I didn’t want to post something about how crucial it is that we save the planet because I found that the internet was oversaturated with that sentiment and sometimes that makes our scrolling become immune to the real message. I’m so glad so many people posted and reposted those messages of urgency because it’s an urgent problem and it has become the most important problem that we as humankind need to solve (aka fix the problem we ourselves have made). There was also also a lot of influencer garbage being posted too, though. If someone is endlessly trying to sell you shit every day in their posts but takes one day off to talk about how important it is to reduce your consumption, that person is a fraud who is just trying to use the moment to get some likes. The internet makes it so easy to tap in collectively to an event and share information about it … and then leave it behind 24 hours later until the next year’s annual post. This is usually fairly harmless but when it comes to climate change every year that passes is crucial to the cause, so please join me in trying to talk about this stuff all year long – I don’t normally post about the environment but I think we all need to start making space for an ongoing discussion about what we’re doing to save this planet and how we can all better our choices so we can move collectively toward a more sustainable future, fast. It’s too late for a bandaid solution now and fast is our only option. We have an opportunity to use the internet as a platform for us to learn from, encourage, and inspire each other. So let’s dive right into my own unsolicited two cents 😂
The latest climate change report stated that we have 11.5 years to reverse the damage we’ve done to our planet, and that’s frightening. My kids will just be entering their teen years then and if Tom and I have raised them even remotely well they’ll be asking why the hell they’re being left an irrevocably damaged planet and what, if anything, we did to try and stop that from happening. We don’t want to have to tell them we did anything less than our absolute, back-breaking best to pass on a beautiful (albeit healing) earth, so we’ve been making as many changes as we can in our lifestyle to attempt to do as much as we are able to do.
It’s really hard to do everything. In fact unless you have unlimited resources it’s impossible, and we’re all in different situations so I think it’s understandable that we each do whatever is within our personal means to do. And I don’t mean we change one little thing to assuage our own guilt and call it a day. The time for fake change and ignorant bliss has long past. Start today and every few months re-evaluate what you can do. Can you make more eco-friendly swaps? Can you go meat-free 6 days a week instead of just 1? Can you stop buying gd water bottles for once and for all (seriously this is SO BAD, but obviously don’t do this if you live in an area without safe drinking water). That’s why we do what makes sense for us to do.
I write all this in the spirit of informing, not preaching. It’s not about who is doing the most, it’s about all of us doing as much as we can. I’m learning more all the time about my impact and the impact of my family. This is an ongoing conversation that Tom and I have and that we hope to include our children in as soon as they’re old enough to talk (lol, still waiting on that). Just in case you’re at a loss for ideas here are some places to start! We have incorporated or are in the middle of incorporating these changes and would love to answer any questions if you have them!
G R O C E R Y and K I T C H E N
- Most people already know to bring fabric bags with them when they do a food shop (this is like, Environmental Impacts 101) but the little plastic bags in the produce and bulk sections are a killer too! You can replace them with reusable mesh produce bags you can bring to the store for your fruit, veg, and bulk purchases.
- It’s amazing how many things can be replaced with a reusable product: I’ve replaced my parchment paper with a washable silicone pan liner (I was using parchment paper every single day!), there are great quality heavy duty and leakproof ziplock bags on Amazon as well as beeswax alternatives to clingwrap. You can use biodegradable cloths instead of paper towel, washable makeup remover pads, even biodegradable wooden dish scrubbers and toothbrushes that you can happily throw in with your regular compost at the end of its lifespan.
- You can’t use what you don’t have with you, so throw a metal straw in your car, stroller, and backpack so you don’t have to use plastic when you need to stop for a coffee or takeout. Same goes for plastic cutlery when ordering takeout.
- If you live near a bulk or zerowaste store (yay, big cities!) bring those bags and jars and fill up in bulk on whatever you can. This can greatly reduce the amount of plastic packaging that goes from your home to the landfill.
- Purchase less “single serving” products like juice boxes, squeezepacks, cheese strings, individual yogurts. Buy these things in larger portions and use reusable cups and glass tupperware. If you’re able to, making hummus, guac, salsa, etc from scratch can save a lot of plastic containers over the years. Not all of us have time for that, but a lot of us do. Hummus is stupid easy and takes about 2.5 minutes though so nobody has an excuse for that one.
- As your plastic tupperware gets worn out, replace it with glass – you can find options everywhere, even at Ikea, and they’re a little heavier but so affordable.
S H O P P I N G
- start popping into a thrift store once a week – you never know what you’ll find! I score so many kids clothing items, toys, and housewares for a super low cost, and it makes me feel good to know I’ve kept something from going to the landfill. You’re not gonna find the secondhand stuff of your dreams every time, but you won’t ever find anything if you never go. The best find are kids shoes – they’re often priced around $3-$8 and barely used because kids grow so damn fast! New kids shoes can cost a LOT so if you’re near a thrift store but don’t have a lot of time to go through it all, just check out the shoes.
- let friends and family know that you don’t mind receiving secondhand stuff sometimes! I think we often feel like a new gift is so much better than a used one and that if we give someone a secondhand gift it means we’re dirt poor (lol) but a lovingly-thrifted vintage toy or baby dress or a big basket of excellent used books is way cooler and took more time to choose than some neon plastic that someone bought on their phone on Amazon without a second thought. No shade to plastic toys, there are times when they bring major joy to our kids and last years and years, but I’ve seen firsthand how well kids play with less quantity and less flashy toys, and there’s something to be said for that, too.
- I used to think making and receiving DIY stuff was a little ghetto, but I’ve since realized that these are just the best gift. Homemade play dough is freaky easy to make, the colours are better, it’s all natural, and you can choose your own scents with essential oils.
D I E T
- Whelp, this is gonna be an unpopular suggestion, but also maybe not because I’ve received a ton of questions about all of the vegan recipes I’ve posted on IG and I know that a lot of people are making some changes for health, for planet, and for their love of animals. Veganism has such a weird negative stigma associated with it sometimes but meat and dairy are a major part of your individual environmental impact. I’m not going to cite all of my sources here because it’s so easy to find the information if you choose to look into it. I didn’t look into it on purpose for a really long time because I knew what I was going to find and I knew that my discomfort and guilt would make me want to make major choices that I didn’t feel ready to make. To be perfectly honest I don’t give a hot damn about animals being eaten (this makes me sound like a total monster and I’m very sorry but I’ve always felt much more tender-hearted toward humans in need than animals. But saving animals is a lovely bonus too). The more I informed myself about meat and dairy and their affects on our health (so bad) and the planet (so, so bad), the more inclined I was to try reducing our consumption of those products. I was worried that Tom wouldn’t be on board at all, but after the latest climate change report freaked us out we did some research and found that cutting out meat and dairy was one of the biggest things we could do for climate change on an individual and family level. At first I felt like it was such a major personal sacrifice to make (and difficult for me as our family’s primary meal-planner and cook to change all of my habits!) but I quickly realized that my palate had changed and I truly preferred to eat a more veg-heavy meal. I experimented a lot and found ways that my family and I could love eating tons of veg and fruit. I found that there are amazing meat-free alternatives to almost all of our favourite things. For now we are what I’d call “Home Vegans” and it’s really easy for us. This means we eat plant-based meals at home and we try to go veg when we’re out but we sometimes indulge when it’s easy or we’re having a major craving for something. If we’re out with the kids we might grab an ice cream or a piece of pizza. On a date night (not that we get any of those!) we might split a burger. When we eat at someone’s house we will happily eat whatever we’re served without making a special request. But I’m shocked at how easy it’s been to transition at home and how much I prefer to eat healthful meals that I know are nourishing our bodies in a big way. I easily made all of my baking dairy and egg-free without one failed recipe. Our dinners are big, beautiful buddha-bowls filled with grains, veg, tasty sauces, nuts and seeds. We aren’t perfect but we’ve made a big change and I’m kinda proud of us.
- if you want any recommendations for great meat-free substitutes, hit me up! I’ve tried a lot of them and have some major faves. If you have that you love, also hit me up! Always looking to try new recipes and products.
H O M E
- when Tom told me he wanted to replace all of our thermostats with smart thermostats and our bulbs with smart bulbs I thought he was just being a dork who wanted to pimp our house with tech. And maybe he is! But then I read about how setting your heating systems to a timer can save a ton of energy and now I’m into it too. When we leave the house in a frenzy of chaos (which is every time we leave the house, because kids) and we forget to turn lights and heaters off, we can just do it from our phone in the car. We can set our heat to drop during the night and come up again in time for morning. We use this one.
- cleaning supplies: just so much room for improvement here. Science is amazing and people have come up with eco-friendly cleaning agents that work just as well as the ‘bad stuff’ and won’t give your kids a rash or kill their brain cells. So many of those mass-produced candles and “odour cover” sprays are full of some truly toxic shit. Get thee to Amazon, Whole Foods, any alternative store, or just your local grocer, because better options exist! Esp. essential oils.
- I hang-dry the laundry when I can but sometimes you just need to use the dryer (especially when you’re cleaning your toddlers sheets in the middle of the night when they have the flu). I just found out about wool dryer balls last week. Throwing a couple of wool balls in the dryer with your clothes can reduce your dry time by 50%! That’s just convenient. I ordered mine on Amazon but you can find Canadian-made, organic wool balls (lol) pretty much everywhere.
- I know that it would be more eco-friendly for us to have stayed in our 750 sq ft condo; the massive house we bought needs a lot of heating and that isn’t doing the environment any favours. But the plus side of having such a large property is that we have the opportunity to do some other cool stuff, like composting, rain collection, and growing our own food. Plus hello, money saving! The free soil we’ll get from our compost and the free food we’ll grow in our veg garden and harvest from our fruit trees will save us tons of money, especially since I’ve found groceries to be much more expensive on the coast.
- we paid a few hundred bucks to have a full EnerGuide home evaluation done. An energy expert comes to your house and assesses its draftiness, heat sources, blah blah blah, and sends you a full report on your home, telling you where you can save the most money and energy and which rebates (whoop!!) you can apply for to get a bunch of money back on the changes you make. Knowledge is power, people. Also we basically bought the draftiest home in BC so there’s a lot of work to be done over here (cringe).
- eventually we’d love to get solar-powered energy in our house but it can cost around $25-$30k so we aren’t able to make all the leaps we wanna make at this time. But I’ll mention it because maybe you can! Also, the government should give huge rebates for this kinda stuff.
P O L I T I C A L
- I’m still working on this one. Currently in North America our leaders are not the climate change leaders that every country needs. Keeping myself informed and voting for a party that will consider the future of the planet is important to me and something that I want to spend more time doing.
- major corporations should be held much more accountable for their environmental footprint than they currently are. This is something we can all learn more about and lobby for within our local and wider government systems.
If you’ve read this far, wow (fun fact: I started writing this as an Instagram caption, but it got a little ahead of me). If you read this and want to head to your local shops to purchase some reusable and sustainable items, mother earth applauds you! We can’t all do it all. You might not be able to relinquish air travel if you have relatives overseas. You might not have the space to grow your own vegetables. But maybe you have the money to buy handmade wooden toys on Etsy for the next birthday party you attend, or the time to search on Craigslist for a baby swing instead of having it delivered by Amazon Prime, or the energy to visit a bulk store for half of your grocery list. Again, it’s not about who’s doing the most, it’s about all of us doing as much as we can.