I love this world dammit! I really, really do. I love going for a walk and beholding the beauty of each new day. I love the way the sky looks, the birds sound and feeling the warmth of the sun on my face, yet it breaks my heart to see garbage laying in the ditches and just knowing that we are all taking so much from mother earth every single day. I often wonder how long life can go on the way it does and it completely overwhelms me. I want my children to inherit a planet that is habitable. I want them to also enjoy the beauty of nature and all of the amazing creatures that our world inhabits.
Instead of getting upset about how terrible things are, I decided to hit the blog and write a post about it! Today I thought that I would share some green tips that you can do with your family to leave a lighter footprint on our planet. All of these tips are things that we already do, so you know that it can be done! We have to stop being so selfish and lazy and start to take steps toward protecting our planet and our animals and think about our children and our children’s children. This world is not just here for you and me!
Here are 10 Eco-Friendly tips from our family to yours!
1. Walk Or Bike To Where You Need To Go. This may be something that is more difficult to do depending on where you live, but whenever possible, walk or bike to where you need to go. I always walk to the store to get my groceries. Yes, even at 6 months pregnant, with two other kids with me, I take the stroller and load up the bottom basket with groceries and push them home. It can be done. My husband also walks to and from work everyday, rain, snow or shine. These are habits we have created in our lives, so they just come naturally for us. I would never even think of driving to get something from the store anymore. We only really use our van if we are going out of town, maybe a few times/month.
2. Buy Second Hand. Clothes, dishes, toys, movies, books, furniture, all of these items in our house we purchase second hand. The only time we ever get new ‘things’ is when they are given to us as gifts, but even for gifts we often request that they be second hand. There is the odd time that I have to buy something new, like craft supplies for the girls, but the majority of the items in our home have all been purchased second hand or bought at garage sales. This saves so much money and is a totally green thing that you can do. There are so many beautiful clothes that are second hand and look like new. For Christmas and birthdays we shop second hand for our girls as well. I just don’t understand the point of buying anything new when you can get it just as good used. This is something I live by.
3. BYOB. Bring your own bag to the grocery store and any other store you go to. Plastic bags are a terrible menace and I can’t wait until everyone sees that. Invest in some good quality reusable bags and take them with you everywhere that you go. I also go a step further and reuse my plastic produce bags. Instead of taking a new plastic bag for produce every time, I bring the same one with me and use it until it is no good anymore, then I recycle it.
4. Clean Green. I never purchase any household cleaners. My main go-to for cleaning is vinegar. I know it stinks, but it cleans fantastically and I use it for everything. Vinegar and water in a spray bottle is all you really need. Don’t waste your money on all the ‘green’ products that are on the shelves nowadays that still contain harmful ingredients and come in plastic bottles. It is really so simple!
5. Purchase Food Less Traveled. When you are grocery shopping, especially for produce, try and buy food that is close to home or better yet local. The average supermarket item is transported hundreds to thousands of miles to get to you. The farther a food travels, the greater the carbon emissions. Check labels on the food you are buying and choose seasonal fruits and vegetables most often that aren’t from half a world away.
6. Go Natural. Soaps, perfumes, deodorants, shampoos and other personal care items contain many harmful ingredients that are very dangerous to your health as well as to the health of our planet. Many have even been found to contain carcinogens. And these are what we are putting on ourselves! In our family we purchase natural soaps and shampoos and have even tried many home recipes for toothpastes and shampoos (see this post for more on DIY). I only ever purchase a soap or shampoo with ingredients that I can pronounce or know are natural. If you can’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t be putting it all over your body to absorb into your blood stream either. Remember you are not only putting these substances on your body, but you are washing them down the drain and into our waterways. There is no universal safety test for personal-care products and using any product with chemicals ingredients will have an effect. Read labels and look for natural products, often found at organic stores. Go without make-up or perfume. This is something that I do for my own personal reasons because of being vegan and animal testing as well as setting a proper example for my daughters. If you must wear make-up, look for natural cosmetics that do not contain harmful substances or test on animals.
7. Eat Your Veggies. Raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes use less energy and water than any other foods and they are good for you! The skin of fruits and vegetables can also be used as compost for your garden and are 100% biodegradable. This is obviously a money saver as well and will just make you feel great. We always have tons of fresh fruits and vegetables on hand and we also purchase grains, nuts and seeds in bulk and then reuse the plastic bags that we get them in until they are no good. I avoid buying anything in packaging as often as I can and if I do buy items that come in packaging, I make sure that it is recyclable, like jars and cans. The most natural foods are most environmentally friendly foods. Shopping smart and eating close to nature is something that you and your family can do to significantly reduce your carbon footprint and be healthier and happier too. This year we are also planting a vegetable garden!
8. Live Simply. With all the ads surrounding us all of the time, we have become a nation of consumers. We often buy so many things that we don’t even need. Every item that you purchase came from the earth. For it to be created, precious resources needed to be used, (trees, water, fuel) and lots of them! Not only the production, but the packaging, transporting and disposal of these items that we purchase all have an enormous effect on our planet as well. Whenever you are about to make a purchase, ask yourself if it is really necessary. If not, put it back. Living simply and not buying stuff is so much more peaceful. I feel good about only taking what I need from the earth and practicing gratitude for all that we already have. If you really do need to make a purchase, look at second hand stores or garage sales first. Every dollar you save will also reduce your ecological footprint.
9. Log Off and Shut Down. The average computer left on all day, everyday uses 1000 kilowatts of electricity over a year, producing more than one ton of carbon emissions. Turn off your computer at night or whenever it is not being used. If you are away from your computer, put it to sleep mode. This will lower your energy bill and cut back on carbon emissions.This not only goes for computers but televisions too. There is also a great, big, beautiful world out there waiting for you to enjoy. Why spend it inside staring at a screen?
10. Pack A Waste-Free Lunch. On a field trip with my daughters kindergarten class, I was surprised at how much waste the children’s snacks and lunches generated. It seemed like everything came in a little package that got thrown into the garbage. Even things that are recyclable, like pudding or fruit cup containers just get thrown away. This bothered me for days afterwards and that is when I purchased a waste-free lunch kit and began to really get serious about preparing my own snacks for her and putting them in reusable containers. I always sent her lunch in a container anyways, but I found this bento box lunch kit and fell in love. It even comes with a stainless steel spoon and fork and we purchased a stainless steel water bottle for her to take with her to school everyday. Her lunch is now completely waste-free and I can sleep again.
I am also strongly opposed to juice boxes and how many are being thrown out every single day. All these little things don’t seem like a big deal, but if you think about them on a large scale the waste is phenomenal and completely unnecessary. Buy your own snacks in bulk, pretzels, dried fruit etc. Bake your own cookies, muffins or granola bars and make your own juice or send them with water instead. If you must buy juice, purchase a jug of juice in a recyclable plastic bottle and send some in the stainless steel bottle with them. This is so much better for the planet and for the health of your child as well. Foods that come in packages, are usually just junk foods anyways and contain a ton of sugar and unnatural ingredients. Why are we putting that into the bodies of our children? You will see that taking the time to pack an Eco-friendly lunch will be so much more rewarding.
There you have it! 10 tips to help you and your family live a greener, peaceful, happier life!
Tread lightly and be mindful,