16 Eco-Friendly Products that Have a Positive Impact on the Environment
16 Eco-Friendly Products that Can Have a Positive Impact on the Environment
Making choices each day that help the environment may be easier than you think. Choosing to use environmentally friendly products can conserve the resources that are used to manufacture the items and can also help keep large amounts of trash out of landfills.
A good place to start this switch to green living is by identifying which things you use regularly that could easily be replaced by reusable items or eco-friendly products. Things like paper towels, disposable water bottles, and energy-inefficient light bulbs are all good options, but the more you look, they more you’ll see where eco-friendly products can be swapped in to replace what you’re already using, including eco-friendly kitchen products and rechargeable yard tools.
We’ve rounded up some great ideas for eco-friendly products that can help make a positive difference on the environment. Many of these items are reusable ones, which helps keep ordinarily single-use products out of landfills and also can save you money over time.
Ready to get started? Check out this list of eco-friendly products for the home and to use on the go.
- Cloth napkins — Even paper napkins have taken a backseat to paper towels in recent years, with many families in the United States abandoning their use altogether, and cloth napkins only being used on special occasions or holidays. However, eco-friendly cloth napkins are easy to clean and are reusable, and they are better at cleaning your skin than paper towels. Not only that, but it’s easy to go through many paper towels very quickly, and they add up in a flash to fill up your garbage can. And for what it’s worth, cloth napkins also have the added benefit of looking nice and dressing up the table at mealtime. Why not make every meal a special occasion, and help out the environment along the way, by swapping out your paper towels or paper napkins with cloth napkins?
- Reusable shopping bags — Plastic shopping bags are a huge problem when it comes to plastic waste pollution. Americans use between 500 million and 1 trillion plastic bags each year. They can take hundreds of years to break down in a landfill, and many don’t even make it to the landfill but instead end up causing havoc on marine wildlife and other animals. The bags are notoriously difficult to recycle and can jam recycling equipment at most recycling centers. When they are used, the best way to ensure they are recycled properly is to drop them off at a store or recycling center that will get them to a recycling center that can handle them. However, the best thing to do is to avoid the problem altogether! An easy way to do this is to purchase and then bring your own reusable grocery shopping bags to the store to carry home your groceries. Reusable grocery shopping bags such as these tote bags and drawstring bags are sturdier than plastic shopping bags, and their structure makes them better for transporting groceries. They can be washed if anything leaks or spills, and each bag can last for years and through hundreds or even thousands of uses.
- Rechargeable batteries — So many things run on batteries, from our television remotes to our flashlights and wireless computer accessories. Many chemicals go into the manufacturing of batteries, including some that are incredibly toxic to the environment. While eco-friendly rechargeable batteries can cost more up front, they help keep batteries out of landfills, thereby reducing the amount of toxic chemicals being introduced into the environment, and they reduce the number of batteries that need to be manufactured.
- Reusable water bottles — Disposable plastic water bottles are a bane on the environment. People favor them for their convenience, but they take ages to break down in landfills, and as many as 91% go without being recycled. An easy solution is to use a reusable water bottle instead, whether it’s a sturdy plastic, glass or aluminum bottle. They are easy to wash and reuse, and they come in a computer of materials and designs to complement your personal style. Many also come with filtering options and can be collapsible and have heat- or cold-retaining properties to keep your beverages at their ideal temperature. No matter how you look at it, reusable water bottles are one of the greatest eco-friendly products to incorporate into your daily routine.
- Natural cleaning products — When it comes to cleaning your house, you may be tempted to reach for that antibacterial spray. However, many household cleaners contain a lot of harmful chemicals that can endanger not only the environment but also your family if accidentally ingested or otherwise misused. Natural cleaners and eco-friendly kitchen products such as baking soda and white vinegar can be just as effective but much more friendly for the environment as well as around your home and in your area’s water supply.
- Solar panels — Power bills for the electricity that runs your home continue to soar each month, and the methods by which a lot of electricity is created aren’t always environmentally friendly (think of burning trash and coal, for example). Solar and wind-generated electricity are two of the leading green energy options. Chances are you’re not using the space on your roof for anything, so why not consider having electricity-generating solar panels installed on your house? These panels can help generate clean electricity and make a dent in your monthly power bill, which is a win-win. When the panels are installed, an electric meter is also installed on your home. The energy you generate is used to power your home, but the surplus is sent to the power grid to be shared with other power customers, and the meter tracks the amount. That surplus amount can show up as a credit on your bill. In summary, you can save money and the environment with eco-friendly products that produce energy, such as solar panels.
- Electric yard tools — Cutting and edging your lawn is already enough of a chore, but you may also be in the habit of getting a yearly tuneup on your lawn mower or weed whacker, in addition to making sure both have the gasoline needed to run. A simple upgrade could save you that kind of maintenance and cut down on costs over time. An electric lawn mower or weed wacker/edger that uses rechargeable batteries don’t use gasoline and don’t have all of those motor parts that require maintenance. This saves you time and money in the long run, and also helps keep as much machinery from entering landfills.
- LED light bulbs — Consider how many light bulbs you have in your house between the ceiling lights, bathroom and vanity lighting, lamps, and appliances. A lot of these light bulbs need frequent replacing, which is expensive up front, and they also often require higher amounts of energy than some of the newer bulbs on the market. LED light bulbs are a great way to save money and energy. These eco-friendly light bulbs save a ton of energy compared to their incandescent and fluorescent siblings, and they’re becoming mainstream to the point that it’s hard to even find the other bulbs. Enjoy a bright, clean light that’s also friendly toward the environment because each bulbs lasts years longer than the alternatives, keeping more of them out of landfills.
- Shower timer — Even if the area where you live doesn’t suffer from drought like conditions, it is important to conserve water. Not only that, but conserving water can save you money on your water bill. If you’re one of those people who spends a long time in the shower, you may be wasting a lot of water as well as the energy it takes to heat that water. Installing a timer in your shower can help you make sure you aren’t staying in the shower for too long, and can show you how much water you’re using with each shower. Taking shorter showers can help you enjoy the benefits of conserving water and energy, so give a shower timer a try. An easy alternative is also just to set an alarm clock or timer on your phone to make sure you’re not spending longer than you intended in the shower.
- Low-flow water fixtures — While you can save a lot of water but using a timer when taking a shower and turning off the sink faucet when you’re brushing your teeth, you can go a step further in your efforts to conserve water with eco-friendly products that limit the flow of water. Most water dispensers around the average home — think shower heads, faucets and toilets — use a lot more water than is actually needed to perform the task, whether it’s flushing a toilet or washing your hands. A low-flow device reduces the amount of water that flows from the fixture, so the overall amount of water you use is reduced. In this say, you’re able to save on water while still keeping clean. After a short while, you won’t even notice the difference.
- Reusable instant coffee filters and tea infusers — Single-serve coffee pods have been pouring into landfills since the introduction of instant coffee systems such as Keurig. Reusable filter pods can be used with such devices to cut down on waste and to save money, because then you can buy your coffee in bulk and make just as much as you need. Single-use tea bags are similar to coffee pods in that people go through them quickly, and though they are small, they add up quickly. Like reusable coffee filters, reusable tea infusers can help keep tea bags out of landfills.
- Low-packaging beauty products — While many people know that plastic water bottles are bad for the environment, they can forget that many other types of bottles also find their way into landfills all the time instead of being recycled, and they too are a form of unnecessary waste. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion and soap bottles are a few examples. Environmentally-conscious packaging and products sold in a bar form instead of liquid and with 100% compostable packaging means fewer bottles will hit the dump, and the eco-friendly items that are discarded will break down much more easily.
- Natural laundry detergent — Though the chemicals in laundry detergent may not be as environmentally harmful as those found in batteries — after all, we wash our clothes with them — they’re still better kept out of the water supply. Fortunately, a wide variety of green products are available for use and are much more friendly for the environment. Look for a laundry detergent made from natural, plant-based ingredients. These products are also more likely to be hypoallergenic, meaning they're friendly to your skin as well as the environment. To further help out, try to buy laundry detergent with minimal or biodegradable packaging.
- Sustainable watches and jewelry — Watches and jewelry made from wood and stainless steel can offer a more distinguished, impressive look, and they are friendlier on the environment than their plastic counterparts. Become a part of this growing trend to demonstrate your dedication to protecting the environment.
- Reusable lunch and cosmetic bags — Many people pack their lunches in plastic grocery bags or paper lunch sacks, but a more eco-friendly option is a reusable lunch bag. These don’t have to be anything fancy; purchasing and using cheap lunch bags that can be used time and again will enable you to recycle or not even bring home the disposable bags. Drawstring bags are another great option for packing your lunch or other supplies when traveling to or from home, school and work. Zip-shut plastic bags are also frequently used to pack lunch items, but also and cosmetics or toiletries; consider purchasing a reusable travel cosmetic kit bag to carry those items when traveling or on vacation.