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If you are looking for sustainable living ideas and thinking about going green, here are some zero and low waste ways you can become more sustainable and conscious about waste the next time you purchase your favorite go-to products or practice your typical routines.
Thanks to our amazing healthy living mama friend Amber for writing this thorough and detailed post about ways she lives a more green life in all aspects of daily living.
Sustainable Living Ideas & Going Green
Guest Author: Amber Fonner
How do I green my life? Let me count the ways… I’m going to walk you through my day to show you how I try to green my life in every way. I hope you are inspired by some of these ideas for green living.
How do I Green my Life – Personal Care & Bathroom:
- Salt Deodorant: No chemicals at all. Bacteria can’t handle salt so they can’t live in my armpits. No bacteria = no smell from bacterial waste. Win! Wet the salt, apply, let it dry a second and done. I use Norwex brand.
- Clean Hand Soap: Young Living’s Thieves hand soap with lemon essential oil.
- Facial Wash: I use everclen.
- Facial Toner: Learn how to make your own rosewater toner.
- Moisturizers: I like everclen and pure haven.
- Lotions: Look for no parabens, phthalates and chemicals you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce. Great lotions choices include everclen, Young Living and All Good.
- Essential Oils (high grade): I use them as perfume, for skin care, diffusing, illness, OTC injuries, skin issues, tummy aches, etc. A collection of oils from Young Living is perfect for starters.
- Hair Products: Clean and recommended hair products for my hair type (wavy/curly) include Raw Curls, Alaffia and Shea Moisture. I gave up trying to beat it into submission early in my teens. Now, I try to give it the high amounts of clean moisture it needs based on my hair type. I also do the bit of extra work it takes to lock in those pretty curls with a clean gel so I wash less often (reduce) and my hair is healthier. The closer I get to finding my perfect products, the less waste and frustration. I try to share my findings with my curly girl method sisters so we don’t all have to go through each and every hair drama, we can learn from people who have hair similar to our own (Reduce group waste).
- Toothpaste Tablets: I have ditched the dreaded plastic tubes (my Young Living ER order will certainly have other products to take the place of my beloved Thieves toothpaste for Bite toothpaste tablets. These are relatively new to us and take a bit (pun intended) to get used to but they are shipped in a glass bottle and refills are shipped in paper products (no plastic!). You get your toothbrush wet, bite a tablet into smaller pieces and start brushing. Not an awesome taste to the charcoal bites but we aren’t eating them, we are brushing and spitting it all out.
- Toothbrushes: I use Norwex toothbrushes. The head is replaceable and is housed in silver that helps with reducing bacterial growth in bristles (GROSS!).
- Non-applicator Tampons: I know! I was using cardboard applicator tampons because I hate plastic but I realized that I was being so very wasteful because I didn’t want to touch a part of my own body for a second. Silly.
- Feminine Hygiene Products: I use Lola or Cora. Organic, non-bleached. It’s going where? Best not to bleach it or use scary chemicals when making it, methinks.
- Bathroom Scrub Mitt (Norwex): Reduce/eliminate bathroom chemicals.
- Stage Shower Filter: This 12 stage filter has a large rainfall, low flow, shower head. Clean water, lower use. I try to limit shower length as well (Even though we don’t pay for water directly).
- Recycled or Bamboo Toilet Paper: I use the Who Gives a Crap subscription service. We don’t need virgin paper to wipe our bums. They also give a portion of their proceeds to build toilets around the world for those who don’t have them. Can you imagine?
- Get a Bidet: A bidet can save you a shower. I have a cool water eco-bidet (no energy to heat water to cleanse my business). We love it! It’s especially nice during that time of the month when things aren’t feeling so fresh and every trip to the bathroom has added tasks.
How do I Green my Life – Clothing & Laundry:
- Wear it until you can’t. As a single mom, I don’t tend to splurge on myself very often… or EVER. So, this fits here too. Buy high quality, timeless things and wear them until you wear them out. Don’t follow trends unless it is a piece that you can see being super useful and that you love on your own. I hang on to my running shoes for yard work or other activities after their comfort as running shoes is over. I wear my athletic gear…FOREVER. On that note:
- Norwex Sportzyme: Everytime I feel the slightest bit sweaty, I flip my shirts inside-out and spray the underarms with Sportzyme. The enzymes are specifically formulated/selected to eat away human odors. This allows you to wear clothes for longer and may save you a wash.
- Laundry: I actually flip all shirts inside out after wearing them. I do this with most pants too. I feel a need to let them breathe and air out. I am not a stinky person but I like to launder when I NEED to, not everytime I wear something. I hope, one day, to pass this on to my daughter but leggings get the ‘knee marks’ in them and can rarely be worn again. She does turn all of her shirts and pants (esp leggings) inside out to preserve the sayings/patterns (and to get the insides all the cleaner!) I line-dry all year round. I LOVE using natural energy to help me save energy and $. Sun and wind are my laundry bffs! I have an indoor line (4 or 5 lines on my setup) that are retractable (but mostly stay up) that hand over my washer/dryer/sink in our second bathroom. We also have an umbrella clothes line outside that I use as often as humanly possible. I do use the dryer for all our underwear and socks (not bras) as well as my microfiber towels and cleaning cloths (Norwex). Microfiber LOVES heat to get that static going and open up the fibers in the cloths. Sheets outside on the line are to die for! Just make sure you try hard to get your clothes in before dusk and shake them out as you take them down. Also, be aware of WHERE you put your outside line. Trees = bugs.
How do I Green my Life – Home & Garden:
- REUSABLE… EVERYTHING! Stainless steel coffee cup… yes! I use a French press coffee maker to relieve myself of having to purchase and throw out paper filters or… gasp! K-stinking-cups (hate them!). Pyrex/glass/stainless steel/silicone containers, bamboo or our home silverwear (YES!), cloth bags, insulated lunch tote, stainless steel and glass water bottles, silicone cups, glass cups/mugs, glass wine glasses, ceramic mugs. Again… I hate plastic. Do we have some in our home? Yes. But, when I spend $, I try hard to buy fresh, local, minimal packaging and consume what we buy (before it goes bad)! I hate waste too.
- Food To Go: I buy what we will eat and what transports well. Sometimes these things come in plastic. I try to be conscientious about purchasing packaging and look for the symbol. We recycle like crazy at home (BIG BIN).
- Stainless Steel: Pans, silicone lids, ceramic/glass/metal/silicone for baking are a better choice.
- We use … gasp!… real plates ALL THE TIME. I absolutely refuse to purchase paper plates. No way, no how. I did order one roll of recycled paper towel from Who Gives A Crap and use it to pat dry meat before cooking but it stays under the sink for only that.
- Cloth Napkins: We use cloth napkins (Norwex) and kitchen towels & cloths for counters and wet hands. I also have a weird netted dish cloth from Norwex that I love and it doesn’t hang onto water so it doesn’t get disgusting like sponges (nasty) or regular dish rags (ugh).
- Compost: Here is a great composting bin for your yard.
- Garden: Garden whenever possible.
- DON’T MOW LOW & mulch!
- Trees: Trees are great to have around.
How do I Green my Life – Vehicles:
- I drive… yes, you guessed it… a Toyota Prius. It is not the smallest, most fuel-efficient or newest model but a 2012 Prius V (which I absolutely LOVE). I try to drive reasonably and enjoy it.
- I service my car as the dealer instructs to keep it running as well as possible for as long as possible. I love having my car without having a car payment. High quality, well-maintained = long life.
How do I Green my Life – Consume Less:
- I keep using my cell phone far past the 2 years it takes me to pay for it. I like knowing how to use it, yes, but there are a lot of components to a cell phone that worry me. Lithium? Battery?
- We open the drapes/curtains when we need more light.
- We open our windows to air out the place and get a breeze.
- I live for the days when we don’t need to heat or cool our home.
- Turn off the water.
How do I Green my Life – Being Green at Work:
- I listen to Audible books so I am not purchasing actual books which is a green change for me as well. I love a real book but I don’t make the time to sit down and read them often at this point in my life. I am fortunate to be able to listen at work, while I work. Knowledge is power and sometimes a good pick-me-up is so necessary.
- I’ve been known to (daily) bring anything recyclable home from work or wherever I find it so that it can be recycled or reused and then recycled. I have a co-worker with whom I share an office. He refuses to recycle even his pop cans (in Michigan we pay and return for $0.10/can)! So, when I work after him, I go through our trash and pull anything recyclable to take home or put in a recycling bin at work. Packaging tape roll centers, paper, cans/bottles, lunch containers, etc.
- I love Terracycle for the items that are hard to recycle
- I also got online and found a foam plant that recycles packaging foam. My aquarist food comes packaged in this foam. Styrofoam in nearly infinitely remoldable. Just need to locate a drop-off near you and drive on up to the bin.
- I use Norwex cleaning cloths for my aquarist job to clean the acrylic tank faces and in the back room so I am cutting out any chemicals I can there as well. Silver introduced during the making of the fibers reacts with water to make cloths anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-viral.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Go Green!
Now, WHY do I green? WHY do I choose to green in the ways I choose to? Because I am PASSIONATE and I care deeply about a good number of things. About the air, the water, the soil, my fellow inhabitants of Earth, the future, the past, the present state of affairs.
I care enough to act and not simply complain. Talk is cheap. I care enough to model behavior for those around me which makes them question things. I want to set a good example for my Little Sponge. I want YOU to care with me.
And because I care, I worry, oh how I worry… BUT, worry doesn’t fix the problem. Actions can. They may make a small or large impact but at least we are doing SOMETHING! Find your passion and DO SOMETHING!
I don’t know it all and I’m constantly on the look-out for ways to be greener and better than I am right now. You have ideas, I have ideas, we can work together to get there quicker and smarter. Let’s help each other by sharing your ideas about going green in the comments below. Ask yourself: How do I green my life?
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