Keeping my lifestyle as green as possible is a constant battle. Ever since starting a family, I’ve become acutely aware of all the waste I generate and it makes me uncomfortable. While opting for a “back-to-the-land” lifestyle isn’t realistic, I believe it’s crucial, not to mention morally obligatory, to take what steps I can to minimize my family’s impact on the earth. These are some of the things I do:
1. Drive Less
My car stays parked in the driveway unless I go to the grocery store or take my son to nursery school. Otherwise, if I can walk in under a half hour with the kids in tow, I do. The benefits are that we get outside, get exercise, and fresh air improves everyone’s mood.
2. Greener Grocery Habits
I don’t use plastic produce bags but let my produce roll around the cart while shopping. Yes, it’s inconvenient for the cashier but saves hugely on plastic. I take packaging into consideration when choosing products, avoiding plastic if possible. I use reusable grocery bags.
3. Cloth Diapers
I already wrote a post about this, so I’ll just say that cloth diapers are so much healthier all around that it’s well worth the effort.
4. Lighten the Laundry Load
I use cold water and all-natural detergent and try to hang-dry whenever possible. This can be a hassle in winter, but I’ve discovered that leaving a clothing rack overnight results in mostly dry clothes by morning.
5. Natural Cleaning Products
Switching to baking soda, vinegar, and a few basic all-natural concoctions that I found at the health food store wasn’t hard and its efficacy was pleasantly surprising.
6. Natural Cosmetics
Gillian Deacon’s book There’s Lead In Your Lipstick convinced me to throw out most of the contents of my bathroom. Since then I’ve bought products that are safe for my body without compromising my beauty routine. My family’s go-to favourite soap is Dr. Bronners Pure Peppermint Castile Soap; we use it for everything.
7. Greener Eating Habits
I cook less meat and try to fill out meals with alternatives, such as eggs, beans, grains, fish, and tofu. Instead of making meat a focal point, it often plays a supporting role to vegetables.
8. Use Less Hot Water
This one is tough for me because there’s nothing I love more than a long, steaming hot shower at the end of the day. I make myself turn off the water to soap up and keep it as short as possible. I run the dishwasher only once a day and wash the rest of the dishes by hand.
9. Buy Local Food
No one in North America should be eating fresh greens flown from China. There are plenty of local sources available that stimulate the local economy and connect individuals in a wonderful way. Check out any CSA (community supported agriculture) programs in your area; these run year-round.
10. Turn Off Lights
It has become a game to see how few lights I need to function throughout the day. While saving on the electricity bill, we also reduce nighttime light pollution.