Tag Archives: eco friendly living

Eco Living During the Holidays

While trying to be eco friendly is important throughout the year, it can be harder to remember during the holiday season. There are so many excuses to buy stuff you don’t need, and cut corners to make things easier, whether or not it’s a good choice for the environment.

Being green isn’t at all impossible around the holidays, however. You can make choices that are good for the environment while keeping to your eco living ideals.

Use Natural Decor

hollyWhat’s available to you in terms of natural decor? This can vary quite a bit from person to person, so take a look around. Pine trees can have a lovely scent, a nice alternative to artificial trees, especially if you can deal with the limitations of bringing in a live tree.

Pine cones look nice, and certain kinds of produce, such as gourds, can sit out through the season as decorations rather than food.

Use Natural Scents

The holiday season is full of wonderful odors, especially if you love to bake. Take advantage of natural scents when you’d like your home to smell more like the holidays.

A simple way to start is to throw some herbs in simmering water. The heat releases their scent all around the house. Just pick your favorites.

You can also time your baking for when you want a particular smell, at least some of the time. Who doesn’t like to smell cookies or an apple pie baking? If you don’t need the oven for other things, think about making something delicious to give your home a scent no candle can beat.

Reuse Gift Wrap & Bags

My supply of used gift bags is ridiculous. I can find a bag for just about any gift I’m likely to give. I’m pretty sure some have made it to my home more than once, as I’m not the only one in the family to reuse gift bags.

Reusing gift wrap is trickier, as it doesn’t always survive in a smooth form. Take a look at what remains, and consider crafts that can be done with it. At the very least, kids love anything they can cut up into interesting shapes and tiny pieces.

Rethink Gift Wrap

Of course, you don’t have to use traditional gift wrap or bags. The wrap itself could be a part of the present. I wrote about a variety of eco friendly gift wrap ideas a few years ago.

Trade Decorations

You’re tired of some of your old decorations. Someone else is tired of theirs. Can you arrange a trade with them? Be careful about moving around any sentimental items, but often there are other decorations that you’ll be content to part with, either forever or for a time.

Simplify Gift Giving

This works especially well with extended family, but kids can be willing to get in on it too. Cut back on the number of people you buy gifts for, whether by instituting a name drawing or by simply agreeing that you don’t need to exchange gifts anymore. Try setting a price limit too. This can really ease the stress around the holidays.

Make Recycling Easy

When you have family and friends over, make it easy for them to recycle as appropriate. Just think about the wine and beer bottles, beer and soda cans and so forth that get used. They’re easy to recycle, so make sure it happens.

Some of the Best Things in Life Are Green

You’ve heard the saying “the best things in life are free.” It’s true enough, although not everyone will perfectly agree with that sentiment. Now if you start listing the things in your life you most look forward to doing, you may find that not only are many free or very cheap, they’re pretty eco friendly.

In my life, a big thing is playing with my kids. We can walk to the playground and they’ll have fun there for as long as I care to stay. It’s usually sad to leave. Free to do as well as green.

Better yet are hiking trips. We love getting out in nature as a family. There’s a small cost in terms of driving to a good hiking spot, but from there it’s quite reasonable and helps to build an appreciation for nature in my children, and it’s quite relaxing for me… so long as all the kids stay more or less in sight. It will be more relaxing once my toddler quits deciding that running off in random directions is the way to go.

Thinking about the free and eco friendly things you can do in your life can help you to cut down on the amount you spend on entertainment. You may find that you don’t really need to spend money to have a good time.

You can spend time with your family using things you already own, and I don’t mean the television or computer. Try some of the board games you already own, play tag or just goof off together.

You can read a book. You can get a new book from the library if the ones you already own aren’t inspiring you.

You can work on a hobby that you already have the supplies for. If you tend to go overboard on supplies, you could even go through and figure out something to do with the excess.

Start a new, eco friendly hobby. You may find that you love organic gardening, for example or making recycled crafts.

You can watch a sunset.

You can look into the free activities available in your local area. Most communities have resources to help you find activities online.

If you think there isn’t much you enjoy doing for free, start a list. Get a good start on it, and add to it over time. Use it as a resource when you need something to do. It may help keep you from spending money out of sheer boredom.

Where is the Balance Between Eco Friendly, Convenience and Cost for Your Family?

Being eco friendly is not the easiest thing to do as a family. If you’re serious about it and not just doing the convenient stuff, there are going to be some sacrifices made. Where do you find the balance for your family?

Most of us simply cannot afford to do all of the eco friendly things we dream of. Getting to a point where your family can live off the grid takes a huge investment that most of us simply can’t afford.

The cost factor is the simplest line to draw. If you can’t afford the more eco friendly option, of course you aren’t going to go with it!

Fortunately, many eco friendly decisions don’t cost any money or help to save money. Continuing to use what you have is often the greenest decision you can make. There may be a difference in energy efficiency, but how long does it take to offset the energy cost from a new item being made? Can you dispose of the old item in a way that is better for the environment?

What About Inconvenience?

The inconvenient decisions are much harder to make. How often should you walk or ride your bike rather than take the car? Are you ready to give up your little luxuries?

You can change your perspective on some inconveniences and make them into a treat. You may find that you love riding your bike to run errands, for example. You might enjoy having television free nights, weeks or even a complete television free lifestyle. You won’t know until you try.

I love walking my kids to and from school, for example. We live very close, but many people who live closer still drive their kids to the school.

I find it’s more fun to walk. It’s a great time for just talking with my kids.

It’s also faster than loading the car, driving to the school and dealing with the crowds in the parking lot would be. I was told by one parent that they have to get there at least 20 minutes before school gets out in order to get a parking space. Why would I drive there when I can walk it in under 10 minutes?

Kids love walking in the rain, by the way, or at least mine do.

Don’t Feel Like a Hypocrite for What You Can’t Do

Odds are good that you aren’t going to live your dream eco friendly life. For most of us the realities of just getting by are going to keep us from that. There isn’t always public transportation to replace the car, and there aren’t always jobs in range of a bicycle.

Have a priority list for what matters most to you and what you can afford to do. Starting a garden is a great choice if you the chance. Rethinking your choice of electronics and cutting out the ones you really don’t need is a great choice. Skipping unnecessary purchases is a great choice. Keeping reduce, reuse, and recycle in mind and in order is a great choice.

If you can do every eco friendly thing you want to do, you’re one of the lucky few. The rest of us have to prioritize and find ways to make enough happen while understanding that it can’t all happen.

Are You Tired of Being Green?

Admit it. Sometimes being eco friendly is just a wee bit frustrating. It’s challenging even when you’re used to it. There are only so many parts of being green that can really feel routine when you know there are easier but less eco friendly choices out there.

I think we all feel the temptation at times to skip the green solution and do things the easy way. To drive where we could walk or ride a bike. To skip the search for organic or local produce. To shop without worrying about where the products came from, what they’re made from or how they were made. To give in and let the kids have whatever random plastic toy they’re begging for that you know will be forgotten in a week if you buy it.

Most of us will give in at one point or another on these things. We don’t have perfect willpower. But sometimes it’s all just so overwhelming that we want to just quit for a time.

How do you get past that?

Take a Hike

You heard me. Take a hike. Get outta here!

Seriously, go reconnect with nature. Head out to a favorite hiking trail, favorite beach, whatever really helps you to enjoy nature at its finest.

If you can do this regularly so much the better, but that isn’t possible for all of us. Get out into nature as often as you can to help yourself remember just why you want to be eco friendly in the first place.

Figure Out What isn’t Working for You

Often frustration with being green isn’t so much the whole being green thing. It’s one particular thing that just isn’t working for you. Maybe you’re one of the unlucky ones who just doesn’t do so well with CFLs. Maybe buying organic produce and free range meat is adding a stress you just can’t quite cope with on your budget.

Whatever is causing the problem, think if you really need to continue it. For foods, look at which ones are really a priority to get organic for you. It matters more on some foods than on others.

If you just don’t like the light quality from CFLs, think about other ways you can save energy. There are lot of choices out there. Maybe something else would work better for you, such as drying your clothes on a clothesline or remembering to completely shut down your computer at night.

You can always come back to the frustrating parts later. You could make more progress overall by skipping things that aren’t going too smoothly at the moment.

Slow Down

How many changes have you tried to make recently?

Much like figuring out what isn’t working for you, you should be noticing if the changes are coming too fast for you. Most people don’t do so well with a ton of changes being made all at once. Take it a little bit easier for a while or even stop adding new eco friendly habits.

It’s okay to feel frustrated with eco friendly living. It’s a difficult process for most of us. But try not to let frustration stop you. Take a deep breath, then another, and figure out what’s going wrong. Once you know where the problem is, you can start working on the solution.