As cloth diapering families, we already realize that small changes can make HUGE impacts when it comes to the environment. But, admittedly, my family and I have started slacking off in other ways since the birth of our second child. Here’s my list of relatively simple, actionable ways to start thinking of Earth Day as an everyday event (and hopefully there’ll be some ideas you can use here, too!):
– Start going to the farmers’ market regularly. We used to do this a lot, even skipping from one local town to another to see what products were best at which spots. When our first child was born, our diets were maybe 50/50 local (sometimes more, particularly in the summer). But, now, while we’re eating a majority of organic foods, there are plenty of processed in the mix.
But, this is more than just about our diets. Having our kids grow up knowing their farmers and where their food comes from is HUGE. One thing I LOVE about our biggest local market is the fact that they give kids tokens to buy any kind of fruit/veggie in the market that they want (our kids usually go for berries when they’re in season and will eat a pint in one sitting, eek!). It makes it exciting for them to choose what they want to “spend” their token on.
– Consider our waste. This time of year is ALL about the “3 R’s”, and I love that. It’s the first environmental lesson I remember ever learning as a kid – wasn’t it yours? And, yes, our use of cloth diapers and reusable grocery bags is big, but we can do better.
It’s time for my family to officially consider its waste. I need to put the fear of embarrassment/side eye aside and just BUY some reusable fruit/veggie bags for the grocery store. While we use glass containers for the most part, our sandwich bag use is nuts – I think buying a reusable wrap (easier to clean than the reusable bags, although we use those for other things – hello, Imaginext toys) would make me more apt to actually give them up for good. So, taking stock in how much we buy, what we really need, and general storage solutions is big for us.
– Go minimal, once and for all. This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with waste, but I’ve always felt that living minimally lends itself to an eco-friendly mindset so easily. By lessening the things we’re surrounded with, we’re less likely to try to #buyallthethings and try to fill every nook and cranny with STUFF.
We bought our new house in November and one of my favorite things about it is that it’s only a few hundred square feet more than our old house. Yes, we wanted more room to spread out (and we got that – we have much more space outside and the layout lends itself to a more open feel; we also have living space in the basement that was lacking in our first home), but we also didn’t want a HUGE space.
Unfortunately, we’re STILL working on the place and haven’t unpacked and truly figured out how to use it as our own. I feel that by truly undertaking a Konmari-style purge, we’ll be able to do just that and start off on the fresh start that we’re craving, once and for all.
– Buy, borrow, and sell used items. When it comes to that purge I just mentioned, we’re fully planning on having a garage sale this summer rather than throwing away things that have no use or value to us anymore.
Well, just as we plan for that garage sale in advance, we need to plan for our purchases, as well. Instead of jumping up and running to Target when we feel we “need” something in the future, we need to learn how to slow down our buying and truly consider whether it’s a need vs. want, then whether it’s something we can borrow, barter, or buy from someone else.
In an emergency, food or medicine is one thing. But that cute pair of sunglasses (y’know, the 5th pair your child would own) in the dollar area (curse you, Dollar Spot!) can wait…and probably should.
My favorite for this is my sister. She and I both have a son and daughter, so we swap clothes back and forth all the time. Many are hardly used (or, depending on how hard a child wore them, in great shape), so not only is it economical, but keeps us from adding to the glut of consumerism we often give into.
– Get outside more. One way to celebrate Earth everyday is to ENJOY it everyday. For having grown up spending a LOT of time outside, for some reason, I don’t get my kids out as much as I should. Well, now that we have some more land and a super safe street for bike riding and playing, I have the perfect excuse to get out there.
A goal of mine is to get the kids more independent outside. Does anyone else find that their kids feel they “need” you to play with them every second when they get outside, as if they’ve lost the ability to use their imaginations or play on their own? I don’t remember this being a problem for my siblings and I. Heck, I’m pretty sure at my son’s age my mother would plop me down in the garden patch with a pie plate and spoon and head back inside, leaving me to make mud pies (and a huge mess) all afternoon.
While I don’t need the kids to get THAT independent quite yet (they’re 4 years and 17 months), I’d just love to see their natural explorers start to evolve, which I’m guessing will take some guidance at first. Getting our hands dirty with a planting project and continuing to show our care for animals with bird feeders are both good starts.
While I’m sure there’s more we could be doing, this is a good start for now. I’d love to hear what your families are doing to help lessen your environmental impact or raise your children with more care for nature. Feel free to share them with all of us in the comments below!