While green living has become second nature in many ways, sometimes we want convenience. Other times, we don’t know there are sustainable options or earth-friendly products available. And as much as we want to use what we have, we still shop. We are consumers.
The great news is we can shop and still be environmentally conscious. We can buy products which will minimize our impact. There are some purchases which eliminate the need to buy other products. Others extend the life of products.
The best eco-friendly products are made with low-impact materials, minimal packaging, and help communities or non-profit organizations as well.
Best earth-friendly products
We will continue adding to this list as we find more innovative eco-friendly products. There are many things we can do to live green. Here are our favorite eco-friendly products for home. Some will be good for traveling as well.
Sustainable paper towels
Bambooee The unPaper Towel
Many of us use paper towels — a lot! While we love the idea of dish towels and cleaning rags, it is often more convenient to grab a paper towel. They are handy for spills, to clean counters and floors, to clean bathrooms and to dry hands.
We tuck them into our kids’ lunch boxes in place of napkins. Sometimes we use them at the dinner table. It’s sometimes more sanitary to use a paper towel than a regular towel.
They’re typically inexpensive so it’s easy to grab one, use it, and toss it… without giving much thought to what goes into making a roll of paper towels.
Unfortunately, we don’t love the waste and the materials and how most of us use them once and then throw them away.
Bambooee makes washable, rayon from bamboo, paper towels. Each roll comes with 20 sheets.
Because you can wash and reuse them, a roll with the 20 unpaper towels is the equivalent of 286 paper towel ROLLS!
Wow! We were happy to find this product and anxious to try them. This is what we learned:
- Each sheet is 11.5″ x 11″.
- Bambooee makes them from a certified organic bamboo source.
- They are soft, absorbent and durable.
- With every roll you purchase, they plant a tree.
- Bambooee was featured on Shark Tank.
Reusable paper towels
It’s remarkable you can wash each sheet up to 100 times. What does this equate to?
This small roll of unpaper towels is the equivalent of 2,000 paper towels.
What does that really mean? If you use up a typical paper towel roll each week, replacing them with Bambooee will equal almost 5.5 years.
We’ve used them to clean our kitchen counters, stove top, windows, and bathrooms.
In addition, we’ve found them to be ideal to bring on trips. They are easy to wash, hang to dry, and reuse. These reusable paper towels take very little space in the suitcase and are handy to have for whatever comes up. When you want to travel green, it helps to have some easy habits in place. Packing these is easy!
They are sturdy and strong, even after washing. The only downside to these is you have to remember to air dry. So if you put them in your washing machine, be sure to remember how many to find and air dry before putting the items in the clothes dryer.
The other negative is they are made in China. While it’s rare to find products made in the USA, it’s always our preference.
However, these paper towels are innovative and eco-friendly. In addition to being reusable, what makes Bambooee earth-friendly is the rayon from bamboo is grown without fertilizer and pesticides.
Eco-friendly floor cleaner
Bambooee also makes sweeps with scrubbing dots. Put one on a floor sweeper and you have a reusable floor mop to use wet or dry.
Just like their Unpaper Towels, these sweeper pads are machine washable. In addition, the rayon is made from a certified organic bamboo source.
Each roll includes 15 Bambooee Sweeps. What’s great is these 15 sweeper pads can replace up to 1,500 of the disposable floor wipes and sheets. They are versatile as well. You can use them dry — they do an excellent job of picking up dust and hair — or wet (run one under the faucet and ring it out so it’s damp) — like you use other wet wipes for mopping.
You can wash each sheet up to 100 times in the washing machine. You have to pull them out so you don’t put them in the dryer. They measure 11.5″ x 10.1″ which fits well on regular floor sweepers that use disposable pads and wipes.
In addition, for every roll you purchase, they plant a tree.
We don’t like the disposable, one-time use floor pads because they aren’t sustainable. Plus, they are filled with chemicals. Instead, we were using microfiber cloths on our floor sweeper in an effort to be more environmentally-aware.
However, now that we have Bambooee Sweeps, we are only using these on our floors.
Soap holder extends life of bar soap
We mostly use bar soap in our home because of the chemicals in liquid soaps. We have found bar soap with safer ingredients but we want it to last as long as possible.
We also like being able to use less soap. In the past, when we used liquid soap, we were using a lot more than necessary which was drying out our skin.
In addition, liquid soap comes in plastic containers which we try to avoid. When we heard about SOAPSTANDLE, we were excited to try it out.
Other soap holders
In the past, we used a soap stand but it mostly served as a placeholder for the soap. It didn’t help circulate air around it.
Also, it was often a gooey mess to clean. It was rather unappealing to pick up the bar of soap from the holder.
After that, we found another soap holder and bought several for our showers. There was a suction cup which stuck to the wall. You put a magnetic disk into the soap and it would hang from the wall. They worked well except you had to really gauge the soap with the holder so it would stay in place.
It helped to dry out the soap which is what we wanted. However, the soap would often fall down if it wasn’t wedged in the soap enough. Other times, the suction would loosen from the wall and everything would fall into the tub. We did like the concept of them because it worked to air dry the soap.
Extending the life of your bar soap
We have bar soaps and shampoo bars in our showers. Before using SOAPSTANDLE, in addition to trying the above holders, we would do a lot of different things to dry them out.
We want our soap to last as long as possible and not waste away because it’s sitting in water. We would tip the soap on its side, prop the bar on a cup, or prop it on one side and leave it on a towel.
For our soap bars in the shower, this would mean we would need to take it out of the shower stall/tub and move it to the counter by the sink.
SOAPSTANDLE is a practical and eco-friendly solution. These soap holders help extend the life of your bar soap.
You won’t need to buy liquid soaps which come in plastic — even if you refill them, it still comes in plastic containers. Much of it is water which is heavy and takes up extra room during transport from the manufacturers to the stores.
Eliminates the soap mess
We use SOAPSTANDLE for each bar of soap and for our shampoo bar and conditioner bar. These soap holders prevent the soap scum and goo and extend the life of your soap.
You won’t need to clean the soap holder like you do with other soaps. When you finish the bar, you use SOAPSTANDLE again.
This soap stand makes it much more convenient to use bar soap and will hopefully encourage consumers to not buy liquid soaps which come in plastic containers.
SOAPSTANDLE is made in the USA.
We are very pleased with this simple solution for your soap.
Clothing to help homeless youth
This Minneapolis-based company supports homeless individuals in many ways. Hippy Feet helps homeless youth by using a portion from each sale to provide transitional employment through their Pop-Up Employment Program.
Hippy Feet’s program gives its participants the opportunity to do all the embroidery, screen printing, and packaging for their products. In so doing, they earn a wage as well as learn skills and basic job training. Hippy Feet has a goal to get homeless youth into stable housing and eventually into full-time employment at other companies.
In addition to all of what they do to help homeless youth, all of Hippy Feet’s products are made in the United States using environmentally friendly materials.
Hippy Feet long-sleeve tees for adults
- Peace Out
- Let Love Grow in green and blue
They sent us a large Let Love Grow long-sleeve tee shirt in the light blue. It’s made with 100% organic cotton.
We machine washed and dried it in the dryer without it shrinking. The organic cotton is very comfortable. It’s fun and easy to wear and runs true to size. This shirt has three small flowers embroidered on the front and “let love grow” is screen printed on the back up near the collar.
Vintage Hippy Tee
This short sleeve t-shirt is made with 100% organic cotton. Homeless youth do the screen printing for each shirt. Check it out on their website — it looks to have a flattering cut and the colors are neutral yet retro and bold at the same time.
Hippy Feet socks for adults and youth
- Knee high
Check their website for all of their fun patterns and solids. Hippy Feet makes their socks with eco-friendly materials. Their adult socks include recycled cotton. They make their youth socks with recycled cotton and recycled polyester.
Hippy Feet socks with signature from person who packaged them.
We asked to try their solid black and white socks. They sent an adult pair in S-M and a children’s pair in S-M. We’ve never tried eco-friendly socks before and have been using them for active pursuits. They wick away moisture well. We love them.
It was also interesting to see the company gives their employees additional opportunities to feel proud of their work. On each sock, there is a “Packaged by:” area, and the person who packaged it signs it.
Also, there is minimal packaging made with eco-friendly materials.
Hippy Feet hats
- Denim cap
- Green twill cap
They sent us the green twill cap which has a great fit and feel. It’s adjustable as well. It’s lightweight and also made with environmentally-friendly materials. The embroidery on it is through a nonprofit that provides job training to youth who are dealing with homelessness.
Homeless youth do the embroidery on Hippy Feet’s products.
This is really a perfect example of an eco-friendly company: Hippy Feet provides transitional employment to homeless youth; they use eco-friendly materials and packaging; and they make everything in the United States.
Sustainable option for beverages
Our family isn’t one for gadgets. We don’t want to have to store extra appliances nor do we have room on our counters to leave them out. That said, we do own a few so that we can make things from scratch, like our bread maker.
Until we learned about SodaStream, we didn’t know you could make soda and carbonated water at home. We don’t buy soda often. Much to our kids’ dismay, we only buy it — mostly in 2 liter bottles — when we have parties.
However, we do regularly purchase sparkling flavored water. We go through a case of 24 cans every three weeks.
After hearing about SodaStream and how it could be an environmentally-friendly option, we did the math. We buy and use approximately 417 aluminum cans a year just from flavored water.
That adds up to a lot of one-time use cans as well as the cost of buying the drinks and the hassle of carrying them home from the store.
SodaStream eliminates plastic bottles and aluminum cans
Sure, cans and bottles can be recycled; however, recycling is expensive and taxing on the environment.
It also takes costly steps and materials to make the cans and bottles. They use a lot of raw materials. It also is a burden on the environment to get the drinks from the manufacturing plants and distributors to the stores. It all adds up.
Also, once you finish the drink from a canned beverage and one-time use plastic bottles, there’s not much you can do with it to reuse or re-purpose them. So at best, you recycle it.
The SodaStream machine lets you make drinks right at home — eliminating the demand for aluminum cans and glass and plastic bottles. They sent us their SodaStream Fizzi One Touch Electric sparkling water maker. We are reviewing the Starter Pack.
SodaStream One Touch Electric
We were happily surprised with how narrow and streamlined the SodaStream is. We can store it easily in one of our taller cabinets.
Also interesting is there are three carbonation — aka fizz — levels. We didn’t realize that would be something that you could customize.
The Fizzi One Touch comes with a one liter plastic bottle which is customized to use with the machine. It also includes a 14.5 oz carbonating cylinder. There is enough CO2 to make 60 liters. For our purposes, this means we can use one CO2 cylinder to make and replace 169 cans of the sparkling water we were buying.
We learned we can bring our empty cylinder to a SodaStream retailer and get a full one for a discounted price. On their website, there is also an easy way to exchange them with a delivery person. You return the empty cylinder, and they trade you for a filled one for what-seems-to-be half the price of a filled one at a store.
The SodaStream is really easy to use. It’s fast too. You just fill the bottle with tap water, place it in the machine, and press the button.
Fun to make drinks at home
It’s also been something fun to do with our kids. We made carbonated water with the SodaStream and added lemons and raspberries to our glasses. Another time we used lime. And the third time we used lime and fresh mint.
We have only made carbonated water so far with it. The next time we go to Target or Bed Bath and Beyond, we will look for the Drink Mixes to make soda. Each small bottle of their soda mix makes up to nine liters. This small bottle will be a lot less wasted plastic than the 2-liter bottles we usually buy. We hope to find their root beer and ginger ale. (They also sell bottles of Fruit Drops in lemon, orange, cucumber, watermelon, etc., but we plan to use whatever fruits we have on hand.)
We are looking forward to our kids using it as something to do with their friends when they have play dates. We are also thinking it will be a hit when we have parties. Our friends and family will really enjoy making their own drinks.
Already we are planning to have it out for our Summer Solstice party with our neighbors and will include a lineup of fruits so they can customize their beverages. And we know our kids will be proud their friends will be able to make their own soda as well. (We will update in June!) We plan to have a “bar” set up with cucumbers, mint, rosemary, lemon, lime, pineapple, berries, oranges, etc. It will be perfect for the summer.
Instructions for SodaStream
Again, it’s really easy to set up and easy to use. It was interesting there wasn’t a written instruction manual but rather an easy-to-follow insert with illustrations.
Sparkling water maker choices
We have the “middle model” which is the One Touch Electric. It comes with a one liter plastic bottle.
There is also the Fizzi Classic which is more compact and also cordless. It comes with a one liter plastic bottle as well.
The Aqua Fizz comes with dishwasher-safe glass carafes. We really love they are glass instead of plastic. However, according to the website, these carafes are .62 liters (620 ml) instead of the liter the other two models come with.
Sustainable option for beverages
Think of the cans and bottles of specialty drinks you buy. For the most part, these 2 liters of soda, and 12 and 24 packs of soda are used once — you drink it — hopefully recycle the bottle or can — and that’s it.
The waste from these receptacles — even if you recycle — really adds up as far as the raw materials used to make them and the cost to transport them and then to deal with them in the landfills or the costs involved with recycling them.
We love our SodaStream and how it will eliminate us buying one-time use bottles and cans.
Sustainable undergarments from a company that gives back
Here’s a perfect example of eco-fashion — underwear!
Did you know you can buy sustainable underwear using organic Pima cotton and water bottles? The elastic from every pair of Marc Skid underwear is made from one plastic, recyclable water bottle.
Also, each pair of Marc Skid underwear is made with organic Pima cotton. It’s grown on family farms and is non-GMO. According to their website, less than 2% of the world’s cotton is Pima cotton. And just .0005% is organic Pima cotton.
In addition to being made with environmentally-friendly materials, this eco-unders company supports non-profits.
Marc Skid donates $4 from each sale of underwear to a charity. Depending on which pair you purchase, there are three non-profits you can choose to support. These charities are in three groups: feeding, curing, or saving. They support nine non-profits in total. And just by going to their website and entering your email address, they will donate $1 to a medical clinic in Honduras.
Cure the World Joan Bikini
Marc Skid sent us their Cure the World Joan Bikini underwear. They are soft, comfortable and hip in a bright orange/red. They held their color and shape after washing them and putting them in the dryer. In addition, they are true to size. They seem like they will wear well and last a long time.
Marc Skid supports charities
You will be able to choose to support the charity based on the color of underwear you purchase.
Feed the World
Choose green and will get to choose to Feed the World. You will be able to support one of these charities: Action Against Hunger; feedONE; or The Hunger Project.
Cure the World
Orange/red is Cure the World. You can choose to support one of these organizations: Catholic Medical Mission Board; Concern Foundation; or Project C.U.R.E.
Save the World
Blue is Save the World. By choosing blue, you will get to select to donate to: Amazon Conservation Association; Carbon Fund; or Water.org.
White is Open World. When you choose underwear in white, you get to select to donate $4 from the purchase price to any one of the nine charities.
Donating $4 from each pair
Something different about Marc Skid is that not only are they donating from every pair you buy, they tell you how much they are donating.
Many companies who donate often state they are donating “a percentage” from every sale. But what does that mean? How much is it? You won’t have any way of knowing how much that amounts to. Even if they state they are giving “1% of the profit” to a cause, how much is that?
In addition, the nine charities Marc Skid supports are fully vetted by Charity Navigator. In this way, you know they are responsible charities who are making a huge impact in the areas they serve.
They offer three styles — Joan Bikini, Laurinda Hipster, and Philip Boxer Brief — in green, orange/red, blue, and white. Their John Boxer pair is available only in white.
Organic, sustainable underwear
As you learn more about environmentally-friendly clothing, you may learn how manufacturing clothing uses many man-made resources which contribute to burdening our environment.
Choosing organic cotton underwear — even better: organic Pima cotton underwear — becomes an easy choice.
Best earth-friendly products
Be aware of companies who make green claims. Dig a little deeper to find out in what ways their products are sustainable, low impact, etc.
There are many ways to think about eco-friendly products.
Sometimes they are products you can use again and again. They use sustainable materials and often eliminate the need for consumers to buy replacements. Other times, environmental products may extend the life of a product you use and cut down on waste.
In addition, environmentally-friendly companies may make a difference in their communities and contribute to non-profits.
This is important to remember even when you travel. If you enjoy buying souvenirs, try to buy something that is made locally and supports the local economy. Also, depending on where you are, you will want to be sure whatever you buy is sustainable.
We have choices in how we want to shop. Likely, there is a company who is offering a better solution, making less of an impact, and making a difference in the world.
Overall, consumers have become really good at recycling and reusing. Now it’s time to think of other ways to lessen our impact and to do good. These product are among the best earth-friendly products available.