my kids after meals. I rinse and hang to dry until the next meal then throw it in the laundry basket at the end of the day. Same thing for wiping down counters but I use old T-shirts (which I store in the cabinet because they’re ugly). Just have to get yourself a system in place!

  104. Paper towels: I gave these up this year too. I got a bunch of $.79 tea towels from ikea (white with red stripe) and I use those for everything I would need paper towels for. The last thing I had to figure out was oiling my cast iron pan. Now I have a mason jar with a small linen napkin that I use to oil my pan, and I rinse it out every week.

  105. The single use produce bag replacement is huge! I started a “Personal Plastic Ban” this year (eliminating at least one plastic every month) and that was the first thing I vowed to stop using. I have mesh bags now, but would also consider bringing my produce home “naked”. I’m very grateful that sustainable and eco-friendly options are becoming more widely available!! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  106. A great video about how we all got here (single use everything) and the impact of our overconsumption is called the Story of Stuff and you can watch it on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GorqroigqM
    It’s actually pretty funny and only about 20 minutes long.

  107. Thank you for this post – keep it up! Liberal or conservative, we should all do our part to protect our only home: earth!

  108. I’ve been passionate about the environment for most of my 61 years (thanks to my eco-warrior mom!) and here are just a few tips for a greener kitchen:

    Compost – Added to recycling and thoughtful and reduced consumption, this reduced our garbage to one 13 gallon can a week. Because the majority of our trash is now “dry”, it also eliminated the need for a plastic bag to line the garbage can. I place some newspaper at the bottom of the can just in case something wet is thrown out. The reward is a huge pile of soil amendment for the garden!

    Check your local waste company’s website for a list of what can be recycled curbside and what can be dropped off at a recycling location. In my area in San Diego, we can drop off used cooking oil.

    You can make paperless towels out of old tee shirts by simply cutting the size you want – no raveling with knits. I also tear old, worn sheets.

    As for cleaning – water, vinegar, baking soda, Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap (great for getting oil splatters off glass-front cabinets in the kitchen), Barkeepers Friend, a pumice stone, and good brushes (oh, and muscles!).

    When I need to cover a bowl (think pancake batter, dough, cut fruit, pasta salad, etc) I use a plate, especially if it only needs to be covered for less than a day. Otherwise, bees wraps work great.

  109. Our Earth needs more advocates like you and your team! Thank you for sharing. Also, Dropps is great for laundry and dishes detergent! xoxox

  110. Two of the biggest changes I made were I the bathroom! I quit using make up remover wipes and started using The Makeup Eraser. I use micellar water on my face twice a day and started using washable cotton round instead of single use cotton balls. I am a huge fan of both and will never go back!

  111. Branch Basics is a good all-purpose nontoxic cleaner. I use it in the kitchen and bathroom. No scent, non irritating, safe around kids and pets and food.

  112. So we went with cloth diapers for our little one and I tried cloth wipes with making my own wipe solution. The cloth wipes are perfect for in the kitchen too. They come in a pack of 15 so I wan to get two of them to use in the kitchen to clean with, wipe up spills, etc. great post!

  113. Have you tried Stasher bags? They are silicone “zip-lock” bags that can go in the dishwasher. Maybe not the best for a PB&J sandwich but so great for marinating meat, keeping cut veggies fresh, and all the other things I love to use a ziplock for. Plus a woman owned company and a certified B-corp. So you can feel good buying them for those reasons too. https://www.stasherbag.com/pages/about-cc

  114. Quick tip on composting. If you can find room in your freezer, keep a composting container in there. It eliminates the smell and bugs and when you take it outside to your composting container, thawing it out speeds up the decomposing process a little.

  115. No paper towels at all. I use cloth rags usually made from old towels, cloth napkins (that’s right I don’t use paper napkins)and old undershirts (great for windows and mirrors). My list of no’s: paper dishes, plastic ware, plastic glasses, paper or plastic tablecloths), bottles of water, dryer sheets. Take plastic bags from fruit back to the store for reuse. I return whatever I can to the store (i.e. cartons, wire hangers) When picking up dry cleaning I remove garments from hangers or plastic bags. Never take bags from store ALWAYS bring my own. Try not to buy nonessentials (i.e. air freshners). Prefer to open a window. Use minimal amount of cleaning products. It’s amazing how little is actually needed to achieve same result.

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