15 easy changes to make your home environmentally friendly.
Are you wanting to be more eco conscious in your household but not sure where to start?
Maybe you live in an apartment and thought that to make a difference you needed a garden, with home grown veges and a compost heap?
Or maybe you want to make a change but possibly can’t afford to change a lot?
There are so many ways to make eco-friendly changes that it can become overwhelming. You can pick as many or as few as you want, you just need to do what works for your family.
EVERY action towards a better environment counts, no matter the size.
Your household doesn’t need to be plastic free or zero waste to create the change.
You don’t need a perfect plan to create the change.
To make it happen you just need to make a change, you can start by picking one or two options.
Stop buying fruit and vegetables in plastic wrapping.
Plastic wrap is everywhere! You can’t walk through a supermarket produce isle without seeing it covering most of the fruit and vegetables.
When you have a choice, opt for the non-packaged option. Bananas don’t need to be in a plastic bag, mother nature was clever enough to give them their very own packaging.
Use reusable produce bags instead of plastic.
Before I started on this ‘eco journey’ I didn’t often use plastic produce bags, I usually just let my fruit and vege roll around the bottom of my supermarket trolley. Plastic produce bags really aren’t needed, but if you do want to put them in something, opt for a reusable organic cotton produce bag.
Choose supermarket brands that use cardboard and paper instead of plastic.
There is such a wide selection of brands for similar products now that you could play eeny meeny miny moe all day just to decide what brand of bread to grab.
When making your choice please consider the packaging that it comes in. Try to choose brands that use paper and cardboard instead of plastic.
Don’t drive to the other side of town just to buy from bulk stores.
Yes, you heard right. I said DON’T. The zero-waste movement is in great force at the moment and I am ALL for it! I love that there are so many environment conscious people out there, but if you have to drive to the other side of the city just to buy 500g of rice that’s not in a plastic bag then it doesn’t actually work out better for the environment.
By all means if you are going to be buying a lot of food from this store, then go for it! Make that trip! But if you’re just grabbing a couple of small items, take a moment before you jump in the car to consider the other impacts like the gas emissions from your car. (Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and methane etc.)
Bake at home instead of buying pre-packaged biscuits, bread and muffins.
Home baking is not only a great way to reduce packaging in your home, but it also means you know exactly what is going into your family’s food. Preservatives, artificial colourants, artificial flavours and artificial sweeteners can be added into all kinds of food these days. Most of which are not good for our health.
If you don’t have time to bake at home, you could try a local bakery (if it’s not too far out the way) and get them to put your baked goods into a reusable cotton bag.
Swap disposable makeup remover pads for reusable bamboo pads.
The skin around the eyes is quite delicate and often a regular face cloth can be too harsh and scratchy on this area. Make up remover pads are usually disposable and end up in landfill after just one use.
Switching to reusable make up remover pads is an easy eco-friendly way to avoid unnecessary skin damage (and make up stains on your face cloths.)
Reduce food waste by swapping with a neighbour or taking part in local Crop Swap groups.
If you have trees that just produce an overabundance of ripe, juicy fruit then why not give them to a friend? Or swap them with your neighbour that has too many eggs from their chooks. Community food sharing is becoming popular again, there are community food share stands popping up all over the country and Crop Swap groups that can be found in many cities around New Zealand.
Freeze leftovers for nights when you’re too busy to cook.
We are all so busy these days that sometimes it’s not possible to cook every night. I know in our house, my partner and I are out a lot, sports clubs, the gym, committee meetings and social outings has at least one of us out most nights of the week. Cooking larger meals and freezing the leftovers for the nights that life just gets too hectic is a great way to avoid buying takeaways.
Start a compost for food scraps and garden waste.
Composting is a great way to turn food waste into plant food. What better way to reduce waste than to help it grow more food! If you are unable to have a compost in your garden for whatever reason you can use Sharewaste to find someone else that does!
Have a meat free dinner one night a week. E.g Meatless Mondays.
This subject is a bit of a touchy one, people seem to get upset if you tell them they can’t have their steak on the BBQ anymore which is fair enough, not everyone wants to help the environment by going vegetarian and that’s O.K!
I’m not a vegetarian, but I do eat a lot of vegetarian meals, I find that red meat isn’t the best for my health and bony white meat like chicken and fish kind of gives me the creeps at times lol.
So, I choose the right amount for me. If you are more of a T – Rex kind of person and just love meat, then just try having one meat free dinner a week. Who knows, you might find you really enjoy them!
If you're short on inspiration for meatless meals take a look at Simone's Plant Based Kitchen for plant based recipes and practical cooking workshops.
Use a shampoo bar rather than a bottled shampoo.
Switching to a shampoo bar is one of the best decisions I made for my family. I have found that it lasts longer than regular bottled shampoo (so long as our toddler doesn’t get his hands on it!)
Not only are we reducing our household waste but we’re also not exposed to the toxic chemicals that are often used in regular shampoo. Make sure when you choose a shampoo bar that you select one that is natural (like this one) as there are many synthetic versions available.
Use quality reusable cloth nappies instead of disposable nappies.
I went to antenatal classes when I was pregnant with my son and in the nappy session there was a pile of disposable nappies (there must have been at least 70.) We were told this is how many nappies our newborn babies would use in their FIRST WEEK. Just their first week! I had already thought about using reusable cloth nappies but seeing this really fixed the idea in my mind.
When it comes to cloth nappies, choosing a quality brand that is highly absorbent is important to reduce the risk of leaking.
Keep your own coffee cup in the car.
Keeping a cup in the car that you can take into a café when you need a caffeine fix on the run is a simple way to avoid single use takeaway cups. It doesn’t matter whether you have a regular mug from home or a reusable cup with a lid, they both work the same! Just make sure that your cup is clean before you hand it over.
If you're wondering what cafe's around New Zealand support using your own cups check out this local NZ cafe and eatery directory UYOC. (Use Your Own Cup .)
Use sustainably made Tissues.
A lot of people are under the impression that tissues are flushable. Unfortunately, most facial tissues are not suitable for flushing as they don’t break down like toilet paper would, they are designed to stay together when wet. When you choose facial tissues that are made using natural, sustainable materials you know that they will biodegrade in your compost.
Take your own container to get takeaways to avoid plastic.
There are times where you can’t avoid eating out, or you don’t want to! Everyone enjoys going out for a meal sometimes. If you happen to be getting takeaways, try taking your own containers. This way you can avoid unnecessary waste while still being able to enjoy a takeaway meal.
Not all of these will suit your family, you don’t have to make it through the whole list, pick the ones that work for you and go from there.
Obviously the more you can tick off the better but being realistic will help ensure the long-term success of your changes.
If you don’t have a garden space then it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to grow your own avocado tree 😉
If you have a moment, let me know in the comments what changes you made!
P.S. If there wasn't enough for you to do with these ones, take a look at 11 More easy changes to make your home eco-friendly.
About the author
Sarah Cooper is the founder of Ecore. She is a strong advocate for supporting other local businesses, with a passion for protecting the environment and helping families reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals.
- Sarah Cooper