I've been trying to change my environmental impact in small ways since I moved out of my parents' house. I started looking at thrift stores or getting old stuff from family first before buying new things like spatulas, kitchen towels, a microwave, a bookshelf (which I repainted and put a back on and it looks FABULOUS). I'm a big tea drinker, and it was starting to bother me how much waste I was making with my daily cup: the foil package each bag came in, the tea bag itself, the paper tab on the top, the string, the staples that held them together, not to mention the box they came in and the plastic they were wrapped in. So I switched to loose tea, and let me tell you, it's wayyyyy better. About two weeks ago, I stopped washing my hair with regular shampoo and started switching off between Dr. Bronner's 18 in 1 soap and baking soda dissolved in water, inspired by Stephanie Langfore at Keeper of the Home.
This year I moved into an apartment and didn't have anything with which to clean, so I went on the search. I thought I was doing great choosing "Green Works" dilutable cleaner and toilet bowl cleaner. Then last night on OPB I heard about a couple of websites that rate the health impact of various products including cleaners, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. I spent a horrifying night finding out that nearly all the products that I use every day are bad for me and bad for the environment. (The sites are Good Guide and Skin Deep, given, some of the ratings are vague and incomplete; they just give the Green Works cleaner a big red dot for "long term health," but it also lists all the cancer causing ingredients) It's good to be informed, and I care about things like a company's environmental practices (the PETA cruelty-free and bad company lists were my Bibles back in 8th grade when I didn't buy anything) but man, I thought I was doing something right! I should have known better than to buy a Clorox product.
I think it would be more wasteful to throw a whole bottle of cleaner, followed by a couple tubes of toothpaste and my shampoo and conditioner into the dumpster, so for now I'm just going to have to deal with using those carcinogens sparingly. I've come across some good websites that show you how to make your own cleaners with baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and borax, so once I have an empty bottle to use, I'll probably try that for a while. It sure beats spending $5 on cleaner when I could add a few tablespoons of baking soda (from a little baggy that cost me 38 cents) to a bottle of water (basically free). I'm doing my best. I'm learning little by little.