Let's be honest: being earth-friendly isn't always easy. Especially when it seems like the only way to live sustainably is to spend money (we're looking at you, pricey reusable zip bags and other silicone-based products). But being kinder to our planet doesn't need to involve a drastic lifestyle change or breaking the bank, and these easy green hacks prove that. So keep scrolling if you want to reduce your environmental footprint while keeping your wallet stuffed - and who doesn't want that?
Rice Water Is Good for Your Plants
We don't often think about it, but a lot of waste gets created while cooking, even if you're making a healthy, vegan meal. With rice, a lot of the time, people will just pour off the remaining water and let all of it go to waste. But, you can save that water to use on the plants in your home. That way, you don't need to use more water filling the watering can later in the week, and the plants will grow even stronger!
Nobody wants to drink that old, stale rice water anyway, so you might as well use it for something!
That's All It Takes To Make Toothpaste?
Plastic toothpaste tubes, like other types of cosmetic products with plastic packaging, are another one of those outdated items that we can't understand why people are using! Plus, there are theories that some traditional kinds of toothpaste have harmful chemicals that actually make your teeth more yellow, forcing you to buy more and more. That's why we prefer to buy glass jars of all-natural toothpaste, or even better, we like to make our own at home!
All it takes to make your very own homemade toothpaste is coconut oil, baking soda, water, peppermint oil, and voila! Your teeth are clean, and your breath is minty fresh.
Washing Berries The Right Way Can Keep Them Fresh
It's tempting when you bring home a pack of strawberries to just turn on the tap and let the water run through the container. Then, you can just dig in and go to town. But, if you don't finish the whole box there and then, chances are those berries will go bad within a day or two. That's why we wash our fruits in diluted vinegar and then keep them on top of a wet paper towel. It can extend their shelf life up to two weeks!
This also will help the fruit to stay more firm as it ages, giving you that fresh, crispy bite you want even after a whole week has passed.
Make Your Own All-Purpose Cleaner
Most people don't realize it, but the ingredients in most of the big brands and all-purpose cleaners at the market are already available in your home! Mixing white vinegar and baking soda can help break down grime and sterilize surfaces in a pinch. Plus, if you have some extra essential oils lying around, you can make your own fresh-smelling bottles of all-purpose cleaner that will be ready to go whenever you need it.
This trick will also help you create less plastic waste because you won't be going out to buy new bottles of cleaner every time you run out. Just use the same bottle, and refill it with your homemade mixture.
This Food Storage Idea Will Save You Some Serious Money
If you're looking to save a little cheddar around the house, you've got to stop throwing away perfectly good vegetables. Hold on, let us rephrase that– you've got to start using your vegetables before they go bad, and you're forced to throw them out! That's why we love the idea of keeping bell peppers and other quick-to-rot vegetables in an "Eat First" bin in the fridge. This will ensure you stop flushing money down the drain unnecessarily.
Tomatoes would be another vegetable to make sure you keep in this bin. Green beans have also been known to spoil rather quickly, but we really only buy those on the day that we'll be cooking them.
An Easy Alternative to Plastic Floss
We'll admit it; we're not very good flossers. Our dentist has to tell us to start flossing every year, but we never listen. It's hard when floss is just made out of thin strands of non-biodegradable plastic, meaning that every time we use a piece, we're contributing a piece of garbage to this planet that will never go away. Thankfully, there's a new solution. Just use bamboo floss instead, and then throw it right into your compost!
There are a bunch of other household products made out of bamboo that can help reduce your footprint, too, like cotton swabs and tongue depressors.
An Apple A Day Keeps Potato Rot At Bay
We all know the old saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but did you know that keeping an apple with your sack of potatoes is a surefire way to keep the potatoes from sprouting and going bad? The ethylene gas released by apples has a special effect where it stops potatoes from sprouting. But, make sure you don't keep any onions around because these have the opposite effect.
Light and moisture can also cause potatoes to go bad early. So, if you need a place to store them, a loosely packed paper bag or dry cabinet (with one apple) will be best.
Use A Tea Towel To Save Your Leafy Greens
It's no secret that leafy greens go bad fast. It's hard to buy a bag of basil at the market without letting at least some of it go to waste. But, if you're just bringing your vegetables home to leave them out in the open or sitting in the fridge, you're setting yourself up for failure already! Make sure to wrap leafy greens and herbs in a damp tea towel before putting them in the fridge, and your greens will last almost twice as long!
This trick works for all manner of greens, like basil and kale. It also works for all manner of herbs, like dill, parsley, and thyme.
Make That Old Bread Taste (almost) Good as New
There's nothing like biting or slicing into a fresh loaf of bread. The smell, the soft texture, everything about it is amazing. But that doesn't mean we should just give up on our bread once it's a little stale. Lucky for us, there's a trick that can bring it back to life. Run stale bread under the tap and, after doing this, you can bake the bread for a few minutes at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and all of a sudden, the bread will be good as new!
Another tip for bread lovers out there is to slice and freeze your bread as soon as you get it. Then, you can take slices out of the freezer whenever you want and toast them to your desired level of doneness.
Reusable Tea Infusers Make A Huge Difference
This is a hack that has environmental effects, but also one that people should just be doing anyway because it improves the taste of everything a crazy amount. Traditional tea bags are churned out by the millions by major food corporations and don't effectively steep tea. However, a reusable tea infuser will allow you to create your own tea mix and will improve the taste of every mug of tea you drink!
If you pick a few of these tea infusers up, it also gives you the opportunity to start experimenting with different ratios and flavors of tea, which could be a lot of fun!
Plastic-Free Packaging Is The Future
You're probably getting tired of hearing climate activists railing against the amount of plastic we use, but if you really think about it, they've got a point. Almost everything we buy, from food to household cleaning supplies, comes in plastic. So, if you want to take a chance and start using less plastic around the house, you're going to need to change your buying habits. We'd suggest looking for cleaners that come in non-plastic packaging, like these biodegradable laundry detergent pods!
We know this one probably looks a little sus because the laundry pods themselves are still wrapped in a layer of plastic, but this plastic is dissolvable in hot water and disappears once used in the wash, so it is an acceptable biodegradable replacement.
Save Herbs And Cook Like A Pro
If you want to wow your next set of house guests with some culinary prowess, as well as save your herbs from wilting within the first few days you have them, we've got a great trick for you. Just take your favorite olive oil, and freeze it into cubes with the herbs you want inside. In no time, you'll have infused olive oil to last weeks, and you can customize it to taste however you want!
With all that being said, make sure you're using good olive oil and mixing herbs that blend well. Rosemary and thyme would probably be nice, as would basil and chives.
Cleaning Up Made Easy With Old Clothes
If you have a t-shirt or two that have seen better days and probably need to make their way to t-shirt heaven, give them a new lease on life before sending them out to pasture! You can cut cotton t-shirts into the desired rectangular shapes you want and then use them as perfect little replacement dish towels! This environmental hack will save you money and stop your household from making more trash, which is a definite win-win.
This will work best with cotton t-shirts, so just be careful using anything else like polyester. These fabrics are a bit hydrophobic sometimes, so they won't have the right effects as dish towels.
Biodegradable Sponges Keep The Kitchen Green
The problem with most major kitchen-ware companies is that they're more concerned with a product's longevity in the kitchen than they are with a product's longevity on this planet. Sure, it's nice if a sponge can last two weeks before being replaced, but what happens then? Does it go to a landfill and sit for 100 years? That's why we started to work hemp sponges into our kitchen routine. They're reusable and biodegradable, which is a major benefit!
Hemp is actually incredibly versatile and can be a useful component in all kinds of household goods. They can be made into sponges or bricks, and some people even keep them as house plants!
The Secret's Out: Oatmeal Is Better
Even though we love the fact that technology has advanced to the point where we have all these different options for plant-based milk, there really aren't any standards of production across the different varieties. Sure, if you like the taste of almond milk the best, that'll be what you want to drink, but did you know that almond milk is almost as ecologically harmful to produce as regular dairy milk?
It's sad but true. Almonds require a great deal of water in order to flourish, and a large almond crop can also cause droughts in the area. That's why we prefer to stick with oat milk or something less harmful to the globe.
Use Old Pantyhose To Keep Onions Fresh
Onions are a tricky vegetable. They're so useful but also can rot very quickly if you're not careful. That being said, if you are careful, they can last up to eight months! That could definitely help a person shave a few dollars off of their grocery bill. The trick is to store the onions in old pantyhose or tights. This will ensure the onions stay nice and dry, as well as properly ventilated.
The great thing with this trick is that it will work with white onions, red onions, and shallots! Green onions we're still not so sure about, though, but maybe it's worth a try!
Think Your Kale Is Done? Think Again
If you're looking for a killer life hack, look no further than this kale trick that'll keep your leafy greens looking fresh and tasting great for days. Apparently, if you trim kale stems regularly and keep them in a vase with cold water in the fridge, the vegetable will rot a lot more slowly. You just need to make sure you buy some fresh kale to start, and also check that you've got enough room to accommodate it in your fridge.
The funny part about this one to us is that the person is already acting environmentally friendly! Their kale had been composted before. Now, they're just being extra environmental.
Make Veggies Last, Put Waste In The Past
If you want to ensure that you're getting the best bang for your buck possible, you're going to want to reduce grocery waste. Throwing out food can be the number one source of wasted income in households, and if you're not careful with your fruits and veggies, that could be compounded. That's because fruits give off a gas that makes veggies rot more quickly. So, if you separate them, both will be able to last much longer.
Eating more fruits and veggies is another good way to replace animal byproducts in your diet. Just ensure your veggies come from sustainable, non-corporate farming operations.
Save Celery And Carrots By Giving Them A Bath
If you're a big fan of chomping on raw, crunchy vegetables, then this is the life hack for you. We're always buying carrots and celery but wind up having to throw some out before they're eaten because the vegetables get soggy and gross. But, if you submerge those carrots and celery in water, keep it in the fridge, and top it off every few days, those veggies can last up to two whole weeks!
This lifehack also apparently works with asparagus, but we'd suggest trying each different vegetable in its own container. This will help you decide what the best ratio of water to veggies is in a controlled manner.
In the Long-Run, Buying a Bidet Will Save You Money
In some parts of the world, you'd be hard-pressed to find rolls of toilet paper. Instead, people in those places use a bidet or a "bum gun" to wash their behinds after they've done their business. The practice is very popular in certain parts of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East but hasn't really caught on in North America. Still, if you're interested, there are some affordable aftermarket bidets that just might fit your toilet and your new environmental lifestyle.
Using a bidet for the first time is definitely a strange feeling and won't be for everyone. But, it's worth a shot if you're looking to create less waste around the house.
Washcloths Aren't Just For Showering
A lot of people will use a traditional washcloth when they shower, but in the kitchen, they'll clean up with a paper towel. This creates a lot of unnecessary waste, and if you make sure to ring out and dry the washcloth after using it, it'll last a few days in your messy kitchen before it needs to be washed! Plus, if you want to take things a step further, you can even make your own washcloths out of old clothes.
This is just another one of many small changes you can make around the house that will eventually pay off to make the world a better place.
If You're Buying Eco, You're Not Necessarily Being Eco
A large part of becoming a zero-waste household is cutting down on unnecessary purchases. With the layout of the global supply chain, every time that we buy something, there are far-reaching effects across the globe. Manufacturers in India have to replace stock, distributors in China have to load products onto boats, gas and oil companies from the Middle East have to power those boats, and our country's shipping companies have to pollute the environment delivering us the product.
There's nothing wrong with those old Nalgene water bottles, even if they are so 2018 at this point. They keep water cold, and since we've already got them, we're not really in the market for a replacement.
It's All About The Glass Jars At This Point
We've been hearing activists holler about plastic for years, and there's a good reason. The world is oversaturated with plastic that doesn't biodegrade, so it will most definitely outlast us and maybe even our children. That's why when we go to the grocery store nowadays, we'll only buy products that come in glass jars. This ensures that the packaging can be reused and won't add to the already monumental mass of waste human beings create each day.
Also, not to judge the person who took this picture on their tastes, but there are much better pasta sauces than Ragu. We never need to be stooping this low, glass or plastic.
Bamboo Toothbrushes Are A Safe, Effective Alternative
We don't mean to be ripping on dentists or anything, but it seems like a lot of what goes on in that industry is pretty environmentally damaging. Plastic floss doesn't biodegrade and can wind up in landfills, and the same goes for plastic toothbrushes. They last for years after you're done using them, and there are much more effective alternatives out there. If you don't already have a brush that you like, think about grabbing a bamboo one.
Before the toothbrush as we know it was invented, people used to chew on twigs and sticks to remove plaque, so going back to using bamboo isn't that far of a stretch.
Who Wants Fresh Lemonade?
There's nothing like fresh-squeezed lemonade on a hot summer's day. But, it's just not the same if you use the concentrated, chemical-tasting lemon juice from the supermarket. So, what can you do in the winter if you want a glass? Just go into the freezer and thaw out some lemon cubes! By freezing your extra lemon juice during the summer, you'll have a year-round supply to enjoy, which definitely beats buying lemons out of season, or worse, watching unused lemons go to waste.
This trick also works with limes and other citrus fruits. Just make sure you give the liquid ample time to cool since its high sugar content makes it freeze more slowly than water.
How Clean Is Your Soap, Really?
It's sweet if you want to buy all-natural soap from an environmentally conscious company, but if you're buying it in a big plastic container, then are you really being environmentally conscious at all? If you really want to make a difference with your buying practices, start transitioning to bar soaps with minimal packaging. This has the added benefit of allowing you to shop around with local vendors and artisans who practice soap making as a craft!
Some of our favorite soaps ever came from our local farmer's market and didn't include any packaging whatsoever. We just paid for a bar and threw it in the reusable paper bag with the rest of our shopping!
The Old Citrus Juice Trick Strikes Again
Avocados ripen notoriously quickly. If you cut into one in the morning and only eat half, there's a chance the whole surface of the other side could be brown by the afternoon. That's why we always squirt a little bit of lemon juice onto our open avocados. It helps them to last much longer and stay firmer and fresher tasting. The same goes for your guacamole, make sure to add lemon juice, and it should last a bit longer!
This trick also works for sliced apples and pears, and if you don't have any lemon juice, then you can try using orange juice or another citrus instead.
Gradual Change Will Be What Makes The Difference
If you've ever been a smoker, you know that stopping cold turkey is nearly impossible. And, when it comes to eating vegan, giving up on meat completely all at once is also nearly impossible. Thankfully, if you really want to make that change, there are gradual changes you can make to your diet that will help you eat more plant-based foods, reduce your meat intake, and start making lasting changes that will eventually lead you to veganism.
An easy place to start, at least for Americans, is to cut out all that bacon and breakfast sausage from breakfast. By replacing it with fruit, you've automatically lessened your diet's impact.
Cut Shower Time In Half To Cut Water Use In Half
Remember math class in elementary school, when we first learned to multiply and divide? Well, if you apply those same principles to your water usage around the house, you'd be amazed at how much you can save! As this diagram points out, by reducing the amount of time you spend in the shower from ten minutes to five minutes, you'll also reduce your water usage by fifty percent in the same fell swoop!
We know our answer sounds a little facetious here. But it's high time people realized this one. Taking shorter showers is the oldest trick in the book to ensure you're doing your part to look out for the planet.
Join The LED Revolution
There's just no reason in this day and age to still be using incandescent light bulbs. The technology for LED lightbulbs is so advanced, and using these bulbs will not only save you money but will also be one of the best environmental decisions you can make. LEDs are brighter than traditional incandescent bulbs, but they still burn with less heat, meaning that there's less energy needed to cool down your home. And the lights themselves also pull less energy from the grid than incandescents, so they're better in every way.
We could go on and on about LED lights, but we'll spare you the lecture.
No More Wasted Batteries
Batteries: they make the world go round! Or, at least they power most of the toys in our cousin's playroom. Still, these incredible inventions take a heavy environmental toll on the planet since they're toxic and they don't biodegrade. They can't be disposed of in normal landfills, so special battery processing centers have to be used. That's why it's a worthwhile investment to buy yourself some rechargeable batteries! The front-end cost will be higher, but you'll thank us in the long run.
Gone are the days of scouring the house to see if you had the right size batteries. Just buy some rechargeable single As, double As & triple As, and keep some extras precharged in the cabinet.
Forget About The Natural Deodorant, How About Natural Packaging?
One of the biggest gripes against deodorant manufacturers is that the chemical stuff works too well but is awful for your body and the environment, and the natural stuff doesn't work at all, so we can't buy it to save the environment anyway since we'll be too preoccupied smelling so bad! Still, if you can find a deodorant that works, try to also find a version that comes in biodegradable packaging, so you're not adding to the plastic problem in the world.
This one will be tough for most people to find in their local stores. Still, some boutique shops online offer great options for natural, biodegradable deodorant if that's something you want to spend money on.
We Want Plastic Free Everything, You Get The Point?
People tend to stay loyal to the cosmetic companies they like. It's part of human nature to find something you enjoy and latch onto it. But, if that company is harming the environment, it might be time to find a new favorite deodorant/face cream/shampoo, as hard as it is to accept. Just make sure that when you try out new products, you're only trying out ones that come in biodegradable or recyclable packaging.
You also want to be careful about the contents of your cosmetics. Yes, the packaging is important, but going for something chemical-free and all-natural will also have positive lasting health effects.
Bring Your Utensils To Work
It's tempting just to mail it in every morning and head straight for the office without coffee or lunch prepared. But, even if you plan to get coffee and a bite to eat at the office, you can still reduce your environmental impact by keeping a spare backup coffee cup and a reusable spoon in your car. This way, you'll never be at work without the means to enjoy a meal in an environmentally responsible way.
Keeping a reusable grocery bag in your work vehicle can also have a big impact. Just think if you no longer needed grocery bags every time you had to make a stop on the way home!
Inch By Inch
It can be challenging and a bit demoralizing when you know that going zero-waste is the best thing you can do to help the environment. Still, every little bit you can do will help the issue. So instead of doing nothing because you know you can't do everything, take little steps along the way to work yourself towards being zero waste. In the long run, it'll make the transition much easier and more effective.
If you make gradual changes and slowly get comfortable with them, it will be harder to revert to your old ways. This way, the changes you make will stick.