Sunday, October 28, 2012

It IS Easy Being Green

In the last couple years, I have slowly become more and more.... green. I never really had an exact "ah ha!" moment, it seems to have come topic by topic, and slowly. We've made so many little, subtle changes as I have become more and more aware of what so many "convenience" items have done to our Earth, that I woke up today and realized all these little changes have added up to us being kind of weird! So, I feel prompted to throw some of our green living choices out there, and maybe explain them a little.

Cleaning Products
This was probably one of the first things I remember being more aware of. I don't know if it was more that they bothered me, or that I was worried about their harsh effects on the pets in our house, but most commercial cleaning products just don't have a place in our house.
GREEN ALTERNATIVE: A simple yet effective mix of white vinegar is sufficient for nearly ALL messes. I'm still guilty of the occasional bleach for particularly yucky/ dangerous messes, but it's few and far between. Plus, it deters ants (are you listening, Mom!) and other pesky critters and is safe on most surfaces.
GREEN LAUNDRY ALTERNATIVE: So, I've wanted to try soap nuts but haven't gotten around to that just yet, but I DID recently discover a natural laundry detergent that I am really liking called The Laundry Tarts.  Now, I've been a pretty loyal Tide user for as long as I've been doing my own laundry... which... well, OK, so we weren't allowed to do our own laundry at my Mom's house so not that long, but still. But this stuff is AWESOME. I love it. Love, love, love it. It comes in really delicious scents, and is completely effective. I also really like their stain remover stick. I buy them both at this little WAHM online shop that I love. (I have a bag of Eco Sprout that I have not tried yet, but I will report back on that. I do NOT like Rockn' Green)

Disposable Storage/ Containers
Jon and I used to FLY through plastic baggies and the like, and I admit that there are still some in the pantry. (No, wait, my house is old and doesn't have a pantry... they're in cold storage... this creepy dark closet in the basement that locks from the outside and gives me the heebie jeebies) We used them for everything, storing left overs, packing snacks, etc. Also, bottled water and drinks were huge around here. So convenient!
GREEN ALTERNATIVE: I started buying glass jars to carry drinks around, and stainless steel mugs to make hot cocoa at home with to take to work. (money saver, too!) I am guilty of picking up drinks in plastic containers at times, but I do make it a point to reuse them for a while... like the Gatorade bottle I've used for a solid week now. I also started string food/ leftovers/ snacks in plastic rubbermaid containers instead of baggies. I know glass is more eco-friendly, but this is a step for us anyway. This is an area that our green changes really take no effort to implement.

Wasteful packaging on processed foods are just as bad for the planet as the food is for our bodies. Plastic wrappers sit in landfills for years and years. Not only that, but the food itself is full of chemicals and preservatives to make it last on the shelves for years and years.
GREEN ALTERNATIVE: Jon and I have almost made a challenge/ game out of NOT buying and eating a ton of packaged foods anymore, and trying new things in the kitchen. I feel like we're being better to the environment and better to our bodies, so it's a win-win. I use the crock pot a lot, avoiding the fact that means running it all day. I do still buy canned beans, but I'm going to make the switch, I swear.

Shower & Body Products
How much sense does it make to cover yourself in chemicals? How much sense does it make to have a meal full of chemicals? None. But, most people do it every single day as they shower and use lotions and the like. Because your skin is the largest ORGAN of your body, and it absorbs every single thing you put on it, I've adopted the idea that if I can't/ wouldn't eat it- it doesn't go on my skin, either.
GREEN ALTERNATIVE: On shampoo, the simplest, cheapest, and most effective alternative to chemical-laden shampoos for me has been to simply not use it. That's right, I've been converted to the world of no-poo. In fact, I have not washed my hair in almost two months. I rinse it almost daily, put a little organic, cold-pressed coconut oil on my hands, and run them through my hair, and done! No shampoo, no conditioner, no gel, no mousse. I occasionally rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar. I have naturally curly, dry hair... and it's never been more manageable than it is with this routine. Less frizz, way less tangles, and I'm wearing it down more than ever. Best lotion? Plain Coconut Oil, which is also a great make-up remover, and makes the dogs smell edible. Seriously, anyone that knows me knows that I have the craziest most obnoxiously sensitive skin in the whole world.

Lady Products
Men, tune out. (yeah right, like men read this blog... does ANYONE read this blog?) I'm for real blogging about periods, because it's my blog and I'll post what I want to! So, commercial menstrual products creep me out, let's just be real. All those chemicals don't belong around the lady bits. But, aside from that factor, these products hugely affect our landfills because they virtually never break down. Considering a single woman will likely use over 15,000 single pads/ tampons in her lifetime and there's like... a crapload of women on this earth, that's a whole lot of yuck.
GREEN ALTERNATIVE: Ok, so when I first heard of menstrual cups I thought it was bat sh*t crazy. I mean, that thing goes where? Youch! But, then I bought a Diva Cup, and never looked back to tampons, which now officially gross me out to even think about. Plus, because it's silicon, and completely safe, and holds a ton it lasts 12 hours which means you virtually NEVER have to deal with periods in public bathrooms. I also discovered "mama cloth" which at first I thought was completely nuts, but since I have completely stupid skin that likes to react to everything in the world, commercial pads aren't even an option for me, so I bought an entire stash of cloth pads, and I love them. I bought some from here and here and here and here. Cleaning them is so easy there's virtually no ick factor. And, they're so cute it's almost fun. Ok, so it IS fun, don't judge.

Looking Forward
I feel like we've made a huge dent in our overall wastefulness. I don't  feel like any of the changes we've made so far have added any headache to our daily life, in fact most have really made things easier, and I like knowing that we are doing our part.
Some other changes that we will implement moving forward are:
-Unpaper towels. We already use cloth rags for moth things to minimize our use of paper towels but I want to really take the plunge into unpaper towels and do away with paper ones.
- Cloth Diapering- Ok, confession: I have more than a full stash of them, but I'm committed to using them when we have kids. Disposable diapers are one of the things filling our landfills faster than any other item.
-Breastfeeding- It's what boobies were made for, duh!
-Cloth shopping bags- self-explanatory.
-Composting- think of all the yard waste people throw out, usually in a huge plastic bag, taking up space in landfills when it is completely 100% biodegradable. And dog poop. When we move, I'd like to start seriously composting.
- Gardening- Obviously the "greenest" way to get your food is to grow it yourself.

But, I don't think we are cut out for family cloth. Ever. In fact, it's not even up for discussion. (cloth toilet paper)

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Little BSC

SO, the last month or so I've been really focused on this whole self-betterment theme I've adopted. I've been eating healthier, with small portions. I've been trying to be more active and at least getting out every day.I've been working a lot less because I realized that work-related stress was doing some serious damage to my overall health. I've even made an effort to spend more time with the people who are most important: family. (Plus, when you spend all day at Grandma and Grandpa's chatting for 8 hours, they also feed you lunch AND dinner, which is cool, too)
In High School, and a bit after, I really thought friends were the most important thing in the world. I'm not saying I don't care about friends, because I DO, and I always will... but I've found in recent years, that the people that matter the most, the people who come to mind when I think "friend" are also family.
A couple of weeks ago, it came up in conversation that somehow I live in Orem and had never been to Sundance or Park City. My mom spent ALL DAY LONG driving all over Park City and Sundance with me.  I mean all over. We left early in the day, she showed me so many neat places, some that she had been to with my dad (I do have one... somewhere.. I think...) some that have good food (noted!) some places good for shopping, people watching, etc. I had a complete blast. I actually had to stop on the way back down Provo canyon and think 2008, four years ago, I never thought I'd be close to my family again. And now, here I am, hanging out with one of my best friends, having a blast, we did nothing extreme and yet it's a day I won't ever forget, because that best friend is also my Mom. I am so sad my bad attitude kept this friendship from me for so many years, but I'm SO thankful to have it now.

I LOVE that my family is so close. I love that in 5 minutes, I can get to my sister's, brother's, grandparent's, and mom's house. I love that almost EVERY week we get together and have dinner, chat, hang out, and LAUGH. I love that we love each other. I love that I can count on them for anything. I love that I can count on ANY time I am with my sister Tanya, laughing my head off (and probably eating cookies, too.) and I LOVE that every now and then I can even get Mitch to chuckle. I LOVE that even though Shelly lives in Texas and we don't talk nearly as much as we should (don't ask why she lives there, I think it's silly!) I know I can pick up the phone and call her any time and I hope she KNOWS how much I look up to her, and always have. Let's face it, I have a hard time making Mac & Cheese sometimes, so I admire anyone that makes home made butter. For real.

I'm going somewhere with this, I promise.

Jon and I have had some big decisions to make. We've been talking, and praying about where we are supposed to raise our family, where we are supposed to put down roots, and where we want to call home in the long run. We've fought with this want to have acreage (and a cow!) and this want to stay near family. Every day we have struggled to make this decision so we can start planning. The reality is the farm life we've wanted probably won't happen around here. We both feel strongly that while we WISH Jon's family were closeby, Las Vegas is not for us. I had a complete moment of clarity tonight, and couldn't wait to share it with my husband. Sitting at Mitch's house, the room full of family, I listened as he told us about the family temple night Friday that Jon and I were not able to make it to. I listened as he told us a message that was shared with them. I listened as the realization of exactly what we are supposed to do hit me.

I'm not sure how it will work out. I'm not sure where Jon will work. I'm not sure how easily I will accept a life in the suburbs. What I do know, is moving away feels wrong. Leaving family feels wrong. I've had this feeling off and on for a while, that staying would be best, but kept reasoning with myself that there was still time to decide, and that we didn't need to come to a decision now. But tonight was different. I know without the shadow of a doubt that right here in Utah Valley is where we NEED to be, and this is where we will stay. I mean, after all... I LOVE THE MOUNTAINS. (stop chuckling, Mom)

Even if they are a little Bat Sh!t Crazy, they're my family... and I'm so lucky to have them.

Completely Off topic, unrelated note: I'm dang near ready to decorate for christmas, so DECK THE FREAKIN' HALLS. Fa la la la la la la.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

I can not tell you how many times in the last month or so I have actually stopped and thought to myself, "Oh MAN, am I thankful I'm NOT in San Francisco" Just sayin'...

Since San Francisco, we've had a few more adventures. We went to India with some of Jon's family and had a ...good... experience. It was fascinating to see a part of the world I never thought I'd see. The culture is so much different, so much more simple. I mean, don't get me wrong, I am American through and through and I wouldn't trade the country I live in for ANYTHING in the world, but I still find other places fascinating  And, it made me want a cow even more. I will say that even though I found the land beautiful, and the culture very respectable, it was so good to be home. Seriously, when we landed I could have KISSED U.S. ground... but I was in Los Angeles so I'm pretty sure I would have caught some nasty disease. I refrained from ground kissing, but that doesn't mean I didn't think about it.

Since being home, a few things have fallen into perspective for me. First of all, nothing makes you appreciate your home, your family, and your town than being away from it for a while. I think it was the kick that I needed to help myself remember the most important things. I've also been putting a ton of effort into getting healthy. Making healthy eating habits, getting out and moving, and in general getting in better shape. I have been de-stressing my life a little, trusting the awesome staff I have to do their jobs, so I can take time to breathe every now and then, and spending more time with the people that matter.

In other news, we will be having TWO litters of Dane puppies at the end of December/ beginning of January so... that's something we are really looking forward to and getting excited about. It will be nice to have something I'm so passionate to throw myself into again. By the time they are all raised, weaned, and in their new homes it will only be like a month away from Jon's graduation date which really can not come soon enough.