since starting this crazy journey towards motherhood, i have been introduced into a realm in the blogosphere that i did not even know existed. previously i was pretty devoted to the theological nourishment i received from such blogs as between two worlds and mark driscoll's blog.
more recently i have been blessed and refreshed to learn from the godly perspective of some older women that i really respect, namely carolyn mahaney and noel piper. in the past few months, i also started to follow blogs from some younger mothers that focus on practical tips for managing the family day to day and maintaining a healthy and environmentally friendly home (namely simple mom, simple organic and keeper of the home).
although i almost feel like a christian tomboy at times because of my love of theology, i have been really gaining a lot from these feminine issue focused blogs that i have most recently started to follow. i am learning a lot about my role as household manager, wife and (soon to be) mother.
something that has struck me as a repeated theme in several of these blogs is that my desire to be frugal, to be healthy and to be green go mostly hand in hand (in hand?). i love multitasking! though i would say that i generally live a pretty green and healthy life, i have been challenged to take it a step further in a few areas, and by God's grace i will become a better steward of the resources he has given us in these ways.
1. reducing our paper products
we already re-use computer paper (print on the back side of already used paper for unimportant things we print out, such as directions and coupons) and use very few paper towels (i clean with rags only and dry my hands on regular towels).
also, i have already sewn cloth baby wipes and we plan on cloth diapering as soon as we get kiddos (assuming they are still in diapers, which they almost definitely will be, as a result of the train wreck that is called the foster care system).
our next steps are going to be eliminating paper towels and paper napkins. i plan on finishing out our current supply of both, and then (hopefully) never buying then again. i have a heard a good recommendation to use plain colored bandanas for less fancy (and less expensive) cloth napkins.
and... call me crazy but i have considered looking into cloth handkerchiefs and cloth feminine hygiene products. if we ever make this switch, it is long in the future. but it may happen.
2. making my own cleaning products
i was already in the process of switching to all homemade cleaning products, but recently i have discovered more recipes for various types of homemade cleaning products, and more motivation to switch (did you know that the epa estimates that the inside of a house often has 2-5x more pollutants than outside the house?) again, i am using up what we still have around the house, then i will start making all my own
currently, i am using baking soda as an abrasive scrub for the bathtub and sinks, and vinegar for cleaning various other things. i am also planning on making an orange peel-vinegar cleaner next time oranges go on sale.
3. reducing plastic
more awareness is being raised recently about the effects of BPA, a chemical found in many plastics, especially clear ones, that leaches out and can effect your health. it is especially dangerous for young children. i was aware of BPA in nalgene-type water bottles but i have come to discover that it is found in much more than that, from the lining of cans to plastic food storage containers.
recently, i got rid of all of our plastic water bottles and travel mugs. i now use a stainless steel water bottle, and i am looking to buy a stainless steel travel mug to replace the one i lost recently.
i am moving towards getting rid of our plastic good storage containers in favor of glass (this is going to be a more difficult transition, i anticipate it taking some time). i also want to learn how to can my own vegetables, especially tomatoes. since we moved to california, i discovered how to make beans in the crock pot from dried beans in order to save money, since canned goods are so costly here (i save at least $3 per batch this way, and we go through a batch a week easily). i will most definitely continue to do this now that i know about the BPA in cans.
4. organic foods
mentally, the switch to organic food is very difficult for me. most organic food costs about twice as much as conventional, which seems like a ridiculous waste (this is where being green and frugal don't go quite hand in hand)! i am secretly bitter because i suspect that organic companies know that people are willing to pay top dollar for their products, so they rip people off. it is very hard for me to justify spending so much on food when that money could be given to others who have none at all, and would be happy to eat pesticide-laden food.
however, several things i have read recently have convinced me to take the plunge. probably more than anything, my decision to move towards organic stems from the fact that i have a concern for the impact on the earth that herbicides and pesticides have. i heard a story on NPR the other day about farmers in alabama resorting to old-fashioned hand picking weeds because of the fact that they are now resistant to all 4 or 5 different herbicides the farmers tried to use. also, herbicides and pesticides wash off of farmland and go in to the local water supply. the use of these chemicals does not seem to be good stewardship of the earth that God has given to us.
furthermore, some farming chemicals do have an effect on our health. every year, america sells billions of dollars of pesticides to other countries that are banned in the US for health reasons. however, then we go back and buy up the produce that these other countries produce with the chemicals that are banned in our country.
to a lesser extent, i have a concern for the treatment of the animals who give me the food i eat. i do feel more comfortable knowing that the chickens who produced my eggs were given the freedom to run around and peck and fulfill their God-given chicken purpose, or that cows were not fed old meat scraps and antibiotics so that they produced more milk for me.
i am making the transition to organic slowly, mostly for budgetary reasons. my current goal is to buy about 25-50% of our food organic, and hopefully increase over time. i have researched which foods typically are found to have the most pesticides/chemicals (for example, meat, dairy, apples and spinach) and which are more "clean" (for example, broccoli, cauliflower, US grown grapes and pineapple), which helps me to decide which foods to buy organic and which to buy conventional.
also, i am learning how to make more things at home (for example, i recently tried my hand at making yogurt) to save money. i have also started a garden and a compost bin, which will allow us to eat more chemical-free produce for less.
does any of this strike a chord with you? what steps have you taken recently to live more frugally/green/healthy? what are the next steps that you want to take?