It's the first week of February, which means it's swaps time for the Eco Simple Challenge! We've had one full month of swapping products for more eco friendly, non toxic and zero waste options, as well as simplifying our space by donating items we don't use or need. It's been amazing so far.
Last month's swaps are really integrated into our daily life. I was most concerned about moving to cloth napkins and my new mascara, but both have been awesome. Using cloth napkins is actually pretty easy, especially when we commit to using a napkin per person each day (unless it's really messy, of course). I had originally purchased 12 napkins and this seems to be a good number for the rate we use them and how often they're washed.
My mascara is also going strong. I was pretty nervous that using a mineral mascara would mean raccoon eyes midway through the day, flaking or difficulty removing the product. I couldn't have been more wrong. It's staying put, giving me tons of volume and easy to remove. Just a reminder, I swapped conventional mascara for Mineral Fusion's lengthening mascara, which you can get at Whole Foods or order online here.
Enough with last month, this month is kind of a potpourri of different products I've transitioned to be more eco. Let's dive right in.
Garbage bags are super wasteful, it's just a fact. It's also really hard to make life work without having garbage bags, I know, because we tried one summer. I'm ashamed to say we've been super wasteful with our garbage bag choices. While we weren't using plastic garbage bags with added fragrance, which aren't eco friendly or non toxic, we were reusing paper grocery bags. While we were technically recycling, it was still eventually putting more garbage out into the world.
We purchased new garbage cans and decided to go with compostable bags by the brand If You Care. They're not made with plastic, but instead potato starches, so they're completely compostable. We don't make a lot of garbage to begin with, so I knew these would stretch a long way. We're also reusing the bag that lines the recycling bin.
Our local composting place also has free, large composting bags very similar to this. Honestly, I'll probably stock up on those bags for free once we're frequenting the drop off in the spring.
You can find If You Care compostable garbage bags at Whole Foods, or order online here.
Dry Goods Packaging
It really felt like now was the time to start saying goodbye to unnecessary packaging on dry goods. So many of the dry goods you use regularly - rice, grains, oatmeal, beans, nuts, flour etc. - can be purchased in bulk, which means eliminating pretty unnecessary packaging. It also meant saving some money! A portion of what you're buying when you select that bag of quinoa is the pretty packaging on the outside. When you go bulk, you remove that from the price, which can even make springing for organic less expensive.
Now, it's still easy to use unnecessary packaging when buying bulk. We wanted to get away from using the plastic and paper bags offered in the bulk section. You can do this in several ways. First, you can choose to use the paper bags and then reuse them the next time you go to buy more bulk. The paper bags in the bulk section at Whole Foods are pretty hearty, we'd already been able to reuse them several times with more uses in the future. The other option is to learn how to tare your storage jars. Tare? All this means is you weigh your storage jar when it's empty, then re-weigh the jar filled with whatever bulk item you're purchasing. After that, you subtract the jar's weight from the total to know how much the bulk product weighs. It's pretty simple!
So far we've transitioned packaged products for the following: beans, rice, quinoa, oatmeal, flours, sugars, other grains. We've used large mason jars, repurposed jars from our wedding (we had terrarium center pieces) and purchased some from Ikea.
You can find the same storage jars at Ikea, or order online here.
I use makeup remover, toner and other products that require cotton balls. I was trying to reuse each cotton ball more than once during my beauty routine, but it was pretty hard. So many cotton balls, so much waste.
There are a lot of awesome reusable products out there to replace cotton balls, from makeup removing mitts and cloths, to reusable bamboo rounds. That's when I realized, I still have a ton of reusable bamboo pads I could repurpose. Enter Bamboobies, my bamboo reusable nursing pads. Yeah, that's right, I'm reusing the pads I used while I was breastfeeding to now wipe my face. Don't worry, they've been washed, but they're also working great!
One side of the pad is soft, tufted fabric, while the other side is smooth and flat. I use the smooth side to remove my makeup and the soft side for toner. I can use one pad for my entire beauty routine! Because these babies are meant to prevent liquid leakage, the moisture from removing my makeup on one side of the pad doesn't make it to the other side. It's brilliant.
You can get Bamboobies at Target, or order online here.
I'll be real with you, we don't really use dryer sheets, so this is kind of a half-assed swap, but we were looking for ways to lower the amount of time we need to dry our clothes. Dryer balls fit the need for both, so I had to add this to the swap list.
Now there are plastic dryer balls available, but to me that kind of felt like missing the point since I'm drying to reduce our plastic use. Wool dryer balls are much more eco friendly, plus I love that you can add essential oils to them if you are trying to swap from scented dryer sheets. They tumble around in your dryer, separating the clothes, which cuts down dry time.
It took me a little time to find wool dryer balls I felt were coming from a reputable source. This was a swap I had to purchase online and Amazon can be a mine field for products that look eco friendly, but really are made with a ton of chemicals. I didn't want to get my wool dryer balls home and open the package to smell that familiar chemical smell. I chose Handy Laundry because they had a presence outside of Amazon and multiple other eco products.
You can order Handy Laundry wool dryer balls online here.
I have a real thing against using washcloths to soap up when I'm in the shower. It's just the way they get heavy and slap against my body that really grosses me out. I've always been a loofa person and never really thought about how wasteful they were.
Loofas are made predominately of plastic, so I knew I'd have to swap this out sooner than later. There are a lot of wonderful natural sponges you can purchase, but I decided to go with a bamboo handled brush with natural bristles from EcoTools. I love that it has a long reaching handle to get the middle of my back.
It's also much more effective at exfoliating dry skin, which is a huge plus! I've noticed a serious improvement on how smooth my skin is since using my new brush. Currently, we're still using a washcloth for Tess, because she doesn't have the same weird dislike that I do, and my husband is a bar of soap and hands kind of guy.
You can find the EcoTools brush at Target, or order online here.
Another month in and more swaps made! I'm loving the progress.
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 February 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.
Want to see previous months' swaps? Check them out here: