Green living has been a fast-growing trend over the last bunch of years now. That’s because people have learned to see that going green benefits not just the environment but also the quality of our life.
By consciously incorporating acts such as recycling waste, reducing pollution, and conserving our trees and plants, we ensure a much more sustainable world for ourselves and for our future generations. A greener lifestyle also significantly reduces clutter and brings down the cost of living – something that is very important in a time where the world economy is under such a severe crunch.
Just like charity, greener living also starts at home. This involves making simple changes, not just in and around your living space, but also in terms of what you use and what you eat. These easy eco-friendly swaps from their non-environmental friendly counterparts will not only keep Nature happy but your family healthy!
1. Essential Oils
Instead of: Air fresheners
Air fresheners are nothing but a dangerous cocktail of all sorts of unlabeled toxic chemicals such as benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde, to name a few. The fragrance that reaches your nose is also loaded with harmful compounds that could also double up as pest-poison. The particulates in air fresheners are microscopic and can, therefore, lodge themselves deep into the body. For this reason, it may be years before you start noticing yourself falling a frequent victim to eye or skin irritations, headaches, and respiratory problems. On a much deeper level, you could even experience damaging effects on your hormones, heart, lungs, and central nervous system.1
Also, air fresheners don’t really make the air around you either fresh or clean; instead, they just mask the foul odors. Smells come from a source, and a more sustainable way of keeping your space odor-free is to get rid of that source. If, however, you enjoy a good scent in your home, opt for essential oils. You could use a plug-in aromatherapy diffuser or a reed diffuser to dissipate the fragrance around the rooms. Essential oils are completely natural sans any chemicals, and they not just repel insects but also help you relax and sleep well!
2. Reusable Dishcloths/ Old Clothes
Instead of: Paper towels
Thousands of trees and an enormous amount of water and energy go into the making of paper towels only to have them tossed in the trash. Recycled paper towels also require natural resources to be manufactured and hence, are not less of an energy drain on our environment.
It, therefore, only makes sense that we find an alternative swap, especially when we have so many clothes that we outgrow every year.
Cut up old t-shirts or dishcloths and use them to dust your furniture or mop up kitchen spills. Not only are they super absorbent enough to do the trick, but are also re-washable and reusable!
3. Plant-Based Protein
Instead of: Animal-based protein
With genetically modified and hormone-injected animals, meat has now become a strict no-no for many who are on a clean-living mission. Yet, how can you substitute that rich, hearty texture that has you feeling satisfied at the end of a meal? Your solution lies in switching to plant-based protein. The main options to stock up on are tofu, tempeh, beans, and portobello mushrooms. Each of these can lend your dish the same wholesome, chewy texture that meat has, and you can marinate them in almost any kind of sauce. Plus they come with a whole lot of health benefits; experts suggest that people on a plant-based diet are less likely to suffer from stroke, cancer, or death from heart disease as compared to nonvegetarians.2
4. Non-dairy Milk Substitutes
Instead of: Milk
If you can’t do without milk, you can turn to a variety of non-dairy milk alternatives which are not just available in stores but are also easy enough to make at home. Think about options like rice, almond, coconut, hemp seed, cashew, and Brazil-nut milk. Use these in equal measurements in any recipe that demands milk and you won’t notice the difference!
5. Pure Honey
Instead of: Face cleanser
Conventional cleansers may come in fancy packaging that makes sky-high promises, but these also carry ingredients that are far too harsh on your skin. They can strip your skin clean of not just grime, but also of the natural oils that keep it so supple. The result? You end up with dried out skin over the years, which increase your risk of acne and skin irritation.
Pure honey, on the other hand, makes an excellent all-natural substitute. Honey can not just give you the squeaky clean skin you’re craving for at the end of a long day, but will also heal your skin because of its potent antimicrobial properties.3 Far from drying out your skin, the enzymes in honey will nourish and moisturize your skin, leaving you with a healthy, youthful glow. Another bonus? It slows down the formation of wrinkles and is, therefore, a great choice for those looking for an anti-aging option.4
How to use honey as a cleanser:
- Apply a dab of organic raw honey on your face, just as you would soap.
- Massage into your skin using gentle, but firm circular motions.
- Rinse off with lukewarm water and pat your face dry.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Instead of: Face toner
Most toners that you buy are alcohol-based. Over time, alcohol can cause irritation, dryness, and a pH imbalance in your skin, making it more susceptible to pathogen infections. Therefore, alcohol-based toners are much too aggressive for your skin, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin.
Your ideal swap, in this case, would be apple cider vinegar (ACV). The acidity levels of ACV are closer to our skin’s natural pH. Therefore, it has a protective impact on the acid mantle of our skin that serves as a protective barrier against germs and bacteria – common perpetrators of a skin infection. Plus, it also helps to brighten and rejuvenate our skin – which is just what you need in a toner.
How to use ACV as a toner:
- Combine 1 and a ½ teaspoons of ACV with ½ a cup of water.
- Pour this solution in a spritz bottle or an ordinary glass bottle and store it in the fridge.
- To apply, spritz all over your face or use a cotton pad and spread it evenly on your face just like a regular toner.
|↑1||Kim, Sanghwa, Seong-Ho Hong, Choon-Keun Bong, and Myung-Haing Cho. “Characterization of air freshener emission: the potential health effects.” The Journal of toxicological sciences 40, no. 5 (2015): 535-550.|
|↑2||Craig, Winston John. “Nutrition concerns and health effects of vegetarian diets.” Nutrition in Clinical Practice 25, no. 6 (2010): 613-620.|
|↑3, ↑4||Burlando, Bruno, and Laura Cornara. “Honey in dermatology and skin care: a review.” Journal of cosmetic dermatology 12, no. 4 (2013): 306-313.|