This month we’re going to be talking setting goals for a greener, more sustainable lifestyle in 2011. We’re going to revisit the great lists that Katie put together earlier this year in February, chock-full of ideas to ignite your goal-setting. We’ll look at Part 2 next week and then reconvene later in the month to continue the conversation.
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.
Check out the Skin Deep database and see where your products rank in terms of toxins. 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 I said in a post earlier this year, 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. And remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Other ideas:
• Make a switch to non-toxic products for your little ones, too.
• 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. Handmade 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.
In 2011, I hope to continue working towards eating more locally and finding creative ways to update our wardrobes without just buying new.
Do you have other ideas for green goal-setting in your personal life? Would you be willing to share your list of goals?