Your Eco-Friendly House: Small Changes for Big Impact

With the significant impact our Urban Environment has on climate change, it has become more important for every household to make changes to help our environment and future.  While big changes are important, the small changes can make as much of an impact over time.  Let’s take a look at the three big changes you can make to help - Changing up your cleaning products, making eco-friendly food choices, and everyday eco-friendly living.  

Eco-Friendly home: Cleaning products that matter

One thing Kellee and I agree on - cleaning with vinegar and baking soda is the best choice you can make for supporting a healthy home and a healthy planet.  When I first started cleaning with vinegar I was nervous - would my home smell like salad dressing?  I quickly learned that the smell of vinegar disappears almost as the surface dries - despite years of cleaning with my trusty spray bottle filled with vinegar and water, my house just smells fresh and clean.

A small clear bowl of white vinegar in front of a larger bottle on a countertop
White Vinegar is a cheap and environmentally friendly way to clean - you can get a gallon for less than $4!

Cleaning with vinegar is easy - start with your daily disinfectant spray bottle.  You can even re-use an old bottle from a less eco-friendly product (no sense in wasting the plastic!).  Fill the bottle halfway with white vinegar, and the rest of the way with water.  Now you’re all set to use that to clean anywhere you would have used a chemical laden spray previously.  

If you’re worried about the vinegar smell, you can also pop a few citrus peel into the bottle.  Various essential oils can also help reduce the smell, as well as add a bit of cleaning power of their own.  

Another addition you can make to boost your cleaning power is baking soda - the reaction that occurs between baking soda and vinegar can be used to scrub showers clean, deodorize and clean your kitchen garbage disposal, and cut grease on stovetops.  Start by sprinkling the area you want to clean with baking soda and then spraying on your vinegar mixture - scrub until the fizzing stops and rinse clean with water.  

Finally, while I know there are a ton of options for home made recipes for laundry detergent and dish soap, I’ve found that many brands are now stepping in to fill the void of eco-friendly options to help save me time and effort with these more complicated solutions.  I really love Common Good and the Grove Collaborative because they have great products with refillable packaging - so I reduce the amount of plastics I use in addition to cleaning with the environment in mind.  

Environmentally Friendly Food Choices

An overhead view of the produce department of a grocery store
How you choose to eat and what you choose to eat makes a big impact on your carbon footprint. 

We all have to eat daily, and the choices you make matter - from the grocery store to eating out.  I know there are dozens of ways you can make eco-friendly food choices, but I like to stick to these 5 rules whenever I make food choices:

  1. Reuse or Reduce packaging
    Bring reusable produce bags with you when you shop, or bring empty bags with you from previous trips. Buying one large package of food to split up at home into your own reusable containers is better than buying a lot of small packages.
  2. Pick glass over paper, paper over plastic
    I love products in glass containers because I know I can reuse them for years to come.  Whenever you can make a choice to reduce the plastic used in your life, do your best to always choose the option without plastic. 
  3. Buy from close to home
    I usually shop at my local food co-op, but even when shopping from the bigger name grocery stores pay attention to where your food is coming from - the closer to home it was produced, the less carbon it takes to transport to your door. Picking local choices also has the advantage of supporting local businesses and growers, keeping local dollars local. When eating out pick locally owned restaurants that feature local products.
  4. Pick a meat-free day (or two!)
    I personally haven’t made the leap to being vegetarian yet, and I know not everyone wants to make the leap themselves, but even having one or two meat free days in your diet can reduce your environmental impact.
  5. Look for Organic, Sustainable or Eco-friendly brands
    Whether for your favorite crackers, your daily cup of coffee or a head of lettuce, picking organic or sustainably farmed options can reduce your impact.


Eco-Friendly everyday choices

A spoon containing coins balances with a potato across a calculator
Little choices add up over time - make sure you’re making the right choices for the environment

As you go through each day, pause and ask yourself if there was a choice you made that could have been changed to help the environment more.  Be willing to research and make changes, and you’ll be surprised what can help.  These are some daily changes I’ve made to help:

  • Take public transportation, carpool, or drive an alternative fuel vehicle (Kellee loved her Prius, and is looking into a Tesla)
  • Bring a reusable coffee mug with you for your daily caffeine fix (or brew your own at home and bring it with you)
  • Conserve water - turn off the faucet when you aren’t using it, take shorter showers, only run a full dishwasher or load of laundry, plant drought friendly yards
  • Unplug unused electronics - in my house we put all the TV equipment on one powerstrip that we can unplug between uses - so many devices pull a charge even when not in use!
  • Use fabric towels instead of paper towels

What are some of your favorite easy changes to help the environment?

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Sarah Knight
Sarah returned to her education after 10 years of real world experience.
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