Hey moms! I know you’re pretty busy. But you still care about the environment, right? Check out my Busy Mom’s Guide to Green Living — it’s three simple steps I’m taking to set green living goals for my family and to help navigate daily lifestyle choices.
1. Use Less Stuff
Hands down, the biggest thing we can do to reduce our carbon footprint is to Use. Less. Stuff. Buying less clothes, driving less, and eating less meat are all examples of daily choices we can make to reduce our environmental impact. Remember, it takes a lot of resources to make and transport all that stuff!
So how to put this into practice? I started by brainstorming some ways our family could live more eco-friendly in several areas: food, clothing and accessories, beauty and hygiene products, household items, transportation, and energy/water. In each of these areas I asked the question, “How can we use less?”
Here are some of the things I came up with for myself and our family:
- Eat less meat and do Meatless Monday.
- Eat less takeout food to reduce packaging (SO hard).
- Only buy more clothes and accessories if we truly *need* something, not just because it is cute or trendy.
- ^ Same for beauty products/toiletries/household goods and decor.
- Consume less energy by reducing the amount of AC and heat we use (so hard when you live in San Diego – ha)
- Save water and energy by doing less laundry.
In what ways could your family use less? Your list can and should look totally different from this — and that’s okay! It’s all about figuring out which changes are manageable for your family and lifestyle at this time (notice I didn’t mention giving up my SUV — not ready yet). Hopefully over time, your list will change as you accomplish and further your green living goals.
2. Use Better Stuff
Okay this is a biggie. Obviously, it’s best to consume as little as possible (rule #1), but we all need things to survive and thrive. And every day we make decisions about food, clothing, transportation, and more.
There are plenty of important questions that have been raised about socially conscious consumption — critiques I tend to agree with. But at the end of the day, I think it’s a good thing if one less plastic bottle ends up in the ocean. That’s what this blog is all about.
So what makes something “better”? It depends on the item and, really, your personal green living goals and priorities. But in this guide, better means having a less harmful impact on the environment. Here are some guidelines:
- Secondhand is better than new
- Compostable and biodegradable materials, rather than plastic
- Organic, organic, organic
- Items produced from recycled and/or renewable resources
- Locally produced goods
- Items that have a lower carbon footprint
Almost always, these overlap and are used together when making a decision. For example, I’m trying to decide what eat for lunch. I’m going to go the deli down the street and get a veggie sandwich. It checks a few of my boxes because I’m choosing veggies over meat and because they will put it in my tin lunch box instead of wrapping it in plastic-coated paper. And this decision would be even more eco-friendly if the veggies were organic from a nearby farm (and if I made the sandwich at home instead of driving down the street).
But busy moms don’t have time to be perfect so the key is to do your best! At the very least, know that you are having an impact by passing up the roast beef.
3. Reuse and Recycle
I’m learning more about recycling and it turns out I’ve been doing it all wrong. Like for years. I haven’t been recycling everything I could be and a lot of non-recyclable stuff has ended up in the bin (coffee cups!). Oops.
Many of us aren’t recycling to our fullest potential! According to As You Sow, Americans throw away $11.4 billion worth of packaging annually. Now some of this is non-recyclable in our current system – which is woefully inadequate – but there are also plenty of people tossing aluminum cans in the garbage that ends up in the landfill.
So keep recycling whenever possible, folks. Not just in terms of the recycling bin picked up by the city, but also by donating or selling items that you no longer use (which is technically “reusing” not recycling — even better). Extending the life of goods and materials as long as possible and keeping them out of the landfill is a good thing.
I hope you have found my Busy Mom’s Guide to Green Living helpful! Starting to live more eco-friendly can be a bit overwhelming, especially when you’re juggling kids, work, and everything else. But remember! Any small step makes a difference.
I’m working on developing this guide further and would love to hear your tips and tricks. Join the conversation in our Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/greenlivingforbusymoms.