Eco Journey: First Swaps

Hello again, friends!

So from the very beginning of this journey I have had a notes file on my phone to jot down which personal products I wanted to swap out for more environmentally friendly alternatives.

The first few swaps were simpler, just requiring forming a habit around, and either cost less or for just a couple dollars. Now, bare with me, you’ve probably heard about these a million times, but that’s just how important it is to reiterate.

1. Reusable water bottle instead of plastic bottles. Yeah, you can invest in a fancy self cleaning, stainless steel, electronic bottle, but really, anything will do. I would say if you don’t like drinking from a tap, I’d invest in a filter.

2. Reusable grocery bags. Sometimes you can get them at events for free, but they cost a couple bucks. Or you can just reuse paper bags. There’s really no need for plastic bags. I always carry a clip on fold-able baggie on my car keys or purse just in case I ever need one.

3. Metal/bamboo cutlery. The only reason I say bamboo is because it’s more travel/airplane friendly than metal, but no, don’t purchase it just for the ‘gram. Or do. As long as you don’t use plastic utensils. And hey, if you ever have to for some reason, just wash and reuse it a couple more times. That’s what I do.

4. Reusable cloths/towels instead of paper towels. Kevin and I keep a drawer of little hand towels that we use as napkins and cleaning towels. Just throw them in the wash and done. No need to keep buying paper towels.

5. Reusable coffee mug. I either use my Iceland one or my collapsible Stojo cup ($12.95). Coffee cups aren’t recyclable because of the plastic lining on the inside. So pick a cute one you’ll want to show off and make sure you tell the barista before you pay. Sometimes there’s even a discount! Also, on rare occasion something horrible will happen when the barista pours the coffee into a single use coffee cup and then into yours. In those times it’s okay to be a little disappointed after trying so hard to be eco-friendly. Just ask them why in a polite way. Maybe they just forgot or it’s a rule for them. Oh, and also sometimes coffee shops will deny you your reusable cup. In those times I say thank you and just take my business elsewhere.

 

Alright! So, on to other swaps!

I gave myself a $100 challenge one month where I had a little extra income to purchase these items, but let me state something very clearly, you do not need to purchase new items. The whole point of being more eco-friendly is being a conscious consumer. Now I know, if you started following along on Instagram’s #sustainableliving pages and all those related they will show you fancy, shiny metal lunchboxes, bamboo this and that, “slow fashion” made of hemp organically dyed and lab grown” stuff (is that even a thing?) Sure, it makes for pretty photos, but you don’t need it.

The key is to replace items as they surpass their life cycle. If your hair brush still has perfectly fine bristles, then keep it. It’s fine that it’s plastic, it’s not fine if you throw away a perfectly good hair brush. You get me?

Alright, so for my personal challenge. Firstly, I did a self check- what am I being the absolute most wasteful because of? Secondly, I filled out a pre-filled email to Amazon that I found on an eco blog that I can’t remember the name of for the life of me asking them to lessen any unnecessary packaging on all of my orders. They responded happily. You can do this by just emailing customer service or by chatting with them via IM, which I would prefer. I’ll keep trying to remember the website!

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*Oh, also a note before I dive in! When searching for products that claim to be “eco-friendly” it is important to see what kind of packaging the product is wrapped in. If you go to a grocery store you will see many new products on the shelves that claim to be sustainable and yet are wrapped in plastic. At that point, they are just greenwashing and not fulfilling their “cause”. I made this mistake with one of my products on this list!

1. Makeup Wipes

Damn, there’s a specific brand that I had been using for years and years and they left my skin so silky clean…but. They’re wasteful. One/two a night, a single use, and straight into the trash can. A waste. So I looked into replacing them and here are some alternatives that I found (*obviously not every possible alternative):

I went with the Makeup Eraser Pad and it certainly took some time for me and my skin to adjust. Overall, it does a great job of taking off my daily makeup (I don’t wear very heavy stuff), but I still wash my face with soap or any face cleanser that I have hanging around afterward. I use it for a couple times and then stick it in the wash with my normal stuff. (It’s both a makeup eraser and exfoliator but I don’t use the other side much.)lrg_dsc00108

2. Shampoo and Conditioner Bottles

  • Lush bars
  • Ethique Bars ($16 for a trial pack of 5 bars)☑️
  • Of course there are many bar brands available!
  • Extra virgin oil as conditioner

Kevin loves the brand he uses for his hair but somehow I convinced him to give Ethique bars a try! He said that the shampoo was fine but he struggled with the conditioner. In the end, he went back to his normal products but I am still using the bars and don’t see myself going back to bottles! As with the makeup eraser, it takes a learning curve. I’ve discovered just foaming the shampoo bar in my hands and then applying is best and then rubbing the conditioner bar all over my ends (and while my head is upside down). I’ve noticed a huge difference in switching to a natural hair cleanser. I will definitely keep using Ethique’s products!

3. Dryer Sheets

  • Wool Dryer Balls ☑️ ($7.99 for a pack of 6)
  • Other dryer balls
  • Just not using them in general

 

After Kevin and I moved in together I discovered a bunch of dryer sheets from my old apartment so we’re finishing those up slowly while also using the wool dryer balls from time to time. I had conflicting emotion when I received them as I have no guarantee that they are cruelty free and they came wrapped in plastic. So I don’t believe I’d purchase them again but these should last me a long time anyway. Just put a few drops of your favorite essential oil scent and your clothes should come out just as they would with typical dryer sheets. But seriously, what are dryer sheets even for?

4. Plastic Toothbrushes

Isn’t it a scary thought how every toothbrush you’ve ever used is still on this planet. That’s insane to me. Bamboo is both biodegradable and grows at phenomenal rate. Kevin says the toothbrush is too soft for his teeth so he’ll probably purchase a long lasting electric toothbrush soon. I’m not sure if I’ll follow. I’ll keep you updated.

5. Cotton Balls

  • Washable Halo Cotton Pads
  • Organic Bamboo Cotton Rounds ☑️ (16 pack $14)
  • Cut up any old soft T-shirt or flannel. If you’re feeling fancy you can sew two pieces into little rounds.

I used to use the cheap bag of cotton bags from Walmart. In fact, I actually still have a bag leftover underneath my sink. I use one every few months on a rare occasion I decide I want to paint my nails and need nail polish remover (that’s also so old.) I purchased a cute little container from goodwill that holds all of my rounds at home and travel with the small pouch that they came with. I use each at night for a couple days with witch hazel and then throw them in the wash with my normal laundry. They look a little used after awhile but they’re still perfect to use!

 

6. Plastic Vegetable Bags at grocery store

  • Organic cotton mesh/canvas bags ☑️ (3 pack for $10.95)
  • Just letting them loose in your cart and giving them a fabulous wash when you get home
  • You can DIY them yourself out of old T-shirt’s, pillowcases, random fabric you have at home!

First challenge totals: $103 for 6 Eco-friendly and sustainable alternative products

Overall, I definitely think I made the best decisions possible for myself and this planet. I’ve been using all of these products for roughly 6 months now and they are all holding strong! It is, of course, all a learning process! I have visited home and completely forgotten my makeup eraser towel and had to resort with using a makeup wipe and I’m still finishing up a box of dryer sheets and cotton balls over a long period of time. But I’m trying! All of these Eco friendly products have truly added value to my life and helped divert extra trash from going into a landfill, ending up in the ocean, or getting burned.

Have you made any environmentally friendly changes- big or small? I’d love to hear about them!

Until next time, friends!

-Mary

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