Many of us are trying our best to do our bit for the environment, but it can be difficult. While we are trying to recycle as much as possible, things like household products can be harmful to the environment. Thankfully there are eco-friendly swaps you can make at home to make trying to do your best that little bit easier.
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Bamboo fibre cleaning cloths
Microfibre cloths might feel like they are natural, but they aren’t, and they are made up of tiny little bits of plastic. We can wash them, but they shed plastic and can be harmful to the water supply that they flow into. A safer and more environmentally-friendly alternative to microfibre cleaning cloths are bamboo fibre cloths.
They are made from natural resources, and due to the bamboo plant’s fast-growing restorative qualities, are not chopping down rainforests in the process. These cloths are also long-lasting, reusable, and cleaning them will not have a negative impact on your water source by shedding microplastics. It’s one of the easiest eco-friendly swaps you can make, but also one of the most effective.
Beeswax paper food wrap
Plastic food wrap feels like a kitchen essential, but there are ways to live without it. One of the easiest eco-friendly swaps you can make in your kitchen is to use beeswax paper instead of plastic wrap. The paper is reusable, all it takes is a quick wipe with a damp cloth, and you can have perfectly preserved food time and time again.
The wax paper is a great solution to bringing a sandwich to work. Unlike plastics, beeswax paper is more breathable, which actually helps to keep your produce fresher for longer.
Degradable bin liners
If you think about the rubbish we throw away, it tends to go in plastic bags. Those plastic bags then protect the rest of our rubbish from the elements, until they finally tear open or degrade, which might take centuries.
One way to help avoid adding to the plastics problem the world is facing is to use degradable bin liners. These will hold their integrity while in your home, but over a short period of time, they will degrade and disappear. You can also use compostable bin liners for smaller bins, too. These are even better!
Silicone baking mat
When baking, it’s pretty easy to just tear another line of baking parchment and not think twice about it. That paper may degrade, but it’s basically single-use and can be wasteful when used regularly. Instead, we can use a silicone baking mat that can be used time and time again.
These mats are non-stick and don’t require you to grease them before you use them. They can survive being used in the oven over and over, so they are an eco-friendly way to keep your food from sticking to your baking trays.
Recycled toilet paper
Unfortunately, going to the toilet isn’t something that we can just hold in to try and save the planet. As long as there are people, there’s going to be a need to go to the toilet, so recycled paper is an easy way to add an eco-friendly alternative to your home. Because the paper is recycled, it means trees aren’t being cut down to make more, which also helps to save water and reduce carbon emissions.
Toilet paper manufacturer ‘Who Gives A Crap’ claims to be making their product from recycled paper fabrics as well as sugar cane or bamboo. The product contains zero dyes, and they say they donate 50% of their profits to Water Aid, who build toilets for those in desperate need of them.
Stainless steel straws
If you really stop to think about where plastics are used, you’ll find they can be found practically everywhere. Thankfully there are more and more green alternatives to using single-use plastics, and straws are no exception.
The stainless steel straw has become pretty popular over the past few years, but some places are still offering the plastic variety. In your home you can control what plastics come in and out, and that goes for your straws too. If you’re throwing a party, for yourself or your kids, reusable stainless steel straws are the way to go. It’s one of the most popular eco-friendly swaps right now – and for good reason, too.
Reusable silicone sandwich bags
Transporting food from our homes to work or school often means we need to take a single-use plastic sandwich bag with us. These bags also prove useful for freezing food leftovers and keeping things fresh in the fridge. The trouble is, the moment we are done with the plastic sandwich bag, we throw it in the bin.
That no longer has to be the case thanks to reusable silicone sandwich bags. They snap shut to prevent leaking, while being robust enough to survive being left in either the microwave or the freezer. To clean, all you need to do is throw them in the dishwasher.
It probably won’t have escaped your attention that your shampoo comes in a plastic bottle. With most retailers not offering a refilling service for their products, the shampoo bottle is a single-use plastic container that no longer has to take up space in your home. You can switch to a shampoo bar, which is a solid cube of shampoo that cleans your hair just as effectively.
Better yet, the shampoo bar is typically made with natural ingredients, and none of the mysterious chemicals that major shampoos have. The bar simply lathers while you wash, and eventually shrinks down to nothing, leaving no plastic left behind. The Friendly Soap company have some great reviews on their shampoo bars and tick plenty of boxes (including being free of palm oil). It’s not only an eco-friendly swap, but an ethical one too.
If you have a garden, then a simple eco-friendly swap you can make is to add a compost bin. This removes the need to keep buying compostable bin liners for your food, and instead, you can use the nutrients from your food waste in your garden. Food waste is a large source of methane gas in landfill, but by keeping it at home and using it as compost, you help to reduce that gas.
Many of us are focused on reducing the amount of plastic we throw away because the effects are visible in our oceans. The gas caused by food waste isn’t so obvious, but it is thought to be a leading contributor to climate change. We’ve got a whole guide on composting for beginners right here, too!
Zero waste toothpaste tablets
Technically toothpaste tubes are recyclable, but most people just throw it out when they have finished using it. You can recycle your toothpaste tubes, though they are tricky to clean easily. Instead, why not try switching to zero-waste toothpaste tablets as one of your eco-friendly swaps?
To use them, you simply put them in your mouth, chew them up a little, then add some water to your brush and get scrubbing. They won’t foam up as much as regular toothpaste will, but they will still leave that clean feeling in your mouth. Most versions of these tablets won’t contain preservatives and come in biodegradable packaging.
Coconut fibre cleaning brushes
Cleaning brushes are another piece of kitchen equipment that has stealthily brought more plastics into your home. The bristles are plastic, and so are the handles. There is an easy way to stop using plastic cleaning brushes, and that’s switching to a coconut fibre alternative.
The bristles are made from sustainably sourced coconut, yet are hard wearing and perfectly clean your dishes as a regular cleaner would. These brushes were designed to reduce the need for plastics in the home and enable us to lead a zero-waste lifestyle.
Natural deodorant stick
For many of us, one of the most essential pieces of cosmetics that we own is deodorant. Sweating is perfectly natural, but sometimes the smell can be embarrassing. That means many people will give themselves a spray with their deodorant. Spray deodorants contribute negatively to the environment firstly due to the chemicals they release into the air, and also the cans they leave behind.
Roll-on deodorant may be better for our air quality, but the major brands manufacture them in plastic. A natural deodorant stick is something that you can switch to, and it won’t affect the environment like regular deodorants. Instead they only use natural ingredients, and the packaging is plastic-free, so it’s not going to hang around forever either.
Plastic just keeps on finding its way into our oceans, and it seems as though it’s never going to stop coming. In 2016, Dame Ellen MacArthur predicted there would be more plastics in our oceans than fish by 2050. One company wants to take some of the plastics that were going to end up in the ocean and use them for something positive. Green Toys collects mostly milk bottles from the coastlines and waterways and uses them to create toys that children can play with instead.
The toys look just the same as others, and they are perfect for entertaining babies and toddlers. Ethical Superstore stocks a lot of their products, but you can also find their entire range over on their own site – Green Toys.
There are loads of little things we can change around our homes to be more eco-friendly. We don’t have to live in a self-powering house to contribute to making a change for the better to our environment.
These easy, eco-friendly swaps you can make at home will go a long way to making a difference in the long run. Not only do they help the environment, but they show big manufacturers there is a market for sustainable living, and they can either change their ways or get left behind.