Making changes to the way we’ve always done things is often difficult for most people. We get in ruts and comfort zones, and our society makes it easier to be stuck in a consumer mindset as opposed to a sustainable one. But some changes can be small, will make an impact, and lead to even more tangible rewards.
Being sustainable doesn’t have to be done at once, and it often isn’t convenient – at first. But it feels good to know you’re helping make the planet a better place to live while saving money. Here are a few steps for those just beginning the journey to sustainability.
GROWING A GARDEN
Not long ago, we detailed four different practices that will end up making big changes, even if you are the only person who makes them! One of those practices was to grow a garden.
Growing your own food comes with benefits that reach far beyond sustainability, although there is much less waste when you don’t have to drive to the grocery store and fill up plastic bags with lettuce that get put in bigger plastic bags with other packaged foods. Growing your own food also fosters a healthy relationship with food and creates better eating habits in children. When my kids want a snack, they don’t reach for Doritos (I don’t buy Doritos so they can’t eat them anyway) but they run to the garden and pull up a few carrots. I keep a reusable container with peanut butter in it readily available for them to dip the carrots in so they are getting some healthy fats with their snack. Sometimes they just go get some snap peas and eat those by the compost pile tossing the shells in when they are done. We eat a huge salad every night made with spinach, cilantro, and lettuce that we’ve grown and I will let the kids cut which lettuce they want for dinner. Letting your kids choose what types of lettuce to grow also helps boost their curiosity. They want to know what the food they picked out tastes like and mine were even willing to help me plant the seeds too!
Related Article: 4 Sustainable Practices That Will Make Big Changes!
Growing a garden will also give you a sense of understanding when it comes to the Earth as well. Knowing how to take care of your garden will help cultivate the desire to make sure your soil is taken care of and the plants you eat are healthy.
The American diet has become incredibly unhealthy and unsustainable. But growing a garden will kill two birds with one stone. Not only that but caring for a garden will keep your body healthy. It takes weeding and watering and getting things set up to have a productive garden, and most bodies could use a little more exercise!
Not too long ago, I made the decision to buck consumerism. It happens to a lot of us; we get caught up in getting the newest and latest and greatest items that are popular, at a cost to our wallets and the Earth. I gave up buying and have embarked on a “no buy year” because I already have enough clothes. The few things I’ve needed to replace I’ve picked up on Poshmark (an online resell retailer.) I used Poshmark and thrift stores this year for my kids back to school clothing and spent far less money than I did last year. I also had a few pairs of jeans get holes in them, but rather than fix them, I just left them. Not only have we saved money, but you definitely cease to care what others think. Your savings account doesn’t care whether you have a hole in your jeans and your self worth is not defined by how many designer logos you can fit on your body.
It is not just clothing either. I send the kids to school with lunches in reusable containers. Everything can be washed and I don’t toss out 5-10 plastic baggies a day anymore. I don’t even buy baggies to store food in anymore and for a few bucks, I even picked up some reusable produce storage bags from Amazon. They were under $10, but I’m throwing away no additional plastic. I buy the things I can’t grow here (bananas, avocados, peaches, etc.) at our local store and don’t use the bags provided at the grocery store. I take in my reusable shopping bags and separate my produce when I get home, but I don’t see why you couldn’t take your storage bags with you and use them while you’re shopping!
Our “neighbor” (the farmland directly to the north of us) who planted wheat, baled up some seed-free straw a few weeks ago. The kids love to watch him take care of the farm and he even picks them up at the fence and lets them ride with him in his equipment. While riding, I had them ask him if we could buy some of that straw for ducks. It was pretty cheap, and I had the kids give him cash and he dropped the bales right onto our property over the fence! Instead of driving to Tractor Supply (which is 30 minutes away) I was able to save my fuel, and reduce my carbon footprint just by cultivating a healthy relationship with our neighbors.
A trip to your local farmer’s market could help give a small-town farmer a boost, as opposed to your money going to the factory farming that’s been incredibly hard on the planet. Local farmers are often more conscientious of how they treat the Earth and while they don’t go into it to lose money, they are more likely to grow organic, pesticide-free foods for your family to eat. Plus you haven’t contributed to the shipping and fuel consumption that goes along with it.
On the journey toward sustainability, there will be difficulties but just think of ways to reuse, reduce your waste output, and save money. All of those things will be additional steps you can take. You don’t have to go zero waste overnight, but honestly, once you’ve started, it just gets easier and you think of more ways you can add sustainability into your life!