April is Earth Month — and while it’s always important to try to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, this time serves as a reminder to bring those eco-conscious practices to the forefront of your life, and to take a moment to consider how you could adopt some new ways to go greener as well. This can apply to any part of your lifestyle, to be sure — but considering many are spending more time than ever in their houses, you might start by looking at some ways to create a more eco-friendly home first.
However, that can be daunting — where do you start, when there’s so much to consider? According to author of Sustainable Home, lifestyle blogger at simply by christine, and small business owner, Christine Liu, first remember that creating a more environmentally friendly home doesn’t have to happen overnight. “Take it product by product, or habit by habit. In order to live a more sustainable lifestyle, be sure the process is sustainable for your own health, too!” she tells TZR in an email.
Angela Bell, Lead Grove Guide at sustainable home essentials brand Grove Collaborative, shares similar advice, explaining that a good way to start is by creating a plan and taking things slow — without expecting perfection. “Make a list of every small thing you want to do to create your sustainable home, and focus on one single, small change at a time.”
You don’t have to go it alone, either, both explain. Bell recommends taking inspiration from bloggers or Instagram, and even recruiting an eco-friend to join your journey; these actions can not only give you ideas, but motivate you to keep going. Liu, on the other hand, notes the importance of speaking up to governments and corporations, since their decisions are often having the largest impacts on the planet.
And before you dive into your changes headfirst, be aware of one common mistake that many make at the outset: buying lots of new, eco-friendly stuff to replace items you already own. “It is exciting to make product swaps that are low waste, but it's so important to use what you have first before buying a bunch of new things!” says Liu. “Otherwise, it's wasteful to throw out things that are still perfectly fine to be used. I myself fell into the 'conscious consumerism' trend when I first started, and while it's important, we can't buy our way out of climate change and our unsustainable economy.”
Once you’re ready to get started, there are a few easy changes you can make to kick off your journey to a more sustainable home. Here, a few ideas from Bell and Liu to help you begin.
How To Create A More Eco-Friendly Home: Ditch The Paper
Paper products like paper towels “lend to deforestation that impacts wildlife habitat and contributes to climate change,” says Bell, which is why she recommends finding reusable options like Grove’s European Dish Cloth to both reduce your impact and save money. Use it to wash dishes, clean counters, or even scrub the floors — with the right item, it can be just as versatile (if not more so) than one-use products.
How To Create A More Eco-Friendly Home: Cut Down On Food Waste
According to Liu, a lot of household waste comes from the kitchen — particularly from spoiled food. To reduce this, she explains, try shopping your pantry and fridge before going to the grocery store, “and use up what you can before buying more food.”
For any food waste you do have, Bell recommends composting it. To do this, you can just place a small compost bin on your kitchen counter; then, either use the results in your own backyard to help out your plants or “check to see if your municipality has a drop-off or curbside option,” continues Bell.
How To Create A More Eco-Friendly Home: Create A Plastic-Free Routine
Once you’ve used up all your plastic bottles of shower gel and shampoo (because again, you shouldn’t waste what you already have!), Bell suggests filling their spots with package-free products. “Bars have come a long way since the Ivory days, and now contain ingredients as luxurious as their bottled counterparts,” she explains. “I have eliminated plastic from my own shower by using Peach, a line of shampoo bars, conditioner bars, body bars, and facial bars with amazing scents!”
How To Create A More Eco-Friendly Home: Go Plant-Based
You don’t have to quit meat cold turkey, but Liu does suggest going plant-based with your meals a few days a week since agriculture is a massive contributor of global carbon emissions. It doesn’t have to be boring, though: “I often find inspiration when I eat at Mexican, Mediterranean, and Asian restaurants, and may try to replicate some of my favorite meals at home, so don't be afraid to try some delicious plant-based options,” she continues.
How To Create A More Eco-Friendly Home: Opt For Concentrates
Since conventional cleaning products are mostly water (and therefore bulky and heavy), explains Bell, they’re both wasteful in packaging and in their shipping carbon footprint. To help reduce this, she notes that you can instead opt for a clean concentrate — then, just mix it with water yourself at home. “Streamline it even more by using one cleaner that is good for multiple surfaces, such as Grove’s All-Purpose Cleaner,” she says.