7 SUSTAINABLE LIFE HACKS: Back-to-school and a greener year for your family.

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There is constant pressure to live and act greener but on a tight schedule between work, making lunches, study time, and sports it becomes much easier to live a disposable life. These are some life hack tips and products we love that when you combine all their impacts, make a huge difference in a school year. 

1. Klean Kanteen.

Keep liquids hot, cold, and they come in just about every size and color. From drink bottles to food canisters. Let Klean Kanteen replace one plastic soda, juice, or water bottle per school day and you saved 180 disposable bottles. 

2. A reusable utensil set. 

I also added a reusable stainless steal straw and chopsticks to mine so I am ready for any meal on the go. Great to leave in the kid’s backpack and keep a set in your own. Think about how many plastic forks go through your life in a month which you can never look at again. From after school practice to clubs- usually if there are snacks around, so is a pile of barely used plastic. 

3. Sandwich and snack bags. 

If reusable hard containers aren’t working for you then cloth sandwich and snack bags will change your life. They come in basically any design from geometric prints to Batman so you can always be the cool kid no matter what your age.

4. Canvas backpacks.

First of all they’re vintage looking with an Indiana Jones flare that I will always love. Think about it though, in general other backpacks are designed to be durable (but still fall apart in a year) so they are sprayed with stain-resisting chemicals and made out of tough material that will never leave this planet. These bags can still surprisingly last you years and they can sell at a fraction of the price. Find them in a range of materials from cotton to hemp and you will find most for under $20. 

5. PVC-free school supplies.

The Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) recommends PVC-free school supplies for your family. It is healthier for you and your planet. Why bother getting harsh plastic products when you can use something like this heavy duty linen embossed binder that is eco-friendly, recyclable, made in the USA, and 70% Post-consumer waste with No V.O.C.’s or PVC.

6. Meal prep and make-ahead for a conscious healthy family and planet. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone knows the healthiest way to feed your family is to do the cooking on your own. This way you avoid processed foods, unwanted salt, sugar, fats, and you know exactly what is in your meal. Coincidentally, that also happens to be the most eco-friendly way as well, especially when you are eating seasonally and shopping locally. These are two great cookbooks (out of hundreds) by different authors but together can transform how you run your kitchen. The Healthy Meal Prep sets you up for the week with nutritious meals you prep and pack that will last you till Friday in the fridge. Grab them and run out the door or come home after a long day and flip them over on a dinner plate. The Healthy Make-Ahead is more freezer friendly that you can divide and store for months at a time. Perfect way to fill in gaps in your weekly routine or eat seasonally, out of season.

7. Laundry time.

First off, kill the hot water. If you wash on hot and rinse on warm, you are going to use an average of 4.5 kWh per load, which at a cost of $0.15 per kWh will cost you $0.68. On the other hand, if you wash on cold and rinse on cold, you’re going to use an average of 0.3 kWh per load, which at a cost of $0.15 per kWh will cost you $0.04. A household that runs an average of one load a day, one warm load a week, and one hot load every three weeks, rinsing everything on cold, the household will spend $34.06 in energy costs per year. A daily load with a hot wash and a warm rinse, would run $248.20 in energy costs per year. Running mostly cold washes with all cold rinses saves $214 per year. Next up is detergent. I have been looking into make-your-own detergent recipes but have not gotten to test them out yet. One thing you can do is switch back to powdered soaps and detergents like your mom used. The only complaint is that some people say there can be a caky powder residue that does not dissolve well in large loads. Solution: Dissolve the powdered soap in water first. Simple as that. Liquid detergents are just powdered ones that have been diluted for you and you are just paying for the water and shipping the water weight. There are great brands out there by Planet, Ecover, and Seventh Generation that will save you money and are better for the planet. If you really want to go the extra step, air dry your clothes. Air-drying clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by a 2,400 pounds a year and save hundreds of dollars. Did I mention indoor line-drying in the winter can cut down on that dry, staticky air that has you coughing and moisturizing all morning? It’s a free humidifier. Win-win all around.

These are seven simple life hacks that save you money, carbon emissions, plastics, and pollution. Better yet though, you are setting the example for living a sustainable life to your family, neighbors, and community. It all starts with someone. If not you then who? If not now then when?