By Sue Carr
It’s been a productive year in terms of my eco-mindedness, and I have Mrs. Green’s World to thank for it. I never really considered myself a green activist—truth be told, I still don’t—but I’ve learned that you don’t need to be an “activist” to make a positive difference in the world. Small changes made consistently lead to larger changes, which influence others to make small changes and so on.
When I first started shopping organic, organic products were few and far between on my store shelves, and expensive to boot. I had to think carefully about which items I really needed to buy organic and which I could do without.
Not so any more. Now, even my Aldi and Costco stores have entire sections devoted to organic food, making the choices abundant and the cost quite affordable. I guarantee you these retailers didn’t add affordable, organic options to their shelves simply out of the goodness of their hearts. They saw the rising demand and wanted to ensure their fair share of the market. And that demand didn’t come through a huge group of activists banding together and protesting at corporate headquarters, it came through individual consumers making small, consistent changes to their diets and shopping to accommodate those changes.
So you see, your small changes can change the world.
Just take a look at the top ten changes I’ve made since I began blogging for Mrs. Green a year ago:
- I now make my own laundry detergent using a recipe from DIY Natural.
- I’ve eliminated fabric softener from my laundry routine by using wool dryer balls.
- I make my own all-purpose cleaner using this recipe from One Good Thing by Jillee.
- I mop my floors using a simple vinegar and water solution, with a couple drops of spearmint oil added for an invigorating scent.
- I’ve switched my shampoo, conditioner, and styling products to more eco-friendly options that I researched using the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Guide to Cosmetics (ewg.com). I also used this resource to find new bubble bath and toothpaste for my children.
- I’ve stopped purchasing drug-store lotions in favor of natural lotions available through my CSA, or I simply moisturize with coconut oil.
- I’ve switched from body wash to an EWG-approved bath bar, eliminating both the chemicals from the soap and the extra plastic packaging from the bottles.
- I’ve made the effort to recycle all of the paper and cardboard in our house, even though our municipality doesn’t pick these up curbside.
- I’ve switched to a natural deodorant that’s produced locally, keeping chemicals off my body and fueling the local economy.
- I have switched—and continue to switch—my grocery habits, eliminating as many processed foods as possible from our diets and purchasing as many organic, whole-food options as my budget allows.
This is just the start. I haven’t even mentioned our lawn care or thrift-store activities here, or the CSA that we love, or my efforts to combine errands in order to save on gas, or…you get the idea. In many ways, our lives have completely transformed over the last year, in all ways for the better.
The most surprising thing to me in all this? My grocery budget hasn’t changed. All of the eco-friendly, organic items I thought were too expensive actually fit into my budget quite nicely, especially once I started making my own cleaners using inexpensive products such as vinegar, baking soda, and borax—items made even less expensive by purchasing them in bulk. And before you make the time argument, I will tell you that it takes me a half hour once a month to crank out laundry soap and all-purpose cleaner. That’s it.
Sweeping changes can seem intimidating when you think of transforming your current, perhaps not-so-green life to a green one. But I promise you, tackling little changes one at a time will make a huge difference in the long run. And soon you’ll find that those small changes lead to bigger ones, and that your changes will influence other people to change.
Before you know it, you will have changed the world without even trying.
Sue Nelko Carr is a freelance writer, editor, blogger and a full-time mother, trying to live a greener life in Pittsburgh, PA.