The time has come for the first swaps of 2019! If you don't already know, each month I'll be swapping out five products to make them more eco friendly, non toxic and zero waste. Welcome to the Eco Simple Challenge. You can learn more about my goals by checking out my first blog post here.
This month I started with products from all over the house, choosing a couple simple fixes and a challenge or two. Part of being eco friendly is choosing options you can buy in person, rather than online, which helps reduce your carbon footprint. That little detail made things a bit challenging, but I tried my best! I know that's not easy for everyone, so I've included where you can buy each product in person, as well as links to purchase online. Keep reading below to learn about my swaps.
We'd been using Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent for years. Then, we got lazy and chose the convenient option: Trader Joe's "Next to Godliness" dishwasher detergent. Sure, it came in a box, which cuts down on waste, but the Environmental Working Group rated it a "D." Ouch. It was full of hormone disruptors, chemicals that cause skin irritation and ingredients that contribute to asthma. I didn't just walk, I RAN back to Seventh Generation.
Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent comes in three different forms: pods, liquid and powder. The powder option has an "A" rating from EWG and it's far less wasteful than the pods and liquid. Now, not every Seventh Generation product is rated so highly, so it always pays to use the EWG Healthy Living app to double check if the product you've chosen is rated well.
I feel good knowing what's cleaning my dishes is not full of toxins, is safer for the water system and the packaging can be recycled. Seventh Generation is also much cheaper than other eco-imposters like Mrs. Meyers or Method.
You can find Seventh Generation powdered dish detergent at most grocery stores, or you can buy it here.
We're lucky enough to have a dishwasher, but I still rinse dishes before putting them in and really scrub when we've had sticky dinners. Sponges are so wasteful and can be germ traps. I'd been using the Scotch Brite natural sponges, but I didn't really feel I was doing anything less wasteful.
When choosing a dish brush, I wanted to make sure I was using something that was responsibly made, with little waste and recycled materials. There are many amazing wood, bamboo and natural bristle brushes out there, but most can only be found online and I didn't want to increase my carbon footprint just to order a sustainable dish brush. Enter the Fullcircle brand dish brush. It's made from bamboo and recycled plastic, so I felt pretty good about it. Plus, I could pick it up at Target, rather than ordering online. It was only packaged with a small, recycled paper tag, so very little package waste as well!
You can pick up a Fullcircle dish brush at Target, or order it here.
We don't use a ton of plastic wrap, but we did have it around and I hated that. To be honest, there aren't a lot of reasons to use it, so this swap was pretty simple and a slam dunk. Last year for Christmas, my mother-in-law got us a pack of Bee's Wrap, which we love, but didn't have enough of.
These wraps are perfect for wrapping cheeses or sandwiches. I even use them to cover bowls that are going into the fridge for a couple of hours rather than swapping to a tupperware.
I know I kind of crapped on Trader Joe's with the dishwasher detergent, but they were awesome enough to have packs of minimally packaged wax wraps in their stores! Again, you can't except great things from every brand, but sometimes they really pull through! I've already used these several times and am converted already.
You can pick these up at Trader Joe's or order Bee's Wrap online here.
Once again, convenience comes into play. Paper napkins, in my opinion, were one of the most wasteful choices I was making. I tried to soothe my guilt by buying napkins made from recycled paper and tree pulp, but to be honest, that wasn't going to solve anything. I was still using way too many napkins and Tess goes through napkins like crazy, because she's 3.
I was going to save this swap for a couple of months down the line, but once again, Target pulled through big time. There, shining like a beacon in the night in the dollar section, were the cutest cloth napkins. Whoever would have wanted this pattern is probably pretty pissed, because I bought all the packages they had. Like I said, my daughter goes through napkins like crazy, so three packages seemed like the right amount.
I'm already sure these will get a little dingy, but that's what DIY stain remover is for, right? And I'll feel a lot better knowing I'm not tossing more paper into the trash.
You can pick these up NOW in the Target dollar section, or order a similar print online here.
I just finished up my tube of mascara, way past the three-month recommended expiration date, and I knew it was time to start makeup case eco swaps. When I really stop to think about all the crazy things that are in mascara, the stuff that I put so close to my eyes and inevitably flakes into them, I shudder.
I had been using Soap & Glory's Thick & Fast mascara, purely because it was a gift, therefore convenient. When I checked it on the EWG app, it wasn't rated too terribly, a 4, but it wasn't great. This product contained parabens, which most people know are big no-no's. And get this: it also had an ingredient rated highly to irritate your eyes. Ummm, OK? Glad I was putting that so close to my eyes.
Swapping was made pretty easy using the EWG app, which shows products that are EWG verified. I decided to go with Mineral Fusion's lengthening mascara in graphite. There are literally zero harmful ingredients in this mascara. Big win! I also chose this because I knew I could pick it up at Whole Foods, again, lowering my carbon footprint. Even better, this mascara doesn't come in any unnecessary additional packaging, meaning no ridiculous cardboard container. As for cost, it's relatively inexpensive, especially compared to many brands you find at Sephora.
You can pick Mineral Fusion mascara at Whole Foods, or order online here.
I'm already so pumped about where this journey is going to take us over the next year!
Follow along on Instagram from more behind the scenes of the Eco Simple Challenge, including how these products are working for me. You can also share your own swaps by tagging @thesownseed and using the hashtag #ecosimplechallenge.
Let me know some of your January swaps or ask some questions below in the comments!
See you at the end of the month for the five items I'm donating and the new organization I've chosen to donate to.
It's on the internet. People have seen my big lifestyle challenge for the New Year, now I actually have to do it! Eco Simple Challenge. Let's do this.
If you're new here, I've set a lofty challenge for myself in 2019. Each month, I'll swap out five products or habits to be more eco friendly, nontoxic and zero waste. I'll try to choose products that are easily accessible and affordable. Then at the end of each month, I'll up-cycle, repurpose or donate five times, choosing a new donation location each month. It's going to be major.
As I was brainstorming ideas for the eco side of my challenge, it seemed like it might be a lot harder than I thought. In that moment I thought, "But I'm already making so many eco friendly choices!" I knew I was kidding myself. Both as someone who prides myself as environmentally conscious and as a certified Eco Parenting Educator, I knew I was turning a blind eye to a lot. Sure, many of my product choices may appear eco friendly, but I knew they weren't that nontoxic and certainly weren't very zero waste.
So, I swallowed my pride and did some serious reflecting. I'm really going to strip down my current choices and make the right decisions. Not only will I tell you why I've chosen certain products each month, I'll also take myself to task and describe why my previous choices were pretty terrible.
Let's start by digging through my cabinets and examining some top products I'm using that will definitely be getting an overhaul in 2019!
Mrs. Meyer's Products
I'm sure many of you are looking at this and going, "But Mrs. Meyer's is so green and natural." Nah, they're fooling you. According to the Environmental Working Group's Healthy Living app, few of this brand's products actually get an "A" rating. What does that mean? Well, that you're using a product that has known carcinogens, hormone disruptors and allergens. Not. Great.
What's really embarrassing is that I knew this, yet I still chose those products. Why? It was convenient for me. I ignored that fact that "fragrance" was listed in each product because I also saw "made with essential oils." For eco newbies, "fragrance" is a dangerous ingredient in your products! In the US, brands don't have to list the multitude of ingredients that go into their fragrances, so even if your product is free of a bunch of other terrible ingredients, they still may be hidden in the fragrance.
This year I'll be looking for products that get an "A" rating from the EWG. Not only that, I'll be trying to go as package-free as possible!
Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap
We've been on the Dr. Bronner's train for a long time. The product itself is super clean and nontoxic, but just take a look at that big bottle. So much plastic waste.
Again, I'd been choosing the large bottle out of convenience. I'll be looking to minimize my waste with Dr. Bronner's products over the course of a couple swaps, so stay tuned! It's not as simple as ditching the bottle.
Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent
Much like the Dr. Bronner's, the Seventh Generation detergent is an amazing, nontoxic product, but it's the waste that bothers me. These bottles are absolutely huge. When Tess was still wearing diapers, we were going through jugs of this on a monthly basis keeping up with her cloth diapers.
Now that we're diaper free, I'd like to look for a more concentrated, waste-free solution to ring in 2019.
Not everything we're doing is a complete dumpster fire, which feels pretty good!
Reusable K Cups
When Tess was first born and I was drinking an unhealthy amount of coffee, I used the biodegradable K Cups. I still didn't feel great about it, so I finished up my wasteful one-use cups and switched over to the refillable K Cup. Not only am I not throwing things into the garbage, I'm also able to use my coffee grounds for compost. Also, this is a lot cheaper than buying a Sam's Club box of K Cups.
Could this still be better? Absolutely! I may add a bonus swap into 2019, moving from the plastic bonanza of the Keurig, to a french press or slow drip system. We shall see!
Get a reusable K Cup here.
We don't buy still water in bottles, it's just never something we've done. Now, we really need to be better about filtering out water and not losing water bottles, but nobody is perfect. We love the S'well water bottles because they keep things super cold or nice and warm. I use them for both my water and coffee.
The same thing cannot be said about my sparking water addiction. Don't worry, we'll get to that this year.
Get a S'well water bottle here.
Dr. Bronner's Toothpaste
With zero surfactants (what makes something foamy) and no added sweeteners, Dr. Bronner's is the best. We've found our niche with the cinnamon flavor and love it dearly, plus it's incredibly effective. I do know we could switch over to toothpaste tablets, but they don't fall in line with my desire to be affordable, plus, try getting a toddler to use those, not going to happen. I will try a DIY version this year as a test, but I want to feel confident I'm not whispering coffee and morning breath into a pregnant client's face.
Get Dr. Bronner's toothpaste here.
Plastic Produce Bags
I'm going on at least 10 years of not using these bad boys. To be honest, I don't even see the point. I wash every item of produce I purchase, so sticking them in the cart or a mesh bag feels just fine to me. Somehow, I still get looks from people that think it's super weird I'm not using those pointless bags, but whatevs.
I can't wait to have this adventure with you and hope you use it as a little inspiration to make some improvements in your life as well! It's going to be hard, sometimes humbling, but super fun.
You can also follow along on Instagram from more behind the scenes of the Eco Simple Challenge. You can also share your own swaps by tagging @thesownseed and using the hashtag #ecosimplechallenge.
Let me know some of your planned swaps or ask some questions below in the comments!
See you in 2019 with the first list of swaps!
As the end of 2018 approaches, I've been thinking of tangible ways I can make 2019 a year of both change and self-love. I've noticed I feel more connected to the world around me when I'm not drowning in excess or noise. I also feel better when I know I've made choices that are healthy for myself, my family and the planet.
So launches my two-part 2019 goal: At the beginning of each month, I'll swap out five items in my home for more eco-friendly and non-toxic products. Then, at the end of each month, I'll donate or up-cycle five things in my home that aren't used or are unnecessary.
My goal is to take a big step back to really assess how I can be making longterm changes that will improve my well-being, the lives of my family members and make me a better steward of this planet. Some months it might be super easy; other months it will be a challenge. Regardless, each month, five items will be replaced and five items must go.
I believe in setting goals that are attainable, but that are going to make you reach a little! But, because I want to really make myself reach (partially because I'm insane and take on way too much), I'm going to work to make my swaps be affordable options and search for new places to donate my goods.
My hope is that as a family, we'll learn the importance of choosing items wisely and living a simpler life.
Each month I'll also share what items I've swapped and the new things in their place. Plus I'll share a little about what things we've said "goodbye" to and the new non profit we've donated to!
Have you and your family tried one of the above ideas? How did it go?
I love being environmentally-minded with the decisions I make. I also really appreciate knowing products in my home aren't full of toxic chemicals. But really, I'm super cheap and pretty lazy.
That's why I make my own cleaning products. I know what's in them, they're not going to harm the planet, they save me money and I don't have to put on a bra and drive to the store. It's my dream.
Here are a few of my favorite DIY cleaning products made with as few ingredients as possible, that smell good, save you money and take five minutes to prepare. Not five minutes a piece, five minutes total. Woo!
Glass & Window Cleaner
Combine the following ingredients in a glass spray bottle:
I love this Borax-free alternative that works in both HE and non-HE machines!
Combine the following in an air-tight container:
Add 1-2 tablespoons per load.
Combine the following:
Sprinkle into your toilet and scrub with a toilet brush. Follow with:
Combine the following in a glass spray bottle:
Spray on surfaces and wipe with a damp cloth.
Cloth diapers can be a wonderful choice for the environment, your child’s health and your budget. Using cloth diapers means less difficult-to-break-down disposables end up in the landfill, fewer chemicals and fragrances near your baby’s skin and a one-time diaper purchase that quickly pays for itself.
Even with all of those wonderful benefits, a lot of families choose not to use cloth diapers because the idea seems so complicated and frankly, a little gross! I’m here to tell you it’s not as complicated as it seems. Honestly, I wish I could say it isn’t gross at times, but it’s a diaper; cloth or not, once in a while it will be, let’s just say, shocking.
The good news is folks, if your baby is breastfed, there is no need to rinse those poopy diapers! Breastmilk bowel movements are water soluble, which means the mess will rinse away completely in the wash. And don’t worry, because it’s water soluble, it effectively disappears rather than hanging around in your washer and dryer.
Once your baby starts eating solids, you only need to shake the BM into the toilet and give a quick rinse. Most kitchen sprayers can be attached to your toilet so clean up is quick. Done? Just throw it into the wash! I love the Bumkins cloth diaper sprayer to get the job done.
Going places while cloth diapering may seem a bit intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many wonderful resources that sell wet bags to store any dirty diapers while you’re on the go.
Wet bags keep any mess inside the bag until you are ready to clean your diapers. Just bring your wet bag with you while you’re out and “disposing” of dirty diapers becomes a lot easier. There are even wet/dry bags which allow you to put dirty diapers in the wet pouch and keep unused diapers in the dry pouch.
My personal favorite bags are from Planet Wise. These bags come in many different sizes and really cute patterns.