Green is the new black! Everywhere people are talking about “green.” From politics to fashion, there is a green slant to nearly every arena nowadays. How does that translate for the average family? I always conjured up images of hippies who lived in tents and protested against tuna fisherman when someone mentioned the environment. I never worried about if I left a light bulb on, much less about how much water I used when I took a shower. So what has turned me onto green? Being a mother. Suddenly, the importance of taking care of 4 tiny humans and ensuring their future has become my top priority. As parents, we worry about their education, their future jobs, and what kind of person they are going to be. What about what kind of planet they are going to live on? And while they are in my home, what kind of toxins are they being exposed to? Cleaners, energy, and food were on the top of my green priority list, and they should be on yours, too.
There have been studies published at the Toronto Indoor Air Conference that concluded that women who stay at home have 54% higher occurrence of cancers. This was concluded to be the fault of toxic cleaners used by these moms to clean their homes. Start simply! It doesn’t have to be expensive! You can make your own cleaners today with a few things from your pantry. Things like baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar and borax make all the difference in the world. If you are like me, and don’t have the time or energy to start making your own cleaners, there are so many companies with great green cleaners out there. Look for a reputable company who labels the ingredients, and sells in concentrate. No reason to waste packaging and pay for water!
The next place to move to green is your energy consumption. The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. This can easily be reduced with a few simple and frugal steps. First, turn up or down your thermostat, depending on which season you are in. Next, change your most used light bulbs to compact fluorescent. This saves you money and energy. Lastly, take an energy survey of your house. These are usually done for free by your local utility company and can give you a personal plan of attack for lowering your energy consumption.
One of the harder places to go green as a family is with your food. But if you are creative and resourceful it doesn’t have to hurt your pocketbook. Buy local as much as possible! Visit your area farmer’s market, and find the sustainable development agency in your area. These are great places to find organic meat, vegetables, eggs and goods at fair prices. Do you have a service to offer? Barter! Buying local saves the atmosphere from absorbing millions of tons of carbon emissions. If you are inclined, start a garden! This is such a great activity to do with your children to teach them about the work it takes to get our food. Other options are joining a coop or visiting a farm to help with the harvest. Organic milk and eggs are easy to begin buying first, and you can branch out from there.
Start little, and find what works for your family. The important thing is to start! Don’t put it off until you have more information, or more time, or more money. Do what you know can help now, and work on the rest! You’ll be surprised at how simple it can be.