October of 2015 gave my family a great reminder of why it is so important to preserve this planet that we borrow from our children. Meet our first grandchild, her grandpa calls her "Buttercup".
My personal green journey was first given a jumpstart in 2010 when I read a book called No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process by Colin Beavin. What I loved about the book is that it isn't about getting it perfect, it's about getting started.
I'd been especially inspired by Mr. Beavin because he didn't stop there, and he showed that no effort was too small. Additionally, he did it against great odds, as he & his wife lived in the middle of New York City with their toddler. The book got me thinking. We had already recycled, changed out our light bulbs, used cloth napkins and cloth grocery sacks, but what other efforts could we make?
I started looking at the things my family threw away, and realized with 3 of us taking lunches to work and school each day we were using a ton of plastic bags. I wish I could say that we reused them, but in reality, we were shopping at Costco buying a jumbo pack of Ziplocks every few months.
Skip forward one year, and I was making sandwich bags that safely preserved our food--not only for my family, but for our friends, coworkers and eventually for sale on Amazon and Etsy. I was buying local, decreasing the environmental toll of transporting food to the table. I traded in my SUV for a hybrid, and when my husband bought his next truck, he chose one with "EcoBoost".
Over time, I was inspired to explore laundry options as a family member of ours had battled vulvar cancer (yes, you can get cancer THERE). As a nurse, I knew that soaps and dryer sheets are a big contributor to this type of cancer. We already had the hard nubby dryer balls to soften clothes, but they were plastic, noisy, and they hurt if they fell on bare feet. I began making felted wool dryer balls from holey Goodwill sweaters to soften our clothes instead. Yes, they were pretty, but they also worked, and they used something that was no longer functional for it's original purpose. I also explored non-chemical washing options but had poor results, and eventually discovered soap nuts (ask me how many times I get ribbed for using soap nuts and dryer balls) and found that unlike traditional laundry soap, they even removed the odor from our dog beds. The ultimate test!
As our youngest headed off to college in September, we moved to Denver. I'm excited to say that we went under contract for a house with solar panels last night--my wishlist item (Yay!) This is something we wouldn't have seriously considered in rainy Portland, but a real plus here where there is so much sun.
My company, Green City Living is about providing people with functional alternatives for household items that are disposable or chemically harmful. There are other options out there, and because our ultimate goal is to save the planet rather than line our pockets, we don't care which eco product is chosen. (Actually, I do care about one thing--please don't use bags made from "oilcloth" unless it is truly oiled cloth. The plasticy "oilcloth" sold is bad news and NOT the same thing as laminated cotton).
The point of this post isn't to claim to have all the answers, we are definitely still a work in progress. I admittedly have sometimes had to nudge (ie: push or drag) my more reluctant family members towards greener living and I myself still use a paper towel or two (we do have dogs). The goal for my company is to get people examining their own waste and how they can take one step at a time towards change. This is imperative if the world is to continue to be a habitable place for "Buttercup's" descendants as well as yours. I can't think of a better legacy.