The year 2020 has roared in like an angry lion, bringing the deadly Covid-19 virus to the world, causing us to retreat indoors for safety. While environmentally friendly practices and climate change may seem to have taken a temporary backseat to the frightening world of deadly viruses, it is important to remember we are all connected to each other and to Mother Earth. If we aren’t taking care of one another and the health of our eco-system, we may see more deadly viruses come our way.
We all have a lot more time cooped up indoors to think about our lives, our health, and what we can do to improve our time on this planet. This is a great time to really invest more eco-conscious practices into our daily lives to make this world a greater place. When the word “invest” is used in relation to eco-friendly practices at home, it is not necessarily referring to an investment in money; more so an investment in your time and energy to find products that are good for you and good for the planet.
To make life easier, here are our picks for the top 20 absolute best eco-friendly products to use in your daily life in 2020.
Each year, half a million tons of plastic microfibers are dumped into the ocean, the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles, from the fashion industry. The average American throws away about 80 pounds of clothing every year. Manufacturers are sprouting up around the world creating clothing and shoes that are made from upcycled materials. For example, Adidas manufactures shoes made with plastic trash. Clothing consumption has risen sharply between 2001 and 2009 in large part because of “fast fashion” or “cheap fashion” from retailers like H&M and Forever 21. How about we support fashion designers who are using upcycled plastic and cotton to create clothing and accessories? Or we can choose to buy previously loved clothing from online thrift stores like ThredUp. When you are done using your clothes, please donate or repurpose them.
Reusable water bottles are a no-brainer. I carry my reusable water bottle wherever I go, all day long. I even carry it throughout my house with me. There are so many great reusable bottles these days using materials like compostable bamboo, wheat straw, glass, and stainless steel water bottles. Bring your reusable thermos into Starbuck’s and get a discount on your coffee!
3. All-Natural House Cleaners in Reusable Bottles
There is no need to keep buying plastic bottles filled with cleaning agents when you can make your own chemical-free cleaning products and fill reusable glass containers. There are also some kick-ass internet companies like Cleancult that send you ocean-friendly cleaning supplies made using coconut-based ingredients housed in reusable or compostable containers. Get 20% off your first bundle plus free shipping using this coupon code.
By now we should all know to carry a reusable tote or several in our cars to bring with us wherever we go so we don’t have to use the horrible plastic ones we are offered from stores. The only challenge is remembering to bring them from our car into the store. It takes a lot of work to break old habits, like using plastic grocery bags offered at grocery stores. These days there are so many cute tote bags you will want them to be your companion everywhere you go.
It is estimated that one billion toothbrushes are thrown away each year in the U.S. This is 50 million pounds of added plastic that ends up in the landfills, oceans, and unfortunately, inside the bellies of sea creatures. Toothbrushes are bad for the environment because they are made from polypropylene plastic and nylon. Think of all of the toothbrushes that dentists give away to patients each year, whether they want them or not! Instead, bamboo toothbrushes are very inexpensive and do a great job of cleaning your teeth. They also last a long time.
Dryer sheets are made from polyester and then covered in chemicals and fragrance and that is what you have rolling around with all of your super clean clothing you just washed. This is another example of single-use products that are bad for our health and our environment. Instead switch to wool dryer balls that do not contain any toxic chemicals, last for thousands of loads, effectively prevent static cling and wrinkles, soften clothes, and they actually save time and energy by cutting down on drying time.
More than 1 billion plastic phone cases are thrown away each year. Staggering! This is part of the reason to love the Pela phone case. These cases are super cute and they are 100% compostable. They are made from flax shive and plant-based biopolymer. Pela also donated a portion of their proceeds to ocean cleanup initiatives. Right now they have a special – buy one get one free.
There are some great all natural laundry detergents out there today, but the are still housed in a big hunk of plastic! You know what is all-natural from a tree and comes in tidy plastic-free packaging? Soap nuts laundry detergent. What the heck are soap nuts, you may ask? Otherwise known as soap berries, they come from a tree and do an amazing job of cleaning your clothes. I tried it myself and I was very impressed. The cleaning agent that is in these berries also acts as a 2-in-1 fabric softener.
Did you know that most shampoos and conditioners contain alcohol which dries out your hair? All-natural shampoo bars are great for the environment, awesome to travel with, and will leave your hair looking and feeling luxurious. And another major benefit is that there is no plastic packaging.
Did you know that the Ocean Conservancy lists plastic cutlery among the most dangerous for turtles, birds, and mammals? At one time plastic cutlery was considered reusable, but this is the throw away era, so we do not adhere to the notion that we can reuse plastic cutlery. I was at Scripps Aquarium in San Diego with the kids last summer where they have an entire display on plastic pollution. Yet, 10 feet outside the aquarium was a café where they served food and plastic cutlery! Here is the benefit of bringing your own set of cutlery wherever you go – you know it is clean. There are so many cool reusable cutlery options today that even come in a lovely case.
People are like what’s all the hub bub about plastic straws? Who even uses straws anyway? Why are straws even a thing? Well you may not use straws, but someone is using them because 500 million straws are used each day in the U.S. alone! It is estimated that 8.3 million plastic straws pollute earth’s beautiful beaches each year. Since we seem to have a fondness for straws, why not make them more environmentally friendly? Companies are getting very creative with straws, making them out of steel, glass, the agave plant, and there are even delicious edible straws!
Our addiction to plastic is very profound in the kitchen. We have grown accustomed to covering everything in plastic for safe keeping. But there are now alternatives, and they are a much cuter way to save food. Beeswax food wraps use the heat from your hands to mold the wax over the food for safe keeping. Beeswax wraps last over a year!
Oh how humans love things that sparkle and bedazzle, and this is why we love things that contain glitter. Glitter is found in makeup and lotion and used for art projects and more. But did you know glitter is a microplastic and ends up going right into our oceans? When glitter gets washed off a body and goes down the drain, because there isn’t a good filtration system for it, it ends up in the ocean. Glitter can also end up in landfills where it leaches toxic chemicals into the soil and water for thousands of years. The good news is that we can now buy plant-based glitter that won’t harm our environment. We can now be eco-bedazzlers!
There is something that makes me feel a little extra special when I bring my reusable produce bags into the market and fill them with oranges, lettuce, and cucumbers. It’s not just me; my friends all agree that the produce bag not only helps save the planet from an estimated 100 billion plastic bags a year going into landfills and our oceans, but it also makes us feel so satisfied.
Does the thought of a reusable feminine products for that time of the month have you feeling a little uncomfortable? Well, it’s probably because the concept is so foreign to our society today. But it wasn’t always that way. According to the Smithsonian, before the advent of commercial feminine hygiene products, women used pieces of cloth to absorb menstrual fluids. They then washed and reused these cloths. The first disposable napkin was marketed by Johnson & Johnson in 1896, but was not widely accepted. Today, over the course of a lifetime, a single menstruator will use somewhere between 5 and 15 thousand pads and tampons, the vast majority of which will wind up in landfills as plastic waste. Instead, use eco-friendly Divi Cups in place of tampons and reusable cotton bamboo pads.
Makeup wipes are polluting our oceans and landfills. 1.3 billion makeup wipes are used once and then tossed away every single day. I love using reusable cotton makeup remover pads to take my makeup off at night because I can throw them in the wash and they are like brand new. Plus, the cotton is so soft as you wipe over your delicate facial skin.
One of the single-use plastic items that brings me the most guilt in my kitchen are plastic baggies. It has always been so hard to avoid them. Recently, I purchased a set of silicone plastic bags to store food, and they are amazing. Guilt be gone! They are impervious to heat and cold so you never have to worry about putting hot food in them or freezing them.
My daughter is a skateboarder and she has gone through many skateboard decks. The thing about skateboard decks is they are totally rad – all different colors and designs. Skateboard decks are very beautiful but they don’t enjoy a long life for the avid skateboarder. A trend right now is taking used skateboard decks and turning them into super cool items like sunglasses, iPhone, cases, and wallets. Recycled, reuse.
Company’s like Green Toys used 100% recycled materials and sustainable practices to create toys for kids. All of their toys are made using recycled milk jugs and yogurt cartons. Other companies are following suit, like La Jolla-based toy maker Shore Buddies who design all of their stuffed animals using recycled plastic water bottles. These are such great examples of moving toward a circular economy by using materials already in circulation.
As the mother of four children, including a set of triplets, it is important to me that my family all honor the earth, giving back and preserving the health of our oceans by making small changes in everyday life. Since beginning Ocean Junkies, my entire family has a new conscious awareness of using plastic straws and utensils in restaurants and how it’s related to the trash we see on the beach. It is my hope that through Ocean Junkies and other wonderful activist websites, we can raise awareness about plastic pollution and increase sustainable living by re-using what we have already created and creating from biodegradable and compostable materials.
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