6 tips on how to make the switch to a greener lifestyle

Monday, October 06, 2014

how to make the switch to a green lifestyle
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If you know me well, you know that I'm one of those annoying people who uses a lot of green and organic stuff. It's something I care a lot about and sometimes I let people know about it. I get some blank stares. I get some looks that seem to say: "oh man, here we go again with the organic and green talk." My friends make fun of me because I haven't had McDonald's in years... and every once in a while I get responses like: "Oh I would love to be like that, but I just don't know where to start," or "It's too much work." Or "It's too expensive."

But I'm here to tell you that it's not really all that much work if you take it slowly. So here are six tips on how to make the switch to a greener lifestyle. I'm not an expert, but I have been doing this for a long time so I like to think that I know a little bit.

So here we go:

1. Switch slowly. I think the challenge for some people is that they get overwhelmed with all of the products they would like to change and then they just throw their hands in the air and say forgedaboudit! I can see how that would be overwhelming. There is no shortage of products on the market that claim to be green (and that aren't...).

My advice is do take one product in your house and switch it. Just one at a time. See that bright blue dish detergent by your sink? Use it up and then when it's time to get a new bottle, buy something more natural. (I'll put a list of what I use for everything in another post).

Once you've done that... you can go to the next product. It may take a year to switch over everything,  but that's ok. It took me that long too. But in no time you won't think twice about it.

2. Get a local and organic veggie box sent to your house. Nothing is easier than having food show up at your door. I've been getting a Mama Earth Organics box for about five years now and I love it. It kind of takes the guessing out of what to buy in season and what to buy organic because it's done for you. In the summer months, almost everything is local which is really nice and every week I get two or three recipes to try that come with the delivery. It's a win-win in my books.

3. Buy organic food in bulk. Buying in bulk helps a couple of ways: if you reuse your bags (or have reusable bulk bags) you can keep packaging garbage out of the landfills. Many times it's cheaper than buying one-off packages and it helps you keep your pantry cupboards stocked. Right now, my store of choice is Healthy Planet. There is a pretty decent bulk section at the back of the store where I buy things like dried chickpeas, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Oh yes... I hear you cursing under your breath! You don't have time to cook chickpeas and beans from scratch, baloney! You can soak them overnight and throw them in the slow cooker while you're at work. Done.

PS: you can buy baking soda in bulk too!

4. Vinegar and baking soda are the answers to everything. Ok maybe not everything, but along with Dr. Bronner's soap, I use these two items almost exclusively for cleaning. You don't need bleach!

I bought a spray bottle from the dollar store, filled it half way with pure white vinegar (it's best to get distilled vinegar) and filled the rest with tap water. Do you know how much vinegar costs? Four litres is a buck or something. Maybe three dollars. But it takes me six months to go through four litres of vinegar, so I think that's money well spent.

I mean just look at everything you can do with vinegar and baking soda!

5. Change up what goes on your skin. Conventional shampoos, conditioners, creams and make-up can be filled with parabens, fragrance, and other chemicals that do nothing positive to your body. Do yourself a favour and slowly switch these items to more natural and organic body care. You'll breathe better and you'll feel better. Something to keep in mind is that natural fragrance doesn't mean it's better. Bonus points if products have no-GMO and vegan verifications on the bottles. Use Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep data base as your go-to resource. They know what they're talking about!

Which brings us to the last thing...

6. Be critical of ingredient labels. If you can't pronounce it, don't buy it (this can get a little tricky when it comes to floral ingredients! But you'll know what chemicals are the no-nos when you see them). I know you've likely heard that before, but it really does help when you're looking for more natural and organic ways of doing things.

The easiest way to buy better products is to steer clear of the middle aisles at the conventional grocery store. Most (and yes I mean most) of the food found in the middle aisles of the grocery store can have horrible ingredients that our bodies can do without. Think those little fishy crackers are good for your kidlets? Read the labels. There really are better alternatives. 

My rule of thumb for most things I eat and buy is that if it doesn't provide me good nutritional value, I try not to buy it. Obviously there are times when I get treats, but I do believe that even treats should have some form of nutritional value. Yes I know I'm boring! Boo me! Again... my friends make fun of me and that's ok!

Bottom line, if you want to make these types of changes, you can. Just do it slowly so you don't get overwhelmed. Look at labels and do your research to see what works best for your family. And remember: just because it's organic, doesn't mean it's good for you. Whole foods are best, but read the labels on packaged items and you will start to learn what types of things are better than others. You will eventually figure it out, even if it takes a year or more.

Up next I'll share a list of my go-to favourite products! Stay-tuned!

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