Zero Waste Tip #7: Reusable Water Bottles

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7. Say no to single-use plastic water bottles.

There really is no excuse for this one, unless you live somewhere with literally no access to clean drinking water. When you think of waste pollution, the number one type of trash that most people think of is plastic water bottles. They’re taking over our oceans, washing up on beaches, and marring beautiful landscapes in every country across the world.

Zero Waste Tip #7: Stop using single-use plastic water bottles.

Pro Tip: Think about the qualities you want in a reusable water bottle before you purchase one! If you’re sporty and want something easy to clean and dishwasher-safe, try out a Nalgene bottle. If you’re constantly grabbing water bottles from the fridge because you prefer drinking water cold, this insulated water bottle is a perfect replacement! Even better than purchasing one? Use any water bottle or cup you already own, OR shop for one at a local thrift store to cut down on packaging waste.

Lifestyle Benefit: Switching to a reusable water bottle is a money saver! An online article released by Harvard University, “Reasons to Avoid Bottled Water,” states:

“Bottled water is about 3,000 percent more expensive per gallon than tap water… [even though] bottled water generally is no cleaner, or safer, or healthier than tap water.”

In other words, when you buy single-use plastic water bottles, you’re paying more money for a product of equal value to what you already have free access to. Every single bottle of water that you purchase is a waste of money. Every. Single. One. If you spend $3.50 on a pack of 20 water bottles at the grocery store, congratulations! You’ve just needlessly spend $3.50! Doesn’t it sound foolish when you look at it that way?

According to thewaterproject.org, the average American spends $100/year on bottled water. That could be the easiest $100 you’ve ever saved, simply by remembering to bring your own water bottle with you! Not to mention – reusable water bottles are sturdier, don’t leak chemicals into your water over time, and can reflect your personality and hobbies!

Earth Benefit: If you’re looking for a Saturday night Netflix or Amazon Prime movie recommendation, check out Blue Planet II. My husband and I recently watched this documentary, and I can’t think of a better way to persuade anyone to start caring about how we treat the Earth. The final episode addresses plastic pollution and how drastically it’s impacting the globe, so why don’t you start with that one!

Zero Waste Tip #6: Bamboo Toothbrush

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6. Choose bamboo for your next toothbrush purchase.

One of the easiest swaps you can make as you transition into zero waste is switching to a bamboo toothbrush. Why? Because this requires absolutely no change to your daily routine, and it’s not necessarily going to cost any more money! This set of toothbrushes on Amazon averages out to $1.60 per toothbrush, which is comparable in price to a set of 4 Colgate plastic toothbrushes bought at Walmart. It’s a solitary exchange that’s just as good for your teeth and better for the environment. Literally the only thinking involved is purchasing the toothbrush, and then you’ll use that piece of bamboo just like any other toothbrush you’ve ever owned. Just brush.

Pro Tip: If you’re feeling especially ambitious, you can swap out your dental floss at the same time! Here is a plastic-free alternative: biodegradable natural silk floss in a tiny reusable glass bottle.

Lifestyle Benefit: Something about the natural bamboo on your bathroom counter looks SO much cleaner and Instagram-worthy than a blue and purple plastic stick. I’m probably beginning to sound like a broken record on these tips, but switching to zero waste products just looks so much classier!

Earth Benefit: According to this National Geographic article, “A billion toothbrushes will be thrown away in the U.S. this year, most of them plastic.” That’s a lot of unrecyclable plastic! The great thing about bamboo toothbrushes is that they can be composted except for the bristles!

Zero Waste Tip #5: Cloth Diapers

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5. Trade disposable diapers for cloth diapers.

Somehow this often falls at the bottom (no pun intended) of people’s lists for how to transition to zero waste, and I admit, it took me a while to jump on board. I used disposable diapers with my first son, and I remember the huge weight that lifted off my shoulders when I decided to not go with cloth diapers.

What do I wish I could go back and tell myself two years ago? There are enough AMAZING reasons to choose cloth diapers; you don’t have to do it just because you feel bad about all the disposables sitting in the landfill (although that’s an important fact to consider). Let the guilt and pressure go, but still choose cloth.

Here are just a few positive reasons to be in favor of cloth:

1. It’s a decent investment on the front end, but this is probably the biggest money saver in the whole realm of zero waste swaps.

Stay with me while I do the math for you: A box of Pampers at Walmart costs $39.76 for 148 diapers, which is approximately $0.27 per diaper. So if you use 8 disposable diapers a day for 2.5 years (912 days), that’s 7,296 diapers x $0.27 = $1969.92.

Now, say you spend $500 on cloth diapers, and $200 on laundry detergent (both generous estimates), you’ve STILL saved $1269.92 over the course of diapering your child! That itself is worth the switch, in my opinion!

And to sweeten the deal even more – if you’re a first time mom, you can put cloth diapers on your registry and let friends and family buy them for you! 😉

2. Cloth diapers are infinitely cuter! So many fun colors and patterns to choose from. Just look at how cute these GroVia O.N.E. diapers would be on your own sweet babe! 😍

Zero Waste Tip #5: Start using cloth diapers.
Here are some of the GroVia O.N.E. cloth diapers that I recently bought! Each came with two inserts – a large one that we’ve been using during the day, and a smaller insert to increase the absorbency if needed.

3. Because they’re not disposable, you’ll never run out of cloth diapers and have to make a mad dash to the grocery store before bedtime to ensure you’ve got something to cover your baby’s bottom (as long as you’ve got a large enough stash and wash them within the recommended amount of time).

4. Cloth diapers are made with less ingredients (no fragrances, no chemicals to add absorbency, no inks or other additives). Even though Pampers.com claims that all their ingredients are tested and completely safe, I’d guess that the cloth diapers still come out on top when it comes to the quality of materials you’re placing on your baby’s skin. [Disclaimer: I did use Pampers Swaddlers on my firstborn with no problems! If you’re going to pick a disposable diaper, they’re a win in my book!]

If you’re convinced and ready to join me, please like this post and leave me a comment! I’ve only recently begun my cloth diaper journey, so I’d love to hear any and all tips of the trade. Once I get a little more experience under my belt, I’ll type out another post to share my thoughts on the GroVia O.N.E. diapers and their cloth wipes (see photos with links above)!

How to be a Minimalist Mom

Minimalism. The word often evokes strong emotions on both sides of the fence. Either you’re all in and can pack all your belongings into a tiny house, or you’re a Why-would-I-even-try-when-I-have-so-much-stuff kind of person. I’d love to offer a different approach.

Now, I’m 100% for KonMari and the Minimalists. I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed their work. I’ve narrowed down my belongings to things that spark joy. I’ve done the packing parties. However, I don’t think you need to sort through your entire home this week and toss out everything you don’t adore. Not only is this not sustainable, it’s just plain impractical for an everyday mom.

Who has the time, with kiddos running crazy through the house, to unload the entire kitchen and haul carloads of unwanted gear to the nearest Goodwill? And if you’re like me, your spare time for minimizing is limited to about 10 minutes – after catching up on dishes or laundry and before baby wakes up from a nap and wants to nurse!

Here’s what I am suggesting: just slowly start to let things go.

Tomorrow when you get dressed for the day, quickly scan your clothes and pick one shirt that you never wear at all, that has holes in the front, that’s 3 sizes too small. Remove it from the hanger, find an empty box, and start a “Get Rid Of” pile. Put it somewhere you’ll easily see but that is out of reach of little fingers (somehow my children always discover the items I plan to donate and decide they want to play with it ALL).

My “Get Rid Of” pile is generally on top of my washing machine, next to the garage door. Why? Looking at it every day reminds me to continue scanning my house for things I don’t need. It keeps me from piling things in the back of my closet that will inevitably be forgotten.

So wherever it is, designate your pile. Then as you live your Momming life today, tomorrow, and the next day, just gradually add to the pile. Those clothes in your son’s closet that are too small, but not nice enough to save for baby #2 (or #3 or #4) – throw them on your pile. That extra coffee pot from college that you replaced and never use – straight to the pile. The third and forth cheap corkscrew you bought on vacation because you forgot to pack your nice one – yep, on the pile too.

Whether you have time for the major minimalist purging now or not, this slow daily habit of tossing what you don’t need is the only thing that’s going to sustain a long-term minimalist lifestyle. Make it a habit. You’ll be so glad you did!

It may not look Instagram perfect at first, but one thing at time, consistent de-cluttering makes significant progress. It is so worth it!

Zero Waste Tip #4: Real Kitchen Towels

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4. Use real towels instead of paper towels.

This was a hard one for me. For some reason, my brain just kept telling me to reach for the paper towels, and that there was no way a real towel could compete. But guess what? I was wrong!

After I finally began to re-train myself to stop grabbing paper towels, I really started to prefer it. I don’t need a huge wad of paper towels to clean up a mess anymore, because the real ones (no surprise, really) are so much more absorbent. I don’t need to keep grabbing new paper towels when I’m cleaning the kitchen, because I can do the whole job with just one rag. So. Much. Simpler.

Pro Tip: Find different types of cloths for different kitchen needs: absorbent towels for drying dishes and cleaning up spills, small flour sack towels for wiping the counters, and thin rags (that dry quickly) for cleaning off the kiddos after meals!

Lifestyle Benefit: You will save SO much money by following through on this tip! I generally spent about $20 on paper towels each time I bought them. Consider using this money instead to buy these kitchen towels and these dishcloths on Amazon. If you completely cut out the paper towels after that, it saves you $20 each time you would have purchased the paper towels – roughly $20/month x 12 months = $240 annual savings! Just think of all the other fun zero waste products you could invest in with that $240! 😉

Earth Benefit: This article from the Norwex Movement lists 9 astounding statistics on paper usage worldwide, including the fact that “If every household in the U.S. used just one less 70-sheet roll of paper towels, that would save 544,000 trees each year.”

Zero Waste Tip #3: Reusable Coffee Mugs

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3. Stop buying coffee in the drive-thru.

I get it. I really do. If you’re pulling into the Starbucks drive-thru, it’s completely inconvenient to ask the barista, “Hey, can you put my latte in my own mug?” Trust me, I’ve tried it, and you can’t help feeling a mix of high and mighty, a lot of embarrassment, and a little bit like the barista is complaining to everyone else he’s working with about your crazy demands.

Zero Waste Tip #3: Reusable Coffee Mugs

So, unless you’re willing to stick to your request in the drive-thru, the best option is to carry your own mug and hand it straight to the barista when you order inside the building. This way, no one has to wait on you to reach the front of the drive-thru line. No disposable coffee cups go to the landfill, and you’re not inconveniencing anyone. Win, win!

Pro Tip: There are a million different types of reusable coffee mugs out there, and it doesn’t matter what it looks like! Just find one that you like enough to use every day, and make sure it fits in your cup holder! I prefer the ones that aren’t insulated, so that it doesn’t keep my coffee scalding for 3 hours. Check out this cute “mama needs coffee” mug on Amazon!

Lifestyle Benefit: Forcing yourself to ditch the drive-thru is a spectacular way to stay within budget, because on days when you have no time to walk inside (or you don’t want to because it’s pouring down rain), you just don’t buy coffee that day. Trust me, you’ll survive!

On days when you can go inside, take your coffee shop moments to breathe deeply, look around, and slow down for a change. We need more of those moments in life.

And for yet another win, some coffee shops (including Starbucks and Einstein Bros. Bagels) will actually give you a slight discount for bringing your own mug!

Earth Benefit: If you’re like me, you’ll be surprised to discover that most disposable coffee cups cannot be recycled. Choose to do your part to keep them out of the landfill!

Zero Waste Tip #2: Reusable Straws

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2. Replace plastic straws with stainless steel straws.

Zero Waste Tip #2: Swap plastic straws for stainless steel straws
These straws are dishwasher-safe if you have a utensil basket that holds them! I generally handwash them because they fall through the bottom of my utensil basket.

Next time you run out of straws, don’t buy plastic ones. Buy these stainless steel straws from Amazon instead. It’s a pack of 8, so there’s plenty for guests (or extras if you used one yesterday and haven’t washed the dishes yet). I also love that it comes with the straw cleaners, which are dishwasher safe.

Pro Tip: Most of my plastic straws come from restaurants when eating out! Keep one stainless steel straw wrapped in a handkerchief in the pocket of your purse. Then you can use it at restaurants as well!

Lifestyle Benefit: If you use the reusable straws for as long as using 3-4 packs of plastic ones, you’re actually saving money in the long run! Also plastic straws look like trash (because they are) and clutter up the pantry. The stainless steel ones look and feel so much classier!

Earth Benefit: According to a National Geographic article, “In just the U.S. alone, one estimate suggests 500 million straws are used every single day. One study published earlier this year estimated as many as 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches” (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/04/plastic-straws-ocean-trash-environment/). Be part of lowering this number!

Zero Waste Tip #1: Reusable Grocery Bags

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Hi, Hannah here! I wanted to share some of the easy first steps I took towards a more eco friendy lifestyle. These are great if you want to venture into the zero waste (or low waste) world but aren’t sure where to start! My recommendation is to just pick one tip that seems doable, integrate it into your life, and don’t move on to another until you’ve completed that one.

  1. Start grocery shopping with reusable bags.
Zero Waste Tip #1: Start shopping with reusable grocery bags.
I purchased 3 of these cute reusable bags at Walmart for just $1.25 each, and so far they’ve lasted for over 2 years! The produce bag was a gift, but it can be purchased on Amazon here.

This change is way easier than you think it is. Next time you go grocery shopping, purchase 2-4 reusable bags. Scan those first when you check out and put the rest of your groceries in them! OR even better, use 2-4 large bags that you already have at home. Who says they have to be “grocery” bags?

Pro Tip: The hardest part of this lifestyle change is remembering the bags when you go to the store, so start a habit of putting the bags back in your car after your groceries are unpacked! I keep mine folded up in the pocket of my drivers’ side door, right where I can see them as I get out of the car at the grocery store. Once you get into this habit, it’s as easy as grabbing the bags and putting them into your purse once you get to the store. Inevitably you’ll forget them at first, but slowly it will become a habit that you hardly have to think about!

Lifestyle Benefits: I LOVE shopping with reusable bags! Reusable bags are so much sturdier than their plastic counterparts, so they hold more without breaking. No more doubling up on bags when you need to carry a gallon of milk or several cans of soup! Whereas previously I’d have 10-20 plastic grocery bags to haul in from the car to my kitchen, now I usually have only 3-4 for several days worth of groceries. It reduces so much clutter, and you don’t have to gather all the plastic bags and find a place to stash them.

Earth Benefits: If you use the same 4 bags at the grocery store for one year, you could keep over 1000 plastic grocery bags out of the landfill or our oceans! (Estimate based on 20 plastic bags per week x 52 weeks = 1040 plastic bags per year.)

About the Author

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Meet the author of Eco Friendly Momming!

Hello and welcome to my newest adventure, EcoFriendlyMomming.com! I’m a happily-married mom of 2 young boys, who fill my life with much joy and a fair amount of chaos. We live in a suburban neighborhood in Northwest Arkansas, and my days are generally filled with very ordinary happenings: grocery trips to Walmart, baby nap schedules, driving my oldest to preschool.

My journey to a more eco-friendly lifestyle began several years ago. I became interested in the concept of minimalism, so I began to purge my house of clutter, with the goal of keeping only items that were useful or meaningful. I quickly realized that minimalism was incredibly wasteful if not paired with sustainable shopping choices. It was worth investing in fewer things that were higher quality, which changed the entire way I shop.

I began to research what I was bringing into my home and whether or not it was beneficial for myself, my kids, and the Earth. As stated in the J.R.R. Tolkien quote above, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” I’ve got one life. One chance to raise my boys. I want to choose a lifestyle that is healthy, sustainable, good for their health and not harmful to the environment they’re growing up in. The result?

Well, I began to implement changes.

And I’m happy to say that – although I’m not yet where I want to be – I’ve learned a lot along the way and I’m getting closer to my destination. If you’re here, thanks for reading! My goal is to share helpful tips for all things eco-friendly, minimalist, low-waste, and sustainable. I hope you enjoy!

About the Blog

About the Eco Friendly Momming Blog: Tips on all things Zero Waste, Sustainable Living, Minimalism

One tiny green step at a time.

That’s all it takes.

The moment I typed “eco-friendly,” “zero waste,” “sustainable,” “minimalist,” or “green living” into my search bar and hit enter, an overwhelming barrage of data and opinions flooded my screen.

Everything. Everything I needed to change. Everything I was doing wrong. All the products that were poisening my home, my children, my skin, and seeping into the Earth.

So what happens next? This is the turning point. Either you turn wistfully away and think…

  • “I’ll never be able to get there.”
  • “No way can I fit all my trash into that tiny mason jar.”
  • “I can’t afford to get rid of all my cleaning products just because they score an 8 on the toxicity scale.”
  • “The KonMari method is far too complicated to maintain long-term.”
  • “Sustainable fashion choices just aren’t available for my body type.”

OR you take the plunge. Dive deep into the murky waters and attempt to discern truth and implement change.

This is my passion. If you find yourself at the turning point, I want to grab your hand and walk you one tiny green step at a time into an Eco Friendly Momming lifestyle that will positively impact your future for as long as you walk on Planet Earth.

It should be simple.

Long term change happens slowly. Don’t try to change it all at once, but start consistently changing. I’m not guaranteeing to change your life. Only YOU can do that. But if you want to start the process, I want to give you a few tips.

I’ll start where I began about 3 years ago. I’ll share where I am today, how I got from there to here, and where I dream of going. Stay tuned, and please leave a comment to let me know you’re reading or if you have specific questions for me!