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If you’re new to the world of sustainable products, it can feel overwhelming. Relax. Swap one or two things at a time. Start with easy and inexpensive things like cleaning products. Then work your way into clean beauty products, sustainable fashion, and regenerative food. Finally, go for the smart thermostat, solar panels or greener car. We can’t all do everything, but we can all do something.
Sustainable home energy swaps
Finally, the best and easiest home energy swaps, and a quick tip if you’re thinking about buying a new car.
Nest Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats save energy and money by learning your schedule. There’s no need to run the AC or heat all day when you’re not home. But it sure is nice to come home to a house that’s a comfortable temperature. A smart thermostat like Nest will program itself (or can be manually programmed) to turn on a few minutes before you get home so it’s the perfect temperature when you walk in the door.
LIFX LED Lights
“If every American home replaced their five most frequently used light fixtures or the bulbs in them with LED bulbs that have earned the Energy Star, we would prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from nearly 6 million cars,” according to EnergyStar.gov.
Need I say more? If you used the LED lights of yesteryear and found them to be slow and flickery, the smart lights by LIFX will forever change your mind about what a lightbulb can do.
Green kitchen swaps
You’ve probably seen the images of the great ocean garbage patch and animals choking on plastic waste. It’s not pretty. Much of that waste comes from old fishing nets, litter and garbage released by countries without adequate waste disposal systems. A good chunk comes from single-use plastics, which is why it’s important to use reusable containers and compostable packaging whenever possible. Here are a few easy swaps.
Zero-waste plastic wrap alternative
When was the last time you got saran wrap to actually stick to the thing it’s supposed to be stuck to? Honest, I’ve never been able to figure it out. Swap plastic wrap for silicone lids and all the things will stay fresher.
Reusable gallon zipper bags
I love freshly baked bread. It’s my favorite food by far, other than chocolate cake. But my family rarely finishes an entire loaf in one day, so I have to cover it in something better than the paper bag it came in. I’ve tried a bread box and wrapping it in kitchen towels, but nothing beat a gallon ziplock bag. Until I found the LunchSkins gallon bags and I could finally stop wasting old, hard bread and plastic bags. So if you’re looking for something less plastic-y, the reusable gallon zipper bags by LunchSkins has you covered.
Reusable stainless steel containers
I’ve packed the kids lunches in the same containers from U Konserve since 2011! We’ve lost and found the lids a few times, but they mysteriously re-appear as fast as they disappeared. The lids snap on tight and my kids have yet to dent the stainless steel.
Sealable paper sandwich bags
If reusable lunch containers won’t work for you or your kids, there are still plastic-free options. LunchSkins also makes a sealable paper snack and sandwich bags. These are perfect for field trips and those days when schlepping a container home just isn’t convenient enough.
Green cleaning swaps
You might already buy non-toxic cleaning products from your local grocery or drugstore. But there’s a green revolution happening in the cleaning and personal care product industry. Companies are now selling ultra-concentrated cleaning products and paper products from bamboo that one-up all the other things.
Tree-free paper products
Did you know most toilet paper and paper towels come from virgin forests? Ugh. Grove Collaborative’s tree-free household products are a soft and sustainable alternative.
An almost zero-waste cleaning system
Most cleaning and personal care products contain mostly water and packaging. Transporting all that water and packaging is pollution and emission-intensive. Companies like Grove Collaborative are using innovative ways to reduce shipping and transportation by selling concentrated packets of cleaning products and detergents.
I’ve tried several ultra-concentrated cleaning products at this point. The Grove Collaborative cleaning concentrates give you a green, shiny clean while truly reducing wasted packaging and shipping.
Grove Collaborative is a shopping site that only carries healthier products for your home and family. It’s easy to use, customizable, and they are a certified B-Corporation.
Home solar panels
Slowing climate change is not as simple as everyone transitioning to solar energy. A clean energy future will require different sources of energy, and solar power is just one. But a home solar system is one that individuals can choose. Other sources of clean energy will be necessary to end climate change, but we can’t put most of them on our roof. Bill Gates said this best:
“While I wish there could be a single, magic bullet solution to this problem, there isn’t one right now. What will be required in the years ahead is a diverse and flexible mix of energy solutions—a Swiss army knife of energy tools—to support a future of renewable energy generation to meet our needs. Some of these solutions already exist. Others will require more innovation.”– Bill Gates, “A critical step to reduce climate change,” Gates Notes
Swap your electric bill for a home solar system by getting multiple quotes from EnergySage.com or see if there’s a community solar project near you.
Buy a greener car
Swap your car for a more fuel-efficient one by researching cars on GreenerCars.org
Why GreenerCars.org? GreenCars.org rates how green a car is broken down by car class. If you’re in the market for a minivan, click on best by class and sort by minivans for example. Most of us have a certain kind of car in mind when we’re shopping. GreenCars.org makes it easy to find the greenest one.
Ok, that’s a lot! But there’s still more to come. Companies are creating revolutionary new products every day that are greener, cleaner and made for a circular economy. Which is what the world needs. Better products and services that are healthier for us, our planet and our economy.