What is Reef-Safe Sunscreen?

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

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

Conventional Sunscreens

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

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

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

Let’s start with oxybenzone.

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

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

We all play a role

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

But oxybenzone isn’t the only problem.

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

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

Reef-Safe Sunscreens

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

How Reef Safe Sunscreens work

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

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

“Reef Safe” policies

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

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

Don’t live by the ocean?

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

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

Common Sunscreen Questions

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

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

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

What does a higher SPF mean?

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

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

How do I properly use mineral-based sunscreens?

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

Do babies and kids need special sunscreens?

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

What are nanoparticles, and are they safe in sunscreen?

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

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

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

Chemical-Free Cleaning Products

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

Benefits of Non-Toxic Cleaning Formulas

They’re safe for children and pets!

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

They promote healthier indoor, and outdoor, air quality!

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

They protect our natural resources!

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

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

Laundry Room

Non-Toxic Cleaning Products | EarthHero | Soap Nuts

Soap Nuts

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

Powdered Detergent

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

Non-Toxic Chemical-Free Cleaning Products on EarthHero

Cora Ball

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

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

Dryer Balls

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

Non-Toxic Cleaning Products | Bestowed Essentials | EarthHero

Spot-Treatment Stain Stick

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

Bathroom

Meliora Non-Toxic Cleaning Products EarthHero

All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

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

Soft Scrub

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

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!

Non-Toxic Cleaning Products EarthHero Full Circle

Scrubber Sponges and Dish Brushes

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

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

Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

Reusable Dish Towels

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

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

7 Toxic Chemicals to Avoid in Your Products

Fact: 85% of the toxic chemicals used in personal care, food, packaging, and other everyday products have not been tested–which means we have no idea what impact they can have on our bodies, and our planet. As more and more research on common additives is done, we’re finding out they might be linked to a slew of health problems.

From cancer-causing chemicals, to hormone-disrupting toxins, you’d be shocked to learn what secrets are potentially hiding in your everyday products. While it may feel impossible to completely eliminate your exposure, it’s important to play it safe and be educated about what’s is inside the products you use. Read on to learn about 7 of our least favorite toxins below, and how you can avoid them in your life! 

7 Toxic Chemicals to Avoid in Your Products

1. Phthalates – The Everywhere Chemical

Phthalates (pronounced Tha-lates) are chemical compounds typically added to plastic products to make them more flexible, durable, and long lasting. These little buggers are in almost everything — plastic food containers, cosmetics, “fresh” produce, electronics, children’s toys and even medical equipment. Simply eating from containers or using skin care products that contain phthalates can expose you to the chemical, and once they are in your body, they are quickly converted into metabolites (tiny molecules) that won’t leave your body for in several days.

Even though phthalates don’t stay in your body long, the impact they can have on your health is significant. One type of phthalate, named Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is a known endocrine disruptor, and researchers are beginning to conduct long-term studies on how this chemical impacts human health. The biggest issue with phthalates, like many toxins, is that we truly don’t know what long-term continuous exposure from multiple sources (think food, skincare, packaging) can impact.

To learn more, the CDC measured 13 common types of phthalates in the urine of 2,636+ participants. What they found was that the general population has measurable levels of many types of phthalates in them–meaning that phthalate exposure is widespread amongst the US population. They also found that, on average,  adult women have higher levels of phthalate metabolites than men on average, specifically for the type of phthalates used in cosmetics and personal care products. They also found that, as with like most chemicals, children under the age of 3 are at greater risk when exposed to phthalates–due in part to their smaller body size, and from exposure to phthalates through items products they put in their mouths, like plastic toys, pacifiers, and more.

Phthalates are probably one of the most widely used chemicals in conventional products, and because there is currently minimal regulation when it comes to ingredients, with many companies choose choosing not to label their products as containing phthalates. This feels like seriously scary stuff, but there’s hope! To reduce your exposure, here there are a few things you can do: 

  • Look for skincare, cosmetics, and other personal care products  that is proudly to say “We are phthalate-free!”, and that also disclose their full ingredient lists.
  • Use phthalate-free food containers whenever possible (glass, stainless steel)–and never microwave food inside plastic containers that could contain phthalates, as the microwave process will leach those chemicals into your food.
  • Look at the ingredients list for these common phthalates: BBP (butyl benzyl phthalate), DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate) *commonly found in nail polish, DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate) *often commonly added to PVC products to make them more flexible, DEP (diethyl phthalate) *added to personal care to enhance fragrance, and DiNP (di-isonoyll pthalate) *commonly added to toys and childcare products.

7 Toxic Chemicals To Avoid in Your Products

2. Parabens – The Preservative Chemical

These synthetic chemical preservatives are one of the most widely used preservatives in beauty and personal care products today, thanks to the fact that they keep bacteria and mold from growing in your products–extending their shelf life. While this sounds awesome, it actually negatively impacts human health…which is not so awesome.

You can be easily come into contact with parabens by applying them to your skin through makeup, moisturizers, hair care, and shaving cream, as well as by consuming them through preserved foods and food packaging (parabens are even in some pharmaceuticals. Yikes!) A study by the CDC on over 2,500+ participants found methylparaben and propylparaben, two of the most common types of parabens, in most of the people tested–indicating widespread exposure to parabens amongst the American population.

Other researchers have found parabens in breast tumors, linking the toxin to endocrine disruption and potential cumulative health impacts like cancer, as well as finding that butylparaben can severely impact the male reproductive system. Like phthalates, more long-term testing needs to be done to find a definitive relationship between health impacts and parabens, but we personally don’t want to wait to start limiting this chemical in our lives.

Currently, the FDA has no regulations against preservatives like parabens in cosmetics, which means that companies can include these toxins in their products without getting FDA approval–and without having to readily disclose that their products contain parabens. Which means, for now, that it’s up to the individual to protect themselves from such toxins! Here are some tips for doing so…

  • Look at the ingredients list for these common parabens: methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, and ethylparaben. More and more companies are proud to say their products are “paraben-free” – be sure to support those ones!
  • Avoid food grown with preservatives and opt for organic whenever possible!

7 Toxic Chemicals to Avoid in Your Products

3. Sulfates, SLS, & SLES – The Lathering Chemical

Like parabens, these synthetic chemicals are also commonly found in beauty products and traditional household cleaners. They’re known for their ability to create that satisfying lather that elicits the feeling of true (but false) cleanliness! While bubbles are fun and all, absorbing toxins into your body is not. Some of the most common types of sulfate-based chemicals are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), which are what allows your shampoo, soap, and bubble bath to suds up.

These compounds are produced from petroleum and ‘plant’ sources like palm oil, and are created through a chemical reaction with sulfuric acid and other chemicals. In short, they’re derived from not-so-great chemicals, and their production contributes to air pollution, increased greenhouse gases, and ultimately, climate change. But that’s not all…

Studies on sulfates, SLS, and SLES have found that SLS and SLES can irritate the eyes, skin, and lungs–especially with long-term exposure (which happens easily if these chemicals are present in your daily personal care products!). They also found that SLES may contain 1,4-dioxane, which is known to cause cancer in laboratory animals.

Beyond the environmental impacts of production and possible human health issues, simply using products that contain these chemicals can impact our animal biodiversity. The palm oil that is used to manufacture these sulfate-chemicals is a major contributor to tropical rainforest devastation, and then the final formulas are often washed down the drain (think of your shampoo!) where they end up in oceans, lakes, and waterways and can be toxic to different species of animals. All in all, we are not a fan of any version of synthetic sulfates. Check out some ways to avoid them in your life below:

  • SLS and SLES are usually found in: liquid soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, dish soap, toothpaste, bath bombs, and other “lathering” personal care items. Opt for solid and oil based soaps and shampoos rather than liquid versions–and keep an eye out for products that are proud to be “sulfate-free”!
  • Look at the ingredients list for: sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, laureth-8 carboxylic acid, lauryl ether sulfate, and other common synonyms!

7 Toxic Chemicals to Avoid in Your Products

4. Oxybenzone – The Sunscreen Chemical

Oxybenzone, aka benzonephenone-3, has been getting a lot of (negative) attention lately–with sunscreen numerous companies  saying “we’re proud to be oxybenzone free!” But even so, oxybenzone is still in nearly 80% of conventional sunscreens, with studies from the CDC estimating that oxybenzones are present in more than 96% of the US population. It was initially used because oxybenzone provides UV coverage, while staying colorless, which many sunscreen companies loved for “spray” sunscreens and other innovative products. It’s also used in nail polish, fragrances, hair spray, and some cosmetics.

Despite the fact that oxybenzones are supposed to absorb UV rays and protect us from the sun, studies have shown that oxybenzone is readily absorbed by the skin–where it then stays in our bodies for an unknown amount of time. The EWG has found that oxybenzone, when in our bodies, is highly toxic–and has begun to link the additive to hormone disruption, damaged cells that could lead to skin cancer, and reproductive issues. According to one researcher, Dr. Kurunthachalam Kannan, a professor of public health and environmental health services with the New York State Department of Health, oxybenzone is an even stronger estrogenic than BPA–which has been widely banned due to its toxicity. In fact, oxybenzone even won an award (a bad award…) for being “Allergen of the Year” by the American Contact Dermatitis Society back in 2014.

Beyond that, coral reefs and other ocean ecosystems are highly impacted by the presence of this chemical in our sunscreens–as sunscreens are often rinsed off in the shower, pool, or ocean, where they can end up ingested by sea life, or absorbing into porous coral habitats. Despite all this research, oxybenzone is still FDA approved for use in our products, which means it’s up to us to reduce our exposure with tips and tricks like these…

  • Check the ingredients list for these common chemical filters: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, homosalate, and octinoxate. Instead, look for mineral-based sunscreens that use active ingredients like zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.
  • Allow your sunscreen to fully absorb into your skin before hopping in the pool or ocean to reduce the amount of run-off that occurs!
  • Accept the fact that you may have to rub in your white-based sunscreen a little bit more than your conventional clear sunscreen… or look for mineral-based sunscreens that are slightly tinted! Checkout our blog on natural sunscreens for more info here!

7 Toxic Chemicals to Avoid in Your Products

5. Synthetic Dyes – The Colorful Chemical

Fact: the food industry adds more than 15 million pounds of artificial food dyes into our food supply every year–putting them in everything from cereal to soda. They’ve become so prevalent that we often don’t even notice them, or know how to recognize them on the ingredients list. The same is true of synthetic colors in common cosmetics, personal care, and household products, with the FDA enforcing some regulations on what acceptive levels of synthetic colorants are, but not providing the consumer with information on how those additives can impact their health, or the health of the planet.

The truth is, coal, tar, and petroleum are the base for most of the artificial dyes that are used to color anything from clothing to personal care. These dyes contain heavy metals, plasticizers, fluorocarbons, and formaldehyde, and require a great deal of water and energy to produce them. Plus, most artificial colors aren’t readily biodegradable, and end up polluting our waterways and marine ecosystems. On top of that, although they are tested by the FDA, certain synthetic additives are linked to allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. For example, FD&C No. 5 can lead to itching, hives, and other skin reactions, despite the fact that they are considered safe. Some studies from the Center for Science in the Public Interest are even beginning to link these petroleum-based colorants to more serious health risks like cancer, hormone disruption, and hyperactivity (ADD and ADHD).

The good news is that you don’t need synthetic colorants in your products, because natural colorants exist! Things like beet juice powder, red radish powder, annatto powder, and water soluble carmine are all alternatives to synthetic red dyes–and are an awesome way to transform products to have the bold colors we’re so used to seeing.

How to avoid synthetic colors…

  • Check the ingredients list of your products for non-FDA-approved synthetic colors like tartrazine. Try not to confuse certified colors with their uncertified counterparts. For example, FD&C Yellow No. 5 is the certified form of tartrazine, and has been FDA certified, but tartrazine has not. You can find a list of FDA approved color additives here.
  • Switch from products that use synthetic additives (even if they are FDA approved!) to products that use only natural colorants from plant-based sources.

7 Toxic Chemicals to Avoid in Your Products

6. Synthetic Fragrance – The Smelly Chemical

Synthetic fragrances, aka the “new second hand smoke of 2019”, are one of the most prevalent chemical additives–and can be found in countless everyday products including scented candles, detergents, deodorants, air fresheners, shampoos, lotions, and more. Have you ever been around someone with just a little too much cologne on, or walked into a room that has been “Febreez-ed”? While it may seem innocuous, the chemicals that make up synthetic fragrances can be absorbed when we inhale them, and are linked to some serious impacts on our bodies and the planet.

About 95% of the chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum (crude oil)–which is a finite resource that is extremely unsustainable to harvest, process, and transform into these synthetic chemicals. Beyond their impact on the planet, synthetic scents greatly impact our lungs and respiratory system. One such study shows a decline in exhalation volume by 58% when exposed to synthetic colognes, and is linked to a worsening of asthma symptoms. Additionally, synthetic scents can include those hormone-disrupting phthalates we talked about before, and be linked to health issues like cancer, birth defects, and reproductive issues. These same chemicals

Although fragrances are highly prevalent in our consumer products, it is possible to avoid them in the products you purchase by opting for “fragrance-free”, “unscented” products, alongside certified organic products and those who use essential oils in lieu of synthetic fragrances.

  • Swap out synthetic fragrance filled products with those that use natural & organic essential oils to fragrance their products. Avoid ingredients like: benzenes, aldehydes, toluene, styrene, and more.
  • Don’t be confused by the word “fragrance”. Fragrance is a catch-all term that can apply to nearly 3,000 various chemicals, all with their own serious impacts!
  • Look for unscented or fragrance-free products – but still read the labels carefully to ensure a company is not using some other chemical to masks scents to create the “unscented” experience.

7 Toxins to Avoid | BPA

7. BPA – The Water Bottle Chemical

Whether or not you’ve been paying attention to the toxins in your products, BPA has been making major headlines recently for two main reasons: almost everyone has detectable levels of BPA in their bodies, and they can create serious health impacts for fetuses and newborns. But what is BPA? Short for Bisphenonol A, BPA is an industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate–a hard, clear plastic that was used in plastic water bottles, food and product packaging, and as a protective lining in some metal-based items since the 1960s.

According to a study by the CDC back in 2003 on 2,500+ individuals aged 6 years and older, there were detectable levels of BPA in 93% of urine samples–which does not take into account the levels of BPA that may be present in children under the age of 6, the most at-risk demographic. Other studies pursued by the FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research have continued to analyze the relationship between expectant mothers and BPA, with initial results suggesting long-term health impacts. Beyond that, it is linked to diabetes, heart disease, and endocrine disorders.

In July of 2012, the FDA amended its food additive regulations to ban the use of BPA is baby bottles, sippy cups, and infant formula packaging–but not other places where BPA were readily used. Despite this new regulation, many plastic products still contain BPA–leaving it up to the consumer to avoid it in their lives. But, because of the attention it has gotten, BPA is actually one of the easier toxins to avoid! Checkout some tips and trips to live BPA free below.

  • Avoid foods that could be packaged with BPA–like non-organic canned soups, preservative-packed produce, etc.
  • Choose cardboard and glass containers over canned goods! Highly acidic foods, like canned tomato sauce, are more likely to leach BPA from the can lining. Opt instead for cardboard and glass containers, instead of cans with plastic linings.
  • Do not microwave food from polycarbonate plastic! At high temperatures, these plastics can leach BPA into your food and become easily ingested. Although companies are not required to say if a product has BPA in it, polycarbonate plastics are usually marked with a number #7 recycling code on the bottom.
  • Look for baby bottles, toys, and other children’s products that are made by companies who proudly state they are “BPA free!” Because this is the demographic most impacted by the chemical, go the extra mile to research products that are truly BPA free.

 

7 Toxins to Avoid

BUT DON’T PANIC!

We know…. This is a lot of pretty scary information. And it can feel overwhelming. Toxins seem like they are everywhere–and can seem nearly impossible to avoid. The good news? Companies across the globe are taking matters into their own hands, and banning the toxic chemicals that are linked to negative health impacts… even if the FDA hasn’t.

By embracing the power of natural ingredients on a larger scale, brands are making it easier for their communities to shop products that are chemical-free. On EarthHero, we ensure that no brand or product on our site contains these toxins. Instead, we turn to essential oils, plant-based dyes, and other natural ingredients that work hard–without all the extra gunk added. Checkout our sustainability logos here that we use to label our products that are toxin-free, or look at the “Made Without” Sustainability Feature facet found on each product page! 

How do you live a toxin-free lifestyle?

 

Product Breakdown: FinalStraw

FinalStraw: the world’s first collapsible and reusable straw. Made from stainless steel and silicone, this sleek metal straw folds to fit in a case small enough to attach to a key chain–making it perfect for the modern environmentalist.

But the straw isn’t just sexy—it’s essential, too. FinalStraw has quickly become a leader in the global movement to reduce the amount of single-use plastics in the world, replacing commonly used items with reusable alternatives. Every day, we use (and toss!) millions of single-use plastic straws, all of which aren’t recyclable and will never truly decompose. By switching to a reusable alternative, you can reduce the amount of waste headed to our landfills–while still getting all the perks of straws you know and love. Read on as we break down how to use, clean, and love your FinalStraw in this product breakdown!

FinalStraw EarthHero

The Straw

Sturdy stainless steel meets food-grade silicone to make the FinalStraw durable, collapsible, and perfect for kids and adults alike. Unlike classic stainless steel straws, that are perfectly rigid, this straw is made from 4 unique stainless steel sections, linked together by non-plastic silicone that allows it to easily self-assemble when pulled from its carrying case. This same silicone is added to the top and bottom of the straw as well, making it perfect for straw-biters, children, those with disabilities, or basically anyone who prefers a softer straw tip.

FinalStraw EarthHero

How-To: Clean & Dry

One of the biggest drawbacks for some around reusable straws is the question: how will I clean it? FinalStraw tackled that concern head on by making their straw easy to clean–whether you’re on-the-go, or at home. This is in part due to the unique travel case the straw comes folded in–featuring a drying rack and straw “squeegee” cleaning brush made from the same food-grade silicone as the interior of the straw.

To clean, simply remove the mini drying rack from the travel case, and unwrap the silicone straw brush from the base of the drying rack. With soap and water, run the straw brush through the straw until clean. Then simply collapse the straw and set it in the drying rack! The drying rack keeps the straw from collecting dust or dirt while it dries, and is small enough to make it feasible for traveling. Watch a video on how to clean it here!

FinalStraw EarthHero

The Travel Case

Another classic case against the reusable straw is that they’re difficult to carry around without getting dirty inside your bag or purse. That’s where FinalStraw’s unique keychain carrying case comes in, made from 100% recycled plastic that’s durable and protective. This mini case can be easily clipped to keys, carabiners, or stashed in a glove box–making it a perfect travel companion. Plus, it holds the straw brush and drying rack we mentioned above… so you don’t need to bring additional supplies. In a variety of fun colors to match your personality, this case truly sets FinalStraw apart from the rest.

FinalStraw EarthHero

Why FinalStraw?

Single-use straws are often used for an hour or less as your enjoy your drink, then sent to the landfills where they will stay for hundreds of years before becoming microplastics (which are even worse!) Unlike single-use straws, testing has shown the FinalStraw can be used for 12,000 cycles – which is roughly 2 uses a day for 16 years! Perfect for both hot and cold drinks, with a variety of colors and options, this straw is truly the most innovative reusable we’ve found–and hope you love it as much as we do.

The visionary behind the sucking sensation is CEO Emma Cohen. Cohen, 32, holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University in Environmental Management and Sustainability, and worked in waste minimization at Los Alamos National Laboratory, before quitting to become a “strawtreprenuer.” Her Kickstarter campaign became a viral success with the FinalStraw team raising $1.89 million, and pre-selling over 85,000 straws.

Whether you’re new to reusable straws, or just want to try this innovative option, you can get your FinalStraw on EarthHero today!

Interview with Sanari Candles

Sanari Candles isn’t your average candle company. Made from 100% vegan, plant-based ingredients, these non-toxic candles are packaged in reusable wine glasses–and burn bright without any added chemicals. Read on as we interview Sanari’s Founder, Rebecca Aghalarpour, and learn more about what inspired her unique brand.

Sanari Candles Earth Hero Interview

What inspired you to start Sanari Candles?  

“The combination of my experience leading a healthy lifestyle, and having a keen understanding of impure chemicals commonly used in beauty and home products led me to rid my home of anything remotely toxic. It was then that I came face to face with a cancer diagnosis. My research had taught me that traditional candles are full of toxic chemicals, like petroleum, dyes, artificial fragrances and animal by-products which go right into the air you breathe. The love of being able to burn candles in my home again inspired me to begin my journey with Sanari Candles!”

What does the word ‘Sanari’ mean?

“The name ‘Sanari’ is a combination of the names of my two amazing children, Aria and Sanam. Aria means Air and Sanam means Love,  creating pure love in the air you breathe.”

What’s your favorite candle scent out of the collection?

“I honestly can’t choose a favorite scent, since each blend delivers a unique sensory experience for your mind and body.  But my favorite plants are floral and citrus; so I love the Aria which has sweet and herbal notes of eucalyptus, bergamot and juicy sweet tangerine falling into beautifully fragrant of ylang ylang, fresh mint and lavender, finished off with patchouli and cedar wood. I also love the Sanam which has note of pomegranate and lemon, falling into a pool of delicate rose and jasmine petals, finished off with smooth dry musk–it’s delicious!”

What are some of the main goals of Sanari Candles as a whole?

Our goal and promise is dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle, using only the highest quality organic and green products in the industry. We believe in controlling the environment you live in, and created the first and only candle line to globally source the purest and natural ingredients with zero waste packaging. We pull from our earth to give back to our Earth, and to you!”

What do you do in your daily life to live more sustainably?

I have a plant based diet do meditation every morning, with deep breathing exercises, before I start my day. I love nature and take walks on the beach and hikes. I am extremely conscientious about waste and recycling. Most importantly, my spiritual studies helps me master things like patience, forgiveness observation and stillness–it simply takes practice.”

EarthHero Sanari Candles

What inspired you to make the candles’ packaging from reusable wine glasses?

Every aspect of Sanari is well thought out in order to eliminate waste. I wanted to use a glass that is pretty enough to collect and reuse. Our glass is a stemless wine/drinking glass with no chemical interaction, to ensure that the ingredients contained in our glass maintain their integrity and aroma. I also have to admit that I love wine… so it was an easy choice.”

If you could have everyone on the planet do one thing to positively impact our changing climate, what would it be?

“It is so important to be environmentally conscious and use sustainable products. It makes sense for people to be as efficient and green as possible in their thinking on a day-to-day basis. We should all be responsible for using recycled products and eliminating our personal waste.

Educate yourself about climate change and learn ways of managing the feelings that come up so you can face them–and not avoid the reality of climate change. Creating social norms about protecting the environment so that people see that ‘everyone is doing it and that it’s normal to be green is also extremely important.”

How has Sanari grown since day 1? What challenges have you faced being such a unique company?

It is important to educate the consumer about how to live a truly healthy lifestyle, and that has also been a challenge we’ve faced as a company. There are many traditional candle manufacturers using toxic chemicals such as paraffins and much more. The market can control what information gets released about its products, so consumers are often misled. It is our mission to be able to regulate this process and teach the consumer about the difference between our products, and conventional products.”

How are the ingredients in Sanari Candles unique from other candle companies?

“We use only the purest blends of essential oils to create fragrances that are unique and proprietary to Sanari Candles. Each of our blends truly delivers a unique sensory experience that also has proven health benefits. We have created a proprietary wax blend of Coconut and Soy; and no pesticides or herbicides are used at any stage in its cultivation. Our wax burns cleaner, cooler and longer. Plus, our wicks are made from 100% unbleached cotton wide wicks to provide a clean, pure and long lasting burn.” 

Sanari Candles Earth Hero interview

How does Sanari Candles give back to the planet?

“We are environmentally conscious and truly sustainable end-to-end. We use sustainable ingredients, recyclable paper and soy ink. We also donate a percentage of our sales to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, as their cause is very close to my heart!”

What’s your favorite environmental quote?

“‘The Earth is all we have in common’…. by Wendell Berry.” 

Thanks to Rebecca for sharing your story with us! For the rest of the March, take 10% off all Sanari Candles – and try all the amazing scents the Sanari team has created for you.

 

 

 

Plastic Free Travel Essentials

Fact: 9.1 BILLION Tons of plastic has been produced since plastic was introduced to us in the 1950s. This number is so staggering that the amount of plastic produced in one year is roughly the same as the entire weight of humanity. And this number is only increasing, day after day, piece by piece.

Now you may be thinking… “But what about the Seattle straw ban? What about the plastic bag tax? What about Starbucks going straw-free?” – and we totally hear you! There are a ton of amazing company and city-led initiatives popping up across the US and globally, but these bans or taxes often only address a portion of the real plastic problem. What is the real problem, you ask? Our single-use mindset!

It’s amazing that major companies are finally taking responsibility for their waste, but consumers must also be willing to take action. In practice, this means not just waiting for Starbucks to permanently ban plastic straws, but proactively bringing your own reusables as well. And while there are tons of ways to live a more sustainable life, in this blog, we’re sharing some of our favorite plastic-free, zero waste essentials for on-the-go. Whether you’re just on your daily commute to work, or a world traveler, you can make a more mindful impact on the planet with these 5 reusables!

Final Straw EarthHero Plastic Free Essentials

Collapsible & Reusable Travel Straw

There is no shortage of materials and styles of reusable straws out there, all offering a solution to the single-use straw crisis. They all have their own benefits and drawbacks, but when it comes to a true “travel” straw…. There’s simply no competition. The FinalStraw takes the cake because it’s collapsible into its own carrying case (which can be clipped to your keychain!) and contains its own straw brush and drying rack so you can easily clean it in an airport bathroom–not that we recommend that, though.

It’s made from stainless steel, so it’s practically unbreakable, but still comes in a bunch of cool colors so you can customize your look. Whether you just need a straw for your to-go iced coffee on the way to the office, or plan on backpacking the world, this little straw set is a huge game changer when it comes to kicking single-use straws to the curb. Not sold on this straw? Figure out which reusable straw is best for you here!

Stasher Bags EarthHero Plastic Free Travel

Leak-Proof Silicone Bag

We talk a lot about plastic grocery bags when addressing the single-use plastic issue, but rarely address the silent killer–plastic Ziploc and snack bags! From packing snacks for the road, to keeping your toiletries from spilling into the rest of your suitcase, Ziploc bags are used often and without abandon when it comes to life on-the-go. An easy way to cut this waste out is with a Stasher Bag!

Made from extremely durable silicone, these bags won’t break or rip, and are 100% leak-proof (you can put water in the bag, then seal it and flip it upside down…then shake it. Trust us, we’ve tried it!) They can be put in the freezer and microwave for meal prepping and storage, but are also a great solution for toiletries, makeup, and other potentially spillable travel gear. Basically, this bag does everything, making it our #1 travel buddy.

ECOlunchbox EarthHero Plastic Free Travel

Stainless Steel Snack Container

A great way to save money when traveling is to pack your own meals! But, without reusables, this could lead to a lot of single-use packaging and waste being left behind on your journey. The good news is… we have a solution for that too! Containers like these are easy to travel with because they’re made from durable stainless steel, come in a variety of nest-able sizes for easy storage, and have a leak-resistant silicone lid to keep everything secure. Simply put a sandwich in one, a salad in the other, stick them in a bag and head out! Plus, they’re oven safe, so you can reheat your food without having to transfer it to another container. 

EarthWell Reusable Bottles EarthHero Plastic Free Travel

Reusable Water Bottle & Coffee Mug

Did you know that 1 million plastic bottles are bought every minute around the world? And less than half of those bottles will make it to the recycling center… which means that our landfills are being rapidly filled by water bottles that are used for 30 minutes… and last 300 years. By setting yourself up with a reusable water bottle (and/or coffee cup, if that’s your thing!) you can not only reduce the amount of trash produced overall, but you’ll get some personal benefits like saving money and drinking more water in general (we hope!) Whether you prefer a beautiful glass bottle, something stainless steel, or just want to make your coffee mug a 2-in-1 water bottle as well, there’s no shortage of solutions for this single-use problem. Whatever way you sip, just do it sustainably.

United by Blue EarthHero Plastic Free Travel

Carry-all Bag(s)

Now this may seem pretty obvious for a plastic free travel blog… but you’re going to need a travel bag (or two, or three!) Most travelers assume that they just need their suitcase and they’re good… but this often leads to them collecting single-use travel bags on the way. The three bags we know you’ll need for any awesome adventure are these: a backpack, a grocery tote, and a lunch/produce bag!

By having 3 varying sizes of travel bags, you can ensure you’ll never end up without what you need. The backpack, of course, is perfect for toting all of your larger “everyday” travel items, such as a laptop, notebook, camera–and all the reusables we mentioned above. Also inside this backpack will be the other two bags, tucked nicely away until you need them.

The grocery tote is a necessity so that you can go shopping, either for food or just for fun, on your trip without having to cave to single-use shopping bags. Roughly 100 billion single-use plastic shopping bags are used by Americans alone each year, and although most people know that these bags are bad for the planet, when you forget your reusables it can be hard to say no. By keeping a grocery tote like this one around, you’ll always have a place to store extra stuff–without just shoving more things into that backpack.

The final bag you’re going to need is a lunch bag or a produce bag! They can be used pretty interchangeably depending on your needs, and store neatly alongside the rest of the reusables in your backpack. This is where you will keep those reusable containers that are pre-packed with food, that loose banana or apple you grabbed on-the-go, or anything else that wouldn’t do well loose inside a backpack. That way, if you’re traveling and are ready to break for a snack, you don’t have to dig through your entire backpack–all you have to do is remove your lunch bag and you’re set. Learn more about packing a plastic free school lunch here!

Five plastic free essentials…. One massive impact. By simply preparing yourself with products like these, then making a conscious decision to bring them with you when traveling anywhere, you can drastically reduce the amount of waste you leave in trash cans on your travels. Once you’ve mastered these sustainable swaps, you can expand your zero waste initiative to your home, kitchen, laundry room, and beyond! Plus, check out 16 more of our favorite zero waste essentials for everyday here!

Which reusable straw is best for you?

Single-use plastic straws–they’re used for 30 minutes, but stick around for over half a century in our landfills and waterways. They can’t be recycled, they won’t biodegrade, and often end up polluting ocean habitats and damaging the environment! So why do millions of people each day choose to keep sucking on straws?

The truth is: straws can have some serious perks–from protecting your teeth from the sugars in drinks, to sippin’ drinks easily on the go, and they’re a great option for children or those with disabilities. But there is a better way than single-use! Reusable straws are an amazing way to reduce your impact on the millions of plastic straws that go into our landfills each week, while still enjoying all of the perks you love.

From long-lasting stainless steel to bendy silicone, read on to learn about our favorite reusable straws, and find out which one is best for your lifestyle!

Stainless Steel Straws

Over the last few months, fast-food restaurants and even entire cities have pledged to ban plastic straws, moving towards compostable alternatives or even modifying their products to not require straws (we see you Starbucks!) But, if you’re anything like us, ditching straws altogether just doesn’t work–especially when you’re on-the-go.

That’s why we love reusable stainless steel straws as one alternative, because they’re made from such a durable material that they can really go anywhere and everywhere with you without breaking–just toss it in your bag worry-free. Plus, stainless steel as a material is naturally non-toxic, rust-proof, and dishwasher safe, so cleaning and maintaining your straws is extremely easy.

Because stainless steel is, well, metal, we recommend that you only use this type of reusable straw on cold or room temperature drinks–not hot coffee or anything that could heat up the straw (ouch!) Another good thing to note about 100% stainless steel straws is that they’re not ideal for young children, or those with disabilities, as the mouthpiece is not as forgiving.

Pros: extremely durable, easy to clean, naturally rust-proof & non-toxic, lasts for years, comes in short and long lengths, recyclable, comes in bulk, looks great alongside classic silverware!

Cons: not suitable for hot drinks, or young children & those with disabilities!

Natural Bamboo Straws

There’s a lotta’ types of reusable straws.. but don’t get it bamboozled… bamboo straws are an amazing alternative as well! Usually known for being the fastest growing plant on the planet, bamboo is also naturally mold-resistant, anti-bacterial, and is as durable as steel. They will last for years with proper care, but when your bamboo straws do finally reach the end of their life, they can be commercially composted–so they don’t end up in the landfill.

In terms of usage, bamboo straws are easily cleaned with soapy water and a straw cleaning brush, and are naturally BPA-free, made without animal byproducts, and grown from bamboo that use pesticides or fertilizers. And although bamboo is a strong wood, it’s gentle and giving enough to be a great option for everyone–children, those with disabilities, you name it.

Pros: compostable & biodegradable after years of use, gentle enough for kids, good for hot and cold drinks, comes in short and long lengths, naturally mold-resistant & anti-bacterial, comes from renewable materials!

Cons: slightly ‘wooden’ mouthfeel, should not be left soaking in drinks for 12+ hours, most straw sets will have slightly different diameters because they come from whole stalks of bamboo, harder to clean!

Durable Glass Straws

Sip with class, thanks to glass! Reusable glass straws are one of the prettiest alternatives to single-use plastic straws, and there’s so many unique types! From short (8”) to long (10”), to smoothie width and regular width, bent and straight, and a variety of colors, there’s no shortage of ways to rock a glass straw.

Did you know that glass is 100% recyclable, and can be recycled endlessly without losing quality or purity? This makes it an extremely sustainable alternative to single-use straws–which can’t be recycled even once. Plus, glass won’t impart flavors based on what liquids it has come in contact with, so you can go from sipping a cup of iced coffee to a glass of wine without having to deep clean the straw.

Pros: easy to clean as the straw is see-through, dishwasher safe, lifetime guarantee, colorful, comes in smoothie width and classic width!

Cons: break or shatter slightly easier than other options!

Flexible Silicone Straws

While some of the other reusable straws might have bent tips, they don’t truly hit the mark for a flexible “bendy” straw that mimics the single-use plastic alternative. And for straw-chewers and little ones everywhere that was a huge issue.

That’s where silicone comes in–a plastic-free, non-toxic material that bends easily, but doesn’t break. Silicone has a high heat capacity, which means that it doesn’t change temperature easily, so it can go in your piping hot coffee, or in a cup of ice cold water. For the little ones in your life, the silicone straws can be easily cut down with a pair of scissors to create different lengths–but don’t worry, they won’t easily break or rip on their own!

Pros: flexible with a wide bent tip for easy sipping, doesn’t change temperature & can be used with hot and cold drinks, dishwasher safe, can be cut down to create “mini” straws, great for straw-chewers and won’t break!

Cons: harder to recycle at the end of life, and entire straw is flimsier than rigid stainless steel or glass.

Steel + Silicone Tip Straws

You deserve the best of both worlds: a bendy straw tip and a durable straw base. This straw does just that thanks to its flexible silicone tip attached to a high-quality steel base. When you want a pop of fun color, just keep the silicone mouthpiece on, or simply pop it off for a classic stainless steel look.

Pros: recyclable at the end of its life, nearly unbreakable, flexible bendy-straw tip, good for kids, straw-chewers, and those with disabilities, pairs with Klean Kanteen brand pints & tumblers, and made from non-toxic materials!

Cons: preferred hand-wash, and stainless steel cannot be used with hot drinks!

Compostable Straws

Alright, alright…. This technically isn’t a reusable straw, but it is another great alternative to single-use plastic straws. We totally understand that single-use straws are sometimes unavoidable, especially at large events like weddings, bars, festivals, you name it. By switching to single-use compostable paper over plastic, you can divert a huge amount of waste headed to the landfill, while still providing the single-use straws your event needed.

Most paper straws, like these, can compost in roughly 6 months to a year (compared to the 500 years plastic takes), and are made with chemical-free, food-grade inks, so they contain none of the yucky toxins that plastic straws do. Plus, they come in a variety of fun colors, making them the perfect partner for your sustainable party!

Pros: compostable & biodegradable, unique and memorable experience, fine for straw-chewers, kids, and those with disabilities!

Cons: not suitable for hot drinks, not reusable, each straw can only be used for a short period of time!

Now that you have the tools you need to decide what straw is right for you, it’s time for the most important part: using it! When you go to restaurants, coffee shops, or businesses, make sure you proudly say “No straw, please! I have my own!” When you bring your own straw, others will notice, and hopefully spur a change in their own life towards less single-use items. Don’t think you can switch to reusable? It’s easier than you think! All you need is your go-to straw, a carrying case, and of course a straw brush, and you’re ready to start changing the world.

Comment your favorite reusable straw below!

 

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!

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?

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!)

16 Zero Waste Essentials

In the past 50 years, humans as a whole have consumed more resources than in all of our previous history–with no signs of slowing down. In America alone, the total consumption of products rose 57% from 1957 to 2000 (that’s over twice the rate of population growth!) And while many believe that recycling is the answer, a new movement called “zero waste” aims to tackle our pollution problem where it starts.

By purchasing more durable, reusable products, and less plastic “single-use” products, zero-wasters aim to reduce the amount of non-recyclable trash they create. Check out some of our favorite products to get you started on your low-impact journey below!

U Konserve Stainless Steel Straw | EarthHero | Zero Waste Essentials

1: Reusable Stainless Steel Straw (with cleaning brush!)

From Starbucks phasing out their plastic straws, to viral videos of sea turtles with single-use straws stuck in their nostrils, the buzz against plastic straws has never been louder. And for good reason! Americans throw away 500 million plastic straws every day, but these straws can’t be recycled and will never, ever, ever biodegrade completely. That’s why we’ve made this our first zero waste go-to: a little stainless steel straw, with a huge environmental impact! Made from BPA and phthalate-free stainless steel, this durable straw travels easily and comes with a straw brush for easy cleaning! Plus, read our reusable straw blog to learn which material of straw is best for you!

Stasher Bags x EarthHero | Zero Waste Essentials

2: Silicone Stasher Bag

Stasher Bags aren’t just zero-waste and plastic-free… they do everything and anything, making them a favorite for anyone trying to reduce their waste in the kitchen, bathroom, or on-the-go. Made from food-safe silicone, a more sustainable alternative to plastic, these resealable bags can be used in the microwave, freezer, oven (on medium heat), sous vide machine, dishwasher–you name it. It contains no latex, lead, or additives (unlike plastic bags), and can be used and reused for years. Whether you’re storing leftovers, cooking, or even using it as a toiletry bag, Stasher is the perfect alternative to wasteful plastic bags and freezer wrap.

Stainless Steel ECOlunchbox x EarthHero | Zero Waste Essentials

3: Stainless Steel Lunchbox Set

When we hear the word “lunchbox”, our minds usually go to playing on the playground and eating PB&J’s in the cafeteria. But the truth is, adults deal with the struggle of bringing lunch, dinner, and snacks with them on-the-go–and the brown paper bag just isn’t cutting it anymore. We’re loving ECOlunchbox products because they’re 100% plastic-free, and flaunt modern looking stainless steel that’s perfect for little ones and work lunches alike. The large oval container fits 3 cups of food, with an accompanying snack cup featuring a leak-proof silicone lid for mess-free traveling. Plus, they’re dishwasher safe–so clean up and repacking is a breeze!

EarthHero x Khala cloths Zero Waste Essentials

4: Vegan Reusable “Cling Wrap”

“Plastic-wrap”…. also known as “cling wrap”, “Glad wrap”, or as we like to call it… “Sad wrap”. These single-use wraps were originally made with polyvinyl chloride plastic (aka PVC) which is non-recyclable, and has questionable toxin levels. But companies like Khala Cloths and Bee’s Wrap are taking us back to our roots with reusable plant-resin and beeswax infused cloths that keep food fresh by molding to various shapes to seal in moisture, and keep bacteria out. The vegan Khala Cloths are made from an organic cotton & hemp blend fabric, with 100% plant-based tree-resins and oils to create a durable, moldable cling-wrap alternative.

Food Huggers x EarthHero Zero Waste Essentials

5: Silicone Food Huggers

Fact: 30-40% of all the groceries you purchase get thrown in the trash due to expiration, which ends up being around $1,600 wasted per year. And most of this waste is due to perishables being exposed to the air–just think of what happens to produce like avocados, citrus, or tomatoes when you leave them uncovered! Food Huggers has found the ultimate solution for perishable produce in their non-toxic silicone “huggers”. In a variety of sizes (even some specifically designed for avocados!), these stretch to fit the uncovered side of partially used produce, keeping bacteria and air out–but moisture and freshness in. In fact, using a Food Hugger can help keep 23% more moisture in your food than if it was stored in plastic containers or baggies!

EarthHero x BioBag Compostable Ziploc Bags

6: Compostable Snack Bags

Americans use 100 billion single-use plastic bags a year, which requires 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture. And almost none of these bags get recycled, instead hanging out in our landfills and waterways for centuries. That’s why BioBag stepped in, offering up a sustainable solution to single-use Ziploc bags. By using compostable and biodegradable film from corn, not oil, their resealable baggies compost at the end of their life. Use the gallon bags for storing leftovers, the snack bags for school lunches, and the sandwich bags for everyday! That’s single-use, done sustainably.

7: Glass Smoothie Straw  & Mason Jar Lid

Now that we know why reusable straws > single-use straws, it’s up to you to decide what straw material and set-up is best for your lifestyle. Simply Straws glass smoothie straws are a great option for anyone looking for a way to drink milkshakes, smoothies, soups, and tons more! The colorful glass is easy to see-through and clean, and has a lifetime guarantee in case anything happens to it on-the-go. Just pick your favorite color, length, and type–then pair it with a straw compatible mason jar lid to transform any jar into an adorable drinking cup!

Natural Fiber Produce Bags | Chico Bag x EarthHero | Zero Waste Essentials

8: Produce Bags

Grocery stores are starting to get the memo: single-use grocery bags are bad! And while some have begun to charge additional fees for using plastic grocery bags, this hasn’t carried across to the thin plastic produce bags that are used with abundance. One of the easiest zero waste swaps you can make is simply adding reusable produce bags to your car alongside a shopping bag, so they’re on hand for the next time you need fresh fruit and veggies. Try mesh produce bags for produce that needs to breathe, like lettuce, or solid produce bags for things like nuts, grains, and rice.

EarthHero x To GO Ware Stainless Steel Tiffins Zero Waste Essentials

9: Stainless Steel Tiffins

Easy to carry, easy to clean, easy to love. Stainless steel tiffins, a traditional lunchbox system out of India, are truly a zero-waste essential thanks to their lightweight, stackable construction with room for plenty of snacks. For small meals, just bring one level–or for bigger lunches, stack two or even 3 tiers for a full spread of snacks. To further reduce your waste, bring your tiffin when you go out to eat to collect leftovers, or use it to shop with ease at the bulk store!

Scrap Happy Compost Bin | EarthHero x Full Circle Home

10: Silicone Compost Bin

Going zero waste is all about reducing, reusing, recycling, and rotting. Rotting? Well, composting. When we dispose of organic materials like food into the landfill, the organic materials aren’t able to get the oxygen they need, and therefore decompose anaerobically–releasing methane into the atmosphere. This is a major problem, because methane is 20x more harmful for our planet than carbon dioxide, with rotting food being the second largest source of man-made methane emissions. Whether you can commercially compost, or simply have a backyard compost, keeping your organic waste out of the trash will create a huge impact! This silicone compost bin is the perfect way to get started, as it can easily go into the freezer to minimize compost smells, is easily washable, and has a hook to attach to the kitchen counter for scraping scraps into it as you cook! Plus, we’re in love with silicone for a ton of reasons… read about them: here.

Klean Kanteen EarthHero Reusable Tumblers

11: Insulated Coffee Tumbler

Single-use paper coffee cups aren’t just terrible at keeping coffee warm and leak-free, they’re also 100% non-recyclable. This means that the 58 billion paper coffee cups that get tossed in America each year go straight to the landfill–where they’ll stay for decades. That’s why, whether you’re a coffee drinker or not, we recommend you stock any zero waste kit with a reusable tumbler that works for any hot beverages. This Klean Kanteen Tumbler features double-wall stainless steel vacuum insulation that can keep hot drinks hot for up to 4 hours, and cold drinks cool for nearly 20 hours. With a scratch-resistant exterior and bold colors, just pair this multi-purpose tumbler with its lid and straw set, and you’ve got the perfect travel mug!

EarthHero x Love Bottle Reusable Glass Bottle | Zero Waste Essentials

12: Recycled Glass Water Bottle

Plastic water bottles: the original sin against sustainability. While there has actually been tons of progress towards banning single-use plastic bottles, and more and more consumers are “BYOBing” (bringing your own bottle!), there’s still a long way to go to reduce the roughly 50 billion plastic water bottles Americans use each year. These Recycled Glass Bottles from Love Bottle not only help reduce plastic waste, but save money otherwise spent on bottled beverages. Plus, 5% of the profits from each Love Bottle goes to providing clean and safe drinking water globally!

13: Bamboo Utensil Set

You order takeout, head to the restaurant, pick it up…. And boom, you now have several individually packaged single-use plastic utensil pouches (and no intention of using them!) Next time you’re on-the-go, say “no utensils please”, and pull out your travel Utensil Set. With a branded EarthHero pouch made from recycled polyester, this essential kit contains a spoon, fork, knife, and chopsticks–with room to fit a straw of your choice inside! The bamboo is naturally stronger than steel, antimicrobial, and antibacterial–making it both easy to clean and carry. Just pop one in your purse, backpack, or car, and be amazed with how much plastic you’ll keep from the landfill!

United by Blue x EarthHero Reusable Lunch Bag Zero Waste Essentials

14: Reusable Lunch Bag
We touched on how packing a lunch is not just for kids… so why are all lunch bags designed for them? United by Blue brings modern sophistication to the adult lunchtime routine with a water-resistant 100% organic waxed canvas lunch bag, featuring a brass buckle and fold-over top. It can be reused again and again, contains no paper or plastic, and is roomy enough to fit all of our favorite zero waste essentials.

EarthHero Zero Waste Products Sling Shopping Bag

15: Reusable Shopping Bag

We all have one…usually found in the junk drawer, or the back of the closet, there’s a conglomeration of discarded superstore and grocery bags that you’ve sworn to make use of one day. And while we suggest you totally try to repurpose those baggies for bathroom trash liners, doggie bags, or shipping packaging–once you have used them all up, switch to a reusable alternative. Made from recycled polyester, the SLING Shopping Bag is big enough for your next grocery haul (without having them bottom fall out on you!) Plus, it can be easily stuffed into its carrying case with a carabiner clip, so you can stash it easily inside your car or backpack.

EarthHero TerraCycle Zero Waste Box

16: TerraCycle Zero Waste Box

Now that we’ve gone over our favorite products to help you create less waste, we have to share with you a little zero waste secret: TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Boxes. Hey, waste happens. Whether it be due to food allergies, medication, or access to sustainable alternatives, you’ll probably have something to throw away at some point. That’s where TerraCycle comes in, offering a solution for recycling nearly everything. While you begin your transition to zero waste, take inventory of what the biggest sources of trash in your life is–and get a zero waste box to help recycle those materials until you can phase them out!

EarthHero Zero Waste Gift Box

Bonus: EarthHero Zero Waste Gift Box
Need to jump start your zero waste journey? Want to set up a friend for sustainable success? We’re making it easier to get the reusable essentials you need with our Zero Waste Gift Boxes. They’re chock-full of some of our absolute favorite zero waste products from Stasher, U Konserve, To-Go Ware, and many more–check out all of our Gift Boxes: here.