I haven’t really been on this “eco journey” very long, and yet it feels like forever. Most people don’t have a formal start date, it just begins with an interest in leaving the world a better place than you found it. For some it grows into certain habits, for others it truly becomes a lifestyle. For myself, well, it lead me to the Earth Mamas. We have officially been working together for 8 months. It has been an incredible journey learning from and growing with these amazing women. I have the privilege of picking their brains for any and all things eco and mother-hood related. This is a unique and enormous blessing. The world of eco conscious living is a tough one to navigate and though I may call myself an “Earth Mama”, I am just another 26 year old woman trying to juggle everyday life.
Before we formally started Earth Mamas I found myself wanting to be better about the waste I was creating but not really knowing where to start. Since starting this journey, I have learned far more than I would have imagined and I still feel like I am just scratching the surface. I have read article after article and formed friendships, partnerships and connections with so many inspiring environmentally conscious people. Each one of these leads me to a new set of questions and a new area to work and improve upon. So much so that there are days where I start to feel like I’m drowning in information, ideas and a sense of urgency that can’t be met.
I am going to assume, since you are reading this that you too want to help do your part in taking care of our beautiful planet. I am also going to assume that no matter where you are in your personal eco journey, there have been moments of frustration. There are so many conflicting ideas out there and the more you know the more you realize you don’t know. I have banged my head against the wall far too many times over the past 8 months trying to decipher what matters, what’s real, what has a greater impact, etc.
In doing so I have learned a few things. So here is my advice on navigating the green rabbit hole:
No One is a Perfect “Zero-Waster”
Everyone is learning and growing at their own rate and pace. The eco influencers of the world are all figuring it out, they just happen to be sharing it with everyone. Just as the six of us share our eco tips, we also share our mistakes. I am more proud of someone giving Meatless Monday’s a go, than the vegan who shames meat eaters. So, given that we are all learning the best thing to do is try. After all, isn’t the goal to take care of our only home? A world full of people working to take care of the earth is much better off than one with a few “perfect” low waste warriors.
Do NOT Buy Anything (to start)
Every where you turn there are “eco” friendly products for sale. Carefully marketed reusable water bottles, fancy package free soaps, beautiful bamboo cutlery sets and of course the reusable straws. There seems to be a strange culture around eco friendly living that implies you need certain products in order to be truly living the lifestyle. THIS IS A MARKETING SCHEME… nothing more. The most sustainable items are the ones already produced. Use what you have, and use all of it. Then choose where you spend your money wisely. Consumerism is still consumerism even when wrapped in eco packaging. Greenwashing is also very prevalent and it’s difficult to know what items on the market really are eco friendly. Check out Heather’s post on tips to avoid greenwashing.
If you aren’t sure what items are key to reducing the need for single use disposables, check out Erika’s post on her “Zero Waste Kit” – all items you likely have at home already.
Just Get Started
It took me forever to start cloth diapers. I had read so many different articles and talked to many people all with differing opinions. I became so flustered and worried about what MIGHT happen and how difficult it COULD be that instead I did nothing. I found excuses, I shopped around for months, and then I read some more. Finally I decided I shouldn’t put it off any longer. I was inspired by a few of the Earth Mamas and their example. I bought a used lot and I gave them a go. I don’t use them 100% of the time (yet) but every time I do, it’s one less diaper in the landfill. So whatever it is that you aren’t sure about but think you could do or should try, DO IT! If it turns out you hate it, you can always go back but the Earth will thank you for starting today.
Find a Buddy
For me, I need serious accountability or I don’t follow through with things (ex. going to the gym, cutting out dessert or whatever habit I’m working on). A buddy that I can talk to and that will follow up with my goals is very helpful. I’m lucky as an Earth Mama to have 5 built in buddies. But I’m sure there is someone in your life who would like to make greener choices along with you, or at least be happy to encourage you. If you’re shy find a support group online, OR send us a message we are happy to be your eco buddy!
ASK, ASK , ASK
As I said before, every new thing I learn comes with a million questions. I had no idea how to use cloth diapers and felt overwhelmed by the plethora of blogs and how to’s on the internet. So I just asked other mamas how they do it. I felt so much better about the whole process than if I had stuck to a perfect “How-to” tutorial that seemed unmanageable.
Go With Your Gut
Not everything will be crystal clear. In fact most decisions I make regarding my eco foot print are based on which option I feel is less harmful. When I became vegetarian in January (post link) I felt really overwhelmed at first. I had questions about protein intake, and vitamin deficiencies and the biggest question of all: tofu. I have heard everything from “tofu will literally kill you” to “it’s completely safe”. After hours of rabbit hole research and asking around I decided that for myself it’s a great alternative to processed meats. I don’t know for 100% certain how healthy it is but I know that it means I am not eating animals and I am helping cut down on green house gas emissions.
Find Your Focus
There are so many ways in which one can be environmentally conscious. There is your diet, your clothing, the modes of transportation you use, even your job plays a role. No one is perfect at all of it (though some may try and pretend they are). Don’t let labels such as “zero waste living” or “plastic free” scare you. We all have areas we are better at, and areas we can improve! I (Natalie) am great about thrifting, mending and reusing. My family works really really hard at this but we can be much better about food waste. I have spent the last year getting really good at sourcing out needed items for our family second hand. I feel I have mastered that, and our new area of focus is reducing our food waste.
Don’t take on everything at once. Pick what you feel you can do well, and work on that!
There are 6 Earth Mamas and together we have a wide range of eco ideas. We work hard to reduce our footprints and share the ways in which we do so others can to. We try to share easy, little things we do that don’t require spending much money or investing a lot of time. Here are some of our tips and tricks in different areas of eco friendly living:
Kitchen & Food
- Kitchen Swaps, 10 Easy Ways to Reduce Waste in your Kitchen
- Free Food Sharing App to Reduce Food Waste
- Got “Milk” Alternatives with Recipes Included!
- Bulk Buys: A Quest for a Package Free Pantry
- Greening up your Menu, How to Eat More Plant Based in 5 easy Steps!
- “Food waste” recipes
- A Novice Navigates Backyard Composting : Just do it!
- Recycling? Should I do it? Am I doing it right?
- Go Green With Your Bathroom Routine
- A Breath of Fresh Air. How Plants Clean our Air
- Eco-friendly Lunch Ideas For Your Little Ones
- Equipping Our Eco Babies
- Rethinking Reusable Diapers
- Packing the (Eco Friendly) Hospital Bag
- New Baby Essentials for the Minimalist Mommy
- Reusing Swaddles
- Plastics, Playtime and Our Poor Planet
- Your Holiday Conveniences Are Not Always Convenient For Our Planet: 10 Tips To Help You Leave Only Your Footprints On Your Next Vacation
- Traveling Lightly (on the Planet)
For even more ideas check out our entire blog!
At the end of the day, the world needs all of us. Let’s work together to help leave it a better place than we found it. If you have any ideas on living sustainably we would love to hear from you!