Fair Trade vs Made in America

Our world has become more interconnected than ever. With companies and countries alike shipping their goods halfway across the globe each day (sometimes ethically, sometimes not..) people have begun looking into the ‘how’ and ‘where’ their products traveled. But, this process of globalization has also inspired a counterculture movement that celebrates locally made, handmade, and small-batch goods over those shipped from far away places. But, which is truly more sustainable for our planet – fair trade, or Made in America – and why? Read on as we break down the pros and cons of each! 

What you’ll learn:

  • The 4 major types of fair trade certifications and what that means for the product or company certified
  • The pros and cons of locally made, or American made goods
  • How to make ethical and informed decisions when choosing between products that are fair trade or locally made

Fair Trade vs Made in America: Which is more eco-friendly? 

Trading and bartering goods between communities has been a staple of human connection since the beginning of time. But with the rise of technology and transportation, the distance goods travel has stretched from village to village, to country to country. Today, you can get a package shipped from China to your house in less than a week (that’s over 7,000 miles!) This shift has cultivated a culture of “living local” where products and services within your city, state, or country are valued above those from other countries – most notably the push towards “Made in America” products. As this international expansion was occurring, global networks began crafting the concept of “fair trade” goods, ensuring that relationships with makers and suppliers of the product were based on respect, transparency, fair wages, and overall greater equity in international trade. Both Made in America and fair trade have upsides and downsides, and at EarthHero we’re all about asking mother earth how she feels. So in this blog post, we’re exploring which is really better for the planet? The surprising answer is… both. 

Fair Trade Certified

When it comes to fair trade products, there are a few major players on the scene, all with similar but different regulations and guidelines for certification. We’ll break them down below: 

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  • World Fair Trade Organization (WTFO): this organization certifies an entire business, including supply chain, production, and distribution, to create Fair Trade Enterprises. These WTFO Certified enterprizes impact over 1 million lives, and 74% of those are women. These enterprises support and trade with each other, speak up collectively (power in numbers!), and collaborate together for greater impact. Spread across 76 countries, and thousands of products internationally, WTFO Fair Trade Enterprises are verified based on 10 main principles, and is one of the most rigorous verifications in the field. 

 

  • Fairtrade International: this organization, originally called FLO but now labeled Fairtrade International, was born with the intention to unite smaller national fair trade standards under one roof. They created the FAIRTRADE Certification Mark, which has standards that apply to both producers and traders of fair trade products. Their rigorous standards are set in accordance with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice on Standard Setting, and allow the standards to be updated and changed to reflect a changing culture. 

 

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  • Fair Trade Federation: unlike the previous two organizations, which are international, the Fair Trade Federation is a trade association that promotes North American organizations with fair trade commitments to create equitable and sustainable partnerships with members of their supply chain. Over 200+ companies are involved, and they do have eligibility requirements based on their 9 principals, including a focus on long-term and direct relationships with small scale suppliers at the point of production, advanced payment to these suppliers, capacity building for supplier groups, and respect for cultural identity for farmers and artisans.  As a membership-based organization, companies apply and self-report from a more holistic viewpoint on their mission and dedication to fair trade for their entire company versus on a single product. The FTF considers their process more of a ‘verification’ versus certification of the supply chain since third-party audits are not included in the application. Members pay annual dues and are required to have an annual review for ongoing membership. 

 

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  • Fair Trade USA: so far, we have two certifications for the entire supply chain of a company, and one “verification” for the operations of a company. This leaves us with Fair Trade USA – a label seen a lot if you’re a consumer in America. This is an American-based, for-profit certification that certifies individual products, and not entire companies. That being said, they have strict guidelines about the social, environmental, and economic impacts of their certified products – and work with both producers, suppliers, workers, and farmers to ensure the product that is certified is truly ethical. 

Pros & Cons

These various fair trade certifications have been used on coffee, clothing, produce, seafood, cosmetics and beauty, and so much more – letting consumers know that products that receive the label are a truly sustainable good. While the 4 certifications we’ve outlined here have their own pros and cons, they have the same goal: making ethical shopping easier for the consumer. But the certification helps much more than the consumer!

To put it simply, fair trade is a diverse network of producers, companies, shoppers, advocates, and organizations that are putting people in the supply chain first. Their mission is based on the simple concept that the products we buy and enjoy are deeply connected to the livelihoods of others, and by choosing fair trade products, you ensure a better way of life for everyone involved. Fair trade products emphasize 4 main points: 

  • Income sustainability: employees involved in creating the product must earn enough to fulfill basic household needs, regardless of changes in the market prices. Producers, workers, and farmers must earn enough to be able to invest back into their lives, and their businesses. 
  • Empowerment: fair trade products empower both consumers, and workers, to make choices for the good of themselves and our global communities, regardless of status, position in society, or location thanks to fair trade products being available in stores globally. Additionally, these rigorous standards give farmers, fishermen, and workers a voice in the global workplace – empowering them to make ethical decisions for their companies! 
  • Environmental stewardship: fair trade has a huge focus on sustainability and ethical production, and these practices have long-term impacts on the livelihoods of producers, the communities they operate out of, and generations of people to come. Fair trade standards promote slower, less mass-produced, methods of production, which in turn, result in a more positive environmental impact all around. 
  • Individual and community well-being: when individuals are financially stable, they are able to invest back into their communities and/or their workforce. This could mean better healthcare, cleaner water, a stronger economy, and so much more! Plus: very happy people. Yay! 

But what about the transportation costs? This is the biggest issue we hear against fair trade products, in support of locally made ones. It is true that fair trade products often must travel longer distances to be sold in the USA, which comes with greater carbon emissions from transportation. But here’s the important part: most products cannot be entirely manufactured and produced in America, simply because we are limited to what we can grow or the resources we have. Bamboo requires a unique environment to grow in, and therefore, all bamboo must be outsourced to countries that have a climate it thrives in. Coffee is a great example of this as well, with almost all coffee being grown in the “coffee belt” that has the ideal conditions for amazing beans. We live in a globalized world, and it’s simply not feasible to only consume goods or produce that come from your country. The marketplace has to work for everyone – not just the top 1%. By supporting fair trade products by voting with your dollar, you tell companies everywhere that you value the lives of the people who made your product. 

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And it is already making a huge difference. The WTFO Fair Trade Enterprises report impacting 965,000+ lives, with 74% of those individuals being women, and report that 54% of the management or leading roles in these companies belong to women as well. 51% of board positions in Fair Trade Enterprises are held by women, and 52% of CEOs involved in the program are women as well. Last year alone, the Fair Trade USA Certification empowered over 950,000+ farmers and workers across 45 countries to reach more sustainable terms with their trading partners. Plus, consumer awareness around the Fair Trade USA Certified seal has reached 63% – nearly double what it was in 2008, and over 1,250+ responsible businesses’ are Fair Trade USA Certified. And this is just the beginning! Fair trade products are becoming easily recognizable on the shelf, even with the variety of certifying logos, and entire communities are being revolutionized because of these new standards. 

And getting involved is easier than you think. Next time you’re at the grocery store, or shopping online, take a minute to look for a fair trade logo, or information about their ethical production or social responsibility. Truly ethical companies will be shouting it from the rooftops! 

Made in America 

Now, let’s look at the other side of the argument: locally made or “Made in America” products (note: EarthHero is based in the USA, and therefore we consider American-made to be local for us – but this varies) There has been a huge resurgence towards brands and companies that are local, with movements behind American-made vehicles, clothing, and locally grown produce. 

As of now, there is only one major third-party certification for these types of products called Made in USA Certified®. It focuses on stimulating the American economy and job force and allows companies to label their products as “Made in USA”, “Grown in USA”, “Product of USA” or “Service in USA” depending on the percentage of the product that is American made. It is managed by CERTIFIED INC., a non-governmental independent organization, follows the Federal Trade Commission guidelines that state for a product to be labeled this way “all or virtually all” parts of the product manufacturing, including processing and labor, must be of U.S. origin. 

Some benefits to shopping truly locally made, or Made in America products include:

  • American made products support over 17 million jobs across the nation and contributes over 12% to GDP – supporting a healthy American economy and low unemployment rate 
  • At a grassroots level, supporting American businesses (especially small businesses!) reinforces the strength of local communities, and provides jobs to future generations
  • Buying locally, or within your country, will help reduce harmful carbon emissions that result from global transportation, and often require less shipping packaging as well
  • America has relatively stricter labor laws and safer working conditions, which foreign companies without third-party certifications or memberships may not be able to guarantee 

Despite the fact that a major organization is managing the American certification process, many companies can make this claim on their products without the proper background information – and consumers often times won’t be able to know the difference. Additionally, other certification groups like Made in USA Brand are offering a less stringent “certification” which allows brands to “self-certify” these claims, which opens the doors to distrust and misinformation. Another major issue is that the main certification, Made in USA Certified®, only promises that the products were made in the country – and does not enforce strict guidelines for income sustainability, social responsibility, or employee empowerment like the various Fair Trade Certifications do. And while America has relatively strict workplace guidelines, they are still not as forward-thinking and inclusive as the labor guidelines assigned to fair trade companies, which could mean American workers are not feeling empowered or supported. 

How to Choose 

Okay: we definitely just threw a ton of information at you. And you’re probably wondering… what do I do now? How do I shop, and what do I support? And the answer isn’t black and white.

At EarthHero, we believe that both fair trade and Made in USA Certified products are great – and most certainly better than shopping for a product that doesn’t have either affiliation. When it comes to a particular item you want, think about the materials & manufacturing that would go into it… and then decide if it would be more beneficial to get made locally, or imported in an ethical way. Take for example a bar of soap, which contains ingredients that can be sourced nearly anywhere on earth. If you had to choose between a Made in America soap bar, or a fair trade soap bar, you could assume the locally made one will be more eco-friendly due to transportation emissions and bringing jobs to American businesses. But… if you’re shopping for a product that requires ingredients/materials that are almost always shipped from another country (think coffee, rubberwood, etc), fair trade is probably the way to go. 

By shopping for both certifications depending on what product you want, we support not just a healthy and sustainable America… but the whole world, too! In the age of globalization with the internet, modern transportation, and specialization of skills between countries, we have to work together to achieve the future we want – and that means looking beyond where we live. 

What do you prefer to do in your own life? Which is easier for you to find – locally made products, or fairly imported products? What do you think? Share it in the comments below, or share it with a friend to spark a new eco-conversation! 

 

7 Eco-Friendly Pet Products

Here at EarthHero, our fur babies are 100% part of our family, and should be treated as such. That means high quality products, made from ethical materials, that enhance the lives of our furry friends – and the planet that they romp around on. Read on to learn about 7 eco-friendly pet products we’re loving, and how they can reduce the amount of waste your pet produces!

What you’ll learn: 

  • Which ethically made pet products work best for your lifestyle
  • How to reduce the amount of trash your pet produces

7 Eco-Friendly Pet Products | EarthHeroCompostable Pet Waste Bags

Fact: pet waste is an unavoidable part of being a pet parent. To pick up pet waste, whether it’s on a walk with your pup or cleaning up the kitty litter, we often rely on plastic grocery store bags or single-use bags to get the job done… which means for every doggy-doo we add another non-biodegradable plastic bag to our landfills. Meet the eco-friendly solution: compostable pet waste bags! Compostable pet bags, like these from BioBag, are certified compostable by the Biodegradable Products Institute ASTM D400 ensuring that the bags will compost both safely and rapidly in our landfills – without leaving dangerous microplastics behind.

Depending on your lifestyle, you’ve probably seen the green ‘compost’ bins at the local dog parks and community centers which accept pet waste in biodegradable bags. This ensures your pup’s waste is composted… but separate from the rest of the community compost stream, as pet waste can contain harmful pathogens and bacteria. While plastic bags negate the impact of composting pet waste, these compostable bags are compatible with the green ‘compost’ bins popping up, and reduce the amount of new plastic bags we use overall.

 

Hemp Fabric Dog Collar 7 Eco-Friendly Pet Products

A collar has always been a fun way to accessorize and keep your pet safe, but have you ever wondered what your pets collar is made of? Most collars from the pet store are made from virgin polyester and other synthetic fabrics that can get stinky, moldy, or chewed apart with ease.

Unlike classic collars, The Good Dog Company uses naturally renewable hemp fabric to create colorful collars for both dogs and cats. Hemp is naturally anti-bacterial, anti-mold, water-repellent, and durable – and when paired with an organic cotton fabric blend, makes an extremely soft material that won’t rub or tug at your pet’s neck. With a selection of patterns, fabric knits (we love corduroy), and colors, these eco-friendly pet collars are the ideal earth-friendly accessory for your pet.

 

The Good Dog Company | 7 eco-friendly pet products

Hemp Rope Dog Toy

Go to the pet store and take a look around. What do you see on every shelf? Dog toys, plushies, chews, bones, balls, and other playtime essentials… all made from plastic, polyester, and other synthetic materials. They look great, but in no time Fido will chew it up, leaving behind tiny pieces of trashy plastics that have to go straight to the landfill.

Unlike classic dog toys, this rope toy is made from natural hemp fibers – a natural and renewable resource – that is also extremely durable and naturally anti-bacterial so it won’t get disgusting. It’s extremely tough to tear apart, but if your dog manages to do it, they won’t be exposed to the harmful chemicals and toxins found in typical plastic dog toys, or end up consuming the inedible fluffing found in most plush toys. Plus, the natural hemp fiber rope  is knotted to stimulate your pets gums (great for puppies during teething!) and they’ll love the woodsy smell and texture of the hemp rope as well!

 

Dog Sun Protection Rash Guard7 Eco-Friendly Pet Products | EarthHero

Did you know that dogs can still get sunburnt under all that fur? We’re shocked too. And dogs with sensitive or thin hair/fur are especially at risk (we’re looking at you, Dalmatians!) Instead of attempting to apply sunscreen to your pooch, which is really, really difficult and likely will not work at all, just toss a rash guard on them for all-day sun protection.

Made from eco-friendly upcycled nylon fabric made from post-consumer recycled materials, this dog rash guard offers broad spectrum UPF 50+ protection that is chemical-free, reef-safe, and super freakin’ cute. Great for long walks, hikes, biking with your dog, swim days, or any pup who spends a lot of time out in the sun, this rash guard will keep them cool thanks to it’s breathable fabric, and cute thanks to the adorable turtle print. Your pup feels sun burns just like we do, so be sure to protect their skin all summer long!

 

Good Dog Company | 7 Eco-Friendly Pet Products | EarthHero

Hemp Canvas Harness

Dog collars are an essential for any pet owner – but not always the best option for walks or traveling. Unlike collars which only apply pressure to the neck, this dog harness from The Good Dog Company features contouring, adjustable shoulder and sternum straps that won’t pinch or cause hot spots for the most comfortable harness fit out there. The durable clasps adjust easily (perfect for growing puppies!) and comes with an extra large sternum strap to fit a variety of dog breeds.

Plus, this harness was handcrafted locally in the United States from a blend of naturally renewable hemp and non-toxic organic cotton which is anti-bacterial, water-repellent, and soft yet durable to prevent tearing, hot spots, and irritation on your pup’s skin.

 

Hemptique Hemp Animal Bedding | 7 Eco-Friendly Pet Products | EarthHero

Natural Hemp Animal Bedding

Not a cat or dog person? Don’t worry, there’s still a ton of ways to make your small animal live a little bit more eco-friendly! From purchasing fresh veggies from the store plastic-free for your hamster or gerbil, to wooden over plastic toys for your bird, try to stay mindful while shopping for your furry friend. When it comes to bedding (which can be super wasteful with weekly cage cleanings!), be sure to look for natural, renewable materials like hemp… not synthetic based bedding from polyester, a subset of plastic, or virgin wood or straw from new growth trees.

Now you’re probably wondering, “Is hemp bedding really better?” Simply put… yes, both for the planet, and your eco-friendly pet! Hemp animal bedding lasts longer compared to straw or pine alternatives as it absorbs moisture better, and is better as absorbing odors and reducing smell overall in your pet’s home. Made from 100% hemp which is naturally anti-microbial, water-repellent, and chemical-free, this bedding has a lower dust count than other materials, which makes your pet’s breathing environment better a lot better. When the time comes to replace the bedding in their cage, you can completely biodegrade this bedding – sending it to compost collection, not the landfill!

 

7 Eco-Friendly Pet Products | EarthHero

Coconut Oil Dog Toothpaste

Dog kisses: heck yes! Dog breath… not so much. Keep your pup’s pearly whites looking shiny, and their breath a whole lot less stinky with toothpaste designed just for them! From RADIUS brand, this dog toothpaste is made in the United States from USDA Certified Organic ingredients like coconut oil, plus added sweet potato and cinnamon powder for flavor, and contains no added fluorides, preservatives, colors, or synthetics. The coconut oil removes impurities, cleans the gums, and prevents tooth decay, so they can have a happy and healthy smile for years to come. Our pro tip? Apply the toothpaste with a children’s sized bamboo toothbrush like this one – not a plastic brush!

Know of some other eco-friendly pet products we should have on the site? Comment them below!

 

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!

What you’ll learn: 

  • Why chemical-free cleaning formulas are safer for your family, and the planet
  • How to choose products that work for your lifestyle
  • How to tackle every room of your house, from dirty dishes to messy bathrooms

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

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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!

Eco Nuts Non-Toxic Cleaning Products EarthHero

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!

Eco Nuts Non-Toxic Cleaning Products Veggie Wash EarthHero

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!

Non-Toxic Cleaning Products Earthhero

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!

Zero Waste Laundry Hacks

Laundry: everyone does it… but not everyone does it right.

Yep–believe it or not, there is a wrong way to do laundry! While washing and drying your clothes makes your life cleaner, the impact of modern laundry methods is actually making the planet dirtier. By switching to more sustainable options, you can save yourself money, energy, time–and a whole lotta’ waste. Checkout our favorite zero waste laundry products below!

What you’ll learn:

  • 5 swaps to clean up your laundry routine
  • Why these alternatives top your typical laundry necessities- price-wise and for the planet!

The Cora Ball

Coming in at the top of the zero waste laundry list is a revolutionary new tool that can actually reduce the amount of microplastics leaving your washer!

Hold up–what!?

Yep, you heard us. The truth is, each and every time you wash synthetic clothes, blankets, or sheets, you are unknowingly contributing to a serious pollution problem facing our planet right now: microfibers. These microfibers, made out of plastic and chemical-covered non-plastics, come off of our clothes in the washing machine, and then go out with the drain water. It’s estimated that one fleece jacket can shed up to 250,000 pieces per garment per wash–but you’d usually never see them! And even though the fibers are “micro”-sized, they’re making a massive impact.

zero-waste-laundry-cora-ball-microfiber-laundry-ball-1

Microfibers (and microplastics!) are so small that they are nearly invisible–which means that collecting and removing them from our waterways is pretty tough. They will never biodegrade, and usually bond with other chemical pollutants they bump into (think: pesticides and flame retardants). Once in the ocean, they’re easily ingested by plankton and other bottom feeders, which are then consumed by larger species, sending the toxins further up the food chain. And who is at the very end of the food chain? Us!

zero-waste-laundry-biomagnification-and-bioaccumulation
Bioaccumulation and biomagnification. (Image ©WWF)

This is where biomagnification comes in. To put it simply, biomagnification means that the higher up the food chain these microplastics travel, the higher the concentration of toxins in the bodies of larger animals… with those larger animals being humans in this case.

Take a seafood dinner for instance. At some point, that Pacific Cod that you’re enjoying consumed a shrimp, that consumed plankton, that consumed some of the invisible microplastics floating about. Thanks to biomagnification, you now have the highest concentration of those microfibers (and all of the toxins that they’ve absorbed) inside you compared to any other species in the food chain. Simply put, we’re eating our clothes–and so is the rest of the ocean.

We all contribute to this problem, and we are all impacted by this problem. So where do we go from here?

That’s where Cora Ball comes in.zero-waste-laundry-cora-ball-microfiber-laundry-ball-1

This little funky looking ball, made of 100% recycled plastic, catches these fibers while they’re still in your washing drum before they can do serious damage. To use it, all you have to do is toss it in with your clothes, and wait. It’s that easy. After a few washes, you’ll begin to see fibers collecting in the spindles. Periodically, you can just pull them from the ball and throw those fibers away, where they can be contained and be sent directly to a landfill, rather than into our oceans.

And it really works. Studies at the University of Toronto have shown that the Cora Ball can catch as much as 26% of fibers in your washing machine. While this may not seem like much, if 10% of households used a Cora Ball, it would keep the equivalent of 30 million plastic water bottles from washing into our waterways each year!

zero-waste-laundry-organic-liquid-laundry-detergentOrganic Liquid Laundry Detergent

How much laundry detergent do you use per wash? For some, the amount of detergent used is based off how “dirty” the items are, or by squinting at the detergent cap trying to figure out where the line is. Either way, when it comes to detergent, it’s far too easy to use too much–creating excessive suds that can actually redeposit dirt onto our clothing.

Yikes.

The real issue here is that most laundry detergents aren’t very powerful, and people instead rely on quantity instead of quality, which in turn leaves chemicals in their clothes. Instead of pouring chemicals into the wash, or tossing in plastic-wrapped “pods” that contribute to microplastic pollution, we suggest you simply go nuts. Go Eco Nuts, that is!

Eco Nuts uses the power of soap berries (Sapindus Sapindoideae) that grow naturally in Nepal to create their ultra-concentrated liquid laundry detergent. These berry shells contain a cleaning agent called saponin, that works by breaking the surface tension of water to penetrate the fibers of your clothes–lifting stains from the fabric, and leaving the dirt suspended in the water (instead of going back into your clothes!)

As if getting cleaner clothes wasn’t awesome enough, this liquid detergent comes in a recyclable aluminum bottle, and contains no dyes, animal byproducts, fragrances, fillers, dioxane, phosphate, or nut-allergens, and is certified cruelty-free, aaand certified USDA organic–which means your clothes stay clean, and the planet does too.

zero-waste-laundry-eco-nuts-soap-berriesSoap Nuts

Now that we’ve learned about the awesome powers of soap berries (also called soap nuts) when it comes to liquid detergents, lets see what they can do on their own! Another awesome zero waste way to do laundry is with just the berries themselves–they release the same saponin into the washer to penetrate through grit & grime, and can even be composted at the end of their life.

To use, all you have to do is put 4-5 soap berries into the provided cloth bag, and toss them in the washer. After up to 10 washes, just remove them from the bag, compost the used berries, and refill the bag with new Eco Nuts! Just like the liquid detergent, they contain none of the added chemicals as typical detergents that ruin your clothes, are nut-allergy safe, and leave clothes clean and soft. Plus, they are priced to cost from 8 to 10 cents a laundry load, which feels great on your wallet.

Trying to choose between Eco Nuts detergent and the berries? We recommend the detergent if you have hard water, an HE (frontloading) machine, or like to wash primarily on cold. Eco Nuts soap nuts will get the job done in these scenarios, but the liquid is specially formulated for HE machines!

zero-waste-laundry-eco-nuts-dryer-ballsReusable Dryer Balls

Now that we’ve tackling washing your clothes… it’s time to dry them. Seems simple, right? Just throw your clothes in, maybe a dryer sheet or 4, and press the start button?

Wrong.

Chemical-laden dryer sheets are not only wasteful, but they can actually ruin your clothes, and waste a lotta’ money. Dryer sheets often contain artificial fragrances and chemicals like benzyl acetate, ethanol, chloroform (uhh…), and many others. While these chemicals do a great job at coating fabric to make it feel silky soft, it’s not so kind to our bodies, causing irritation, respiratory issues, and headaches. Plus, they’re not contained to your dryer–these chemicals can release into the air of your home through your dryer vent!

Health effects aside, dryer sheets aren’t even the most effective way to dry your clothes! They are single-use, so they have to be purchased over and over. Plus, they aren’t as good at drying clothes as say… dryer balls, which means that you may have to run your machine for longer, and spend more money on energy bills.

This is because dryer balls work by lifting, fluffing, and separating laundry in the drum so that your clothes dry faster, more evenly, and with less energy–with some studies reporting 15-25% shorter dryer times. They collect lint like a pro, unlike flimsy dryer sheets, and can be infused with natural essential oils for a fresh laundry scent.


As if you needed one last reason to permanently make the switch to reusable dryer balls… they also fight fires. Not like, hunky firefighter with his Dalmatian pup style firefighter, but they truly can keep your home safer. Each year, about 14,630 home fires are caused by clothes dryers, ⅓ of which come from having too much lint in your dryer vent. And remember those nasty chemicals that come off of dryer sheets? They can create an unseen chemical buildup on your lint screen and dryer vent, which furthers the risk of fire.

Dryer balls combat both of these issues by keeping your lint screen chemical-free, but also reducing the amount of lint that gets there to begin with! To use, just toss your dryer balls in the drum, throw your clothes in, and wah-lah! Enjoy dry, fluffy clothes without burning down the house.

zero-waste-laundry-bestowed-essentials-natural-laundry-stain-stick-1Natural Stain Remover Stick

Now that you’ve done all this research to learn how to make your usual laundry routine a little more sustainable, we’ve got one last swap for you. Trade that plastic stain stick out for a natural alternative!

We’ve all been there… white shirt, red soup, total mess. No time to change or do laundry, but the stain must go away. Instead of reaching for your plastic Tide Pen, go for package free, natural alternative from Bestowed Essentials! Made from vegan ingredients free from bleach, sulfates, and other additives, this concentrated stain stick gets the job done without damaging or wearing through your clothes. Using only natural ingredients, the only thing it’ll leave behind is fresh clothes and a lightweight scent.

zero-waste-laundry-bestowed-essentials-natural-laundry-stain-stickTo use, flip the piece of clothing inside out to better tackle the stain. Wet the laundry stick, rub it into the stain, and rinse. For tough spots, grab an old bamboo toothbrush and gently scrub the formula into the stain. It cleans clothes with ease and, of course, comes in zero waste packaging.

 

From tackling microplastics in the washing machine, to saving money & reducing waste with reusable dryer balls, we’re changing the way you look at laundry one product at a time. What are your plastic-free go-tos?

Tidying Up Without Trashing the Planet

It’s time to start tidying up.

Here’s how to do it without trashing the planet.

If you’ve been totally obsessing over Marie Kondo and Tidying Up like we have, you’ve probably also been going through every drawer and cabinet looking for things that don’t “spark joy.” And while minimizing and tidying your space really can transform your life, it can also impact the planet if it’s not done mindfully. Tidying, in essence, has a lot of the same intentions & steps as living a low-waste lifestyle…so be sure to make tidying up less trashy with some of our favorite tips below!

Marie Kondo Zero Waste

Textiles

While you’re decluttering, you may find old towels, unused bedding and blankets, pillows, and other textiles. Instead of throwing them away, check with your local animal shelter first! They can use them as bedding and blankets for the pets. Cozy shelter animals? Now that really sparks joy.

If these textiles are in pretty bad condition and cannot be donated… it’s a little trickier. There currently isn’t one hub for textile recycling, but inspiring organizations are opening up to tackle this issue. In New York, GrowNYC accepts fabric scraps (36 square inches or larger), and works with other groups to have them turned into clothes again, made into rags, or even used for insulation! You can also check with local schools and art centers to see if they could use what you have for a project, or even cut them into cleaning towels depending on the fabric!<

Tidying Up Zero Waste

Clothes

Tidying up in the closet can be…difficult to say the least. But when you’re done–don’t just toss it! You can try to sell pieces in good condition at local consignment shops, or use platforms like Poshmark that allow you to connect with an online community to sell your clothes and accessories.

Or, you can donate! The American Red Cross uses donated clothes, accessories, linens, and small toys to benefit victims of natural disasters. The Salvation Army also accepts clothing for men, women, and children, with proceeds going towards their adult rehabilitation centers–and will pick up your stuff for free. Dress for Success has a number of drop off locations nationally, and works to provide unemployed, low-income women the professional clothing they need for job interviews. Career Gear, Planet Aid, Becca’s Closet–there are tons of options for sending your gently used clothes to a great place!

Clothing breaks down very slowly in landfills–and some studies estimate that there are nearly 13 million tons in our landfills already. So while you’re mastering your Kondo fold technique, hop online or go to a local clothing drive to make sure your clothes don’t end up as trash!

Marie Kondo Zero Waste Tidying Up

Technology

Electronics (think old DVD players, iPods, cords and cables) are almost always made with valuable resources–so if it’s time to tidy up your tech, be sure to donate or recycle them so that those resources can be conserved!

For Apple products, there’s now a recycling program where you can give them damaged cables & tech products for them to recycle into newer versions. While they won’t give you a replacement, it’s totally free to recycle any Apple product at their stores. And in a world where computers, on average, are used for less than 3 years, this can make a huge impact on our tech waste. Other companies like LG and Samsung offer mail-in recycling programs for their phones & TVs, while Best Buy accepts phones, TVs, PCs/laptops, and other electronics!

For other “E-Cycling”, check out databases like this one that list reuse, donation, and recycling programs across the US specifically for tech products. Or, you can simply consider selling it locally, or donating it to a school or library in your area.

Marie Kondo Tidying Up Zero Waste

Books

Need to declutter the book shelf? We get it. So head on down to the library! I know that sounds counterintuitive, but most have a Friends of the Library Society where they accept gently used books to stock the library, or sell them at fundraisers to support the library. Of course there are also local thrift stores like Goodwill and The Salvation Army, and even new “mini bookstores” called the Reading Tree that are popping up nationally!

If you don’t mind paying for the cost of shipping your books, there are tons of charities finding truly amazing ways to give new life to older books. Books for Soldiers allows you to create a care package of books & DVDs and send it to deployed soldiers overseas. Additionally, Books 2 Africa looks for educational textbooks and reference books to send to students in Africa. There’s also Books Through Bars, Book to Prisoners, Better World Books…Do a quick search online, and you’re sure to find the perfect place to send your books!

Marie Kondo Zero Waste Tidying Up

Toiletries

We all have them…that unmatched foundation you used once, or a body wash that’s almost empty but you can’t let go of. Thanks to the magic of tidying up, you can reclaim your space! Warning: this may leave you with a box of tubes and other toiletries that you don’t know what to do with.

For products that are primarily empty or have expired, be sure to empty them in the trash, then use a resource like TerraCycle to learn how you can recycle the product container, since most cosmetics and personal care products come in non-recyclable plastic! TerraCycle’s free take back programs let you recycle those tricky mascara wands and shampoo bottles so your bathroom space can be truly tidy.

For products that can still be used (gently used, mostly full), there’s a ton of awesome places that will accept donations for great causes. Women’s shelters use donated toiletries to empower the women in their shelters to start fresh, while groups like Amenity Aid accepts unused hotel size toiletries for use in housing programs, community centers, and other charitable programs. Depending on what you find in your bathroom, there is no shortage of ways to turn toiletries you don’t want into a meaningful experience for others.

Marie Kondo Zero Waste Tidying Up

Staying Tidy

Once you’ve completed the 5-step KonMari Method, and found joy in your home again, you’re definitely gonna want to keep it that way–even if your only motivation is to never have to tidy up again. Keeping your new space tidy happens in two major ways: not buying new junk to fill the empty space, and organizing the items that you decide to keep.

With all the new space you’ll create in your home tidying up, whether it be in your closet, garage, or kitchen, you may be tempted to re-fill that space with new items. The most important thing you can do with that new space is honor it–which means filling it only with things you need, that bring value to the space. For you, this could mean not supporting fast fashion, being a more conscious consumer, or shopping within certain sustainability values–like plastic-free!

If you’ve seen the show or read the book, you’ll notice one of Kondo’s power-moves is a box of boxes that she uses to transform drawers, cabinets… you name it. And while we absolutely love her idea of upcycling old shoe boxes and jewelry boxes into organization tools, there’s no shortage of other ways to maintain your tidy home–while also keeping it sustainable. For storage, we love Ziptuck bags and Stasher bags because they can be used in the kitchen, bathroom, and everything in between.

By turning to reusables, you can minimize the amount of “new” waste you have to tidy up. Single-use items like plastic-bottles, plastic bags, dryer sheets–these all can be replaced by reusable items (reusable bottles, bags, and even dryer balls!) that bring more joy and less waste. Tidying up is all about loving what you have, and making what you have last!

The KonMari method is simple: you, your things, and your space can all feel and look better–if you prioritize what brings you joy, and leave the junk behind. But, be sure to let your tidying up bring joy to others by donating, recycling, and repurposing where you can. And while we can’t help you figure out if that old lamp sparks joy, we can give you the resources you need to make tidying less trashy. Checkout a full list of resources below, and share some of your sustainable KonMari hacks in the comments!

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” – Marie Kondo

Recycling Centers

TerraCycle Free Recycling Programs
TerraCycle Zero Waste Recycling Boxes
Eco-Cycle’s Recycle, Compost, & Reuse Guide
GrowNYC
Apple Recycling Program
LG Recycling Program
Samsung Recycling Program
Best Buy Recycling Program
E-Cycling

Resources

KonMari
Friends of the Library
Women’s Shelters

Donation Centers

American Red Cross Donations – clothing, shoes, and accessories for men, women, and children across the USA
The Salvation Army Donation Pickup – clothing, shoes, and accessories for men, women, and children across the USA
Dress for Success – professional clothing, shoes, and accessories for low-income unemployed women
Career Gear – professional clothing, shoes, and accessories for low-income unemployed men
Planet Aid – clothing, shoes, and accessories for men, women, and children living in developing nations
Becca’s Closet – prom dresses and accessories for low-income students
Pick-Up Please – accepts clothing, shoes, accessories, jewelry, house and glassware, books, toys, bikes, stereos, radios, TVs, tools, and small electronics
Books for Soldiers – books for deployed soldiers overseas
Books 2 Africa – textbooks and educational materials for students in Africa
Books Through Bars – books for the incarcerated to help them learn & grow
Books to Prisoners – books for the incarcerated to help them learn & grow
Better World Books – affordable books and donation centers
Amenity Aid – takes unused hotel products to give to those in shelters or without access

 

11 Tips for a Sustainable Holiday Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…. right? While we deck the halls and prepare for the holiday season of gratuity and giving, the planet is busy preparing for something much less festive: thousands of pounds of trash and pollution, plus significant emissions and energy usage. In fact, Americans toss 25% MORE trash from Thanksgiving to New Years than any other time of the year–amounting to an extra 25 million tons of garbage in total. What’s meant to be a time spent with family and friends has transformed into Black Friday brawls and doorbuster sales.

But there is a better way. The holidays should (and can!) be a time of giving love, sharing experiences, building connections–and most importantly, respecting the planet that we call home year after year. Read on to learn 11 easy ways to add a little bit of sustainability, and a lot more gratuity and giving, into this holiday season (you might already be doing some of them!)

Deck the Halls

Holiday decor: for some, it goes up on November 1st… while for others, it’ll get pushed off until December 24th. Whichever way is your jam, it’s important to deck the halls with the planet in mind! From your choice of Christmas tree, to holiday lights, and even dinner-party decor, every decision you make this season can have a sustainable impact.

Buy a real tree!

Believe it or not, buying a real Christmas tree is more eco-friendly than having a reusable fake one. A 2009 study by the Montreal consulting firm Ellipsos took into consideration the greenhouse gas emissions, resource usage, fertilizers, pesticides, and human health impacts that go into growing a Christmas tree versus creating a fake one. What they found is that the same artificial tree would have to be reused every year for more than 20 years to be more sustainable than buying a fresh-cut Christmas tree once a year.

Better yet, be prepared for Christmas year-round by purchasing a potted live tree! You can keep it outside, or inside, for a touch of greenery the rest of the year–then decorate it sustainably over the holidays. But when the season is over, don’t just leave your real-tree on the curb–many cities have post-holiday tree mulching programs that transform Christmas trees into usable materials.

Side note: never burn Christmas tree branches in your fireplace! It can cause the buildup of creosote, which is highly flammable.

Use energy efficient lights & a timer!

When it comes to decking the halls, one of the most wasteful, yet ignored, parts of celebrating the season comes from the twinkling lights that seem to magically pop up everywhere–from the tree lights at your local mall to the Christmas inflatables and light-up nativity scenes that proudly sit outside homes. And let’s be clear: we love the magic that comes from Holiday lighting decor. There’s just a more sustainable way to do it.

If you need to buy new holiday lights, buy LED lights! They use 1/10 as much energy as conventional holiday lights, and last years longer. If you still have some old holiday lights or plastic decor characters, use and reuse them until they’re caput–then look at your cities recycling center to see how to properly dispose of them.

Whether you’re lighting classic string lights, a whole Christmas tree, or even a “Christmas with the Kranks” style entire light-up house, a timer will help you save a ton of energy and emissions as well. Set the timer to keep all your lights off during daylight hours, as well as in the wee hours of the night (think after 1 or 2am!) when your neighbors are sleeping. This will save you money spent on electricity, but also reduce some of the major energy waste that happens over the holidays.

A study by the Florida Solar Energy Center found that the average household energy usage for lighting increases by 130 kilowatt hours during December. That’s the same amount of energy that would be used if every household in America left an electric oven on high for 2.5 days! By setting up lighting in a smarter way, you can still enjoy the magical holiday decor, but in a way that won’t wreck the planet.

Try recycled content holiday cards!

Holiday cards, created back in the 1800s, are one of the most wasteful traditions ever–with 2.65 billion traditional paper holiday cards sold each year, just in the US. In fact, if you stacked all the holiday cards we buy, sent, and then toss (or keep in a drawer for years!), you could fill a football field 10 stories high. By choosing to send just one less card each year, we could save 50,000 cubic yards of virgin paper.

But when it comes to holiday cards, you don’t necessarily have to minimize to make a sustainable impact. E-cards and digital cards are awesome too, but for those who prefer the feel of a physical card, try post-consumer recycled content cards. Tree-Free Greetings prints their holiday cards on 100% post-consumer recycled paper, which saves 2,405 mature trees, 1,121,858 gallons of water, 1,078 million BTUs of energy, 75k pounds of solid waste, and 206k pounds of greenhouse gas emissions every year–woohoo! They also meet the standards for Process Chlorine Free (PCF) coding, ensuring less harmful production byproducts than traditional cards, and no added bleaches or chlorines. And if that wasn’t enough, the Tree-Free factory has 200 solar panels on their roof–providing 65,344 kilowatt hours of renewable energy each year (reducing their carbon footprint by 60k pounds of carbon pollution annually!)

We get it though–none of that matters if the cards aren’t cute. Luckily for you, we have an assortment of touching, funny, cute, and meaningful Christmas and holiday cards that are perfect for any occasion. So grab a 10 pack, and get to sending your holiday cards the sustainable way!

Set the Table

Throw a party with no throwaways!

According to the USDA, Americans throw away 25% of the food they purchase–aka 52 billion pounds per year, or 171 pounds per person. And that number doesn’t even take into account the single-use utensils, plates, cups, and napkins that usually accompany large get-togethers like holiday meals. This season, say no to single-use and food waste by hosting a sustainable meal–not only is it a great way to educate your friends and family about environmental issues, but can make a huge impact on holiday waste.

When it comes to dining, swap out plastics for reusable or compostable alternatives. Reusable bamboo utensils and stainless steel pint glasses are easy to clean, and store, so they’re great for large parties. You can make it easy for your guests to help you clean up by leaving out a “dirty dish bucket” near the sink, or even simply providing lists by your recycling, compost, and trash–so your guests know what to dispose of and what is compostable. By composting food waste instead of sending it to the trash, you can greatly reduce the amount of methane emissions in our landfills!

With leftovers that are still “good” (well, all leftovers are good) you can send them home with friends and family in reusable bowls covered in potluck beeswax wraps for maximum freshness days later. If everyone is too stuffed, take a note from tip 5 and look for organizations that would accept your leftovers to give back to those in need!

Give it back!

Holidays are known as a time of excess, but the truth is, many families will be in need over the holiday season–and amazing non-profits across the globe step up during this time of year to provide warm food, jackets, clothing, and support to those who need it.

This holiday season, we’re challenging you to not only set your own table, but set the table for someone in need! Whether that means donating time and service, or even bringing canned food or holiday dinner leftovers to local shelters or organizations. But, be sure to do some research or call ahead to see what your local organization will accept–and what their community is asking for. Not only is it a great way to get the family involved in your sustainable holiday goals, but will leave everyone feeling warm and fuzzy afterwards.

This is also an awesome way to teach little ones about the power of sharing and donation! Ask your kids to put aside the toys and books they’re no longer interested in, and the clothing and shoes that don’t fit so great anymore. By teaching them the impact that giving can have on others, they’ll go into the holiday season with a greater appreciation for what they do have–and then, the new presents they get!

Green Gifting

Try recycled content gift-wrap!

In the US alone, we produce about 4 million tons of gift-wrap and shopping bag waste a year. In fact, 50% of all the paper we consume as a country is used to wrap and decorate consumer goods–and often is used just for a short period of time before becoming non-recyclable waste. But there are better ways to wrap, keeping your gift looking great, without the environmental impact.

What if your wrapping paper wasn’t just paper… but was a gift itself? If you’re giving products like kitchen towels, clothing (shirts are great!), or scarves, simply use the item to wrap up the other part of your gift. If you’re just giving one item, look around your house for old tablecloths, unusable bed sheets or ripped towels, linens, or other fabric scraps–then tell your giftee to reuse your “wrapping paper” when they’re done!

If you’re not about the hunting and gathering method of green gift wrapping, we have the perfect solution for you: Wrappily. Printed with non-toxic soy-based inks on newsprint made from recycled content, this wrapping paper utilizes old newspaper presses that would otherwise be idle due to lack of demand. Plus, each post-consumer recycled sheet is double-sided, reversible, and created in collaboration with local artists. And unlike some other wrapping papers (we see you, glittery gift wrap), Wrappily is 100% recyclable at the end of its life.

Another great way to keep gift wrapping green is to reuse things like ribbon, bows, and gift bags! If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon the next year, then 38,000 miles of ribbon could be saved–enough to tie a bow around the entire Earth. All you’ve gotta do is keep a “reuse-it” bag in your storage closet, and whenever you’re given a gift, keep what you can reuse the next year!

Shop for a story!

According to a national survey, 70% of Americans would welcome reduced gift giving and spending over the holiday season. As Dr. Seuss taught us through The Grinch, “What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

And we totally agree. In fact, that’s kinda our whole thing. When you shop based on story, and sustainability, instead of just looking for things that are “cute” or “looks like them”, it means more–both to the recipient, and the people who were involved in creating that product. Does your gift for your mom give-back 10% of profits to women in need? Why not give your ocean-loving friend the gift of removing a pound of trash with their new bracelet?

When you choose a gift with a charitable impact, your giving goes further. Look for companies that take a stand to donate to nonprofits, plant trees, or support seed diversity with every purchase! When you shop with companies that are truly proud of their products, they will want to tell you everything about the product– from sustainable features to eco-friendly packaging. Look for companies that make sustainability part of their mission (like all the EarthHero brands!)

Not only does a sustainable story mean your product is probably better for the planet, but it’s also more enjoyable to share a gift you feel a connection to! And your friends and family are sure to remember it for seasons to come!

Look for plastic-free packaging!

One of the biggest issues around holiday gifting isn’t even the products themselves–it’s the excessive product and shipping packaging that most companies use to wrap up their goods. And while some notoriously-wasteful companies have started offering “Minimal Plastic Packaging” for shipments, you’re most likely still going to end up with some non-recyclable packing peanuts. So this holiday season, whether you’re shopping online or in-store, be sure to look for truly plastic-free or minimal plastic packaging! Companies who are doing packaging the sustainable way will want to tell you about what they’re doing. On EarthHero, you can just scroll down to the sustainability features on each product page and look for Packaging to get all the info you need!

Share the Spirit of Sustainability

Re-gift or make DIY gifts!

Fact: about 60% of Americans (will admit) that they receive unwanted gifts during the holidays, with about 52% of them eventually regifting them. Some estimate that this equals about $9.5 billion dollars spent, and wasted, on unwanted items. This year, tackle unwanted gifts in a few ways: starting with making it clear with friends & family what you do want to receive, and then re-gifting things in your own life you don’t need. When you make it clear to others that you don’t want “just stuff” for Christmas, you’ll likely end up with less “unwanted” items at the end of the season. Then, for the presents you’ve already been given and don’t love, see if anyone in your life would appreciate the re-gift. If not, check with local shelters and organizations to see if it is an item they could use!


When it comes to DIY gifts, there is truly no shortage of options for everyone in your life. From making your own personal care products like lotion or lip balm, to simply planning a weekend trip for the special someone in your life, “do it yourself” presents are becoming more and more popular.

Give battery-free toys!

Did you know that over 40% of battery sales occur during the holidays? And most of these batteries are single-use batteries, that when they run out of juice in roughly half a year, will become waste that sits in our landfills. While companies like Best Buy or Target once accepted single-use batteries to be recycled, that became cost-inefficient, and so now the typical rhetoric is to simply “throw your batteries away in a Ziploc bag”. This basically means that your semi-toxic batteries need to be wrapped in non-biodegradable plastic to be thrown away, as they can leach chemicals into the landfills and impact nearby waterways and habitats.

Our first tip for tackling this is simple: rechargeable batteries. If you’re going to give a gift that requires batteries, be sure to include rechargeable batteries and a power-box so they can reuse their batteries again and again. It doesn’t cost much more, and in the long run, will save the recipient a lot of cash–and trash.

You don’t need batteries to have fun. Yep, you heard us! Our second tip for tackling battery waste is simply to buy toys and tech that don’t need batteries at all. Sustainable technology companies like House of Marley are building products that use upcycled batteries that last for years, and can be charged with a single power cord. Toy companies like Green Toys and PlanToys make cognitive, memory, mobility, and education toys and games from materials like wood and recycled plastic–encouraging natural play in young ones that isn’t just staring at a screen.

But our favorite battery-free children’s gift actually isn’t a toy at all–but a series of children’s books called Conscious Bedtime Stories. Conscious Stories aren’t just FSC-Certified children’s books–but a collection of stories with wise and approachable characters who teach core life lessons on the world and environment to everyone. Each story begins with Snuggle Breathing, which helps both parents and kids to step into a space of relaxation and concentration, then ends with reflective questions and activities to help your little one process the life lesson they just learned! Gifts like this actually promote interaction between friends and family, as opposed to many battery-operated gifts, which focus on the individual.

Set goals, and share them!

With all the fast-paced sales and last minute promotions, it can feel like you almost have to “over-shop” during the holiday season to get the best deal. But don’t let it get to you! One of the biggest issues in keeping up with your sustainability goals over the holidays is feeling like you’re being left out, so look for family and friends you can share your goals with–and work towards them together!

Make a list, check it (twice), and simply stop shopping once you’ve gotten a gift for everyone on your list, or hit your budget, depending on what goal you’ve set. You’d be surprised what an impact this has!

Now, this may sound silly, but our final tip is to actually ask your friends and family what they not only want, but need. Some of the best presents aren’t necessarily just “gift” things–but can be experiences, gifts of service (who doesn’t need help cleaning their closet?), or even plain old necessities (socks, we’re looking at you!). By tuning into what those in your life can really use, you’re sure to give a more sustainable gift. What are some of your favorite ways to reduce your waste over the holidays? Comment them below!  

Click to shop all our sustainable holiday gifts for her, him, baby, and kids–plus Green Gift Boxes and Gift Cards!

 

Best Eco-Friendly Gifts of 2018

Isn’t it always better to give a gift with a story? We think so!

When you shop with companies that are truly proud of their products, they will want to tell you everything about the product–from sustainable features to eco-friendly packaging. Look for companies that make sustainability part of their mission. Don’t just stop at the words “eco”, “green” or “natural” though, try to find what actually makes their products great for the planet. Are they using organic, sustainably harvested materials, or do they meet fair labor standards? Not only does a sustainable story mean your product is probably better for the planet, but it’s also more enjoyable to share a gift you feel a connection to!

We’ve collected a list of our favorites below. These eco-friendly products come complete with amazing stories that you can share with your loved ones this holiday season! If you’re still looking for the perfect gift by the end, head over to to shop for gifts for her, for him, for kids, for baby, or even shop our top zero waste gifts!

EarthHero - Engraved Copper Shotglass Set - 4pk - 1United By Blue Engraved Copper Shot Glasses

Give a gift with phrases worth toasting to! These 100% engraved copper shot glasses feature classic adventure phrases, including: Made for the Mountains, Roam Free, Adventure Awaits, and Keep Paddling! These four shot glasses are hot-tinned on the inside to reduce corrosion, and finished with a tarnish reducing lacquer–all done by hand.

Plus, when you buy these shot glasses, you remove 1 pound of pollution from our oceans and waterways, thanks to United by Blue!

 

EarthHero - Badger Beard Grooming Kit 1Badger Beard Grooming Kit

Share the gift of self-care with your loved one! No matter what kind of facial hair they’re rocking, they’ll appreciate this all-in-one kit made by a family-owned company in the USA.

While they’re growing your beard out (think first 6 weeks), the organic beard oil uses babassu and jojoba oils to condition and nourish, reducing any itchy or patchy spots. Once their beard is an ideal length, they can use the beard balm to condition the beard, keep stray hairs in check, and add a touch of styling. They’ll appreciate a softer, tamer beard in no time, thanks to you!

 

EarthHero - Sanari Organic Candle Gift Set - 1Sanari Organic Candle Gift Set

Light up your loved one’s day with this heartwarming candle gift set. These natural candles are infused with certified organic essential oils in a vegan coconut wax blend, hand-poured in small batches in Los Angeles, California. Each set includes 3 best selling Sanari Candle scents, each with a different theme. No matter the scent, your friend will love the mini wine glasses left over once the candle melts down!

Plus, Sanari donates a portion of every purchase towards Breast Cancer Research, so your gift goes even further!

 

EarthHero - Stir It Up Bamboo Turntable 1House of Marley Stir it Up Turntable

Treat your audiophile friend to the modern version of this classic turntable.  The streamlined design is made from sustainable materials like bamboo and recyclable aluminum, with a built-in pre-amp that’s compatible with any House of Marley speaker. It features a 33/45 RPM knob, replaceable cartridge, anti-skating control, and belt-drive turntable. Plus, it’s manual, with an auto-start and stop (a big deal in the vinyl world!)

Not only is this beauty made with sustainable materials, but House of Marley plants a tree for every purchase!

EarthHero - Gaby Crumb Breadboard - 2

bambu Gaby Crumb Bread Board

Who doesn’t love fresh baked bread? What isn’t so fun is the mess of crumbs lining the cutting board at the end.

Our go-to gift for our baking friends, this bread board isn’t only a gorgeous addition to any kitchen–it’s super functional, too! Underneath the slotted layer, you’ll find a compartment that traps crumbs, making cleanup after a day of entertaining a breeze!

We love how bambu is transforming homes with their sustainably sourced, durable, and beautiful products, making them a no-brainer for one of our most giftable brands!

 

EarthHero - 4Ocean Recycled Sea Turtles Bracelet 1

4Ocean Recycled Bracelet

Fact: an estimated 16 BILLION pounds of plastic waste enters our oceans each year. 4Ocean is on a mission to stop this with their recycled bracelets. With a cord made from recycled plastics, beads made from recycled glass, and a stainless steel 4Ocean tag, this handcrafted donation bracelet doesn’t just use recycled materials–but actively removes waste from our oceans as well! For every bracelet sold, 4Ocean will remove 1 pound of waste from our seas.

Not only does each bracelet remove a pound of waste, but they also offer bracelets specific to other causes. Proceeds from this green bracelet shown, for example, allow 4Ocean to partner with the Florida Atlantic University Marine Research Lab in Sea Turtle conservation efforts. To date, thanks to your support, 4Ocean bracelets have pulled over 2,247,704 pounds of trash from our oceans and coastlines to date–and growing every day!

EarthHero - Tea Time Infuser Bottle Earl Grey 4Full Circle Home Tea Time Infuser Bottle

Have a coworker who brings tea to work daily? Treat them to a more peaceful morning with this tea infuser bottle! The BPA-free Tritan and recycled plastic strainer is ready to hold loose or bagged tea, sugar, lemons, or herbs like mint! The unique twist-to-lock lid let’s them enjoy one-handed drinking, with a removable cork grip to keep the glass bottle from slipping from their hands.

EarthHero - Natural Sunshine Bath Soak - 1Bestowed Essentials Sunshine Herbal Bath Soak

Give the gift of peace with this bath soak, made from a blend of magnesium-rich epsom salts and mineral-packed Dead Sea salt. Dried calendula petals are added for a thoughtful touch of color that nourishes the skin, while the epsom salts work to alleviate sore and achy muscles. This all natural bath soak comes in a 100% biodegradable & compostable cellophane bag, plus 10% of every product purchase goes to charities that provide clean water to those in need! Learn more about Bestowed Essentials, and how the founder runs this business from her solar powered van, here!

 

EarthHero - Men's Cannon Vegan Shoes - Navy

SAOLA Cannon Vegan Sneakers

This is truly an eco-shoe to look out for! These shoes are made with outdoor-friendly materials like recycled plastic from water bottles, organic cotton, and even algae–yep algae! Their BLOOM Foam, used in both the insoles and outsoles, is made with algae biomass so it’s lightweight, durable, and awesome for soles! Plus, SAOLA donates 3% of sales to various environmental non-profits that give back to the planet. 

Shop Women’s Cannon Sneakers
Shop Men’s Cannon Sneakers

Green Guru Joyride Roll Top Backpack

EarthHero - Joyride Roll Top Backpack - 1

Give a gift that’s truly unique. This creative backpack is made from colorful upcycled industrial fabrics and reflective street signs, so no two bags are truly alike! Plus, this combination of durable materials and functional design gives this pack the style they’ll want and the technical aspects they’ll need.

Green Guru has diverted more than 517,900 pounds of materials from US Landfills by upcycling materials into bags just like this!

For the Kids

EarthHero - Biobased Building Blocks - 1BiOBUDDi Biobased Building Blocks

Cultivate your little one’s imagination, spatial awareness, and motor skills with these biobased Building Blocks! This set of 40 colorful learning blocks are made entirely from biobased materials (not plastic!), crafted from natural sugarcane plants. The uniquely designed pieces can be stacked to build endless combinations, and easily come apart for simple clean up. Warning: while they’re much more sustainable than your average building block…. these little blocks will hurt just as much as the other guys when they’re stepped on!

EverEarth Bamboo Rocking Horse

Watch them light up when they see their new rocking horse! From its sustainable construction, to its developmental benefits, this traditional toy is a win-win. It’ll improve your kiddo’s balance and muscle development while letting them live out any old-west play scenario. Yeehaw!

EarthHero - eco-dough Holiday Non-Toxic Play Dough

eco-dough Holiday Dough Set

This super safe, non-toxic play dough is the perfect stocking stuffer! Give the gift of creativity this holiday season with worry free playing to keep mom and kids happy. Made from all natural ingredients, this non-toxic play dough is a safe option for building, molding, and sculpting anything they can imagine! Essential oils add a light scent while keeping dough pliable for hours of creative play.

EarthHero - "The Circle People" Children's Book - 1

Conscious Stories Books

Okay, we’re not gunna lie, one of our team members teared up while reading these books. Not only are the illustrations beautiful and the characters heartwarming, but every story teaches a valuable lesson that anyone can enjoy!

Each story begins with Snuggle Breathing, which helps both parents and kids to step into a space of relaxation and concentration prior to reading the short story! The story pictured, “The Circle People”, focuses on helping children find connection and belonging in the modern-day village! Each story then ends with reflective questions and activities to help your little one process the lesson they just learned!

Plus, these books don’t just teach important life and environmental lessons–they’re made of FSC-Certified paper too, harvested from sustainably grown sources! Make the last 20 minutes of every day special with Conscious Bedtime Stories!

EarthHero - PlanToys Build-a-Robot - 1PlanToys Build-A-Robot

Emotions can be hard to explain–but Build-a-Robot makes it easy. This adorable robot features 4 interchangeable heads (sad, happy, mad, and surprised) to teach emotion and offer different tactile and auditory experiences to help your kiddo grow. The legs are movable for standing or sitting so your child can choose which one best expresses the emotion they chose.

All PlanToys are made from sustainably harvested rubberwood trees that can no longer produce latex paired with surplus sawdust chips that are thermally reprocessed to form a durable wood, and finished with E-Zero non-formaldehyde glue, and non-toxic water-based dyes. From donating resources to a Children’s Museum in local Thailand, to using a portion of profits to reforest nearby cities, PlanToys is sustaining the environment, and the economy, with their innovative rubberwood toys!

EarthHero - Ballerina Mouse Organic Plush Gift Set 1

Apple Park Ballerina Mouse Gift Set

This absolutely adorable gift set combines your little one’s favorite mouse plushie with a uniquely soft teething rattle, all in one adorable barn door style package. Made from 100% organic cotton fabric that’s safe for sensitive baby skin and filled with hypoallergenic corn fiber, this sustainable set lets baby gently teeth while cuddling the night away. Say goodbye to sleepless nights, and hello to Ballerina Mouse!

EarthHero - Red Striped Baby and Kids Long Johns 2

Under the Nile Red Striped Long Johns

Who doesn’t love a new pair of pajamas over the holidays! We love these red and white striped long johns from Under the Nile. They’re the perfect set to get your children in the holiday mood! The snug fit is perfect for keeping your child feeling secure as they drift off into dreamtime.

Janice and Mohamed Mosoud created Under the Nile based on a need for better, cleaner, and safer materials for their own daughters, so you can trust that Under the Nile gifts are safe and sustainable for your own children, too!

 

EarthHero - Birch Tree Bark Recycled Gift Paper 4Wrap it up!

4 million tons of wrapping paper is thrown away annually. Since most traditional wrapping paper isn’t recyclable, we’ve been on a mission to find a gift wrap that we can stand behind!

Meet: Wrappily! Based on the beautiful island of Maui, Hawaii, the Wrappily team work together with local artists to design a beautiful collection of eco-friendly gift wrap.They offer individual sheets of wrapping paper printed with a non-toxic soy-based ink on newsprint and made from recycled content that is easily recyclable at the end of life. The sheets are printed with double-sided designs on idle news press machines that otherwise would have gone unused. We love the fact that this company is woman-owned and has a closed-loop production methodology. It’s the perfect finishing touch for your eco-friendly gift (plus, it’s just so stinkin’ cute!)

How-To Host an Eco-Friendly Holiday Party

Plan it Out

It’s that time of year. The holidays are here, and for many of us that means a whole lotta cooking, cleaning, and of course, eating! Whether that means creating entirely vegan meals to trying out the elusive Turducken, we’re here to help you make the whole season a little more sustainable!

Tell Everyone

You’re an eco-friendly superstar; your friends and family just don’t know it yet. Get everyone excited about their upcoming sustainable holiday party by sending out personalized invites. Ditch the wasteful traditional paper cards, and upgrade to our 100% post-consumer paper holiday cards, or send an E-Invite! Your guests will love getting a physical letter in the mail, without the guilt of throwing it away (they’re recyclable!). So shout it from the rooftops, it’s sustainable holiday time!

Shop Local

Your traditional grocery store is probably going to be packed with last minute shoppers fighting over honey hams and canned yams. Don’t join them, beat em’. This year, don’t forget your reusable grocery sacks and veggie produce bags when you head to the local farmer’s market or organic produce store, and buy fresh, pesticide-free fruits and veggies for your dishes. You could even plan your menu around what’s in season, so your meal contains only the ripest, freshest fruits and veggies.

If you can’t make it to your farmers’ market, don’t stress, you can still be sustainable. When picking through produce, go against your gut and don’t pick the pretty stuff (whaaa?). If you’re gonna turn apples into apple pie, select the apples with tiny bruises, or a unique color. These little imperfections often result in produce not being chosen and ending up as food waste before it even leaves the grocery store. By selecting items that look a little funky, you’re reducing waste and still getting great produce for your meal.

Set the Table

You have a 5-star sustainable holiday dinner so far, so don’t fork it up. Say goodbye to all single-use utensils, plates, cups, and napkins, opting instead for reusable alternatives that keep trash from landfills and make your table look great. Go for a rustic vibe with natural bamboo coasters and bamboo utensils

If you have a cabinet overflowing with old cups and plates, instead of shopping this season, go for a repurposed shabby chic look by mixing and match colors and styles. Get old shower curtain holders to use as “napkin rings”, and stick them on your reusable organic cotton napkins for a non-disposable alternative. The conversation should be overflowing–your trash can shouldn’t.

Decor

You want your Thanksgiving/Holiday party to be entirely unique. So why buy mass-produced, disposable holiday decor that only gets used once? Infuse nature into your table decor with everyday items like wildflowers in mason jars, or branches and pinecones placed delicately as centerpieces. Add a few soy-candles or small succulents to the mix, and you have yourself all-natural, sustainable holiday decorations your guests will be gushing over! For a final touch, set the mood with some dinner party vibes with a stylish, upcycled material Vinyl Turntable

The Main Event

Munch Mindfully

When you tell your dinner guests they’ll be enjoying a sustainable meal, you may get a couple grunts and groans from those meat-lovers who haven’t experienced how glorious vegan meals can be when prepared well! If this sounds like your sitch, instead of changing your entire menu, simply substitute one classic dish with a vegan option (like a cashew cream Green Bean Casserole, yum!). When you incorporate more veggies and less meat into dishes, you help reduce water consumption, as a pound of beef requires 100x more water to be produced than a pound of wheat. But at the end of the day, it’s all about steps in the right direction–so the priority is to look for seasonal, fresh, and plastic-free packaged food (when possible!) that you know your family and friends will love. 

When it comes to passing the mashed potatoes, only put on your plate what you know you’ll be able to finish (you can always go back for seconds!). By joining the Clean Plate Club, you reduce the amount of half-eaten food that ends up in the trashcan, and maximize the amount of yummy leftovers! Take it a step further and get yourself a compost bin and bags, so your guests can compost any potential leftovers. 

Get Sipping Sustainably

No matter what you’re sipping, opt for a package free alternative to plastic bottles or aluminum cans. If you absolutely need single-use drinks, make sure you provide a labeled recycling bin for your guests. When it comes to water, give everyone a stainless steel pint glass, or even compostable cups, set pitchers of filtered sink water or homemade soda water out, and everyone will have a refreshing drink in between bites of stuffing.

If “dinner party” sounds a lot like “wine” to you, search for biodynamic wines that are low-impact on the planet. Make sure you recycle those wine bottles though! Plus, keep everyones wine chilled all night with insulated wine tumblers

If your guests prefer a chilly 6-pack of beer, we have a zero-waste way to keep everyone refreshed. Instead of collecting aluminum cans and glass beer bottles, grab a insulated steel growler or two and head down to your local brewery. Fill up those bad boys, then relax and have a drink, cause they’ll keep your craft beer icy for up to 120 hours.

Clean Up Green

Plan ahead

After a long day of cooking, cleaning is the last thing you want to do. Make less work for yourself by setting up recycling, compost, and trash bins with clear labels for your guests. By the end of the night, you’ll have less sorting to do, and more time for post-turkey napping. You can use your compost for a new garden, or simply have it collected. 27% of all American ready-for-consumption food is wasted, costing the economy nearly $48 billion. By encouraging friends and family to take home leftovers and compost the rest, you can help reduce the amount of food that ends up in the landfill!

Go with non-toxic utensils and serving items, made from materials like silicone or bamboo that are machine washable, so you can just toss those in with the rest of your dirty dishes. But before you press start, there’s a green way to machine wash. Skip the pre-rinse, and lower the heat for a more energy friendly clean. For the rest of the house, pick your favorite toxin-free natural cleaner product, and you’ll have a 100% green clean.

Leftovers

Whether you’re giving leftovers to guests that night, keeping them in your fridge for a snack, or having a Black Friday leftover party, you’re gonna want to keep them fresh. For items like soup and gravy, try a stainless steel food canister, vacuum sealed for maximum taste the next day. Cover your bowls, dishes, and pies with Bee’s Wrap, a natural alternative to plastic wrap that also keeps bread and cheese ready to eat. For everything else, toss the leftovers into a molded bamboo bowl, with an easy on and off lid for simple storing and snacking. Our favorite leftover hack? Stasher’s silicone bags. They’re freezer safe, oven safe, sous vide safe, dishwasher safe, and come in a variety of sizes to stash everything from leftover turkey to the smallest of snacks.

You’re bound to have leftovers after cooking, but have you ever thought of making another dish with those leftovers? We promise, it’s simple. As you cut veggies, debone meat, and season stuffing, throw any and all edible scraps into a large soup pot with water, and let it simmer while you continue cooking. After dinner you’ll have a delicious veggie or turkey broth soup with all the flavors of Thanksgiving, and way less food scraps to throw away. Everybody wins.

That’s a Wrap!

The house is clean, bellies are full, and leftovers are ready in the fridge. Another holiday season for the books, but with a green twist! Now that you’ve got the skills for sustainable holiday hosting, share what you’ve learned with friends and family for maximum impact. Together we can  encourage the people in your life to carry the new tradition of sustainable holiday parties to this new year! 

Share some of your favorite ways to make the holidays a little more sustainable in the comments below!

What is a conscious consumer?

Trying to enjoy your favorite tv show? Que advertisement. Scrolling down your social media feed? Another advertisement. Checking your mail to see if your sweet grandma sent you a nice letter? BOOM… advertisement!

We can’t seem to go anywhere or do anything without being told to shop here, buy that, or consume this. It’s the status quo of our society, to buy, buy, buy–without considering the impact of our purchases. Luckily for all of us, there is a global movement happening called conscious consumerism.

With conscious consumerism you can still shop–but in a way that is a whole lot kinder on the planet. We can all do better when it comes to shopping, so to help you out, we’ve come up with some handy tips to lead you down the path of righteousness. Read on to learn about the movement, and how you can become a conscious consumer!

What you’ll learn:

  • What a conscious consumer is, and how to contribute!
  • Understand the tools and third-party certifications necessary to identify ethical & sustainable products
  • Ways to implement being a conscious consumer into your everyday life

What is a conscious consumer?

Recent studies show that 67% of Americans believe that progress on social and environmental issues will slow down without government regulation, and their confidence in national organizations to act on environmental issues is low. As a result, 43% of consumers believe that individual action has the greatest potential to solve social and environmental issues.

Despite this fact, in recent years, our global consumer culture has continued to accelerate towards a relentless focus on quantity and convenience–wanting the most products, for the least amount of money, delivered in the quickest time frame. While it may seem like more = better, when it comes to our impact on the planet, the status quo for how we currently consume is taking us down an irreversible path (animal extinction, more toxins, more waste, and yes, global warming!)

But don’t panic. A new wave of consumers have been taking the global markets by storm, calling themselves “conscious consumers”, aka “agents of change who consider the social, environmental, ecological, and political impact of both buying and boycotting products.” Simply put, they ask the question: “Can my individual actions make a difference?” and believe it or not, the answer is “YES!”

Price vs Cost

Look back 150 years, and you’ll see a very different picture of global trade. Almost all countries were responsible for making their own products, and those they were unable to make required time and labor intensive practices to be sourced from another country. Flash forward to recent times, and most large factories (think Nike) have been moved into lesser developed countries–often with different currency rates and costs of living. This makes it difficult to accurately judge what price is fair for an item made in another country–leading to huge disparities in the amount paid to overseas workers, and the cost of a particular product back in America.

EarthHero Conscious Consumerism

No matter who you are, instinctively, you will always look for the cheapest price–it’s just human nature. But being a conscious consumer means taking the time to consider what kind of negative impact that price could have had on the lives of those who produced it, and the planet. A cheap price is almost never a fair price when you take the time to look at every aspect of sourcing and production.

Transparency in Technology

One of the biggest barriers to becoming a conscious consumer is companies’ unwillingness to share the information needed for you make an ethical shopping decision. All businesses want you to feel like you’re making a positive choice, using buzzwords like “organic”, “natural”, and “fair-trade” to convince the consumer, with one glance at the packaging, that their product is an ethical one. But, the truth is, when you start asking questions, it becomes clear that there’s so much more to being a conscious consumer then just browsing the labels.

EarthHero Conscious Consumer Blog

Technology is breaking the barrier between what brands tell us, and what we can truly learn about their products. From ingredients, to materials sourcing, and even the initiatives the company is involved in, technology and the internet is making it easier for consumers to find out about what’s really going on with a particular brand or product. Educate yourself with environmental blogs, books, and other tools–like the Better World Shopper App!

While there’s tons of resources out there to find companies that are doing good for the planet (shoutout to all of our brands!), the internet is also an awesome place to encourage companies who aren’t meeting the mark to do better. You can write to your local politicians, CEOs, or other representatives, encouraging them to change for the better–or even give them a shoutout on social media. Businesses want you to want to shop with them, but sometimes they just need a push in the right direction!

How-To Be a Conscious Consumer

Did you know that only 1% of our purchased products are still around after 6 months–meaning that 99% of what we buy, we throw away in less than half a year. Ease and convenience has become our guiding principles, and it’s killing the planet. But how can your everyday purchases help turn this around–before it’s too late? Check out some of our favorite daily actions to help you become a conscious consumer!

1. One Step at a Time

Take baby steps! Just being aware of what you buy is a HUGE start! When you first start paying attention to the products in your life, you’re going to feel overwhelmed with how much truly isn’t sustainable. Instead of throwing away everything in your house, make a game plan for what needs to be transitioned immediately, and what you can continue to use for a while before finding a more ethical option. While tossing all your polyester clothes and replacing them with sustainable alternatives sounds like it would be a good move for the planet, it just creates more waste than if you just wore what you already had until it needed to be donated–then replacing it with an ethical version.

If you have plastic products in your life, use them–don’t toss them! Then, when it’s ready to hit the recycling bin, swap it for a better alternative. It’s all about taking small steps, and in no time, you’ll be impressed with just how much has changed thanks to conscious consumerism!

EarthHero Conscious Consumer Blog

2. Third-Party Certifications

It can be hard to trust what a company says, especially if you’ve never heard of the claims they’re flaunting. That’s where third-party certification groups come in–awarding Sustainability Certifications based on rigorous national standards for environmental and social responsibility. This sets a more level playing field for conscious companies, as they can apply for these certifications as a way to prove to the customer their claims are correct–no greenwashing involved.

From certifications around material and ingredients quality, like USDA Certified Organic, GOTS Certified (for organic cotton), and NSF/ANSI 305 (for personal care), to certifications around production such as the OEKO-TEX Standard for chemical-free production, third-party certifications are making it easier to be a conscious consumer.

Some brands are even going the extra mile (well, like EarthHero) and are labeling each product with the third-party certifications they’ve been awarded, alongside other important values–like whether it has plastic-free packaging, or gives back to charity. But whether you’re shopping with the EarthHero community, or just browsing at the mall, keep an eye out for recognizable certification labels!

3. Budget for it

We hear all the time that shopping sustainably and ethically can get pretty pricey, especially for families or anyone on a budget. And we totally understand–while it can cost more to live an ethical lifestyle, it doesn’t necessarily need to be. Why? Something to consider when shopping sustainably is that while it may be more expensive at first, over time it should become less expensive, as you begin to replace single-use products with reusable counterparts.

For example, on average, an American consumer will spend $100 a year on water bottles–while one stainless steel water bottle that will undoubtedly last for several years only costs $25 to $30–and can be filled with free or minimally expensive tap water. In addition, as you become a more conscious consumer, you will tend to simply buy less. Strangely enough, when you ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”, a natural tendency is to just lose interest. In addition, as more conscious consumers speak their piece, and vote with their dollars, the market will shift to reflect more accessible prices on ethical goods.

So, where to start? Our solution for this is budgeting! You may balk at the idea, but once you get into the hang of it, budgeting makes shopping each month easier–and less stressful. Think about what you’re currently spending money on, and split it up into sustainable and unsustainable expenses. Begin to tackle the unsustainable expenses: how can you rebudget your grocery trip to include more organic produce and fewer processed snacks? What expenses can be minimized? Can you reduce your gas expenses by biking or carpooling? Make a monthly plan, and then a yearly plan, for how you can begin transitioning away from certain activities, and leave extra cash aside for the sustainable swaps you’ll be moving towards.

4. Reuse, repurpose, respect!

A conscious consumer is always conscious… but doesn’t always have to consume. One of the most important ways you can be a conscious consumer is simply by not consuming. It’s all about reusing and repurposing what you have, not replacing it with new products. Even the most sustainable product will be less sustainable than using the thing that’s already been sitting in your cabinet waiting to be used. Take it a step further, and utilize what you can in your backyard, town, neighborhood, and city!

Does your city have a bulk store for either food or personal care products? This is an awesome way to be a conscious consumer–without breaking the bank. Just bring your own produce bags and containers to the Whole Foods or other bulk store, and shop plastic-free. Are you located near a community garden, or have a big backyard? Try your hand at growing your own produce or herbs!

You Got This

At the end of the day, being a conscious consumer may take a little extra forethought–but can have some serious impact on the products that come into your life, and the impact those products have on the planet. Plus, it just feels really good! Ethical brands want to show you how truly ethical they are, so utilize the tools they provide you: like third-party certifications, online resources, and the information provided by the companies directly.

There is no better time to get started down the path of being a conscious consumer than now. Not only do we have the holidays coming up, undoubtedly one of the most wasteful times of the year due to product packaging and excessive shopping, but the culture of our country is changing faster than ever. From your daily trip to the supermarket, or all of your holiday gift shopping, there is a sustainable solution out there! All of our EarthHero vetted brands are a great place to start shopping like a conscious consumer, or our Green Gift Boxes!

How do you take the time to be a more conscious consumer? Share your tips and tricks with us below!

 

How To Pack a Non-Toxic School Lunch

It’s lunchtime at school and the timeless competition of who has the best lunch that day begins. Some kids are repping their grandma’s homemade chocolate chip cookies, others flaunt their coveted Lunchables. But one aspect that is often overlooked in the lunch hall is how that lunch is packed.

Long gone are the days of the brown paper bag lunches filled with Ziploc snack bags! It’s time to outfit your kid with the hottest merch in the market right now–like reusable silicone bags, bamboo utensils, insulated lunch bags, and beeswax wrap. Not only does it reduce the amount of waste your family produces, but kids all across the cafeteria will be saying, “What is that colorful container? I want one! *fist bump*”. Read on to learn how to pack a plastic free lunch that is easy for your little one to love!

What you’ll learn:

  • Find out which reusable lunch-time products are best for your family, from products for babies to packing your own office lunch!
  • Better understand the importance of a plastic and toxic free lunch

How To Pack a Non-Toxic (and Plastic Free!) Lunch

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about changing what goes into school lunches to be healthier for kids. But what about what you’re packing that lunch in? Plastic containers, Ziploc baggies, single-use Saran wrap, and other common lunchtime necessities can not only leach chemicals into the food they’re keeping fresh, but also add up to a ton of non-recyclable waste after 12+ years in school–not to mention the money you spend always replenishing those stocks! Lucky for you, and your family, there’s a healthier way to snack sustainably (at any age!).

Snacking Small: Babies + Preschoolers

For the first few years of your little ones life, they’ll come just about everywhere with you. But, most (almost all) restaurants or establishments won’t have the feeding spoons, baby bottles, and accessories you’ll need for a freakout-free meal. If you can find what you’re looking for out and about, it can often be single-use plastic–which we all know is the worst. By prepping your diaper bag, or “mommy” bag, with non-toxic snacking supplies, any booster chair can become a plastic-free dining experience.

Klean Kanteen | EarthHero | Back to School Lunch

Stainless Steel Baby Bottle

The very first nursing bottle was invented from 1841–entirely from glass. As time passed, plastic baby bottles became the norm thanks to their durable, unbreakable nature. But plastic bottles, like most hard plastics, contain polycarbonates and the chemical bisphenol A (aka BPA), that can leach into the contents of your little one’s bottle. Research has shown that BPA and polycarbonate plastic can lead to changes in the brain and reproductive system, and other major health impacts–leading to organizations like the FDA banning additives like BPA (but not polycarbonates!) in baby bottles and sippy cups.

While we’re making steps in the right direction when it comes to plastic baby bottles, we prefer to stay safe and use non-toxic stainless steel. Klean Kanteen’s Slow-Flow Baby Bottle features a chemical-free medical grade silicone nipple, with a slow-flow to encourage natural-paced and relaxed feedings. The 5oz, or larger 9oz, bottle has a contoured and tapered shape for little hands, and won’t break even if they drop it. But our favorite feature is the peace of mind from knowing your little one isn’t sipping toxins in their milk!

bambu | Bamboo Feeding Spoons | EarthHero | Non Toxic Lunch Supplies

Bamboo Feeding Spoons

You’ll find we love bamboo as a natural alternative to tons of plastic products–and our Bamboo Baby Feeding Spoons are no exception! The handle is sized for parents to easily grip and maneuver, while the spoon is sized for delicate baby mouths. Perfect for ages 6 months and older, bambu even got these feeding spoons tested and approved under US Code SFR Title 16, which is a complicated way of saying they’re really, truly phthalate, PVC, and BPA-free, and made without glues or lacquers. Then, when your little one grows up and is ready for their next set of reusable bamboo utensils, simply toss these feeding spoons in the compost bin and let them biodegrade! But… if you’re set on the plastic look and feel, opt for a plant-based plastic feeding spoon, like this one!

Green Sprouts | EarthHero | Non Toxic Back to School

Organic Cotton Burp Cloths & Bibs

“Here comes the airplane”… is said a lot at the table with toddlers… but how often does the “airplane” land safely in the hanger, without leaving a trail of mashed peas and potatoes behind? Almost never. We like easy clean ups, which is why we love the organic cotton bibs from Green Sprouts. The ultra-soft organic cotton is non-toxic, grown without pesticides, is colored with azo-free dyes–and gets softer with every wash. The four absorbent fabric layers manage spills of any size, with an adjustable snap closure to take your baby through the first year of mealtimes.

Want to bring even more fun to the table? Try out the Frog Baby Bib, or Monkey Baby Bib from Under the Nile, both made from GOTS and USDA Certified Organic Egyptian Cotton on a Fairtrade Certified farm. Whatever your style is, all our burp cloths and bibs are machine washable for no-fuss cleanups.

Green Sprouts Snack Cups | EarthHero | Non Toxic Back to School Lunch

Plant-Based Plastic Snack Cups

Snacking on-the-go with a baby or toddler can be as difficult as herding cats. You’ll almost always need to have several options for snacking for their changing mood and appetites, which can lead to a purse full of toxic plastics pouches or heavy glass baby food jars. Don’t turn your purse into a pantry–just bring perfectly portioned snacks in these plant-based plastic Snack Cups by Green Sprouts. They’re as lightweight and durable as typical plastic products, but are made from a BPA/BPS, melamine, and PVC-free plant-based plastic that’s dishwasher safe and 100% non-toxic. They’re stackable, snackable, and totally adorable.

Brain Food: Elementary + Middle Schoolers

Recent data shows that while 30.6 million US students eat school lunches every year, only 6% of school lunches meet the nutritional requirements established by the US Department of Agriculture. Beyond that, many of these school-provided lunches come on styrofoam trays, with single-use plastic cups, and disposable plastic utensils. By packing a lunch for your kid to bring to school, you can ensure they’re getting a balanced meal–all in plastic-free packaging. Ditch the brown paper bag and set them up for success with these modern snacking reusables!

 

rPETe Snack BagsChico Bag Snack Time Bags | EarthHero | Non Toxic Lunch

Single use plastic bags… where do we begin. They don’t seal all that well, rip easily, and can spill snacks at any time. Plus, they can never ever be recycled, and are usually used just once before heading to the trash. ChicoBag reduces waste from day one with their rPETe Snack Bags, using recycled water bottles to make the fabric for these reusable baggies. This colorful three pack allows you to pack your kiddo multiple things to munch on, all in a lightweight and easy-travel pouch. They’re resealable, reusable, washable, and overall awesome for any dry snacks or sandwiches!

Apple Park EarthHero Back to School Lunch Pack

Animal Lunch Pack

Not only do plastic or paper lunch bags break, leaving your food on the floor, but they’re designed to be used only once–leading to hundreds of trashed bags by the end of the school year. By switching to a reusable lunch box you can reduce this waste, and keep their lunch colder and fresher for longer. Apple Park’s adorable Animal Lunch Packs come in a fun variety of animals from bunnies to foxes, and are insulated for hours of fresh food. Made from recycled water bottles, their packs are naturally water-resistant, dishwasher/machine washing safe, and long-lasting. When they’re ready for a more mature pack, donate this durable pack to a local school or charity, and upgrade to this lunch tote!

Chico Bag EarthHero Bamboo Utensil Set

Kids Bamboo Utensil Set

Fork, spoon, knife, you’re ready to go! This bamboo utensil set from To-Go Ware contains all the mealtime essentials, wrapped up in a travel case made from recycled plastic water bottles. The stain resistant and dishwasher safe organic bamboo utensils will last your kid for years until they’re ready to upgrade to a full size utensil set, and are lightweight enough to be tucked into any lunch pack or kit. In a variety of fun colors for every personality, your kids will never have to use the disposables at the cafeteria again!

Next Steps: High School + College Students

You’re almost across the 12 year finish line, heading to college and beyond. But that doesn’t mean that lunch time goes away… it just means you’re likely multitasking during your lunch break. Our high school and college suggestions are designed around a busy lifestyle–introducing compostable disposable options, and on-the-go sizes. Whether you’re cramming in the library or enjoying intramurals on the college field, you’ll never go hungry with these essentials.

ZipTuck Resealable BagsEarthHero - ZipTuck Reusable Gallon Snack Bag 5

Have a 5 minute lunch break and need something to snack on? Want to save the rest of your avocado for tomorrow mornings avocado toast? Running to your yoga class with granola in tow?

It’s no secret that we’re not into single-use plastic, but we know that those resealable bags are just SO convenient! Full Circle Home has got you covered with their ZipTuck reusable snack bags. They’re not only reusable and perfect for on-the-go, but they also come in some cute designs to “fancy” up your snack!

U Konserve EarthHero Back to School Lunch

Insulated Lunch Bag

At this age, being able to fit your lunch bag inside your crowded backpack becomes less and less feasible. U Konserve solved this problem in their reinvented lunch bag, featuring an adjustable shoulder strap so you can tote your lunch alongside your books, without anything being crushed. Made from recycled plastic water bottles, this bag is naturally insulated, keeping food and drinks cold for 5-8 hours with an ice pack. Plus, it features an interior pocket for storing the sandwich bags and utensil sets we’ve been raving over above!

Khala Cloths Vegan Reusable Sandwich Wrap EarthHero

Vegan Reusable Sandwich Wrap

Seran wrap, step aside. Plastic wrap, please go! We have a new wrap in our lives: Khala Cloth’s Plant-Based & Vegan Wraps! A cotton and hemp fabric blend is treated with consciously-sourced soy wax, jojoba, and coconut oil to create a vegan wrap that can be molded and shaped with the warmth of your hands. We love the sandwich wraps for our lunch kits because they include an adorable tie to keep your sandwich in place on the run. Plus, they’re vegan, so experimenting with veganism during college is a breeze.

Bambu Spork and Cork Set

Spork and Cork Set

High school and college can be a super busy time, rushing from class to after-school sports to homework study groups. When it’s time to stop and snack, you don’t want to be dealing with a full set of utensils, when all you need is the essentials–a spoon and a fork. The Spork and Cork Set by bambu is the perfect tool for on the go, made of 50% spoon and 50% fork for 100% fun. The naturally stain-resistant and anti-microbial organic bamboo wood spork is finished with a food-safe oil finish, and comes with a beautiful (and washable!) cork fabric sleeve to keep your spork clean in your backpack or purse. And, like all our lunch time essentials, this set is totally phthalate, PVC, and BPA-free.

Post Grad: Educators + Professionals

You’ve made it through school–whether it took 12 years or 25 years. For the teachers out there, you found your way back into the classroom, and into the world of a packed lunch once again. But, most professions nowadays are encouraging home-packed lunches, thanks to their reduced cost, healthy ingredients, and reduced plastic waste. Whether you’re working the 9-5 or living life on your own schedule, these are our favorite “grown-up” ways to lunch sustainably.

stasher-bags-lunch-pack

Stasher Bags

See ya plastic baggies… hello Stasher Bags! Whether you want to warm up leftovers in the microwave for lunch or just somewhere to keep your homemade energy bars fresh, Stasher Bags have your back. These silicone-made bags are designed to be as reusable as possible so they are safe to put in the dishwasher! And if that isn’t good enough, they can also be used in the freezer, oven, or even sous vide.

Divided Stainless Steel Container

You have limited space in your work bag (and your work fridge), and no desire to have a bland or boring lunch. Enter U Konserve’s Divided Stainless Steel Food Container: a reusable, bento-style lunchbox that separates your snacks into four different sectors. Keep a salad on one side, a sandwich on the other in this non-toxic, BPA-free, and lead-free food storage box. The leak resistant lid, and recyclable stainless steel are both machine washable as well, reducing the amount of time you spend cleaning and prepping for your next meal.

U Konserve Ice Pack EarthHero Non Toxic Lunch

Recycled Plastic Ice Pack

If you’re gone at work or school all day, you need plenty of fresh food throughout the day, maybe packing two lunches or a lunch and a dinner. While an insulated lunch tote will get the job done, we’re loving the Recycled Plastic Ice Packs from U Konserve for all of our fresh food needs. The machine washable and moisture resistant cover is made from recycled plastic water bottles, with an interior gel from non-toxic sodium polymers. You can feel good adding this to any lunch pack, as its been tested by CPSIA-accredited independent labs to be free of BPAs, phthalates, and leads.

 

Canvas Lunch SackUnited by Blue Lunch Pack EarthHero

You’re an adult. And we think your lunch bag should reflect that. This reusable lunch bag from United by Blue is made from 100% water-resistant organic waxed canvas in beautiful navy, tan, and olive with a stylish roll-top buckle front closure. The 8 liter bag is roomy enough for all your food throughout the day, and can be easily cleaned with soap and water! Details like vegetable tanned leather and solid brass hardware add modern sophistication you love to an everyday essential you didn’t know you needed.

A Lunch Kit for Everyone

Our mission is to make it easy for you to have a non-toxic lunch or meal… at any age, profession, life situation, diet, what-have-you. While some of our products are best served for certain age groups (though we won’t judge you if you want a bunny lunch pack) we decided to make some all-purpose lunch kits you can buy in just one click. Whether you’re meal prepping, packing a lunch for someone else, or bringing your own lunch to work, you’ll find these kits have everything you need.

Waste-Free Lunch Kit

Zero Waste Lunch Kit

Sustainable Guru Pack

Bonus points: Get your sustainable school supplies here, and check out how to reduce your food waste overall here!