Easy Ways to be ECO + Why It Matters For You, Your Children, and the Environment


Monica Richards

Just call her ecobabe.


Our Earth has 45 PERCENT of its trees left.

Every hour, 1.6 MILLION tons of waste gets dumped into the ocean. To make matters worse, there’s more than 5 TRILLION pieces of plastic living there already.

It’s estimated that 99 PERCENT OF ALL species that have lived on Earth are extinct.

In the same way that we’re killing our planet, we’re killing ourselves.

Trees play a crucial part in the carbon cycle—without which, we wouldn’t be able to breathe.

The simplest way to put this is…

No Trees = No Humans.

On a more personal note, how many people do you know with cancer? How many kids do you know with asthma? How many food allergies do YOU have?

The numbers keep going up, don't they?

I know it’s a lot to process, but I promise you, helping is easy. So, here’s why being "ECO" matters, both individually and globally, and what YOU can do to make a difference.

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Beauty Products

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Within 30 seconds, 60 percent of what you apply to your skin is directly absorbed into your bloodstream.

Whereas the European beauty industry has 1,400 chemicals banned, here in the States, the FDA has banned only 30...thirty!

The best thing you can do is start paying attention to the ingredients in your beauty products. Make sure they are paraben, phthalate and sulfate-free.

Find brands that go the more natural route, like Beautycounter, Honest Beauty, Bite Beauty and tarte.

If you're wondering about the products you already use, try EWG or use the Think Dirty app.



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Synthetic fragrances are in everything, from candles to plug-ins to sprays around your home. These fragrances have been directly linked to childhood asthma. They're also capable of causing cancer and birth defects.

So, skip the Glade and opt for soy-based candles and sprays made with essential oils or natural fragrances.



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Not only is there a giant cesspool of plastic trash floating around the Pacific Ocean that measures the size of Texas (which is horrific for marine life), but also, plastic exposure can mean cancer for all of us. And plastic intake while pregnant can lead to premature births and autism in children.

So, avoid plastics whenever possible. If you want to drink on-the-go, drink out of BPA-free water bottles. Purchase glass Tupperware. Use reusable or biodegradable straws.

You’d be surprised by how much plastic you can bypass on a daily basis. And remember: whenever plastic is heated or scratched, that's when chemicals leach the most.

The most important thing to remember? Never heat your food in plastic.



Courtesy of ScienceDaily.com

Courtesy of ScienceDaily.com

Speaking of food, it's a widely-known fact that we should be eating as organic as possible. But why?

There are four reasons:

1. Organic food is free of pesticides. Besides the fact that pesticides can cause cancer, respiratory problems and organ damage, if you applied pesticides to your skin, they would leave a burn. Why would you purposefully ingest something that would burn through your skin?

2. Organic food is non-GMO. GMOs mess with the natural course of the environment. And in people, consumption has caused organ damage, accelerated aging and infertility. All of those sound terrible.

3. Organic food means responsible farming, which is better for our Earth.

4. Organic food is more nutritious. Food harvested organically is lower in heavy metals and higher in cancer-fighting compounds, which everybody needs.

Now, organic food is more expensive. But the more we stake a need for it, the less expensive it will get.

In the meantime, here are the foods to start buying organically, as they typically contain the highest amount of pesticides (basically anything that doesn't have a hardened exterior that can block the pesticides): apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, potatoes, hot peppers, kale, and collard greens.



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I know this seems basic, but we all forget to walk. Walking drastically reduces your carbon footprint. It also drastically improves your mood, decreases belly fat, improves sleep, and can even slash your risk of chronic disease like diabetes.

The goal is 10,000 steps a day, which seems crazy. But I'm talking small adjustments, like walking to the local store and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Even if you go outside and walk for 10 minutes in spurts throughout your workday, you'll still reap the benefits of each step.

Or just do what I did and get a dog!


The Environment


Fast Fashion

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Fast fashion defines stores like Forever 21 and H&M, where styles go from the catwalk straight to your closet, for cheap. But beware: This industry is a dirty business.

It's responsible for 20 percent of the world's industrial water pollution. And less than 1 percent of the world's cotton supply is organic. This means that there's a whole lot of environmental damage happening and not a whole lot of people care.

Plus, these pieces often fall apart, so 12.8 million tons of clothing articles are sent to the landfill every year, where toxic chemicals and dyes contaminate the soil. And who makes these clothes?

What's more, 80 percent of clothing is manufactured by women who are 18-24 years old. They earn less than $3 a day. They're overworked, underpaid, trapped into poverty and on top of that, many of these girls have to endure sexual harassment.

So, for the sake of Mother Nature and these women, purchase quality pieces. Look for brands that are ethical and sustainable. And, your bank account will thank you.

With higher-quality styles that don't fall apart, you end up buying LESS clothing. And let’s be real, a woman with a timeless sense of fashion… well, she’s not walking into Forever 21.

Hint: You'll be surprised at how many labels fit the bill. Levi's, Patagonia, rag & bone, Stella McCartney, and Mara Hoffman are just a few.


Water Consumption

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Less than 1 percent of the world's water is available for human use. The rest is salt water in the ocean, frozen water in the polar ice caps, or it's simply inaccessible. 

One in eight people worldwide don't have access to clean drinking water already. And with droughts happening everywhere and the human population massively increasing, the pressure on this 1 percent of water is mounting.

Since the average American household uses 400 gallons of water EACH DAY, we can really make an impact here. It's the simple things that count, like turning off the water while you brush your teeth, wash your hands and face, and shave in the shower.

Don't run your dishwasher until it’s actually full. Purchase toilets that are water-efficient. And fix that dripping tap! (Dripping taps can waste up to 15 liters of water a day, or 5500 liters per year!)




75 percent of the American waste stream is recyclable, but we only recycle 30 percent of it. And we're quickly running out of landfill space!

Not only does recycling mean less trash at the dump, but it also means tons of saved energy (and money!) when new products are made from these recycled materials, as opposed to raw virgin ones.

The biggest problem is plastic. Plastic takes 400 years to degrade, and according to National Geographic, by mid-century our oceans will CONTAIN MORE PLASTIC THAN FISH (due to runoff at landfills).

More than 60 percent of Americans have access to different recycling programs, so let's get together people. If your neighborhood doesn't have recycling pick-up, take a few bins and sort your own recycling: plastic, tin, and paper.

Then, take it to the nearest recycling center every few months. And for those hard-to-recycle items, like beauty tubes, plastic packaging, and textiles, purchase a Terracycle box. They have a recycling box for everything.



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Diapers are the 3rd highest source of garbage. Disposable diapers take 500 years to decompose. And every year, there’s 20 billion new ones in our landfills.

Disposable diapers contain dioxin, which is a by-product from the bleaching process.

Dioxin is a known carcinogen.

Why expose your child to such potential harm? These chemicals also leach into the ground while decomposing for 500 years, which can easily make it back to us (and our animals) by way of rainwater.

Instead, opt for cloth diapers or biodegradable brands like Honest Co., Bambo Nature, or Seventh Generation.

Fun Fact: these biodegradable brands steer clear of toxic chemicals and allergens. I also did a price comparison. Between Pampers and Honest, you'll spend only $4 more.

But with Honest, you'll be getting nine more diapers, protecting baby and doing your part to save the environment. I'd say that's a diaper win.



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50 percent of packaged foods on store shelves contain palm oil. I bet that if you picked up your toothpaste or body lotion, it'd be in that, too. HELLO Colgate! Palm oil is now the most widely-used vegetable oil in the world.

So what’s the problem? DEFORESTATION.

Surging global demand for palm oil has ignited massive forest destruction. Palm oil companies burn down rainforests to clear room for palm oil plantations, because for them, it's cheaper.

But for local people, it violates their land rights, and many of them are sent to jail for protesting. It has caused conflict for many communities and contributed to a rise in slave labor. For the environment, all this burning has resulted in major air pollution.

As for the animals?

They're displaced, starving, and if they don't die from the fires themselves, they're brutally murdered as "agricultural pests" while trying to find food in these new plantations.

So. please think twice about purchasing products with palm oil.

Double check your cosmetics and toiletries. And while grocery shopping, scan the ingredients in peanut butter, cookies, bread, chocolate and chips. FYI: "palm oil" is often disguised as "glycerin" and "stearic acid."

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Do you see the light now? Between doing it for yourself, your family, and our planet, the reasons are endless to be more eco.

You don't need to spend $1 million on converting your entire house into a zero-waste system, in addition to the charger for your new Prius and all the organic cotton tie-dye duds you just bought.

We're talking Simple. Daily. Choices. And once you start, these choices will become a fluid part of the lifestyle you already live and love.

So go ahead—try it. You'll never look back.