Amongst all the everyday things I have anxiety about, I have been concerned for our planet and the future our kids and grandkids will have if we don’t turn the tide on climate change. Changing the world seems like a daunting task and I would often get caught between the macro and micro views.
I believe that we are our children’s first teachers and it was not enough to talk about our impact on the environment if I didn’t then act on it. Yes, there may be things in this world that you do not like, but if it is in your power to do something about them — then you should.
At least that is what I would tell myself. But, was I leading by example?
Rather than getting overwhelmed by the massive problem our planet is facing, I began focusing on the things I could control and changing them one at a time. Letting new habits form and stick. Then taking on another change.
These are some examples of where we started in our home with small changes. Yours might be different. Whatever you choose, do something you can stick with.
- Cloth Napkins — I grew up in a house where we used paper napkins with our meals. My mom would buy the big package at Costco now and then. We only used cloth napkins for special occasions. So when I became an adult, I did the same… it was just what we did. We were over at a friend’s house for dinner one night and she put out cloth napkins for everyone next to our pizza dinner. WHAT?! Mind blown. I bought a pack of simple cloth napkins the next day and have never turned back. Some argue that more energy is used because you have to clean the cloth napkins, but you can do some of that research as well. In our home of four plus a dog, we are already doing laundry and throwing in a few small napkins does not have a dramatic increase on our water usage. We also leave them folded at our table and use them a couple of times unless my 4-year old has been eating pancakes with syrup — then straight to the wash!
- Beeswax wrappers — Similar to paper napkins, I always bought plastic cling wrap because that is just what happened in my house growing up. Now, there are so many alternatives and some of these are just forming different habits. It takes practice. I bought a pack of beeswax wrappers for myself and have not bought cling wrap since. My boys won’t even know what cling wrap is. I also have learned new ways to store food including storing my half-used onions and lemons cut-side down on a plate in the fridge, or freezing last bit of vegetables to later make broth.
- Metal Straws — We live in California where plastic straws are harder to come by with restaurants getting rid of them completely in many places. But at home sometimes we make smoothies and milkshakes that are hard to drink without a straw and even harder with a paper straw. The reusable and dishwasher safe metal straws have been great for this and have the added benefit of making us think twice before asking for straws outside of the home.
These changes were simple to make and have started a movement toward action in our household. Once you start with something small and you start to see the reward, it makes every change that follows easier.
I am nowhere near where I want to be, but I am getting closer and I am showing my kids that if there is something that concerns you — do something about it.