Green Goal-Setting, Part 1: Personal Life

As I mentioned on Friday, today we are going to begin the process of making green goals for the coming year. No matter where you are in your journey of learning to live a more natural, sustainable lifestyle, something on the following list will work for you and your family. I have provided some tips and resources, but know that many of these items will receive more in-depth coverage in the future here on Simple Organic.

Ideas for Green Goal-Setting: Personal Life

1. Eat more food from local sources.

Why does this matter? The farther your food travels to get to your plate, the more damage that food has done to the planet. In North America, our food travels an average of 1,500 miles to get from farm to plate.

Local food usually means less packaging, too, and puts money into your local economy. It also tastes better and contains more nutrients, because it is fresh. Where to shop locally?

Farmers’ markets: Find a local farmers’ market here.
Co-ops are usually committed to carrying locally produced goods.  Here is a directory of co-ops in North America.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): A “subscription” service of fruits and veggies, purchased directly from the farm on a regular basis, and sometimes even delivered to your front door.  Find a CSA here.
Your backyard. Learn to grow some of your own food, or raise some chickens.

2. Green your health and beauty products.

Nicole wrote a great post last Wednesday about the toxins in beauty products.  Check out the Skin Deep database and see where your products rank.  Remember that the term “organic” is not regulated.  If you want to buy safe organic products,  it’s best to look for the USDA Organic seal. But don’t be fooled into thinking you need the pricey organic products at your health-food store -  plenty of products can also be made at home.  Other options:
• I went “no-’poo” last September, and I haven’t looked back.  Read more here.
• I love the Oil Cleansing Method – it really works.
• Be looking for a post next week from Amy, sharing recipes for homemade facial care.
• And as Nicole said, don’t be afraid to simplify!

3. Switch to green feminine hygiene products.

Over 12 billion tampons and sanitary pads are thrown away annually after being used once, plus all the packaging.  In addition, the ingredients are not listed, they are not sterilized, and they can contribute to Toxic Shock Syndrome.
• A reusable menstrual cup is natural, sanitary, and lasts for ten years, so it’s a great frugal option, too.  Some great brands include The Diva Cup (featured in our giveaway last week), The Keeper, and the Moon Cup.
• Cloth pads can be thrown in the wash and reused, just like cloth diapers.  Find cloth pads at Lunapads and Glad Rags, or make your own.

4. Natural and green baby care

If you have babes in diapers, consider a switch to cloth.  Check out Tsh’s Cloth Diapering 101 series on Simple Mom.  Other ideas:
• Make a switch to non-toxic products for your little ones, too. On Wednesday, look for a post from Megan about natural baby and toddler care.
Make your own baby food. It’s healthier and cheaper, and very easy.
• Buy used baby equipment, or share with friends. (Use common sense and check for safety recalls, accidents, etc. If in doubt, don’t purchase.)

5. Buy used clothing as much as possible.

I love to have new clothes as much as any girl, but by buying used, you are recycling. Buying used clothes saves the energy and resources used to make and ship new clothes.  This is especially great for children and babies, who outgrow their clothes so quickly.  You will also save money.  Other tips for clothes:
• If you buy new, buy quality.  Avoid cheaply made things that will fall apart quickly.
• Buy natural fibers, rather than synthetics made from petroleum, a very energy-intensive process.
• Recycle your old clothes when they’re beyond repair or outgrown.  You can donate them to Goodwill, but some cities now have textile recycling programs where your old clothes are actually rewoven into new items.  Check with your local city recycling program.
• Host a clothes-swap with friends.
• Learn to sew. If you can sew, you can mend, you can alter, and you can repurpose.

Photo by back_garage

6. Re-think gifts and celebrations.

Rather than purchasing more stuff as birthday presents, give experiences.  Memberships to the zoo or a museum, dance lessons or karate classes, tickets to a Broadway show – these are things that create memories and build relationships, instead of contributing to waste and excessive consumption.  Hand-made gifts are another great alternative to plastic toys and packaging.

This list is not exhaustive, but it’s a great starting point.

Try to take some time this week to think over the possibilities and see what your family might be ready for.  Decide to focus on one change first, and write it down somewhere.  Then choose one or two more things that you might like to try this year, and number them in order.  Just do one at a time – don’t try to tackle them all at once. We’ll check back in a few months.

Personally, we are going to try and start eating locally as much as we can.  We used to do this more, but have gotten away from it.  So, that’s our first goal!

Do you have other ideas for green goal-setting in your personal life? Would you be willing to share your list of goals?

About Katie

Katie loves to learn about natural living, and believes that caring for the earth and caring for yourself don't have to be mutually exclusive. She loves to help other people understand how they can both contribute to and benefit from a switch to a more natural and organic lifestyle. She is a stay-at-home mom and a native Texas girl, happily married to her best friend.


  1. Wow–this is such great information, Katie. Thanks for doing the valuable research for us.

    We just signed up for our first ORGANIC CSA, and I’m so excited. We’d been a part of one before that wasn’t organic. I can’t wait for it to kick off!

    .-= Simple Homeschool ~ Jamie’s last blog: Weekend Links & Giveaway Winner =-.

  2. Great, great list of resources. I just bookmarked it because I know it will be one that I will come back to time and time again.
    .-= Eren’s last blog: A Whole Lotta Love =-.

  3. I’m trying to be more mindful of the skin care products we use! I really loved learning about the database where we can check products.

    I don’t use shampoo which started from the “Curly Girl” method but the environmental benefits are nice, too. I also use the OCM and love it.

    I want to focus on switching over to safer products for my 15 month old and convincing my husband to switch his too!
    .-= Emily @The Pilot’s Wife’s last blog: Carter’s Jewel Chest Giveaway WINNER =-.

  4. I feel on-track with most of the things on your list, but my biggest struggle is local food. I don’t have much of a green thumb and the idea of canning overwhelms me. I do okay in the summer thanks to our local farmer’s market. Getting through a long Ontario winter on a local diet is another matter entirely.

    My goal is to organize myself so that I can start a small garden and can the things that I buy from the farmers market so that my winter food can be as green as my summer food.

    Thanks for a great post!
    .-= Jenni @ My Web of Life’s last blog: Has Your Family Been Outside Today? =-.

    • Yes, the local food thing would be harder in winter – I live in Texas, where things grow year round! Aimee at Simple Bites will talk about canning on her site so maybe that will help you out.

  5. I LOVE my pads from , plus they offer a free sample for ladies who are curious.

    some goals are:
    eating more local/simple
    potty training my son
    simplifying my cleaning products/processes

  6. Hi Katie!

    I feel like I am somewhat on track with your list, mostly because of wanting to live simply. One thing though, about eating locally, is that I grew up in the Philippines and love tropical fruits like mangoes, pineapples and the likes so for these we obviously can’t get locally but buy it organically as much as possible. We also buy food that is imported from the Philippines and Asia for recipes that call for items not easily found here.

    I’m not there yet though on using disposable pads for myself. Maybe one day. :)

    Great article, looking forward to more specifics on these things as this blog progresses!
    .-= Vina’s last blog: The Early To Bed, Early To Rise Myth =-.

    • Hi Vina! Hmmm, that’s a challenge – it’d be hard not to eat the foods you grew up with! I personally think that there is very little chance I will ever eat ALL of my food from a local source – that’s very extreme, although very admirable. But as long as I’m eating some of my food locally – whatever is available to me- then I’m not going to sweat it if my daughter wants some mangoes, you know? So, enjoy those pineapples sometimes! :)

  7. i’m just getting back into sewing and trying to not spend much money (to pay off debt) so I’ve decided to make library book bags for kid’s birthday gifts this year with a little pocket on the inside for their library card – i’m going to make quite a few and then stitch their initial onto the bag before the birthday party. I got this idea from a friend of mine. I know I would much rather my kid’s get something homemade as a gift then something bought…

  8. We’ve been buying clothing and household goods secondhand for so long that it’s often really hard for me to stomach buying something brand-new, from both price and environmental perspectives. I love my local Goodwill’s monthly 1/2-price sale! Our primary goals this year are to eat more locally grown food and green our personal products; we’re hoping to plant a garden, and I’m couponing aggressively to subsidize the higher cost of green personal products. BTW, for ladies who (like me) aren’t quite ready to make the leap to reusable sanitary products, Seventh Generation’s line of tampons, pads, and pantiliners are a good middle ground.

    • Kathryn, thanks for sharing! Buying used is awesome, isn’t it? Don’t forget that you can save some money by making some of your own personal products – we’ll have posts coming up in the future with how-to’s, etc.

  9. I have made good progress on eating organically and locally, but I need to keep working on that. My major push will be on personal care products for my daughter and I (my husband is still a skeptic). I’m using up the products we currently have (which is really reducing my stress because I don’t have a closet full of personal care products that are unorganized! I’m really looking forward to learning more about simple personal care products.
    .-= Claire’s last blog: Yummy Granola =-.

  10. That’s a great list, Katie! I think that my goals for this year are:
    1) To grow and preserve more of my own food that ever before, so the point that I am barely buying any veggies throughout the spring/summer/fall, but feeding my family almost entirely through my garden.
    2) To replace all the rest of my bad cook/bakeware. I still have a few items made with Teflon or with aluminum and I am trying to replace everything as quickly as I can, but it can get so expensive.
    3) To learn to make my own perfumes with essential oils. I’ve switched over pretty much all my other beauty care products, so this is the next major thing I want to tackle. I’ve tried making one already and it was so much fun. Like being a mad scientist, except that I get to smell pretty at the end. :)
    .-= Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home’s last blog: Taking the Mystery Out of Creme Fraiche (What It Is and How to Make It) =-.

    • Stephanie P says:

      Stephanie – I would also LOVE to be able to do more with essential oils both around the home in cleaning and for myself with fragrance. Do you have any books you’d recommend to help one learn “how to”?

    • Awesome goals, Stephanie. I would love to learn more about both essential oils and canning.

  11. My main green goal for this year is our diet. I have felt really convicted this year about not just what we eat, but where it comes from. I’m rethinking what we purchase (and we just started up with our local organic food delivery service, too, like Jamie – so excited!) but I’m also trying to educate myself and read more on the topic, stay current about research and labeling practices … and just generally take a more active approach to how we make our food choices, instead of being passive.

    We need to do what Stephanie suggested, too, and look into replacing our cookware. I know this will be a step-by-step thing as we are on a budget, but doing the research is free :-)
    Learning how to sew proficiently (instead of just plodding along with my hand-me-down sewing machine) is one of my 2010 goals, too only I hadn’t really thought of it as “green” before this ;-)

    Fantastic post! I’m looking forward to more from Simple Organic (and Happy One Week Anniversary)
    .-= Kara’s last blog: More Than Words: Simple Ways to Show Your Kids You Love Them =-.

  12. In case there are any Aussies out there, I just want to leave a tip about menstrual cups. They can’t legally be sold here in this country, because they’ve somehow been classed as a medical device (obviously a ploy by the big sanitary product companies to prevent loss of sales) and it costs too much for distributors to get it approved. More info here:

    Is is legal to buy them for personal use from eBay, which I’ve done and I’m absolutely delighted. Just like wearing contact lenses the first few times was a bit awkward but then you get used to them, the same is true for cups.

  13. I love your site – I have just found it and very excited.
    My goal is to reduce our waste. We already do composting, but my big bug bear is the huge amount of paper waste we throw out. I have started keeping all our paper waste and using to make things with paper mache. The kids love glueing and we have heaps of fun. It has almost halved our rubbish. We use all the envelopes that come into the house as well as most advertising materials. It feels so good to be making things with what used to go to land fill. We ahve made a fairy mushroom house and I am now working on making a few more of these for birthday pressies.

    Thanks for the inspiration to get organised and live the simple life!

    • That is awesome that you already composting! And what a great idea for your paper waste – I will have to remember that one for when my daughter is older!

  14. It’s a good reminder that buying used clothing is actually a “green” thing to do and not just frugal. I wish I could convince my in-laws that we (the kids) really, really, don’t need new trinkets and *stuff* to clutter up our house just because it’s a holiday like Valentine’s Day or Easter…

    When I read about the feminine products, I thought how fortunate I feel that I haven’t had to purchase/use/dispose of any of those in almost 30 months. Extended breastfeeding to keep yourself in amenorrhea (post-partum infertility) is an excellent “green” choice too.

    :) Katie
    .-= Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship’s last blog: Mary and Martha Moment: Celebrating Lent with Children =-.

  15. Awesome post! Joining our CSA was one of the best choices we’ve made for our family. I now have three other friends who are also members, and we love swapping recipe ideas and chatting about the produce.
    Finding friends who share your passions is so key! :)
    .-= Nicole aka Gidget’s last blog: An Adoption Story =-.

  16. Just wanted to add that I *hesitantly* tried the oil cleansing method after I ran out of my “natural”, expensive facial cleanser. I love it!!!! I have always had dry skin & it’s awful in the winter. My skin was the best it’s been this winter – not to mention the mixture is inexpensive & lasts a long time. I can’t wait to see what other suggestions come from this blog:)!

  17. I only recently became aware of the whole “local eating” idea. I think it’s fantastic. I’ve planned a bigger than usual garden this year so I’ll have plenty to can/freeze/dry for the winter. I also think the experiential gifts are wonderful. I wish I could get some family members to realize those are acceptable gifts ~ although they are getting better we do get memberships to the zoo and the botanical garden for Christmas each year ~ unfortunately it’s in addition to way to many other things. Oh well, one step at a time. :) Thanks for the great ideas.
    .-= Jackie Lee’s last blog: 5 Easy Tips for More Sustainable Living =-.

  18. Don’t have enough money to buy a house? Worry not, just because that is available to get the mortgage loans to solve all the problems. So take a short term loan to buy everything you need.

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