I am so excited to have Gina from Mom-Blog writing a post today. Not only do I love reading Gina’s blog, but she is writing about a topic that I can SO relate to…the struggles and successes of going green. We can all relate to this. It isn’t easy all the time. I love how open Gina is in this post! Check it out!
Going green is not an easy task, but it can benefit your family. A born and bred New Yorker, I never really considered it much. Sure, I was worried about pollution, but I recycled – wasn’t that enough?
After I had a family, I was too preoccupied trying to earn a living and take care of my children, who both had disabilities. My second daughter has autism and, in a desperate attempt to get her to sleep, we discovered that removing milk helped my child sleep through the night for the first time at age five. Shortly after that, I learned about toxins in our environment, food sensitivities of children with disabilities and the link between autism and chemicals, pollution and other toxins. I became hooked on “clean” living, but I was soon to discover a simple equation that my family now lives by:
Clean = Green
If you want to remove toxins, chemicals, GMOs, pesticides, carcinogens, and artificial colors and preservatives from your life, you will find a natural home in the green community. Removing all those means getting back to nature – and becoming more eco-friendly.
As a creature who indulges in conveniences, it was NOT easy to go green – but it is doable, even if you’re an ex-city gal. The trick is to manage it well and embrace the learning curve. I decided to jump right in, assuming it would be OK – wrong! I started changing our foods, our kitchenware, our soaps, our detergent….The problem with this approach is that every time you find solutions that are eco-friendly, you find about a dozen MORE things in your home that are not green. You will end up sitting on your kitchen floor crying over your epic sustainability fail if you try to do it all at once. Don’t do that! I learned that hard way that it doesn’t have to be painful. Instead, here are 6 simple steps to go green, if you don’t know where to begin.
1. Start small. Pick one thing and master it. That can be as simple as buying a second recycling bin and making it your mission to fill both bins in a week. Once you master that, you’ll get the confidence for the next thing, and accept the rest. Sure, you can open your cabinets and throw out your plastic, baby toys, shower curtains, lawn care, and all those toxic food, bath and beauty products but you better have a nice nest egg tucked away to invest in replacing all that with cleaner option. A better way is to remove one thing at a time – and get used to it before moving on to the next. For example, I replaced plastic containers with fabric snack taxis and stainless steel for my kids’ lunches. Prioritizing and breaking it down made it easy.
2. Make friends who are green, semi-green, and super green. Bloggers in the green community are some of the nicest, most caring people you will ever meet. I’m friends with many them and have joined a number of green blogger groups as well. I’ve learned things I never knew and their tips have changed my home and lifestyle. That said, some of them have been doing it for so long that as a newcomer, you will can like a total failure. That’s why you need to know others who are new at this, others who are trying, and others who are willing to accept the fact that no one is ever perfect. Some of my favorites are Green GroovyLivin’TM, Non-Toxic Kids, Eco-Novice, Green Talk and EcoKaren.
3. And speaking of perfect, you know that saying, “Don’t let perfect become the enemy of good”? Well, it applies here. You will not master this in a few weeks, in fact, you may never get perfectly plastic-free or be 100% green. It’s very challenging and takes a lot of research, hard work and funds. Pick and choose your battles. For example, light bulbs are tough topic. Incandescent light bulbs are wasteful and they are also off the market, but CFL bulbs contain mercury and the EPA has some very specific (and, to me, frightening) guidelines on how to clean up a broken CFL bulb. Even though they are greener than incandescent, I won’t be buying any more of those, because mercury is a health concern for my kids. That leaves LED light bulbs, which are costly but my only choice. Sometimes you must make choices you are not going to like, and sometimes (although rarely) a green lifestyle will conflict with a toxin-free lifestyle. That’s ok too – make the best choice for your family and learn to embrace what’s imperfect.
4. Don’t fight; just do. Some things are not going to be easy to change. For example, my husband and I are at complete odds over lawn care. I want to stay natural and organic – and bee friendly. He can’t stand the clover in the yard and is always trying to buy allegedly “green” weed killer. Unfortunately, most of these products are “green washed.” That is, they claim to be green but are not organic or earth-friendly. We butt heads over our lawn, but I do my best to educate him on the danger of the chemicals he selects and keep the yard pretty with natural means. Meanwhile, I make sure everyone keeps the outdoor shoes off in the house, and he keeps the chemicals off the yard the kids play in. It’s not a great solution, but for now, it’s a compromise that works.
5. Find green sources and shops. For example, Mighty Nest, which I discovered a few years ago by doing a blogger campaign, is an excellent source for eco-friendly living. They have everything from lunch bags to kitchen tools. If you’re in my region, Wegman’s is an excellent supermarket for finding green brands. Please also check your local farmer’s market for local sellers of handmade green products, like soap and bug repellant, or your health store for solutions that can green your home.
6. DIY the easy way. Long before I ever went green, I realized the cleaning potential of simple white vinegar. My baby had gotten very sick in her playpen and my Mama Instinct told me that the usual suspects of cleaning products in my cabinet were not baby-friendly. So I used white vinegar – and it cleaned like a dream! When you go green, you don’t have to buy costly cleaners or reinvent the wheel with doing it yourself. In fact, you probably already do some green life hacks if you use baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice or castile soap for any kind of cleaning or stain removal. The bonus? No nasty cleaning fluid smell either! Read my post for a list of doable DIY tips, “Make It At Home & Save.” This is one area where greener cleaner, more affordable and just plain simpler.
And that’s one of the great benefits of going green – it’s simpler. You can stop using worrying about chemicals, and feel good that you are on your journey to make home more earth-friendly and keep your family safe. Take it from a mama who had every convenience and barely gave the earth a second thought: If I can do, you can do it!
Gina is the mom of two beautiful girls with special needs, and passionate about the benefits of real food, clean eating and green living – for the average person! Her mission is inspire, support and encourage other moms of kids with special needs and special diets to not only help their kids but to take care of themselves too. She is an avid reader, a cat lover and lives in PA. You can find Gina on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, and Pinterest.