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Health, Home, and Happiness: Eating Real Food has made us Accidentally Green

Friday, April 9, 2010

Eating Real Food has made us Accidentally Green

While I don't have 'being green' as my main objective in life, I am starting to notice that we're becoming more green as time goes on.  When I read articles that are more focused on being environmentally friendly than I am, I realized that as I go more towards feeding my family whole foods, our family is having much less of an impact on the earth.

I do think it's a good thing to do, to reduce impact. As a Christian I am to be respectful of God's creation, not greedy, not wasteful.  There's no doubt that just as I've come along to being more green as a result of trying to keep my family healthy, some people have come about eating traditionally prepared and raised foods as a result of wanting to have less of an impact on the environment.  In The Omnivore's Dilemma sustainable farming is investigated, and how it has improved the land the farm is on in addition to providing food for many people.  Just as we looked at back in the Dehydrating Almonds post there's a lot of 'mutual beneficialness' going on in traditional whole foods.

Looking at what goes out in our trash is a good way to see what we could improve on:
  • Disposable diapers about 1/4 of the time. This by far is the worst. I was better at cloth diapering 100% of the time when I only had one child.
  • Plastic shopping bags.  Still haven't gotten my act together to ditch those.
  • Food wrappers- mostly limited to sacks that held 10 lbs of flour, 10 lbs of apples, frozen fruit/veggie bags.  Still occasionally get the applesauce cups.  And the fruit leathers are individually wrapped.
  • Ziplocks.  I'm a little Ziplock-happy and should cut down on these.
More not green that can be improved:
  • Shopping at Walmart and other mega stores who truck products in from far away and are known for not being concerned about much more than the almighty dollar
  • I love my dishwasher.

Some things I can think of off the top of my head where we're accidentally green:
  • Cloth diapers
  • Reusing the same deodorant container with homemade deodorant; ingredients purchased in bulk
  • Minimal use of shampoo.  I use shampoo every once in a while, so my last bottle lasted me over 6 months. Otherwise I'm using baking soda to wash. I always use vinegar as my rinse.
  • Soapnuts in my laundry- they work really well, no harmful chemicals, and have very little packaging (pictured).
  • Use coconut oil (purchased in bulk) as 'lotion' 
  • Rarely go out to eat (expense, and the food doesn't taste as good after we're used to homemade)
  • Don't use hair products.  I just bought a bottle of shampoo at walmart (better go add that to my not-green list) the other day, and walked past so many products and things that I not only didn't need, but I had no desire to own whatsoever.
  • Shop second hand (antiques make the most awesome furniture for discount prices, and clothing from thrift stores- why pay 39.99 when you can pay 1.99? I'm not that fashion aware, though, this might not fly as well in Newport Beach ~grin~)
  • Live in a small apartment- we're doing it for low rent while we pay off debt, but this also is green because it doesn't take much energy at all to heat or maintain.
  • Buy sustainably farmed meat and eggs (and partially produce and milk products)
  • Use less-than-average as far as pre-packaged foods go.  We don't get boxed mixes, TV dinners, or pre-made food.  Some of our ingredients are still in kind of small packages (tomato paste, frozen veggies)
It's interesting to see how things are all connected- what's good for health is also good for the earth.

How about you, what's the biggest 'green' change you've noticed since eating whole foods? Or have you come to learn more about cooking whole foods because you wanted to reduce your impact?

A part of Fight Back Friday



Anonymous Wendy (The Local Cook) said...

Real food and being environmentally conscious go hand in hand for me, as both are related to being good stewards of what God has given us. I explore these issues more in my Food & Faith Challenge series . . . you should come over and check us out!

April 9, 2010 at 7:36 AM  
Blogger Mary Ann said...

The biggest "green" change I've seen in regards to eating real foods is that I buy a lot more locally, which I really like. We're helping to support local businesses and farms and getting better foods!

My "green" journey started accidentally through frugality. I guess my real food journey started the same way since I cooked everything from scratch because it was less expensive. And before I knew it, I was making my own yogurt and bone broths, using all cloth napkins and towels, making some of my own cleaners and saving to purchase a grain mill.

Suddenly, I was green and a health nut!

April 9, 2010 at 7:45 AM  
Blogger Cara @ Health Home and Happiness said...

Oh yes, local too! I forgot about that.

Yes, suddenly a health nut- I can relate to that!

April 9, 2010 at 8:45 AM  
Anonymous Missy said...

We are definitely more green since starting traditional foods, also not a purposeful thing. When we buy our raw milk, the farmer requires we return the bottles and cap, before that we used to buy regualr disposable gallons. We don't have any pre-packaged snacks, which saves a ton of waste. I'm also buying A LOT of fresh fruits and veggies which I don't bother to put in a plastic bag at the store since I have to wash them when I get home anyway. A lot of the things I buy now (such as raw honey or coconut oil) come in glass jars, which I re-use for all sorts of things! I also buy a lot of locally grown or organic dairy/produce and grass fed beef, which is better for the envirnoment. I plan to learn to can over the summer so I can preserve local produce instead of having to buy organic which has been shipped from far away during the winter.

Eating traditionally just seems to be naturally less wasteful.

April 9, 2010 at 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Mountainash said...

Good news! Using the dishwasher is greener than washing dishes by hand!

I can so relate to this post. I'm definitely "accidentally" green as a result of my childrens' food allergies. That was sort of the beginning of it all and now I find so many green lifestyle changes appealing.

April 9, 2010 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Our farmer takes back the egg cartons, so we save them up and return them. I also use glass jars for storing food, which is reusable every year. Glass jars + lids are great replacements for plastic tupperwares and for ziplock bags (some things...) I compost unusable veggie scraps out in the back yard.

April 9, 2010 at 11:48 AM  
Blogger Jana said...

The same thing has happened at our home. We are using cloth napkins...and shopping at the thrift store. It's really more fun to find a treasure like an Ann Taylor dress, unworn in my size than to go to the store and buy it.

April 9, 2010 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Somebody already said it, but I wanted to show you "proof" so I googled & found this article showing that using a dishwasher uses 1/2 the energy, 1/6 the water, and less soap than washing by hand! :D
My next step is switching over our soaps (dish, clothing, etc.) to ones that are more "green" because I want things that are less toxic for my family. I echo everything else you said & others have said too. We are in no way "tree huggers" however, it just makes sense to not be gluttons with the resources God has entrusted to us & also when we make choices that are better/healthier for our families they wind up being better in many other ways too.

April 9, 2010 at 3:00 PM  
Blogger Cara @ Health Home and Happiness said...

Good news about the dishwasher! Thanks!

And I love thrift store shopping! I wish it was easier to find pants in 'long' sizes there though :o)

April 9, 2010 at 3:03 PM  
Blogger stacey said...

thanks for reminding me that i meant to tease you awhile back! i noticed all your "baggies" in your pantry! i have "green" wraps on my to-do list but always let the price stop me. need to think bigger than the one-time price.

although i have cloth shopping bags, i am terrible about remembering. i at least try to dbl/triple use my plastic bags.

April 28, 2010 at 7:36 PM  

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