Happy Earth Day! Here are a few (super easy) ways my family and I have been working towards going green and reducing our waste recently.
It really is so easy to move towards being a better caretaker of the world God entrusted us with. For my family, the key has been making it convenient and simple. Daily life gets busy! Let’s be honest… when we don’t have the extra time it takes to change our habits, it just doesn’t happen. But when the system is already in place, it doesn’t take any extra time at all and my family is happy to participate. When one person takes a few minutes for thought and preparation it can make all the difference. Will you be that person in your family?
Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” (Genesis 1:28 NLT)
As a Christian, I’m always disappointed when I hear people teaching and repeating that we don’t need to worry about reducing our destructive impact on the world because God is in control and the world is just going to burn in the end anyways. That makes exactly as much sense as a young person saying that I’m going to eat fast food for every meal, quit showering, and sit around on the couch smoking, drinking, and doing drugs all day because I’m going to die eventually anyways. We would all agree that it’s a tragic waste of life.
To me, that line of thinking has always been pretty revolting. The Bible is sprinkled with many rich descriptions of the beauty and treasure and value of God’s creation. The earth is the artwork of God! Think about that. What message are you sending to an artist if you use their painting as a door mat? Or in contrast, what are you saying by hanging the painting on a wall in your home in a place of honor? If we really live to honor God, we will also honor his creation and treat it with respect.
The Bible also contains reminders of the importance of good stewardship, and caring well for the things God puts in our power to care for. We have the high calling of doing every task in our lives as if we are literally working for God, because we are. God has put the earth, his creative masterpiece, in our hands as caretakers and we will be held accountable for how we use what we’ve been given according to the knowledge that we have. (Check out the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30)
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. (Colossians 3:23)
Now I don’t want anyone to feel like they need to change their lifestyle out of guilt or fear, but the purpose of me writing this is to combat the false ideas about our role as human stewards of God’s creation that I’ve heard tossed around in Christian circles.
With that in mind, let’s look at a few ways my family is making sustainability easy and doable for us!
1. Cloth Napkins
This month we switched to using cloth napkins instead of paper ones. With a toddler, meals are a messy business and we end up wasting a lot of napkins. (Just trying not to use napkins at all really isn’t a practical option for us anymore)
But these cloth ones are infinitely reusable! We just use them like a regular napkin, then after dinner instead of tossing them in the trash we toss them into the washing machine and run it when we get low on clean napkins.
I bought this set of napkins on Etsy and there are infinitely more options on there as well if you do a quick search.
2. Paperless Paper Towels
Did I already mention that we somehow have constant messes around to clean up? We were using a lot of paper towels and disposable cleaning wipes, and every time I used them I would feel a twinge of conviction but continue to reach for them out of convenience in an urgent clean-up situation.
So for us it was really a matter of making it more convenient to use a rag and some eco-friendly cleaning spray than to keep grabbing for the one-time use stuff. That meant just putting a nice stack of clean t-shirt rags and a spray bottle in a cute basket on the kitchen counter where the paper towels used to be. We already had everything we needed for this one, it was all about making it accessible.
3. Cloth Diapers
Obviously this one only applies if you have a baby or toddler.
Originally the choice to use cloth diapers instead of disposables was a financial decision for us. The difference in cost is astronomical! This particular change is probably one of the most monetarily lucrative on my list.
But once our daughter was born and we started using all the cute cloth diapers we had been collecting, we began to understand just the sheer number of diapers that you use up on ONE baby. It’s insane! And as that started to sink in, I realized that all those diapers were not going to sit forever in a landfill because we were using cloth. Now we are hooked, and committed to keep cloth diapering until our daughter potty trains.
My favorite brand of diapers is Thirsties, because they are a company that empowers mothers by allowing them to work from home flexibly and they are 100% made in the USA so I know for sure I’m supporting fair wages, job benefits, etc. They are also an excellent product with a wide variety of options to suit every family.
4. Menstural Cup
Okay, so I debated whether or not to include this one in my list, because, well… periods.
But they happen! And we can make them have ZERO negative impact on the environment by using an awesome reusable menstrual cup instead of lots and lots of single use (and expensive!) feminine hygiene products over a lifetime.
If you haven’t already considered making the switch, do some research and I promise you’ll be impressed with what you learn.
There also are many different varieties available to choose from, so something for every(woman)!
Like many items on my list, this one is a small financial investment initially, but pays off over time because you only buy it once.
5. Grow a House Plant (or twelve)
I love house plants! They are like cute decorations that keep us alive!
A house plant naturally converts the carbon dioxide we breathe out into the oxygen that we need.
Certain house plants can also absorb toxins from the air inside our homes and improve air quality. Some plants are more effective at this than others (such as airplane plants, certain types of ferns, gerbera daisies, and aloe vera) but any green and growing house plant is a good roomie for a human.
Did you know that having house plants around can also lower stress and put you in a better mood? (And many other health benefits as well)
6. Plant a Tree
We recently planted a nectarine sapling in our back yard, and I’m so happy to report that there are tiny nectarines growing on there already! Aren’t they adorable? On top of being super great for the environment in general just because they are trees, fruit trees also produce healthy organic food (depending on how you care for them)
Trees produce oxygen, reduce pollution, combat soil erosion, lower stress levels, increase productivity, increase property value, and can decrease the amount of energy needed for air conditioning in the summer if planted in the right place.
7. Plant a Vegetable Garden
Growing your own vegetables, herbs, and fruits rather than buying them from a grocery store they were trucked to reduces a great amount of carbon depending on how far your veggies traveled from. It also saves YOU the trip to the store!
Growing your own food can be healthier than buying commercially grown produce, as long as you are growing them organically.
Growing fruits and veggies in your yard can also help boost and support your local bee population!
If you’re like me, you might be happy to learn that a side effect of reducing waste in your home is that you also save money when you cut out some of those items that you have to keep buying and using up and throwing away! Some of them can be an investment initially, but save you more and more money over time and with repeated use.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways to live more sustainably, these are just a few things that my family has been working on currently.
What are some ways that you make going green easy and convenient? Please share in the comments!