Buy Green Basics to Save the World in 2018

by - Friday, January 05, 2018

Oh first week of January. You are filled with so much promise and so little good food. We are all in the thick of starting fresh for the year, because we want to make our lives a little more organized, healthy, or streamlined. Why not make it a little more eco-friendly as well?

It's no secret that our environment is in big trouble. No matter what your political leaning, you can't help but be concerned that our oceans are filling with plastic and our atmosphere is filling with smoke. It's bad bad news. In fact, it is so much bad news that we can feel helpless, like we can't make even a dent in the massive problems, so why even try?

Because we can make a change! Just like with a diet, you do a lot more good by making small changes in your habits sustained over a long time than you do by making dramatic changes you will break next week (I kid, you will be on the paleo diet forever, obviously). So these are some of my best ideas for little changes that will add up to big impact in 2018.

Do you have to do all of them? No! But do some and do something, because it matters now more than ever.

eco-friendly green paper plates recycled napkins wood cutlery

4. Green Your Basics

People talk a lot about going to plant a tree, recycling their cardboard, or rationing their water, but you know what has way more impact? Buying things that don't waste those resources in the first place. Some purchases we only make once in a while- Christmas gifts, furniture, even clothing is sporadic, but other things are bought constantly and consistently- food, paper goods, and beauty supplies. These basics, everything we buy at the grocery store, are purchases we make often so they have a much larger impact if we change them often.

a beautiful tree with the sun shining through

How it Helps You

The average American spends 7,000 dollars at the grocery store a year. Switching to more ethical everyday items has a number of positive effects for your home-

1. It takes toxic materials out of your space. Plastic proves again and again to be more terrible than anyone gives it credit for. If you want to live a healthy life, you want it out of your body and out of your space. So why would you drink your water out of it or wrap your toilet paper in it? Also, bleaches and other chemicals are used in the "everyday" version of these products. Why would you want that in your body?

2. It saves you money. I know this sounds crazy, but if you have reusable napkins or paper towels, you could use the same cloth napkin hundreds of times. That saves a lot of paper, but it also saves you cash, because you don't have to keep buying the same things. This is even truer for things like water bottles. You can find a glass Lifefactory bottle for 20 bucks, so you will be making money back from skipping TERRIBLE bottled water in no time.

3. You get to save the world. Making a better choice always feels good, but making a better choice for the world literally makes you a hero. Pretty cool- you could even wear a cape!

looking up at a beautiful tree

How it Helps the Environment

Right now, Americans are creating epic amounts of waste. Businesses constantly send the message we should buy more, more, more. Stores like Walmart and many mainstream grocery chains create a false sense of choice in grocery stores by only offering bad options. They double wrap things in plastic for no logical reason (seriously, STOP). These companies are stomping on our communities and environment, so there is plenty of good reason to put them in their place by refusing to give them our money.

This Native American proverb gets passed around a lot, and for good reason-

"Only when the last tree has been cut down;
Only when the last river has been poisoned;
Only when the last fish has been caught;
Only then will you find money cannot be eaten."

The best (and most economical) thing we can do is to just buy less. But no matter how much you care about the environment, you may still want to wipe your tables, brush your teeth, or drink your water. Thinking about how to make those purchases more positive for the Earth can do all kinds of good and even save you money!

How to Do It

Companies are supposed to try to squeeze as much money out of us as they can with as little cost to them as possible. That's their job.

 Our job as consumers is to put our freaking foot down when they aren't doing enough. 

Want to change the world in 2018? Start there.

This is one of the most important thing we can all be doing- changing our approach as consumers to do more good. You will buy MAYBE one or two blenders in your life. You will buy 100's of rolls of paper towels. So reassign your paper towel loyalties. If you are feeling overwhelmed with this idea, check out these two posts:

Greening the Basics- Paper Towels, Napkins, Tissues, Toilet Paper, and Paper Plates
Greening the Basics- Water Bottles, Grocery Bags, Trash Bags, Tupperware and Zip Loc Bags

These are the two most important posts I have ever written. All of the switches are SO easy and completely necessary.

Pick One on These Lists

Go through these two blog posts and just pick the one that makes you think "well, I could do that!" Buy one bulk box of paper-wrapped recycled toilet paper, and it will probably last you the whole year (dependent on the number of butts in your house). It's that easy. A resolution where you have succeeded already!

Switch Out Your Paper

Everybody know that trees are a key part of keeping our planet healthy. They lower CO2 levels and help keep our planet and our general vicinity cool.  Sadly, they also make really good paper. One of the simplest things you can do is to switch your paper goods.

 Almost any paper good, from toliet paper to paper towels to cardstock for making cards can be made from recycled paper. Buying paper towels out of fresh paper makes no sense. What about your mess is so important that a tree should be cut down?  You can plan ahead, buy recycled goods in bulk, and actually save money! Check out this blog post for tons of options and to see that recycled in bulk saves you money vs. buying things on the fly at the grocery store.

Use Up What You Already Have

 You already have lotion? Make Up? Shampoo? If it isn't your favorite, consider trading or gifting it to someone, but stop buying these kinds of supplies when you already have it at home. Make a resolution not to buy until you run out. Shopping more only encourages waste, and it becomes easy to lose track of what you have. The only exception is things that include microbeads, which should never go into the water stream.

Change How you Brush your Teeth

 Most of us use plastic toothbrushes, and those toothbrushes are not recyclable. Think about how much pure garbage is made with just toothbrushes. Garbage that won't decompose in our grandchildren's grandchildren's lifetime. This blog has lots of other options, but at least consider using Preserve recycled toothbrushes.

Have a Greener Clean

 Things like laundry soap and household cleaners can be easily made yourself (if you are feeling ambitious) or you can buy them from smaller companies who don't use so many chemicals and plastics. This post has tons of ideas of greener cleaning options that will still make your house sparkle, and this post is all about laundry. There is tons of info out there about eco-friendly cleaning supplies, and you will be shocked at how easy it is.

Skip the Soap Aisle

At most mainstream grocery stores, there are literally no good options for Shampoo or soaps. None. I live in Seattle, which is pretty darn granola, and many regular grocery stores still only have Nestle-owned Garnier, some Suave, and some Pantene Pro-V. The bad news is they are all pretty terrible for the environment, but the good news is lots of other options are out there and easy to find in the time of Amazon.

If you can't find something ethical in person, find it online. I like these reusable stainless steel shampoo bottles from Plaine Products. The Refill Revolution also sells pouches of products that you can empty into bottles and send back, creating no new waste. Even if you want to do something more mainstream, you can still get one made in America with recycled packaging. My current favorite is Avalon Organics, but find something that works for you.

Question your Loyalties

 Your mom always bought Brawny. So you always buy Brawny, but why? We all get settled on a normal, but sometimes (often) there is something better out there. Resolve to try one eco-friendly option for 3 basics this year. Just try something new, because you get to decide what works for you, and those companies aren't nearly as loyal to you as you are to them (again, ofte for no reason).

Throw One Eco-Friendly Party

 Throwing a birthday party or baby shower this year? Going to have people over for dinner? Try pulling off one shindig with all recycled and recyclable party supplies. No plastic anything, no virgin trees for napkins, none of those plastic tablecloths. It may sound crazy, but just trying it will show just how easy it is and how good it feels to send 40 fewer forks to the landfill. Here is a post on parties for inspiration.

green your basics to save the world in 2018

Stop treating the destruction of our Earth as normal, because it doesn't have to be. You don't have to change everything you buy, but pick somewhere to start and see just how good it feels.

Woo hoo! Have you set any eco-resolutions yet? What are you going to do to have a positive impact in 2017? Number One is coming tomorrow, and it is awesome. Just warning you.

Want to make your home greener? No matter the size or location, you can limit your waste and make your house have a more positive impact on the environment. Check out the Green Home Page for thousands of ideas on how to do it.

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