Since becoming a mom, I have slowly been trying to be more eco-friendly. I want to leave the earth in a better place for my baby. Lofty ambitions? I know every little bit helps and many baby steps will add up to a big difference.
Here are my top five easy ways to become more eco-friendly, from a newbie who is nowhere near an expert (so if I can do it, so can you, right?)
The tips below don’t require a huge time or financial investment (ten dollars at most), but just require a little effort to change your routine. Once you get in a new routine, being eco-friendly will be second nature and no effort at all!
1. Grow your own food/eat locally
Gardening is an easy, fun and tasty way to be eco-friendly and also makes a big impact. Gardening reduces the amount of food purchased from factory farms as well as eliminating transportation costs and pollution associated with transporting food, sometimes from halfway around the world. Not to mention YOU are in control of the chemicals that your produce is exposed to (hopefully none!). Plus, nothing tastes better than fresh grown fruit and veggies from your own yard.
Don’t have the space? Try a patio garden with a few containers. Even a sunny window can grow a beautiful variety of herbs!
This is my first summer with a true garden, though I have had a small container garden for the past few years. Aside from being eco-friendly, gardening has been a joy and gives me a great sense of accomplishment.
A great tip I recently learned is to save your plastic containers from your produce in the winter and spring in order to store your garden produce during harvest time.
Pro tip: Garden master? Learn to freeze, can and preserve your harvest and have home-grown food all year long!
2. Buy Local
If gardening isn’t your jam, buying local produce, groceries and other products is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. We also try to buy any produce we can’t grow ourselves from our local farmer’s market. There are some great local organic farmers in our area who grow some of the trickier veggies I can’t grow myself. This again, reduces transportation costs and puts money right back into our local economy. (The farmers in my area re-use old plastic bags, or you can bring your own, in order to make packaging minimal).
Bonus: we are known to have a tasty brunch of fresh-squeezed OJ, donairs, samosas and once in a while, freshly fried mini-donuts as well do our shopping!
I also challenge myself each Christmas to do as much of my Christmas shopping at farmer’s markets, local craft fairs and boutique shops, rather than big box stores and Amazon. This reduces shipping costs as well as supporting local artisans.
3. Streamline Recycling
I’m sure most people recycle in some form or another. This tip is to ensure that you recycle everything you possibly can. How many of us are guilty about quickly throwing something in the trash rather than making a trip to an inconveniently placed recycling bin (I’m raising my hand!)? I am guilty of tossing plastic wrapping in the trash, rather than going outside in -30 winter weather to get to my recycling bin.
If you haven’t already, make sure you have recycling receptacles in your kitchen. If you don’t have space under the counter, try hanging a plastic bag for plastic recyclables that you take out once at the end of the day, rather than making two dozen trips a day.
Designate an area for more difficult items to recycle such as batteries, printer cartridges, etc. Being organized will help you resist the temptation to just throw these things in the trash when wanting to tidy things up quickly.
I’ve pinned a variety of recycling centers for the kitchen and garage for you to check out:
4. Absolutely No Plastic Water Bottles
This is my biggest pet peeve. I think it is absolutely ridiculous to spend money on something that comes out of your tap for free. I recently read that said the production, shipping, etc of one plastic water bottle requires twice the amount of water inside the bottle. How wasteful is that? I always have a couple of large reusable water bottles around and there are so many cute ones these days. Once you get in the habit of filling up your bottle and bringing it with you, it is such an easy way to cut down on garbage!
5. Swap out Paper Towels for Cloth
One game changer for me was cutting wayyyyyy back on paper towels. I purchased a six pack of kitchen towels that I now use for pretty much everything (exception being cleaning up doggie do-do accidents in the house!). Like plastic water bottles, I found I had to get myself in the routine of reaching for them instead of the paper towel, but there was really no added difficulty. Just throw them in with the towels to wash and be done with it! It now takes us MONTHS for us to go through a pack of paper towels.
I personally just have my kitchen towels in a drawer with my dishclothes, but if you’re feeling crafty, here are two tutorials to make SUPER cute towels:
I think these steps are a great start down the road to eco-friendly living. Simple changes in routine can add up to a big difference with minimal effort!
I do have a few “Eco-Friendly Goals” I’m hoping to accomplish this year.
Honestly, this is something I’ve wanted to start for a long time, but am still working up the courage to attempt (plus I need to buy a backyard composter). I know it would be great to make healthy soil for my garden and I absolutely LOATHE the amount of waste in the garbage each week, which is mostly food products. One of these days I will bite the bullet and buy a composter, then I’ll jump in head first! Any tips or advice on what kind of composter to buy or tips on how to get started?
Making My Own Cleaning Products
This is something I’ve attempted a number of times, it I haven’t found a great recipe I like. Plus I HATE the smell of vinegar, so many of the cleaning recipes gross me out a little. I would love to hear from you if you have a great eco-friendly recipe you use!
Tell me about your journey to become eco-friendly. Any tips to share or goals you are working to conquer? Please drop me a line!