Since starting Jess’s #cleanswapchallenge, I’ve discovered that the best part about it is the ability to make small, obtainable changes in my everyday life. It’s also a great way to experiment with what clean swaps are sustainable (pun intended) for my individual lifestyle. What works for me may not be as easy for someone else— and that’s ok! The reality of living a cleaner life is that not everything will work everyone, it’s all about discovering what works for you.
Here are five of the most seamless and effective cleans swaps I’ve made. What clean swaps have worked best for you?
REUSABLE cotton pads
When I think about my use of cotton balls, I guess the only reason I ever used them is because that’s what I grew up doing and didn’t really think there were other options. If you’re willing to invest in some reusable cotton rounds upfront, this sustainable option feels virtually the same as disposable ones, and it definitely saves you money in the long run. The only difference is that you throw them in the wash after use, instead of in the trash.
This is a good example of something that is fairly easy for me, having access to a compost pickup service, that might not be as easy for others. Cutting out almost all of our food waste has decreased our overall waste significantly. It was our biggest source of garbage! If it’s not easy for you to compost, consider meal planning to avoid excess food going to waste. I love to freeze chicken bones and vegetable scraps for a few weeks and then boil them up to make my own chicken stock. For more ideas on how to cook and bake with common food scraps, check out this article for inspiration.
REUSABLE Cleaning rags
The nightly wipe down of our kitchen and dining room is easily done with a large organic cotton cloth that we use for a few nights before washing (we keep paper towels on hand for extra dirty messes). Bonus points for cutting up old t-shirts or bedding to use as rags instead of tossing them. Also, paper towels are compostable. So while we are trying to cut down our usage anyway, any paper products we do use can also be thrown in our compost bin.
Items like olives, jams, and marinara sauce all (usually) come in sturdy glass jars that are great for so many purposes. By rinsing them and cleaning off the labels, they become perfect for a lot of different uses around our home. We use them to store leftovers, drink cocktails, or as vases for fresh flowers. Thinking outside of the box to use what we already have access to, instead of buying new, has helped me get creative and resourceful around our home.
Prioritizing walking and public transportation
While this is dependent on accessibility and ability, for me, living in Boston means lots of things are in walking distance or fairly reachable by public transportation. When I plan to go somewhere in the city, I try to think of the best and cleanest way to get there. Sometimes, it’s carpooling with friends or walking to a train stop to get me halfway to my destination. I’ve found that just giving a second thought to my everyday actions has completely shifted how I approach clean swaps in my life.