Being a green goddess like Josie Maran doesn't have to be hard: There are tons of simple switches you can make around the house to create a more eco-friendly lifestyle. In honor of Earth Day, we went to green living expert Sara Snow to get her tips on the little things you can do that will have a big impact on the environment--no composting, patchouli or Birkenstocks required.
Take a cue from Halle Berry and bring reusable bags when you shop. "Paper and plastic bags use a tremendous amount of resources and at least 80 percent of them never get recycled," says Sara. "A reusable bag is something you can use countless times." Her favorite? The chic and stylish Blue Avocado: "They fold up into a little pod so you can hook them into your purse and always have them with you."
"It used to be that if you wanted to buy natural or organic products, you had to drive all over the place to get everything you needed," says Sara. "Now you can find all these products online without having to drive around and waste gas. I love The Natural Store because all of their products meet a very strict set of green guidelines."
Everyone wants clean drinking water handy, but those store-bought bottles aren't doing Mother Nature any favors. Ditch the Dasani and carry a reusable water bottle like Ashley Greene. "Instead of buying water, invest in a filter system for your home so you can drink what's coming out of the tap, which is oftentimes cleaner anyways," says Snow.
"People think that in order for their houses to be really clean, it needs to smell intensely like lemon or pine," says Snow. That's definitely not the case--in fact, those super-smelly products might actually be causing you health issues! "Synthetic fragrances are one of the biggest contributors to allergy-like symptoms: headaches, runny noses, sneezing. Switch to home products that are scented with essential oils and you'll notice a real difference," says Snow.
While in an ideal world we'd all buy only organic produce, that would unfortunately get pretty pricey for the average shopper. Snow says you should familiarize yourself with the Dirty Dozen--the 12 fruits and veggies that absorb the most pesticides while growing. Be sure to buy those bad boys organic--the rest of your produce purchasing is up to you and your budget.
Baby mama's like Kourtney Kardashian need to take extra-special care with the products they use on their little ones. "Traditional plastic diapers contain chlorine, which aside from having a horrible environmental impact, can also cause sensitivity and irritation to babies' skin," says Snow. She suggests using Seventh Generation Free & Clear diapers--they're made without chlorine, petrolatums, latex or other harmful skin irritants.
"Being green is also about what's inside of your body and you need to protect yourself," says Snow. One of the easiest ways to do this is by switching from coffee to tea. Herbal teas have myriad beauty benefits: Antioxidants, anti-aging, weight loss--need we go on? "I'm a big believer in teas because they are an excellent beauty tool. What we put in our bodies is extremely important and will make you more beautiful than any creams," says Snow.
There's been a lot of talk lately about parabens--the chemicals that are used as preservatives in many beauty products. Snow says it's best to avoid parabens as there's evidence that they are hormone disrupters. Be sure to read labels, but also look for products that are housed in tubes, or vacuum-packed bottles, like these ones from Ren Skincare. Since you don't have to dip your fingers into them like you would a jar, there's less chance of contamination, so brands can eliminate parabens and use safer preservatives.
Want to be sure the brands you support are eco-conscious? To know just how green a company truly is, from its ingredient sourcing to its manufacturing processes, you need to read up on them. "Companies are starting to understand it's more about transparency," says Snow. "People who are doing bad stuff aren't going to publicize it, but people who are doing good are going to talk about it on their websites. The more you educate yourself, the more you'll know what to look for."
Don't try to pull an Extreme Green Makeover: Life Edition on yourself--start out small in order to ensure lasting success. "Going green doesn't have to be all or nothing," says Snow. "If you expect too much of yourself, you're going to fail. Pick one green thing and do that for a month or two, until it becomes a habit. Then add another thing, and so on. If you try to go green all at once than it's not sustainable and, most likely, not lasting."