Thursday, May 17, 2012

Moving As Motivation To Go Green

We're going to be moving into a new home in a few weeks. I plan to use this transition as an opportunity for increasing my crunchiness, so to speak, and getting just a little bit greener.

We take small steps now. We reduce, reuse, and recycle. We use cloth diapers and wipes most of the time. We're careful about our water use and combine car trips/errands whenever possible. (And not just because I hate driving.) However, I know we can do better. My hope is that setting up a new home will motivate me to encourage simple, everyday changes with our housekeeping, eating, and self-care.

What I really want is for my children to see that this is just how we do things. I want taking care of the earth, eating healthy, and using earth-friendly products to be a natural part of their lives, not an abstract concept. My plan is to concentrate on just three areas and continue to make steady progress while involving my children in my thought process as much as possible. Following are a few minor changes I'm looking forward to trying.

Cleaning. My goal is no chemical cleaners. At all. I'm going to try some of the cleaning suggestions here (an article posted in Whole Living, a wealth of great information). This one has another motive as well: my six-year-old recently became fascinated with helping me around the house. I certainly would not hand her a commercial cleaner to use on her own, but I would totally ask her to polish the furniture with olive oil or scrub the sink with a lemon. Learning home economics and helping Momma. Score! I've also considered making my own laundry detergent, but with the amount we go through around here, I'm not sure I want to take that on. (But if anyone has suggestions, I'm open to them.)

Food. Imagine a brand new kitchen with not one crumb of food. Where do you start? What do you bring in? A while back I had this brilliant idea to eliminate food dyes as a first step in our food overhaul plan. I even found this fabulous site and went all crazy looking for "numbers" in everything we bought. Unfortunately we never really got any further than that. My new goal is to buy more produce locally. We go through a lot of fruit and veggies around here, so I figured this would be a good next step. (I've even found a farmers market that will deliver a basket of seasonal produce every week to my door, which sounds tempting. Hmm.)

Personal Care. While the idea of cleaning my kitchen with baking soda and a lemon seems totally do-able, when it comes to products I use on myself, eh . . . I'm iffy on whether or not I'm willing to craft, say, my own toothpaste. I also have no interest in going no poo, although I try to use as little as possible and I don't lather up every day. (But I did find this great post about going shampoo-free and must admit I find it slightly intriguing.) I am a bit giddy, however, about the opportunity to try out some more natural (albeit commercially available) products. I recently became a fan of Toms of Maine, and I'm especially thrilled that they have a children's toothpaste that does not contain the aforementioned nasty dyes. 

Like I said, baby steps. I know I'm not going to wake up one day and transform into the model green living example. But, we have to start somewhere and I'm hoping to capitalize on the novelty of a new home in a new area to inspire me.

What small steps have you taken to help your family get greener?

Thanks for reading and have a blessed day.


Meaghan said... [Reply to comment]

I love your motivation. I was thinking the same thing if we move (the house is for sale). We use cloth diapers and wipes, cloth napkins in the kitchen, make our own laundry soap and cleaners, also have gone sort of shampoo free (reduced for me). I didn't realize we'd done so much but I'd like to do more too. My husband is taking longer to adjust to the changes especially with food so I had to back off a bit. I started making more from scratch and adding healthier ingredients but it was too much for him. My boys haven't noticed yet. All the best to you!!!!

Rox and Joey Buckman said... [Reply to comment]

We make our own laundry detergent and one batch makes a huge paint bucket (I think it's 5 gallons?) worth. It's just me and my husband, but the batch lasts us over a year. This is the recipe I use:
You will need a large 5 gallon bucket to make it in and store. You will need a dispenser, I have a laundry detergent bottle from a leading brand that has a spout on it. I keep this full in my laundry room for easy access.
The ingredients are:
1 bar of soap (preferably one without dyes or perfumes)
1 cup of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup of Borax
You are going to grate the bar of soap. I have been very successful using the grating plate on my food processor. Add this to a medium size sauce pan filled with water on medium heat, stirring continuously until all the soap is dissolved. Fill the 5 gallon bucket approximately half full with hot tap water. Add the melted soap, washing soda, and borax. Stir until it is all dissolved. Then fill the bucket to the top with more hot tap water. Let this sit undisturbed for 24 hours. During this time the process of saponification will occur; the process of soap making. The mixture will turn into a slimy gel. If you would like you can add essential oils to scent the detergent at this point. When you get ready to use the soap you will need to give it a good stir or shake before each use. Fill your dispenser with half water and half soap. For front loading washers use 1/4 cup. For top loading machines use 5/8 a cup.

The only thing I do differently is I don't cut the soap with water when I put it in our dispenser. We have lots of animals and sweaty gym clothes so I like to use an extra concentrated version. Just be aware that this soap doesn't get very sudsy, so just because you don't see foamy bubbles doesn't mean it's not working.

Meegs said... [Reply to comment]

Other then what you mentioned:
I switched to the Oil Cleanse Method (so no more face washes), we use cloth napkins and my husband just bought me a big box of cloth "paper towels."

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