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Shopping Smarter for Family Necessities Can Help the Environment

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Posted: Sunday, July 13, 2014 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:34 am, Tue Jul 15, 2014.

(StatePoint) Everyday choices can affect your family’s health as well as the environment.

There’s a growing trend among consumers to make choices reflecting the goals and values that matter to them most.  In fact, two out of five people say they’re more inspired to try a natural product that does something good for themselves, their family and the planet, according to a recent study conducted by Toluna for natural products brand Tom’s of Maine.

So where can your family start? Here are a few ideas for easy changes:

The Basics

Starting with the products you use most frequently can be a simple way to shift your choices to a healthier place. Many hygiene products, such as soap, shampoo, and toothpaste use unnecessary chemicals that can be unfriendly to those with sensitive skin or allergies. Natural ingredients work as well or better than the artificial variety, so look for options that don’t rely on dyes, formaldehyde or parabens. Such ingredients directly impact waterways once they go down the drain. More natural options can be kinder to your body and the environment.

Cleaning products like floor polish, glass cleaners, and bathroom disinfectants can be harsh. Consider gentler alternatives.

Additionally, certain food products contain artificial sweeteners or use pesticides. Try switching to less processed foods and buying organic when possible. Look for locally sourced foods for added freshness and to reduce overall carbon footprint in transit.

Support Sustainable Companies

Companies with smart environmental policies do exist. Do your research and support brands that work to lessen their environmental impact, and take pride in the quality of their ingredients, which should be listed in full on the packaging.   

Brands like Tom’s of Maine, which makes personal care products like soap, deodorant and toothpaste, as well as others, share their progress in helping the planet by publishing goals and results to the public.

The recently released second edition of the Tom’s of Maine Goodness Report details the company’s approach to ingredients, packaging, waste, water, energy, the community, and its employees. For example, the company has opted to use steam capturing technology, ultimately reducing water usage.

Additionally, cartons used for packaging toothpaste are made of 100 percent recycled paperboard and can be recycled again after use. The company is even looking into future “smart packaging” alternatives, such as biodegradable packaging made of potato starch.

What’s Inside Matters

Are there really wildflowers in your toilet bowl cleaner? Ignore eye-catching packaging and simply read the ingredients.

Seek out a list of simple and understandable renewable and naturally-sourced ingredients. And while you’re reading that label, inspect the material on which it’s printed. Minimal packaging made of recyclable materials is ideal.  

If your town doesn’t take in a wide range of waste for recycling, TerraCycle is an innovative upcycling leader that enlists volunteers to recycle waste to make products such as benches, picnic tables or deck materials, ultimately sending less to landfills.

We can all be part of the solution by using greener products. The impact of a few simple changes can have a lasting ripple effect that goes well beyond your home.

Photo Credit: © BlueOrange Studio - Fotolia.com

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