Working too much and commuting too much along with raising a little one while expecting another has dampened my “crunchy” spirit a little, but as we look to the upcoming solstice and the spring to follow, a feeling of renewal is certainly on the horizon for me. How could it not with this new life growing (and kicking like crazy!) inside me? It feels good to know that I’ll be back on track soon.
So, in the spirit of reaffirmation, I bring you…
10 Simple Steps Toward Sustainability
1. For us, it all starts with the food we eat. We grow a lot, and source what we can from local farms, but there’s no denying that we need easy options sometimes. That’s why I like knowing that every dollar I spend at Unilever is benefiting a company that invests back in sustainable pursuits. Quite simply, that means that even when I’m lazy, I can count on Unilever not to be.
2. I’ve become very aware lately of how wasteful I can be when I’m not paying attention. I’m firmly devoting the next year to learning how to be less wasteful and more resourceful when it comes to our grocery purchases. That may mean investing in a FoodSaver or better storageware…Santa? Are you listening?
3. It’s important to remember that sustainability goes way beyond the farm and plate. Working 65 miles away from home for over 40 hours a week is NOT sustainable, and as much as it provides security for my family, I need to start working on a plan to cut back in just about every aspect of our lives so I can afford to work less. Ok, so maybe that doesn’t seem like a “simple step,” but when you think of it as just a general effort to simplify, it really applies to everyone. Goal: set.
4. Be UP. I really think that sustainability also applies to overall attitude. Every day that I’m a mom makes me increasingly more aware how much my attitude affects my little one. As we prepare for #2, I know without a doubt that I need to radiate positivity, self-confidence and happiness in order for my children to blossom and grow into confident, happy adults. That means more positive talk about self-image. It’s a struggle sometimes, but totally worth it.
5. Move! Yup, sustainability also applies to physical exercise. Cutting back on running during my pregnancy is frustrating but necessary, but I still chant my running mantra when I jog, however slow I may be: strong mommy, healthy mommy, strong mommy, healthy mommy.
In 2013, I begin training for my first half marathon, and I can’t really think of anything that supports my commitment to sustainability more! After all, a strong body makes everything else you want to accomplish more possible, right?
6. Reuse, reduce, recycle. Heard it a million times, right? But it’s soooo true. Our little man’s first household chore is to separate the recycling and go with Daddy to the Boy Scout collection center. I figured this would be a great place to start, since he gets a lesson in how to protect our Earth and do his part to help our household at the same time.
7. Create. Creativity begets creativity, so I try to make art a part of our everyday lives. But instead of hitting up the craft store, why not hit up the things you have around the house? We recently repurposed this Bertolli olive oil bottle into an easy holiday craft that my son was just so proud of!
All we did was Mod Podge some simple tissue paper and buttons on it, and add some decorative twigs. I have a thing for twigs lately. I just love the way they look! Try this idea after the holidays when you’re wondering what to do with all that leftover tissue paper you have hanging around…
7. Give back. There are so many people that have nothing this time of year, so it’s more important than ever to give locally. Look around your local community, and you’re bound to find places where your time would be valued. If you have money to give, even better. Collect coupons for Unilever products, then take them to the store and toss a few extra items in your cart to donate each week.
Your local food bank, shelter or daycare will appreciate them, and the positive energy you add to your community will, without a doubt, multiply. You just can’t give selflessly without inspiring others to do the same, whether you know if or not.
8. ‘Tis the season for giving, but I’m done with giving frivolously. Ever since the economy tanked (when was that again? Seems like it’s been forever…) I just can’t do silly gifts anymore. Gifts are still fun and important, but I prefer them to be useful. Give a grocery store gift card so your parents can stock their fridge and freezer, or put together a basket of Italian staples (Bertolli sauce, olive oil and some pasta with a colander and slotted spoon) for your neighbors. My donation gift for the Salvation Army wish tree at work was a basket full of Dove beauty products for a 16-year-old girl who wanted body wash. Basic staples that people really need might seem un-gifty, but they take on such a different feel when you package them up with ribbons and bows!
9. Think big. We take steps every day to lead a more sustainable life, and many of them are small, but last year we purchased a new home and felt like it was our chance to really walk the walk. So, we invested in a house that was very small and well below our means. A small house means a lot less output and a smaller footprint. We’re already feeling it in our heating costs this year! Some days, I wonder what we were thinking when I look at our tiny abode, but I quickly remind myself that it’s all part of a bigger objective – one that will yield benefits beyond what we will every truly know.
10. I’m leaving this tip up to you! What is your favorite simple step toward sustainability? Leave me a comment below letting me know what I’ve missed, and I’ll try to work your suggestions into our goals for 2013.
Side note: This season, as I reflect on what’s important to me and my family, I have to extend my thanks to Collective Bias and Unilever for the opportunity to learn more about their Cross Off Hunger campaign and their overall commitment to sustainability. It truly sparked a renewed effort on my part, at just the right time. As a busy mom, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the everyday madness and forget that sustainability efforts–even small ones–really do enable us all to live #bettertogether.