Are you looking for eco-friendly ideas for healthier living? Small everyday changes in our habits can affect the Earth and improve our life. We need the Earth, and Earth needs our help. I’ve compiled 14 ideas to improve your life with healthier habits that also pack a punch for the Earth. No idea on this list is too small. Although it may appear that the impact isn’t there immediately, the long-term affects are tremendous for you and Earth.
Imagine a day when clean air is scarce. Or your beautiful plants and vegetables no longer thrive and produce fruit. The amount of waste that we produce is affecting the health of our planet and the helpless animals that need it to live. Through our selfish consumption, destruction, and extreme waste, we are poisoning the Earth. Everything’s connected and when one piece of the circle falls out of balance, everything around it crumbles.
Consumer waste and the environment
In the U.S. consumers want everything fast, cheap, and big. Unfortunately, the industries delivery, however it comes with a price. A price that is ultimately tucked away beneath the surface and in areas less seen. It’s estimated that the U.S. produced 27 million tons of plastic in 2018 and this number is increasing each year by 9%. As many are aware, plastic is the worst material for the environment. It doesn’t break down and manufacturing it isn’t exactly the cleanest for the environment. A double whammy.
Sure, plastic makes life easier sometimes. But making life easier now is only going to hurt life down the road. Probably sooner than a lot may think. Yes, your habits and choices today will be realized, if not at this moment, during your lifetime. We cannot ignore the speed at which we are crumbling the very beauty and livelihood of the environment.
Start with removing toxins from your daily life, give a helping hand to nature, and reverse the effects of plastic on the Earth. Remember, the industries evolve to meet the consumer needs. If more consumers would make some of the minor changes below, it would force the industry to change, eventually.
Before you think that the only way to change the cycle is that you must become a conservationist or an activist, it’s not true. Small habits in your life can contribute to awareness and local impacts.
1. Wooden toothbrush
A common toothbrush is made of plastic and ends up in the landfills with the inability to decompose. Switching to a bamboo toothbrush or other wooden variety removes the excess plastic from landfills. There are many alternative options out there. Some with bristles made of other fibers than plastic and coated in charcoal, if this is a thing for you.
2. Plant native flowers
Instead of choosing plants from big box stores, check out your local plant nursery. Plant nurseries commonly carry varieties of plants and flowers native to your region. Planting a native variety is better for the environment as these help instead of killing local birds and insects.
3. Use canvas and cotton bags
Millions of plastic bags end up in the landfills, oceans, lakes, and rivers. Choking wildlife and filling waterways with a material that will never go away. Carry around a few canvas or cotton bags for your shopping needs instead. Some bags are space saving such as the cotton netting bags. We can fold these into something small enough to fit in a purse or pocket. Most businesses are happy to use your own bags instead of theirs because it also saves them money. The benefits are high with one less bag ending up in the ground or water.
4. Use or make personal care products
Remove toxins from your daily life by making and using handmade personal care products. Switching to natural handmade soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, window cleaner, and countertop spray is a better option. Many products on the market are harsh to the environment and those handling it. Even killing germs can be accomplished through less harsh chemicals. Nature is amazing and provides many of the same affects desired through less damaging ingredients. Check out our journey in handmade soap at Handmade Soap by Modest Wildflower or venture over to the shop for available products.
5. Limit plastic products from the grocery store
This can be a fun challenge. Next time you go to the grocery store, pay attention to the amount of plastic products you normally purchase. In most cases, we can find the same product in different packaging options such as cardboard. Most cardboard is recyclable and is less damaging than plastic containers. Stick with fresh fruits and veggies to eliminate the plastic bags they are typically packaged in. You can also request from the butcher that your meats to be wrapped in special wax paper instead of foam containers covered in plastic. Be sure to bring along your cotton or canvas bags too!
6. Compost kitchen scraps
With all those fresh veggies and fruits, add a small composting bin to your kitchen and start placing the scraps in it instead of the trash can. Most fresh produce scraps will decompose and provide a little black gold for garden soil in the long run. Look for a composting bin with a filter in the lid to eliminate any odors and empty it frequently into a larger bin outdoors. There are many large composting bins on the market or you can make your own with a trashcan and a few pilot holes. Or the environmentally friendly option of a pile of leaves and grass clipping.
7. Recycle, reuse, repurpose packaging
Have cardboard boxes or plastic containers lying around ready to hit the recycle bin? Before you send them away out of your control, consider repurposing them in creative ways. For instance, we can use cardboard packaging in many kid craft projects or storage options around the house. Use plastic jugs as storage of other materials or cut and shape these into something new. Instead of sending it to end up in the landfill, try reusing it in other ways.
8. Make your own laundry detergent
Talk about plastic waste. Companies make the laundry detergent containers of thicker plastic that create a headache for recycling. They are hard to rinse out and the plastic is hard to reuse into something else. Eliminate this issue by making your own detergent. With a few easy to find items, you can have your own laundry detergent that works just as well as the stuff filled with extra chemicals. We’ve been making our own laundry detergent for years now. We’re saving plastic from the landfill, saving money, and removing irritating chemicals from our clothes.
Laundry Suds Recipe – Using gloves, shave the laundry bar with a cheese grater, mix all ingredients into an easy access container. 1/4 cup per large load of laundry is plenty.
- 1 Purex Fels-Naptha laundry bar or 4.5 ounces of grated homemade soap
- 14 ounces Borax
- 14 ounces Washing Suds
- 1 Cup Scent Booster Dreft Pellets (Optional)
9. Purchase fruits and veggies from local farmers’ market
Fresh produce is best. Why not support your local farmers by purchasing direct. Remember, it can take weeks for fresh produce to appear on the shelves at your supermarket. Providers coat most fresh fruit and produce in a wax film to help maintain the appearance until it finally makes it to the consumer. Yuck! Purchasing directly from the farmer is a fun experience and forces us to cook seasonally. Seasonal cooking will save you money in the long run. Fresh fruit and vegetables always taste better and are better for you.
10. Create a community garden in your front yard
How cool would it be to use up some of the open space in your front yard with a community garden? Not only will the insects love you, but this is a great way to create a sense of community among your neighbors, help those less fortunate, and provide a learning activity for kids to get more involved with nature. If local codes and neighborhood rules will allow, this might be a project for you. Invite others to tend to and enjoy the delicious fresh veggies or fruits.
11. Host a beehive
Help the bees! Bees are so important to the Earth and agriculture that this small investment has more relaxed rules than you think. You don’t need to be an apiary expert either to lend your land to a beehive. If you have a garden or fruit trees on your property, you and the bees will both benefit from their presence. Although the cost up front can be a little hefty depending on the style of hive and number of bees, the benefits are overwhelming.
Even those who don’t live in rural areas can have a hive right in their backyard. Of course, there are some important considerations before you go purchase the queen bee, but this is worth researching. Also, if all goes well and you’re interested, a couple of years down the road you could have natural local honey and wax for other projects, gifts, or selling opportunity. We need bees and need to invest in their presence.
If you are a Floridian, you can start research at Beekeeper Registration / Bees/Apiary / Agriculture Industry / Home – Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (fdacs.gov). If you are in another state, start with your state agricultural department.
This site, USA Beekeeping Supplies | Natural Apiary LLC Beekeeper Equipment, provides bee apiary supplies and great resources for starting with bees.
12. Weekly meal planning to limit food waste
Meal planning can be difficult to approach, but once you start a recipe log and try it, you might find it the only way to grocery shop. By making meal plans and sticking to the list, you will not only save money in the long run, but you will eat healthier too. There is no better feeling than looking at the nearly empty fridge at the end of the week and knowing that nothing was thrown out on spoiled before using. You use what you need in one week and replenish again with new meal ideas. Our family likes to rotate meals on a two-week basis, and we plan meals around normal weekly appointments or family outings. I like to throw in two days a month for eating out, but other than that, all meals are planned and cooked at home. Try it.
13. Support Arbor Day and plant a tree
The Arbor Day Foundation is an influential organization. Trees are essential to life on Earth for everything. Each tree that is destroyed for consumer products is yet another way we are slowly hurting the Earth and our own lives. The next Arbor Day will be on April 29th, but you don’t need to wait for the event to get involved and plant a native tree. Although it takes years for a tree to grow into the large beauties we see every day, it’s just as important to plant trees more often. With every tree cut down, another five should go in its place. With destruction of forests, animals and insects are also losing. Help the environment by supporting the tree foundation or planting a tree of your own.
14. Volunteer an hour a month and clean up trash at a local park
Lastly, volunteering for anything really feels good. Giving your time to improve a local park or natural resource is a great way to give back. Just imagine if everyone that was able donated an hour a month to cleaning up any public area. The air would improve, the animal and insects would be safer, and nature would be so grateful. This is a great opportunity to involve kids in early. Teaching a valuable skill of cleaning up after yourself, helping others, avoid litter, and protecting the environment.
There are many great ideas on this list that can be beneficial to you and the Earth. A little effort can go a long way. The Earth needs our help more than ever now, and even a minor change can have significant effects.
Do you already practice some ideas above or have any new ones? I’d love to hear your experiences and ideas in the comments. Share, grow, connect, live healthy!