Easy Eco-Friendly Summer Living Tips

Easy Eco-Friendly Summer Living Tips

Living an “eco” lifestyle can seem overwhelming, scary, and expensive!  As people who are still learning about creating safer homes, we know the feeling all too well. One study says this...another says that.  A certain ingredient is labeled as good, then bad, then good again. And we’re only told what not to do. It’s confusing, right? But we don’t think it has to be.

For us, non-toxic living is really about taking baby steps, doing what you can, and finding eco-friendly alternatives that make the most sense for YOUR family—you certainly don’t have to give up your guilty pleasure, install solar panels, or trade your car for a bicycle tomorrow (unless of course you want to). There are many practical ways you can make healthier choices each day that make a big difference. And, of course, don’t feel pressure to makeover everything at once or be perfect. Life is stressful enough!

Here are some small, easy, and inexpensive steps you can take to live healthy this summer:

Use non-toxic products. We're lucky if we can even pronounce the ingredients listed on product labels, so we know it's hard to make sense of anything without a dictionary to consult. And who has room for that in their purse when grocery shopping? Our trick: Avoid using products that say poison, danger, warning, or caution (check the tiny print!)—all red flags that the products may contain harmful toxins, allergens, carcinogens, or growth disruptors associated with health problems. Instead, look for labels that say non-toxic; chlorine, ammonia, fragrance, or petrochemical free; vegetable, water, or bio based; low or zero VOC; or organic. Substituting these eco-friendly cleaning products is one of the most important things you can do for your family, and thankfully they're easy to make on your own or find at most major grocery and online stores.

Start from the ground up. Did you know that 85% of the dirt, chemicals, bacteria, allergens, pesticides, and other toxins found in our home enters on the bottom of our shoes and pets' paws? Yikes. Because the summer months are spent playing outdoors, we recommend having a doormat for wiping feet outside your high-traffic entryways and a chic basket just beyond the threshold where people drop off their shoes before getting comfortable inside. Consider a water bucket where little ones can rinse their sandy bare feet before hopping inside. And wipe your floors or vacuum with a HEPA filter to rid your home of any other contaminated dust.

Shop smart. The variety and color of summer produce never ceases to amaze us, so now is the perfect time to head to your local farmers' market or grocer to purchase organic, free-range, and fair-trade foods when possible. Buying organic and responsibly harvested items can be more expensive, so prioritize what you purchase by consulting the EWG's Dirty Dozen List and turn to places like Trader Joe's that sell these at reasonable prices (the store even offers a great selection of frozen organic veggies, perfect for tossing with pasta or making homemade baby food). By eating organic, we can reduce the amount of pesticides found in our bloodstream from conventional produce within as little as a week. (P.S. LocalHarvest will help you locate a farm or farmers' market near you.)

Keep Cool and Carry On. Summer is HOT! And the idea of sweating profusely isn't appealing to most of us, so we expend a lot of energy (and money) trying to stay cool. To reduce your consumption and bills, purchase a programmable thermostat (about $30) to easily set the A/C to kick in at a warmer temp and shut off when the house is empty. Otherwise, close windows and curtains to keep your house cool all day and open them in the evening to enjoy the summer's cool night air. Opening windows for even a few minutes also significantly improves your indoor air quality where VOC levels tend to be higher. Still need to whisk away the sweat? Take a cool shower to save on hot water costs.

Recycle, repurpose, reuse. With picnics and water bottles in mind, rethink plastic and switch to reusable BPA-free and glass containers. Shop with cloth bags (most grocery stores sell them now). Or buy and sell items at yard sales, flea markets, thrift stores, Craigslist.com, or Freecycle.org.

Turn it off. Summer is the perfect time to unplug, literally and figuratively.  Turning off your lights, appliances, and TV when you leave the room and your computer at the end of the day is something easy the entire family can do.

Turn to technology. We all get by with a little help from our friends, so join together with others on Practically Green to get personalized suggestions for healthy steps to take, products to use, and track your progress. And make sure to consult your local utility’s Web site for other ways to save, such as rebates for installing Energy Star appliances, energy-saving insulation, tankless water heaters, and more.

To keep things manageable, try incorporating one of our eco-minded living tips each week. By the end of summer, you'll see that together these small changes will add up to make a big difference for your health, the environment, and your wallet.

Are there any easy tips you'd add?

Join us as we pledge to take these eco steps! We'll report back periodically on our honest progress throughout the summer.

We aim to provide you with the most honest and credible information possible. This article was reviewed for accuracy by The Honest Team and was written based on trusted sources that are linked at the bottom of the article.