SueCarr-smBlog #3 in the series Confessions of an Eco-Evader by Sue Carr

If you follow this blog, you know that I’ve been spending more than my fair share of time on the Environmental Working Group website researching the toxicity levels of various products I use day to day. And the results have been frightening.

In an effort to convert this fear into action, I have decided to A) purge my house of toxic products, and B) substitute poorly rated products with more eco-friendly alternatives. For a frugal mom like me, this process poses a challenge. Several, actually.

First, in order to purge, I have to get rid of perfectly usable items I’ve already purchased. Not cool for a frugal mom who stocks the pantry with enough surplus sale items to supply a small village. Second, I have to find a good way to get rid of these things. I mean, taking twenty bottles of shampoo and tossing them into the trash doesn’t seem like the ideal way to help the environment. Third, I have to find eco-friendly—yet frugal—alternatives to these toxic products. This may well pose the most formidable challenge of them all, for it seems that, generally speaking, the fewer ingredients a product contains, the more it costs. I’m still trying to work out the math on that one.

I’ve decided to tackle this challenge through the following series of baby steps. Perhaps you’ll consider joining me on my quest.

Step 1: I will identify and purge problematic products from one household area at a time (i.e. toiletries, household cleaners, kitchen products, etc.).

Step 2: Rather than tossing items into the trash (which would destroy the environment without providing any benefit to anyone whatsoever), I will donate unopened products to charity.

Step 3: To satisfy my frugal side, I will use up any previously opened products rather than tossing them. While I realize this means I’ll be putting these products into the environment, let’s face it, they’re going there anyway, so I might as well get my money’s worth out of them.

Step 4: With my stockpile gone, I will force myself to replace these products with smarter, cost-efficient, eco-friendly options.

I decided to start with toiletries. While I am hardly an extreme couponer or doomsday prepper, I did have a good amount of things on hand. Our local St. Vincent DePaul chapter will be pleased with me. (I won’t tell them how awful these products really are for human consumption. It’s an ethical dilemma I’m struggling to overcome.)

To replace them, I’ve compiled a list of products from that I can safely and responsibly purchase in their place. I now carry this list in my purse, ready to whip it out at a moment’s notice when I’m standing in the toiletry section of Giant Eagle perusing the organic hair care products like a perplexed foreigner shopping in America for the first time.

So this is the first baby step in greening my household. Tune in next time to find out how some of my first choices worked out (or didn’t).

In the meantime, tell me—have you explored What steps are you taking to green your daily routine?

Sue Nelko Carr is a freelance writer and editor, and a full-time mother, trying to live a greener life in Pittsburgh, PA.