Planet

10 Easy Swaps for an Eco-Friendly Home

Switch out your everyday items for these green-friendly products and homemade cleaners—and save some cash too.

Beyond grocery tote bags, thrift store shopping, and biking to work, there are a plethora of new products and inventive ideas to green your lifestyle and reduce the amount of toxins that you’re exposed to on a daily basis. From soap-producing berries to stylish plastic-wrap alternatives, here are some of the best eco-friendly replacements for common household products. 

1. Bamboo reusable towels
Bamboo isn’t just for pandas anymore. This renewable resource is now being made into paper towels that easily replace traditional paper towels. One Bambooee roll is equivalent to 60 paper towel rolls. Plus, you can toss them in the washing machine and reuse them again. 

2. Compostable dog-waste bags
As a responsible dog guardian, you always pick up after your pup, but if you’re tossing Fido’s poop into a plastic bag, it may sit in a landfill for up to 100 years. Switch over to BioBags dog waste bags, which are made with cornstarch and compostable-friendly components, and even your canine can lend a helpful paw for the environment.

3. DIY paper towels
Did you know that 3,000 pounds of paper towel waste is produced every day? If you’re crafty and own a sewing machine, you never have to buy paper towels again. The gal behind the DIY blog craftygemini.blogspot.com shows you how to take a terry cloth towel and some fabric and turn it into a roll of reusable, machine-washable paper towels.

4. Glass jars
Mason jars are popping up everywhere on design blogs as the new way to store just about everything from spices to salads. But instead of buying jars, you can easily reuse the glass jars already in your kitchen. A simple trick to remove those pesky sticky labels is to soak the glass jar in hot water and then rub the label off with peanut butter.

5. Homemade cleaning supplies
With just five basic ingredients—lemon, cinnamon, water, baking soda, and vinegar—you can create toxic-free, animal-ingredient-free drain cleaner, air freshener, and all-purpose cleaner. This charmingly simple infographic details the basic recipes and explains why baking soda is the best invention ever.

6. Laundry detergent alternative
Switch out your big bottle of laundry detergent for the environmental-alternative Eco Nuts. While the product is so named because it resembles a small nut, it actually is a berry similar to a lychee that naturally releases soap when agitated with water. Place the reusable soap nuts, which can be used up to 11 times, in a small wash bag and toss it in with your clothes.

7. Natural disinfectant
With the flu epidemic hitting major cities including Boston, New York, and Los Angeles, there’s never been a more important time to disinfect any commonly used surfaces and objects. Instead of dousing your office desk with Lysol the second your co-worker sneezes, use a combination of tea tree oil and distilled water—tea tree oil naturally kills bacteria. Plus, this DIY germ fighter is safe for use around children and companion animals.

8. Simple beauty products
Baking soda, white vinegar, and lemon reappear again, but this time in your beauty supply closet as essential ingredients to tame your mane. The combination of vinegar and baking soda cleans and moisturizes your hair, while a blend of cucumber and lemon will aid dry scalps.

9. Solar nightlights
Instead of stumbling around in the dark to get from your bedroom to the bathroom, nightlights make it easier to not make things go bump in the night. Replace those little lightbulbs with this solar nightlight that charges up on your windowsill during the day; at night, flip it over to make it glow.

10. Takeaway containers
Packing your own lunch saves you from spending $12 at a salad bar, but it also saves you from using takeaway containers that you’ll throw out anyway. ECOlunchbox makes it easier to bring your gourmet vegan dinner leftovers to work or school—complete with bamboo utensils, cloth napkins, and stainless steel containers. Instead of plastic sandwich bags, consider using these cute, reusable Lunchskins sandwich bags.

Small changes can have big impacts, so don’t feel that you have tackle every eco-friendly suggestion listed here all at once. Reducing your use of paper towels and plastic bags, or even bringing your lunch in a reusable container, is a great start. Plus, your plant-based diet is already an ecological step in the right direction!

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