Over the past year or so we’ve been looking at making small changes in our house to try to minimize our impact on the environment and make our home more sustainable. Much of our initial focus was on reducing waste (and you will see that emphasis here). Most of the changes we have made have required very little change in behavior but rather a change in product (making it even easier to implement). As we continue down this journey I have no doubt we will look at other ways for our family to make an impact but this is a good start for those looking to start their own journey.
The easiest (and least expensive way) to make your home more sustainable is with easy product swaps.
Reusable Straws – The first step in our sustainable home journey was with reusable straws. I ordered these in the Fall of 2018 and they typically stay in the car for outings to restaurants and drive thru emergencies. They aren’t currently getting much use with our stay at home order but this wont last forever. #SaveTheTurtles
Biodegradable Trash Bags – The switch to trash bags made of plant starch material (PSM) means they can be broken down by microorganisms in nature without causing damage to the environment. No more sitting in a landfill for years and years. #ByeByeBags
Plastic Free Recycled Toilet Paper – Luckily, we switched to this brand right before the great TP shortage and hubs accidentally ordered two boxes so we’ve been fully stocked. The paper is made in the USA using environmentally friendly products and they donate 50% of their profits to building toilets. #WinAndWin
Yeti’s – Everyone in our house has one. I originally had the “no cup, no coffee” mantra for my daily coffee outings. Now I enjoy my coffee (aka tea) at home but I still use my Yeti. #KeepItHot
Pet Product Swaps
Our next two product swaps happened thanks to my husband. They required research and lots of patience (he’s way better at the patience part). They also required approval from our cat (which took some experimenting). We wanted to find an environmentally friendly cat litter as well as reduce the amount of waste produced feeding her. #PrincessGracie
Flushable Cat Litter – We started in the compostable camp but our little princess didn’t approve so we opted to skip the trash can all together. This litter is flushable and safe for septic and sewer systems! It is also a naturally safe litter made from whole-kernel corn (so no harmful chemicals and no artificial perfumes). #CatApproved
Bulk Cat Food – We were using single serving containers which was putting a lot of plastic in our trash can. Each can of our bulk food lasts about two days and aluminum is infinitely recyclable. We use these covers and refrigerate the container between feedings. This also took some experimenting to find food in bulk that Gracie would eat. #OurWinner
We added a few pricier items to our sustainable home to improve in other areas as well.
Washing Machine Filter – a microfiber filter than connects to your washing machine discharge hose to minimize microfiber pollution. This filter removes non-biodegradable fibers (think polyester and nylon, hair, pet fur, sand, dirt particles and metal shavings) from your washing machines discharge before it is released to your septic system or public sewage system. Learn more here.
Glass Recycling Bin – Pretty much the only thing on my Christmas list that I really wanted was a new bin for our glass recycling. The cardboard box in the corner of our kitchen had to leave!! It’s now currently full of a massive amount of wine bottles as consumption has increased exponentially these last few weeks. (See some related humor in this post).
Nest Thermostat – this one looks at reducing a different kind of waste. Not heating or cooling our house when it isn’t necessary has been a great energy and money saver. We also undertook the huge project of sealing our attic. This made a huge difference in the energy efficiency of our home (and created an entirely new play place for the boys). We like the Nest thermostat because it connects to our phones and Alexa making adjustments very easy!!
Managing Junk Mail
By removing our address from junk mailers, catalogs and any other unwanted mail we made a big dent in the amount of paper we shred and toss. This is one I undertook. The biggest difference occurred when I removed our address using major consolidators. For any that survived filter I have been individually removing our address from their database. To do this, look for a form on their website or email customer service asking to be removed. We went from filling our mailbox a few times a week to not filling it in a week. #BigDifference
Here are links of the major consolidators I used (one of them charged a nominal fee that was totally worth the price):
These next two have been on my list but I haven’t made the swap yet.
Compostable Mailers – I’m working through my pile of mailers (reusing ones I’ve received) and when that has been depleted I am switching to compostable ones. If you order from my PoshMark closet expect to see one of these in your mailbox in the not too distant future.
Collapsible Water Bottles – On my list to get was a collapsible water bottle (I use so many plastic water bottles traveling) but this one can wait until I start leaving the house again.
We realize this is only a start and we still have more work to do but these small and easy changes have made differences in the amount of waste our house produces! What have I missed? What are some of the things you are doing in your house to leave a smaller environmental footprint?