Join us all month for 31 Days of Organizing for a Better 2010!
The worldwide movement toward living a more sustainable life continues to grow, and it’s no longer just for hippies or granolas. As a Christian, I believe that God created this beautiful world for us to use but wants us to take care of it to honor Him, and while I still have a long ways to go, I try to make decisions with that in mind.
While there are families out there who do an amazing job “living green”, I think many of us are easily overwhelmed by the amount of information available to us and the things we could or should be doing. Whether you’re just getting started or want to take your green lifestyle to the next level, keep these tips in mind as you make a plan to go green in 2010:
1. Gather information.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by what we don’t know and all the questions that keep us from getting started: How do I compost? Which cloth diapers should I buy? How do I clean up spills without paper towels? How do I make my own dishwasher detergent?
Thanks to the internet, you can find the answer to these questions — and so many more — with a quick Google search. Think about those areas where you want to make changes and start gathering information about what you need to know to actually do it.
2. Start small.
Of course, we’ve all had the opposite thing happen too. You start out researching natural toothpaste and suddenly you’ve been taken down a rabbit trail of the “no ‘poo” movement, the oil cleansing method and more. Before you know it, you’re overwhelmed by all the things you want to change at once, and you’re left paralyzed without accomplishing anything. Right?
It’s important to balance these two steps. Research the things you want to do immediately, and the best way to do them, and make a list of other topics you want to explore down the road. Don’t try to take on too much at once or you’ll end up at a standstill.
3. Get your family on board.
While decreasing the amount of time we spend watching TV is definitely one of my goals in 2010, there have been some happy benefits from TV viewing in our home. I love the commitment of Nick Jr. (formerly Noggin’) to teaching kids about sustainability, and my girls are passionate about recycling, turning out lights, not leaving the water running and so on.
I know these are things my parents constantly had to bug me about growing up, but in our house the girls are the ones bugging us. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started filling up a pot of water for spaghetti only to have one of them turn it off on me because they were convinced I was wasting water!
I think it’s important to share the why behind our sustainability efforts with our spouses and kids rather than just giving them standing orders to do things differently. Making an effort to lessen your footprint on the planet as a family can be rewarding and fun if you make it a family project rather than an obligation.
I don’t know about you, but in my house, I am the one who is more passionate about sustainability. My husband will go along with just about anything (although he has drawn the line at cloth toilet paper), and while I’ve had to convince him to make some changes, he’s generally agreeable. I find that sharing the facts with him conversationally over time is the best way to get him on board. As it is, he has work obligations and house projects on his mind, and he doesn’t have the energy to research sustanability on his own, so I do it for him and share my findings.
4. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Sometimes we spend too much time living under other people’s obligations. As you’re making changes to go green in 2010, don’t feel like you have to do it the same way somebody else does.
We all know that cloth diapers continue to gain popularity, and they may seem like a no-brainer as a first step. But you know what? If you’re squeamish about making that change, don’t feel like all of your other efforts are wasted because you’re not ready for that one. Choose the areas that you’re passionate about and that work for your family and start there. Maybe you’ll move to cloth diapers at some point, or maybe you won’t, but the other changes you make will still have an impact.
5. Reevaluate as you go.
Finally, set aside time to reevaluate your efforts over time. Look back at your ideas list for other changes you can implement and consider how you can take the ones you’ve already made to the next level. You may never switch to cloth toilet paper, and that’s okay, but by making small changes a few at a time, you’ll find yourself living a much more sustainable life by the end of the year!
Do you consider your lifestyle to be “crunchy”? What changes would you like to make in the short term? What ideas are on your list to research later?