I can think of a lot of things that we do that are part of the way we live. Some of the things that immediately come to mind are:
- recycle anything that can is accepted by the curb-side recycling company.
- donate clothing, household items, and toys to second-hand shops or projects helping people in need.
- pass down clothes that Sophia has grown out of and that Olivia will wear in the future.
- hang laundry on the fence and/or line to dry when the weather permits.
Sashiko fabric I hand-stitched
drying outdoors on the clothesline.
(This was taken in 2010.)
- use cloth napkins rather than paper napkins.
Cloth napkins and a tablecloth that I made from
fabric that I had on hand.
- turn the lights off when we're not in a particular room.
- open windows on days when the temperature is comfortable, humidity is low, and it's not raining or snowing.
- use fabric bags for wrapping gifts rather than wrapping paper or paper gift bags.
My mom opening a Christmas gift.
The fabric bag is one that I can reuse each year.
- read books and magazines from the library rather than getting subscriptions to every publication that we'd enjoy reading.
Sophia reading Papa his favorite book when he was a child: Ferdinand.
(This was taken in August 2010 when Sophia was 9 years old.)
- donate eyeglasses to the Lions Club or New Eyes for the Needy for re-furbishing and providing to people around the world who need glasses.
Olivia cleaning glasses to donate.
(This was taken in 2011 when Olivia was 8 years old.)
- grass-cycle (leaving the grass on the lawn after it is mowed to reduce the amount of garbage that goes into landfills).
Although these are all things we enjoy doing, there is one eco-friendly thing that we particularly like doing that happens during three seasons here in Minnesota: going to farmers' markets.
Since we live in a rural area, the closest city with a grocery store is about 14 miles away. Yet, during three seasons, there are seven farmers' markets all within 20 miles of home...with one being less than 3 miles away and another 8 miles away.
In addition to these seven local farmers' markets, there are two major farmer's markets that are about 35-40 miles away. Although they are further away, they have a much wider variety of vendors and produce. These markets are the ones that I'll visit when I need to do canning, freezing, or drying and need much larger quantities of produce.
Some of the advantages of shopping at a farmers’ market are that:
- locally-grown food is fresher. The produce generally has not traveled as far as most produce than is sold in the supermarket.
- many of the vendors sell produce that is organically grown, yet sells for the same price (or lower) of conventionally-grown produce sold in grocery stores.
- the nutritional level and taste is much better with fresh food.
- locally-grown produce uses less fossil fuel since its a shorter distance to travel from farm to consumer.
- meat sold at farmers' market is from livestock that is often raised with a much healthier diet; and is not given antibiotics or growth hormones.
- other non-produce items are sold (e.g., baked goods, honey, flowers, crafts). This encourages one-stop shopping and further reduces the amount of fuel needed to do errands.
When Sophia and Olivia go to the farmers markets, I often will give them a few dollars to spend. Sometimes they pick vegetables that they want me to make; and other times they'll use it for a special treat - like fresh raspberries or a bouquet of flowers.
Regardless of how they spend the money, it is a great way for the girls to talk with farmers, budget their money, and support local businesses.
Are you looking for even more ideas about how to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle? Global Stewards has an excellent list of eco-friendly tips with helpful links.