More than ever, American households are focusing on conscious living choices. We’re starting to see the global effects of a mass-produced, plastic-wrapped, highly-processed, harmful-to-the-environment, consumer-driven way of life that started in the 1950s and hit critical mass in the 1980s. Families around the country are now exploring greener, cleaner options, and finding out that it feels good and, honestly, it’s kind of fun. They’re eating less meat, buying more organic produce, and supporting more small, local businesses. Maximalism is out, and minimalism is in.
If you’re looking for sustainable, eco-friendly ways to replace some of the lifestyle choices in your family’s home, we have put together a list to get you started.
The place to start for many households is that crate of household cleaners you keep under the sink. If you were to look at what you use right now to clean your bathroom, you’d probably find plastic bottles with chemicals that are most likely toxic to your skin and to the environment. If you’d like to change this, you have a few options.
The first, and perhaps easiest when you’re just getting started, is to start shopping for more environmentally-friendly cleaners at your local grocery store or health food store. Look for non-toxic, biodegradable formulas. Some of the more popular products in this space include Sal’s Suds from Dr. Bronner’s and the Free & Clear All-Purpose Cleaner from Seventh Generation. You can also buy concentrated cleaner kits from companies like Blueland, Branch Basics, and Cleancult.
The second way to start using more eco-friendly household cleaners is to pick up a copy of a book like Annie Berthold-Bond’s Clean & Green: The Complete Guide to Nontoxic and Environmentally Safe Housekeeping. This book provides you with non-toxic cleaning formulas for just about everything you can think of, from toilets to upholstery. Many of the ingredients are borax, baking soda, washing soda, vinegar, and lemon juice.
As a mom, you probably do a lot of laundry. In fact, it may start to feel like all you ever do is laundry. And you probably have your favorite brand of laundry soap; you’ve used it for years, and you’re comfortable with it. The downside is that many of the leading commercial laundry detergents contain harmful chemicals, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, phosphates, formaldehyde, chlorine bleach, ammonium sulfate, dioxane, UV brighteners, ammonium quaternary sanitizers, nonylphenol ethoxylates, and others. These chemicals are harmful to your family, your pets, and the environment.
If you’d like to use a less toxic laundry detergent, you once again have a few options. First, you could shop the aisles of your local health food store and pick out an option that seems safer. The second option is to seek out a laundry detergent from one of the many companies online, like Booda Organics, that make laundry soaps without fragrances, dyes, bleach, sulfates, parabens, phosphates, borax, or anything else. The third option is to make your own laundry soap. If you’ve picked up a green cleaning recipe book, they’ll probably have a formula or two for that.
There’s a whole “zero-waste bathroom” movement, which can make it fun to rethink how your family brushes their teeth, flosses, bathes, and puts on deodorant. Look at the act of brushing your teeth, for example. Your toothbrush is probably made of plastic, the toothpaste is full of chemicals, and your floss might not be so great for the environment, either. Instead, you can buy a bamboo toothbrush, natural tooth powder, and eco-friendly floss. What about shampoos and conditioners? You can ditch the plastic and chemicals, too, and find shampoo bars and conditioner bars made from natural ingredients.
Being a greener mom isn’t just about soaps and detergents; it has to do with the food your family eats, too. Perhaps the member of the family whose diet should be most closely examined is the baby. If you look at the label of many commercial baby formulas, you might be surprised to see a laundry list of questionable, highly processed ingredients. Luckily, there are alternatives for the mom interested in living more naturally. One such option is a plant-based formula from ElseNutrition. It’s dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, corn syrup free, and non-GMO, and it’s made with as little processing as possible.