Our homes are our comfort. They’re a respite from the outside world and a place where we can relax and be ourselves. We all want to create a restful home and to care for ourselves and our families. By taking small steps to improve our home environment, we can create a more natural home that provides the best possible atmosphere for our families to thrive.
The Bad News:
There are more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States, many of which haven’t been tested for their impact on human health. In addition, each individual generates an average of 4.4 pounds of trash per day, and the United States consumes 23% of the world’s energy, despite comprising only 5% of the population. Not only should we be concerned about the impact of our homes on the health of our families, but we should also question the effect of our lifestyle on the world around us.
The Good News:
We are able to make a conscious choice to prioritize our health and reduce our impact on the environment. Going green isn’t a trend, it’s what has been done for countless generations before modern conveniences solved some problems and created others. The actions that we take as individuals are incredibly significant, and like many other changes we wish to see in the world, it starts at home.
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Food, Cooking, and Eating
- Eat whole, unprocessed foods.
- Use the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen to determine which fruits and vegetables to purchase organic.
- Purchase food in season.
- Switch from refined grains to whole grains.
- Swap out refined sugar for natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup.
- Make condiments and spice mixes from scratch.
- Reduce food waste by eating leftovers, repurposing ingredients, and using food scraps.
- Learn to can, dehydrate, and freeze seasonal produce.
- Buy quality meat in bulk from a local farmer and freeze it.
- Buy triple certified coffee.
- Buy local beer in growlers.
- Try a Meatless Monday.
- Use a water filtration system to remove impurities from your drinking water.
- Replace plastic storageware with glass.
- Replace plastic cooking utensils, measuring cups, etc. with durable metal and wood.
- Use beeswax wraps instead of plastic wrap.
- Use cloth napkins.
- Replace nonstick cookware with stainless steel and cast iron.
- Replace plastic water bottles with stainless steel or glass alternatives.
- Invest in a reusable travel coffee cup.
- Use a french press, Chemex, percolator, or moka pot to make coffee instead of a single serve machine.
- Pack lunch in a reusable lunch bag instead of a paper or plastic bag.
- Get a set of bamboo or metal travel utensils.
- Shop at the farmers market or join a CSA.
- Bring reusable shopping bags to the grocery store.
- Stop using produce bags or use cloth bags.
- Purchase food from the bulk section using cloth bags.
- Choose natural materials like wood, metal, and glass when it’s time to replace an item.
- Invest in quality items that will last.
- Purchase eco-friendly furniture that is manufactured without using formaldehyde or other chemicals.
- Purchase items secondhand on Craigslist, through local buy/sell/trade groups, or at thrift stores.
- Get a library card.
- Repair an item instead of replacing it.
- Read magazines and newspapers online instead of buying a paper copy.
- Bring your own container for takeout or leftovers.
- Gift experiences instead of things.
- Get creative when wrapping gifts—use cloth, recycled paper, or other decorative upcycled materials.
- Make your own cleaning products.
- Replace paper towels with rags.
- Use ceramic plates and flatware instead of buying paper plates and plastic cutlery.
- Make your own laundry detergent.
- Try a cup of white vinegar instead of heavily fragranced fabric softener to soften clothes.
- Use wool dryer balls instead of fragranced dryer sheets.
- Dry clothes on a clothesline.
- Use a mop with washable pads instead of using disposable pads.
- Know the recycling rules in your area to ensure proper recycling.
- Run the dishwasher and laundry machine only when they’re full.
Beauty and Personal Care
- Avoid phthalates, parabens, and fragrance in personal care products.
- Choose non-toxic, natural cosmetics.
- Decide whether you would like to avoid fluoride, and choose a toothpaste accordingly.
- Avoid perfume, cologne, and aftershaves, since these products tend to be highly fragranced.
- Try making your own lotion, soap, deodorant, or toothpaste.
- Switch to a bamboo toothbrush.
- Consider switching to a menstrual cup or cloth pads.
- Add natural remedies to your medicine cabinet.
- Try handkerchiefs instead of paper tissues.
- Use natural shampoo to wash your dog.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
Baby and Child
- Make your own baby food.
- Skip the specialty baby detergent—many are loaded with fragrance.
- Avoid synthetically fragranced baby products like conventional baby soaps, lotions, and wipes.
- Use cloth diapers and wipes.
- Invest in high-quality toys made of natural materials instead of plastic toys.
- Use glass bottles instead of plastic.
- Purchase a stainless steel sippy cup or water bottle for toddlers and children.
- Limit “blue light” after dark.
- Install a low-flow shower head.
- Install a dual flush device on the toilet.
- Repair leaky faucets.
- Hire contractors that use natural products and practices when renovating.
- Choose zero-VOC paint when painting a room.
- Hire eco-friendly pest control companies.
- Unsubscribe from store catalogs and opt out of other forms of junk mail.
- Replace old lightbulbs with energy-efficient CFL and LED bulbs.
- Choose energy-efficient appliances when it’s time to upgrade.
- Buy rechargeable batteries.
- Use a programmable thermostat.
- Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
- Go paperless in your home office.
- File your taxes electronically.
- Use power strips and turn them off when appliances and chargers are not in use.
- Declutter your space and sell or donate unwanted items.
- Use houseplants to purify indoor air.
- Open the windows on a nice day.
- Choose soy or beeswax candles scented with essential oils rather than fragranced paraffin candles.
- Diffuse essential oils instead of using an air freshener.
- Open your blinds during the day.
- Choose natural fabrics for clothing, towels, sheets, and other textiles.
- Choose an organic mattress when it’s time to upgrade.
- Turn down the temperature on the hot water heater.
- Choose natural holiday decorations instead of artificial ones.
- Start a compost pile.
- Install a rain barrel.
- Maintain your yard without chemicals using organic lawn care practices.
- Use organic fertilizers and gardening methods to grow your plants.
- Grow your own vegetables.
- Grow some herbs in the kitchen windowsill.
- Raise chickens for eggs and/or meat.
- Keep bees.
- Ride your bike or take a walk instead of driving.
Creating a natural home takes time—it’s a process that occurs over years of changing your mindset and your lifestyle. By implementing a few of these small steps at a time, you can become a better steward of your family’s health and happiness and decrease your environmental footprint. Let’s all commit to creating the best possible home!
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