Hi friends! Happy Monday! I shared a bit about our choice to make the switch to sustainable, zero waste living last week on Instagram (if you don’t already follow along, I’d love if you joined the community!). Today, I’d love to go into more detail about our “why,” and share a few simple ways you can make this switch too!
There are so many reasons to make a lifestyle change to live greener, more eco-conscious, and sustainable life – it’s better for your wallet, healthier for your body, better for the environment, and best for the planet! Now, there is a slight catch to going “zero-waste” because let’s face it – it’s impossible to accumulate zero waste or trash. “Sustainable living” is a more appropriate term to use for what we’re doing.
Our goal for this lifestyle change is to be more intentional about our consumption, eliminate our reliance on paper and plastic, create less waste so that we don’t have huge trash bags at the end of the week, grocery shop smarter, and switch to using only non-toxic agents in our home.
First, because we have kids. Every soon to be and new parent knows how important it is to monitor and protect your baby’s well-being: from what they eat, to what they drink, touch, smell, and encounter on a day to day basis. As parents, we want to create a healthy, clean, and green environment for our babies. We want to improve our indoor air quality and reduce exposure to harsh chemicals and substances that our kids could get into.
Second, because it’s very cost efficient in the long run. I’ve always been interested in sustainable and eco-friendly living, but have not always had the means or knowledge to create it into a lifestyle. Moving out on my own opened doors for me to experiment with zero waste, and really analyze my consumption and spending levels on everyday products. I was spending hundreds of dollars a year on cleaning products alone! We plan to invest in a few quality/sustainable things to DIY our own products that last much longer, and are much better for us + the planet.
Third, because of all the research backing up the pros of sustainable living (surprise…there actually aren’t any cons to sustainable living). If you’re interested in starting your journey to a zero waste lifestyle, I suggest you start by educating yourself. Research the heck out of products you use daily and their ingredients, and if there are “green” alternatives to switch to. It’s definitely eye opening to see what you’re exposing yourself to if you google every ingredient in products you use (especially in perfumes, shampoos, cosmetics, anything that comes in plastic, cleaning supplies, store bought candles, toothpaste, the list goes on).
I will also link some great resources at the bottom of this post that you can use to find your “why” in creating a more sustainable lifestyle 🙂
let’s dive right in!
Basically, sustainable living means making a more conscious approach to your consumer choices by eliminating things in your daily life that could end up polluting the oceans or filling up landfills. Eliminating the amount of things that end up in your trash or recycle cans such as plastic wraps and packaging, Styrofoam containers, food scraps, etc. will help create a cleaner (no landfill junk), greener (no toxic materials that pollute or can’t break down), and more eco-conscious (safe for the planet) environment.
This is definitely a mindset shift as well as a lifestyle change. I didn’t realize how much trash and “recycling” we threw out every day until we had our own curbside garbage cans. It’s insane!! I also didn’t realize how much plastic and paper we consumed when nearly everything I bought had to be unwrapped or taken out of the package in order to use.
Foods like packaged rice, boxed baby tomatoes and berries, cereals, salad mixes, anything frozen (ice cream bars, meats), granola bars, as well as individually wrapped items like paper towels, string cheese, and TP…guess where all that packaging ends up? Yep, in the bins. And where does it go from there? Does all of my recycling actually get recycled or reused somehow? How much of what I toss ends up in landfills or in the ocean? How long will it take to biodegrade? Will it ever biodegrade…? These are big things to think about when you’re deciding to make the switch to a zero waste lifestyle.
3 easy switches you can make this week
for a cleaner, greener lifestyle
1. Instead of paper towels, use rags or cloths. This will save you hundreds of dollars in the long run! You can get multi packs of reusable cotton cloths for less than $10 (here are some more cute reusable cotton cloth options off Etsy!). Paper towels, if you buy in bulk, cost anywhere from $5 to $15 bucks and are wrapped in plastic. It will be hard at first, because you will need to re-train your brain how to clean up messes. Rags and cloths are not only a lot more durable, but can be thrown into the washer on the hot wash setting then reused again and again. Keep them in a cute basket in the laundry room, or tucked away in a drawer in the kitchen.
2. Instead of dryer sheets, use wool dryer balls. Dryer sheets are one of the most toxic things you probably have in your home. Most laundry detergents are right up there, too, unfortunately. You can make the switch and still get the same clean with these detergent pods, this laundry powder, or this laundry powder (and this one if you have an active lifestyle). I plan on using wool dryer balls once we move out – I will share an update in March with my review on them then!
3. Instead of regular Starbucks cups and straws, bring your own reusable cup and stainless steel straw. If you love your weekly (or daily) coffee runs, you can make a huge impact on reducing how many to-go cups end up in landfills (because they are not recyclable) by bringing your own cup. Starbucks will give you .10 off your order if you bring your own reusable cup (whoop dee doo), but the more impactful part of this is that you are doing your part to reduce waste that does not break down. On switching to metal straws, read more about why plastic straws are harmful to your health and the environment here.
…More easy switches include: making your own natural cleaning and beauty solutions (it’s a lot easier than you think), purchase a waterpik instead of using waxed floss, buy silicone mats for baking rather than using aluminum foil or parchment paper, using only reusable bags for groceries, using beeswax wraps/glass containers instead of plastic baggies, and much more.
so now what?
Starting in March after we settle down from our move, I will be sharing weekly tips on my Instagram (@theminiapartmentblog) on how to take baby steps towards eco-friendly living in your home, for your pets, for your babies, and as a family. Once you start, it will become second nature to make the switch in other areas of your life 🙂 I will also be sharing a lot more DIY’s here on the blog, so be on the lookout for those too!
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helpful + informative resources
EWG – The Environmental Working Group is packed full of info on ingredients (rated on levels of non-toxic/safe to toxic/not-safe) from cosmetics to cleaning agents to what’s in your food, to consumer guides, you will find everything you’ll ever need about sustainable living backed by tons of research.
Think Dirty App – I love using this app. It’s addicting to scan everything in your house to see what contains toxic ingredients (toss!) and what is safe to keep (yay!). You can download the app for iPhone and Andriod in your app store. Just going to throw this out there: you’re going to be pretty surprised at what ingredients make up your everyday-use products. Yikes!
Story of Stuff – This documentary-turned-organization reveals an eye opening conversation about our consumer mentality and how we can reduce the amount of “stuff” we have/keep/buy. The site has a lot of amazing articles and resources on government campaigns relating to the environment, how you can eliminate your “stuff” intake, and next steps everyone can take on the journey to a zero waste planet.
‘Zero Waste Home’ Book – An inspiring and easy beginners guide that contains simple steps to create greener, cleaner, and environmentally friendly home.
‘Healthy Child Healthy World’ Book – I just got this in the mail a few days ago and already am hooked on how chalk-full of resources it is for parents to create a healthier home and lifestyle!
Branch Basics – Love this brand and their 100% honest and transparent method to creating a cleaner, safer, and toxic-free home with their products. Click here to find out why you need their products in your life, and then go here for more details on creating a cleaner home.
Going Zero Waste Blog – She has a tonnnnn of awesome and relevant resources for making the transition to a more sustainable lifestyle. Linked is a blog post where she shares her favorite “zero waste” bloggers and top posts from each one!
I can’t wait to take you along our journey to creating a cleaner and safer home these next few months! We are thrilled to finally be taking more steps in the right direction to a more sustainable lifestyle. If you already practice sustainable living, share your tips and tricks on making the switch in the comments – I’d love to see your ideas!