Updated: Feb 15, 2020
If I am being totally honest I think my green living started by accident. I always look for ways to get as much use out of things as I can rather than spend more money. "You can clean your toilet with vinegar? Then why would I buy comet?!" As I became more and more aware I just became more committed and conscious about these decisions. I also became more curious about what other people do in their homes and slowly built a basic understanding of how to avoid extra chemicals and 'stuff' without too much extra hassle or time investment.
People think it is more expensive and time consuming to live green. In fact it's not at all. Green living is less expensive and takes the same amount of time and energy. You just have to set your mind to change. Change is hard though. We say a lot of discouraging things to ourselves when change is required and feels over whelming. We offer ourselves excuses - when what we should be doing is offering each other helpful ideas and assistance to make the change easier. SO - without further delay - here are a few of my simple favorites. FAST, CHEAP, EASY and effective.
1) Bar soap: Switch out your body wash for a lovely bar of soap. If you LOVE liquid soap you can simply grate a bar of your favorite soap into a large pot of water, melt slowly on low and allow to cool. Re-Use a leftover container, pump, or mason jar to store and you will have liquid soap for MONTHS!!
* Do this with a bar of castile soap and you can use it everywhere around the house. I use it as laundry soap and LOVE trying difference essential oils for scent.
2) Dryer balls: Did you know that most of the dryer sheets you by commercially are extremely toxic? Heart break. But fear not. You can get wool dryer balls that not only help dry your clothes faster but can help add lovely non toxic scent to your clothes. Simply add a few drops of an essential oil to the dryer ball before chucking it in the dryer. Voila!
3) Essential Oils: These are one of the best tools to go green and feel great. There are SO many oils that have antibacterial, antiviral, immune support and other beneficial qualities. You need only take a few minutes to find a few scents that you love. Swap out chemical cleaners for vinegar and water solutions with a few drops of EO's. Don't have time to research? I suggest Peppermint, Lemon or orange. Lemon grass is a common favorite too.
4) Coconut oil: Ohhh....this is a power house. If you have coconut oil in your home you can combat dry frizzy hair, dry skin, even head lice chemical free! Sub it into your recipes instead of butter, sub it into your skin care routine in place of moisturizer, or for after sun care. Mix a little coconut oil and sugar with EO's for a salt scrub. Combine 50/50 with beeswax and add your favorite essential oil for THE BEST lip and body balms. No more toxic perfume, no more plastic tubes to chuck. The more you explore the more uses you will find for coconut oil.
5) Baking soda with or without vinegar: Another power house duo, alone or as a pair. Use baking soda in your wash to help brighten your whites, in your drain with vinegar to unclog or maintain clear pipes. Use baking soda to brush your teeth (make your own toothpaste by combining baking soda, coconut oil and a little mint!). A little baking soda will stop dish soap from over sudzing if you need to use it in your dishwasher. It makes a great grout and tile scrub too! I buy this stuff in the biggest boxes I can - and it comes in cardboard! YES!!
** Rub a baking soda and vinegar paste on slivers to lift the sliver out, and on bee stings to soothe the sting.
** Use vinegar to clean around the house (you can scent it with lime rinds - or essential oils if that pleases you....personally I like the smell, it makes me crave french fries Hahaha
6) Rags: Seriously, how dumb are we to keep buying paper towels? Got old towels? Bed sheets? Pillow cases? Tea towels? T-Shirts? Cut with a pair of pinking shears and keep them in a wee pile under your kitchen sink. You can get fancy and sew the edges - or just use 'em as is. Dinner napkins, picnic napkins, quick grab clean up clothes...whatever you need just use the cloth version rather than throwing your money away on disposables. EASY. LIKE. THAT.
7) Home made school snacks: Every couple of weeks I take an hour or so on Sunday to make a large batch of cookie dough balls, maybe a banana bread or muffins, some granola bars, rice Krispie squares - whatever. We keep these set aside for lunch snacks. Of course we have the fruit and veggie stick options but honestly...my kids are pretty much carb-a vors and I don't have the energy to fight. I sneak loads of healthy ingredients into my snack foods and make no apologies about all the cookies and muffins they eat. When I am craving a "You're the BEST" I buy jello or pudding mix. It takes less than 5 minutes to make and scoop into reusable lunch cups. NO PLASTIC. ALLLL the GLORY and praise from the kids.
My youngest will ONLY eat apple sauce and loved those take and toss pouches (SHOOT ME NOW!!) I got him some reusable straws and we agreed he could drink his home packed sauce out of a container. I switch it up sometimes by shaking in cinnamon, stirring in vanilla or a little pureed berry.
We opt out of milk cartons and pack stainless steal drinks of chocolate milk.
We use reusable containers and I wash milk bags to reuse as bags when I really need a "disposable" - which is rare.
GARBAGE FREE LUNCHES!
8) Peroxide: Whiten your laundry, clean your stinky bathroom, disinfect a cut. Whatever you would do with bleach you can do with peroxide BUT, the bi products of peroxide are oxygen and water. If you change nothing else - switch out your bleach it is just unnecessary toxicity.
9) Recycle properly: Did you know that dirty items contaminate recycling bins and can not be recycled? Leftover foods that ferment can actually cause dangerous reactions during the recycling processes. Simply rinsing your recyclables and sorting them properly is HUGE. Also - choosing aluminum and glass (e.g. a soda can rather than a plastic bottle.) is a big help. Plastic can only be recycled a couple of times before it goes to landfill and EACH cycle produces toxic bi products. Glass and aluminum can be endlessly recycled and are way cleaner (though not perfect so keep trying to avoid disposables)
Honestly, if you really want to live green, simply be aware. Take an extra moment when you shop to choose items that are sold without packaging, in paper packaging rather than plastic or in a container that you could re-use or re-purpose. If you are stuck buying plastic packaging ask yourself if you can work around it. If you really can't - buy the largest container you can afford. Finally - SHARE!! If you have things you don't use, don't toss them - share them, give them away, trade them. Create a community around you by leading the way. WE got this! We can do it!