Green Goals for 2011, Part 1

This month we’re going to be talking setting goals for a greener, more sustainable lifestyle in 2011. We’re going to revisit the great lists that Katie put together earlier this year in February, chock-full of ideas to ignite your goal-setting. We’ll look at Part 2 next week and then reconvene later in the month to continue the conversation.

No matter where you are in your journey of learning to live a more natural, sustainable lifestyle, something on the following list will work for you and your family. I have provided some tips and resources, but know that many of these items will receive more in-depth coverage in the future here on Simple Organic.

Ideas for Green Goal-Setting: Personal Life

1. Eat more food from local sources.

Why does this matter? The farther your food travels to get to your plate, the more damage that food has done to the planet. In North America, our food travels an average of 1,500 miles to get from farm to plate.

Local food usually means less packaging, too, and puts money into your local economy. It also tastes better and contains more nutrients, because it is fresh. Where to shop locally?

Farmers’ markets: Find a local farmers’ market here.
Co-ops are usually committed to carrying locally produced goods.  Here is a directory of co-ops in North America.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): A “subscription” service of fruits and veggies, purchased directly from the farm on a regular basis, and sometimes even delivered to your front door.  Find a CSA here.
Your backyard. Learn to grow some of your own food, or raise some chickens.

2. Green your health and beauty products.

Check out the Skin Deep database and see where your products rank in terms of toxins.  Remember that the term “organic” is not regulated.  If you want to buy safe organic products,  it’s best to look for the USDA Organic seal. But don’t be fooled into thinking you need the pricey organic products at your health-food store –  plenty of products can also be made at home.  Other options:
• I went “no-‘poo” last September, and I haven’t looked back.  Read more here.
• I love the Oil Cleansing Method – it really works.
• Be looking for a post next week from Amy, sharing recipes for homemade facial care.
• And as I said in a post earlier this year, don’t be afraid to simplify!

3. Switch to green feminine hygiene products.

Over 12 billion tampons and sanitary pads are thrown away annually after being used once, plus all the packaging.  In addition, the ingredients are not listed, they are not sterilized, and they can contribute to Toxic Shock Syndrome.
• A reusable menstrual cup is natural, sanitary, and lasts for ten years, so it’s a great frugal option, too.  Some great brands include The Diva Cup (featured in our giveaway last week), The Keeper, and the Moon Cup.
• Cloth pads can be thrown in the wash and reused, just like cloth diapers.  Find cloth pads at Lunapads and Glad Rags, or make your own.

4. Natural and green baby care

If you have babes in diapers, consider a switch to cloth.  Check out Tsh’s Cloth Diapering 101 series on Simple Mom.  And remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Other ideas:
• Make a switch to non-toxic products for your little ones, too.
Make your own baby food. It’s healthier and cheaper, and very easy.
• Buy used baby equipment, or share with friends. (Use common sense and check for safety recalls, accidents, etc. If in doubt, don’t purchase.)

5. Buy used clothing as much as possible.

I love to have new clothes as much as any girl, but by buying used, you are recycling. Buying used clothes saves the energy and resources used to make and ship new clothes.  This is especially great for children and babies, who outgrow their clothes so quickly.  You will also save money.  Other tips for clothes:
• If you buy new, buy quality.  Avoid cheaply made things that will fall apart quickly.
• Buy natural fibers, rather than synthetics made from petroleum, a very energy-intensive process.
• Recycle your old clothes when they’re beyond repair or outgrown.  You can donate them to Goodwill, but some cities now have textile recycling programs where your old clothes are actually rewoven into new items.  Check with your local city recycling program.
Host a clothes-swap with friends.
• Learn to sew. If you can sew, you can mend, you can alter, and you can repurpose.

Photo by back_garage

6. Re-think gifts and celebrations.

Rather than purchasing more stuff as birthday presents, give experiences.  Memberships to the zoo or a museum, dance lessons or karate classes, tickets to a Broadway show – these are things that create memories and build relationships, instead of contributing to waste and excessive consumption.  Handmade gifts are another great alternative to plastic toys and packaging.

This list is not exhaustive, but it’s a great starting point.

Try to take some time this week to think over the possibilities and see what your family might be ready for.  Decide to focus on one change first, and write it down somewhere.  Then choose one or two more things that you might like to try this year, and number them in order.  Just do one at a time – don’t try to tackle them all at once. We’ll check back in a few months.

In 2011, I hope to continue working towards eating more locally and finding creative ways to update our wardrobes without just buying new.

Do you have other ideas for green goal-setting in your personal life? Would you be willing to share your list of goals?

top photo source

Nicole lives near the beach in Southern California with her husband and three young kiddos. She writes a a lifestyle blog about creativity, family life, community, and all sorts of other fun stuff, and also keeps a homeschool journal called The Bennettar Academy. Her most recent (free!) ebook is about why and how to make more time for reading.

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  1. We’ve got plans to build raised beds in the spring so we can raise more of our own food. Chickens are another possibility, but one step at a time, right?

    Great post! Very inspiring.

  2. I couldn’t agree more: shop local and reduce chemical exposure!! Jade, my girlfriend, and I, as well as other family members have also completely rethought gifts too! And what about all of those holiday cards? I just learned today about turning those into Postcards!

  3. Fiona Gregory says:

    Very nice summary in time for new year’s resolutions. If everyone did these things, what a difference it would make for our world.
    I’m a happy longtime user of the Keeper. If you’re thinking of trying it, it’s no more difficult than learning to insert a tampon. And works a lot better.

  4. I’m planning on switching to homemade household cleaners.

  5. A few of my green goals for the new year are starting to compost and switching to reusable menstrual products. I’m a firm believer that taking baby steps and making small changes adds up to bigger overall lifestyle change over time!

  6. What a great idea! I’ll have to make up a list of my own green resolutions.

    On the subject of green feminine hygiene products, when my daughter got to an age to need these I put together a kit for her from a fabulous funky storage box and put an assortment of all different types of products for her to find her preference (I wrote about it here… I also told her that I’d treat her to an assortment of cloth pads if she wanted from an etsy shop where she could pick her own fabrics. She picked her own designs that fit her personality and she much prefers those to any of the other products. She loved getting to pick all the fun and artsy patterns too. 🙂

  7. I’ve already began a lot of this, but eating more locally is one I really want to do! I believe the farmers markets are closed during the winter season, but I can’t wait for them to open again! I look forward to canning next year so we can avoid getting stuff at the stores during the winter months. Oh, and eBay is another great place to get cloth pads for low prices for those who can’t make pads themselves and can’t afford to pay a lot as the big brands. Thanks for posting this!

  8. We’re always trying to eat more locally … we have a great organic foods delivery service, which carries many local things, and every year our small back yard garden gets a little more elaborate. In 2011 I’m very excited that Indy is getting a local food grocery store! I can’t wait to check it out 🙂

    We’re hoping as a family that 2011 will be a year to make do, do without, or do it ourselves and to get back into a more more thrifty and green mindset (something we’re usually pretty good about, but have slacked off in recent months and allowed some convenience things, and their extra packaging, to creep back into our lives. Like paper towels *sigh*)

    Here’s to a wonderful 2011!

  9. I had forgotten about the oil cleansing method & I used it last year. I have very dry skin & it was absolutley perfect for me:)!!! This came at a great time because I just ran out of my expensive cleanser that I wasn’t planning to replace. Yeah!

  10. Has anyone had personal experience using the Mooncup/Keeper/Diva cup? I’d love to make a change like this, but would like to hear others experience before purchasing. Thx!!

    • I have the Diva cup. It took me a while to learn to use it. The cup it fairy big compared to a tampon, so it takes some practice to be able to get it so that it’s comfortable and “sealed” so that it doesn’t leak. There are still times when I prefer tampons (they are smaller and faster), but it’s a nice alternative for reducing some, if not all, waste.

      • It took me a good 6 months to get used to the diva cup. Like, Kara, I’m still not quite to using it 100% of the time, but it has reduced my purchasing/using of other products significantly. I also use it with LunaPanties or LunaPads liners and like that system a lot.

  11. Great tips! Glad I’m not the only one who gets nearly all my clothes at thrift stores. They are also great to find materials for handmade gifts, like wool sweaters to turn into felt. I only have very basic sewing skills but with wool felt from thrift sweaters I’ve made diaper covers, kids’ pants (longies), doll clothes, dusting mitts, mittens, hats, leg warmers, and gnome toys. My 7 y-o has made finger puppets and small purses as well.

  12. I really want to see more people revamp their eating habits and to help people find affordable ways to buy green.

  13. Gosh, I should have read this post sooner (just read part 2). I suppose my goals fit better on here than there. I want to grow a garden (that lives) and eat more local and seasonal food this year.

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