Do you ever feel overwhelmed at the various problems in the world and how they all interconnect? Global warming, too much garbage, the effect of both on clean water, on children's health and food resources. Sometimes I don't know where to start so I don't start anywhere. I was reading about the organic food industry and how a lot of the increase in organic, free range food products was brought about by consumer demands. This means that people who shop, like you and me, changed the way some of the food industry works. This means that we have power, that the choices we make can effect change.
I have four kids and a limited budget. Here are 3 things we've done this year to change our habits and become more "environmental". I was am not paid or sponsored to promote these products...just stuff I chose based on some research.
1. Reduce plastic waste: Buy in bulk and stop using plastic fruit and vegetable bags. I've used reusable grocery bags for years. If I forget them I try to hand carry items or at least get paper bags. But this year I bought these: Simple Ecology reusable cotton mesh and Cotton Muslim bags. I had to shift my shopping habits slightly so that I was shopping at places where I can chose my produce and it isn't already in plastic bags. I also inherited a bunch of glass jars from my grandparents which I use to put flour, sugar etc in from the bulk aisle. The goal is to reduce the amount of garbage I pick up while grocery shopping.
2. Get rid of paper towels: This seems super small but my goal is to reduce the garbage my family produces. My kids love to use a paper towel once to wipe their mouth then throw it away. So I bought these Medline cloths. It felt like a huge upfront investment. I have a drawer full in the kitchen and a bucket under the counter. When the bucket is full I wash in hot water with some non bleach eco whitener. I have also have a drawer of cloths that I use when cleaning the house which I wash and keep separately. So far in the 6 months we have been using them they have been amazing and are holding up great. I typically hang dry them outside and they dry in less than an hour.
3. Wear ethical clothing: I count wearing hand me downs/used clothes as ethical clothing so my kids are generally fine. I'm still sorting out what to do with shoes as my kids are picky about fit and they grow so fast I can't quite shell out a ton of money for ethically made shoes. I made choose though if I am going to buy something it has to be ethically/sustainably made and or used. We will see how it goes! I've had some amazing friends who have given me clothes they don't want which I love! For more on ethical clothes companies see this article:
Bonus: I didn't have a dryer for the 2.5 years we were in Scotland. Everything was hung out to dry and this was in a cold, wet climate. It was a major part of my day making sure I could keep up with laundry. But it also meant I made my kids wear pajamas and clothes until they were dirty rather than just one day then throwing them in the laundry basket. Now I have a dryer and I use it! But I also try to regularly hang things outside. I am shocked at how quickly things dry in central Oregon! Once you have a system, hanging things out to dry may take an extra 10-15 minutes.
Making choices to live more sustainably definitely takes time, especially when changing habits. It can also take a little more money. But if we all spent a little time and a little money to put towards less waste and more ethically created products we can shift how manufactures produce things and help our global community just a little! I'd love any other little things people do that I can incorporate into daily life.