I am the first to admit that we are not the eco-friendliest family on the planet.  Convenience will often win in the battle against conscience.  I’m notoriously bad at remembering my reusable straws.  My kids still grab paper towel way more often than a rag or napkin.  Guilt aside, we have made little changes to improve our footprints.  This is a (very) short list of some of the eco-happy products that I’m crushing on – they were small swaps that hopefully have an impact for the greater good.

1.  Beeswax Wraps {sub for plastic wrap}

A friend first told me about these a few years ago and I was reluctant to get on board.  Last year, I finally bit the bullet and invested in a sample pack from Mind Your Bees Wraps, based in Hamilton.  Her patterns were pretty (it shouldn’t make a difference, but I’m vain, okay?!)  I fell in love. 

At a vendor event I help organize every November, we invited an even more local maker, The Tacky Bee, who also uses salvaged materials as her wrap base – even better!  I bought a few of her sample packs as well and gifted many of them away.

From Mind Your Bees Wraps

In my recent basement purge, I found some cotton fabrics I will never use for sewing (because sewing is not one of my skill sets.) We’ll be stopping at our honey producing friends in Cookstown this weekend, Dickey Bee Honey, to pick up some beeswax and I have grand plans to make my own set – I need a bigger one for casserole dishes and the like.   There are a ton of tutorials available online if you want to attempt to DIY.   These are an easy swap for saran and I found half a grapefruit lost to the No Man’s Land at the back of the fridge the other day – it had to have been in there a few weeks and was as juicy and delicious as the day it went it.  Even J has started to reach for the wraps when he’s helping in the kitchen.

Easy to clean without harsh chemicals, no plastic waste, biodegradable when it’s life-cycle is done, and pretty enough to Insta… why wouldn’t you make the switch?

Shop Local:  Mind Your BeesThe Tacky Bee, Dickey Bee Honey

2.  Cloth Menstrual Pads {sub for tampons and/or disposable pads and pantyliners}

Women have been padding their panties with strips of cloth since the age of dinosaurs.  Our grandmas and great-grandmas are all familiar with bulky, eco-friendly options for dealing with Aunt Flo when she shows up with a vengeance.   Disposable pads were created back in the 1880s, but the industry grew by leaps and bounds in the 1980s – much to the sorrow of our landfills – and our bodies.

There are many alternatives to disposable pads and (oft-bemoaned) tampons.  My first switch to a planet-happy solution was actually a cup – and I hated it. I didn’t make any more leaps until someone suggested I might have less feminine issues if I trashed the synthetic disposables.  I found some organic, natural, biodegradable options on and they were fine.  I didn’t love them, but yes, my period was a bit happier.

5 Small Pads from HannahPad

Finally, I bit the bullet and invested in a set of reusable cloth pads from HannahPad.  Once I got over the ick-factor, I loved them.  I mean… women have been doing this for centuries, but these are so comfortable and better for the planet.   (I mean, as comfortable as having to wear any kind of pad, amiright?)

I also found a local supplier at a vendor event who sews her own.  Garden of Eden is a Canadian company (yay!) with cute print options and her pads (and nursing pads) are very well constructed.  She’s also very comfortable with discussing periods with total strangers.

I’ve been thrilled with both suppliers.  During each cycle, after use I rinse the pads and then soak until wash day.  I use some probiotic soap to help with stubborn stains, and then just wash as usual.  The dryer is not recommended, but I buck convention and throw them in for convenience sake.  For panty liners, I just wash with my usual laundry. 

It’s a big upfront cost if you’re comparing it to a single cycle supply of pads or tampons – think about investing in one or two at a time – and make sure your happy with the brand you’re using!

Shop Local:  Garden of Eden Reusables, HannahPad

3.  Mesh Produce Bags {Sub for plastic produce bags}

I have an endless supply of reusable shopping totes.  It’s a little ridiculous.  I could probably hand them out to people in line at the grocery store and still have enough bags left for my own haul.   My problem is that I forget to bring them, but I feel guilty using plastic, so I end up buying more.  I’m hanging my head in shame.     The workaround to this is to empty them and leave them by my keys or shoes or purse… and store them in the car for next time around. 

I have some favourite bags.  I bought them online years ago when this was starting to be strongly encouraged.  They’re foldable to tuck into your purse,  they’re lightweight, they wash amazing, and they are so amazingly strong.   If I could find more of this particular brand, I would donate all the rest and use them forever.

So I’ve cultivated a good shopping habit… but the produce department bothered me.   I found some President’s Choice mesh bags inexpensively on Amazon and as long as I remember to tuck them away (or not away as the case may be), I’m golden for picking the plumpest produce and not having to pay for extra weight.  These are so light and much like their above-mentioned cousins, easy to wash.  Super convenient without another plastic bag to worry about.   Even better, more and more makers are providing local options to source your own!   If you’re anywhere near me, Fresh Off The Line has some cute ones!  Now if only we could regularly find cucumber not surrounded in shrink wrap…

Shop Local:  Fresh Off the Line

What are the little substitutes you’ve embraced that make your home a little more eco-friendly?  We’ve also subbed harsh scented candles (i.e. BBW) for locally made, naturally fragranced ones.  We reuse. We recycle.  I shop second hand first, especially for the boys.  Are you crushing on any earth-friendly, eco-happy changes or products?  Feel free to share!