If your resolution for 2015 is to be kinder to the environment, you’re not alone. More and more people are getting to grips with their environmental footprint and it seems we’re developing a selfless need to make changes for the greater good – for all of us.

Change can be a challenging process, and can even be overwhelming when you are faced with a task as big as living a more sustainable life. Where do you start? If you look at the state of the planet and the implications of the actions we take, there may be so many areas in which you want to make changes. Our advice is to start small and to tackle one at a time – also, give it a chance to become habit before you move on to the next. Here are a few easy ones you can implement and cross off your list with ease.

Choose non-toxic personal care products

You may be surprised to learn just how many harmful chemicals are in main stream cosmetics and personal care products. The list is long, but here a few you will recognise on labels… Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a popular foaming agent used in shampoos, soap and toothpaste, is linked to skin irritation, eye damage and immune system damage. Petrochemicals such as polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol found in many topical creams, are also found in anti-freeze and oven cleaners, and are not surprisingly potentially carcinogenic. Mineral oil (yes, baby oil) is known to prevent your skin from releasing toxins – it can lead to cell damage and premature ageing. Parfum or synthetic fragrances can cause hyperactivity, irritability, and behavioural problems with repeated exposure. Just think of the effect these chemicals have on the environment when you wash them down to the drain and into the waterways. Choosing natural products means choosing potent active plant ingredients which are safe and effective, and which work synergistically with the body and the environment.

Lighten up on the household cleaners

Just like harsh personal care products, hard-working household cleaners can be hard on your skin and the environment. Many people are turning to vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice to clean their kitchens and bathrooms – much cheaper and just as effective. You don’t have to be so drastic however. There are the most amazing South African produced natural cleaning products available to replace those you use every day – dishwashing liquid, laundry powder, tile cleaner, disinfectants – all made from essential oils and other natural ingredients. They are non-toxic, child-friendly, biodegradable and ethical – plus they work just as well as the harsher products. Just visit your nearest health store or online store – it’s never been easier.

Recycle and reuse

It is good to take a standpoint to avoid plastic where you can, however the ugly truth is that many of your favourite products would cost an arm and a leg if it weren’t delivered to you in such a cost-effective package. When you do buy plastic make sure that it is recyclable or reusable and make sure you put it in the recycle bin or repurpose it when you’re done with it. Same goes for paper and tin. It could even save you a bit of money. Buying outdoor furniture made from recycled plastic is also a great way to contribute to the recycling process and they’re generally more weather resistant than alternatives too.

Eat more greens

Becoming a vegetarian or vegan is not always workable in the standard South African diet but what you can do is to reduce your meat intake. Why not join the Meat Free Monday’s campaign? Not only will you feel healthier but you’ll be reducing your contribution to an industry that has the largest carbon footprint of all. Professor Tim Benton of the University of Leeds said: “The biggest intervention people could make towards reducing their carbon footprints would not be to abandon cars, but to eat less red meat.”

Save your energy

Saving precious non-renewable energy is important, especially in South Africa where our main source of power is from a company entrenched in coal and where change and progress comes at a painfully slow rate. So, use energy-efficient lights, switch off lights and televisions when not used, take stairs rather than lifts, boil just enough water for your immediate needs, whisk eggs by hand and start a carpool club.

We are proud to say that Down to Earth products are free from harmful chemicals and that our product packaging is fully recyclable.

Further reading
10 toxic chemicals in personal care products
How Do Detergents Clean?
Giving up beef will reduce carbon footprint more than cars, says expert