February was a slow month for green swaps and my goal of slowly swapping out the products my family uses daily for greener, earth friendlier choices and reducing food waste. We didn’t seem to run out of much, which meant there weren’t any big choices or swaps to make. Some products were already hard to find as people panic bought out stores, rumors of supply chain struggles circulated, and access to stores (or deliveries) themselves were limited.
Truthfully, green swaps, sustainability and reducing my consumption couldn’t have been further from my mind in early March and I thought I’d abandon this altogether. March brought the declaration of a global pandemic and regular products were becoming hard enough to find. It didn’t seem like the time to be picky or to be going to multiple locations in search of a phthalate free shampoo. But, March had approximately 6,392 days this year and we kept running out of things. I’ve only been making these green swaps for two months, but it was already second nature to think a little bit more about the things that I purchased. Luckily, I was able to find all these things in store, but most of them were purchased before the state went on stay at home orders.
I wanted to mention that while the links below are affiliate links and we receive a
microscopic commission when you click on them, nothing has been sponsored by the companies who make these products. These are all things I’ve purchased with my own money, based on my own research and all reviews are honest and truthful.
Food Waste & Grocery Budget
This goal originated in my hope to reduce what we spent each month on groceries. That was definitely not achieved this month, as we took the advice to have an extra week or two worth of food on hand. Our restaurant budget was also slightly higher than normal as we have done our best to continue to patron our favorite local restaurants in hopes that they can weather the financial storm. I’m so thankful that they were still open because there was a good week and a half where the last thing I wanted to do was cook another meal and do dishes (again).
Despite the increase in spending, we have not wasted one thing. Every bit of fresh produce has been consumed before it’s gone bad. I was even able to finish off a container of ricotta cheese, mostly thanks to this delicious recipe. One silver lining of the stay at home orders is that we are really looking very closely at the food we are buying and are extra careful not to let anything spoil. Going to the grocery store, or finding a delivery slot, is such a process these days that the last thing we want to do is run into the store for a single ingredient.
Being at home has also helping me flex my meal planning muscle. The last month or so, I’ve only been planning for 2-3 days and going to the store more frequently. Now, I’m doing the exact opposite of that out of necessity and I’m realizing it’s not as hard or daunting as I once thought.
Of course, the increased budget is relative. Our spending is way down in other areas, such as gas for example. And, let’s be honest, a large portion of the grocery spending is alcohol, sweets I wouldn’t normally buy and extra (also unnecessary) snacks. Food is all we have left, and I have definitely been doing my fair share of stress eating Easter candy. If now isn’t the time to binge on Mini Eggs, I don’t know what is.
LOL. I could have easily not mentioned this, but I left it in for authenticity. I have not looked at it more than once this month. As soon as we went on stay at home orders, Mother Nature laughed and decided to rain nonstop, which turned my makeshift compost bin into a disgusting soupy mess. I figured I’d let it dry out before I attempted to right it, and then it rained some more. At this point, I’m not really sure what to do with it. I haven’t completely abandoned ship, but it’s also not a huge priority right now.
Green Swaps: Products I’m Loving
Body wash was never really something I put a lot of thought into, and I always bought the cheapest one that smelled decent. I was shocked when I scanned my go to cheapie, Suave, and it came up as an 8 on the Think Dirty app.
This was a hard green swap to make because it seems so much more expensive for not much difference. The price tag seems higher, but in reality it’s probably the same as what I was spending before because now AJ and I are using the same bottle instead of buying two different ones. It’s definitely the cheapest at Target (and even a few cents cheaper at Walmart) but occasionally Whole Foods has it on sale and you can order it through Prime Now.
While I don’t completely love this new option, I’m willing to keep with it. It doesn’t sud as well as other body washes, and I feel like I need to use more of it because it’s pretty thin. And if I’m having to use more of an already more expensive product, it’s not a winner for me. It’s a good option in the interim while I find a green body wash that I really love. And, yes, bar soap is the greenest option, but bar soap really, really grosses me out. Maybe I’ll get there one day, but today is not the day.
I also dug a little deeper into Alaffia, and their mission is to “alleviate poverty & gender inequality in West Africa thru fair trade of sustainable resources, indigenous knowledge & social investment,” which makes the price tag a little easier to swallow! It seems like they recently rebranded, so labels may look a little different depending on the store and it’s still the same product!
Since I like the brand mission of Alaffia, I decided to try their shampoo as well. Since my hair isn’t color treated, or have a texture that requires a specific shampoo, I also usually go pretty cheap on this too. The Alaffia smells really good, but the texture is runnier than I’m used to. It takes a little while to get used to it because it doesn’t sud the way a traditional shampoo does (which is why it’s better for the environment!), but after a few washes it’s not a big deal. My hair and scalp feel really clean and it washes out really easily too.
Target is still the best every day price, but I’ve seen it on sale at Whole Foods through the Prime Now app too.
I have been really hesitant to try a natural deodorant. Deodorants have always made me break out and been harsh on my skin. That was obviously a sign that they are full of harsh things, but even other natural ones I had tried made me break out. Plus, they never seemed to cut it during the summer. I had given up the search for a while and gone back to the only one that had ever worked, Degree. Then, I saw a sensitive skin option from Native. I’ve been using it for a few weeks, and no break outs. I’ve been almost exclusively at home, it hasn’t been warm and I haven’t been working out extensively, so I feel like I haven’t put it to the full test, but so far so good!
I definitely don’t love the price point of this one. Native has restored my faith that a natural deodorant can work, but I’m definitely going to continue the hunt for a budget friendlier option. I grabbed this at Target because that was convenient this month. If your skin isn’t sensitive, you can add this to your Amazon Subscribe and Save order, which will give you 5-15% off depending on how many things you add to your monthly order. Unfortunately, they don’t carry the sensitive scent, so it’s not an option for me.
Dish soap is another thing I never paid much attention to. If it worked and was on sale, it went in the cart. When I started to look at the ingredients in my go to’s, and how highly they ranked on Think Dirty, I knew I wanted to find an alternative. I found ECOS on Amazon Subscribe and Save and it’s my favorite green swap this month! It’s currently unavailable and I’m not sure if it’s because of the current global situation (this is my hunch) or if it’s no longer carried. However, the price is great for two 25oz bottles, plus you get a percentage off when it’s part of the monthly subscribe and save box. Make sure to get free and clear, otherwise the different scents do change its ranking.
My only note on ECOS is that it’s super concentrated and a little goes a long way. We use a sponge that holds the soap in the handle, and we found it didn’t come out very easily. All we had to do was add a little water to thin the soap out and it was fine.
I also wanted to add that I’ve loved the ECOS brand for years. When Isla was first born, I switched all of our detergent to free and clear so I didn’t have to buy special detergent or do a special load of laundry for baby clothes. I found ECOS at Costco and I have used it ever since. I can’t find it anywhere online, but it is consistently in stores. ECOS is budget friendly and quality, which makes for the perfect green swap to me. I’m definitely a fan of their brand and highly recommend them!
Did you make any green swaps in March? I’d love to hear them!
If you didn’t have the bandwidth to make more green swaps, or you had limited options at the store and just grabbed what you could, that’s okay too. March was a weird month, and it’s looking like we have a few more weird months in our future. If replacing your usual products for green swaps (or your 2020 goal in general) is put on hold for the time being, that is completely valid. I set out on this goal with the mindset that this had to be small, incremental changes that ebbed and flowed with our family’s needs. I had no idea we’d be in the middle of a pandemic and my shopping habits would be changed or that product availability would be limited. I’ve been using disinfecting wipes like crazy (the single use wipes make me cringe, but it’s the most sanitary option and the only thing I can find at the stores!), eating more take out to support local restaurants (so much waste!!), and using energy like crazy because were home all. of. the. time. But, the air pollution is incredible because no one is driving. It’s all a give and take, and you have to do what you can do when you can. So don’t feel guilty if everything you had planned is on the back burner. There will be time on the other side of this to focus in on the radical changes you want to better yourself and the Earth.