7 Simple Ways to Create a More Eco-Friendly Home
Hopefully, you care deeply about living in a space that feeds your well-being and about protecting the planet. But the thought of doing a major overhaul to create an eco-friendly home can induce panic.
Here's the thing: Going more environmentally sustainable can be done in small, pain-free steps, says Friday Apaliski, who created the Sustainability Concierge, a business that helps make dwellings healthy, holistic, and happy. "My mantra is 'Progress, not perfection,'" she says. "If we all do a little better, then collectively we're accomplishing a ton."
Here, Apaliski's easy ideas for keeping your place clean and earth friendly — and maintaining your peace of mind. (While you're at it, follow this guide to ensure your activewear is sustainable, too.)
1. Look to the Light
The first step to creating an eco-friendly home: Change all your bulbs to LED ones (Buy It, $23, amazon.com). It's a low-lift, big-impact move that you'll relish in every time you notice your beautiful, consistent lighting. The payoff is huge — an LED bulb uses 85 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb, so you'll also save a ton of money on bills (roughly 30 percent). Even better, they last 20 times longer; you won't need to replace them for 10 years. (With any of these products, make sure to be wary of greenwashing.)
2. Make Choosing Products a No-Brainer
When buying nontoxic cleaners, it's hard to weed through all the info to determine what's legit. Make life easier when establishing an eco-friendly home by picking a brand with the Made Safe seal. This certification ensures that all ingredients in the product are safe and healthy. Try Meilora's Unscented All-Purpose Home Cleaner (Buy It, $10, hivebrands.com).(Related: This Online Marketplace Makes Shopping for Sustainable Goods Simple)
3. Go All Cloth
To create a truly eco-friendly home, stop buying disposable paper towels. Take a deep breath — it will be fine. Get cloth towels, which look pretty and can be washed. And when they're threadbare, recycle. Many farmers markets collect textiles to recycle, as do stores like The North Face. Some gas stations also have green textile recycling bins.
Or check out Marley's Monsters (Buy It, $65, amazon.com), which are rolls of cotton flannel sheets that are great for wiping counters and serving sandwiches. For bigger spills, go for Swedish Dishcloths (Buy It, $20, amazon.com), reusable stiff sheets made of cotton and cellulose that soften and become super-absorbent. They're also compostable.
4. Upgrade Your Sponge
Sponges are typically made from oil-based plastic that leaves little microfibers in their wake and down the drain (and into the water system). To build an eco-friendly home, try a wool sponge, like those made by Full Circle Wool (Buy It, $10, fullcirclewool.com). They're compostable, and their natural scrubby texture works. Big bonus: Wool is naturally antimicrobial, so even dirty sponges don't smell. (ICYDK, wool also makes for top-notch sustainable activewear.)
5. Scent Your Home Smartly
If you don't read your labels closely, you could unknowingly diffuse chemicals like phthalates — which are endocrine disrupters — into the environment every time you light a scented candle or spray a room fragrance. What's more, the phthalates make the scent sticky, so it lingers longer in the air and on all your stuff. Look for specific ingredients on the label like citrus or lavender, instead of the general "fragrance," in order to establish your eco-friendly home. (Related: Are Candles Bad for You?)
6. Opt for Glass
For food storage, glass containers (Buy It, $49, amazon.com) are a great alternative to plastic, which isn't easily recyclable and can release chemicals into your food when reheated. And with glass, you see what's inside, making you more likely to eat leftovers and prevent food waste.
7. Stock Kinder TP
You want toilet paper that's soft but also sustainable. Bamboo is a great TP material to add to your eco-friendly home. The plant grows organically and quickly without chemicals, and it's biodegradable. It also uses little land space and water. One TP Apaliski swears by: Who Gives a Crap's Premium 100% Bamboo Toilet Paper (Buy It, $34, us.whogivesacrap.org). (Better yet, use an attachable bidet to reduce your impact.)
Shape Magazine, September 2021