too broke to go green.

balancing an ethical budget…

listen, we live in a society that tokenizes good deeds & healthy habits only to toss them aside a year later for the next big trend, sometimes with a rather villainous exit. consumerism and social media are mostly to blame but we can’t be let off the hook either, with our short attention spans and seemingly good intentions. depending on where you get your info it can be a whirlwind of conflicting misinformation.

soy or no soy? what if recycling is just another big business scheme? is it too late to save the great barrier reef? how do I compost in my space?

I don’t have the answers. what I do have is a responsibility to do what I can within the capabilities of our family. resources are limited around here from time to time but I get asked a lot about how we choose to live a simpler life on a budget. truth be told, it’s an expensive habit in our economic climate. not only do most one-income households not make enough to invest in all eco-friendly products, it can be difficult to know what is worth the investment when you’re ready to make it. nothing bums me out more than being recommended an “affordable” ethical brand only to see that they charge $65 for a hemp/cotton kids tee. or following an instagram influencer who only uses $80 dollar face cream & eats all organic from their local boutique grocer. quality and time do have immense value but it just isn’t practical for me and I know I’m not alone.

recently, I took to the ‘gram for a fun little poll: cost vs. organic/ethical when choosing brands for your family? the results were slightly in favor of organic/ethical. not surprised. I often feel guilty for choosing the less expensive option or fall victim to social media competition or I go without the product entirely if I can’t make a good choice. not ashamed to admit that there’s a lot of pressure to keep up. what do you do when you just can’t spend the extra now to save it later. a lot of the mamas I know have made those investments in their family and my friends come from all kinds of financial backgrounds. I love watching them craft a life that works for them. for me- I grow/make my own, use coupons, and shop smart/second hand. to each their own.

but, I’ve got some tips. in list fashion. as I would. because this mama is on a budget…

  1. use what you have or get rid of it, without guilt. odds are you don’t have a sentimental attachment to every antique find or little human outfit that is three seasons outgrown. pass it on to someone else. trade it for something you do need. sell it to a stranger. minimizing serves a multitude of functions in our lives both mentally and practically.via My New Neighbor on Pinterest

2. do your freakin’ research. I’m sure my little humans get tired of me holding up traffic in the grocery while I google an ingredient or brand before tossing something in the buggy. but they’ll get over it. this also applies when embarking on any home upgrades or making fashion purchases. you have to remember that going green has become a softly regulated labeling and sales device. resulting in qualifications that might not meet your personal standards. marketing has a way of jazzing things up and watering them down at the same time.  I’d love to go in to some of my favorite brands but there are too many and everyone has differing opinions on what means the most to them when shopping. but there are a lot of sites that do the research for you. below are a random assortment of product/food/clothing shops that I use…

  • ThredUp is the coolest site I’ve found in a while because second hand is best but not everyone has time/energy to spend hours thrifting. it’s organized, has a wide variety of price/size/style options for little humans and adults, AND gives you a place to send your unwanted items.
  • Grove Collaborative covers all the bases from cleaning supplies to skincare and even supplements. they offer deliveries through a handy subscription or you shop as you please. under each product you will find a clear list of which “grove values” are met. super helpful!
  • Brandless has a motto of “better stuff, fewer dollars” which is probably the best motto if you want to sell me anything. all items are $3 or less. they ship direct to lower lost resources between buyer and consumer. the food products are labeled to accommodate vegan, gluten free, non-gmo, etc. bonus: they partner with Feeding America to donate a meal every time you check out.
  • Aldi’s if you don’t know, find out. that’s all I have to say. and don’t forget your quarter for the buggy.

3. start small. replace things one at a time. it is worse to waste something like a plastic container than it is to make use of it. note- I don’t apply this rule to food containers, throw that shit out. you might feel it appropriate to rid your closet of every synthetic fabric or cheaply made dress from Forever 21 to make way for small batch, conscious clothing but in reality it’s gonna end up somewhere, regardless. if you wear/use/eat it, keep it. if not, see #1. check out a few of the blogs where I find good info…

  • Mama Eco the patron saint of eco-friendliness. super grateful to have found Shannon Kenny on instagram. she has the best tips and even has a shopping guide on Amazon to help you out.
  • Sammie Kolk is the go-to for clean beauty, hands down. she also highlights a lot of great food items. while not all of the products she features are in my price range, I always check her blog for recommendations and promo codes when shopping
  • eartheasy aims at sharing the way to a more sustainable living through guides and tutorials, that the site founder says are mostly from first hand experience. gardening, composting, green home- the wealth of info here is limitless. you can even shop or chat live with customer service to ask questions.
  • The Raw Alignment Movement was recommended by a friend and it’s a really great, all-inclusive-type service where you can get a monthly health/wellness membership that’s customizable to your needs. some of the videos are also up on YouTube for free. they cover all kinds of topics and the vibe is overall positivity and spreading the love. it is geared toward a vegan crowd but has plenty to offer everyone.
  • MOTHER is the holy grail. run, don’t walk. thank me later.

4. make it. grow it. put a bird on it. (Portlandia, anyone?!) go ahead, risk that Pinterest fail. I know that not everyone can sew or has the space for a garden or compost, which is totally fine. you can find diy guides to making your own make up or cleaning supplies, for building up your outdoor space, and cooking just about anything you can think of. evaluate your skills and resources and make the most of them. personally, I have a garden & enjoy cooking. I rarely shop for clothes but when I do, it’s a one item in/two items out policy in which we donate or pass down items. and I keep gift giving to a practical minimum- meaning, very few tangible gifts are ever purchased by me for the little humans. (sounds dramatic but my kids have never got them so they aren’t missing out) those things help my dollar stretch further so that we can travel and do fun stuff. I think the time you invest in doing so will always pay off. you can even include the little humans in some projects which is a double win! it’s also another good opportunity to trade things with other people or come up with original gifts to give.

5. shop small. shop local. support your friends’ businesses. SHOP WITH INTENTION.

ultimately, do what’s right for your family. there’s nothing shameful about living a mostly simple life. eat the doritos. buy the marc jacobs. throw out your food scraps. know when you are willing to compromise in order to get a good value and when quality should win out. we are all just trying to get by over here with minimal impact and living a life we enjoy. hopefully, some of these tips have helped if you’re rockin’ the green life on a budget. and if you have any great recommendations send them my way.

humbly,

Eliot.

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