In the green living world, some people are considered “crunchy,” and some people are considered “mainstream.” While I often err in the side of crunchy, I consider myself in a third category: “chewy.” While often crunchy in my ways, I have a few things I do that are a bit too mainstream for the crunchy crowd. So, I pretty much get the side-eye from both sides of the aisle, depending on what I’m talking about.
There are some crunchy things that I aspire to do better or start doing. I want to start my edible garden this spring (more than just my usual herbs). I want to find better beauty products that actually work for my extremely dry and sensitive skin (like…even sensitive face washes leave me irritated and burning feeling. My poor skin can’t catch a break). I want to use reusable ziplock bags to reduce our waste. But there are also some things that I’m very happy with that I do.
In honor of Earth Day, I’m sharing the top 5 things I’ve done to make my family’s and my life more green:
- Unscented Everything. I started by switching my laundry detergent because of my sensitive skin. Then the hand soap. Then, I eventually made it so the only scents in my cleaners are naturally derived and more or less immediately dissipate. My house now only smells of baked goods when I make them, flowers when I’m given some, and citrus when I’m eating an orange. No artificial scents happen in my house anymore, and I kind of love it. Now, I’ll get a headache going down the laundry aisle in the supermarket, and, after reading an article likening artificial smells to second hand smoke, I understand why. However, I do want to find some natural candles in the future for when I need to relax a little bit.
- Natural Cleaners. None of my household cleaners have harmful chemicals in them. I made this change years ago, way before I ever had a kid playing on the ground, and I’m glad I made it. It makes me way less worried about what my son is constantly in contact with when no bleach or other heavy chemicals are used, especially since he has sensitive skin like me. When he was a new crawler, he’d sometimes get rashes from whatever chemical the library uses on their carpets.
- Natural Diapers and Wipes. We use a natural, plant-based brand of diapers and wipes, so my son’s sensitive skin isn’t exposed to so many harsh chemicals. This has probably been the most costly part of having my son. I originally wanted to cloth diaper (way cheaper and even greener), but it wouldn’t have worked with our childcare arrangement when he was younger and I had to go back to work (before I became a stay-at-home mom). However, we do use reusable swim diapers instead of disposable. Hopefully our little dude will be out of diapers completely within the next year. *fingers crossed*
- Natural Remedies Before Medicine. Before I reach for an over-the-counter remedy, I try all of my natural ones first: cool mist humidifier, natural chest rub (not Vics), Olbas Oil on bedsheets, slightly elevated mattress, etc. If all that fails, then we usually end up at the doctor. The only OTC drug that I keep on hand, just in case, is Children’s Motrin because I feel that fevers in little ones are nothing to mess with, and, if my son gets a fever, it’s a full blown one. Not low grade.
- No Artificial Dyes. I’ve gotten weird looks for this one a lot recently. I don’t give Owen food with artificial dyes in them. Even the above mentioned Children’s Motrin is dye free. I get cheese that is cheese colored, and not dyed orange. He doesn’t really do candy. His first time having straight chocolate (not in something baked) was this Easter. And then it was chocolate with no colorful candy shell or anything (and other people bought it, not me). His birthday treats never have food coloring, and he’s never had a cheeto in his life. The reason? I keep reading articles suggesting that, not only are colors made from some sketchy things, but some think they are tied to hyperactivity and other behavioral issues. So, he just doesn’t have it. A bit interesting when he’s at parties or around the holidays, but not terrible.
Now, this isn’t saying that if your family doesn’t do these things that you’re wrong. These are just things that work for my family. And there’s always room for us to improve as well. I have a huge list of things I want to eventually do better. I’ve always been passionate about the environment and health, but I’m even more so now that I have a child.
What are some of the green things your family does regularly? I’d love to get more ideas!