25 Simple Ways To Go Green

The list of things I can feel guilt about in my own home seems to be never-ending. Is anyone else all aboard the mom guilt train? Something that’s been weighing extra heavy on me, quite literally, is the amount of trash our little family churns out.

My news feed is filled with distressing warnings of a bleak future if humanity does not change some habits. No matter how seemingly small of a difference it makes, one family can make a large impact when we choose habits that are better for our little earth. And the good news is, you’re in control of your green choices. If you’re not ready to hang out all of your panties and socks on the clothesline just yet, there are still many habits within your comfort zone that are easy to adopt. Plus, you may discover some additional benefits for your own family by going green.
 
As far as cost goes, swapping old habits out for eco-friendly choices can be an investment. For example, we cut out all plastic water bottles and bought canteens and a fancy pants water filter that ran us about $200—ouch! However, I think that once you switch to longer-lasting, semi-permanent products/solutions, you save money (e.g., no more purchasing drinking water for us!).
 
Another benefit is fewer chemicals in our home. I’ve swapped out almost all my cleaners for a simple vinegar and water or baking soda mixture. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll use essential oils too. We don’t store our foods in plastic, so we’re safe from whatever chemicals those are leaching.

I pinky promise you there is no reason to put it off any longer. Here are 25 simple ways to go green, and I challenge you to try a few new ones this summer:

1. Consider bamboo toothbrushes. I can’t wrap my head around the number of toothbrushes I’ve thrown out since I was a kid. Actually, probably not as many as I should have. Raise your hand if you, too, don’t replace your toothbrush right on time every time! These bamboo brushes are an excellent alternative to the plastic ones.

2. Invest in bamboo cleaning brushes. I recently swapped out all of my plastic dish scrubbers and cleaning brushes with bamboo ones. At minimum, they’re more aesthetically pleasing. At best, they last way longer and don’t get all stinky like my plastic ones did. I swear, they’re self-cleaning. I don’t know how; it’s just bamboo magic. Let’s bamboo everything!

3. Repurpose plastic containers as tiny greenhouses. Many fruits and vegetables can be re-grown from their tops or seeds. This doubles as a fun learning experiment!

4. Switch to cloth napkins. I’ll admit, I’m struggling to kiss paper towels goodbye, but we have majorly cut down on how frequently we use them. I stock up with tea towels from IKEA as cloth napkins and keep plenty of dish cloths and towels around the kitchen for cleaning up spills. These cloths in particular are magically absorbent, and you can order them from mightyfix.com or pick some up at H-E-B!

5. Ditch plastic for stainless steel straws. We have a set that came with a cleaning brush. I’ve been using them frequently for months and have no complaints! If the metal clang just irks you, you may prefer paper straws or even pasta straws! They even have travel stainless steel straws, so you can tell them to “hold the plastic” at your favorite fill-up spot.
 
6. Use glass, ceramic, or metal plates. We ordered some stainless steel plates from a camping website. They’re great for picnics or for a bunch of rough and messy kids. I know it’s so much easier to buy a pile of paper plates at family gatherings and parties, but y’all, have you noticed how quickly those massive black trash bags fill up on Thanksgiving? Maybe go for a “rinse your own plate” policy at large gatherings instead.
 
7. Get a recycling bin. Put one next to the trash can in your house. With some simple habit changes, I bet you will notice your recycling bin filling up three times as often as your trash. And that’s a measurable difference you can feel great about! I give all my glass jars or cardboard milk jugs a quick rinse to keep them from getting smelly.
 
 
8. Rely on reusable shopping bags. Store them in your car so you don’t forget them. I’d love to see San Antonio ban the use of plastic grocery bags like many other cities have.
 
9. Insist on reusable water bottles. This is a personal favorite of mine, as I always carry clean water around with me—a must during these Texas summers! You can buy some that will filter your water for you, from any source, or get one that you can fill up at home and take with you.
 
10. Use a glass spray bottle for cleaning. Bonus—I have so much more space in my cabinet now that I’m down to about three refillable cleaners in glass bottles.
 
11. Opt for glass food storage containers. Unfortunately I can’t buy most things in glass or put them directly into glass. But all of the bulk food items I buy, I transfer to glass and reuse the Ziplock plastic over and over again. I highly recommend bees wrap in place of plastic wrap, and glass storage containers for leftovers. 
 
12. DIY. I’m not there yet, but my goal is to make my own detergent, mouthwash, home cleaners, and soaps in bulk, so I can refill my glass containers whenever needed. I pinned a lot of great DIY recipes on Pinterest. The link is at the bottom of this page.
 
13. Buy gently used clothes. My favorite kid resale shops are: for kids, Kid To Kid and Once Upon A Child; and for myself, Uptown Cheapskate, Plato’s Closet, and Buffalo Exchange. Bonus points: resell your gently used clothing items and more to these stores.
 
14. Give cloth diapering a try. This one is definitely an investment up front, but if you’re planning on diapering one or more, you will save some cash in the long run. When I first heard of cloth diapers, I thought, No way! and I envisioned rags and safety pins around my baby’s bum. But 2018 cloth diapering ain’t yo mama’s cloth diapering! It’s come along way, and it totally doable. Go Baby Go (on Broadway) has everything you need for cloth diapering, including classes.
 
15. Consider wool dryer balls. I recently discovered that dryer softening sheets are pretty toxic and also not so great for the environment. Many people are turning to wool dryer balls as an alternative, and even scenting them with essential oils. My dog shredded mine before I could get many good uses out of them, but I plan to invest in some more in the future. Take it from me, though: keep these away from dogs! 
 
16. Use old clothes for cleaning rags. If our clothes are too tattered to resell, we cut them up and use them for cleaning, crafting, or set them in a basket outside for squirrels and birds to line their nests with. 
 
17. Unplug things when they’re not in use. I’m still working on this one, but I’d love to know how much of a difference it makes on your energy bill!
 
18. Marry your plastic. Whatever baggies, plastic toys, or plastic dishes you have now, be a responsible plastic owner! Use them until they can be used no more, then recycle or repurpose them.
 
19. Try the Diva Cup. Another green tip with a side of healthy bonuses. Consider using a Diva Cup as an alternative to tampons or pads. It works great, but make sure to purchase the right size! 
 
20. Save pasta water for your garden. Use your “dirty” cooking water or even the kids’ bath water to hydrate plants. 
 
21. Get a water collector from SAWS. You can purchase one of these from SAWS, and have your own backup water supply! Smart for a lot of reasons. 
 
22. Compost. There are kitchen counter compost bins, or more heavy duty compost bins for your yard. Start turning those kitchen scraps into yard food!
 
23. Rely on VIA transit. Skip driving all over town and try the bus. Better yet, bike somewhere!
 
24. Decorate with old glass jars. The lists of crafts to be done with wine bottles and jam jars is bottomless in the Pinterest world. This can lead to a fun crafting day with the kids.
 
25. Resell and repurpose your furniture. When moving or doing some deep cleaning, rather than hauling things off to the dumpster, see if they can be repurposed, resold, or recycled first!
 
The biggest things that have helped me start transitioning to an environment-friendly home are Pinterest tips and my subscription to the Mighty Fix. It’s $10 a month, and every month they send me one thing to make my home “greener.” I’ve received dish cloths, bees wrap, glass cleaner bottles, stainless steel straws, and wool dryer balls so far. Another great place to shop is the grove collaborative. 
 
Need more inspiration? I created a pin board here with tons of DIY cleaner mixtures and fun ideas for repurposing jars, clothes, and furniture.
 
I love seeing how other families have made environment-friendly choices, so please sound off in the comments what your favorite swap has been! 

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