1. Use What You Have. Especially when it comes to toys, clothes and books. Recently, I started a new practice of keeping a list for my kids of all the toys, games and activities they have to select from. Each day the kids pick at least one of them and cross them off. Our list includes activities like cooking dinner with us and visiting the library. Empowering the kids to choose, while reminding them visually what they have and what they can do has been both fun and efficient. All toys and games that don’t get much use each year, get donated. For 2019, we aim to do more up-cycling projects. This month we will design and create a boat and spaceship out of cardboard boxes and fully furnish my daughter’s doll house from Craigslist.
2. Borrow. I dream of our public library joining the shared economy approach as they do in California. There, you can borrow tools and gadgets that you may use only once or twice. This got me thinking of using nexdoor.com to borrow from our neighbors, and lend as well. This year, I will post and ask to borrow things such as a water-pressure cleaner and a fondue set. I may even ask my neighbor for a lime! I have recently lent our slow cooker and tortilla maker – the possibilities are endless! The point of this whole pyramid mentality is to avoid to buy, for economic purposes, but mostly the environment’s sake.
3. Swap. Replace highly processed food with fresh, clean, easy snacks and made-from-scratch dinners. The healthier we eat, the better we feel. In 2018, we swapped the fridge shelves so that the veggies meet the kids eye height; they are much more inclined to munch more raw peppers, carrots and green beans than ever before. We also let them pick two veggies for their lunch. We will try to go one step further by increasing our meatless Mondays to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (we’ll see how that goes!). Finally, we just swapped buying milk from the store for ordering from South Mountain Creamery. This will help us minimize our trips to the store and bring us closer to achieving our biggest goal of canceling our Costco membership and aiming to get seasonal produce at the farmers markets, visiting the supermarket just twice a month. We can certainly try, right?
4. Thrift. Despite the time investment, if your kids are small, it’s so worth it, especially for clothes. Yard sales were particularly helpful for us when our kids were younger. Recently, their growth has slowed down a bit and we do not plan on needing any new clothes this year, but if we do, I’ll check online, and visit Bellies and Babies in Alexandria for sure. Thrifting saves money, earth’s resources and makes your kids’ wardrobes more original and interesting. Bring all the clothes they outgrow or you no longer wear and continue the circle of love.
5 Make. Mason jars with salads and homemade kombucha, crockpot yogurt and oatmeal cookies; these are a few of my favorite things! There are YouTube DIY videos for everything and anything you can think of. It can be a fun challenge and potentially relaxing and therapeutic too. The biggest obstacle is finding the time, but once you do the results are well worth it.
6 Buy. The electric bike! We are already reaching our goals of biking 50 percent of our trips, but truly believe we can double our green commutes especially with extra help hauling the kids. Combined, they already weigh almost 80 pounds and will exceed our trailer capacity soon. Until recently the expense of an electric bike was not in our budget, but thanks to Rad Power Bike, this has become a possibility. So, I’ll write it here to make it happen! For more green tips, visit sistermountain.com/blog/buyerarchy-of-needs