4 Small Changes I’ve Made to Live More Sustainably at Home
I’m no expert on climate change, but it doesn’t take a scientist to realize that our over-consumption, uber-convenience culture has created a lot of waste and a negative impact on the environment. I like convenience as much as anyone, but I’m also challenging myself to think about the impact my choices have on the planet.
So today, I’m sharing 4 small and easy changes I’ve made at home to embrace a more sustainable home environment, create less waste and lessen my negative impact on the planet.
- 4 Small Changes I’ve Made to Live More Sustainably at Home
- What is Sustainable Living?
- The Dirty Truth About Garbage
- 1. Reducing Single-Use Plastic Bottles
- 2. Stocking Up on Reusable Food Bags and Containers
- 3. Embracing Natural Eco Friendly Fabrics for Blankets and Towels
- 4. Cleaning with Natural Strength
What is Sustainable Living?
Firstly lets address what sustainable living means – it involves reducing the amount of the Earth’s resources that you use to help protect it. So to live a sustainable lifestyle, you should try to have as little of an impact on the Earth as possible, while also trying to replace the resources you currently use.
The Dirty Truth About Garbage
We all blissfully throw away countless bags of plastic and garbage every year – but where does it go? Plastics alone are a relatively new concept in the world. They have only been around for just over 50 years. But it’s scary to think that the best estimates for how long it takes plastic to compose is 450 years at minimum, and at the highest range – never!
Here are some quick facts on global waste and garbage trends from Statista.com:
- Less than 20% of waste is recycled each year
- Waste generated is increasing massively around the world
- E-waste (electronic) is the fastest growing waste stream in the world
The truth about plastic is also shocking and sad (source):
- People have produced more plastic in the last 10 years, than the last 100 years
- 100 million marine animals die each year from plastic waste alone
- Plastics are expected to outnumber fish in the ocean by 2050
WHOA! Talk about a wake up call.
Like anything, we can either be part of the problem or part of the solution…
So I’m sharing 4 changes I’ve recently made around the home to reduce waste and lessen my personal impact on the planet.
1. Reducing Single-Use Plastic Bottles
Of course I had to start here, because – wow. We have all gotten addicted to plastic. But I don’t want another fish to die on my watch because I couldn’t refill my water bottle! So I’ve basically outlawed single use plastic water bottles in my house. Refillable water bottles all the way!
But another less obvious culprit is plastic food, cleaners and soap dispenser bottles. I’m trying to buy in bulk and refill as much as possible.
Sure, we all love a good 3 for $15 soap bottle deal from Bath and Body works. Great deal for you – bad deal for the landfill and the ocean. In the last year, I’ve started buying glass soap dispensers and simply refilling them as needed.
At Watermark, being environmentally conscious is really important to us. We strive to use as much compostable and recyclable materials in our packing and shipping process as possible. This value was also our inspiration for creating our own line of reusable hand soap dispensers, dish soap dispensers and lotion dispenser bottles in amber glass jars!
I’m also looking at other options on how to buy products from refillery’s. For example The Refillery in Calgary caters to a zero-waste lifestyle – so I don’t even have to buy my soap in a big plastic bag from the grocery store! You can easily bring your bottles in to fill and while choosing the option to shop local at the same time!
Adding these bottles to my home has made a huge difference in the amount of plastic soap and lotion bottles I used to purchase. And not to mention the aesthetics of my counter space is much more put together with the simple, stylish refillable bottles.
2. Stocking Up on Reusable Food Bags and Containers
Other plastic items I’m starting to hate are plastic (i.e. Ziplock) bags and food containers. Now that my son is is Kindergarten and I’m packing lunches, I’m especially conscious of what I’m putting in there. There is no reason why I can’t throw that muffin or handful of crackers in a reusable bag. Sure, does it take an extra few seconds to wash them with the dishes? Small inconvenience I think. Plus, the glass containers can not only store the food but then be used to warm it up in the microwave later with no risk of toxic chemicals seeping into my food.
I also try to always have reusable produce and grocery bags in my trunk that I can take to the farmers market or grocery store. Since I also love to support local businesses, I’m very excited to use these reusable bags and stainless steel containers from The Better Farm co. Not only are they super cute to tote around, but they help save a huge amount of plastic bags from ending up in the landfill.
Next Up: Outlaw plastic wrap. This is tough for me because my Mom uses plastic wrap all the time. Her M.O. is to leave left-overs on a plate and just cover it with plastic wrap. But I’ve started to notice some reusable options out there and have actually purchased my first beeswax based wrap which I use on veggies and avocados. Again, a little bit of a pain to wash and re-use but it’s not too bad, the benefits are certainly worth it!
3. Embracing Natural Eco Friendly Fabrics for Blankets and Towels
These days, it seems like polyester, nylon and other synthetic fabrics have snuck into everything – clothing, blankets, sheets and towels. It’s hard to get away from them! I understand they are cheap to manufacture and often feel soft at first, but I’ve come to realize there are also a lot of negatives to these synthetic fabrics which has me checking the label more than ever these days!
The downside of synthetic fabrics for the environment (and for you), they:
- look good at first, but don’t wear or wash well – often end up piling and looking old quickly
- are essentially made of plastic and often use a lot of heavy chemicals to produce
- are not biodegradable so will most likely end up in a landfill for hundreds of years
- release millions of microfibre particles into the water every time they are washed
While there is no “perfect” textile that doesn’t have any environmental impact, I definitely feel like cotton and natural fabrics are a much more eco friendly choice. Turkish cotton, for example, is made from long, cotton fibres which are uniquely soft and dry super quick. So they have the added benefit of to reduce the amount of drying time needed – which is also being energy efficient! By using less energy, you can help to reduce carbon emissions. So even choosing an option to line dry or hang to dry near a sunny window are ways you can help by reducing energy.
They are also perfect as beach or bath towels because they are a super absorbent type of cotton, which can then air dry very quickly.
Here are some examples below of our favourite eco friendly Turkish cotton products!
4. Cleaning with Natural Strength
My last tip on how to be more sustainable in your home is to change up your cleaning products! I’m so glad that it’s very easy to find so many natural cleaning products these days. Many cleaning products come with negative environmental impacts leaving lasting effects on the environment and toxicity to aquatic life. Chemicals such as detergents, preservatives, or foaming agents are the ones that cause the most harm to nature. So choosing to opt for products that contain no synthetic ingredients are the best option and are eco friendly.
I can’t stand the thought of dumping a bunch of toxic chemicals into the water system after a day of cleaning, nor do I want to spread those all over my home for my son and dog to absorb.
Sometimes water, baking soda and even a bit of lemon juice is all you need! There are also so many simple cleaning product recipes out there that you can find to make your own and by using your favourite essential oils. Making your own cleaning products is actually quite budget friendly. If you were to add up how much you spend on cleaning products you would be surprised what it adds up to!
Here’s a great recipe we found on Pinterest on how to make your own homemade natural multi-purpose cleaning spray by using only 3-4 simple ingredients. The ingredients in this DIY multi-purpose cleaning spray works out to around $0.41 per 500ml bottle! It really is a better alternative than using chemicals, making your own is so simple, budget friendly and low waste.
I also like this non-toxic all-purpose cleaner I use from Tiber River (thanks to my cousin Trina who sells it!).
By no means do I want to shame anyone for not incorporating these, or other, more sustainable choices into their home and lifestyle. We all have different scenarios which make it more or less necessary to choose convenience and alternative options. And I’m by no means perfect either! But progress over perfection, right?!
I hope I’ve at least succeeded in offering some insight, simple steps and inspiration to help you experiment with more sustainable living choices. And if you have other ways that you’ve created a more sustainable home environment, I’d love to hear about it! I believe every small change can make a big difference and I want to keep going in this direction.