Eco-Friendly Home Basics

Want to lower your carbon footprint, but not ready to build an Earthship yet? Would you rather not make batches of DIY Dish Soap or have every surface smell like vinegar spray? Well, it’s easier to go vegetarian before going vegan, and with sustainability the same logic applies.

I’ve done the research for common household products you can buy in the US to help you transition to a more eco-friendly lifestyle. And one day when you’re ready you can finally achieve carbon zero without buying trees to offset your emissions.

When compiling this list, my criteria is as follows:

  • Non-toxic ingredients safe for humans
  • Cruelty free, vegan manufacturing
  • Sustainable production with least harmful environmental byproducts (for example, if textile production results in chemical waste, it’s not dumped to the nearby land, but recaptured and repurposed in a closed loop system)
  • Company commitment to environment, animals or fighting systemic injustices
  • Available directly from manufacturer’s website, so you don’t need to support Amazon (either from a human rights standpoint or from an environmental standpoint with their wasteful packaging)

Ok, here goes, organized by room!

💩 Bathroom

  1. Toilet Paper – Who Gives A Crap. Recycled or Bamboo TP options, shipped without plastic. Recycled TP is whitened with hydrogen peroxide, while the bamboo TP is whitened with elemental chlorine. If you have to use bleach, this is one of the better ones as far as environmental accumulation go since it doesn’t result in dioxins. The company is committed to lowering carbon emissions and 50% of profits are donated to build toilets for those who need them.
  2. Toothpaste – Jason toothpaste is super minty fresh (mintier than Tom’s in my opinion), cruelty free, and vegan.
  3. Toothbrush – Bamboo toothbrush with plant-based bristles. Right now, the bristles will always have a percentage that is plastic, but to me this sounds better than using pig hair. Although it’s a tough choice to make, I always lean towards the vegan options, even if they contain trace plastics (ie., fossil fuel derived synthetics).
  4. Mouthwash – Tom’s Wicked Fresh is alcohol free, vegan, cruelty free, and contains natural ingredients for oral health.
  5. Body soap – Lush cosmetics bar soap, but make sure it’s vegan since not everything is. If you buy any products in a black pot, you can bring the pots back to the store for recycling.
  6. Loofah – Grow your own luffa sponge plant or buy one on Etsy.
  7. Hand & Body Towels – Under the Canopy is GOTS Certified Organic Cotton with OEKO-TEX certified dyes. Also, they’re the most affordable organic cotton company I’ve been able to find. Why organic cotton? Read more here.
  8. Floss – Radius Organic Floss is plastic free, cruelty-free, and women owned.

💡 Did you know? Used toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, and deodorant tubes are not recyclable in municipal waste blue bins. But they don’t have to end up in the landfill. Sign up for Tom’s of Maine recycling program at Terracycle to get a pre-paid UPS shipping label or find a drop-off recycling center near you.

🥕 Kitchen

  1. Dish soap – Seventh Generation soaps are SLS and dye free, plant based, and cruelty free.
  2. Dish sponge – Twist sponges are plant-based, hand-sewn, dye and glue free sponges that are available at Target.
  3. Paper towels – Who Gives A Crap makes paper towels out of bamboo and bagasse, which is a sugarcane byproduct. I’m on the fence about supporting sugarcane production, even indirectly (see “Facial Tissues” below) but I think the work the brand is doing to eliminate plastic, use recycled paper, and build toilets makes up for it.
  4. Ziploc bags – Stasher bags have the best seal I’ve tested on any silicone bag. Silicones are highly durable and don’t leech many compounds into your food, but they’re not easy to recycle. Be sure you buy a quality silicone product that you can re-use forever. (ex., don’t get this type, since the detachable plastic bit always gets stuck and never quite closes all the way)
  5. Cling wrap – Silicone food covers are a better choice for me than beeswax covers, since I’m vegan. Also, silicone covers can be washed and re-used. They’re even dishwasher safe. They come in a segmented type or a flat sheet. And hey, if you order in bulk from AliExpress, they’ll arrive on sea freight which is less carbon intensive than air shipping.
  6. Trash bags – My first choice is to re-use plastic bags from shopping, but if you need something bigger get Hippo Sak trash bags, made from sugarcane. They also make recycled bags and they’re super strong.

🛋 Living Areas

  1. Lint roller – Sticky Lint Rollers are washable and re-usable. No more single use lint roller sheets! Yes, they’re made of plastic. No, I have no idea what type of plastic. However, this is a Buy It For Life (BIFL) product, since the sticky material gets replenished each time you wash and air dry it. Just like nipple pasties, which are normally made of silicone so… I hope this lint roller is silicone too!
  2. Facial tissues – Who Gives A Crap makes 100% bamboo tissues. While they are whitened with elemental chlorine, I still think this is the best consumer option. A more widely available alternative, Caboo, makes facial tissues with bamboo and bagasse. But I’d rather support the bamboo industry than sugarcane when I have a choice. Both production methods have the same criticisms for environmental impact, but bamboo is more sustainable than sugar during the growth period. Plus, Who Gives A Crap makes 3-ply tissues which were a lot softer than Caboo when I tested them out.
  3. Bedding – Under the Canopy is my choice for pillowcases, sheets, and duvet covers because they use 100% organic cotton.

Large Chain Stores

If you only have access to large supermarkets (ie., Target, Walmart), here are some brands you should support:

  1. Seventh Generation – Good for your skin, pretty damn good for the planet, and available pretty much everywhere.
  2. Everspring by Target – Naturally derived fragrances, recycled toilet paper, and cruelty free (not vegan) products. Ingredients-wise, Seventh Generation is better for the environment and animals, but if this is all you can find, go for it. Send Target a message that eco-friendly products are the way to go.
  3. Caboo – I would choose their TP over Everspring when available, since they use sea freight to reduce carbon emissions and are FSC certified to source bamboo without disturbing panda habitats.
  4. e.l.f. cosmetics – Vegan, cruelty free, and expanding into facial care and lotion products in addition to makeup.
  5. Native – Available at Target, Native makes aluminum free deodorant that actually works, plus it’s cruelty free and recently went all vegan after customers asked for a formula without beeswax. They also make body soap and toothpaste!

Thanks for reading! ♡