Sunday, November 14, 2010

green living 101

Going “green” can mean different things to different people. For some, it may mean just starting to recycle. And then for others it means making many changes in your regular everyday routines, habits, purchases, thought-processes, life-style, etc…

For us? We’re the latter. We have recycled for years. I actually don’t remember a time when I did NOT recycle, even growing up. And then about a year or so ago we started making little changes here and there to reduce our use of disposable products. A little while later we realized all of the toxins that lived in our house, so we changed the way we clean. And then some time after that, we started contemplating the toxins we were putting in and on our bodies and started attacking those issues. Going green is a process. But you have to start somewhere!

And because I don’t really want to re-invent the wheel on how to start going green, I’ll just offer a few tips that have helped us and point you in the right direction for what you’re looking to change.

Let me just say that not everything we do is considered eco-friendly. For example, we still use disposable diapers. Gasp! And, although I try to reduce the amount of hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup that my family consumes, I’ll still buy M&Ms and the occasional bag of potato chips.

Like I said, going green is a process…

The Enviromom blog has been a wealth of knowledge for us. Check it out. You’ll be glad you did. They have tons of info on taking baby steps to go green. This was a good starting point for us.

Some changes we have made include:
*eliminating paper napkins and switching to cloth napkins
*majorly reducing our paper towel usage
*re-using plastic Ziploc baggies
*using only non-toxic (and mostly handmade) cleaners
*changing almost all of our personal care products to healthier less-toxic versions (we even make our own deodorant and face wash now…)
*bringing in LESS STUFF and repurposing what we already own (reduce, reuse, recycle!)

It may seem like an overwhelming task to change your cleaning products to handmade eco-friendlier versions. Its really not! Combining natural ingredients for all your cleaning needs will save you money, help save the planet, and keep your family healthier in the long run. Companies that make cleaning products are not required to disclose ingredients on their labels. This BLOWS MY MIND! What has happened is that our society has been brain washed to think that we need bleach to clean everything. In reality, bleach is killing us and making us even more sick. Bleach is NOT necessary for cleaning!

So what happens when you change your cleaning products to non-toxic (and handmade) versions? Well, first off, you’ll learn to love the smell of vinegar. Vinegar has become one of my best friends. I use it everyday, multiple times a day. I use it for general cleaning, deep cleaning, fabric softener, dish detergent…the list goes on and on. Seriously, vinegar is a work horse! My eco-friendly friend, Lisa, introduced me to the advantages of vinegar. Actually, Lisa introduced me to the entire green living world to begin with! When I saw how easy it was for her to implement so many green living ideas into her home, I knew I’d be able to do the same. And I haven’t turned back since!

All of my homemade cleaner recipes have come from various sources. Lisa has a few on her blog. There are some on the Enviromom blog. Simple Organic is a fantastic website with lots of cleaning info on it as well. I compiled a nice little list with all of the different types of cleaners I need and recipes that work best for me (general, disinfectant, toilet cleaner, smooth stove top degreaser, window, laundry detergent, dish detergent, fabric softener, etc) and refer to it whenever I need to make up a new batch!

When you are ready to tackle the toxins in your personal care products, you MUST check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database. This database is fantastically amazing. It rates every personal care product you can think of by how hazardous it is for your health. You’ll be overwhelmed with the nasty chemicals that are in your personal care products! Hopefully you’ll be willing to make some changes after doing a little research on Skin Deep.

Changes I hope to implement in the near future:
*composting our food scraps
*changing ALL of my personal care products to organic, healthier versions (I still haven’t found an organic shampoo I like for my ultra frizzy curly hair…)
*buying more organic and local produce, meat, and dairy
*growing some of our own produce (this one might be in the very far distant future….I can’t even grow a chia pet, so maintaining a garden seems totally impossible for me at this point in my life!)
*learning how to freeze and can my own food. Again, that might happen after I figure out how to grow a garden…..

Have fun making eco-friendly changes! Your health and your planet will thank you. And hopefully you’ll feel a little empowered in the process.

1 comment:

Lisa Joy said...

Thanks for the shout-out and link-love! :)

As far as canning/freezing goes, you don't necessarily have to have a garden. Last summer, we went to u-pick fruit farms for strawberries, blueberries, and cherries, and froze all of them. Now that it's cold and NOTHING is growing, we have tons of healthy fruit at our disposal for making smoothies and desserts, and for jazzing up boring oatmeal. Plus, picking the fruit ourselves made for some fun family summer activities!

You can also get tomatoes in bulk for cheap around the months of September/October as farmers are getting rid of the last of their crops.