5 Simple Home Upgrades That Also Help The Planet

Many of us think that having an environmentally friendly home means sacrificing comfort and beauty and living in a state of austerity.  But it doesn’t have to mean that at all.  In fact, choosing the right upgrades can help you have a beautiful and healthy home – and do more to help the planet that we all share.

Of course, one of the most eco-friendly things we can do is to keep using the things we already have instead of buying something new.  But, when it does come time to replace an item, here are just a few eco-friendly home upgrades to consider.

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1.  Organic Cotton Bedding

Why it’s important

When we wash synthetic fabrics like polyester and acrylic, they release tiny plastic fibers that are too small for wastewater treatment plants to capture.  This is especially true of synthetic fleece fabrics and, unfortunately, so many blankets and throws are made of synthetic fleece.  The result:  Microplastics in the ocean and, subsequently, in the food we eat that comes from the ocean.

By choosing organic cotton bedding instead of synthetic fabrics, we can help reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean – and help reduce the overall demand for synthetic fabrics.

Why it’s an upgrade

In general, cotton fabrics breathe better than synthetic fabrics.  This helps the body maintain a stable temperature while sleeping. And, because organic cotton is made sustainably and contains no chemicals, it is usually an excellent choice for people with skin sensitivities or allergies.

Because cotton is breatheable, it is good all-season bedding.  It’s cool in summer and, by adding layers of organic cotton blankets, quilts, or comforters, it can be customized to our increasing needs for warmth as the seasons change.  Organic cotton bedding has become fairly affordable.

I tend to check the fabric content of every garment or home decor textile that I buy.  Even when organic cotton is not in my budget or not available, I still try to opt for products that are 100% cotton.  Recently I sent a friend this cute and affordable Turkish cotton throw blanket as a gift, and she loved it.

What about wool and down?

Wool and down have been around for centuries, and they certainly can be environmentally friendly alternatives to synthetic fabrics.  But, because both of these products are derived from animals, there is some controversy over whether they are ethically and sustainably sourced – and whether chemicals are used before or during processing.

Some companies do far better on these fronts than others, so it’s a good idea to do some research before purchasing a wool or down product.  (And of course, in the case of down, look for down bedding in a cotton shell as opposed to a synthetic shell.)

2.  Natural Or Organic Latex Bed Components

Why it’s important

I always thought that latex was man-made – until we purchased a natural latex mattress a few years ago.

Natural latex is made from the sap of the rubber tree – a sustainable resource.  Synthetic latex is made of petroleum-based compounds.  A variety of chemicals is added during the manufacture – which can cause synthetic latex bed components, like mattresses, mattress toppers, and pillows, to off-gas VOCs.  Not ideal for the place where most of us spend one-third of our day.

Why it’s an upgrade

In comparison, natural latex contains few, if any, chemicals, and organic latex contains no chemicals.  Natural latex bedding is becoming fairly easy to find.

3.  Beeswax Reusable Food Wraps

Why it’s important

The disposable cling wrap that we use on a daily basis to cover food containers lasts up to 1,000 years in the landfill once we toss it.  Or it ends up in the ocean where it contributes to the plastic pollution crisis.

Add to that the fact that it doesn’t always cooperate when we try to cover food with it, and it’s not attractive to look at.

But beeswax food wraps are reusable and attractive.

Why it’s an upgrade

Here again we have our old friend cotton.  This time the cotton is coated in beeswax to create an eco-friendly alternative to disposable cling wrap. Beeswax food wraps make food storage fun.  They come in lots of different sizes – and in attractive patterns.

I think this jungle-themed set is especially fun.

A while ago, my sister-in-law gave me one large beeswax food wrap, which I’ve since cut into two smaller (but still fairly large) sheets.  I have used them many times now over the course of about a year, and they are still in great shape. I hand wash them in cold water (so as not to melt the wax) and hang them to air dry on the clothesline in my laundry room.

They work well in covering oddly-shaped containers like this eight-cup batter bowl.

I just cover it with the beeswax wrap and fold the sides into place.  The warmth of my hands helps the wax to form a seal and stay in place.

These wraps look so cute on casserole dishes and they seal them so well.  Somehow they make me feel like far more of a domestic diva than I actually am.

4.  Reusable Grocery Bags That Fit In Your Purse

Why it’s important

Most of us know by now that we should carry reusable shopping bags instead of opting for the single-use plastic or paper bags that grocery stores provide.  But sometimes it’s easy to forget our reusable bags at home or leave them in our cars. That is why I love the ones that I can just keep in my purse.

Why it’s an upgrade

Another little gem that my sister-in-law gave me is this beautiful reusable grocery bag, which I’ve come to use for almost all my shopping – not just for groceries.  It has a large capacity, it is stronger and more comfortable to carry than a plastic or paper grocery bag, and it gets me compliments every time I use it.

Best of all, it folds down and fits in my purse (or bike bag).  Now I am never without a shopping bag.  This bag’s design is from the LOQI Nature1 Collection.

5.  Vintage Tableware

Why it’s important

Energy and resources go into the making, packaging, and transporting of every single new item that we buy.  And that has a huge impact on the planet. But purchasing a vintage item instead of a new item has little if any negative impact on the planet.  And it often saves money too.

Why it’s an upgrade

Rather than being mass-produced, many vintage items were made with quality craftsmanship and materials.  Even so, antique and vintage china and tableware had fallen out of favor in recent years.  But happily these treasures are trending again as part of the “granny chic” concept that mixes old and new pieces.  Martha Stewart recently did an article on how to pull this look together.

But, in my house, vintage tableware has always been on trend.

There is really no end to the things we can do to make our homes more sustainable and environmentally friendly while adding luxury at the same time.  Please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what your favorite ways are to create a sustainable home!

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