12 Simple Swaps For a More Environmentally-Friendly Home
April 22 marks the celebration of Earth Day, uniting people around the world in support of environmental protection. With so many grim reports surfacing about plastic pollution, climate change, diminishing icebergs, and more, it’s easy to feel disheartened. But recent movements—#refusethestraw, last month’s Student Climate Strike led by teen activist Greta Thunberg—as well as the amount of new, progressive legislation being enacted globally (E.U., we’re looking at you!), are providing hope and encouraging us to take inspired action.
We know that breaking old habits can be challenging, but some simple swaps can have a profound impact. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of 12 easy changes you can make to your everyday routine—starting today!
PROBLEM: It’s estimated that more than one billion toothbrushes are discarded annually in the U.S. alone,* many of which end up in landfills and oceans.
SWAP: Opt for plastic-free, biodegradable toothbrush alternatives. We’re loving Brush with Bamboo, which is made entirely of plant-based materials: bristles, handle, and box.
PROBLEM: Disposable razors may be the most wasteful product in the bathroom – millions are thrown away each year. Unfortunately, the bulk of disposable razors are non-biodegradable, meaning they’re on this planet forever.
SWAP: Ditch your expensive, wasteful disposable razors for plastic-free options such as Leaf Shave. The innovative brand’s triple-blade, all-metal razor provides a smooth, close shave and contains zero plastic.
PROBLEM: While flossing every day is great for your teeth, it can be terrible for the environment. Commercial dental floss most commonly comes in a rigid plastic case that’s not recyclable, and the floss it itself is usually made of polymers such as nylon.
SWAP: We’re in love with Dental Lace, the first eco-friendly dental floss on the market. It’s made of 100% mulberry silk, and comes packaged in a cute, refillable case.
PROBLEM: Here’s a crushing truth: plastic wrap is not recyclable. Even if washed, the thin plastic film used in households across the U.S. is processed with chemicals that aren’t safe to recycle with other plastics and can also clog recycling machines if processed.* It all ends up in landfills.
SWAP: Bees Wrap is a must-have for any eco-forward kitchen. Bees Wrap replaces your single-use plastic wrap with a cotton and beeswax cloth that can be used again and again. In fact, one sheet can last up to a year when properly maintained!
PROBLEM: Make-up wipes are real bad for the planet. Many contain plastic (no joke—it makes the wipes stronger) and other non-biodegradable materials, like polyester and polypropylene, and can take up to 100 years to decompose. Even worse: wipes are often flushed, where they end up polluting our waterways.
SWAP: The best option is to give up your wipes in favor of an eco-friendly face cleanser and a washable cloth that won’t contribute to landfill or ocean plastic pollution (choose a dark-colored cotton cloth that’ll hide mascara stains). While this old-school route may not carry the convenience of a pre-packaged makeup wipe, it is 100% better for our planet. If you can’t do without the ease of a pre-moistened face wipe, the internet is filled with super-easy DIY options to make your own that require little more than cleanser—Seed’s Gentle Facial Cleanser is perfect!—some fabric scraps, and two up-cycled glass jars with lids.
PROBLEM: One billion toothpaste tubes are thrown out each year*. Plus, conventional toothpaste often contains plastic microbeads and heaps of toxic chemicals that are harmful to our health.
SWAP: Bite toothpaste bits totally eliminate the plastic tube. Simply bite (get it??) on a bit—which come in a glass container—and get in there with a wet toothbrush.
PROBLEM: Have you ever considered that in doing your laundry, you might be contributing to water pollution? Tiny particles of plastic are found in the synthetic fibers that make up our clothing—polyester, nylon, and acrylic, just to name a few—and with each wash, those fibers make their way into our rivers and oceans.*
SWAP: We were thrilled to learn about Stop! Micro Waste filter bag, which stops microplastics from entering our waterways. And after a wash, you can properly dispose of the collected particles.
PROBLEM: Every year, the average household uses nearly one pound of plastic baggies.* Whether to hold snacks, pack sandwiches, or store leftovers, that’s nearly 500 single-use bags per family. Crazy, right?!
SWAP: Stasher Bags’ reusable silicone baggies are a great substitute. Plus, they’re easy to clean, sturdy, and can be used for a multitude of purposes, whether at home, on-the-go or traveling.
PROBLEM: Dryer sheets have been a staple in our laundry routines for decades, mainly because they help reduce static and give your wash a “fresh” scent. The reality is that dryer sheets are single-use items that aren’t even necessary in the washing process. Plus, they’re filled with chemical fragrances that coat your clothes.
SWAP: It’s all about the wool dryer balls. These tennis-ball shaped items help prevent static and wrinkles. Even better? They significatnly reduce drying time. You can even sprinkle them with a few drops of an essential oil of your choosing to add a fresh scent to clothes. These dryer balls from Dropps are among our favorites.
PROBLEM: Every year, one billion plastic phone cases are manufactured. And you know what happens the next year? One billion MORE are made to meet the demands of constantly changing phone design and size.*
SWAP: We’re simply blown away by Pela Case, a company that’s making phone case shopping stylish & sustainable! Made of plant-based materials, Pela’s phone cases are 100% biodegradable and compostable.
PROBLEM: The multitudes of us for whom periods are an inevitable part of life, have traditionally relied on pads or tampons for hygiene purposes. But those same items take a serious toll on the environment (and our wallets!).
SWAP: There are so many earth-loving options popping up for periods! Check out Dot, a medical-grade, silicone menstrual cup. It can be worn for up to 12 hours and used for up to 10 years! Added bonus: for every Dot Cup purchased, they give one to a woman in need.
PROBLEM: If you’re trying to reduce your own plastic waste, one place you may feel a little stumped is in the bathroom. When we learned that less than half of Americans actually bring empty bath and beauty bottles to the recycling bin, we knew we had to come up with a solution.
SWAP: At Seed, we’ve partnered with Ecologic Brands to design the first shower-stable paper bottle using 60% to 70% less plastic that traditional bottles. We also pack an heirloom seed packette from Hudson Valley Seed Comapny inside many of our bottles in order to encourage people to think twice about how they dispose of it. If you’re frequently going through toilitires and skin- and hair-care products, consider keeping an extra recycling bin in your bathroom to collect your empties.