Making eco-friendly swaps isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. Even the smallest change can make a big impact. Thankfully, eco-friendly products have stepped their game way up over the past few years and are often more aesthetically pleasing and practical than the wasteful alternative.
Here are my Top 6 Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Swaps
- Reusable cups and straws
Switching to a reusable water bottle was the first eco-friendly swap. It remains my most used item. I have tried many re-usable water bottles in the past decade, but my top two recommendations would be the Camelbak with Straw or Hydroflask with Straw.
Reducing plastic water bottles makes would significantly reduce energy and landfill waste and of course would positively affect marine life. You’re also much more likely to drink more water throughout the day if you keep your bottle nearby.
I would recommend keeping a reusable cup with you for any to-go drinks you may order. While it may seem awkward to ask for your drink to be made in your own cup, most servers or baristas won’t mind at all! Some places actually give you a discount for using your own cup as incentive. My favorite re-usable cups for coffees or teas are Klean Kanteen insulated tumbler and Miir insulated cups or tumblers
2. Hand towels
We haven’t bought paper towels or disposable napkins in many years since switching to hand towels and cloths. This does take a bit of getting used to if you’re a paper towel addict! I actually much prefer using towels and cloths as I find it cleans up better and is nicer to use to wipe hands and faces. I love the look of Turkish towels and use them in our kitchen and bathrooms. I do prefer the absorbency of cotton hand towels and bamboo hand towels over Turkish towels which is why we no longer use Turkish bath towels. That was something I couldn’t get used to, although I loved how they looked in the bathroom.
We use Swedish cloths (similar) or Shamwow cloths (cut to my size preference) for cleaning towels. Both of those are much more absorbent than paper towels and are machine washable. You can find some adorable printed Swedish cloths and can even put those in the dishwasher, microwave, or boil to clean them. And Swedish cloths are compostable!
3. Buy, Sell, Trade (all the things)
Okay, now this may be my favorite topic of them all! Buy, Sell, Trade (BST) is essentially buying second-hand (this can also mean buying new things too, so don’t run away if the idea of buying used items makes you cringe) and/or selling, trading or donating to others that can use them.
I BST the majority of the kids’ clothes and my clothes. I have also used BST for toys and home items. My preferred platforms are BST facebook groups, Kidizen and Instagram.
I mostly buy higher quality clothes that wash and wear well … and yea… I really like cute kids’ clothes. Most of the clothes also retain reasonable resale value which is a great incentive to BST.
Most of the things I buy on BST are gently used or new clothes that we will wear and will donate or resell when we’re done with them. I find this to be an extremely affordable and fun way to shop!
*If you’re interested in another blog post explaining how I use BST platforms and/or my fav brands for kids, women, and men please leave a comment letting me know!
4. Meat-free Mondays (or whenever!)
This is often the hardest swap to “sell”, and I get it. There is significant data that demonstrates one of the biggest contribution to pollution, deforestation, waste and Greenhouse gases.
I was vegan at two different times in my life for a total of 3 years, but haven’t been since my second pregnancy. During that time, I learned so many tasty vegan and vegetarian recipes. Here’s my vegan Pinterest board for some of my favs. Some of my favorite recipe blogs that are plant-based are Minimalist Baker and Oh! She Glows.
Demand management has to be a part of the solution, so buying less animal products are important.
5. Cloth Diapering
This may actually beat #4 for the hardest “sell”. I had seen cloth diapering from my midwifery clients before having my own children, so the idea wasn’t completely foreign when I had my own children. We cloth diapered both of our kids for the majority of the time they were diapered. Read my cloth diapering 101 blog post if you’re interested in learning the basics.
I had a great system for storing and washing the diapers and it didn’t smell or inconvenience us much. The extra time and effort it took was worth it to us for both environmental and health reasons. Here’s a good blog post breaking down the impact of disposable diapering… The amount of waste produced by disposable diapering is shocking.
I also think cloth diapers and fluffy bums are adorable!
(image credit: Modern Natural Baby)
6. Re-usable food storage
This was an easy switch for me as I despise plastic Tupperware! I love the durability and aesthetics of glass, stainless steel, silicone, and ceramic dishes.
My two most highly recommended food storage options are glass Pyrex and Stasher bags. I like that I can see what’s in the glass containers and Stasher bags so they’re less likely to be forgotten about before the food spoils. Stasher bags are my absolute favorites because these bags are truly spill-proof, and are freezer, microwave, and dishwasher-safe. They also store flat and don’t take up much space.
So those are my top 6 suggestions for lifestyle swaps that make a true difference!
There are of course so many other things we can do, but starting small and keeping up the change is the best way to solidify new habits. And once those habits become second-nature, it’s easy to add in others.
Let’s keep the conversation going! I’d love to know your favorite swaps and suggestions in the comments!