It’s not easy being green. Seriously, I cannot possibly keep up with all the well-intentioned instructions for saving the planet. I’m also not a crunchy-mama, but in spite of all the things I am not, I do believe that I am responsible to take good care of everything I enjoy – whether that’s my children, my home, my car, or my community.
After evaluating the choices we were making in our home I realized that I would need to change nearly everything I did in order to live more green. The thought of that overwhelmed me so much that for awhile I did nothing but feel guilty, but I have slowly come to the realization that just because I can’t do everything doesn’t meant I can’t do something.
So, here’s how I’m easing in to being a little more Kermit-colored:
- Use cloth napkins. I’m not gonna lie, this one is painful for me (and we don’t do it 100% of the time) but we’ve made the switch. (Shout out to my sister-in-law for inspiring me!)
- Make homemade cleaners. I cannot (and will not) give up my toilet bowl cleaner, but I have had great success with all manner of the vinegar-based homemade cleaners you can find recipes for on Pinterest. From carpet cleaner to all-purpose to wood polish and stainless steel cleaner, we’ve made the switch.
- Eliminate paper party supplies. Three summers ago I decided to spend $25 on plastic outdoor plates, cups, and bowls from Wal-Mart. I bought an assortment of rainbow colors, so they’ll just have to match everything. We use these for family gatherings, birthday parties, and any event I would’ve previously gone out and bought matchy-matchy plates for.
- Cut out bottled water – go refillable instead. In fact, try to cut out as many bottled drinks as you can and make them at home in reusable bottles.
- Use your crock pot more. It uses far less energy and can really be your best friend in prepping food that you can use for a whole week (or freeze and use for months). I will make a few pounds of black beans or shredded chicken at once and then save them in freezer bags (which I reuse).
- Stop buying pre-packaged snacks. Reusable squeeze pouches are my new best friend. Yogurt, smoothies, applesauce, even ice cream can go in them! You can also get reusable sandwich bags or use tiny Tupperware for finger snacks rather than throw away every time.
- Give up plastic bags. I made the switch to reusable awhile ago, but I often forget, especially when I am running in for a couple things – so I’ve started passing on bags altogether. Whether I buy a shirt at a department store, a green pepper at the grocery, or a prescription at the pharmacy – I ask to skip the bag.
- Wash less dishes. (Can I get a hallelujah?!). But seriously, wash less dishes. It occurred to me that the plate that holds the waffle (with no syrup) and clementine in the morning really doesn’t need to be washed before it holds the sandwich and carrot sticks at lunch, and it might not even need washed before it holds the grilled chicken and broccoli for dinner. That’s right mamas, there are many days that my kiddos and I use the same plates ALL DAY without washing them. That’s three plates instead of nine per day for the math majors. Apply this same thinking (with the occasional rinse) to cups and bowls and cut your dishwashing time, energy, and detergent significantly.
- Make more. This is two fold for me. First it means that I make more of my own things, like pancake mix – rather than buying a box of stuff I already have in my house and paying someone else to portion it for me, I just mix it myself and keep it in jars until I need it. Second, it means that I literally make more. Specifically with dinner, I regularly try to make two at once. Not only is it a more efficient use of my time, but it’s more efficient to use the oven once to bake two meals.
- Buy less. This might seem silly, but it’s certainly the most impactful thing we do. When I buy less stuff I end up with less bags, receipts, labels, and general garbage (crazy how that works!). This can be as easy as buying the 15 lb. bag of flour once rather than three 5 lb. bags over a couple months (which is really saying “buy more” and not less, but you get my drift).