One of my aims with launching this blog was to keep in focus that we all need to start somewhere with our goals to treat our earth better. With a recent UN report about how little time we have to course correct for the planet, and another about the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, there’s a lot of attention on the urgency of changes. There are certainly dissenting voices about the validity of the UN’s projections (with some fair points, to my view). But, whether or not we have 12ish years to change our footprinting ways, we can strive to live a little cleaner. And that’s what I’m hoping to do myself, and encourage in others: try to make the world a better place. Even though it’s always had broken pieces. Wait a second, there’s the Zootopia brain …
Well, I’m no Judy Hopps. I never was the top of any class, or team, or pyramid. So as I go along I’m sure I’ll make mistakes. I’m sure there will be ways in which some people can easily live “greener” than me. I confess, I struggle to buy organic anything, ever, unless it’s miraculously cheaper than the regular comparable item. So here we’ll encourage each other and have compassion for ourselves as we grow.
To get started, I want to recognize the ways that I’m already pursing life in an environmentally-friendly (and wallet-friendly) way.
- I try to walk whenever I can rather than driving. My small town makes it easy to walk to school with my kids, to events, and even to several grocery stores. And then there’s the whole “bike everywhere!!” idea I’m toying with …
- I try to minimize the amount of food waste my family produces. Over time I’ve become better at meal planning, which has helped me stay on budget and cut back on food that goes bad before we use it. We are also really good at finishing off leftovers.
- Again, to reduce our car use, we try to save as many errands as possible to do at one time. Whether I’m dragging a toddler to three stores in one day (while the older kids are in school, thank goodness), or planning a family activity based on where I need to pick up something else, I love feeling efficient! And only having one day full of errands feels great too!
- We recycle! We fortunately live in a place where recycling services are included with our trash, so it’s easy and all the usual items are recyclable. But when we lived in Utah we still managed to do so pretty consistently when we didn’t have recycling at our curbside. We’d just save it up as long as we could, sort out the glass (which is oddly difficult to recycle out there), then take it to a community recycling drop-off when we’d be going nearby anyway.
- I am the queen of thrift shopping (slight exaggeration). My experience with thrift stores is usually like Harry Potter’s Room of Requirement: I think of the specific, unsual thing I need, go to the store and boom! it’s there for a steal. My all time proudest moment: finding one of those food chopper sets (the large press kind with small and large dicing plates) for $1.50.
- Whenever we need something (that’s not food) I turn to craigslist or Facebook Marketplace first. And if I can, I wait and wait and wait, until the item we need pops up in the proper price range. (Wait until I tell you about the time I got a giant table bench for $40!). I see buying used items (this way or at a thrift store) as “green” because it’s a way of reducing the amount of new products that are produced, which requires lots of (usually) non-renewable energy to make and ship. When there are so many unwanted items with lots of life left, we can make it easier on our wallets and earth by searching these out first.
- As often as we can, we try to reduce the amount of items we have in our house. How could this be environmentally responsible? For us, decluttering usually means that (1) we pass usable items on to other people, and (2) we notice how much better we like our space with a little more room to breathe, so we reduce how much we accumulate and (hopefully) lead others to producing for us. We aren’t minimalists by any stretch, but I admire that approach and might try to experiment with it in the future!
- Meals to go are nearly always packed in reusable containers. My school-aged kids have little plastic sandwich boxes, metal water bottles, and sturdy fabric lunch bag to use each day. I’m still nervous that one day they’ll lose something and it’ll end up being expensive. But hopefully, when that day comes, that item will have served its time and made up for the potential plastic bags or water bottles they took the place of.
- Finally, I love to bake. And make food from scratch. I think it’s my favorite creative outlet. Taking the time (because I’m lucky enough have it) to make food at home from the base ingredients saves money compared to buying pre-made items or frozen meals at the store (or eating out!), but it also creates much less waste because then disposable packaging isn’t being used to store it! I definitely use plastic wrap for some things, but generally I can store muffins or leftovers in reusable containers. So overall, making food at home reduces trash. You’re welcome, Earth (eats another cookie).
And now: confessions! Some ways in which my convenience (or bank account) still takes priority over sustainability:
- Granola bars. So many delightful, individually wrapped granola bars.
- What’s composting? Toss those broccoli bits into the bin!
- Sometimes I’m just too dang lazy to wash out the peanut butter container, so it goes in the trash instead of recycling.
- I tried cloth diapering with my youngest two kids, and lasted about a month each time. And I definitely just bought the cheapest non-biodegradable diapers. Do what you gotta do, parents! No judgement here.
- Wipes are another parenting luxury I don’t know how to live without. Kids’ bums are nasty places, guys.
- What’s this “organic” business I keep hearing about? It sounds expensive.
- I have a love-hate relationship with plastic wrap.
- As much as I love to shop locally, I’m not too successful at doing so. Other than hitting the thrift stores, I veer toward business names I’ve heard for years and years.
Share below! What ways are you already living an environmentally-conscious life? What are some things you know aren’t the best, but are so hard to give up? I’d love to hear from you!