5 Simple Product Switches for Healthier Living | Chicago North Shore Moms



Every day is Earth Day 🌎. With everyone forced to spend more time at home, it’s a perfect opportunity to declutter and inventory your supplies to swap out for more eco-friendly options. I’ve compiled a list by category below to help you in the process…

Written by: Karen Orlich, owner and CEO of k.o. ecolife.



1) Dishwashing

Conventional sponges are made from oil-based plastic. Sponges with antibacterial or odor-removing benefits are loaded with toxic chemicals including triclosan, an antimicrobial agent (and pesticide) that has been linked to cancer, developmental toxicity and skin irritation. This chemical has also made its way into 60 percent of U.S. waterways, wreaking havoc on marine life.


Alternatively, choose cellulose sponges made from wood pulp. These super absorbent sponges, while a bit more pricey, are completely biodegradable. Look for 100 percent cellulose sponges; otherwise, they will contain polyester filling.


A best-selling option is made by Wet-it!, a US based company with a Swedish inspired, smile invoking sponge. Wet-it! cloths are made of high-grade cotton and cellulose pulp with fun prints that are water-based and 100% decomposable. Cloths can withstand many washes and will last for 6 months or more with normal use. You can purchase a set of 3 Wet-it! Non-Scratching Scouring Pads for about $13.



2) Food Containers

Food Pouches

2.5 billion single-use, fruit and veggie squeezable pouches go into landfill every year. Keep the convenience but choose a reusable pouch with built in straw just like the disposables instead!


For a true multitasking option, try THE POWCH!™ from k.o. ecolife. This food/drink pouch can be used for smoothies, trail mix, yogurt, etc. Or, as a lightweight, collapsible water bottle (great for travel!), container for leftovers at restaurants (skip the Styrofoam), hot/cold compress, and more. Dishwasher and freezer safe. THE POWCH!™ is on sale now for Earth Day–Buy One/Get One ½ off– using code: Earth50 – regular price is $19.99.




Sandwich/Snack Bags

The average American uses 540 plastic bags a year–that totals over 176 billion. Try replacing those one-use bags with reusable cloth or plastic bags instead!


One of the best is the stand-up -leak-proof bag called re(zip) from BlueAvocado, which is a B Certified Corp*. They are made from FDA-grade, PEVA material so no need to worry about chemicals contaminating your food. It will also keep your food fresh since it has an airtight zipper seal. The bottom is expandable too for larger items. Available in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors, rezip stand-up bags are food-safe, lead-free and BPA-free. You can purchase BlueAvocado Re-Zip Seal Reusable Storage Bag Kit (Pack of 5) for about $19.



3) Food Storage

One of the most toxic things you can do in preparing a meal is using plastic to microwave the food/ingredients. Chemicals in plastic have been shown to leach into food. This leaching can occur even faster and to a greater degree when plastic is exposed to heat. This means you might be getting an even higher dose of potentially harmful chemicals simply by microwaving your leftovers in a plastic container.


Instead, look for glass containers preferably with silicone or bamboo lids. Gramercy Kitchen Co. offers a plastic-free set with four glass container sizes and bamboo lids perfect for heating and storing food. Made of durable, borosilicate glass (the strongest available), bamboo and silicone. Leftovers can easily be converted to lunch on the go with a bonus bamboo cutlery and adjustable elastic wrap included with each set. You can purchase a set of Gramercy Kitchen Co. four glass containers with bamboo lids for about $30.



4) Household Cleaning

Chemical cleaners, disposable wipes, single-use mop refills, throw away paper towels, and all the plastic and packaging that goes with them wreak havoc on our ecosystem.


Rather than using all these products, grab a microfiber cloth instead. Microfiber can be effective if used with or without water and natural cleaners. However, water naturally grabs and holds small particles. e-cloths are a good choice as water is the “active ingredient” with each textile design unlocking the power of water to perform specific cleaning tasks.


The cloth “activates” when run under water by filling the microscopic voids between and within the cloth’s fibers. When you wipe the cloth across a dirty surface, those water molecules attract and stick to particles of dirt, grease, grime, even bacteria and mold, pulling the particles into the voids and trapping them there. Rinsing the cloth with warm or hot water, or running it through a machine wash cycle, releases the trapped particles and refreshes the cloth. You can purchase a set of four e-cloths for about $16.



5) Laundry

Conventional laundry detergent contains a mix of toxic fragrances, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins and potent cancer-causing chemicals. This leaves residue that not only lingers in the fabric but rubs off on your skin. There are several organic options but these products still have pollutive plastic containers.


For a truly eco-friendly option, choose soapnuts. These “nuts” are actually dried berries from a tree that grows in the Himalayas. When agitated in water, they produce a naturally occurring surfactant called saponin, which gently cleanses laundry – excellent for those sensitive to conventional laundry detergents.


Soapnuts from Eco Nuts come with a cloth bag that you use to hold 4-5 nuts and toss in the washer with your clothes. They suds up naturally and act as a natural fabric softener in the rinse cycle. Clothes smell fresh and are super soft. Berries can be reused up to 10 times making them a super-affordable option. Eco Nuts have won multiple green product awards and are certified USDA Organic by Oregon Tilth.


You can purchase Eco Nuts USDA Organic Laundry Detergent, 20.5 Ounces for 360 Loads for about $30.




We hope you make a simple switch to these eco-friendly products to enjoy healthier living for your family!



Karen Orlich is a sustainable product inventor and health & green-living blogger.  She founded k.o. ecolife as a platform for wellness, fitness, and eco-advocacy in 2015.  Her company is also committed to providing made in USA, eco-friendly products that are fun and functional with a giving back mission (a portion of every sale supports charitable causes).  Learn more about Karen and k.o. ecolife in this recent Chicago North Shore Mom’s interview!



* Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.



* Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you 🙂

Join The Chicago North Shore Moms Network Community

Stay up-to-date with what is happening in-and-around The Chicago North Shore community with local events, community highlights, and exclusive deals.