Ok, I’m going to let you in on a secret; I don’t always live a perfect eco-friendly lifestyle. Sometimes I buy things in plastic…and then I don’t recycle them. WOAH. PARTY FOUL. Who brought this girl? And who does she think she is giving me tips, amiright?
I’ll tell you what. I’m the perfect person to give you tips because I get it. Mom’s are busy, eco-lifestyles can be inconvenient, and life happens. And that’s ok.
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Definitely don’t let “green guilt” get to you. People make mistakes, no one is perfect. The most important thing is that you are trying. Think of your sustainability journey like your motherhood journey.
Do The Best You Can, With What You Have
As a mother you have to make decisions on the fly and you don’t always know the right answer, but you do what you think is best for your family; the same will sometimes apply to green choices. You make the best choice based on what you know and what you have available at that moment. And that’s all anyone could ever expect or ask for.
Tomorrow Is Another Day
Moms make mistakes, we’re people too. My mother always told us there is NO handbook, boy she wasn’t kidding. Mistakes are bound to happen; you dust yourself off and you start fresh. This will definitely happen on your eco-friendly journey, it happens to me and I’ve been on my journey for quite some time, so don’t sweat it. Tomorrow is another day and you can start fresh.
Take It One Step At A Time
Moms are always thinking and planning ahead, even doing things ahead of time when they can. But you’re not helping your kid with their college applications when they’re 2, you work up to that. Just like you’re not going to go from 0 to zero waste overnight, that’s ridiculous. If you jump right to the big things and hardcore changes you’ll overwhelm yourself, not to mention your family, and end up discouraged. Start small, focus on one thing at a time and it’ll make the switch to a more eco-friendly lifestyle easier.
10 Easy Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Tips for Moms
These eco-friendly tips are meant to be super easy and can be implemented right away. Remember, as you take your first steps on your sustainability journey, go at your own pace. I personally like doing things monthly; focus on one change a month, once that’s become a habit you can add another one.
However you decide to go about it is up to you, but I urge you to start with number one on this list. You need a strong foundation to move forward and make all those green choices.
You’re probably wondering where you’re going to find the time to sit down and learn about sustainability. Trust me, you’ll find the time because its a priority. Call it self-care, or a family necessity, whatever you need to call it to make time.
Since this is my field I make time weekly to catch up on news; you can do it daily or monthly, or whatever suits you. Technology has made it so easy to educate yourself. There are tons of blogs, and podcasts, and ebooks (and regular books) that focus solely on sustainability for everyday people.
It’s good to understand not only what it means for you, but what sustainability means for the big picture. It gives you a “why,” why do I need to do this? Why do my kids need to do this? Believe me, when you start changing everyone else’s habits, you’ll need the why’s.
My favorite part about following podcasts and blogs (as opposed to government agencies and scientific institutions), is they make it understandable. All the nasty chemicals, and processes, and laws, and new products, and evolving science, its enough to make your head spin, but they lay it all out there in terms we can understand, and more importantly apply.
Here’s few of my favorites to get you started:
- A Sustainable Mind podcast
- The Hippie Haven podcast
- The Nature Fix by Florence Williams.
- Give a Sh*t: Do Good, Live Better, Save the Planet by Ashlee Piper (ebook)
2. Reusable Water Bottle and Coffee Travel Mug
Listen mama, stop buying bottled water. Just stop. Anything short of your tap water is unsafe to drink is not a good reason to buy bottled water. Get yourself a kick ass reusable and save everyone and everything from the plastic bottles taking over our planet.
Each year 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean. Thats 16 billion pounds. Think about how light plastic is, and how much it would take to weigh 16 BILLION POUNDS. Let’s ditch the bottled water.
And while we’re at it, let’s ditch the coffee cups. They end up the same place that bottles do, landfills and oceans. They are not compostable (most) so they don’t just break down or go away. They still have lasting effects, because they can’t break down into good environmental inputs.
Get yourself a boss travel mug, there are so many eco-friendly ones available on the market, some are even taken a step further by local artisans. I recently invested in one that looks like a mermaids tail. Going green can be cute ladies.
Bonus: A lot of coffee shops (hello Starbucks) will give you a discount if you bring your own mug.
- Reusable Shopping Bags
Did you know some stores tack on an extra fee for using their bags? Like we didn’t just give them enough money, they need that extra little bit fore the bags. But on the flip side, a lot of stores will give you a discount if you bring your own bags.
Any reusable tote or bag will do, they just have to have the strength to carry the weight of your groceries. You can get them anywhere really, people are giving them away as swag, just to get their name out there. My mom has a whole set of bags that she got from festivals and conferences.
You could go another route and buy them, I have a bunch made from recycled materials, by local artisans. They’re so unbelievably sturdy too, the straps are little longer than normal so I can easily carry them on my shoulder when they’re full, and the straps are repurposed leather so I know they won’t break.
If you’re the crafty mama then by all means make yourself some. There are plenty of easy patterns, or maybe you’re just the bomb dot com and already know how and have made some already.
- Reusable Produce Bags
When you get home from the grocery store what do you with those plastic produce bags? Or what about when that specific item is gone, what happens to those bags? Throwing them away doesn’t mean they go away.
They go to a landfill where they will sit buried in the ground for years and years to come or go floating about the ocean choking the life right out of everything. Wow. That escalated quickly.
Ok, point is, ditch the plastic and go for a reusable option. You can easily throw together produce bags from some extra cotton fabric and a drawstring. Or, if you’re not crafty or you don’t have time, you can support local artisans (or Etsy shops) and buy a set. Trust me mama its worth it.
- Shop Local
I LOVE farmer’s markets; I love how fresh everything is, I love how much cheaper everything is, I love the atmosphere, the people, literally everything. The food doesn’t have to travel as far, and they pop up everywhere, so you don’t have to travel as far to your food. By the way, this is a great way to show off your new reusable bags. wink wink.
Cutting out the middlemen (ie grocery stores) saves a lot of resources, saves money, and saves on food waste. Stores tend to overstock and whatever they don’t sell usually goes bad and gets thrown out. With farmers markets, they bring what they have, and often times sell out before they even have the chance to spoil.
- Natural Toys
When I say natural toys I mean 2 things. First, if you are buying new toys then get some that are made from natural materials. Avoid plastic when you can and opt fo things like wooden toys. They are safer and healthier for little ones, they are sturdier and higher quality, and they cause less damage to the environment during manufacturing.
Wait, I thought we were trying to save the trees? Believe it or not a sustainable paper/wood market is a great way to save trees. We’re going to take a quick side path for a minute.
For whatever reason people don’t grasp that we need trees to make air to breath, but they do grasp that we need them for products. As long as we need trees, people will keep planting them and supporting companies that use sustainable practices. These large corporations follow the money, and as consumers we decide where the money goes with our purchase decisions. Hence, natural materials for products. Boom.
Ok back to the toys. The second thing I meant by natural toys was send your kid outside to play with nature. My Little Man spends more time playing with sticks than he does with all the tractor toys he has (that he asked for by the way). Playing with whatever you can find outside sparks curiosity and creativity, both of which are essential to healthy growth and development.
- Recycled Clothing
If you’re going to buy new clothing, I urge you to buy clothing made from sustainable materials, recycled materials, and from companies with ethical practices. Online shopping is so popular now and it makes it so easy to jump over to a company’s policy page to take a gander at what they’re doing. Some of my favorite clothing companies are :
LL Bean – outdoor apparel, sustainable and recycled materials, ethical practices, eco-friendly buildings and administration, donate to conservation causes, encourage employees to volunteer
Tentree – casual clothing, sustainable materials and practices, plant 10 trees for every item sold
United By Blue– casual, sustainable and recycled materials, ethical practices, remove 1lb of trash from waterways for every item sold
If you don’t need to buy new, then get things second hand. I cannot even begin to tell you how much of my wardrobe is from thrift stores or consignment shops. This is especially helpful for kids, since they insist on outgrowing everything so quickly; donate the clothes that don’t fit and while you’re there see if you can find some replacement pieces.
You may even consider swap meets, you bring the clothes that your family doesn’t wear anymore and trade with someone else. Ideally, you only bring clothes that have been gently used and can be worn again. If your kids absolutely trash something, keep it for play clothes or cut them up to use as rags for cleaning.
- Environmentally Friendly Cleaners
Unless you’re one of those lucky mama’s that have a housekeeper, chances are you clean. A LOT. Have you ever stopped and looked at what’s actually in the cleaners you’re using?
Take a look, probably a bunch of chemical names you don’t understand. What about the packaging? Is the bottle made from recycled materials? Is it recyclable?
Mainstream cleaners are created with toxic chemicals, the process releases toxic chemicals and manufacturers use unethical processes. Not to mention the environmental impact of the distribution process. So what can we do mama?
You have 2 options here: switch cleaners or make your own. Making your own cleaners can save you money and guarantee that you’re using chemical free cleaners and sustainable packaging. It also takes time; something I know we’re all a little short on.
There are plenty of green companies producing non-toxic, ethical cleaning products. Be careful of “green washing” though. Companies market their products as “greener” to try and trick consumers into buying products that aren’t actually eco-friendly.
Just read the labels, check packaging, check ingredients, and if you can, look into the companies policies. They should be easily found on their site, if not, they’re probably not for you.
- Hang dry Laundry
Dryers are known for the amount of energy they suck up, and right now our big goal is to reduce our energy and natural resource consumption. So what’s stopping you from using a good ol’ fashion line for your laundry. Let that beautiful clean air dry everything out, and guess what mama, no more shrunken sweaters.
If you don’t have space for a clothes line, grab a drying rack, they work just as well, they don’t let take up much space, and if you live somewhere it gets cold you can still dry your clothes sans dryer. Find a little space tucked out of the way for the drying rack in the house.
- Drive Less
In the U.S. transportation is the cause of 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. That the collective emissions of all movement of people and goods. Of that 30% over half is from passenger cars and light duty trucks. That means in the U.S. 15% of our greenhouse gas emissions is from driving our cars.
These stats don’t even begin to touch the amount of gas we burn through, or the resources used to manufacture cars, or the energy used during manufacturing and distribution. So what can we do about this?
We can drive less. It really does make a difference. I know that our kids have school and sports, and lessons and every other activity under the sun.
But every once in awhile just try to reduce how much you use the car. If its close enough, then walk or bike, if there’s no real time constraint, take public transportation, and if you HAVE to drive, try and set up a carpool. The small things matter, a small change in your car usage will have an impact.
Another bonus, less driving means more money in your pocket. And what mama doesn’t need a little extra?
You Are Ready To Be More Eco-Friendly
Ok mama, this may seem a little overwhelming, but think about each item individually. Don’t forget that eco-friendly lifestyles are a journey not a destination.
If you need a little help or encouragement don’t be afraid to give me a shout, I love hearing from you.
About the Author
Hey! I’m Kaylee, I’m a wildlife specialist and the founder of The Word of the Wild. I take the hard science and make it easy to digest because, real talk, everyone loves snacks. In fact, I don’t even call pockets “pockets”…they’re snack holes. We’ll take this eco-friendly journey together and keep filling our mental snack holes with new tidbits.