My Favorite Eco-Friendly Products

by Krista Davis on April 8, 2013

With Earth Day around the corner, I began thinking of all the products we have switched to (bought and homemade) over these past few years, to create a healthier and more eco-friendly home. These products cut down both landfill pollution and water pollution, and besides being eco-friendly they are budget friendly.

Cloth Paper Towel Roll Cloth Paper Towel RollI hate buying an item that is only used once, then tossed. Paper towels seemed to be the main item filling up our trashcan. The solution was to ditch the paper towels and use cloth paper towels instead. These are great at cleaning dirty hands and faces, wiping up spills, and scrubbing grime from the counter, but allow you to wash and reuse countless times. When searching for them, they are called unpaper towels, reusable paper towels, or cloth paper towels. I love the ones made by SewItBoutique on Etsy (they snap together and are reinforced in the center so the cotton and terry cloth sides don’t move around). I like having my pretty unpaper towel roll on the roll (I duct taped an old cardboard roll to keep it sturdy) for simple things like drying hands and wiping up a spill. I bought some white unpaper towels (ManInTheMoonHerbs on Etsy – I love that these don’t leave lint on anything) to use for cleaning up grease, dirt, and washing dishes. Even with 3 people we don’t go through a roll of 12 cloth paper towels or 13 white cleaning cloths in a week. If you are just drying your hands after washing them, the same towel can be used throughout the day. (Tip: Buy a wet bag to keep dirty towels separate from the rest of laundry.)

Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Liquid Cleanser This product was a must have for us. I have sensitive skin and my husband will get sick (difficulty breathing and stomach problems) from smelling fumes from cleaning products (bleach, toilet bowl cleaner, Comet, etc.). Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Liquid Cleanser is organic, eco-friendly, biodegradable, and a fair trade product. It can be used for washing dishes, laundry, and household surfaces. We bought the gallon jug and it lasts forever, plus it cleans better than anything else I have used. I had been trying for 2 years to remove the soap scum from my tub; after 5 minutes of soaking in Sal Suds, the soap scum wiped right off. You use 1 ½ tsp. of cleanser with 1 gallon of water to make the solution. Then for easier use put the solution into a spray bottle. (Tip: With the first batch, buy the gallon of distilled water at the store, then when the solution runs out boil your own water and after it cools reuse the water jug to make the solution). We also love:  

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent and Liquid Laundry Detergent Follow the links to discover the financial and environmental benefits of both of these DIY laundry detergents.

Haan FS20 Steam Mop As you discovered previously, my husband and I have issues with cleaning solutions. I really don’t see the benefit of using chemicals in a home.Haan Steam Mop with Tray My mom has used a steam mop for years but I wondered if it really was sanitizing, or was it just making the floor look clean. When doing my research to find the steam mop perfect for me, I came across the Haan FS20 Steam Mop. It gets up to a temperature of 212 F, hot enough to kill germs. Besides the floors, I have used it on our mattress, the couch, the table, counters, and the tub. I recommend also purchasing the short handle accessory and TH20 tray so all the functions are available. If you are like me (or my husband when he wants to “play” with the mop), you might want to clean everything in a day, so buy more microfiber cleaning pads, so you have enough for each job. (Tip: Read the instructions and remember it will take a few minutes to heat up and cool down completely; and be careful around the hot steam and handling the used pads.)

Reusable Cloth Grocery Bags and Produce Bags Reusable Produce Bag - ChicoBag rePETe Mesh BagLike I mentioned earlier, I hate trash. Even though we typically don’t get charged for grocery and produce bags, I hate the idea that I am polluting the environment when shopping, and that my groceries are touching something with possible harmful chemicals. These bags are eco-friendly since they can be reused. The produce bags are healthier and help fruits and veggies last longer, plus they are made from recycled products. (Tip: ChicoBag rePETe mesh bags are perfect for storing apples, oranges, onion, potatoes , and other produce not stored  in the fridge – it allows ethylene gas to escape; ChicoBag hemp-cotton blend bag is perfect for nuts, grains, green beans, and bulk food – it absorbs excess moisture and restricts airflow; and the ChicoBag rePETe bag is perfect for squash, broccoli, carrots, and celery – restricts airflow and locks in moisture.)

Menstrual Cup Follow the link to discover the health, environmental, and financial benefits of using a menstrual cup compared to tampons and pads.

Drying Rack Drying RackWhen the weather is warmer, we use our drying rack, instead of wasting electricity on the dryer. Also, without the intense heat of the dryer, clothing lasts longer.

Homemade Baby Wipes/Family Wipes  Frodo, Hairless Chinese CrestedI know we don’t have a baby (yet), however, the use of baby wipes started with our dog, Frodo. He is a hairless Chinese crested that has allergies, resulting in itchy skin and breakouts. The vet said we needed hypoallergenic baby wipes, so we can wipe him down after each trip outside. That is a lot of wipes. They are expensive and, as we came to find out, it is a major pain to find hypoallergenic ones that are not in a plastic box. We save money, decrease trash, and know we are using safe, healthy wipes, by making our own hypoallergenic reusable cloth baby wipes. (I also use these in place of toilet paper). [Update:12/5/14 – Our son is here and we only use cloth wipes.]

Ceramic Cookware Many people are beginning to learn the benefits of cooking with ceramic cookware. It is non-stick, without the toxins and chipping of Teflon. For additional information on the dangers of teflon, check out Dr. Weil’s answer about the difference in teflon and ceramic cookware.

 Reusable Food Containers REusable Sandwich and Snack Bags  Another way to cut down on trash is by using reusable snack and sandwich bags and Pyrex glass containers instead of plastic storage bags/ freezer bags. Pyrex is dishwasher, microwave, and freezer safe. It does a beautiful job of freezing leftovers; and is a perfect container for taking pastas, meat, and soups for lunch.  The LunchSkins reusable sandwich and snack bags seal with velcro and easily wipe clean.  These hand-sewn, American made bags are BPA, lead, and phthalate free. I was able to fit an apple, slice of cheese, and a spoon in the sandwich bag, and two protein bars in the snack bag, but they make a perfect place to store sandwiches (duh), fruits, and veggies.

Update 8/13/13: I have been having trouble with the Pyrex lids molding and discoloring, also two replacement sets have had lids that won’t seal tightly. In frustration, I looked for another glass storage container that was still oven, microwave, dishwasher, and freezer safe. I found Lock & Lock Boroseal glass containers, with a pretty floral etching on the lid. The lids have a great seal with a sturdy clip down lock, and I haven’t had any problems with mold or discoloring. These are more expensive (bout $7+ per container) but you get what you pay for. I have found money saving sets here, here, here, and Sears,  and individual containers at various kitchen outlet stores.

Lock & Lock, No BPA, Water Tight, Food Container, 0.7-cup, 0.6-oz, Pack of 4, HPL805

Bonus Tip Instead of throwing away toilet paper rolls or the lent from the dryer, we save them to use as fire starters when camping or making a bonfire. By adding vanilla or sage to them, bugs can be deterred.

Wow! Looking back I can’t believe how all of our small changes have added up. We are definitely cleaning up some clutter in our lives: physical clutter in the house, environmental clutter, toxic clutter around the home, and financial clutter (by saving money). What are some of the ways you are cleaning out clutter and making your everyday life more eco-friendly?

Next Financial Tip: All About Homemade Cloth Baby Wipes and Wipe Solutions

Next Health Tip: What are Superfruits?

Next Step to Green Living: All About Homemade Cloth Baby Wipes and Wipe Solutions

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Written by Krista Davis

Krista Davis

Krista is a self-proclaimed “health nut” and eco-friendly enthusiast.

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