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    22 Ways To Make Your Home A Little Greener And Cleaner In 2021

    From kitchenware to skincare and kids products, here are the eco-friendly swaps that have worked for my family.

    Happy (almost) New Year! I'm always a little hesitant to make resolutions, because, ya know, those last about two weeks. But in 2020, my personal quarantine project actually turned into a resolution that I intend to keep well into the new year and beyond.

    My project was this: Each time I needed to buy something new or replace a product in my household, I took some time to research a greener and cleaner option.

    planetclare / Via tenor.com

    So what does greener and cleaner mean to me? I try to look for three main things:

    • Ingredients: Products with identifiable ingredients and no synthetic fragrances.

    • Materials: Things like glass, recycled materials, and other alternatives to traditional plastics, such as silicone.

    • Company mission: I try to find companies with a conscience that work to reduce their carbon footprints and cut back on unnecessary consumer packaging.

    And while that might sound like a lot, I found it usually only took a super-quick search to find products that are well reviewed and even similar in price to the ones I already used!

    I consider myself pro-environment and have always tried to do *the right thing*, but I realized there were so many products I've used for so long that I didn't even think twice about what was in them.

    Here are some of the swaps I've made in my household over the past year with cooking, cleaning, personal care, and kids products. All of these have really worked well for my family of five*.

    The author and her family.
    Kathleen Shea-Porter / Via BuzzFeed

    *Myself, my husband, two kids, and one very good dog. 🐶

    1. A super-durable glass container set that won't get gross over time.

    A set of three glass food storage containers with blue tops.
    Target / Via target.com

    As my plastic food storage containers started to crack, I realized it was time to make a change. Rather than continue to buy more plastic, I made the switch to glass. It's been great! Unlike plastic containers, you can microwave these and even put them in the oven to heat your food. Plus, glass won't take on the color and smells of your leftovers. Goodbye, tomato sauce–stained plastic. We don't miss you.

    Get this set from Target for $8.99.

    2. These stylish and practical reusable dishcloths, so you can ditch those jumbo paper towel packs.

    A set of five patterned Swedish towels, which are an eco-friendly alternative to paper towels.
    SIMPLYCASA / Via amazon.com

    Every day I used too many paper towels, and every day I knew I needed to find a more sustainable solution. I tried out a few different options, but these Swedish towels were by far the winners. They are incredibly absorbent and very easy to clean. You can even put them on the top rack of the dishwasher. I like this large size, but you can get smaller sizes as well. The company says each dishcloth can replace up to 15 rolls of paper towel, so I'm going to say this is one of those times where going green also means you can save green, too.

    Get this cute five-pack on Amazon for $16.99.

    3. A silicone kitchen utensil set that, unlike the plastic ones, won't warp or fall apart sooner than you'd like.

    A 17-piece cooking utensil set, in light gray and stainless steel.
    AILUKI / Via amazon.com

    I did A LOT more cooking in the past year than ever before, so I started to pay more attention to my kitchen utensils. My old plastic cooking utensils were about a decade old and looking a little...tired. I opted to go with silicone, because it's considered to be food-safe (make sure it's food grade!) and nonreactive in high temperatures. The switch to silicone took a little bit of adjustment at first, but now I'll never go back.

    You can snag a 17-piece set on Amazon for $27.99.

    4. A glass water bottle so you can stay hydrated *without* all those plastic bottles.

    purifyou / Via amazon.com, Kathleen Shea-Porter / Via BuzzFeed

    This could be a resolution twofer: Go green and stop using plastic water bottles! I switched to this glass water bottle with a silicone sleeve to protect it. This water bottle also has time markers so you can keep track of how much water you *should* be drinking. It's actually helpful!

    Get a 22-ounce bottle (available in multiple colors) on Amazon for $17.97+.

    5. A silicone baking mat to replace endless rolls of parchment paper.

    A silicone baking mat, with 12 delicious cookies on top, being used on a baking tray.
    Silpat / Via amazon.com

    With all the extra cooking and stress-baking (this is a very real thing for me, fueled by binge-watching GBBO), silicone mats have not only made cleanup a breeze but are also better for the environment than foil or parchment paper. I use a Silpat for almost everything that goes in the oven, whether it's roasting vegetables or making cookies.

    Grab a French-made Silpat mat for $18.49 on Amazon. If you want a more affordable option, you can snag a Kitzini two-pack on Amazon for $15.95.

    6. These unscented dishwasher pods to keep your dishes sparkling.

    A compostable cardboard box that holds Dropps dishwasher pods.
    Dropps / Via dropps.com

    I'd seen Dropps around for a bit, but it wasn't until I made going greener and cleaner my mission that I decided it was time to try them. They're made with solid ingredients, the packaging is compostible, and, most importantly, they work really well. Plus, if you subscribe, you save 30% on each order.

    Get a pack of 120 for $28 with a subscription, $40 without one.

    7. These cupcake liners, because being green is more important than getting those wrappers that are pink, yellow, and blue.

    A cardboard box with 60 large baking cups.
    If You Care / Via products.wholefoodsmarket.com

    Here's a random one: I was baking cupcakes and I realized that I needed new liners. I found these If You Care baking cups, which are chlorine-free and come from responsibly forested trees. Not only do these work well, but they also look nice. If You Care has a whole line of excellent products that are designed to reduce waste. Many of their products can be composted and the packaging is recyclable. It's a great option!

    Find the large baking cups at Whole Foods for $2.29.

    8. This organic and hypoallergenic laundry detergent, which smells *SO* good.

    Organic laundry detergent from Whole Foods.
    Whole Foods / Via products.wholefoodsmarket.com

    I'm working toward moving away from all synthetic fragrances, but the smell of clean laundry is the ONLY redeeming thing about actually doing laundry. I was nervous I wouldn't be able to find a greener and cleaner alternative that my nose and I actually liked. Then I found this citrus geranium–scented laundry detergent from Whole Foods. It's hypoallergenic and dye-free, and the fragrance is light and quite lovely.

    Pricing varies by store but will run around $14.99. Find it at your nearest Whole Foods here.

    9. These pretty and functional glass spray bottles, so you can make your own cleaning solution and control what goes in it.

    Sally's Organics / Via amazon.com, Amazon / Via amazon.com

    There are plenty of eco-friendly cleaners out there, but they all seem to come in...plastic bottles. Gah! I got this two-pack so I could make my own cleaner. I use one for vinegar and water (a 1:1 ratio), and the other one is currently a being used as a mister for my plant babies (but I have big plans to use it for another type of cleaner, I swear!).

    Get this two-pack from Amazon for $24.98.

    10. Vegan and cruelty-free nail polish, because you still deserve to feel fancy.

    A bottle of dusty rose–colored nail polish.
    ella + mila / Via target.com

    Painting my nails reminds me of the before times, when my day-to-day look wasn't just about athleisure for maximum quarantine comfort. I recently changed polish brands to Ella + Mila, which is made without 17 ingredients frequently found in other nail polishes and beauty treatments. It goes on smoothly, dries nicely, and keeps my nails chip-free for a week. Also, I found a look-alike to the color I used on my nails. It feels just like the good old days!

    Find Ella + Mila polish in "Time for a Bond Fire" and 24 other shades at Target for $10.49.

    11. Biossance skincare products, so you can come out of the quarantine cocoon looking like a beautiful butterfly.

    Biossance skincare products on the author's bathroom sink.
    Kathleen Shea-Porter / Via BuzzFeed

    I am low-key obsessed with Biossance. Not only do these products make my skin look and feel great, but they’re also made with ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients, the packaging is fully recyclable, they partner with an organization to make their shipping carbon neutral, and — this isn’t nearly as important but hear me out — they look really pretty on my bathroom sink. 😂 I fully endorse all of the products I've tried but take it from this pandemic-era parent: The eye cream is the real MVP.

    Get a Biossance's Overachievers travel-sized starter set — which includes night serum, vitamin C rose oil, eye cream, and more — for $58.

    12. This aluminum-free deodorant, which smells fresh and oh-so *clean*.

    A stick of deodorant.
    Schmidt's / Via amazon.com

    Going aluminum-free is pretty popular these days, but there’s a lot more to it than that. One thing to look for on the label? Fragrance. In the US, companies aren't required to disclose what's in their proprietary blends, so "fragrance" can mean, well, anything. My rule is to look for things that list every single ingredient. I really like Schmidt’s, and they get bonus points from me for being super accessible and having an option that comes in glass jars instead of plastic.

    Find the rose and vanilla scent (other options available) on Amazon for $8.25.

    13. These biodegradable hair ties to keep your top knots top-notch.

    A pack of 27 black, organic hair ties.
    Amazon / Via amazon.com

    Okay, this one surprised me, but it makes sense. I was just getting ready to add new hair ties to my cart when I realized that there might be a better option out there. And there was! Organic, biodegradable hair ties. The packaging is fully recyclable. The ingredients are ethically sourced. File this one under the little things but now that I know about them, I’ll never go back.

    Get a pack of 27 for $14.95 on Amazon.

    14. An eye shadow palette that's made without phthalates, parabens, and sulfates.

    An eye shadow palette with five colors, ranging from light pink to dark brown.
    W3LL PEOPLE / Via target.com

    I've been using the same eye shadow brand for years but when it was time to replace my latest palette, I did a quick search before reaching for the old standby. I decided to give the W3LL PEOPLE shadow a try and, readers, it's a winner.

    Get the W3LL PEOPLE Nudist Eyeshadow Palette in violet-based hues for $19.99 at Target.

    15. Vegan and cruelty-free mascara, with results that hold up to my previous favorite.

    Amazon / Via amazon.com, Amazon / Via amazon.com

    True story: If I'm not wearing mascara, I'm either sleeping or quite sick. So finding a replacement mascara I liked was important to me. The Pacifica Beauty Stellar Gaze Length & Strength Mascara gets the job done and stays put all day.

    Get it on Amazon for $13.99.

    16. Tinted moisturizer with SPF, so you can get outside and enjoy the world you're working to save.

    Three arms, each holding a Supergoop! CC cream product.
    Supergoop! / Via sephora.com

    Fortified with SPF 50 mineral sunscreen, this CC cream goes on smoothly and provides just the right amount of coverage. Seriously, it's like a filter for your skin. It also comes in 15 different shades, so you can find the perfect one for you.

    Find it at Sephora for $39.

    17. For the kiddos, these durable stainless steel sippy cups instead of filmsy plastic ones.

    Sippy cups for toddlers with a stainless steel bottle, plastic handle, and silicone nipple.
    thinkbaby / Via amazon.com

    My kids are a big motivator for this undertaking, so I paid extra attention to the products we were using for them. My littlest was just getting ready to transition to sippy cups so after doing some research, I opted for these medical-grade stainless steel sippy cups from Thinkbaby. They cost only a little more than regular plastic sippy cups and I like that you can convert them to straw cups when it's time. Overall, these are great, but be warned: You may be wishing for some steel-toe boots when your little angel catapults them down onto your feet.

    Get a Thinkbaby stainless steel sippy cup from Amazon for $13.98.

    18. Cute and functional bath toys, which are made from 100% recycled plastic.

    Green Toys / Via amazon.com

    Bath toys are relatively cheap...and can contain some pretty less-than-great stuff in them. Ours were getting kind of gross, so I was delighted to find this set from Green Toys. I have other Green Toys products and I appreciate that they're made from recycled milk jugs and without phthalates.

    Get them on Amazon for $12.91.

    19. A dishware starter set for babies and young toddlers, which is made of food-grade silicone.

    ezpz / Via target.com

    I *love* ezpz products and I've used them for both of my kids. Made from high-quality, food-grade silicone, this cute set is also free of BPA, BPS, PVS, phthalates, and latex. IMO, they beat traditional plastic utensils by a mile. And the bowl actually sticks to the high chair! 👏🏼

    Get the ezpz First Food Set for $34.99 from Target or ezpz.

    20. These low-key indestructible dinnerware set for kids made from recycled milk jugs.

    A teal and blue set with three plates and matching flatware, made from recycled milk jugs.
    Re-Play / Via amazon.com

    Made in the USA from recycled milk jugs, this incredibly durable (trust me on that one) set is also free of BPA, phthalates, PVCs, and melamine. The sets come in so many bright and fun colors, too! You can find some of the Re-Play products on the shelves in Target. But if you buy it online, it comes without all the unnecessary retail packaging to reduce consumer waste.

    Get this Re-Play dinnerware set from Amazon for $14.99.

    21. Burt's Bees Baby *everything*, but in particular, the supersoft organic pajamas.

    Burt's Bees Baby / Via amazon.com, Kathleen Shea-Porter / Via BuzzFeed

    I cannot say enough about the Burt's Bees Baby products. In addition to making my favorite baby shampoo, they also make the cutest organic cotton pajamas and daytime clothes in baby and toddler sizes. Mister Burt? If you're reading, I wouldn't be mad if you made some non-holiday pajamas or regular clothes in my size, too. Thanks.

    Find Burt's Bees Baby pajamas in purple watercolor daylily (more colors and sizes available) on Amazon for $13.51+.

    22. A quiet-but-powerful air purifier, so you can take deep, clean breaths all day long.

    A white air purifier unit.
    BÉABA / Via amazon.com

    Have you ever had one of those moments when the sunlight catches just right and you can see all the nasty particles floating around in your air? Yeah. Not great. The BÉABA Nursery Air Purifier keeps the air clean (it has a HEPA filter!) but is also super quiet. This is perfect for the kiddos' rooms...but we like it so much that we got one for our room, too.

    Get the BÉABA Nursery Air Purifier on Amazon for $219.90.

    What are your favorite greener and cleaner swaps? Let me know in the comments!

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