While we are by no means perfect, our family works really hard to live sustainably. The earth is a beautiful and magical place, and I want my children to grow up on a planet that is free from the threats of pollution and climate change.
So what does it mean to live sustainably? If you ask ten different people this question, you’ll get as many different answers. For us, sustainable living means being mindful of our daily activities, including what we eat, purchase, and the pollution we may leave behind as a result of our actions. We don’t strive for perfection, but we do strive for better, specifically by focusing on food, fossil fuels, and waste. Hopefully, our approach will inspire others to do the same.
Food: When it comes to food and eating, we focus on scratch-made, (mostly) healthy foods made from local and/or organic ingredients, including items grown in our own garden. We are also working to reduce the amount of meat and dairy in our diets. While many environmentally-minded families have made the switch to entirely vegetarian and vegan diets, we instead focus on eating a primarily plant-based diet, while incorporating local meat, wild game, and dairy a few times a week. We believe that this approach will help our children learn to make positive food choices, while our focus on local, whole ingredients supports our efforts toward sustainability.
Fossil Fuels: Living in a fairly rural area, we have very little public transportation or infrastructure to speak of. Because of this, my husband and I made the decision to become a one-car family and to purchase a home (The Little Castle) near our places of work and children's school so we can walk as much as possible. Since certain household items and groceries are only available in different towns, we try to limit those trips to once a month to limit the amount of fossil fuel we use. The Little Castle also has solar panels on the roof, which helps to cut the amount of fossil-fuel-based energy we use in our home.
Waste: One of our largest goals is to eliminate as much waste as we possibly can from our home, especially plastic. I’ve banned paper towels and plastic grocery bags, opting instead for reusable clothes and shopping bags, but these changes only scratch the surface of the changes we’ve made and continue to make to reduce the amount of waste we make in the first place. Many of my posts talk about Zero Waste Living. And while I know “Zero Waste” is an unattainable goal, I believe it is possible to significantly lower the waste and pollution we produce.
Responsible Purchasing: We strive to be responsible consumers, bringing into the home primarily items that have been produced sustainably, as well as things we can repurpose, recycle, or compost. We purchase second-hand where we can, mend clothes, and repurpose items as much as possible. We prioritize the durable over the disposable.
Find the Magic: Perhaps the missing ingredient in many approaches to sustainable living is a pinch of pixie dust. It’s too easy to get so focused on our worries and anxiety over climate change and pollution that we forget what we’re fighting for in the first place. Do you remember the wonder you felt walking through the woods as a child? Do you remember being fascinated by birds, lizards, or toads in your backyard? Rekindle that wonder. Share it with your children. We don’t want to make reducing waste and eating sustainably a chore. Rather, we want our efforts to protect the earth to be a manifestation of our love of fascination with the natural world. Remembering to find the magic and beauty in everyday tasks can help us do that.