January ended after approximately 75,000 days but I managed to not use a single single-use plastic bag during that abnormally long month…and also managed to break Dry January only once! How did you do? I actually found it really easy since I was prepared ahead of time. I did forget my produce bags at the grocery store more than once and ended up just putting fruit and veggies directly into my shopping totes and having the person checking me out take them from the bag directly. I made sure to was them extra thoroughly when I got home but that felt like dedication!
I got a lot of messages from you guys that you succeeded too which makes me just jump for joy. So great work to everyone participating.
Before I get into the details of this month’s challenge I want to remind everyone of two very important rules here:
1. Cut yourself a break! If you mess up and need a plastic bag, use the damn bag. It will be ok. Just try harder the next day. These challenges aren’t about beating yourself up, they’re about trying to do better.
2. Don’t be an a$$hole to people who aren’t participating. I can’t tell you the number of times I ran into friends or readers out and about who were mortified to not be carrying their own shopping totes. They would apologize to me profusely. You guys, I’m not the plastic police, and you shouldn’t be either!
Encourage your friends and family to participate in these challenges with you, and explain why they should, but then leave it at that. There’s no need to guilt-trip anyone else. Our goal here is to create a positive change, not to make anyone else feel bad.
Ok? Ok… let’s move on.
February’s sustainability challenge is to clean up your cleaning products.
Years ago, I tried to use “cleaner” cleaning products but found that they didn’t always work and my tub was always covered in a layer of grime. So I gave up and went back to bleach. But here’s the thing: there are a lot of options out there and you have to find the ones that work for you.
The labels on cleaning products often don’t give us enough information about the ingredients inside to allow us to make informed decisions on what is safe and what is not which is why we have to do our own research here.
Some of you might want to be very strict on ingredient lists and some of you, like myself, might just want to do better. Some of you might want to use only organic ingredients, some of you might be more interested in sustainable packaging, and some of you might have no idea where to start.
Sure, maybe Method Bathroom Cleaner isn’t perfectly “clean” but it’s sure as hell better than Lysol. So instead of going through what I believe to be safe and not, I’ll let you make that decision for yourself (see the resource links below) and share the products that I can stand behind.
I want to note that for this challenge, I’m not encouraging you to throw away any unused product in your home. That would be a waste. Instead, finish what you already have and then replace products the next time you need something new.
The Cleaner Cleaning Products I Use
Laundry detergent: Ecos Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent (in magnolia and lily)
Dish soap: Ecos Dishmate Dish Liquid (I refill a Mrs. Meyers container with this because I like the way it looks on the counter!)
Sponges: Norpro natural sponges
Glass spray: Brandless Cucumber-Mint Refillable Glass Spray
Toilet bowl cleaner: Ecover Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Pet stain remover: Nature’s Miracle is truly a miracle product.
Wood floor cleaner: Method Squirt & Mop Floor Cleaner
Bathroom cleaner: Method Foaming Bathroom Cleaner
Note: I haven’t tried Blueland yet but have heard great things about the brand and plan to try their starter kit when I run out of the products I’m currently using.
Think Dirty – Shop Clean app: If I had a dollar for every time someone recommended this app… I tell ya. I finally downloaded it and see what the buzz is all about. It’s a user-friendly way to learn about what’s in your products from beauty to home to food. According to the app, they have a database of over 1.5 million products to search from. You can scan the barcode if you’re in the store or simply search for a specific product or category. The app gives you details on each ingredient found in that product and then offers up cleaner options. It’s where I discovered some of the products listed above!
@just.ingredients is a great follow on Instagram. She rates products by category and offers better solutions for products that contain toxic ingredients. She also has a helpful blog that you can search if you’re looking for something specific.
Grove Collaborative is a great online resource for buying eco-friendly home essentials like household cleaning products, personal care products, baby products, and even things for your pet. I’ve bought everything from tampons to dish soap to baby wipes to dog treats on the site. And I just love their mission statement (copied from their website):
Doing no harm: As a Certified B Corporation, we are recognized as a business doing good for people, animals, communities, and the planet. Learn more in our 2018 Annual Impact Report.
Treating the planet with care: We offer products that are gentler on the earth, prioritize post-consumer materials for packaging, and carbon offset every shipment that goes out our door.
Planting tomorrow’s forest: Your shipment will help Grove in its partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant trees across the United States. We’re aiming to plant one million new trees over the next three years.
6 All-Natural Cleaning Products You Can Make at Home (Food52). If you’re into DIY, it’s actually pretty simple to make your own cleaning products at home from everyday ingredients like apple cider vinegar, lemon, and baking soda.
The Best Natural Cleaning Products, According to Experts (New York Magazine). I always like to see what other people recommend, and this article asked a bunch of experts for their favorite products.
So are you in? Do you have any other tips or favorite products? Let me know!