Have you ever felt guilty for making a choice that’s bad for the environment?
It can feel overwhelming to get it all right. We want to, but sometimes things get out of whack. Life happens.
Four years ago, I fell in love with the idea of sustainable living.
I went all out. The grocery bill skyrocketed from our new, all organic diet. I dabbed on natural beauty products and gave up using plastic bags, the bane of society. I tried mineral salt as deodorant. (The result was about what you can imagine.) The more I advocated sustainable living, the more I felt trapped. “What would people think if they knew I was using a plastic bag right now??”
Today, I have a new perspective: I do what I have to do to stay sane as a homemaker. I do it as sustainably as possible. To me, there’s nothing more important than my job as a wife and mother. Everything else has to come second, including saving the world.
Do your best with what you can control.
Attainable sustainable is about knowing myself. Knowing my breaking points. Looking inward for what feels right.
That might mean opting for a plastic bag if I forget my reusable ones at home. I don’t like doing that, but I won’t feel guilty anymore. I’ve already sorted out my priorities.
Realistic Green Tips for Families
Here are 6 of my favorite, easy green habits:
1. Use reusable bags and containers.
If you pack a lunch, use a container for food instead of a plastic baggie. If they are old enough, ask each person to quickly wash and rinse their containers when they get home. Read more about hand-washing dishes in my post about how we quit our dishwasher.
- Realistic: There are days you’ll still opt for saran wrap or a plastic baggie. It happens.
2. Refill your own water bottles.
I don’t buy bottled water for home anymore. Now that it’s not in the fridge, refilling our own bottles is the only choice we have. That makes it easy. Click here to read about Flow, a documentary that changed the way we drink.
- Realistic: It’s not always possible to have clean water when travelling. Stay hydrated. You can still make to world a better place with kindness and smiles.
3. Plant a garden.
Since we can’t afford a lot of organic food right now, I’m thankful Mr. Right plants a garden to supplement our store-bought produce.
- Realistic: Your garden doesn’t have to be huge and overwhelming. Start with a few items and build up from there if you can. Read the dirty dozen to narrow down your produce choices.
4. Use chemical free cleaners.
A solution of vinegar and water is my favorite all-purpose cleaner. For windows, I use a micro-fiber cloth and plain water. Click here for recipes from Simple Organic.
- Realistic: While nearly every cleaner I use is homemade, I still buy toilet bowl cleaner. The natural cleaners just didn’t cut it for me.
5. Stop buying so much stuff.
Consumerism has resulted in lower-quality stuff, increased debt and convinced us we never have enough. It’s convinced we need things that no one needed for hundreds of years.
Here are a few ways to slow down your spending: If you want something, write it on a list. Don’t buy it for 30 days. If you still want it after that time, see if you can get it used. Check out Craigslist and Ebay.
- Realistic: Socks, underwear, bras, gym clothes, shoes, chewing gum … these are just a few of the things I like to buy new. You can read more in the post Stuff I Buy.
6. Walk places. Bike places.
Walk for more than leisure or exercise – take care of errands, visit your neighbor or drop off the library books while you’re at it.
- Realistic: It can be treacherous – even dangerous – to walk or bike during Wisconsin winters. Use common sense and offer gratitude for modern day conveniences like cars.
What green tips would you add to the list?
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Photo by Casey David