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Baby Steps Towards Becoming an Eco-Warrior

Since having children, I am particularly aware of my effect on the environment. It’s not just that I fear for the wellbeing of the planet and how it will impact my kids’ future. It’s also that I spend so much time teaching my children to appreciate what they have (food, toys, home, opportunities) and to be gentle with their belongings that I cannot help but think about how I treat the earth.

In an ideal world, I would have the means and the time to transform my house into a mostly solar-powered home, have a compost bin, drive an electric car, reduce my waste to the bare minimum, and more. As I work towards that dream, I have begun to make some small, really easy-to-make changes in the items I use every day. I am hoping these tiny tweaks will add up to make a big difference.

I add to to this list almost every week. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments section or email them to me at I am always happy to learn about other changes I can make to be more environmentally friendly.

Beauty products

It’s not just about the effect these have on our bodies, it’s also about the effect they have on the environment when they are produced and washed off. In fact, as I mentioned in last week’s post, the EPA says we shouldn’t pour beauty products down the drain.

Thankfully, there are a number of options out there that are effective and green. I love Honest Beauty’s makeup--I credit their tinted moisturizer, creme blush and lip crayons with getting me tons of compliments right after I had my daughter and was majorly sleep deprived!

Juice Beauty makes very effective skin care products (and this coming from someone who only used ReVive). I also love their mascara!

I am a huge fan of Young Living’s shower gels, body moisturizers and shampoo.

I have never tried Acure beauty products, but many swear by them.

Cleaning products

Toxic chemicals in laundry and dish detergent and other cleaning solutions contaminate our watershed. They also release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) within our home that are bad for our health, especially our little ones. My favorite green household products are Young Living. These are the ones I trust the most. A very close second is The Honest Company. But there are many more. Just do your research since companies can be sneaky and seem green when they really are not.

We go through a lot of toilet paper in my house! I shudder to think how many trees we have decimated through our TP use! So, we have switched to toilet paper made from recycled materials and whitened in a way that is environmentally friendly. I use Seventh Generation recycled toilet paper. I like it and it seems to have the best reviews. According to Seventh Generation, “if every household in the U.S. replaced just one 48 roll case of regular virgin fiber bathroom tissue with with our 100% recycled product, we could save 7,560,000 trees.”

We also use Seventh Generation tissues. Admittedly, these are not as soft as the more luxurious Kleenex options. So, if we ever get a wiped-till-our-nose-is-raw cold, I will run out and buy a box (or two) of the extra soft variety, but for everyday use, Seventh Generation tissues are fine. And I love the thought that no trees were harmed in the making of our tissues!

Plastic goods

It seems a huge step towards being more eco-conscious is reducing our use of plastic. There are many reasons why plastic is bad for the environment, including the way it’s made (which causes pollution) and the fact that synthetic plastic doesn't easily biodegrade. As a result, plastic is a significant source of landfill waste. When burned, it causes pollution. When eaten by marine and land animals, it can be fatal. Also, it’s not a great material to surround ourselves and our food with as plastic contains hormone-disrupting chemicals that have been linked to cancer, ADD and ADHD, and diabetes among other diseases in humans. So,

  • Instead of plastic bags, I have been using Lunchskins reusable velcro sandwich bags, Bumkins reusable snack bags, and Stasher reusable silicone food bags (you can keep these in the freezer). I am astounded by how much I have saved by using these bags. I would use at least one Ziplock bag a day for my son’s snacks. I haven’t reached for the Ziplocks in weeks, and it’s made me realize how many I used.

  • Instead of cling wrap, I have been using silicone stretch lids like these. You can also try Ionic Silicone Suction Lids.

  • I still use large plastic trash bags because I bought about a dozen boxes in bulk and I am working my way through them. When I am done with the bags I already have, I am going to try Stout by Envision trash bags, which are fully degradable (it takes about 2 years for them to degrade, but that’s better than hundreds of years).

  • Instead of small trash bags for bathrooms in my house, I have been using 100% recycled paper Duro bags. Not only are these bags made from recycled materials, they also decompose in about a month, greatly reducing landfill waste. I thought I might miss my small plastic trash bags, but I haven’t thought about them once! On top of not missing them, I love that I won’t run out and need to get more in a looooooong time since the Duro bags came in 500 count (see the picture for this blog post)! They are also a bargain at 6 cents per bag compared to 13 cents per small plastic trash bag.

  • One of the main ways most of us use plastic bags is by going to the grocery store. From what I understand, in order to recycle the bags you get at the grocery store, you need to return them to the grocery store. I can never remember to do this! An easy way to avoid having to use plastic bags and then return them to the store is by having your own baggies in the car and taking them into the store. To bag my groceries, I am a huge fan of Envirosax. I love that these are super compact and can be thrown in the washing machine. In fact, I keep 1 or 2 in my purse at all times. For produce, you can use EcoBags produce bags.

Aluminum foil

Aluminum foil is another one that isn’t eco-friendly because of the way it is made, through it can be recycled. Instead of aluminum foil I now use If You Care Parchment Paper. I particularly love that no aluminum will leach into our food. If You Care is chlorine-free, compostable, and made from recycled paper.

What we eat

Most of what I buy for my home is organic. I see it as a way to increase our health but also help the planet since organic farming reduces reduces our exposure to synthetic pesticides, doesn’t worsen the antibiotic-resistance problem, and greatly protects us from suspect additives. I especially like that by buying organic, I am increasing the “demand for it, which brings prices down so others who are less affluent can afford to eat cleaner food.” Learn more.

At home, we are also vegetarian. My husband does eat meat, but only when he eats out. This one is easy for me to do because being practically vegan comes very naturally to me. I know it’s not the case for most. So, if you can’t give up meat, consider going meat and dairy free once a week. And when you do eat animal products, choose organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed animals. Read why.

Buy as much local produce as possible. This one can be fun because Farmers Markets are great to visit! In addition to offering fresher food (that was picked days earlier), most of what they offer is also seasonal. Another option is to plant a garden. This spring, we are planting our first food garden. It’s our version of eating as organic and local as we can. To keep things simple, we are planting it in these bag beds. According to a dear friend who is my “gardening consultant” and is coming over to help us, two of those bag beds should reap quite a bit of food for our family of 4. I will keep you posted on my progress!

Giving back

Finally, it helps to plant trees! At the end of each year, I calculate my carbon footprint and “plant” the number of trees necessary to offset it. I usually donate the trees to American Forests, but there are many other groups that will plant the trees you donate.


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