In this family, we do nature. Our kids adore exploring outside, and my business (Alpine Baby Co.) reflects that. As we started our journey with Minimalism, first going through our belongings, it slowly crept into other aspects of our lives. Slowly but surely we were consuming less, but also finding other ways to respect our Earth + the environment around us.
As Ryan and I dove into this whole other branch of minimalism, we started making new changes as a family, I’ll share these with you in the following categories. As always… please know that we are a work in progress & so are YOU.
Our family of five consumes a lot. When you start adding up paper products, kid snacks, and bottled goods it’s overwhelming. I first realized there was a problem when I had to take out our BIG trash… every damn day. Just like cleaning the house, I got tired of dealing with this much garbage everyday, so I started searching for solutions. This desire triggered a mental change in the way I look at buying groceries.
Purchase the big glass jar of applesauce, or small applesauce containers. The small containers include 6 plastic, individual sized portions + a cardboard wrap. The big jar of applesauce only includes 1 glass jar (that can recycled & resold to make a living by a local family down the road). Both of these options are applesauce, but one produces more waste than the other AND is typically more expensive to purchase the small containers, vs the big jar.
Hence the mind change.
The same can be done with yogurt, cereal (bags vs boxes), etc. Also – not putting your produce into those plastic bags (which can’t be locally recycled)… same with bringing your own reusable bags to the store. I love the burlap ones from Natural Grocers, they’re durable + big.
Once I decided to cut back on our garbage, a lot of that meant starting to recycle. Our family chose to recycle everything we could for our local area. We found New World Recycling, who will come out and pick up your recyclables once a month for a fee of $15. Easy + simple. We purchased garbage bins with lids to keep outside, and have made it into one of our kiddos chores to complete every evening. Bella & Isla sort out tin, plastics #1 + #2, aluminum, cardboard, glass, and paper together to participate in our joint family efforts.
Here are all of our recyclables in a 1 month time span… we still have some work to do on the consumption end of things, but this helping to take a dent out of the local landfill.
Here are some other things our family is doing to help cut back:
- Cutting back on paper products like paper towels, tissues, etc… (although I still need to completely stop with them.)
- Unsubscribing to magazines you no longer read. Or contacting the “free” ones, and politely ask them to take your address off the mailing list.
- Reusing tissue paper/gift bags from parties (instead of tossing them in the trash).
- Investing in glass water bottles instead of plastic ones. Same with new dishware.
- Mis-printed on paper gets converted into coloring paper for the kiddos.
Another contributing factor to our garbage bag was not using the eco-friendly way to keep our foods fresh. We would purchase sandwich bags (that would get thrown away, not washed), saran wrap, and toss product packaging items. We still have a little ways to go in this area, but here’s what we’re currently doing to help cut down on waste.
Bee’s Wrap: storage + cloth food alternative. One of my very favorite products, and ways to cut back on using plastic to keep our food fresh. As a family we invested in four sandwich wraps, and a multi-pack (for covering bowls of leftovers).
These Lunch Boxes. Yes, I know they’re plastic – but I purchased them last year in an attempt to save myself some sanity. It takes wayyyy less time to pack a lunch if you can throw everything into one container… am I right?! They are BPA free, Reusable, and Dishwasher Safe. They’ve lasted one, going on two years + are still in great shape.
Reusing plastic cereal bags as storage/freezer bags, and rinse out / reuse current Ziploc freezer bags.
We also use reuse plastic containers (lunch meat ones from Costco, yogurt) that can’t be recycled here for future food storage containers. Like using for left overs, or lunches.
BEAUTY, HOME, and HEALTH.
Ryan and I switched to a natural alternative for deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, shave cream, you name it. It took us a little while as we finished using what we had, then purchased healthier, more earth conscious alternatives.
Also, let me just say that your dollars speak for themselves. If you quit buying the chemical crap, they’ll quit making the chemical crap.
Here are our favorite personal items:
- Deoderant (Mine) + (Ryans)
- Facial Washes + Scrubs + Kids lotions
- Shave Cream
- Body Soap
- Toothpaste (although I need to find a healthier one I actually enjoy).
- Essential Oils
The same applies to our home products, including hand + dish soap, laundry detergent, air fresheners, sanitizer, etc.
Most of our favorite home products come from Young Living although there’s a few exceptions:
- Laundry Detergent (this) and (this)
- Fruit + Veggie Wash
- Dishwasher Detergent
- Air Freshener / Diffuser
- General Cleaner
Everything else we use I either make myself, or go without.
FOOD + COMPOSTING.
If at all possible, growing your own food in a garden on your land makes for the least amount of waste ever. No gas driving to the store, no plastic bag waste, and you’re not eating month old produce, it’s fresh from your own two hands.
In preparation for our move, we ended up not planting a garden. Thankfully we still ended up with raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, and potatoes (that we left in the ground which sprouted). Normally we would grow our own carrots, peas, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onions, zucchini, and cucumbers too.
To supplement our garden, we also compost. There’s a potato salad container (#5 recyclable plastic, which we can’t recycle locally) that we’ve been using to keep food scraps in. While taking the recycling to the bins, our kids also are in charge of dumping the compost into the garden… Isla especially likes this job (don’t ask me why because it’s a smelly one). Ryan also throws his wood shavings into the dirt, and grass from mowing our lawn.
We eat Organic whenever possible, purchasing meat from local farmers and purchasing local grown produce at the grocery store.
I can’t say enough about Farm to Market Pork, great family run operation and awesome meat. For chicken + beef we purchase Organic from Costco (when we can’t afford to buy a whole cow from a local farmer in Eureka).
Bread (buns, bagels, loaves) are purchased from Wheat Montana, including all of our family baking flour.
All of our chocolate is fair trade, and we also try to purchase ethically made foods as much as possible. If you haven’t been educated yet on the chocolate industry, you really should start by watching THIS documentary. It was created in 2012 but still holds true today.
After writing this novel of a post in hopes it’ll spark small changes in your own life – I feel the need to write a little truth to offset all the “look at us, and all we do” mentality.
So please be easy friends, we are JUST like you.
Our kids still wear throw away diapers, because I can’t manage my own laundry load let a lone cloth diapers on top. We still eat McDonalds in a bind (yes it’s still gross), and indulge in foods that are GMO (like candy corn during Autumn months).
We’ve started small, and have grown to include all of THIS. Have grace with yourself – you’re not a bad person if you don’t do all of these things… but know that there are BETTER choices you could be making that don’t affect your life a whole lot, yet have big impacts on the environment and local economies.
Yes, eating organic and fair trade is expensive… but so are doctor bills. Ryan and I work our butts of to provide the best lifestyle for our kids, why not give them the nourishment they deserve too?! Again, start small! It took us over 4 years to be completely organic, and to work the extra money into our budget.
We are still a work in progress… and need to continue to work towards a zero waste goal.
I’ll be sharing more about a program called The Global Guardian Project later this week too – which helps educate children about what they can do to help protect the environment & animals on Earth. I’ll have a coupon code for all of you who’d like to learn more as well, so keep an eye out for that post.
In conclusion, feel free to ask questions via email, text, or comments. I’ll do my best to answer them for you or direct you to someone who’s further along in their journey if I can’t. Hope you’ve enjoyed this perspective, into our family’s eco changes… Sending love! xo – Chels