There was once a woman who every time she cooked a ham in the oven, she cut the top off, so that it was flat. When a friend asked why she did this, her response was “I don’t know, that’s how my mother always cooked it”. So, she asked her mother, who replied “You know, I don’t know why we do that, that’s just how MY mother always made it”. So together they asked the grandmother about this special flat-top method of cooking her ham. Her response?
“The oven in our house was too small to fit a whole ham, so I had to cut it down.”
3 generations of flat topped hams, all because of one small oven, 50 years earlier!
There are a few versions of this story, but I was reminded of it when I began to think about how changes in our own home could affect our children’s decision, and then their children’s. Why do you use certain paper towels, or buy a specific brand of toilet paper? Probably because your parents did. What if our children grow up using eco-friendly items, and then incorporate those into their adult lives? We could start generations of conscious product users, just by making small changes in our everyday lives!
Let’s be honest though, while saying we should make little changes is all well and good, finding realistic ideas of how to actually execute them can be overwhelming. Enter my husband and I – the two of us have been on our own eco-conscious journey for a few years, and have made some pretty great tangible changes inside our own home. I wrote out a few of them here, in the hopes that even one of them will help you on your own journey to raising earth conscious kids:
Let’s start in the Bathroom:
- Switch to Bar shampoo and conditioner! We tried a couple samples from various Etsy shops before finding our favorite (QUA Organic Hair Care). Honestly, it’s weird at first, rubbing a bar on your head – but now we couldn’t imagine going back to watered down liquids in disposable plastic bottles!
- Wrap your bar soap in a ‘soap saver bag’ (we use this Fresheo one). The microbeads in exfoliating soaps and body washes are actually just tiny bits of plastic that congeal and go out into the ocean, where they’re absorbed by marine life – gross. These bags exfoliate just as well as the plastic beads, but without the harmful environmental impact.
- Speaking of microbeads, your morning face scrub is probably FULL of them. Our Shampoo lady also makes fantastic sandstone soap bars!
- Recycled paper and/or bamboo toilet paper. Who Gives A Crap donates 50% of their profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world – so you’re saving the world while having a…well you get it. As for the feel of the paper, numerous people have told me they would never have guessed.
Bonus feature to all these small changes in the bathroom? HUGE savings on your wallet! Our shampoo bars last us about 5 months – at $19.50 that means they run just under $4 a month (try getting that on store-brand organic shampoos!), and the bamboo and recycled toilet paper runs about $1 per roll.
Moving on to the Kitchen:
- The first step we took in the kitchen was to switch to towels instead of paper towels. I have a pretty glass bowl for our counter, and we invested in a trash can with a lid, that we line with these diaper bags, for easy transport to the washing machine. We use white face clothes, so they can be bleached when needed, and they look adorable neatly folded up in the bowl!
- The second step we took was switching to eating vegetarian 1 or 2 nights a week. You can start with simple switches on meals your family already eats, like veggie ground for tacos (tastes and feels no different than hamburg, with the seasoning in it!), breakfast night (protein pancakes) or even just grilled cheese and tomato soup night!
- The third step we took sounds small, but being conscious about who we buy from. We aim to buy local, and support small companies. Just one example would be my husband’s coffee, from Deans Beans.
Let’s end with the Closet
- This one may be controversial – but thrift shopping! Reusing and recycling clothes isn’t something new for most of us, because as parents we’ve found all kinds of ways to switch, trade, and hand-down our kids’ clothes. Now it’s time to do it for yourself! The amount of energy being put into producing one shirt, one pair of pants, is astronomical! (Read a little about it here) That being said, when it comes to ourselves there can be fewer options (unless you have friends of a similar size). Savers is a great choice, as well as your local Facebook Buy Nothing Site.
I really need to stress here that we didn’t switch all of these things in the same week, month, or even year. In fact, when my husband told me he wanted to switch to bar shampoo I truly thought he was nuts. When I wanted to switch to bamboo toilet paper he was, to put it lightly, hesitant. We worked together, we tried it out, and we didn’t look back. So start with one change; try it out. Then try another, and another.
The end game? Our kids won’t think twice about making earth-conscious choices, because it’ll be second nature to them. They will be earth conscious kids and our small choices will change future generations for the better. When our grandchildren ask us why we did something a certain way, or used a particular product, we can say it was for them.
What are some ways you’re raising earth conscious kids?