Its official, going green is more than a passing fad. Moms everywhere are realizing that the benefits of becoming eco friendly reach far beyond a sappy sense of well-being. Being environmentally conscious has some unexpected benefits, not the least of which are financial savings and better health. Even better, deciding to go green at home is not as hard as it might seem.
Ways to Go Green
Joining the Green Mom Movement is a positive step for the earth and your family. The following simple steps will begin a journey that will bring a host of benefits.
Kick the Paper Towel Habit
A typical family uses one roll of paper towels every week. Switching to rags or dish cloths can save over $100 in a single year. Even better, cutting paper towel use will help diminish the 3,000 tons of paper towels Americans send to the landfill every day. Most families have plenty of worn out clothes that could easily be repurposed into cleaning rags, so making the switch costs nothing.
Try to make switching to fabric as easy as possible for the entire family. Explain to children why you are switching and how they can help. Leave rags in accessible locations, and keep laundry bins handy throughout the house to make washing easier. In this case, going cold turkey really is the best way. Use up the paper towels you have left and simply don’t buy them again.
Use Homemade Cleaners
Most store-bought cleaners aren’t eco friendly and can even pose serious hazards to human health. Americans, especially moms, are obsessed with ultra clean homes. It feels like there is a new superbug or mega virus to worry about every year. It might seem like using a powerful commercial cleaner is the safest bet, but these products actually make the bacteria and viruses that threaten humans stronger. The increase in antibiotic cleaning products has created antibiotic-resistant strains of infectious diseases.
Instead of relying on harsh chemicals, consider switching to homemade cleaners. These simple formulas are made with readily available ingredients and cost far less than commercial brands. What’s more, most of them are safe to use around even small children and work just as well as anything from the grocery store aisles. Going green at home can mean spending less on cleaners!
- White Vinegar Spray: Use 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water as an all purpose cleaner. White vinegar is mildly acidic, but still gentle enough to use with bare hands. Use this cleaner on kitchen countertops and bathroom surfaces. The vinegar smell will disappear as the spray dries, as will any other unpleasant odors because vinegar is a natural deodorizer. For tough hard water stains or mineral deposits, use white vinegar straight from the jug.
- Baking Soda Paste: For stubborn messes, use ½ cup baking soda and just enough water to make a thick paste. This scouring paste works great on grimy sinks and bathtubs. The natural deodorizing quality of baking soda is a nice bonus, and will leave dish disposals smelling clean and fresh. Baking soda can even be used to clear a slow-running drain. Pour a batch of baking soda paste into the drain and allow to sit for at least two hours before running hot water down the drain for a few minutes.
- Olive Oil: Surprisingly, olive oil makes an excellent furniture polish, one that lasts much longer than aerosol furniture sprays that can contain chemicals that actually harm wood. Combine 1 cup olive oil with ½ a cup lemon juice in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray the solution on a dry microfiber cloth. Spread the oil evenly over wood and then polish with the dry side of the cloth. Furniture will look (and smell) great!
Grocery stores are convenient, but they don’t always jive with an eco-friendly lifestyle. An average meal in America travels approximately 1,200 miles before it hits the dinner plate. The amount of fuel it takes to keep our food fresh while traveling such lengths is mind-boggling, especially when there is a much better alternative for much of the year.
Buying locally produced food is one of the most significant ways to go green at home. Not only does it have immediate benefits for the environment, the actual food itself is often more nutritious and better tasting. Anyone who has eaten a fresh garden tomato knows that the imposters sold in the supermarket are mere imitators. What’s more, buying local supports your community and keeps your dollar close to home.
Check your city or county’s website for information about local farmers markets. Consider investing in a co-op, where you pay a farmer up front, usually several hundred dollars, for a weekly offering of seasonal produce. Some co-ops even offer dairy, eggs, and meat products. Visit www.localharvest.org for a list of co-ops in your area.
Perhaps the best way to go local is to plant a backyard garden. It doesn’t take a lot of space to grow enough food to supplement an average family’s diet. Kids will learn valuable lessons about patience and hard work when they grow the things they eat. They may even be more willing to eat their vegetables!
These are just a few simple suggestions for going green at home. There are plenty of other small ways to make a difference for the environment. Stop drinking bottled water. Try reusable shopping bags. Switch to fluorescent light bulbs. Install a programmable thermostat. Recycle. Walk more. All of these things not only create a lifestyle that is easy on the planet and the wallet, but they give you just a little bit of that sappy sense of well-being too.