My green goals are designed to help my family reduce waste and energy use, reduce exposure to toxins, and improve our connection to nature.
1. Expand my homemade snack repertoire. I currently have two main snacks in my repertoire: healthy whole grain "cookies" and chewy granola bars. I like snacks that are easy to make in bulk, kid-friendly, good for on-the-go, and, of course, healthy. Any suggestions?
3. Blog about green home remodeling. We purchased a home in the summer. It required "modest" renovations. The world of green home remodeling was almost entirely new to me and involved an extremely steep learning curve. I'm still recovering from the trauma of renovating with three little children in tow, but I hope to eventually write about some of the things I learned, because it seems a shame for all that time, research and agonizing decision-making to benefit only my family.
4. Try a bar conditioner. I'm always on the lookout for ways to reduce our plastic packaging and waste. My husband and I, and sometimes our kids, have been using a shampoo bar for well over a year now. The bar lasts forever and involves almost no packaging (mine came wrapped in tissue paper). I lucked out because we liked the first one we tried and were able to completely sidestep the maddening trial-and-error period that experimentation with new personal products so often involves. Here's hoping for similar luck with the conditioner!
5. Go for a walk with my children once a week. Unfortunately, we live in a car-dependent community, so I need to make an effort to make sure my children get plenty of outdoor time and physical activity. I used to take my children for a walk around our neighborhood nearly every day. Now with my eldest in school, these kind of informal little excursions have come to a screeching halt. I miss talking to my kids about the trees and birds and insects we see, and collecting little treasures to take back home.
6. Buy houseplants. Yep, this is going on my list of goals for the third year in a row. I just can't seem to get myself to OSH or Home Depot with my list of air-cleaning plants in hand. Of course the knowledge that I will have one more thing to take care of once I do buy them is also a deterrent. Maybe now that we've put down roots for a while, I'll actually go out and buy some plants and pots to put them in.
7. Learn about composting and get ready to garden. Two of my local friends compost, so I feel that I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of composting up close and personal. I know I'm not going to do worm bins any time soon, although they are fun and education for little ones (too much work). And I won't be doing an open pile of food waste and leaves in the backyard because I've had rats and don't want to attract any scavengers to my yard. However, I just got a flyer that my city offers free composting classes and sells composting bins at a deep discount, so maybe I can find a system that works for me. I'd really like to put behind me the guilt I feel every time I dump a bowl of food waste in the garbage. Once I have some compost, it would be nice to have a garden to use it on. I'm realistic enough to know that I'm probably not going to plant any vegetables this year. But I can bookmark some good gardening websites (any suggestions?) and figure out which of my new neighbors are expert gardeners. I can investigate where would be a good place to put raised beds or large containers.
8. Get a pet. Now that we own a home, we can finally get a dog! But I think that first we will get some fish and see how that goes. I'd also like to get a bird feeder for our backyard and visit several of the local farms with farm animals this year.
9. Replace foam furniture. I have been following the research about flame retardants and actively avoiding them in our home furnishings and baby products for several years. But there are still a few hold outs in my home: a 10-year-old leather sofa and loveseat set and a Dutalier glider. After my husband heard a radio story about flame retardants on the way home from work recently, he told me he wanted to get rid of the sofas. Since the leather on my sofas is beginning to peel off (with help from my children's little fingers), they are looking about due for a replacement. Will California change its regulations quickly enough for me to easily purchase a new sofa that hasn't been treated with toxic chemical flame retardants? Perhaps. But I think I'd like to avoid polyurethane foam all together even if it hasn't been treated, and it could be tough to find a comfortable and affordable alternative to the foam sofa. Let the googling begin!
10. Donate some of my kids' books and toys. My children have too many books and too many toys. Mostly because I love toys and children's books. We rotate books and toys and I still feel like there is too much clutter and stuff everywhere. It's true the toys are almost all of the plastic-free eco-friendly variety. And that most of the books are from the thrift store. But still. We don't need so many, and someone else could be using them. I would like to start a tradition of giving away some books and toys before birthdays and Christmas to make room for new ones. How will the 5yo and 3yo feel about this goal? We'll soon find out.
Photo credit: The Greenery Nursery