Tip Tuesday: Eco Friendly Homes

It’s Tuesday and this week I’m moving out of your closet and into the rest of your house. That’s right, it’s time to look at how to incorporate eco friendly products, and habits, into the rest of your home. 

Eco Friendly Room By Room

To start, the following offers a look at each room of your house and offers suggestions for products and practices that will up your ethical living factor.

Eco Friendly Kitchen

Green your food storage. If you’re anything like us, you have leftovers in the house. Right now there’s cooked quinoa, salad, biryani, nuts, and homemade salad dressing in my fridge. There are also ingredients that we haven’t finished but will use later, mostly veggies. But those plastic containers? No bueno. Plastic food storage bags are also something to get out of your fridge and your kitchen. Like other plastics, they don’t break down completely so they end up in landfills and then in the soil and water. Here are some kitchen storage swaps.

Instead of… Consider…
Plastic Food Storage Containers
Plastic Bags (Zippered, etc.)

Replace tools. Spatulas, slotted spoons, colanders and other kitchen tools are often purchased as an afterthought. We realize we need a new one and grab one at the grocery store. That can often mean plastic is purchased and then later tossed when replaced. Move toward silicone, stainless and bamboo kitchen tools.

Get some flour sacks. Cotton is tricky, but there are some cotton products that work. Flour sacks, especially those that are organic, are a great addition to your kitchen. They are super absorbent and lint free. They are also machine washable. Flour sacks are the go to choice of many restaurants for polishing wine glasses. Here’s how you can incorporate them into a greener kitchen:

  • Instead of machine drying, use the super absorbent, lint free fabric to dry dishes quickly.
  • Polish glassware, including crystal wine glasses.
  • Perfect as hand and dish towels.
  • Wipe up spills.
  • Wipe down your counters at the end of the night.

Buy in bulk. Finally, while not necessarily one product, switching to reusable containers also means you can buy in bulk. This eliminates packaging and even the plastic bags usually associated with bulk purchase. Simply ask the staff at your local health food or grocery store to allow you to use your own container. Worried about the charge? Place your empty container (without the cap if it is a jar) on the scale. Once it reads steadily, press “tare”. This will reset the scale to zero so that your container doesn’t count. Fill as desired, weigh, print the label and you’re done. Encourage your local food store to educate customers about how easy it is to bring their own containers.

Cleaning Up

When it comes to doing the dishes there’s more to think about than just water. Detergents can be rough on people and the environment and rinse agent is also kind of scary. For that reason, my advice is to make your own dish soap and use white vinegar in your rinse agent reservoir. Here’s how!

Ingredients Process
1 cup Washing Soda (sodium bicarbonate)

1 cup Borax

½ cup Kosher salt

½ cup citric acid

  • First place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a whisk.
  • Then transfer, using a funnel, to a mason jar. Keep lid tight to keep fresh and keep moisture out.

Use 1 tablespoon per load: this costs about 1 penny per load, so it’s also better for your wallet.

Bathroom

You can learn about eco-friendly health and beauty products from my post here. Furthermore, there are tips on cutting water use in this post. Here are some other swaps to make in the bathroom to keep things green.

Check the fan. Make sure the fan vent in your bathroom is energy efficient: Energy efficiency makes a huge difference when it comes to carbon emissions. Make sure you’re using energy efficient bulbs and shutting the lights off when not in use, too.

Cleaning Up

Just like you are better off making your own dish detergent, it’s a good idea to consider making your own bathroom cleaner. This will help you avoid things like ammonia and detergents that contain carcinogens and that get into the water supply. If you have a bathroom that has been neglected when it comes to cleaning it will take a few passes but, after that, you’re all set to use a natural, homemade bathroom cleaner regularly.

Please note that you should boil the water before using it as an ingredient. I recommend doing it a few hours or even the night before. It should be warm when making the cleaner so that everything dissolves and mixes.

Homemade Bathroom Cleaner (from Simply Living)

Ingredients Process
2 cups warm water

1 tbsp baking soda

2 tbsp castile soal

30 drops tea tree essential oil

20 drops sweet orange essential oil

16 oz. glass spray bottle

  • Pour the warm (nearing hot) water into the bottle.
  • Add baking soda. Shake vigorously.
  • Add castile soap and oils, shaking gently regularly to keep things mixed.

This is another cheap to make, worry-free cleaner. Don’t use it on your mirrors, though, it will leave them a streaky, blurry mess.

Green Glass & Mirror Cleaner

Use equal parts water, white vinegar and rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol. Keep this in a spray bottle and use on all your windows and mirrors when they need a refresh.

Bedroom

It’s all about the bed. First and foremost, let’s focus on the main attraction in your bedroom: whether you like a traditional mattress or memory foam version there are eco-friendly options.

Traditional mattresses:

  • Saatva has luxury innerspring mattresses made in the USA.
  • Hästens makes super high end, gorgeous eco-friendly beds. The company is Swedish.

Hybrid mattresses:

Latex mattresses:

  • Casper seem to have started the trend of 100 day trial, mail order mattresses. I can speak for these having slept on one: they are incredible. Our next mattress will likely be a Casper.
  • CozyPure mattresses are made in the USA of all organic materials and in a green facility in Virginia.

Foam mattresses:

  • Live and Sleep memory foam mattresses are eco-friendly, completely USA made and offer anti microbial functions.
  • Loom & Leaf memory foam mattresses are made by the Saatva folks.

When it comes to dressing that mattress, the most ethical option is bedding made from Tencel, a natural compound that comes from wood cellulose; other options are bamboo and flax linen which requires less water and pesticides.

Dining Room

Choosing dinnerware doesn’t seem like something that would involve looking for ethical, green or sustainable options but it is. Watch out for companies that promote themselves as green – usually they are disposable, which is pretty anti-green. This is a great piece about Fiesta dishes that shows the benefit of these plates. In addition to using many green practices in their manufacturing, pieces can be purchased individually allowing you to build exactly the dinner service you need and want.

Living Areas

As much as we all love IKEA, the furniture isn’t always long lasting and seems to get replaced far more often than should. Invest in well made furniture that can handle you lifestyle so that less furniture ends up in a landfill.

Consider how you use these areas and make some habit changes to promote greener, more sustainable living. Here are some ways:

  • Turn off electronics. If you’ve ever been to my place you know that I am someone who uses the television as background noise. In fact, one of my biggest pet peeves is people who have the television on when they have company. It’s one thing if you’re having friends over to watch the game, but if people are gathering for non-watching socializing, shut it off! At the end of the evening make sure that devices are turned off, too. No need wasting energy while people sleep. Fido also doesn’t need the tv on when you’re not at home – promise.
  • Invest in blinds. I’m grumbling as I write this in an 85° apartment but, for the most part, using your windows in a smart way can eliminate the need for a/c. Open the windows once it’s dark and cool out and close them very early in the morning. Then close the blinds. This is what we do for the most part. We’re doing it right now because our air conditioning unit was struck by lightning and can’t be fixed until Friday. It’s not working with these weird heat wave but usually, it’s perfectly fine.

Remember, you don’t have to make all the changes at once. But start by not buying cleaners and detergents when you run out. And then as you replace home items, opt for these options that fit into eco friendly homes.

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