So you want to start pursuing sustainable living but you are overwhelmed because you feel like you need to throw out everything in your home and start completely from scratch. Did you know the most sustainable thing you can often do is to use what you already have? Throwing out all of your clothes that aren’t made of sustainable fibers… ditching every single one of your plastic products all at once… throwing away full bottles of personal-care products–that is a tremendous waste. Now, I understand the desire to get toxic chemicals out of your home once you learn about the harmful effects; however, I personally don’t recommend throwing everything away and starting from scratch. For one, who can afford to do that!? Certainly not me. Here are some inexpensive sustainable swaps to try today!
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I’m Still Learning About Sustainability
Although I write a lot about sustainability on this blog, I still have a lot to learn. If you walked into my home right now, you would see that not every product we use or piece of clothing we own was made sustainably. But, we have made a lot of changes and will continue to make changes over time to fill our home with less-toxic, less-wasteful products. Here are some simple swaps that you can make today to get started!
Cleaning: Sustainable Swaps
I used to buy an individual cleaning solution for every different job in the house. A cleaner for the kitchen counters. One for the table. Another for the shower. One for the floor. I still have a few specialized cleaning products that I’m working through, but I love to use vinegar and this Multi-Purpose Cleaning Concentrate for the majority of cleaning tasks in our home! I absolutely love this cleaner because you just mix a capful of the solution with water in a glass bottle and it lasts forever! It also smells like spicy clove and sweet cinnamon with a hint of lemon and leaves the whole house smelling like Christmas!
Eating: Sustainable Changes
Because we haven’t had a pantry in our last two houses, we decided to purchase a variety of canning jars for our dried goods and glass jars for our spices. You can buy food in bulk and store it in jars similar to these. It’s beautiful, functional, and a safer alternative to your food sitting in plastic for weeks and weeks.
Clothing: Sustainable Swaps
Once I learned about how much goes into sewing a garment and the unfair labor practices within much of the fashion industry, I became much more intentional with my shopping habits. A goal of mine was to try and only make my clothes or purchase clothing for myself secondhand or sustainable brands this year.
Sustainable brands are often much more expensive because they have a limited number of employees and use high-quality, ethically sourced materials. I have a few capsule-wardrobe clothing pieces from ethical brands and I wear them multiple times a week and they are still in pristine condition! (Shop my favorites here!)
I enjoy buying secondhand from thrift stores, Poshmark, and secondhand clothing shops like O My Clementine (belt) or Trendy Thrifts (shorts). I have also been trying to learn how to better care for the clothes that I have instead of just throwing them in on the heaviest wash setting and drying them on the highest heat.
Furniture: Sustainable Changes
If you are looking for a new bed frame, dresser, or vanity, consider buying secondhand. We purchased nearly every major piece of furniture in our home used. Sure, there are scruffs and scratches but these pieces each have such a story.
The table that belonged to my great-great grandmother who helped set up my parents. The beautiful glass cabinet that belonged to my aunt. The cedar chest that holds my son’s toys I bought from a man at a garage sale, who said it used to be filled with his childhood toys. The vintage floral prints bought from a vendor in London, sifted through at Goodwill, and found hanging on the wall at an estate sale in Little Rock. The early 1900s daybed that our dog Sebastian now deems as his own.
I love the stories that these old, wooden pieces hold, and I hope to pass them along to someone someday who will continue their story.
Beauty: Sustainable Swaps
There are so many alternatives on the market for more natural makeup, hair products, skin care. I don’t really feel very entitled to share on this topic because my beauty routine is very low maintenance, but for the days that I do wear makeup, I switched to Burt’s Bees. Their makeup is cruelty free and focused on creating less waste and products and packaging that are not damaging to the environment. I also use an activated-charcoal face bar, apple-cider vinegar for toner, and coconut oil for moisturizer.
Washing: Sustainable Changes
Dryer sheets contain so many toxic chemicals, but I do understand the allure because they leave your clothes feeling soft and smelling fresh! An easy and inexpensive swap are wool dryer balls dotted with a few drops of lavender essential oil! An even more sustainable swap is installing a clothesline in your yard if you have one, or using a foldable-drying rack outside during the warmer months. We are planning on installing an outdoor clothesline soon and will update you all on the process!
My Sustainable-Home Goals
Moving forward, I hope to make more simple swaps with toothbrushes, razors, and period products, as well as switching to cloth napkins, composting, and growing our own produce. We are far from perfect on our sustainability journey, but we hope to model a growth mindset for our son in this regard. We want to teach him to care for what he owns and thoughtfully consider before choosing to consume.
What are some simple sustainable swaps that you have tried? Let me know in the comments below, so I can add them to my list to try out soon!