Have you started creating a vision board of eco-friendly changes you’d like to make in 2016? Maybe this topic isn’t even on your radar and you need a little inspo.

This year, my family and I implemented several new environmentally-friendly swaps and continued many that we’ve been doing for a while. I wish I could say this is always on my mind when I go shopping or buying a latte, but I’m not quite there yet.

However, making a few small changes add up to bigger ones.

Chances are, when you take a crack at the simpler swaps, the initial success will propel you into adding more. The steps we’ve been taking are so easy to do that we hardly notice a difference other than the reduced waste and healthier household. Over time, these swaps have definitely proven to be more economical too.

That’s why I decided to break down 11 easy steps you can take right now to improve the quality of your lifestyle and that of everyone around you. Don’t strive for perfection but for developing an awareness of your impact on your health and in the environment—and then keep going from there.

Meanwhile, here’s the list that I hope to grow in 2016 just to give you some simple ideas that a busy mama can do.

1) Swap disposable straws, water bottles, and containers for reusable ones

swell bottle eco swap

Plastic contributes to a huge amount of waste—we are talking enough plastic to circle the earth four times—with only five percent winding up recycled. Americans dump two million tons of plastic bottles a year, and it can take up to 1,000 years for plastic to decompose. Alarming, right?

We didn’t even discuss the toxic chemicals leaching from plastic into the beverage or food—even when it’s BPA-free. UGH!

This is so simple to remedy, it isn’t even debatable.

Head over to Mighty Nest, Rodale’s, Abe’s Market—and even search Amazon under eco-friendly—my favorite sites to find water bottles, straws, jars, containers, pots, pans, and cleaning products, that are stylish, functional, and offer kid-friendly options too.

The S’well bottle (shown above) is a sweet stainless steel option that my kids take to school.

Whenever I remember, I bring my own cup to Starbuck’s. Did you know that they take 10 cents off the order when I do? FYI, you may have to remind them.

2) Swap out toxic detergents and household cleaning products for eco-friendly, less caustic products.

For cleaning products, I’m hooked on Murchison-Hume which is admittedly a strange thing to say about products that scour toilets, but when you see their awesome bottles, I think you’ll get it. They’re super cute plus have great scents and, most importantly, they work. Hard. Without needing to fumigate the house after use.

You can refill the spray bottles and get repeated use out of them which helps save waste.

Not into online ordering? I’m also a fan of Seventh Generation products that you can find almost anywhere including Target and grocery stores.

4) Ditch the microbeads

You don’t need them. The oceans don’t need them. Plastic microbeads clog up the waterways and poison the fish that we eat. Yikes! It’s a good thing the government is on it. By 2019, sales will be banned and manufacturers forbidden from making them by 2017, but it’s never too soon to quit ’em.

Choose natural scrubs like the ones here that I’ve tried, loved, and would repurchase, if I have not already.

I bought Hydrea London Carbonized Bamboo Exfoliating Gloves from Spirit Beauty Lounge years ago, and they’re still holding strong. These anionic gloves recharge the body while exfoliating, so you’re getting good vibes while you scrub.

Coffee based

Sugar based

Salt based

For face (too many favorites!)

5) Swap your disposable razor for a Oui Shave AND support a woman-owned business to boot!

ouishave carrie

If you read my blog, by now you know I’m a huge fan of Oui Shave (intro post here and travel option here). Most women spend upwards of $150 on shaving per year—while Oui Shave costs $75 for the razor + $11 for a pack of 10 replacement blades (they last a good few weeks each) for a total of $86. Hmm…not too bad—in addition to not overloading landfills with heaps of plastic handles every few weeks.

Plus the shave doesn’t lead to nuisances like razor burn, rashes, ingrown hairs, and—I swear that over time I’m finding my hair is growing back softer and less prickly too.

6) Buy eco-friendly toothbrushes and dental care

PureBella

 

Speaking of plastic handles, let’s talk toothbrushes, shall we? This switch is a piece of cake now that there are loads of options from Preserve (shown above) that upcycles their materials from recycled yogurt cups to renewable bamboo handles.

We have been a fluoride-free household since before the kids were born.

It’s beyond the scope of this post to tackle the reasons why fluoride is vilified by most holistic experts (if not all), but let’s mention for our purposes that this isn’t a substance we want in our bodies nor in our waterways either—yet down the drain it goes every time we brush.

I’m always on the hunt for serious dental care that works and appeals to discerning taste buds. PureBella fits the bill and then some. The mouthwash, Dental Aligner Cleaner, and Tooth Nourish powder earn our holistic orthodontist’s approval too!

Kids may take more time finding the right “taste” fit when it comes to toothpastes. Just keep trying different brands until you find one that suits their palettes. You will!

Green Beaver just appeared on my radar thanks to the Green Beauty Insiders group, so I’ll be adding this brand to my list of potential toothpastes to check out in 2016 too.

7) Reduce aluminum use. Period.

It takes one aluminum can 80-250 years to decompose in the trash. Aluminum tins, foil, and styrofoam are not biodegradable at all. Hello, crazy fact!

Swap aluminum tin foil for unbleached parchment paper as a baking sheet for cookies or roasted veggies to snack on or use as cupcake holders. Bake in CorningWare or Pyrex dishes.

8) Replace regular hand and face wipes for biodegradable ones

If you love removing makeup with wipes or like to keep some in your bag or car for beauty emergencies and sticky fingers, go for biodegradable options like Acure Organics Argan Oil Wipes in Unscented or Coconut scented options. This swap is a no-brainer, especially since Target carries Acure Organics too!

I just tried Ursa Major Bamboo 4-in-1 Face Wipes and am loving them too.

9) Switch to electronic payments vs. printed bills

Easy peasy. Just do it. Who needs to waste all that paper?

10) Buy digital magazines and books

My favorite magazines—Savor Life, Thoughtfully Magazine, and Darling—all come in digital versions. Since the launch of the Nook and Kindle, online reading got easier too.

And, as my husband always reminds me, the book store is not a library. Visit libraries to find novels and kids’ books instead of buying new ones. (This one is particularly challenging for me!)

11) Donate clothing, don’t dump

Ready for this statistic? Americans send 10.5 billion tons of clothing to landfills per year, according to this article.

Ready for a simple solution? Before throwing away used clothing, see what’s still fit to be worn and give it away.

Lupus Foundation of America and Big Brother/Big Sister will come to your door to pick up household items and clothing. These donations help fund programs and services to support their mission.

 

Want more ideas and inspiration? Check out Trash is for Tossers—specifically this cute video that’s gives food for thought (time to ditch those plastic grocery bags this year!)

How about you? How are you cleaning up your world this year?

 

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