How to Be a Sustainable Influence On Your Children
If your upbringing was anything like mine, you were taught to turn the water off when brushing your teeth, you were shown how to recycle, you knew to turn lights off when you weren’t in a room, and you also knew to keep showers short.
When I moved out of home at age 20, I took those habits with me. But as an adult, I have met many people in my life who do not follow these eco-friendly “guidelines”. When I’ve asked them, many of them tell me they were never taught these things as children. But in today’s climate, this is something I believe needs addressing.
For parents who have children, this article is for you. I’ll talk about ways you can be a more sustainable influence on your children through the products you buy and the things that you do. Best part is, being sustainable usually costs nothing or very little to implement, and saves you money in the long run.
Sustainable Habits In The Home
I’ll discuss some habits in the home that you can start to implement to instil better habits in yourself and your children.
One of the biggest problems we have in our world today is the fresh water shortage crisis that we are facing. 80% of the US’s state water managers expect a water shortage within the decade. Not only that, but:
Each American uses 82 gallons of water on average per day.
The average family wastes 180 gallons per week.
The average American home spends over $1000 per year on water costs alone.
This brings me to our first tip.
Sustainable Tip #1: Watch Your Water Usage
This should be a no-brainer, but as I mentioned before, I know many people who are not water-savvy in the slightest. So here are some tips to reduce your water consumption and costs.
Replace old toilets, faucets, and showerheads with new, water and energy-saving ones.
Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Some experts even say that you should brush teeth without water.
Run a full dishwasher instead of handwashing.
Consciously take shorter showers. Using a shower timer is a great way to manage your showers.
Buy waterless products. Brands like Blueland cleaning products and DEW MTY serum bars are built with a planet-first mindset. DEW MTY have created an innovative skincare product that is formulated without water, comes in compostable packaging, and can be used in lieu of your face serums, oils, and moisturizer.
Sustainable Tip #2: Go Plastic-Free, Start in the Bathroom
Once upon a time it was impossible to find products on the market that were plastic-free. But today we’re seeing more brands popping up that are focusing on plastic-free and zero-waste packaging.
In our bathroom alone, we have shower products, then we have face products, body care products, bathroom accessories, and cleaning products—it’s just a never ending tidal wave of plastic packaging. Here are some items you can swap out today that are not housed in plastic.
Shampoo and Conditioner Bars. I love my shampoo and conditioner bars, but it took me a few tries to find one that worked for my hair type. I also notice that many bars contain sulfates, something I like to avoid as it can cause irritation, dryness, and breakage of the hair. After researching, I’ve found three brands where the formulations were mostly naturally-derived ingredients, are sulfate-free, and come in plastic-free packaging:
Fillgood. These palm-oil free bars come housed in compostable paper packaging, and the ingredients vary slightly, but are formulations of natural ingredients.
Viori. What I like most about this brand are the ingredients. Formulated with only a handful of ingredients that are effective to cleanse and nourish hair scalp, and they don’t have unnecessary coloring added.
Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve. With around 20 ingredients—most of them organic—in their shampoo bars, they’ve obviously spent a lot of time formulating these to get the right consistency and quality.
Soap Bars. I never used to like soap bars because it always reminded me of an old lady. But someone bought me one for my birthday a fews years ago and I never looked back. Many of them come in cardboard, or without an outer carton. And there are so many different kinds out there. they’re generally formulated with very minimal ingredients, making them a much more sustainable option than conventional bottled body wash. It’s also important to note that palm oil is quite commonly used in soaps, but I’ve found a few brands that do not use palm oil. Check out these brands:
Meow Meow Tweet. This brand is known for its eco-friendly products. Their shampoo bars have about nine ingredients, no sulfates, compostable packaging, and they are a Leaping Bunny certified company.
Goat Milk Stuff. I don’t use a lot of goat milk products, but for those of you who do, this brand is lovely. The soaps have just three ingredients, one of them being farm fresh goat milk.
Cleancult. I am always skeptical of brands that become popular too quickly, as it can often mean that they are owned by some unethical larger company (I’m looking at you Unilever’s Love, Beauty, and Planet). But Cleancult has some really good products, including some for the laundry, and they even have a recycling program. I like their bar soaps because they have just a handful of ingredients that are all naturally-derived.
Body Lotion. Lotions and moisturizers are a product that even someone with the most low-maintenance skincare regime still uses. This is because our skin just sometimes really needs lotion. But most of the plastic packaging lotions that come in will end up in our landfills. So buying plastic-free lotion is our best option here. Try one of these brands:
Ethique. Most of the brands that come out of New Zealand are boutique and generally eco-friendly. Ethique is one of those brands. I’ve used their shampoo bars, but I really like their body butter. It comes in a paper tube for easy application, and recycling at the end of its life. The formulations are a combination of safe synthetics and naturally-derived ingredients.
Kate McLeod. These innovative Body Stones® are like bars of soap, but are in fact body butters. Formulated with just five ingredients, cocoa butter, and oils sweet almond, apricot kernel, avocado, and coconut, these easy-to-apply stones will give your body a nourishing armor, without costing the earth.
UpCircle Beauty. UpCircle uses salvaged food and beverage byproducts to create their skincare range. Their body cream is made from 99% natural ingredients, including discarded dates, giving them a new purpose.
Face Cleanser. We all wash our face, even if it’s the only step in our regime. But it’s important to use a cleanser that is suitable for our skin type, and in this case, a product that also does no harm to our planet. Here are my top three choices for cleansers:
UpCircle Beauty. Either one of their face soap bars, or their best selling cleansing balm are all great alternatives to conventional face cleansers. They are formulated using salvaged food and beverage byproducts, making them an even more sustainable option.
Honua Skincare. Made with wildcrafted and sustainably farmed Hawaiian botanicals, the Pa’akai Cleaning Cream removes debris and pollutants from the skin without overdrying.
Earthwise Beauty. The Marshmallow Face Cleanser is a unique formula that aims to effectively cleanse all skin types. With its luxurious foam, and hydrating and nourishing ingredients, this cleanser is a gorgeous addition to your bathroom essentials.
Face Moisturizer. As mentioned before, most of us moisturize our face after we cleanse. Especially if your skin is dry, or it’s Winter. Plastic-free moisturizers are out there, you just need to know where to look. Here are three of my top picks:
DEW MTY. I can’t recommend this product enough. It is seriously a game-changer. I have had my bar for three months, I use it for when I travel as it eliminates the need to take all of my other bottles of products on vacation. It replaces all of your products after you have cleansed. I also use it on my elbows and hands.
UpCircle Beauty. UpCircle is one of my favorite brands, simply because they are innovating in three industries that so desperately need it: food, beverages, and skincare. Their face moisturizer is made from argan that has been rescued from landfills in the argan industry—a multibillion dollar industry. Their face moisturizer is one of their best selling staples.
Earthwise Beauty. Their Yasuni Face Balm is stunning, and effective. It comes in a glass jar, and the unique formulation is like no other. Your skin will feel nourished, while keeping skin clear and luminous. Because of Earthwise Beauty’s organic ingredients, they recommend keeping their products in a refrigerator to give them longevity
Accessories. What about cotton tips, face pads, and razors? Try UpCircle Beauty's range of reusable accessories. They have muslin cloths, biodegradable bamboo tips, reusable hemp and cotton face rounds, a plastic-free safety razor, and more. All plastic-free and in recyclable cardboard packaging.
Sustainable Tip #3: Educate Your Children, But Make it Fun
They say that children will learn things faster if it’s something they enjoy doing. There’s a reason why they make things like multiplication and the alphabet into songs. I’m not sure why they stop doing that when we reach High School. I could have used a musical when I was learning algebra.
But for teaching your kids new things at home, it’s also a great way to keep your kids interested when it’s a topic that isn’t that engaging.
Here are just three ideas for making sustainability fun in the home:
I have a friend who makes recycling a sport, by placing basketball hoops over the different trash cans so that her young sons will be incentivized to recycle. She gives them points for each one they recycle, and at the end of the week, they get first and second place prizes.
Get your kids to help you cook a healthy meal, and explain it as they help you, or get them to help you make homemade cleaning products, like this very simple and safe cleaning spray.
Get your kids to garden with you. Gardening gives kids insight into how things grow, and you can start to grow your own vegetables, which is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.
There are so many other ways you can teach your children, and yourself, more sustainable habits. But the best advice I’ve ever read is to lead by example. Children absorb everything that we do, so if you’re making good choices and doing good things for the environment, they’ll learn by seeing you do it.
Emma Masotti is an Australian now living in Austin, TX, and has been a trained esthetician for over 15 years. She is a sustainable skincare writer, educating and building awareness around proper skin health that doesn’t cost the earth.
Some of the products promoted in our blog are from our online store. Many others are brands we have researched and found to be great examples of sustainable, ethical, and innovative brands in their field, and we don't make any profit from mentioning them in our blog. #CollaborationOverCompetition