One of the often hardest things about starting a journey to becoming more eco-friendly is finding a way to be eco-friendly while also being busy. There are few people for whom this is truer than for America’s mothers! Not only are most American mothers taxed by busy schedules, hectic households and a challenging work-life balance, but they also often have responsibility for what can be the most wasteful parts of the home – children areas and kitchens. Now, we certainly don’t mean to play into gender stereotypes here. These tips are just as useful for busy dads! But in the spirit of Mother’s Day, we thought that we’d share our ten favorite tips for busy moms who want to be more environmentally friendly.
Tip Number One: Reusable Bags are Your Friend
One of the quickest changes that you can make as a mother is to get rid of all of the single-use bags in your life. Yes, it’s easier to just grab the existing bags at the grocery store. However a reusable bag can be the biggest eco-impact that you make. We know that it’s hard to get out of your groove and switch to reusables, so we’ve made it simpler with our guide to easily transitioning from single-use bags to reusable ones.
Tip Number Two: Stackers and Organizers
One of the keys to success for just about all busy moms is to have quick and easy ways to organize. This can be particularly effective when it comes to recycling, especially if your community doesn’t have one-off recycling bins for you. A triple-layer stackable storage unit that allows you to quickly throw glass, aluminum and paper into different bins with no extra effort is a great way to become a better recycling maven.
Tip Number Three: Audit Your Products. It Only Takes Once.
Are you using eco-friendly cleaning products? You might be surprised how affordable eco-friendly cleaning products are or how effective homemade cleaning products are. Set some time aside one day and one day only to audit your cleaning products and identify what could be an easier, cheaper or more eco-friendly product to use. After you do it once, your work is done for you and you can be making an eco-impact without having any ongoing work to do.
Tip Number Four: Use a Shopping List
There are many reasons to always, always use a shopping list when you go shopping. Being environmentally friendly is one of them though! Firstly, as a busy mom, know that using a shopping list will save you valuable time when you’re at the grocery store and it will also help you keep on budget. But in addition it’s helpful in your environmental efforts because using a shopping list means that you’re less likely to buy items on the spur of the moment that you don’t need and that will later be wasted.
Tip Number Five: Dinnertime Rules and Pre-Prepared Food
Americans waste an enormous amount of food every year. How can you, as a busy mom, contribute to reducing this while not adding excessive amounts of time to dinner preparation? One trick is to set some basic dinnertime rules like “don’t put more on your plate than you’ll eat” or simply “don’t waste food.” Another trick, though, is to stay away from take-out and pre-prepared foods. These types of meals (in addition to being generally unhealthy) often come in serving sizes that are larger than anybody will need. You can, however, still reduce the amount of time that you need to prepare meals so that you can wean yourself off of takeout and pre-prepared foods by taking a few hours on the weekend to prep and cut dinner ingredients for the week (also, learn to love a crockpot!).
Tip Number Six: Give Your Family and Your Children Responsibility
It’s easy for a mother to feel like she’s the only one responsible for things in a household, but that’s not true! Even if your family doesn’t have individual chores, you can often make people responsible for their own recycling activity! When rooms are cleaned, recycling should be dropped off. You can, of course, expand your efforts by giving people more immediate chores like checking for unnecessary lights being on or organizing a Goodwill cleaning of the house.
Tip Number Seven: Checklists Help Everybody
Checklists of any kind are a busy mom’s friend, and that’s true when it comes to being more environmentally friendly as well. Add items to your weekly checklist like “audit house for recyclables” or “stock reusable bags in the car” or “make homemade floor cleaner.” If they’re part of your organized home effort to begin with, these eco-friendly activities won’t feel like they’re taking up extra time (because they won’t be!).
Tip Number Eight: Nothing Gets Washed Until It’s Full
A common area of waste in households is a daily running of a dishwasher or extra loads of laundry because the washer wasn’t full the first time. Make it a household rule that water-based appliances like dishwashers and laundry machines don’t get run unless they are full. You’ll probably be very surprised at how much water and energy is saved when you’re only running appliances after it’s really time to run them!
Tip Number Nine: Get Used to Turning Things Off
The average American household leaves just about everything turned on all of the time – lights, computers, televisions, the works. It’s actually a fairly simple change to get used to the idea of turning things off when they’re not being used. In the end, you’ll find that you save a ton of energy without exerting a ton of effort.
Tip Number Ten: Take a Moment and Breathe!
The last tip is the easiest! Just take a moment to sit down each day and have a second to yourself. After you’ve recovered from the overwhelming crush of the day, ask yourself, “Is there any little five minute thing that I can do today to make this home more eco-friendly?” If there is, take the five minutes to do it. If there’s not, enjoy another five minutes to yourself!
Photo Credit: @Doug88888 via Flickr