Tree Hugger

Photo credit: Flickr/KbH

Tree Hugger. Granola Girl. Eco-Freak. Crunchy Mama. There are lots of ways to describe me...and all of the aforementioned names are compliments in my mind. My path to "green living" has been slow and steady...definitely not an overnight conversion. Every piece of knowledge has led me in a new direction, and helped spark interest in other areas (i.e. I cloth diapered, so it was a natural fit to use cloth toilet paper). As a Christian, I feel even more compelled to be a good steward of the earth. It's not just about stopping global warming or saving trees, it's to honor God and to be wise with the resources He has abundantly given us. We live in a nation of excess and ease...we need to get back to the basics and "live simply so that others may live" -Gandhi.

After reading a great thread on Mothering, I thought I would do a quick overview of the things I do to reduce my footprint on the earth (and things I am still working on). It will be a reminder for me to remain diligent in them, and will hopefully encourage you to start or continue in your own journey towards natural/green living.

When you know better, you do better. -Maya Angelo

  • Use clothesline/hang clothes outside. Our landlord is going to build me a clothesline this summer...I could not be more excited! In the meantime, we do hang some clothes on a rack inside.
  • Be mindful of what lights are on and turn them off when not in use. We do have lots of natural light in our apartment, so this is pretty easy.
  • Keep the thermostat set low. This is so difficult for me to do because I LOVE being warm. Our utilities are included in our rent, so I'm not motivated by the money savings. I must decide to motivate myself for the pure ecological impact.
  • Reuse clothes that aren't dirty. This is another hard one, especially with Bella. She changes clothes about 5 times a day...and yes, they are all dirty. It's so easy just to run a load now that we have our own washer and dryer. Luckily, it is an efficient front loader and the dryer has a sensor in it. However, still not a good excuse.
  • Decrease garbage. With recycling and composting, this has become easier. We go through about 1 bag a week. Go check out "Garbageland" to understand the business of garbage better. I think it should be required reading for everyone!
  • Use cloth bags at the grocery store. I have been out of my "routine" with this for awhile and need to get a system in place so I have them when I need them.
  • Use hand dryers in public restrooms instead of paper towels.
  • Carry stainless steel water bottles for drinking when away from the house. (Sigg or Klean Kanteen). I phased out all of our Nalgene bottles a few years back due to health concerns, especially regarding women. This is controversial, but when it comes to plastic, I don't like ANY of it. Especially for food. They just haven't been around long enough to perform long-term studies.
  • Use cloth hankies/bandanas instead of tissues.
  • Use cloth napkins.
  • Use cloth towels for cleaning.
  • Use cloth mama pads and The Diva Cup.
  • Use cloth toilet paper/family cloth.
  • Rinse/reuse plastic bags and aluminum foil.
  • Use glass jars for storing food in fridge and for bulk items.
  • Recycle everything.
  • De-clutter and donate on a continual basis.
  • Don't buy anything new.
  • If I must make a purchase, buy locally...from small stores.
  • Shop at thrift stores.
  • Buy more in bulk to reduce packaging.
  • Use natural bar soaps with few ingredients for hand/body washing.
  • Use all natural body care products.
  • Would like to wear only natural fibers (wool, cotton, linen, flax, hemp...).
  • Dreaded my hair. I am now able to use less products and less electricity.
  • Use earth-friendly/homemade cleaners (my next blog will be about natural cleaning products...stay tuned).
  • Would like to get rid of particleboard furniture in the house (off-gassing).
  • Would eventually like to get an organic/natural mattress. I have my eye on one of these...they are locally made.
  • Replaced all Teflon and similar cookware with cast iron and stainless steel.
  • Replaced plastic containers with glass storage containers for food storage (dry goods and in the fridge).
  • Compost! We are just starting to compost and I am amazed and saddened at how much food we have wasted in the past. I am very aware of how much food I toss because we don't have a disposal either.
  • Eat organic foods at home...we are at about 90%. When we are out and can't choose our meals as much, I try very hard to avoid the "dirty dozen". This is not only for our health, but for the health of the earth by reducing pesticides, etc.
  • Eat more raw foods as a way to prevent disease, feel more alive, and save energy by not cooking. To learn more about raw foods, check out Alissa Cohen's site. Eating raw food doesn't have to be difficult...just add a smoothie for breakfast and a big salad for lunch and you're on your way.
  • Eat a vegetarian diet. Read "Diet for a New America" or "Food Revolution" to learn how your food choices affect more than just you.
  • Buy locally grown foods when possible.
  • Breastfeed Bella for optimum nutrition.
  • I'd like to learn to can and freeze this year.
  • Start gardening this summer.
  • Walk more, drive less. Even in the winter, we can walk to the co-op to do grocery shopping, get coffee, etc.
  • Ride bike more often. Obviously this will be easier when it's not snowy and icy...but I am so excited to bike to my errands! Wheeeee!

This is by no means an exhaustive list..because it's always changing and growing...but it's amazing to me how adaptable humans are. Five years ago I would have laughed out loud at the thought of most of the things on this list. So, if you are just starting your journey, take heart! Just pick one thing at a time to change and keep moving forward.