I tend to be an all or nothing sort of person, but when it comes to "Going Green," trying to do it all at once is far too overwhelming to be done successfully. Small changes, made gradually, are more likely to stick than trying to change too much too quickly. Embracing baby steps in reducing our environmental impact has helped to slow down (but not entirely reverse) the two steps forward, two steps back pace we had going on for a while. Below are some of the easiest steps to start with, things that have stuck for us and that don't cost a lot of green:
Ditch the car. Whenever possible, walk or bike instead of driving. Bonus: exercise! Extra bonus: save money on gas and vehicle maintenance! With a bike trailer like this one, small children can easily be transported by bicycle, too!
Clean Green. Forget the toxic cleaners and clean green! There are a number of "green" cleaning products on the market, but we have found that most things can be cleaned with baking soda and vinegar. Cleaning has gotten much cheaper (and less worrisome with little ones around) since we switched to baking soda and vinegar. Some of our favorite commercially available eco-frinedly cleaners include Planet Laundry Detergent, Seventh Generation Dish Soap, and Ecover Toilet Cleaner.
Lose the paper. Start with one paper product to replace with a reusable product. Do you use paper plates? Stop it. Or at least cut down to only using them for parties. Paper towles? Just use towels. Paper napkins? Switch to cloth. I recommend skipping the classic white napkins and going with something that won't show stains much. (We have these in Shale and LOVE them!) If you're really brave, you can even replace toilet paper with cloth wipes, but that's probably not a "baby step" in most books. ;)
Compost. Composting can be as much or as little work as you're willing to put into it. We are pretty lazy composters. We keep a compost container on our countertop (this one) that we take out and throw in the corner of the garden when it gets full. We spray down the pile once in a while, and we turn it when we remember to. If you want usable compost more quickly, you'll need to do some research and put a bit more effort into it, but our system (if you can call it that) has greatly reduced our garbage output and provided goodies for our garden in the form of "volunteer" veggies that grow from seeds and scraps we've discarded!
Freecycle. Have you heard of freecycle.org? If you've got stuff to get rid of, you post an offer. It'll most likely be gone by the end of the day. Need something? Post a request and you just might find it for free! Things I've gotten rid of on freecycle: old and beat up couches, broken appliances, everything left over at a garage sale (seriously, a woman came with a pick up truck and cleaned up my garage sale for me). Things I've gotten on freecycle: books, rocks for garden borders, flower pots, a record player. It is a great way to keep things out of the dump and give them new life!
These five changes are all relatively easy and inexpensive (or free!) to make. Take one at a time, starting with the one that sounds easiest to you, and when it has become habit, pick another! Remeber, the key is to make small changes that will last and not bite off more locally grown organic produce than you can chew! ;)
Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Read about how others are incorporating eco-friendly living solutions into their everyday lives. We hope you will join us next month, as the Simply Living Blog Carnival focuses on Daily Lives!
- Green Renovating: A Lot, A Little, Not So Much - Laura at Authentic Parenting ponders about the many things that have an impact on eco-friendly renovating
- Growing Native in My Flower Beds - Destany at They Are All of Me takes the guilt out of her flower habit by switching from high maintenance flowers to native plants which not only lessens her gardening load, but also benefits the local wild life.
- Baby Steps - Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares how her family became more sustainable, one step at a time.
- A Greener Holiday - Sara from Family Organic discusses the overwhelming amount of "stuff" that comes with every holiday and talks about how to simplify instead.
- Forcibly Green--Obligatory Organic - Survivor at Surviving Mexico talks about her family's evolution from passive to active green and sustainable living.
- Giving It Away - Juliet Kemp of Twisting Vines writes about the role of Freecycle, the giant karmic lending library, in her simple and green living.
- Simply Sustainable - Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses her family's attempts to live in harmony with the earth by living simply and more sustainably.
- How Does Your Yarden Grow - Alisha at Cinnamon&Sassafras writes about an ongoing permaculture project, converting her grass lawn into a mower-free paradise.
- Green? - Is it about ticking the boxes? sustainablemum shares her thoughts on what being green means in her life.
- Using Cloth Products To Reduce Household Waste - Angela from Earth Mama's World shares how her family replaced many disposable household products with cloth to reduce their household waste.
- Going Green in Baby Steps - Joella of Fine and Fair shares some small, easy steps to gradually reduce your environmental impact.
- Are You Ready To Play Outside?! - Alex from AN Portraits writes about gardening, and playing in the dirt, and how it's O.K. to get dirty, play in the dirt, play with worms, for both adults and kids.
- Lavender and Tea Tree Oil Laundry Booster - At Natural Parents Network, Megan from The Boho Mama shares an all-natural way to freshen laundry.