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The Family Challenge

Most of us want to reduce waste and contribute to a greener world however, it can be hard to know where to begin.  I remember when we started our journey, the two biggest hurdles were:

  • TIME - There was an overwhelming amount of information to sift through online:  What ingredients should I be on the lookout for?  What should I stop or start buying?  How do I cut my plastic waste?  What can I do to lower my carbon footprint?
  • COST - Often when I would finally land on a solution, it would come at a significantly higher price.  It wasn't uncommon for the cost of everything including food, personal care products, home improvements, and vehicles to be up to twice the price of the toxic or environmentally unfriendly options.  Understanding why this was the case (i.e. fair wages paid to workers, ethical manufacturing, quality...) helped to take the sting out of this reality but sadly, it didn't make change more accessible to us.

Our sustainability journey got easier when we decided to slow down, accept that we can't change everything at once, and celebrate our accomplishments as we make them because every small change counts.  Here's how we did it:

Step 1:  Start a Family Goals Board

Get the whole family involved!  We did this using an old picture frame and a piece of paper.  We write on the glass front with a dry-erase marker.  
  • Here's what our family board looks like:
  • Post this in a common area of the house like the family room or kitchen.  Ours sits above our snack counter.

Step 2:  Set monthly goal(s).

  • At the start of each month, come together as a family to set some green goals that are simple and achievable.  We typically use a mealtime to brainstorm. Depending on the age of your kids, it may be best to prepare a few options for everyone to choose from.  
  • Once you pick your monthly goal(s), write them down on your Family Goals Board.
  • Even the simplest changes can take time to put into practice so we highly recommend starting small.  With the many day-to-day responsibilities we all juggle, give yourself time.
  • Here are some ideas to help get you started:
    • CHANGE goals can include things like:
      • Eliminating plastic shopping bags, straws, toothbrushes, utensils, water\juice bottles, ziplock bags and food wrap.
      • Healthy eco-friendly personal and home care (of course you can find many options here.)
    • LEARNING goals help to connect us with our environment and make informed decisions about how to interact with it.  
      • For kids (and even us adults!), we try to make learning fun by watching a documentary or going on a guided hike.
      • Other ways to learn more about a natural habitat or environmental issue include reading books, attending an online conference, or taking a formal class.
    • ACTION goals are another great way to support sustainable eco-friendly change.  These can include:
      • voting in local elections
      • signing petitions or engaging policy makers on environmental issues
      • joining or supporting environmental groups

Step 3:  Celebrate and share each success!  

I have been at this for many years and still feel like I have so much to learn.  I love hearing from others about what's worked for them as it often helps make my journey easier.  For this reason, I like to gently promote my own successes with friends and family, as it may inspire or assist them in making healthy and sustainable eco-friendly changes. 

My response to that simple "What's new with you?" question can often be the latest change we adopted to reduce waste or great new eco-friendly products I've found...  Quirky? Perhaps, but I truly feel good about each change we are successful in making.

    So go on and toot your own horn!  Every change towards a sustainable eco-friendly lifestyle is impactful.  

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