How to Start Transitioning to an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle
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Living a greener eco-friendlier lifestyle is a choice my family has made. We only have one planet and if we don’t take care of it by practicing better habits we’re going to end up living in a world similar to that seen in the move Wall-E. I don’t want that for us and I want a world full of life for my son and any future descendants, don’t you? Transitioning into better habits has not been easy. As with any lifestyle change, the process is slow, but if you stick with it, you’ll be successful.
One of the first things we started doing as a family was switching to reusable travel mugs, water bottles, lunch containers, and other reusable dining utensils. When I worked out of the home, I tried to bring my lunch daily to reduce expenses so the washable containers worked perfectly. We also cut out the use of plastic silverware and paper plates. This part caused a bit of frustration for my household. My hubs and I grew up in homes that preferred to use paper plates than do dishes but we stuck with it. I’ve had more dishes to do since the switch but it’s been worth it. It’s also taken out another expense when going grocery shopping. Yay to saving money!
Some of the plates I really like to use are ones that came from Target and are made from recycled plastic. They were budget friendly and are kid proof. I mean he literally has thrown them across the room as a toddler without them breaking and they are microwave safe. We also have a great set of wheat-based plates that have done well. They came in a set from a sustainable company I found using google. I also have a set of four bamboo plates that I love but they aren’t safe to use in the microwave. I found that last part out the hard way of course, long after the packaging had been recycled.
Once we did the paper plate switch, I did another big step and decreased the amount of paper towels we use. Now I do keep some in our home for use on occasion but we purposely use cloth towels, napkins, or unpaper towels first. You can order the unpaper towels online or take a fun trip and do a bit of thrift shopping. That’s how I found most of the cloth napkins we now have. The kitchen towels I have are from the abundance of towels and such I received as wedding gifts years ago. They are durable and it’s super easy to wash all these items.
These are only small steps toward moving into an eco-friendlier lifestyle. There are major steps you can do but I’ve always believed that starting small has a ripple effect and things get easier as you continue forward. You can also look at it as a snowball rolling down a hill. Both fit how my family has taken to this new change. Now for some of the more challenging things that we still have to make conscious efforts about, not that any of the above mentioned has been easy. It’s a daily thing to stay on top of making better choices.
Switching to carrying a reusable silicone straw around for use in carry out drinks while on the go is something my hubs has called me weird for but anytime, I see straws in a trash can, a video of someone pulling one from a sea turtles’ nose with plyers surfaces in my head. This holds true to those plastic holders around pop bottle packs and cans. Nope, don’t want that. If I do purchase something with those plastic death traps, I make sure to cut them into smaller bits where they wont get stuck around any type of creature.
Something I should have mentioned first thing is that my family recycles. This wasn’t something available in my area as a kid and I’m very thankful to have that as an option now. If you live in an area without that luxury and want to recycle, look up the closest facility or facilities that recycle cans and such. Plan a day and time to haul your recyclables to that location or find a way to reuse what you have. My son and I currently have seeds planted in old milk jugs, creamer, bottles, and the such. I’ve also got a craft project planned to do with him to make bird feeders from recycled items. I found inspiration for that from Pinterest and you can check out my craft ideas board here: https://www.pinterest.com/MadilynnDaleTCG/crafts/ Also we have to take any glass recyclables to a facility in the neighboring town because they quit picking up glass here and now charge at the local facility to recycle it. The one in the next town accepts and recycles it for free.
Another fun thing my family has done to help the environment is start a garden in our backyard. Now I must say, our yard isn’t large. We live in a neighborhood with cookie cutter homes but we’ve made the best of it using containers and raised beds. We have cats and occasionally, when the store is out of my preferred cat litter that comes in a cardboard box, we get the huge plastic tote of cat litter. These have made excellent growing buckets. I drilled holes in the bottom of them for better drainage and lined them up. You would be surprised of all the plants you can grow in containers. In fact here is a website that discusses different types of gardening and has material available to help create a more sustainable life. They have an excellent set of books available and several forums with free information available as well. https://permies.com/wiki/122694f582/Building-World-Backyard-physical-books
Gardening is also an excellent life skill that I feel needs to be taught to everyone. Growing your own food gives you a feeling of success and gratitude like no other. It takes time but there are so many lessons you can teach children from growing plants.
I mentioned living in a small neighborhood above, well one of the downsides of that is, there are no trees in my yard. At least there weren’t. I grew up on a farm surrounded by animals and forests in southeast Oklahoma. It’s been a struggle to not be surrounded by trees so this past year, even though it was the worst time of year to plant trees, I did it. I purchased a tree half off from Lowes and tended to it every day. It’s still thriving and I look forward to seeing the change in height at the end of this growing season. More trees equal more oxygen, so why not plant more? Why don’t we all plant more?
Not only did I plant that tree last year, but I also did a fun secret thing and dropped seed bombs randomly throughout the community. It tickled me to death to see wildflowers pop up in new locations. I noticed more bees in my backyard garden this year and I hope that those flowers helped cause that. There are a ton of inspirational pins to make seed bombs but I literally stuck the small seed pouches in my pockets and tossed them about while walking.
My final thought on this list of small things to start the transition to living an eco-friendlier life is to shop consciously. I’m all about being frugal and getting the most bang for my buck but I now do more research into the person/corporation I’m buying from. For one, I purchase locally whenever I can rather than ordering it from big name companies. It’s a great way to connect with your community and support others around you, who in turn, support you as well. I also look into whether or not a company uses sustainable products and where their items are made. Questions I ask include:
Is this made in the US?
What was used to make this?
Is the company pushing for greener practices?
Is it eco-friendly or reusable?
How will this item effect the environment?
Can it be recycled?
Is it compostable?
How are the items shipped?
Does it have a ridiculous number of additives?
These aren’t all the things I ask and not all that I purchase has a yes for each of these. Slowing down though and being mindful of your purchases will make a huge difference. It will decrease your spending and make you more aware of how companies play a role in bettering the planet.
These are only a few practices that I used to start the transition. I hope it will inspire you to make some changes in your personal life if you haven’t already begun that journey. As I tell my son all the time, that’s now turned into a motto, sharing is caring.
I would love to hear what changes you’ve made to be more eco-friendly and the steps you’ve started with. Are they like what I used? What did you do differently? Every person’s journey is different and there is always more you can do. Keep an eye out for a post I have coming soon about Earthships. They are fascinating, eco-friendly, and sustainable.