Easy Changes We’ve Made to Decrease Our Environmental Impact

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Everyone knows this is my favorite planet and I love to take good care of her. In 2017 my new year’s resolutions started including big ways to be more environmentally friendly. That year I gave up styrofoam and no, I haven’t had a delicious Sonic beverage since then. In 2018 I gave up resealable plastic baggies, and this year I stopped buying trash bags.

Of course I don’t limit making significant changes to just every January, and we are nowhere near perfect (or even good; we own a Toyota Tundra for MoNa’s sake), but I am constantly thinking of and learning about new and improved ways to decrease our environmental impact. Especially now that we have our unborn baby’s future planet to take into consideration. I want to show this baby, by example, positive ways we can all do our part. And you can too!

Someone ordered fancy Chinese food at work so naturally I took the to-go containers home to wash and reuse. We keep a couple in each vehicle in case we go out to eat and need to take leftovers home. Not today, styrofoam!
We haven’t bought new resealable baggies for over a year now. These are all the ones we had from before that we continue to wash and reuse.
Our free garbage bags. Think of everything you or your company buys that comes in plastic bags that can be reused for garbage. These are all the size of pillows, which is where I get the majority of our trash bags now- from pillow packaging at work. Everyone else rips them apart and throws them away empty, but I take them home and we use them for our own garbage. Less consumption = less production = less landfill waste = happy planet.

This year, in addition to giving up trash bags, we’ve totally changed the way we shop and the products we buy. You might be thinking: “Sounds expensive”. But these are easy and reasonable changes we’ve made to decrease our environmental impact. These products may not be as cheap as your typical generic American crap, but we’re happy to pay a bit more to take better care of our planet. I mean, we’re frugal and we love saving money, but that’s not so we can just sit on a pile of cash someday, watching the world melt around us. There’s frugal, then there’s gross.

We’re not gross. What’s the point of making and saving all this money if not to spend on what we’re passionate about? Without further ado:

Easy changes we’ve made to decrease our environmental impact


Refillable dental floss*. According to their product description: “If everyone in the U.S. flosses their teeth according to ADA recommendations, every year our empty containers alone would fill a landfill the size of a football field… that’s six stories tall.” And don’t even get me started on floss picks. When I’m out picking up trash I find them almost as often as water bottles, styrofoam cups, straws, and cigarette boxes. They should all be destroyed.
Full disclosure: Greg still uses floss picks, but that’s the only way he’ll floss and he reuses them so I tolerate it. I’d rather him have clean teeth than cauliflower growing on his heart valves.



Bamboo toothbrushes*. And just look at that packaging, will you? Well just look at it. Will you look at it?

Greg is a notorious destroyer of toothbrushes. His bristles will look in three weeks what others’ would look like after about a year. But these bristles really hold up. To keep our identical toothbrushes separate, I just wrote ‘Jamie’ and ‘Greggles’ on them with a permanent marker.





Sustainable packaging: Glass/paper vs plastic. I get it, we live in America and this isn’t always easy since so many products come packed in plastic. But… there always seem to be alternatives to our favorite products. When I can’t find an alternative, I fill out the customer surveys where available and ask specifically for more environmentally-friendly products.




Plastic-free deodorant, soap, shampoo and conditioner. We use:

Queen Anne’s Lace for everything except the conditioner. For that I use apple cider vinegar*, which I pour from the big bottle into a reused Febreze spray bottle for easier use in the shower and while traveling.

Using the shampoo bar + apple cider vinegar, I can go 3-4 days between washes without looking greasy. After washing and rinsing I spritz the ACV all the places I’d put regular conditioner, then clip it up until I’m finished showering. Take care not to spritz it in your eyes; it burns.

The deodorant comes in all-cardboard packaging and works to kill the germs that make you stinky, not to keep you from sweating.

Added bonus! The soaps and shampoo bars come in compostable paper packaging infused with seeds so you can actually plant the packaging. I mean, come on…

Plantable seed paper!


100% recycled plastic containers. We use:
Love Beauty and Planet body lotion*. They also make shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.

Seventh Generation dish soap* and laundry detergent*. Their products are also plant-based and biodegradable, so we take our used dish water and dump it on the bushes and trees in the yard. I still use homemade powdered laundry detergent on warm or hot loads, but Greg does the majority of the laundry and he prefers liquid soap for cold washes. I never could make my homemade liquid dish soap thicken or suds up so after a few batches I gave up and started buying pre-made. Note: Seventh Generation products are much cheaper in store than on Amazon, and I often see deals on Ibotta for even more savings.

Lush body washes*.

Dr. Bronner’s castile liquid soap* is another great 100% recycled-container alternative.

Greg cuts the top off of lotion and sunscreen so we can get the very last dollop. He’s the best.


Zero-petroleum products. We’re using up and phasing out all our household products made with petroleum or petrolatum, and you would be amazed what products you use that contains them. Those who know me know I love Bath & Body Works lotion, but is the extraction of fossil fuels really worth my smelling great? Nah, bro. And even though I swear by Aquaphor, I know there are plenty of sustainable alternatives out there to heal my cuts and scrapes.


Homemade cleaner and laundry detergent. Note all the glass or paper packaging. I don’t use our fancy goat’s milk soap to make laundry detergent, but find the cheapest option that comes in all-paper packaging. There are lots of recipes out there, so search around to find your favorite. Added bonus: both the cleaner and the laundry detergent can also be used to clean showers, bathtubs, and toilets.


Organic food, depending on packaging. I want to go easier on the environment, but when your choices are between a paper carton of eggs vs a plastic carton, there’s no way I’m going to choose the plastic organic option. Don’t worry, I’ve filled out multiple Walmart surveys about their unnecessary use of plastic packaging, particularly in regards to their organic products. No chemicals on the product, but it’s packaged in chemicals? What?


Wool dryer balls* instead of dryer sheets. Did you know? Dryer sheets are generally made from polyester, and polyester is a plastic derived from crude oil. Boo effing hiss. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to your balls (snort) to make your clothes smell good.





Silicone food storage bags. After giving up resealable plastic baggies, we needed something in which to keep our cherished leftovers. I shopped high and low for the best reviews/most affordable and I couldn’t be more pleased with this particular brand. I bought four large* and four small* bags, and as you can see the large holds about 14 cuties, and the small about 1 large sweet potato. The thing I love most about these bags, aside from being washable and reusable, is the curved bottom you can see in the photos. That way no food or residue gets stuck in any cracks or crevices, making them incredibly easy to wash and dry.

Environmentally friendly websites to check out:

qalcollections.com. I personally know and love the Queen Anne’s Lace gals, and their products. If you ever find yourself at the Champaign, IL Farmers’ Market tell them I sent you. They might not call the police.
amazon.com* Shopping through our Amazon link does not cost you anything extra, it just gives us a kickback for advertising for them.



I’m always looking for more ideas for being a better steward of Mother Earth. What are your favorite ways to save the only planet we have?

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