How Moms Can Easily Go Green This New Year
Easy-to-follow methods for reducing your waste and being more conscious this New Year.
How many of you read articles or scroll through your social media feed and feel really, really guilty? I would love to be nicer to the planet, but it is just so inconvenient and I already don’t have enough time. Trust me, I was just as guilty!
Having eased my way into a certain lifestyle, now I can’t even begin to remember my old ways. I used to think if I bought in bulk, then I must be saving money. For example, I used to feel so prepared lining up all the pre-made or pre-packaged meals from the grocery store. But when I actually started counting the plastic I alone was throwing away, it was a huge eye opener. Then multiply that by all the members in your household. It’s massive.
I care about the planet so much that is causes me great worry and guilt. The truth is, it’s not all on my shoulders. But every single action I take can cause and create change. Imagine if everyone changed a daily action, such as ordering coffee, to being waste-free? That is how real change is made, and it's a great resolution to set for yourself this New Year.
So now that we’ve stopped stressing about it, what can we do on a daily basis to slowly reduce our waste? Here are my favorite, easy-to-follow methods for cutting down:
1. Bring reusable grocery and produce bags when you shop. You can buy these in any grocery store and the produce bags are super cheap on Amazon. Some grocery stores aren’t even allowing plastic bags anymore, so it’s time to get in the habit of bringing these every time you shop. Just put a few in the trunk of your car so whether you’re at the market or the mall, you’ll be prepared. I even buy most pantry items, such as rice, beans, oatmeal, or almonds, with my produce bags!
2. Carry reusable coffee cups and straws with you. These are super light and fit in almost any purse or backpack, especially ones that are mom-sized. Even if you aren’t planning on grabbing a coffee or smoothie, life happens and it’s better to be prepared.
3. Carry a water bottle. This is an obvious one, but so easy. Nobody needs to be buying bottled water anymore, unless your drinking water is poor quality.
4. Hang-dry your clothes. Having traveled and lived abroad for long periods of time, I was quite used to this. Did you know most Middle-Eastern and European countries do not use dryers? Same goes for Australia! I know what you’re thinking, this is crazy. Especially if you have a large family. But hang-drying all those clothes helps you consider how much you actually need. And yes, I miss my soft fluffy towels after a shower, but I can appreciate the low electricity bill and the fact that I’m helping the planet.
5. Thrift shop. The one thing that shocks most people is that I have not bought a brand new piece of clothing in YEARS. I can’t even count how long it’s been. Even more shocking…I work in the fashion industry! But honestly, I am a big thrifter and love estate sales. If it isn’t exactly what I want, I alter it. The average American throws away about 81 lbs of clothing a year. Plus, fast-fashion contributes to so many other things such as child labor and human tracking. I really do not want to be a part of that.
6. Bring a container when you go out to eat. I tuck one in my purse just in case I have leftovers (which is almost always). Again, this fits nicely in a purse and most restaurants are happy to fill it for you.
7. Compost. If you live in a home with a yard, this is pretty easy. Get a small compost bin for your kitchen and transfer it to a large one outside each day. Most cities have some program in place to either pick up or let you drop off your compost.
8. Have one large trash bin and one small. This is a little challenge I like to give myself. Anything I can rinse and recycle goes out in the large one. I put things that are being thrown away in the small bin, while everything else is composted. I quickly realized I wasn’t using the small one anymore after turning all my food waste into compost. Practicing this makes you realize how much you contribute to trash by seeing it visually and physically limiting the space you have to put garbage.
9. Host monthly closet swaps. These are a great idea for getting together with family and friends in an earth-friendly way. Not only do you get to try some new clothes, but you also get to lend your things to a loved one. It’s a win-win! For clothes nobody wants, you can spend time together up-cycling existing wardrobe items into things such as grocery bags or crafts for your kids.
10. Limit how much you order takeout. This can be very hard for some people, but the importance lies in setting a realistic goal for yourself. Are you finding yourself ordering takeout 3 times a week and throwing away at least a few cartons each time? Try bringing in down to twice a week and see how it goes! I like personal challenges and this is a great one to tackle. It’s also usually much healthier than eating out.
10. Reuse coffee grinds and juice pulp. The grinds or pulp actually make great face masks and exfoliantes! Mix them with a little coconut oil or lotion and you have natural, homemade skincare. There are also great recipes online for using juice pulp, like veggie burgers or soups.
Finally, the most important thing to remember is that change isn’t going to happen overnight. Be easy on yourself as you make careful, daily changes to benefit the planet. It is difficult to change habits society has considered normal for decades, but each step you take will influence the greater good.
Interested in meeting mamas who are interested in going green too? Download SocialMama to be matched with like-minded women in your neighborhood and around the world!
About the Contributor:
Arrica Afton is a single mama of a 19 year-old daughter and a 5 year-old son. She is passionate about shining a light on what society says the “average Muslim women” should be, while living as holistic and green as possible (in style, of course). Arrica is also a MentorMama ambassador for SocialMama.