Where to Start….

Paper straw on a kid friendly cup at Sotola

We just returned home from a 10 day vacation in my old stomping grounds. It was great to be “home” amongst friends and family and to drag along some “new” friends for the ride. How I just love the weather, the ocean, and being surrounded by the familiar. It is my fantasy to get back there, but the logistics are a bit challenging right now. During a park playdate with one of my nearest and dearest we got on the subject of this new lifestyle I have been exploring. I try not to be too excited or overbearing when the topic approaches so I often take the quiet road in hopes not to scare people off. She had wonderful words of praise to say, and warmed my heart when she said “I think about you all the time”, like “how do buy toilet paper?” I love it, one of the first things my mom said was “I am not visiting if you give up toilet paper”. Later I got a text saying she would like to get started but wasn’t sure how and requested this post. Its true that my list of goals can seem intimidating, and with a new baby like she has, the thought of turning your routine upside down can be more than overwhelming. So here is my go T, I know you can do it!

Where oh where to start. Awareness. Yes awareness. What did Sylvia Earle say on Years of Living Dangerously was the biggest threat to the oceans today? “Ignorance.” I’m not suggesting that you run out and watch every episode or read every book on climate change, I am actually suggesting that you become aware of how YOU live, how what YOU do, contributes to the problem. Become aware of your short falls. I believe one of the best ways to start this is to move your trash can to a less convenient spot. Take the smaller ones around the house and consolidate into one out of reach can. It seems odd but seriously it works. We used to keep ours under the kitchen sink. While we weren’t throwing much a way, we still put things in there without a second thought. Moving the trash to the laundry room which is behind a closed door and a step down, gives me time to reflect on the item I am throwing away. Will I buy this again? Is there another option? Could I reuse it? Could I recycle it? Is it donation worthy? Just because we put it on the curb doesn’t mean that it goes away forever. That straw you just used once at the restaurant will live for 200 years before it begins to breakdown and hopefully it won’t make its way to the oceans or waterways where it will harm wildlife on its 200 year journey. Is that what you want for your children’s future? A life where precious space is needed to make more space for our trash?

Another way to begin your awareness journey is to open up your fridge, your cupboards, and cabinets and take an inventory of all the items you buy in single use plastic. That box of individually bagged up chips creates way more waste than one large bag of chips. Is it really more convent to make twelve trips to the trash than one? or how about none? That pre-sliced package of cheese is a lot less product than a log of cheese. How does that feel on your wallet? and your trashcan? Those disposable facial wipes create way more waste than a good old fashioned wash rag with a little soap and water. Not to mention the cost vs the later and again the extra trips to the garbage can. Are there choices you can make that can make even the smallest impact? Realistically we would prefer that you buy your cheese sans any plastic, or skip the bag of chips and buy them from a local restaurant instead. This may not be in your scope today, but put it on your radar.

Ask your utilities questions, can I compost my food waste? Where is my energy really coming from? Is there something I can do to lessen water waste? They are a wealth of knowledge and most of the time are happy to accommodate. If can’t throw everything in the yard waste bin, can you compost the clean food that could come from your garden like carrot stems or potato skins? Worm bins and home compost heaps while easy are not exactly for everyone, if your municipal waste provider doesn’t offer composting ask your local farmer at your farmers market if they may be interested in some “waste”. Or use Facebook to connect with some local gardeners/homesteaders who might be interested. A lot of our “trash” can be diverted to the compost pile which makes the world of a difference in the long term scheme of things. Another utility, your power company, do they offer a cleaner choice? We have 3-tiers to choose from where we are. Does your water company offer a free audit to educate you on better water use practices? It might save you tons of money to change out your shower heads, which in California are often given to you free of charge. YouTube how to change the head out if you don’t want to hire someone, Missy fixed her uncooperative leaking shower tub hardware when no one else could help her with a video and a trip to the helpful hardware store.

You may not realize that a huge power you hold comes from your pocket book, every dollar you spend is a vote. If you keep buying those not responsible, unsustainable options companies will continue to make them. I promise they will not wake up one day and make all their packaging completely biodegradable from recycled content or eliminate palm oil from their ingredient list. They care about your money, not your kids’ future. Its up to us and that is why we stress that “we can create change in our own homes”. We being everyone, not just us Love Laugh and Lemonaders, you certainly can too. We can’t change washington today but we can be responsible on an individual basis now. You can make a huge impact within the walls of your home. Making these choices is not only better for our planet, but we are teaching our children to take responsibility for their own choices, a lesson that carries on to so many facets of their lives. In the totally common but never the less pertinent words of Mahatma Gandhi – “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” You absolutely must and you can!!

Looking for more ideas? Don’t forget to check out our series of “three things you can do today“. These are easy small steps that when done in mass make a huge difference. Good luck my friends and don’t forget to reach out if you need support!

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