Every little bit helps! The path to living more sustainable with an eco-friendly lifestyle is a marathon, not a race. As soon as I became a mother, I was blown away by how often parents (and their kids) created unnecessary waste. Kids are constantly growing and have so many needs, and parents are always looking for ways to make their lives easier. Recycling, upcycling and donating should all be a given — but you’d be very surprised in how little effort some people make.

These simples ways to live more sustainable in and outside of your home will have you decreasing your carbon footprint in no time! If you have followed me for the past 13 years via my music blog Grimy Goods, you already know how much Pachamama means to me. Exploring Mother Earth’s beautiful offerings and hiking have always been a way for me to connect with this planet while making sure she is being respected (i.e. pick up trail trash, pack it in, pack it out). We camp often as a way to minimize our carbon footprint, because traveling by plane has a great impact on our planet. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it, it just means you need to make up for that carbon footprint in a consistent and impactful way. The best way to make this change and be consistent about it, is in your home.

Here are five ways to make your home living more sustainable and more eco-friendly. By making these tiny changes in your home, staying committed and consistent, you’re directly contributing to the long-term impact of this planet and all its inhabitants.

1. Silicone Food Storage Bags

Single-use plastic bags (like Ziploc) and plastic wrap (like Saran wrap) are so horrible for our environment, but people, especially parents, still use them. They get filled with snacks or toys and then thrown out in the trash, week after week. Plastic bags and wraps/films can’t be recycled in that trusty recycling bin you conveniently toss all your plastics while under the assumption you’re doing the right thing. These plastic bags are a huge contributor to ocean plastic pollution. About 80% come from land (i.e. YOUR home, your neighbors, etc.).

How You Can Help:

STOP BUYING SINGLE-USE PLASTIC BAGS! For reals. Just stop buying them and invest in reusable and washable storage bags and containers. Yes, it may take you more time to wash them properly, than simply just tossing them in the trash and calling it a day, but you’re making a positive change for your kids and this planet.

I love these Reusable Food Storage Bags. They come in a pack of 10 with a variety of sizes (gallon, sandwich and snack) They’re food grade, BPA-free, leakproof, resealable, and they can can go in the freezer. Investing in these eco-friendly food storage bags will save you money in the long run.

Alternatively: you can get some of these Collapsible Silicone Food Storage Containers. We love these! You can collapse them down to save space while stored in a cabinet, and then expand them when using for for food storage. We especially love these for camping!

Also: if you do have some single-use plastic bags hanging around (even I have an old stash from years past), wash them and hang them to dry each time you use them until they can’t be used anymore. And please, don’t buy them ever again!

2. Washable Napkins and Paper Towels

I honestly can’t remember the last time we bought paper napkins. All of our napkins are washable and reusable. We use them in our home, while camping and on our many family outings where snacks for our toddler are a plenty! They’re a great way to clean messy hands while still having clean space for more. Just wipe and fold! The same can be said for Paper Towels! I know, I know, they’re so handy — but do you really need them? NO.

How You Can Help:

Invest in some quality cloth napkins that can be thrown in the wash and used over and over and over again. We have these at home as well as these. I especially love using these when we camp and have picnics (it’s obvious why … so cute!)

As for paper towels, we use these trusty microfiber cleaning cloths. The’re great for soaking up spilled juice and they are fantastic for wiping counters. My husband keeps a stack in the garage as shop towels when working on his motorcycles (don’t worry, we don’t mix the kitchen set with the garage set!) We also take them on camping trips and always have one in our JEEP on standby. This set of microfiber cleaning cloths is great because they come in a variety of colors which make it easy for assigning them to specific household use (i.e. kitchen, garage, bathroom, etc.)

Alternatively: you can upcycle old tee shirts and old towels for all of the above!

Also: when washing your cloth napkins and microfibers, be sure to wash them on cold! Up to 90% of the energy used by a washing machine goes towards heating water. And always fill your load! Clothes washers use about the same amount of energy regardless of the size of the load, so run full loads whenever possible.

3. Upcycle Skincare and Food Containers

Don’t you dare toss those expensive, EcoPure skincare containers! Don’t even throw away the container that your deli turkey slices came in! Both can be reused. I reuse just about all my body butter and body scrub containers for storing my toddler’s homemade playdough, and / or use them for beach sand toys! They are seriously great for so many sensory activities, including holding paints and water.

The same goes for those plastic deli meats containers. If you’re a first-generation Latina like me, you probably grew up in a home where every plastic container was washed and reused for something else! We keep those deli containers and use them to store more food or for Victoria’s sensory activities.

How You Can Help:

Simple: just wash and save.

4. Bidet and Butt Towels

Ha! Yes. You read that correctly: “butt towels.” Before I let you know what a butt towel is, you must learn the importance, greatness and all around awesomeness that is a bidet! If you’ve ever been to Japan, bidets are standard for all toilets. They even have them at the airport with heat settings. So nice! While we all can’t have fancy toilets that spray our butts with warm water at the push of a button, you can settle for what our family uses: a bidet toilet seat attachment. Best of all, a bidet means your cutting down on toilet paper waste! As you can imagine, having a bidet in our home came super handy once the pandemic hit.

How You Can Help:

Through adding a bidet attachment to your toilet, you’re greatly cutting down on toilet paper waste. Not to mention, you’re cleaning your bottom in the most hygenic, clean way! As the old adage goes: if you drop a cup of pudding in grass, the only way to properly clean the grass is with pressured water. Otherwise, toilet paper will just spread the pudding across the grass … #sorrynotsorry

“So how do I dry my butt after using the bidet?” This is where butt towles come into play. Unless you have a fancy bidet with a built in tushy dryer, the next best way to dry your wet bottom is with butt towles, aka cloth hand towels. While upcycling our toddler’s old baby washcloths, we discovered that they were the perfect size and softness to dry our bottoms after using the bidet. We upcycled her old ones and bought these super soft bamboo baby washcloths.

Also: after using your “butt towel,” toss it in this stainless steel, charcoaled filtered bin. It’s small and sleek, and keeps your butt towles under cover. Once your bin is full, always wash your little towels in a hot water cycle with laundry detergent. Alternatively, you can do a cold cycle with a tad of bleach and laundry detergent.

And for that luxurious spa touch, I love adding lavender essential oil to wool dryer balls when I throw our bidet towels in the dryer. They come out soft and smelling like fresh lavender. We then store the towels in a decorative basket on top of the toilet.

5. Plant Plants

It’s no surprise that plants, especially trees provide oxygen, well they also clean the air! That’s why it’s so important to have plants in and outside of your home. Not to mention, indoor plants make your home look beautiful! If you have space, start building a backyard garden to grow your own herbs, fruits and veggies. Even if you don’t have space, you can always grow herbs near a sunny window in your home. Decrease your carbon footprint even more by regularly donating to reforestation projects and planting trees around the world (see Instagram post above).

How You Can Help:

Easy. Buy some plants! Get some seeds and soil and start planting. Be consistent and learn how to nurture these plants so they can do the work and so can you. You can learn to have a greenthumb!

P.S.

I wish this was just a given, but judging by the amount of plastic water bottles and disposable plates I see in people’s Stories and IRL, it’s not. It’s 2021 and you’re still using single-use plastic water bottles and plates? WHY?!?! And please don’t tell me you don’t have time. We all don’t have time, but we make time for the things that matter. The next time you decide to buy more disposable home goods and a family pack of plastic water bottles, think about the kind of future you want your child to live in.

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