It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with headlines about a warming planet and trash piling up in landfills. While major renovation projects like installing solar panels or drought-resistant landscaping can have a big impact, they’re not always landlord approved (or within budget). It’s also not realistic to drastically reduce your trash output overnight. Still, there are little things you can do that have a positive impact on the planet and your home.
For starters, limit the number of recyclables you have in the first place. Do your best to buy products with less packaging (more on this in a minute) and save those plastic takeout containers to store your lunch or leftovers. Remove the labels from old jars to create vessels for DIY candles or a set of vases that are perfect for layering. Once you start looking for opportunities, you’d be surprised by how many practical uses there are for a single container.
Other pointers include buying products locally to reduce your carbon footprint, giving vintage furniture a second lease on life and supporting companies with sustainable practices. Here are 6 more easy things you can do, starting today.
01 Change Out Your Showerhead
On average, a typical showerhead uses 3-4 gallons of water per minute. Even if you limit your showers to 5 minutes (something else sustainability experts recommend), that’s close to 20 gallons of water per shower per person. Yikes. Installing a low-flow showerhead can cut consumption in half. Bonus: It also helps you save on your water bill.
02 Re-Think Toilet Paper
Hear me out: The French knew what they were doing when they came up with the bidet. It’s hygienic and there are affordable options you can easily install on your existing toilet. If you’re not ready to do as the Europeans do, consider sustainably grown bamboo toilet paper. Even better if it comes packaged in paper, versus plastic, and is made without a cardboard core.
03 Opt for Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs
The key is to look for bulbs that have earned the “energy star” rating. These typically include halogen incandescent bulbs, CLFs and LEDs. They’ll help you save big on electricity (up to 80% more than traditional incandescent bulbs) and also last up to 25 times longer.
04 Invest in Sustainably Made Sheets
Companies like Threaded make sustainability a priority by partnering with suppliers that use solar-powered roofs, water recycling, and harm-free dyes. The storage bag is also made from leftover fabric.
05 Buy Refillable Products
To reduce packaging, bar shampoo and soap are ideal, but if you prefer liquid form, look for companies that offer refillable products. By Humankind eliminates single-use plastics by 90 percent or more with its mouthwash, deodorant, and shampoo. When you’re ready for a refill, it’s easy to order online and get free shipping. Follain, the clean beauty store, also offers a 38-ounce refillable hand soap in lemongrass or lavender that you can re-fill online or at any of their brick-and-mortar locations.
06 Cut Back on Cotton Swabs and Makeup Wipes
Instead of using cotton pads to remove your makeup, go old-school and use a cloth or opt for these bamboo makeup remover pads. You can hand wash them in the sink or throw them in with a load of laundry.