Mumming is hard.
Making lunches, reading notes from school, helping with homework, chauffeuring everyone to extra-curricular activities and play dates, cleaning up toys that end up back on the floor 5 minutes later… and doing all this with a distant relationship with sleep?
Man, it’s tough.
And you still have this funny little voice in your head telling you to make better choices for the planet!
Well, I’m here to tell you that this is not nearly as stressful or difficult as you may think, and there are some easy things you can do to ease that guilt right now!
Here is my next list of ‘set and forget’ things you can do at home to reduce your family’s impact on the planet for the long term and it’s guaranteed to help you sleep a little better, even if the kids won’t.
Set up an eco-friendly home
There are lots of habit changes you can make at home that have a big impact over time. Try some of the following to make a difference:
- Collect grey water from the bath tub and shower for the garden. After the kids have their bath, leave the plug in and take what you need for your daily watering needs. If you are a showering family, keep a tub in the bottom of the shower to collect water.
- Get people into the habit of wearing clothes more than once before chucking them in the laundry basket. This means you wash less often (less water and energy) which saves you time too!
- Train the hoards to turn off lights, or better yet, not to turn them on unnecessarily. Open curtains and blinds during the day, only light rooms you are in at night.
- Set one day of the week that is ‘use up the food in the fridge’ day and have fun creating hodge podge meals. I like to do this the day before grocery day and believe me, LOTS of things can be put into an omelette!
- Make a pact to pause before buying something new to ask yourself if you really need it and what kind of impact it will have.
- Set a period of time for a shopping ‘blackout’ – no new clothes, shoes, accessories, toys etc. for a month. This actually really makes you realise how easily you can live with what you already have.
- Don’t reward your children with ‘things’ – take them out for a nice meal, a movie, a trip to the zoo. These kind of experiences make better memories than a toy that only gets played with for a very limited time.
- If you really have to buy something, go for an op shop run for a bit of thrift store shopping. You WILL save money and find some awesome stuff. I have bought children’s clothing at the op shop that is brand new!
Start a borrowing culture
If you think back a few generations, it was very much the norm to receive hand-me-downs from friends and family and borrow things from your neighbours. Then something changed it seems, and a lot of people decided to buy new and replace everything that broke, but a great way to reduce waste is to borrow!
- Need a fancy dress for an event? Ask your girlfriends for a loan.
- Lawn mower on the blink? Ask your neighbour if you can use his/hers.
- Kids sick of their toys? Do a switcheroo with another family for a month.
- Know someone without a car? Offer yours for trips or moving house.
Donate (with intention!)
Now everybody knows that you can fill up a few bags of old clothes, linen and toys and take them to the charity shop, but did you know that lots of those things can’t/won’t be used because of poor quality? I can’t tell you how furious I get when I see piles of dumped rubbish out the front of my local Red Cross shop when I know the poor workers have to sort it out and send it to landfill.
But there is a better way! You can make a quick list of places that take specific donations and make sure you give to them when the time comes.
Here are some examples in Australia, but you may need to find some for your local area:
- Old linen, towels, blankets and bedding can be taken to the RSPCA.
- Old toys can be given to Second Chance Toys where they will recycle ‘gently used’ plastic toys for children in disadvantaged situations.
- Old bikes in good condition can be taken to a Bikes 4 Life drop off point where they refurbish them and give them to people in developing countries as a means of transport.
- Unwanted work wear/business suits can be donated to Dress for Success where it is given to women to wear at job interviews.
So there you go eco mum! Not such a hefty list of things to do and lots of them are easy to implement and don’t cost a thing! And another added mum benefit is that you are teaching your children good, sustainable habits along the way.
If you are super-motivated to make more changes, download my free ebook below for 10 simple swaps to save money and the planet.