2017 was the year of change for my family and I. My boyfriend took a new position with work, we moved to Northern California, I started a new hobby (this blog) and I started making some eco-friendly switches around our house. I am far from zero waste, but I think it is extremely important to be more conscious of the waste we create, become more mindful of the purchases we make, understand how they effect the Earth and other people. My 2017 New Years resolution was to purchase my clothes used from consignment shops or from ethical brands. I am not going to lie, I cheated 3 times. I’m not perfect but I tried and I had fun with it. I love shopping consignment because you never know what you’re going find. This is something I intend to continue throughout the years. I also tried to make one eco-friendly swap a month, I found this to be something I really enjoyed as well. My swaps were spaced out enough so I was not overwhelmed and towards the end of one month I started looking forward to planning what the next month would have in store for me! So here are some of the changes I made.
- Stainless Steel Reusable Water Bottles – This swap is an easy one. It pays for itself in just a couple of months with all the money you’ll be saving by not purchasing one use plastic water bottles. I have to admit, we have been drinking from reusable water bottles for a couple years now but we started with glass. My family made the switch from glass to stainless steel this year when my sons lifecycle glass bottle broke (I mean duh, who buys glass for a little boy), It also sweat, leaked and did not keep our water cold very long. So I made the switch to Healthy Human stainless steel and have been using this brand for about year now, I was really looking for something I thought was going to last. It’s very durable, perfect for everyday use, hikes and traveling. It has never leaked and keeps water cold for up to 12 hours. (I don’t want to deter anyone from purchasing glass if that is what you think will work best for you, glass and stainless steel are both great options.)
- Travel Coffee Mug – Since I love my Healthy human water bottle so much I also purchased their tumbler this year as well. It’s so great for tea to go or filling up at your favorite coffee shop, keeps your beverages hot for up to 4 hours. Plus, most coffee shops give a discount when you BYOC! Save the Earth, save some money.
- Reusable Straws – American’s alone use 500 million straws a day! Doesn’t this number seem just insane? This is completely avoidable by simply requesting “No straw please” When you’re out and about. If you’re like me and find it hard to live without straws due to sensitive teeth or just personal preference I recommend investing in reusable straws, it makes it so much easier to refuse a straw in public when you bring your own back up. There happens to be couple different reusable straw options, stainless steel, glass and bamboo. I went with stainless steel because I was looking for something that was going to last and these seem pretty indestructible. They are easy to clean and affordable. I keep one in my back pack, in my home, and in my car.
- Reusable Produce Bags & Grocery bags – Bringing your own grocery bags to the store is probably the easiest on this list, reusable bags are highly available for purchase. I truly cringe when I see the amount of plastic bags people use at the grocery store. So I ended up purchasing two kinds of bags to see which I would prefer. Mesh and 100% organic cotton bags. Unfortunately some of my mesh bags did not hold up very well in the wash. On the other hand I really love my 100% cotton bags. They can be used with both produce items and bulk items and seem to hold up very well. Also something I learned months into having these bags is to make sure you tell your cashier there is a tare weight on your bag (mine is.7) so you are not paying for the weight of the bag.
- Menstrual Cup – Have you ever wondered what the environmental impact of your period is? The average women throws away 250 – 300 pounds of pads, tampons and applicators in her lifetime. Now obviously a period is unavoidable so I invested in a menstrual cup. Specifically the Lunette. I am not going to lie, It’s not easy to use at first and takes a lot of getting used to. I’m months in and still not 100% used to it. So do your research and find out what brand might be best for you. Reusable pads are an awesome option as well.
- Chain Mail Cast Iron Scrubber – Made of stainless steel and heavy duty, this thing rocks and looks like it will last me a life time! So worth the $10. I’ll literally never have to purchase a scrubby again!
- Reusable Storage Bags – I don’t usually use a ton of storage bags because I repurpose glass jars (from apple sauce, pasta sauce, etc..) for storage but it is handy to have a few around. A couple of reusable bags I do happen to use are two gallon Blue Avocado bags I keep in my freezer, 1. for when my bananas get too ripe, perfect time to freeze for ice cream or smoothies. 2. to hold my vegetable scraps to make vegetable broth. Also I really love Stasher bags for packing on the go snacks.
- Bamboo Toothbrush – Toothbrushes represent 50 million pounds of waste that end up in our landfill yearly. I have yet to find a bamboo toothbrush that is 100% compostable in stores but I break the tops off with the bristles and at least I am able to compost the handle. If any of you have found a 100% compostable toothbrush, let me know!!!
- Shampoo Bar – I have officially broken up with shampoo and conditioner and I’m not mad about it. I purchased a Lush shampoo bar not too long ago and I love it so much. Lush shampoo bars are cruelty free and package free. One shampoo bar is supposed to last about 80 washes outlasting regular shampoo by 3x! I also just quit using conditioner cold turkey, who needs it? I have long, thick curly hair and I’m doing just fine without it.
- Bulk Spices – If you have the ability to purchase spices bulk, do so. I am grateful my local stores have great bulk spice section. Every time I run out of a spice, I wash my spice jar, bring it on my next grocery haul, they weigh my jar at costumer service and I fill it with whatever I need for over half the price I would have paid. Not only is this hack environmentally friendly but wallet friendly as well and who doesn’t love a good deal?
- Stainless Steel Ice Cube Tray – This was a hard purchase for me to make because they are not cheap but you get what you pay for. I was going through a good amount of (cheap) plastic ice cube trays because they would continue to crack and not hold water. I felt extremely guilty every time one broke and we needed a new one so I finally pulled the trigger on stainless steel this year in hopes it will last a while and so far so good. Now, I have to admit, at first I was a little frustrated because my cubes were shattering but there is a trick to be learned, set your ice cube tray out about 7 minutes in advance, then you’ll get the perfect cubes.
- DIY Non Dairy Milk – I started making my own milks this year out of bulk almonds and shredded coconut. There are many types of milks you can make (oat, rice, hemp, etc.) these are just my personal favorite. With these specific milks I can dehydrate the left over pulp to make coconut and almond flour for gluten free baking. Its a total 2-4-1.
- Bulk Tea – I quit using tea bags this year. I am very grateful Whole Foods in Oakland, Ca has a small yet mighty bulk tea section that I purchase my green tea from for my everyday morning tea. There are also a lot of other great coffee & tea shops or apothecary stores to get bulk herbs for tea blends.
- Espresso & Coffee – Same as tea, always feeling very grateful to be able to purchase these items bulk for my local stores.
- Bamboo Utensils – I purchased 3 sets of reusable bamboo utensils that I pack with my son and boyfriends lunches daily with a reusable cloth napkin. I keep mine in my backpack just incase I pop into a cafe that serves plastic. These have come in handy plenty of times and are also awesome for camping.
I am so happy with all the positive changes made in 2017 and excited to continue to be more aware of my purchases and habits in 2018. If this is something you are looking to do as well I hope this list is helpful to you. Happy New Year!