Small Changes, Big Impact: Make Your Life More Earth-Friendly


There are many small and affordable changes I try to choose every single day to make my life more earth-friendly and sustainable.

a boy pulls weeds from a small garden plot

As a busy mom, it’s hard to add another thing to my ever-growing to-do list, but this is the least I can do to be a good steward of the earth that our children will inherit. I also recognize that not everyone has the ability to worry about the state of the earth. I am definitely not here to judge what anyone is doing or not doing, but I hope we are all aware of our own impact. Perhaps this article will inspire you to make your life more earth-friendly.

Here are some of the simple and easy ways I reduce my environmental impact: 

  • Using less plastic. I use laundry detergent sheets or pods instead of liquid. I use reusable, glass storage containers. I wash and reuse my Ziplock bags and use reusable storage bags too.
  • Cloth menstrual pads. My cloth pads are outstanding, comfortable, and after years of use, look nearly new. There are tons of other reusable menstrual products out there. I am a fan of the Party in My Pants brand and have pads in patterns that make me laugh: periodic tables, sharks, unicorns, beavers, etc. This company has the best sense of humor.
  • Consolidating online shopping. Online shopping is very convenient and sometimes makes more sense than running a lot of long-distance errands. But, when I have to order online, I try to wait until I need several items at once to reduce the number of boxes required.
  • Carpooling.
  • Composting. It’s the law in Vermont, and it’s also a great way to turn food waste into nutrients for the soil.
  • Using a reusable water bottle. 
  • Buying in bulk. I buy hand and dish soap in bulk and put the soap into smaller containers for daily use. Don’t tell my family but I dilute my soaps with water too.
cloth pads are a great way to reduce garbage and make your life more earth-friendly.

My steps are a start, but I could definitely be doing more, so I asked Vermont Moms’ Insiders what else they do to make their life more earth-friendly and sustainable. How do they raise their kids to care about the environment? The following readers had some great advice!

Tracy recommended cutting up old t-shirts to use as tissues. She has two baskets, one for clean tissues and one for used. She washes, sanitizes, and reuses the heck out of them- and I imagine they only get softer with use.

She also makes her own peanut butter. She buys peanuts in bulk and uses glass jars for the peanut butter- thus saving more plastic containers from the landfill.

rag for cleaning

Robin shared her eco-forward Pinterest, which is absolutely full of small ideas to be more sustainable and earth-friendly. She’s also got a YouTube channel called Reduce, Reuse, Reimagine and a blog, Keep in the Sunlight which you will really enjoy and find inspirational.

Jess wrote that she has been trying to make small changes over the last several years, starting with making a run of small, 7” x 7”, 100% cotton napkins in a variety of fun prints. These small napkins create minimal extra laundry and save a ton of paper towels.

She also decided to reduce her family’s paper towel use by keeping a drawer of cheap washcloths in the kitchen which are used for cleaning up spilled beverages at the table, wiping dirty faces after meals, wiping down the picnic table in the backyard, wiping down counters, etc. Paper towels are still great for cleaning up raw meats, dog vomit, and other dirty jobs where we just don’t want the dirty washcloth sitting around. Since using more cloth napkins and paper towels, Jess’ family uses about a quarter of the number of rolls of paper towels that they used to use.

Soaps and detergents are trickier for Jess because she has sensitive skin but even so, she finds that concentrated Seventh Generation laundry detergent, disinfectant spray, and Dr. Bronner’s soaps work for her family.

Compost is a great way to turn food scraps into nutrients for the soil. Composting is one way to make your life more sustainable and earth-friendly.

Andrea had the following terrific tips:

• Limit the use of paper products by using cloth napkins and rags in lieu of paper towels

• Use a rain barrel to collect water for the garden

• Avoid using chemicals in the yard and garden

• Plant pollinator gardens

• Plant specific plant species that help prevent stormwater run-off into the lake (years ago the city of Burlington actually incentivized homeowners to do this. Not sure if that’s still a thing)

• Call Efficiency Vermont for a homeowner Energy Saving Kit

• Get an energy audit for your home

• Only run appliances during off-peak hours

Rain barrels allow you to use rain water for watering plants and gardens.

The thing is, we can’t do everything, but our collective effort to do better really can make a difference! And if you are looking for more small actions you can take to make your life more earth-friendly and sustainable, you can check out Things You Can Do: How to Fight Climate Change and Reduce Waste by Eduardo Garcia.

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