Welcome to Green Week! Because Earth Day was my birthday, all week I will be sharing some ways in which to "green" your life. I have been working on my journey towards a more sustainable life for several years now. No matter where you are on your journey, I hope you are able to use some of these ideas!
There are so many ways that you can green your home. It definitely takes baby steps, and a very willing family, to do all of these things, but they are definitely worth it in the long run.
My first suggestion is to make your own cleaning products. First of all, it is cheaper to do this than to buy commercial, and way less expensive than buying actual green products. Most of my recipes use very few ingredients - baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, borax, tea tree essential oil. I feel that if I have these ingredients in my house, I am able get just about everything I need cleaned, clean. You can find my all purpose cleaner recipe here, and my laundry soap recipe here.
The second idea is to use cloth napkins and rags instead of paper napkins and paper towels. Now, I know that some people love their paper towels. I used to be one of them, my husband definitely is one of them, but it costs A LOT to keep a continuous supply of paper towels in our home, in money and environmental impact. Most paper towels are made with virgin wood, and bleached. And did you know that the US has the highest consumption of paper towels in the world?! 50% higher than Europe, and 200% higher than Latin America. That is insane to me!
It won't be easy to give them up, you are constantly going to look for them for several weeks. I like to keep a drawer full of rags in my kitchen, and the kids know right where to go when they need to wipe something up, like themselves :-) There are always times that paper towels will be needed. If you have animals that make messes, it is nice to have something you can throw away. But, you could also keep a bag of cut up clothes that you were planning on getting rid of anyways. Keep them in a bag you know is specifically for serious messes and will be thrown away afterwards. You are still throwing something away, but at least you got a bit more use out of something before you do toss it.
The next green idea? Drive your car less. I know that it is difficult to drive less, especially if you live in the suburbs where you seemingly have to drive to get to everything. But, do you? I won't lie, our grocery store is only maybe 3/4 of a mile away, very easy walking distance. However, it is down the steepest hill imaginable. Getting there is fine, it is walking home with groceries that isn't...and don't even get me started about the farmers' market which is 2 hills away! But, it can be done. Trust me, I have done it, with two kids. You definitely need to make an event out of it, and it takes an awful lot longer than running out for one thing at the end of the day, but, it can be fun, and it is good exercise.
Are there activities that you can do within walking distance? Are they already within walking distance, but you are rushing around so much it is easier to drive? One of my biggest complaints recently has been how quickly time is going by me, this is definitely a way to slow life down. At first you are more rushed because you know how long it is going to take to walk to the library with a 2 and 4 year old, but then you realize that the kids love pointing out the different birds, they like to sing songs, and look at rocks. There is joy, you are saving money - gas is expensive - and you are building memories for yourself and your kids. And if you don't have kids, well, it is just plain old good exercise to do all that walking :-)
Do you do any of these things regularly? The one I struggle with the most is driving the car. We need to make all of our errands on one trip, instead of going out constantly because we have forgotten something. We are starting to buy more stuff in town too, instead of driving to the next city. It might be a little more expensive, but my time is starting to be a lot more valuable than it used to be, and that small cost savings isn't worth my time anymore.
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