We each have a role to play in treading lightly and tending to the earth ~ and by choosing what we consume and cultivating a conscious lifestyle, our actions have a ripple effect on the world at large. 

So whatever eco-minded habits we already have, let's take one step further and adopt new rituals that can become part of our daily lives.  The following are my personal practices and life hacks for living a low impact life, in a list that has evolved and expanded over the years. 

Buy Local & Package Free Food

When possible, buy local: the food is fresher and has to travel a much shorter distance to reach you. Look for CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture) or farm boxes in your area that deliver fresh local produce to your home every week. If you're on O'ahu, check out Farm Link Hawaii ~ an online marketplace for local produce, pantry products staples & wellness products. We also love O'ahu Fresh for a more traditional produce box.

Opt for package-free whole foods when grocery shopping, which are better for your health and the environment. Invest in reusable produce bags or reuse plastic product bags (and keep them with your reusable shopping bags) to minimize single plastic waste. You can also cut down on ziplock bags by washing any resealable bags that you do get from packaged foods and keeping them on hand. 
Purchase pantry staples (like grains & beans) from bulk grocery store bins to eliminate unnecessary packaging.  As an alternative to canned beans, buy them dry in bulk, cook up a large batch and store in brine in the fridge (they last for a while!) or freeze them in glass jars. 

Instead of buying condiments and ferments, do your best to prepare these at home. Ketchup, mustard, kimchi and kraut can all be easily made from scratch in your kitchen and will cost you less than their store bought counterparts. Prepare in bulk to save some extra dollars and save old glass jars for storing your delicious concoctions. 

Farm Link produce
Fresh produce from Farm Link Hawai'i

Stash Leftovers & Reduce Food Waste 

Store food & leftovers in reusable tupperware or mason jars. A regular plate or bowl on top of a dish works perfectly well and avoids the need for plastic wrap or foil when storing food in the fridge. For a more equivalent substitute, make or purchase a few sizes of beeswax wraps ~ I love these because they are undyed and made with organic fibers.

Reduce food waste by portioning what you cook and freezing leftovers you might want to eat later. Veggie scraps can also be stored in a container in the freezer ~ and when you have a sizeble amount, turn them into a rich vegetable stock! 

Any food waste or veggie scraps that you can't make use of are so much better off composted than in the trash, where they naturally break down & actually reduce methane in the atmosphere instead of contributing to it by rotting in the garbage. A worm bin or hot compost pile is super easy to set up and maintain at home, and if you garden it has the dual benefit of providing excellent nutrition for your plants! If you don't have a yard or a worm bin is inaccessible, check out this Lomi countertop composter for food waste. 

Another easy tip to avoid food rotting in your fridge is to keep an inventory of what you have. You can use dry erase markers directly on stainless steel fridge surfaces (or purchase a small dry erase board to hang up) and make lists of your perishable items. Create categories for fruit, veggies, leftovers, and anything else that needs to be eaten quickly, and add purchase dates to each item on the list. You can also create freezer & pantry categories to keep track of your long term storage items. When you need to go shopping, just take a photo of your lists so you don't buy duplicates. 
Fridge list
Fridge inventory list

Bring Your Reusables

Wherever you go, bring a reusable utensil set and straw so you don't need to use disposable plastic ones. This bamboo set is lightweight enough to keep in my bag at all times, and this stainless steel straw fits right into the case.

Replacing paper napkins with cloth ones is an easy way to reduce lots of waste; you can even just cut up some fabric you love to quickly & cheaply make reusable napkins. I've gotten into the habit of keeping a cloth napkin on me at all times, so I never need paper ones when I leave the house either.
When I'll be out of the house for a while, I also like to bring my own small hand towel so I can avoid using paper ones ~ these beautiful organic cotton tea towels by local artist Miriam Zora Engel are thin & light, so they work great for this purpose! To take it a step further, any soft fabric can work as a reusable, washable tissue. 

Find a reusable water bottle you love and use it ~ bottled drinks that don't end up in a recycling bin are destined for a landfill (or the ocean). I've also purchased a couple of stainless steel food canisters that are an eco friendly option for lunch on the go and packing meals for traveling. Eco Lunch Box has a great selection of meal & snack containers for both kids & adults. 

If you start buying herbs in bulk to make 'loose leaf' tea, you can skip tea bags altogether ~ just make sure you have either a bombilla straw or strainer tumbler to sip loose leaf tea on the go. 


Reusable water bottle, produce bags, beeswax wraps, bombilla straw, bamboo utensils & cloth napkin

Clean Up Your Cleaning Supplies 

One of the biggest culprits of unhealthy chemicals in the home is cleaning supplies, many of which consist of harsh detergents, fragrances and preservatives that pollute the air with potentially harmful volatile compounds. 

Almost everything in your home can be cleaned with Castile soap, white vinegar, and a few other easily accessible nontoxic ingredients.  I often use Dr. Bronner’s Citrus, Peppermint or Unscented Castile soap ~ just be sure a soap does not contain fragrances or preservatives before purchase. If using a scented Castile soap, there's no need to add essential oils for the recipes below.

For vinegar,  I opt for the organic option and buy it by the gallon. You can also infused your vinegar with accessible plant material, like citrus peels or evergreen clippings, to add cleaning power & aroma while avoiding the need for essential oils. Simple fill a jar loosely with the plant materia, lcover with vinegar, cap tightly and leave to infuse for at least a few weeks (or a few months). 
These are my favorite cleaning solutions for around the house: 

Soap for Hands & Handwashing Dishes 
• Dilute 1 part Castile soap with 2 parts water in a clean bottle 
• Optional: add a dropperful of mint or citrus essential oil per cup of liquid 

Laundry Detergent: 
• Add 1/4 cup or less Castile soap in detergent compartment (do not exceed machine’s fill lines)
• Add 1/3 cup or less white vinegar in the rinse or fabric softener compartment 
• Optional: add a dropperful of mint or citrus essential oil 

All Purpose Surface Cleaner: 
• Fill a clean 16 oz spray bottle with one part white vinegar & two parts water
• Add 1/4 tsp mint or citrus essential oil if using unscented vinegar

Window & Mirror Cleaner: 
• Mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part water, or apply undiluted vinegar directly to glass
For dishwasher detergent, I use the Automatic Dishwasher Powder from Mama Suds because they have the cleanest formulation I've found (plus its packaged sustainably). There's also an increasing number of bulk refill stores that let you bring your own containers to stock up on eco-friendly cleaning suppliers, such as Keep it Simple or Protea Zero Waste on O'ahu.

Cleaning supplies
Simple & effective cleaning supplies

Minimize Your Bathroom Waste 

Lots of our daily essentials like toothbrushes and razors incorporate plastic ~ and while a seemingly small amount, it really adds up when you consider everyone using these essentials every day. Thankfully, more alternatives are constantly being added to the market. 

Bamboo toothbrushes are fairly easy to come by these days at natural grocers & zero waste stores; only the bristles are made of plastic, as opposed to the entire brush. Floss is normally made of nylon - aka plastic - but now you can find silk or compostable floss in reusable glass containers. You can also buy oral care products in bulk from places like Uncle Harry's

To ditch your plastic, short lasting razor blades, opt for a razor that uses a single stainless steel blade and no plastic housing. I personally love this razor from Leaf Shave ~ it's somewhat of an initial investment but worth the money when you consider the price of the blades, and even works great on my thick hair & sensitive skin. 

If you're read to get next-level, adding a bidet to your bathroom setup will reduce the amount of toilet paper you use and improve personal hygiene. To take it a step further, you can start using reusable cloths into the mix, like these super soft Tushy towels... or if you're not quite there yet, try this TP made out of bamboo, which takes a tiny fraction of water to produce compared to the
regular stuff and is from a highly renewable resource.

One of the best reasons to be a 21st century woman is because of all the fantastic innovations in moon cycle care. I hope that we can continue to see throw-away period products replaced by safer, reusable options. Lots of brands now create stylish period underwear ~ just be sure that your purchases are PFA free. If in doubt, opt for 100% organic cotton cloth pads. 

Bulk toothpaste, bamboo toothbrush & holder, biodegradable floss, razor & stainless steel blades

Evaluate Personal Care Products 

When it comes to body care products, choosing sustainable products can be a daunting task. One of the biggest lies of the beauty industry that I personally had to unlearn as a young woman is that we don't actually need a zillion different products to tend to our skin and hair. So be selective, and invest in products with ingredients that are familiar to you. Chemical laden skincare absorbs into our bodies and contaminates our water, making it bad for both you and the environment. 

All of our formulations are crafted entirely with truly natural, raw ingredients sourced straight from plans or hives. We have also opted for sustainable packaging all around, with recyclable (and reusable) glass & bottles jars and compostable tubes. Even our labels are made from 100% recycled paper that naturally breaks down as you use the product. Orders are shipped plastic free with entirely upcycled, compostable or recyclable materials. 

A few other brands I love to support are Moonrise Creek for a dreamy lineup of makeup and Wild Veil for gorgeous artisanal plant perfumes. For more insight into selecting healthy products, see my post on 5 Ways to Spot Body Care That Doesn't Care.

Consider Your Closet 

The fashion industry produces an astounding amount of carbon emissions & waste every single year. Most people wear only a small fraction of their wardrobe ~ donate clothes collecting dust to a local charity. When shopping for new looks, scope out thrift stores (or online apps like DepopPoshmark & Mercari) for second-hand threads.

Only buy new items that you're really in love with and support ethical designers & brands. Avoid synthetic fabrics derived from petroleum oil (like nylon, polyester & spandex) and go for natural fibers, which allow your skin to breathe. My current favorite is Groceries Apparel, which offers plant-dyed clothing sewn in house at their L.A. studio. 

Leverage Your Purchasing Power

In general, seek out companies to buy from that have their ethics intact and don't take shortcuts to provide quality goods. ⁣Your hard-earned dollars are one of your greatest powers ~ products & services are created for a demand, not the other way around.

We are lucky to live in a world with so many choices, and to be able to make such informed choices. So take those extra moments to invest in products and companies for not only what they offer, but for their mission behind all that they create for the world.

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