Something I’ve always struggled with when it comes to living a greener lifestyle, especially with children, is balance. When I was first a new mom I had the all or nothing mentality and “moderation” wasn’t in my vocabulary. The plastic had to be replaced with glass. The chemically cleaners had to be garbaged immediately. My pantry needed an overhaul yesterday. The point? Making green choices can feel overwhelming especially when it’s not something we’re used to. It wasn’t until I was a mom for a year or so when I finally figured out that it couldn’t be all or nothing. I accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to be a green queen all the time and that it’s (gasp!) okay to send your kids to school with ziplocs when you realize in the morning that you forgot to empty and wash the reusable containers from your child’s lunchbox again! Haven’t we all been there??
Now, the good news about making the switch to an eco-friendly lifestyle? It doesn’t really have to be difficult. You can take your time, make subtle changes and save money at the same time. Most eco-friendly alternatives are cheaper than conventional options! Here’s how we’re living eco-friendly these days:
To clean nearly every surface in my home I use vinegar and dish soap. My 4L jug of vinegar and dish soap each costs around $3 and lasts for a couple months. I mix about 1/2 cup vinegar with 1/2 cup hot water with 1-2tbsp dish soap in a spray bottle, swirl it around and tada, I have a safe, chemical-free, homemade cleaner that works on my butcher block countertops, kitchen and bathroom sink and even the toilet. Don’t like the smell of vinegar? You get used to it and somehow you train your brain to accept vinegar as a “clean” smell. Or try adding a few drops of essential oil to your spray bottle. The vinegar smell goes away once it’s dry so don’t worry about your home smelling like a pickle (for too long).
The easiest way to save some money and clean greener is to ditch your dryer when you can. Not only is your dryer hard on your clothing but it’s costing you money (approximately $0.25- $0.75 per hour of drying time) and the environment – dryers emit millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. I have drying racks in my basement that are used daily and now that it’s nice outside my clothesline will be put to good use! Is there anything better than the smell of fresh sheets from the clothesline?
Find ways to conserve water. We equipped our lake behind our house with a pump that fills up a big tank of water in our garage that we use for watering flowers and the garden. The benefit of pumping lake water for irrigation is that it is incredibly environmentally supportive and the water naturally contains decayed vegetative matter! This means our little veggie garden is getting water that is already naturally fertilized. The organic garden of my dreams is underway!
We all like updating our homes, but make a point to renovate a little greener. When it comes to fixing up your home instead of heading to the home improvement store right off the hop always Always ALWAYS look on kijiji to see if you can find what you’re looking for second hand first. My back porch was rebuilt entirely with recycled wood from a building site in the city and my garden fence was made with 1×4’s (kijiji find!) that cost next to nothing!
Get busy planting and help instill the value of conservation in your children! My son, along with 70,000 other grade one students across Alberta recently came home from school with tree seedlings to plant! Get involved and contact your local Environment & Sustainable Resource Development office to see if they’re offering free seedlings.
Since 2009, CAA Autogreen has planted over 32,000 trees in communities across Ontario and this year they will be planting trees on behalf of participants of their Autogreen Challenge! All they’re asking is to answer this question:
What’s your eco-promise this year? What’s the one simple thing you’re going to do to help the environment?
Your answer gives you one contest entry in winning a weekly $400 Home Depot gift card or Sheridan Nurseries! For more entries, share your tips online in social media. You could also be randomly selected to win a $25 prize just for chiming in with the #CAAautogreen hashtag!
AND they’ll be giving away a $3,000 eco-leisure prize pack that includes:
– $1,500 gift certificate for Long Point Eco-Adventures
– $500 Mountain Equipment Co-op gift card (valid online or in store)
– $500 gift card to your choice of Home Depot or Sheridan Nurseries
– $500 prepaid VISA card