Exactly one year ago today, I published this post about small ways to live a more green lifestyle. Tips on energy reduction, recycling and utilizing indoor plants are just a few of the great ideas included. But with another Earth Day soon approaching, I decided to share ten more small ways to make a positive impact on our planet.
If everyone does even one small thing, it can make a huge difference!
*Disclaimer – this post contains links to recipes and pages I referred to, but all the opinions, ideas and photos are my own. Check out the links for more info!
Try Your Hand at Growing Kitchen Herbs
Not only does this help the budding (pardon the pun) green cook, but it also saves more green in the wallet! By growing your own parsley, rosemary, and mint, you can save small bundle on your regular in-store herb purchases. This year we’ve got chives, basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, and chives. We only planted a few weeks ago, and are already reaping the benefits in the kitchen! In my last post, I included some other veggies you can grow or regrow yourself to save some $.
I use a variety of essential oils (just one or two drops) in my vacuum filter once a week to help purify the air and to replace any artificial air fresheners. It’s a wonderful way to freshen up the house without chemicals! Click on the link above for a quick tutorial. 🙂
Use Your Toaster Oven
When weather gets warmer, try cooking and baking with your toaster oven rather than turning on your whole oven/stovetop unit. We’ve found it keeps the house much cooler – which saves on energy bills in the spring – works faster than the regular oven, and crisps up whatever we’re making nicely! Our family favorites to make via toaster oven are chicken nuggets, toasted PB&Js, and zucchini fries.
Grow Your Own Salad
Using just one planter, a few seeds, and some fresh potting soil, you can grow your very own salad! This has tons of benefits: saving on in-store purchases, worrying less about germs and chemicals, reducing plastic packaging, and of course, enjoying free, organic food! I’m choosing to save both space and money this year by planting spinach and kale around my potted perennials. They’re coming up nicely, and we can’t wait to snip them off and enjoy them with dinner. Lettuce, spinach and kale are all great early spring crops, and can be continually harvested. Hello, fresh, green, and free spring salads!
With a bit of Pinterest research, we decided to start a very small composting bin last fall. This spring, it’s already been working hard for us and granted us lots of nutrient-rich soil. We salvage most of our food scraps and coffee grounds in an old plastic ice cream tub and empty it (along with leaves and grass clippings from our yard) once a week in a small, plastic-lined box. For easy instructions and for what is safe to compost, look here! Your garden will thank you for all the added nutrients, and the earth will thank you for not tossing your food scraps!
Use and Reuse Natural Items for Play
Look around your yard for fun and natural play time items. Yesterday after a heavy rain, Bundle and I hunted for twigs and dandelions and built ourselves a miniature “Anna and Elsa castle” in the mud – complete with a dandelion roof. Acorns can easily be “fairy garden treasures” and leaves create wonderful “confetti.” Instead of splurging on new, plastic blocks for your kids, work together to sand down some wood scraps or even sticks to create Montessori-inspired, natural blocks. Check out this post on more ways to play outdoors this spring!
Laminate and Reuse What You Print
As a homeschooling mom, I print A LOT of stuff. Even as a day care provider, I printed many activities, games, schedules, coupons, meal plans, etc. My inexpensive laminator was a one-time purchase that has saved both money and a lot of trees! I now laminate nearly everything, from cleaning routines to homeschooling worksheets. It’s amazing how many times you could use the same dot-to-dot paper with a dry erase marker! Your kids will LOVE marking and erasing, and in the end there’s far less paper-related trash.
Make a DIY Natural Flea/Tick Repellent for Fido or Fluffy
Last spring our area received tons of rain, which afforded an beautiful, early, and very warm summer. Thanks to this though, our animals both got fleas! With babies in our home, I knew I didn’t want any chemicals in our house or on our furry friends. After they were bathed and treated, I decided to make my own natural flea and tick repellent. I found a great recipe here. We haven’t had fleas since!! We also occasionally supplemented with this organic and all-natural house spray (around the edges of the outside doors) and it works well, too.
Store Food in Mason Jars
Reduce plastic use and exposure in the kitchen by using glass mason jars for food storage! I love keeping leftovers like tomato sauce, salad fixings, and homemade dressings in glass jars. Glass tends to keep the food better for longer, too. I found some super cute glass baby food jars a few weeks back and used them to tote some made-from-scratch chocolate pudding to our family picnic. Cute, healthy, and green!
Shop at Your Local Farmer’s Market!
This is BY FAR my favorite tip! I’m a huge fan of farmer’s markets and fresh, local shopping. We actually sold baked goods and produce at our own local market last summer, and it was a blast. This year with a new baby, we won’t be selling, but we’ll definitely be supporting our local farmers and gardeners. Some may think that buying locally can get expensive, but if you’re shopping seasonally for your area (asparagus in spring, berries in summer, etc.), prices should be very low. That produce is going straight from a farm or garden near your neighborhood to you without having to be packaged or shipped anywhere else! 🙂 Check out my posts on our farmer’s market experiences here.
I’m excited that our family has been able to slowly incorporate these lifestyle changes into our daily living. Some of these things (like composting!) take a long time from start to finish, so go easy on yourself. As I mention in last year’s post, take it one step at a time. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when opting for greener lifestyle choices.
Hopefully we can continue to grow this list each year and share more tips to inspire others to love the earth a little more!