10 Easy Cost-Effective Ways to Organize an Eco-Friendly Home
By Melissa Rifkin, MS, RDN, CDN
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Being eco-friendly is not a new concept. We have all seen commercials and ads, and read information that encourages behaviors to lessen our negative impact on the environment. However, many may find it overwhelming to figure out where to begin their journey to sustainable living.
Luckily, it is easier than ever to take steps toward organizing an eco-friendly home! While there are many large-scale tasks and projects you can do to make your home more green, it doesn’t have to require a huge budget and many hours of time. Here are 10 simple and cost-effective ways to organize a more sustainable home.
Who has traditionally chosen their laundry detergent based on scent? You can’t see me, but I just raised my hand. While scent is important to many of us, there are several other factors to take into account when choosing laundry products, especially while maintaining an eco-friendly home.
1. Laundry Detergent
Our clothes are our second skin, after all, so why not clean it with that in mind? Often made with essential oils and free of sulfates, phosphates, and synthetic chemicals, eco-friendly laundry detergent is usually produced in a highly concentrated form that allows you to use less product. The ingredients are uniquely chosen with function in mind. Coconut oil soap keeps your skin from drying out, baking soda removes dirt and odor, while vegetable glycerin clings to dirt and stains to keep your clothes in tip-top shape. These quality ingredients produce a biodegradable product that is safer for the environment and the humans and animals that inhabit the world.
2. Compostable Dryer Sheets
Designed to reduce static cling, soften and smooth fabrics, and sometimes provide scent, dryer sheets have become a household staple in the laundry process. Unfortunately, many traditional brands of dryer sheets are made of synthetic materials, making them unsafe for compost and contributing to waste. Compostable dryer sheets are the solution we have all been looking for! Made without animal-derived ingredients and dyes, zero product testing on animals, and a compostable formulation makes these dryer sheets a great purchase for those aiming to be more environmentally friendly.
3. Stain Remover
We all need a good stain remover in our arsenal for the pesky dirt marks, grass stains, and red wine blemishes. However, many traditional stain-removing products are filled with chemicals that can be harmful to our health as well as the environment. When clothes are washed, harmful chemicals used in the cleaning process can pollute bodies of water, harming the plants and animals that inhabit those waterways. Luckily, eco-friendly stain removers have been produced using plant-based ingredients that keep the environment in mind. You can eliminate the toughest stains with cruelty-free, vegan, and hypoallergenic products good for you, your skin, and the planet.
The kitchen is one area of the home where you can make significant improvements to benefit the environment. From cleaning to storage and beyond, here are four amazing products to help you organize a more eco-friendly kitchen.
4. Dishwashing Accessories
Many of the traditional sponges we all grew up with are made with largely synthetic materials. While they may do a good job of cleaning our dishes and countertops, these synthetic fibers can pollute waterways, negatively impacting its inhabitants. Additionally, these materials are not biodegradable, so they end up sitting in landfills around the world and contribute to waste. Dishwashing accessories including natural sponges made from earth-friendly materials, like walnut shells and cellulose, are a sustainable choice that has amazing cleaning power. Effective and durable, these scour pads and sponges are absorbent and abrasive enough to get the job done while being safer for you and the environment.
While paper towels may be convenient, they are not a sustainable choice. Producing paper towels contributes to deforestation and a slew of cascading effects that may arise from having fewer trees in our environment. The best replacement for paper towels is reusable kitchen cloths and towels. Made from materials like organic cotton, these dishcloths are amazingly absorbent and a whole lot greener than the common paper towel alternative. Not only do you have a product that can be used over and over again, but also the organic materials are environmentally friendly on their own due to the usage of fewer chemicals during the growing process.
6. Produce Bags and Food Storage
How often have you bought produce, stored it at home only to see a couple of days later that it has become rotten and inedible? Unfortunately, this is the experience of many people. This loss of produce creates excessive waste and contributes to methane production as the produce sits in landfills across the world. Additionally, uneaten food can put additional strain on the environment by wasting resources, like water and agricultural land. One of the best ways to preserve your produce, and in turn produce less waste, is to use produce bags that remove ethylene gas to prolong the life and freshness of your fruit and vegetables. Additionally, these produce bags can minimize moisture formation and inhibit bacterial growth, helping to keep your produce in tip-top shape for a longer period of time.
7. Dishwashing detergent pods
Conventional dishwashing pods are convenient, no doubt, but they are far from environmentally friendly. While the outside membrane of traditional dishwashing pods dissolves in water and is considered to be non-toxic, the same is not true for what’s inside them. Many serious medical emergencies have been reported due to children eating dishwasher pods, confirming their toxic content. A natural dishwashing pod option maintains the dissolvable outer membrane and is instead filled with contents produced without phosphate and dyes, creating a less toxic product that is also more environmentally friendly.
In addition to cleaning products that help keep your home spic and span while keeping the environment in mind, there are a number of daily use items that can have the same positive impact. Here are three items you can use every day to create a more eco-friendly home.
8. Reusable Water Bottles
Did you know the majority of non-reusable plastic water bottles end up in landfills, leaking harmful chemicals into the environment while they decompose? Not only are the components of a plastic bottle harmful for the environment, and potentially your health, but the amount of resources required to make plastic bottles is damaging to the environment as well. We drink water daily, so swapping plastic bottles for reusable water bottles is one fantastic way to become more environmentally friendly. These bottles are easy to clean, can house your favorite beverage of choice, and are often BPA-free, further reducing a common questionable ingredient frequently found in disposable plastic bottles.
9. Bamboo Toothbrush
Another item we use every day, often multiple times a day. Plastic toothbrushes can take centuries to decompose, adding to landfill waste and releasing potentially toxic ingredients during the decomposition process. A bamboo handle toothbrush will break down in just three years, making it a more eco-friendly item that is good for the environment. Not only can these be used to brush your teeth, but you can use these bamboo brushes to clean grout and the narrow corners of your home, making it a multi-use environmentally friendly home item.
10. Eco-friendly Diapers
Disposable diapers are a very popular product amongst consumers, and, unfortunately, they do not contribute positively to the environment. Not only is there a high usage of trees to produce traditional disposable diapers, but the amount of water required in the process is also negative for the environment. Additionally, these traditional disposable diapers do not decompose well in landfills, contributing to a buildup of waste. Eco-friendly diapers are designed using sustainably sourced plant-based products that leave less of a negative impact on the environment.
As you can see, there are so many ways to organize an eco-friendly home. With simple budget-friendly and time-efficient solutions, these ideas can seamlessly transition into your daily routine and habits. Making greener decisions not only benefits the environment we live in, but it can significantly improve your health as well. With so many common products on the market that contain questionable ingredients and chemicals, making a few small changes in product choices can add up big time in positive health outcomes and environmental benefits. Whether you start small by introducing one sustainable item at a time, or do a complete overhaul of your products all at once, you’ll be moving in a direction that leaves our earth in better shape for our future generations and ourselves.