The idea of “environmentally friendly” didn’t come front and center for us until a little less than a decade ago. But I was somewhat passively aware of it long before that. My household is proof that you don’t need to live off-grid to embrace this idea. Small, every day habits by regular people add up!

My own story actually began when I was about 9 years old. My family had relocated to a new school district, and I made a group of new 4th grade friends that liked to create “clubs” for ourselves to belong to. We were quite an enterprising bunch! I remember a club we created called the “A’s Club” since our names — Amanda, Ashley, and Angie — all began with the same letter. Then, Jenny joined our group, so we couldn’t be the “A’s” anymore.
A kid’s book came into my possession at some point thereafter about ways to “Save the Earth”. It intrigued me because I couldn’t fathom why the Earth needed saving. And how could one kid save the entire planet? I read the book from cover to cover in less than a day. Hence, I suggested we create the “Earth Club.” The club was short-lived, however. It began and ended with me adopting an endangered manatee on behalf of my fellow club members. 😊

Fast forward to the Great Recession. My husband and I welcomed our first baby in 2008, which for many of us, was the toughest year of the Recession. Thankfully, we both remained employed during that time, but our wages were frozen at a time when the value of our home plummeted and our expenses were increasing very quickly. In some ways, we felt trapped. No way to move without a huge loss on our home, and no pay increases to count on to help plan for our expanding family. For about 2 1/2 years, it was an enormously stressful time for us.

So, we started looking for ways to save money. Over the next few years, we got serious about growing as much food for ourselves as we could. We started making enough apple sauce to last us all winter from a single apple tree in our back yard. I taught myself how to pickle cucumbers and do basic water bath canning.  I started making anything I could — baby food, cleaning products, soap — for our family myself instead of buying them at the store.

For me, gardening rekindled a relationship with this glorious planet on which we live. The more I read about gardening, I found that more questions arose. My instincts drew me to organic gardening specifically because it just made sense to me that the less “messed with” our food is, the better it is for us. It just tastes better too!

< i>Above: This is the garden where we planted sweet peppers, hot peppers, tomatoes, cukes, and smaller squash (like zucchini). We use natural pest deterrents like flour and African marigolds.< a href=””>Above: We use this longer bed for larger plants like pumpkin, winter squash, and watermelon.< a href=””>Above: This planter contains 15 strawberry plants.<

ver time, we started honing our footprint in other ways. Energy Star appliances…eco-friendly insulation for our 100+ year old home…low e glass replacement windows…a programmable thermostat to better control our energy bills. We generally have only 1 or 2 small bags of trash per week due to our weekly visits to the recycling bins in our township. This list is not exhaustive, but we do have plenty of other large and small scale projects on deck.

The current phase of goals pertains to the inside of our home. We are in the process of getting rid of possessions we no longer use. We are trying to teach our 2 children to value experiences more than physical belongings (that one remains a bit of a struggle!). As we replace items and simplify the inside of our home, much consideration and preference is given to solid quality, renewable materials, non-toxic finishes (impact to the air quality inside our home), and how it will eventually be disposed of (cradle-to-cradle). We will share progress updates in future posts.

We are striving to continuously learn how to do better, and it’s exciting to see the array of smart, innovative new eco-friendly products introduced to the market in the past several years. It seems the best is yet to come!

We want to hear from you. Please share your favorite eco-friendly ideas and products in the comments section! Are you actively working to live in a more sustainable way? Please tell us how!< a href=””><<<<<<<

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