Non-Profit Spotlights: The WILD Foundation

Our planet is changing. And it’s more important than ever that we take meaningful action to heal our planet. But how? And who will lead the charge? As part of the EarthHero Non-Profit Spotlight we’re highlighting amazing non-profits and charities who are dedicated to making our world a better, greener, place. To kick things off, we’re featuring The WILD Foundation – a historic organization that has been protecting our untouched spaces in nature for nearly half a century. Read on to learn their history, how they’re making an impact, and how you can get involved with their amazing foundation!

Non-Profit Spotlight: The WILD Foundation

What is the WILD Foundation?

Born out of the idea that respect for nature is the key to keeping the Earth healthy for generations to come, the WILD Foundation envisions a bold future for wilderness conversation – one that is about unity. Simply put: they are the people helping to keep our Earth wild.

WILD FOUNDATION Non-Profit Spotlight EarthHero
Magqubu Nthombela and Ian Player

50 years ago, their founders, a White game ranger named Ian Player and his Zulu mentor, Magqubu Nthombela, helped to save the Southern White Rhino from extinction. This was the first large mammal to be taken off of the endangered species list, and kicked off a much larger movement of animal conservation and protection. While fighting for the rights of the White Rhino, Player and Ntombela learned an extremely important lesson: that saving one species at a time is amazing progress, but will ultimately fail. The true solution is intact and interconnected wilderness that protects a diverse range of species.

To address this issue, in 1974, the WILD Foundation was born. Dedicated to building strong communities that respect, and protect nature for the benefit of all life on Earth, the WILD Foundation goes the extra mile to spread sustainability everywhere they work.

What is the WILD Foundation doing for our planet?

50 years later, WILD is still committed to building relationships with nature at the grassroots level, helping shape international policies to safeguard remaining wilderness, and stewarding a movement called Nature Needs Half that aims to protect 50% of the planet from deforestation and development. By tackling the issues on a grassroots, national, and global level, WILD ensures that their efforts aren’t just addressing one portion of the problem – and that their results are impactful and long-lasting.

WILD knows that there are two types of conservation programs, both equally important to the health of our planet. The first type of program is on-the-ground teams taking physical actions to defend critically threatened species and spaces. This is done through reforestation efforts, pollution cleanups, habitat management, and more. These efforts are typically costly, and difficult to sustain over the long-term, which is why they need to be paired with another type of conservation… one that tackles the root of the issue. This focuses on political action, environmental education, and global coordination for a multi-faceted sustainability plan.

And it’s working! Through a WILD led coalition, they have saved 17.4 million square kilometers of protected lands from industrial extraction practices that can be devastating to natural habitats. They have also protected 8 million square acres in West Africa for one of the two remaining desert elephant herds to roam and live on. And that’s not all! For the last 40+ years, WILD has worked to create a variety of large-scale solutions for wilderness that targets the root causes of environmental destruction – like the Marine Wilderness Project, Wild Boulder (an initiative in our hometown!), the NAWPA Conservation project, and many more. You can read more about all of WILD’s projects locally, nationally, and globally here.

WILD Foundation Non-Profit Spotlight EarthHero
Where WILD Works

For now, we’re going to dive into one of our favorite initiatives of theirs: the World Wilderness Congress. This is the world’s longest-running public environmental forum that works to build awareness and support for wild spaces, while working to strengthen everything from the grassroots decision-making process to national policies. In many countries across the world the concept of “wilderness” doesn’t have a name, or a place in greater society. The World Wilderness Congress (WWC), founded by WILD founder Nthombela, works with leaders worldwide to change the way the world sees our planet. Some of their successes include: contributing to the foundation of the World Bank’s Global Environmental Facility, dozens of new public and private protected spaces that cover millions of acres, and efforts to protect wilderness across national borders. They’ve worked with leaders like the 56th President of Mexico, the President of South Africa, Jane Gooddall, Tashka Yawanawa, Chief of the Yawanawa People, Sylvia Earle, and many more! Because the Congress is public, leaders from all walks of life have contributed and worked with the WWC, strengthening their ability to create multi-faceted problem solving that includes the needs of all.

How can I get involved with the WILD Foundation?

We love the WILD Foundation because they are doing so many amazing things, both in our hometown and across the globe. They’ve created meaningful change in a number of wild spaces… but that work requires an enormous amount of time, energy, and resources to enact. That’s why they need our help to make it all happen. By becoming a member, or donating directly to WILD, you can directly support their environmental initiatives.

WILD Foundation Non-Profit Spotlight | EarthHero
WILD Foundation EarthHero Gift Box

To make it even easier to get involved with the WILD Foundation, we’ve teamed up with them and the Global Healing Collective to make a custom gift box filled with some of our favorite plastic-free, zero waste essentials – and 10% of the proceeds will go towards the WILD Foundation and their assorted causes. Because Boulder, Colorado is our hometown, we think it’s important that they can continue to build a strong network in the Front Range Mountains that works to respect and protect the diverse ecosystem we have. The donations from this curated box will allow WILD to build out an initiative to identify and train citizen scientists who will help document wildlife patterns. These citizen scientists will collaborate with regional land managers who are working to better understand how to protect critical habitats in the mountains and the valleys so that the creatures that live there can thrive – and create a healthier and more stable ecosystem as a whole. Plus, the box is chock full with tons of reusable products that are a great way to begin to reduce the amount of waste you create in your life, which directly impacts nearly all forms of wildlife. Be a conscious consumer, and support the WILD Foundation, when you get your box here!

EarthHero’s Ryan + Becki with the WILD Team

Sustainability Stories: Reducing Plastic at the Grocery Store

The journey towards living a less wasteful lifestyle isn’t always easy… especially when doing things like grocery shopping. From plastic packaged produce to non-recyclable snack packaging, planning a plastic-free grocery store trip can seem impossible. The good news is that you are not alone! Consumers all over the world are making changes during their shopping trips – and supermarkets are taking notice. Natural grocer Trader Joes has vowed to reduce their packaging by 2020, and others are beginning to follow suit. By simply taking personal actions at the store you can send a much larger message.

To learn more about how to avoid plastic on your next shopping trip, and to get first hand feedback from someone trying to reduce their grocery store related waste, we’re having Meredith, a graduate student of Ecopsychology, tell her story as part of a new series we’re doing: Sustainability Stories!

A Plastic Awareness Journey: How to Avoid Plastic at the Grocery Store

By Meredith Doherty

“This is the story of my journey towards plastic-free living. Let me start off by saying, my life is not completely plastic-free. But hey, I’ve started the change I want to be a part of. In fact, the reason I started trying to avoid plastic was because of a class project as a part of my master’s program. This class project was all about changing a behavior, pattern, or habit in my daily life that was inhibiting sustainability or harming the earth in one way or another. With all the media surrounding plastic in our oceans, and those horrible videos about wildlife eating or getting stuck in plastic pollution, I decided I would try to avoid it (especially at the grocery stores).

The first day that I went to the grocery store after deciding on my intention for the project, I felt completely overwhelmed and ashamed by all the plastic I saw. It’s everywhere! I watched as my partner grabbed for plastic produce bags left and right for each individual piece of produce. There were even certain produce items that you could only get pre-wrapped in plastic! I tried to just be an observer during this first grocery trip but felt myself cringing at each plastic bag and plastic container. I found myself staring at other people’s plastic-filled grocery carts, wanting to dump them all out (including my own)!

As I continued with the project, I started to learn about why plastic was such a problem. Plastic does not decompose or return to the earth in any form. Some plastic is recyclable, but not all plastic is recycled. Excess plastic is dumped at landfills where it either will leach harmful chemicals into the soil and groundwater; is burned, emitting carbon dioxide and other toxic gasses into the atmosphere adding to climate change; or is converted into microplastics that spread to every surface of the Earth. Other plastic waste ends up as pollution on our land and in our oceans, poisoning and entangling wildlife that mistake it for food. The world continues to manufacture and use plastic at alarming rates because of its cheap, versatile, durable, and lightweight characteristics.

Plastic Production & Recycling

An estimated 8% of the world’s oil production is used to produce plastics, meaning the plastic industry bolsters the oil industry’s attempts to continue oil production through pernicious activities like fracking. Plus, the actual plastic production process also releases noxious chemicals into the air. Plastic manufacturers use carcinogenic, neurotoxic, and hormone-disrupting chemical additives like BPA and phthalates to make plastic products more flexible, durable, and versatile. The extraction of resources to create plastic through oil production and the actual manufacturing of plastics account for serious environmental and human health hazards.

So, then I came to think that as long as I recycle my plastics, I should be fine, right? But unfortunately, recycling is just a band-aid on a broken system. Some plastic is recycled (about 7% in America), depending on the market of post-consumer recyclables, government regulation, waste contamination, individual awareness, and availability of recycling streams. Recycling plastic also downgrades the product in quality, meaning that it can only be recycled 2-3 times before it is unusable, or must be upcycled. We used to send our recycled plastic over to China to deal with, but in 2018 that all changed. China banned imported plastic waste which is causing excess recycled plastic to end up in our own domestic landfills!

Landfills & Microplastics

Fact: half of all plastic manufactured becomes trash in less than one year. In more developed countries where landfills are better managed and effectively regulated, plastic garbage is disposed of through burial methods. However, if mishandled, plastics can leach harmful chemicals into the soil, groundwater, and neighboring environments. In less developed countries, the lightweight plastic garbage in landfills often blows off and becomes litter in the environment. Some landfills choose to utilize plastic waste management technologies that include incineration, co-incineration, gasification, and pyrolysis – which emits toxic smoke and particulates that can deposit in soil and water, eventually entering the human body through the food chain and triggering respiratory health problems to those nearby.

Landfills have to take these actions to reduce the amount of plastic waste they hold because plastic will never truly biodegrade or disappear.. But instead become something called ‘microplastics’. Primary microplastics are produced for functionality in things like personal care products, whereas secondary microplastics form from the breakdown or degradation of larger plastics. Microplastics enter the human body through drinking, eating, ingestion, and breathing, and are linked to health impacts like cancers, tissue damage, and fibrosis. In marine ecosystems, wildlife of all sizes from plankton to whales can consume and absorb these microplastic pieces as well. Studies show that millions of marine species have ingested microplastics, reducing their growth and development, slowing metabolic rate, and potentially making its way up the food chain to humans through seafood consumption.

From landfills to oceans, rivers to cities, the issue is simple: there is too much plastic on our planet, and we need to find more solutions for how to address the problem we’ve created, while ensuring we don’t make it worse.

Being a Conscious Consumer

Plastic, despite all of its flaws, became popular because it’s versatile, durable, and created a new wave of inexpensive, single-use items that brought convenience and ease to the lives of millions. Companies creating plastic kept consumers in the dark to the dangers of the material, and worked hard to make plastics all but impossible to avoid. But, over the last half century, scientists and consumers alike have learned about the dangers of plastic consumption at this rate – for human health and planetary health – and we need to find a way to change our behaviors before it’s too late. The plastic system is ruled by the phrase: reduce, reuse, recycle – but what it lacks is “refuse”.

A shift in consciousness is occurring around the world and it is now our responsibility to become accountable consumers by shopping at sustainably conscious stores, transforming our individual lifestyles, and applying social pressure to institutions for change. By saying no to plastic, and instead opting for recycled, upcycled, and other eco-friendly materials, we can make a huge impact as consumers. And companies will notice!

Where My Journey Has Led Me

So here I am, eyes wide open to our plastic problem, wondering if I’m doing enough. It’s completely overwhelming to see how much plastic is affecting our lives and the ecosystems all around us. But, knowing that I had at least opened myself up to learning about the plastic problem, I was beginning to really understand why it was so important to make the changes I needed to make in order to continue avoiding plastic. I inhabited a new narrative around the awareness, motivation, and changes I needed to make in my life to maneuver the institutional and psychological barriers that dictated my plastic usage.

The stories we choose to inhabit affect our psychological ability to change our behavior. We can choose to live a story where massive societal change towards a sustainable future is happening, and we can contribute towards it positively with our own innovative solutions.

Facing the repressed guilt I had around all my years of unconscious plastic usage created excitement around finding new ways of avoiding plastic. After about a month into my project, I overcame a huge obstacle – I made my first plastic-free trip to the grocery store. I was so proud of myself that I had tears in my eyes at checkout. From there, I started learning how to make certain food items from scratch like bread, tortillas, cheese, and pizza crust. I began shifting my diet away from dairy, meat, and processed foods. I now always have reusable grocery and produce bags on hand and have become accustomed to placing certain loose produce items directly in my cart.

Sustainability sometimes seems far away, ungraspable, unattainable. Often, we feel constrained, believing that our behavior will not make any impact. With small and very doable changes in my life, I have started getting rid of plastic packaging, and began other acts of sustainability like recycling, composting, and using every part of the meat I choose to buy. I joined a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture Farm) and am now currently growing an array of herbs, fruits, and vegetables at home. I feel this new sense of power and elation as I have begun to align my actions to my values and identity by participating in a new type of responsible consumerism. It really just takes a little awareness, research, motivation, and a whole lot of patience to make these changes occur.

Sustainability is not only about “going green” but also rethinking how we live and what we value. As humans, the daunting ecological crises we are seeing all around us causes many of us to shut down. However, if you’re willing to start slowly with little changes in behavior and patterns, you’ll start to feel that sense of pride knowing that you’re becoming a part of the solution. From my own victories and failures at the grocery store, I have learned so much – so I put together some suggestions to aid in your pursuit of a plastic-free grocery experience. There are three levels of suggestions of how to start small, then level up as you become more comfortable avoiding plastic at the grocery store.  

Level 1:
  • Bring reusable grocery and produce bags
  • Start to get comfortable putting loose items in your cart
  • Reuse or repurpose plastic bags
  • Buy substitutes for plastic-wrapped items
  • Get familiar with what items typically come in plastic and what does not
Level 2:
  • Meal plan around what is available without plastic
  • Shop at more sustainable grocery stores or butchers that offer meat and dairy items that can be put in home-brought containers or alternative wrapping
  • Get compostable trash bags for trash bins
  • Buy items in bulk
  • Use milk cartons that can be returned to the grocery store for reuse
Level 3:
  • Find recipes and learn how to make foods that are typically plastic-packaged like bread, tortillas, cheese, alternative forms of milk
  • Join a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm to get your fruits, veggies, meat, eggs, and milk from (some farms may not offer meat or dairy options)
  • Grow herbs, fruits, and vegetables
  • Create meals around the food available, instead of using recipes to purchase the food items needed
  • Ask your local grocery store to use compostable produce bags, allow customers to bring their own containers for meat and dairy products, and see how else they can make changes towards sustainability

Moral of the Story

The most important thing is that you start these changes at a level of feasible integration. Trying too much, too fast, will cause you to burnout – which nobody wants. The truth is that it is nearly impossible to avoid all plastic and plastic packaging in the current state of our culture. Blaming or shaming yourself can also cause burnout that diminishes the value of the steps taken towards avoiding plastic and honoring your relationship with the earth.  

Good luck on your journey. Set your intentions, start slow, integrate patiently, forgive yourself for buying plastic when you have to, and be proud of yourself for making the change towards sustainability. You got this!”

 

What is Reef-Safe Sunscreen?

You’ve probably heard of reef-safe sunscreens on the news, with articles like about the dangers of conventional sunscreens by the FDA making national headlines. But what really is reef-safe sunscreen, and why is it better for human health, and for the health of the planet? In this blog, you’ll learn…

What “reef-safe” and “oxybenzone-free” means in relation to sunscreen choices!
Why switching to reef-safe sunscreen is important for human + ecosystem health!
Learn the answers to common sunscreen questions about ingredients, broad spectrum, the sun’s rays, SPF, and more!

Conventional Sunscreens

Fact: all sunscreens must contain some sort of active ingredient – aka any ingredient that produces a chemical or biological impact – to protect against the sun’s rays effectively. But… not all active ingredients are the same.

Conventional sunscreens, or chemical sunscreens, rely on chemical filters as their active ingredient, and contain a combo of oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate or octinoxate to ‘protect’ your skin from the sun by absorbing UV rays through a chemical reaction.

But the truth is that these chemicals filters are actually able to absorb into our skin – and are beginning to be linked to major health concerns, most prominently hormone disruption. The most recent study by the FDA this May has raised major concerns about the lack of long-term testing for these ingredients that were originally approved in the 70s, and has begun to push for greater scientific research overall. But, even without these long-term studies, we already know a lot about these different chemical filters…

Let’s start with oxybenzone.

According to the EWG, oxybenzone is in nearly 65% of chemical sunscreens. Studies show it can cause allergic skin reactions, acts as a weak estrogen, and has strong anti-androgenic effects – an important hormone in the male reproductive system. Oxybenzone can also pass from expectant mothers to their children through their breast milk, and more research is being done to study the ongoing impacts of such exposure.

Beyond just the human health impacts, oxybenzone is one of the leading causes of coral bleaching, a problem which has wiped out a sizeable portion of our global coral reefs. They work by decreasing the natural ability of coral to defend themselves against bleaching, and damage their DNA and development. This damage pairs with other environmental stressors like ocean acidification, rising sea temperatures, and water pollution to limit the ability of coral to reproduce and survive as a whole.

We all play a role

Research shows that coral reefs in Hawaii are exposed to 6,000 TONS of sunscreen each year that runs off of our bodies, whether it be in the ocean, pool, or just down the shower drain. And a 2015 study shows that oxybenzone can be harmful at concentrations as low as 1 drop of water in 6.5 Olympic sized swimming pools. In Hawaii, some swimming beaches have been measured to have concentrations of over 10x that amount – which is severely damaging reefs and the wildlife that relies on the reefs to survive.

But oxybenzone isn’t the only problem.

Danish researchers conducted a study back in 2016 and found that 8 of 13 chemical filters allowed in US sunscreens can affect calcium signaling of male sperm cells, which can impact male fertility. Investigations by the National Institute of Health found a link between high concentrations of benzophenones and reduced fertility for males as well, and higher risk of endometriosis in women.

To put it simply: conventional sunscreens are not good. While we’re still working to strengthen FDA regulations on chemical sunscreens, and perform more long-term studies, all preliminary research shows the same thing – they’re negatively affecting our bodies, our families, and most importantly, our planet! The good news is that there is a better way with reef-safe sunscreens

Reef-Safe Sunscreens

Reef-safe sunscreens, aka mineral-based sunscreens, are quickly becoming popular as a non-toxic alternative to chemical sunscreens that still protect you from the sun’s rays. They rely on active ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, both of which provide ample UVA/UVB sun protection and are considered to be non-hazardous for both humans and coral reefs.

How Reef Safe Sunscreens work

Mineral-based sunscreens work by forming a physical barrier between your skin and the sun. You’ve probably seen zinc oxide slathered on the noses of lifeguards in movies, looking quite white and chalky as it forms that barrier. But zinc oxide has come a long way, and zinc oxide formulas have found ways to be tinted, clear, or easier to rub in – without compromising on quality.

Whether you choose zinc oxide or titanium dioxide for your active sunscreen ingredients, the most important facet of a truly ‘reef-safe’ sunscreen is that it is non-toxic & biodegradable. This means that all the ingredients in the sunscreen are able to naturally break down, without leaving chemical waste behind.

“Reef Safe” policies

Hawaii and Florida, two states greatly impacted by sunscreen pollution, have begun to take matters into their own hands by banning the sale of sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. Both states will have these laws go into 2021, which is a huge step in the right direction. Many other international tourist destinations are also beginning to require biodegradable sunscreen from anyone who wants to visit… and confiscating chemical sunscreens if you bring them anyways.

And it’s actually working! Previously bleached corals in the Pacific ocean are slowly beginning to bounce back after severe damage, with further studies emphasizing the historic resilience of coral reefs – giving us hope for places like the Great Barrier Reef. When the corals come back, so do different aquatic species that rely on corals to survive, supporting biodiversity as a whole.

Don’t live by the ocean?

Reef-safe sunscreens, whether you live next to the ocean or not, are important for everyone on the face of the Earth. Scientists, dermatologists, and experts all recommend you wear sunscreen every day, every single time you go outside, no matter how warm or cold it feels. This is because it protects your skin – helping defend against aging – as well as your long-term health – defending against skin cancer and other sun-related health problems.

And, when you shower at the end of each day, all that sunscreen will go down the drain, and as we learned from Finding Nemo… all drains lead to the ocean! By choosing a reef-safe sunscreen for your everyday face and body routine you can reduce the amount of chemicals you send down the drain, and reduce your footprint on our marine life.

Common Sunscreen Questions

What’s the difference between UVA and UVB rays? How do I protect myself from them?

In general, ultraviolet (UV) rays refer to electromagnetic light that can reach us from the sun, and are categorized by the length of the energy wavelength. This means UVA rays, aka ultraviolet A (long-wave) rays, are different from UVB rays, aka ultraviolet B (short-wave) rays.

While UVB rays are linked to sunburns, UVA rays are linked to aging skin… But both are linked to skin cancer due to their ability to damage cellular DNA and create genetic mutations. UVA rays account for 95% of the radiation reaching the Earth’s surface, but they are less intense than UVB rays. Despite being less intense, they penetrate the skin more deeply, which is why they’re linked to aging as well as skin cancer. It’s essential that you protect yourself from both, so look for the term “broad-spectrum.” This refers to sunscreens that can protect you from both!

What does a higher SPF mean?

SPF (sun protection factor) is a measure of how much UVB that a sunscreen can filter and protect against. Since there is currently no way to label the degree of protection from UVA, this is the typical way we look at the level of sun protection. It indicates how long it will take for the skin to redden as compared to how it would react without the sunscreen. For example, SPF 15 means that it will take 15x longer for someone who is wearing the sunscreen to have their skin redden than without.

Also, the higher the SPF the wider the range of UV rays coverage it offers, however this will start to plateau as you get higher–SPF 30 covers 97% of UV rays, and 50 SPF covers 98%, for example. We recommend always starting at 30SPF, and then going up from there depending on how long you plan on staying in the sun.

How do I properly use mineral-based sunscreens?

One of the most important steps for applying mineral sunscreens is making sure you apply a thorough layer that covers the entire area you’re looking to protect. Because it works by creating a physical barrier, start with a small amount and spread the product evenly on the skin before adding a second layer. One ounce of sunscreen for your entire lower half is generally recommended. Then, make sure you reapply every 80 minutes, or more quickly depending on if you’re swimming or sweating. A water-resistant sunscreen will always have the time span that it should last for under those conditions!

Do babies and kids need special sunscreens?

Babies and kids have naturally sensitive skin, and can sunburn extremely easily, so they absolutely need to be wearing sunscreen and other sun protection items when they go outside. They’re also more prone to allergic reactions and adverse reactions, so it’s important that they are wearing a mineral-based, non-toxic sunscreen. But – from the selection of EarthHero approved reef-safe sunscreen formulas – there is actually very little difference between sunscreens labeled for babies vs kids vs adults. Some children’s sunscreens will contain skin moisturizing additives like calendula to help nourish the skin while it protects, and of course they can feature different SPFs, but for the most part you should be safe applying any mineral-based sunscreen to your little one (of course avoiding ingestion, and the eyes, nose, and mouth!)

What are nanoparticles, and are they safe in sunscreen?

Nano particles are simply smaller versions of any particle. The tiny size of these particles make them easy to absorb by the skin and into the body. Whether or not they are harmful has more to do with what substance these particles are a part of as opposed to just their size.

Many chemical sunscreens rely on nano-particles to ensure a clear application. The risk of nano-sized particles used in mineral sunscreens–zinc oxide and titanium-dioxide–is still up for dispute, but to be safe we prefer to stick to non-nano when possible! To play it safe, look for non-nano zinc oxide, and non-nano titanium dioxide.

Want more information on the science behind natural sunscreens, and help finding one that’s perfect for your lifestyle? Check out our Natural Sunscreen Blog! Or – shop all our sunscreen + sun care products here!

Chemical-Free Cleaning Products

We all want a clean house…. But nowadays, a clean planet is even more important. Luckily for you, you can have both thanks to our conscious companies that are finding innovative, zero waste ways to package and produce their cleaning tools, formulas, and products. They get the job done with ease (whatever the job may be!) and leave fewer chemicals and pollution behind for our Earth to deal with. Win-win. Read on below to learn about the benefits of natural cleaning products, and some of our favorites for tackling messes in every corner of the house!

Benefits of Non-Toxic Cleaning Formulas

They’re safe for children and pets!

Tired of evacuating the bathroom for hours after you clean it with harsh chemicals so that little ones don’t get overwhelmed with chemical-laden fumes? Unlike conventional cleaners, which can contain health-disrupting toxins (check out some toxins to avoid here!), natural cleaning products can be safely used around children of all ages. In fact, they can even join in on the cleaning when you use non-toxic formulas and begin to create healthy habits around their chores. While we still recommend adult supervision and suggest keeping the cabinet where you keep your cleaning products guarded against pets and little ones, you can clean worry-free knowing your products won’t be creating long-term damage.

They promote healthier indoor, and outdoor, air quality!

Look at the back of your conventional chemical-based cleaning products and you’ll likely see a giant warning label urging you to not breathe in the fumes. Which… frankly… is pretty hard to do if you’re deep cleaning smaller spaces like your bathroom. According to the EPA, the air quality inside homes can be 2-5x more polluted than the air just outside the home – and cleaning products play a huge role in that!

They protect our natural resources!

Conventional cleaning products like laundry detergents and fragranced aerosol sprays are often petroleum-based, which is a non-renewable natural resource that is extremely intensive to extract and transform. When we use large quantities of these petroleum-based, toxic products near sources of water (think down the bathtub drain!) it becomes nearly impossible for wastewater treatment plants to treat a large volume of these chemicals before they go to our aquatic ecosystems. Over time, this can negatively impact all sorts of wildlife and habitats – similarly to how microplastics accumulate!

Now that you know why… let’s get into how!

Laundry Room

Non-Toxic Cleaning Products | EarthHero | Soap Nuts

Soap Nuts

If single-use laundry pods are your thing, switch them out with soap nuts! Unlike Tide Pods and other laundry detergent pods, these soap nuts are 100% plastic-free, non-toxic, and chemical free – because they come from dried berries from trees in the Himalayas… not a factory. When the soap nuts are agitated in water they release saponin, which is a natural cleanser and fabric softener. Plus, they can be reused for several washes and then composted when you’re done with them. There’s also a liquid detergent made from soapberry extract, which is just as sustainable and comes inside an aluminum bottle instead of just being loose soap nuts.

Powdered Detergent

Want a cleaner & greener laundry detergent, but not ready to make the switch to soapberries? Powdered laundry detergent, packaged in refillable and reusable steel containers, is another great option! Made from concentrated ingredients like baking soda, washing powder, vegetable-based soap, and essential oils, powdered detergent can be used in both standard and HE style washing machines and easily removes stains and stink from all clothing types. No SLS, synthetic fragrances, dyes, plastic-packaging or optical brighteners needed. Plus, the canister can be refilled with more powdered detergent for a fraction of the cost of conventional detergents.

Non-Toxic Chemical-Free Cleaning Products on EarthHero

Cora Ball

While it’s important to ensure we aren’t sending toxic chemicals to our aquatic ecosystems through the washing machine, it’s also important to learn about the role of microplastics when washing our clothes. You can get the full scoop with the microplastic blog here, but to put it simply: when you wash clothes made from synthetic materials they release microscopic plastic threads that won’t biodegrade for hundreds of years. Plus, they get into the belly of animals and can cause a slew of health impacts for animals and people alike.

That’s where the Cora Ball comes in. Made from 100% recycled plastic, this scientist-tested ball captures and collects microplastics and microthreads that are released from your clothes so they don’t make it into our waterways. Just toss it in the washer drum with your laundry detergent of choice, and give it a few weeks to build up microparticles before you remove them manually and throw them in the trash where they belong.

Dryer Balls

Now that your clothes are clean, it’s time to dry them. Instead of tossing them in with single-use dryer sheets (which are full of chemicals and can actually damage your clothes), make the switch to reusable dryer balls. Made from ethically harvested & cruelty-free wool, they work by separating and lifting clothes to dry them faster and with less static. In fact, dryer balls are so effective that they can save you both energy and money. You can even drop some essential oils into the wool dryer balls for that “fresh-out-the-dryer” smell.

Non-Toxic Cleaning Products | Bestowed Essentials | EarthHero

Spot-Treatment Stain Stick

Last but not least on the laundry lineup: stain sticks. Messes happen.. And sometimes you need ultra-concentrated cleaning power to handle them. But lots of stain sticks out there contain tons of bleaches, optical whiteners, and other toxic chemicals that are overkill. Natural laundry stain sticks, made from concentrated vegetable soaps, are a natural way to pre-treat tough stains before washing clothes to ensure they get 100% clean. Simply wet the spot, rub the treatment on, and toss it in the wash. Here is one we love with added baking soda, and here is one we love without it.

Bathroom

Meliora Non-Toxic Cleaning Products EarthHero

All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

Every household on the planet needs a high-quality cleaning spray for spills, smudges, and general life messes. But… most conventional cleaning sprays contain toxic phthalates, which are beginning to be studied in connection with long-term health impacts, and are almost always packaged in plastic. Ditch the single-use spray bottles and switch to a formula that works hard – so you don’t have to. This all-purpose cleaning spray comes with a reusable glass spray bottle and a steel canister of “cleaning flakes” made from toxin-free vegetable soap that are cruelty-free, SLS-free, and safe to use in any part of your home. Plus, you’ll save money: 18 refills of cleaner is only $8… that’s 44 cents a full bottle of surface cleaner.

Soft Scrub

Some messes, like those in the grout between your bathroom tile, require a little more elbow grease. This soft scrub powder from Meliora gets the job done, allowing you to really get to work in your spring deep cleaning. This scrub is safe to use on stainless steel, ceramic/porcelain tile, and most stovetops. Here is an awesome soft scrub, and here is a similar ‘scouring powder’. Don’t let corporate marketing fool you into thinking you need ultra strength chemical cleaners to get those tough to clean spots. These soft scrubs get the job done, without industrial strength toxins!

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Floor Cleaner

Up next in your spring cleaning to-do list is the floors! For sparkling tile, wood, and vinyl floors try this USDA Certified Organic floor cleaner. Made with essential oils and botanical extracts, this citrus spray is packaged in a reusable, recyclable aluminum bottle–so you have less plastic, and fewer toxins in your home. To use, simply spray on the floor and run a sweeper style mop (think Swiffer-style!) around until your floor is sparkling clean!

Kitchen + Dishes

Castile Dish Soap

We all wish our dishwashers (if you have one!) could clean everything in our kitchen… but for now… we still need to use dish soap to clean those pots, pans, knives, and cutting boards. Say goodbye to those wasteful (non-recyclable!) plastic bottles from used dish soap and say hello to castile dish soap blocks. Castile soap, basically just meaning a ultra-concentrated vegetable-based soap, is plastic, paraben, sulfate, and cruelty-free. It uses french green clay, sea salt, and natural oils to lather and cleanse dishes with ease. Pair with a natural loofah or sisal washcloth for a 100% zero waste clean!

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Veggie Wash

Did you know that seemingly ‘fresh’ produce can often be coated with pesticides, dirt, wax, and other byproducts from the production and harvesting process? And while cleaning with water is an important step, sometimes it’s not enough! This USDA Certified Organic veggie wash is a great way to clean any and all produce before you eat it to ensure you’re not consuming anything but truly clean fruits and veggies. To use, simply spray onto veggies, allow to sit for 30 seconds, then scrub under running water. For softer items like berries, dilute 1-2 oz of the veggie wash in a bowl with the produce, allow to soak for 30 seconds, then rinse.

Surface Cleaner & Glass Cleaner

Tired of feeling like you need a hazmat suit to spray down the surfaces in your kitchen? From smudged fridges, to dirty glass cabinets, it’s important to have a good cleaning spray that can be used every day – without posing a risk to your family’s health. This organic surface cleaner and glass cleaner are safe for daily use near food prep areas because they’re ammonia-free, phosphate-free, and alcohol-free, and leave behind a gentle scent from essential oils that isn’t overpowering for the kitchen.

Essential Cleaning Tools

Now that you know why, and how, to make the switch to non-toxic cleaning products, it’s time to take what you’ve learned and put it into action. Conventional cleaning tools can be extremely wasteful, but we’ve rounded up some of our favorites to help you not only keep your house clean, but the planet as well!

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Natural Latex Cleaning Gloves

Even though at this point you have switched over to only toxin-free cleaning products that won’t irritate your skin, it’s still a great idea to keep a pair of cleaning gloves on hand to protect you from hot water when cleaning and potentially dry skin. We’ve got you covered (literally). These natural latex gloves are slip-resistant, and feature 100% cotton cuffs to keep water from dripping down your arms. The inside is ultra-soft and comfortable, and they’re BPA, phthalate, and PVC-free. The perfect partner for any cleaning task!

Bottle + Straw Brushes

Your reusable bottles and straws are a great way to keep extra plastic out of the landfill, but they can be notoriously hard to clean. By investing in a brush specifically made for this task, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort. When it comes to bottle brushes there are a few options, including some with replaceable heads like this one, and others with various shapes for different types of bottles like this one. Take an inventory of what kinds of items you’ll need to clean – and pick which one works best for you. For straw brushes, it’s a little more straightforward when it comes to choices. Some are extra long, some are colorful, and some are just classic like this one. Whatever you choose be sure you keep it sink-side so you can clean out your bottles + straws after each use!

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Scrubber Sponges and Dish Brushes

A high-quality sponge or dish brush is essential for any cleaning project – whether you’re scrubbing dishes, cleaning countertops, or tackling grit and grime. But… many conventionals options are made from virgin plastic (that comes from non-renewable petroleum!) and have a pretty short lifecycle before they head to the landfill. Instead of buying wasteful plastic-based sponges, you can switch to an exfoliating sponge made from cellulose and walnut shells like this one – it can be composted after hundreds of uses! The natural walnut shells won’t shed microplastic pieces down the drain, either. Or try our 100% zero-waste loofah scrubbers that are made from unprocessed, chemical free heirloom Mayan loofahs that can also be composted when you’re done using them. You can get a 6 pack of smaller loofah scrubbers, or one large 4 inch loofah here – so that you have a scrubber for every assignment.

If you’re not a fan of sponges and loofahs, and prefer a traditional dish brush, there’s a ton of ways to reduce the amount of plastic they are made from. This dish brush flaunts a natural bamboo handle, and a BPA-free recycled plastic head & bristles to help reduce the amount of virgin plastic used. Small but mighty, this handle-free dish brush also relies on natural bamboo and recycled plastic to get the job done. Looking for something with a replaceable head is also a great way to reduce the amount of waste you produce. Whether you choose a dish brush, or a sponge-alternative, make sure you look for ethical materials, responsible production methods, and features that you know you’ll need when cleaning.

Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

Reusable Dish Towels

Paper towels: they come from trees (one of our most important natural resources!), they’re single-use, and let’s face it – they kind of suck for cleaning up messes. A great way to reduce paper towel waste and save yourself some money is to switch to reusable dish towels made from sustainable materials. Organic cotton towels like these are easy to clean + dry with, ultra-absorbent, and even have embedded loops for additional scrubbing power. Or, for a more refined look, you can try stonewashed linen towels like these! Whatever material floats your boat, made sure it’s a natural material like cellulose, linen, or cotton – and not synthetic!

Ready to start cleaning up the planet? Check out all our cleaning formulas and products here, and take 10% off all cleaning products with code: cleaningblog!