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Go Green and Simplify Your Life

bottle brush plant
a bottle brush plant at the Brevard Zoo in Florida

This week we’re talking about simplifying family life. Tune in all week for strategies and tips for every area of life, and if you’re looking for more in-depth resources, be sure to check out the Huge Simplify Family Life eBook Sale!

There’s no denying that “going green” is steeped in its own form of consumerism, but at the heart of it, green living, frugal living and simple living go hand-in-hand.

A perfect example of this, in my opinion, is line drying your clothes. Line drying saves energy as well as money, and although it does take extra time, there is something refreshing about standing outside in the breeze and hanging clothes on the line. That’s not to say that it never gets tiresome or old, of course, but when I do it and allow myself to just stay present in the moment rather than worrying about my to-do list, I really enjoy that time!

Instead of getting caught up in the latest green living trends, here are four ways to go green without spending a lot of money or over-complicating your life.

Use Reusable Rather Than Disposable

We live in a disposable culture, and these days you can find everything from diapers and paper towels to storage containers and mops that are cheap and “disposable” so that you can throw them away rather than reusing them time and time again. Having so many disposable items inevitably leads to clutter in your home since you need ten times as many things when you’re planning to throw them away. It also means more items to add to your grocery list and more trash to take out.

Instead of looking for disposable products in the name of convenience, try their reusable alternatives. Cloth napkins, rags instead of paper towels and Pyrex storage containers are a great place to start!

Simplify Your Cleaning & Personal Care Routine

At some point the cleaning and beauty industries convinced consumers that we need 101 different specialized products to take care of ourselves and our homes, but it’s just not true.

Vinegar can be used to clean everything from your kitchen and bathroom to your floors and mirrors, and it can even be added to your laundry as fabric softener. Similarly, we use coconut oil for everything from body lotion and diaper rash cream to an ingredient in baked goods. I’m not saying it’s bad to invest in a lotion that you love or to buy good quality makeup (I’m partial to BareMinerals), but take a look at the number of items you use in your cleaning and personal care routine and look for ways that you can simplify both!

Cook from Scratch

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a great cook, and I don’t really enjoy it all that much either. But even with that background, I’m always surprised by how incredibly simple it is to make so many of the things we pay a premium for. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Baking mixes. It only takes a couple of minutes to mix the dry ingredients in a good homemade recipe for brownies, cakes and muffins.
  • Pancakes & waffles. I haven’t purchased Bisquick in several years because it’s so easy to make your own pancakes and waffles from scratch.
  • Whipped cream. Could there be anything simpler than holding a mixer for 5 minutes to get perfect, delicious, homemade whipped cream?
  • Chili spices. I can’t believe I used to pay $0.50 for a packet of spices when it only takes a minute or two to mix up my own!

Making more from scratch simplifies my grocery list, my pantry storage and my meal plan!

Make More Thoughtful Purchases

At the end of the day, being intentional and thoughtful about the purchases we make is the key. Living in the boonies has really made this obvious to me. So often I feel like we need something, and I have no doubt that if we lived closer to town, I would run right out and purchase it right away. Because that’s not feasible, though, I have to sit on the purchase for a few days, and I often come up with an alternative solution or decide I don’t really need it after all. This means that I’m having a smaller impact on the environment, saving money and bringing less clutter into my home!

Going green can feel complicated, but it’s really about getting back to the basics. My grandmother would never have called herself an environmentalist, but I guarantee she had less of an impact on the environment — even with 5 children — than many individuals do today.

Do you think going green and simplifying family life go hand-in-hand? What aspects of going green complicate life rather than simplifying it?