I’ve never been big on ambitious resolutions. I like setting goals as much the next (lazy) girl, but a date on the calendar has never been enough motivation for me to make sweeping life changes. Hey, it’s January 1st, so I’m suddenly really excited about going to the gym for the first time in my whole life, and I’m going to tell the world about it. If I haven’t managed to clean and organize all my closets yet, chances are declaring my intent to do so publicly isn’t going to get me there.
Having said that, I do like to set out some reasonably achievable goals from time to time, regardless of the day of the year. My inner couch potato is immensely satisfied by crossing (easy) tasks off a list.
Given the title of this blog, the fact that you’re reading it suggest that you might be looking for some New Years’s resolutions. And I wouldn’t be doing my job as a crunchy granola tree hugger if I didn’t take this chance to suggest a few simple ways you could save the world without straining a muscle.
1) Stop buying single-use crap. In perhaps the greatest marketing achievement since cigarettes, we have collectively come to believe that plastic wrap, ziploc bags, paper towels, etc… are saving us time and money. I’m not sold.
And not just because I shudder when I picture mounds of it in the landfill or floating around the ocean. This stuff is not cheap, and you have to keep buying it again and again and again. Do you like grocery shopping? Are you looking for more reasons to peruse the aisles with your whining children? What about taking out the garbage? Think it’s fun trekking leaking bags of smelly stuff out to the bin in your pjs in February? Do yourself a favour. Make a reasoned, one-time purchase of some decent food storage containers (think glass and metal, they last way longer than dinky plastic), dish towels, cleaning cloths, etc…
Stock up your kitchen so that the re-usable stuff is just as easy to grab as the disposable stuff, because we know the change has to be easy if it’s going to stick. Do this for a few months, and you’ll see that you barely notice the extra few dishes (chances are you have a dishwasher, and since you bought glass and metal stuff you can actually put them in your dishwasher without eating gross chemicals along with your leftovers). I don’t know about you, but I’d rather throw a few tea towels in with my laundry than have to trek to the grocery store because I ran out of disposable cleaning wipes. Seriously, it’s cold out there!
2) Drive less. Did I mention that I like my couch? The last thing I want to do once I finally get my kids into bed is leave my house and climb into my car to run errands. I’m not proposing you sell your car and strap snow chains on your bike. I love my car. I drive my kids to school and daycare every day because if I had to walk 4.2km round trip twice a day under time pressure with two whiny under-5-year-olds, I’d lose my freaking mind. However, the lazy in me wants to do as few errands as possible. Coordinating your errands into fewer trips so you don’t have to go out as many times is a really, really easy way to save yourself some time and gas money, while also conveniently spitting less carbon monoxide into the air. Sound too organized for your chaotic life? I’ll do another post one day about the task-management app I use that makes this easier.
3) Eat a little bit less meat. I’m not a vegetarian. Shocking, right? I’ve tried it, and I may go back to it when I don’t have two tiny humans who require regular feeding, but at this stage in my life it just isn’t working. Did I mention that my kids can’t eat dairy and soy? More about that in later posts.
And I don’t buy all organic meat. I’m working on this one; it’s not in our budget to buy organic from the store all the time, and buying locally produced stuff in mass quantities requires a chest freezer. I haven’t figured out if the advantage of eating “happy” meat outweighs the energy required to run a second freezer. So my approach for now is to just eat as little meat as possible. I think we probably average at least 2 nights meat free per week. And it’s not weird veggie meals: think chili, (mild) veggie curry, eggs for dinner, etc…
4) Get rid of some stuff. The best time to get rid of stuff is before the holidays (clear out some toys before the pile-on at Christmas) but chances are you were too busy baking treats for your kids holiday party and writing letters to Santa. And now you’re faced with the gargantuan task of finding homes for your kids 15 new lego sets and 400 new stuffies. Take this opportunity to clear out the junk. This doesn’t have to be a huge scary task; I’m not suggesting you empty your closets and organize your basement (because that would be way too much work!). Think low-hanging fruit. Next time you pull that single holy sock out of your drawer, don’t just shove it back in there; throw it out! Same with the jeans you haven’t worn since before your first kid; walk them over to the consignment pair and get yourself some new ones. I recommend leggings; much more forgiving! 🙂
While your kids are busy with their new flashing, singing, shiny things, do a lightning run around the house with a garbage bag, scooping up anything they won’t notice is missing. Stash this bag in the basement for a month in case you’ve accidentally taken “the most special thing ever!!!”, then donate it (when they’re not in the car with you, of course!).
Having less stuff means less organizing, tidying, cleaning – less work. And owning less stuff overall is invariably better for the planet, which means you can stop feeling guilty about the 27th Shopkin key chain you bought your kid because she just “had to have it”!!
There you have it. Some really achievable ways to reduce your environmental footprint without stepping foot out of your house. Got any more suggestions for easy green resolutions? Share them in the comments, and I’ll happily steal them as future blog post ideas. Cuz coming up with new material is hard work…