Have you ever wanted to make your life a little more sustainable, but have no idea where to begin? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Not too long ago, I looked around at all the single-use plastics and consumer-convenient packaging around my home and really felt like it was time for a change. Fostering a sustainable lifestyle in such a dynamic world can be daunting when non-renewable products are more approachable than eco-friendly alternatives at supermarkets. I couldn’t stand how many non biodegradable things I was routinely throwing away every few months, and I finally came to the decision to start making switches! Living sustainably shouldn’t be as challenging as it is often portrayed, so I wanted to share my favorite (small!) product switches so that you can feel comfortable about it, too!
1. Shampoo and conditioner bars
I’ve never really been one to explore lavish hair care, but I was still frustrated with having to buy new bottles rather than refills. So, I did some Googling and very quickly found shampoo bars — eco-friendly, plastic-free alternative to liquid gels. I buy mine from The Earthling Company for a great price, and they even offer a subscription service with a discount! The product quality is great and lathers just like liquid shampoo and conditioner, and even lasts just as long as (if not longer than) the bottles!
2. Toothpaste tabs
These little guys take some getting used to, but after a week or so I hardly noticed anymore! Toothpaste tabs are great alternatives to tubes because they come in reusable containers, are travel-friendly, and are made of all-natural, vegan ingredients. I use the activated charcoal tabs from Hello and, paired with a bamboo toothbrush, my teeth have never felt or looked happier! Each bottle lasts me a month and costs just a little more than a normal tube of toothpaste.
3. Natural loofahs
If you’re anything like me, you need a little exfoliation in your life! I caught myself buying plastic mesh loofahs from the supermarket only to toss them out a few weeks later for either falling apart or getting too dirty. I still wanted to keep my skincare routine the same, and I found TONS of BPA-free, natural loofah options online, so I went for it! These are a great switch for anyone who wants to treat their skin AND the planet right.
This is a new switch in my life that has opened my eyes to easily reducing waste. Many counties and towns have free household composting bins that you can sign up for, or you can start your own! All you need is a container, soil, some backyard foliage, and of course, food scraps! Be sure to do your research on what exactly can be tossed in your bin as certain waste items can be odorous or attract pests. Once you’ve got a routine down, you can use the soil in a couple weeks to keep your houseplants and garden beds happy!
5. Growing Veggies/Shopping Local Produce
One of my favorite new pastimes, other than caring for the dozens of houseplants I own, is starting a vegetable garden! Onions, peppers and squash are some absolute staples of mine at dinnertime, so naturally I was buying quite a lot of these at my local produce stand (another GREAT option for those without the space to grow your own!). Many veggies don’t need too specific of conditions to grow – just some good soil (bonus points for using your compost), a nice sunny spot in the yard or window boxes, and hydration. You’ll feel so much better taking less trips to the supermarket and grow your green thumb while you’re at it!
6. Reusable grocery bags
Alright, alright – I know this is one you’ve heard before. But really, truly, honestly these things are absolute lifesavers. Maybe not literally, but the number of times a plastic bag has ripped and damaged my purchases? Maybe 50 in my lifetime. A reusable bag? Absolutely none. Zero. Zilch. In order for cotton or fabric totes to be sustainable, you do have to use them enough times to offset their own production, so I use mine for everything -- grocery shopping, travel, beach trips, really anything you can think of. And if you really must use plastic grocery bags, remember that most stores have recycling bins set up for you to return them!
7. Wool dryer balls
While it was hard for me to sacrifice the nostalgic scent of the dryer sheets my mom used to wash my clothes with, I realized how wasteful those synthetic sheets of perfume really are. I thought there must be an alternative, equally as effective but more sustainable, and surely there is! I’ve been using a set of three 100% sheep’s wool balls and, to get my clothes smelling fresh, I dab a couple drops of my favorite essential oil on them before tossing them in the dryer! Sheep’s wool is naturally harvested to keep the animal’s coat healthy, and these tightly packed spheres last for many, many washes!
8. Bamboo sheets
Okay, so maybe I saved the best for last. We all crave the feeling of jumping into a cozy bed at the end of the day, so why not make it comfortable and sustainable? I didn’t even know sustainable bedding was on the market until bamboo sheets started popping up, so of course I had to try them. Bamboo is known to be one of the fastest growing resources on the planet and uses very little water to produce, making it a sustainable resource! Bamboo fabrics are temperature-regulating and incredibly soft, so you can sleep with ultimate comfort knowing you’re treating the planet right, too!
This list could easily be expanded with all the terms you’ve heard before — reduce, reuse, and recycle at the very least! But I wanted to offer a more narrowed guide by sharing the easiest substitutions I’ve made while becoming more sustainably conscious. I hope this list helps you more confidently make sustainable decisions in your every-day life, and that you try some of these ideas for your first switches! Going green shouldn’t be intimidating, nor should you feel like you have to change everything at once. My best advice to any reader wanting to begin their eco-friendly lifestyle is to start small. Look around your home at things that you can both afford to change and don’t mind experimenting with different products. At the end of the day, you should be happy with the substitutions you’re making while getting the added bonus of helping the planet at the same time. Happy switching!