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16 Delightful Self-Care Practices That Are Also Kind to the Planet

You can pamper yourself while showing Mother Earth some love with sustainable rituals that indulge all your senses.

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Irene Rinaldi
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These days many of us are overworked and sleep-deprived, our bodies devoid of vital nutrients. And the planet is going through much of the same because of our carbon footprint. That’s the total amount of greenhouse gases generated by our actions — what we consume, what we buy, how we travel — which leads to global warming. In addition, so much of modern life drains and pollutes the natural resources that bless our lives. Take time to enjoy these nurturing steps for bath-time pampering, radiant and natural beauty, nourishing nibbles, healthy homemaking and rest and relaxation. They are all ways you can practice sustainable self-care and care for the planet.

  1. Need serious bath-time pampering? Indulge in a deep, warm water soak as a special treat to ease sore muscles or decompress. Add a few drops of fragrant clary sage oil to relax. (On other days you’ll save 10 gallons of water by showering.)
  2. Keep a decorative canister filled with baking soda in the bathroom. A cupful added to the bath naturally cleanses and deodorizes, and it may help soothe external irritation from eczema, vaginal yeast infections, hemorrhoids and other conditions. You can also use it as an exfoliant for softer skin and as a non-toxic cleanser to wash the tub as the water drains.
  3. Opt for a beautiful, natural sea sponge instead of a synthetic sponge or scrubber. You’ll get that luxurious lather you love without exposure to the antimicrobial agent triclosan, thought to interrupt hormone function. Sustainable sea sponges last up to two years and can be composted.
  4. To warm up a cold shower, let it run into a container, then use the water for cleaning or to water plants.
  5. Spray a mist of mood-lifting sweet orange essential oil into the warm water sprinkling from a low flow shower head for an invigorating five-to-seven-minute wake-me-up.
  6. Ready to radiate natural beauty? Reach for a reusable sheet mask. I love sheet masks and how soft and smooth they make my skin feel. Sadly single-use masks, while convenient, can be wasteful. Reusable silicone masks can be used with moisturizing creams and serums and are designed to lock in moisture and help skin care products penetrate more effectively. Two to consider: Avant Guard, made of 100 percent food grade silicone ($22; and Nurse Jamie Face Wrap Skin Perfecting Silicone Mask ($30;
  7. Do away with disposable skin care packaging. Consider buying beauty products that come in glass jars or bottles that can be recycled or repurposed. Natural Radiant Life, owned by three sister friends, make skin care products with vegan, organic formulations “powered by nature’s superfoods.” On your designated bath day, as you luxuriate, try the Clay Mineral Mask ($40; or smooth on Truly’s Starface Jelly Sleep Mask ($18; Your skin will soak it in while you get your beauty sleep and you’ll wake up fabulous!
  8. For deliciously nourishing nibbles, whip up a meatless meal. Put this Thai-spiced butternut squash soup on to simmer, then enjoy a luscious local wine as the scent of ginger, lemongrass and sweet chilies perfume your kitchen. Or, try this main-dish minestrone. To give yourself a night off, make enough for two meals! Reducing meat consumption, especially beef, will reduce your carbon footprint, plus you’ll consume fewer calories and a plant-based diet is healthier for the body.
  9. Buy foods in season. Purchase these delicious fall superfoods from a local farmers market.
  10. Treat yourself to organic heirloom veggies, then save the seeds for planting. You’ll save on produce by starting a backyard garden. If that’s not an option, join a neighborhood community garden or plant a windowsill garden of fresh herbs.
  11. Pick out a stylish water bottle you can tote everywhere. Water is necessary to keep us hydrated, detox our bodies and cool us off while working out. Use a stainless steel water bottle instead of plastic. Two to consider: The 12 oz. Traveler Welly Bottle is made of stainless steel and bamboo and has a removable infuser to brew tea or naturally flavor water with fruit ($30; The Glo Pure water bottle utilizes a USB-charged UV light to purify water and is BPA-free ($49.90;
  12. Keep your home healthy and happy. Use plants to freshen the air in your home instead of toxic air fresheners. Here’s how to make an indoor oasis.
  13. Take a break from technology. Turn off the phone, laptop and television and give yourself a social media and TV break. You’ll use less electricity and emotional energy.
  14. Clear your mind while clearing clutter for 10 minutes. Straightening up can be an enjoyable daily mindfulness practice. Living a more minimalist lifestyle leads to less consumption and waste, less time looking for stuff and less emotional energy spent.
  15. Do good while dressing well. Disposable fashion is so last-season. Opt for sustainable style. Instead of going on a shopping spree at the mall, try a thrift shop. Donate your old clothing to Goodwill or another charity or resell it via a consignment shop. Either way, you can reduce your carbon footprint.
  16. Get away from it all with a staycation. There are wonderful things to see in your own backyard, which will eliminate fuel-guzzling air and cruise transportation. Walk or bike to the sites in your city or town.