Our Beginner’s Journey to Going Green

by Erika Torres

It’s no secret that Eric and I really believe in going green– from being environmentally friendly to eating organically, we love it all.

However, the green lifestyle isn’t always as friendly on a budget. Which is why we’ve stumbled a few times. We dropped our CSA that we were so excited about and I gave up on organic products in favor for anything I could score for cheap and with a coupon.

I’ll spare you the research on why living an organic and green lifestyle is important, and instead I’ll just say that I believe there are a ton of chemicals in almost everything that is produced nowadays. Chemicals that have been created in the past 50-70 years to produce  things more cheaply and quickly and that human bodies (which have been around for thousands of years) do not yet recognize. Everything from food, to furniture, to cooking supplies, to clothes.

That being said, I would like to try and be green as much as possible without going radical. As in, if I want a Coke, I’m gonna drink a damn coke. But how often do I really drink soda? Probably about once every two months. It’s a very rare occasion. But every now and then, yeah I want a soda.

Whenever I think about the whole concept of going green, I get a little overwhelmed. So it’s easier to break it down into what we hope to accomplish:

  • Buy organic produce if they’re on the Dirty Dozen List (Normal is okay for the Clean 15)
  • Eat more whole foods (fruits, vegetables) and less processed foods
  • Slowly eliminate cleaning supplies, make our cleaning supplies
  • Make our own laundry detergent or stick to chemical-free detergent
  • Switch to chemical free body products (deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, lotion)
  • Switch to chemical free make up (eek!)
  • Use low-VOC paint for any crafting projects
  • Compost
  • Garden and grow our own herbs
  • Get rid of BPA as much as possible

There’s a whole long list of things to do. I’ve been using the book Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home to help guide us in our new lifestyle.

It’s going to take us a few years to get us to where I want to be, but we’re slowly making these changes.

I have been making a consistent effort to shop at our local Farmer’s Market and supplementing with Whole Foods. We switched our deodorants to Tom’s and Kiss My Face. The paint we used for our turquoise bookshelf and mirror was low-VOC. We have started a garden (although we suck at it) and we are composting as well. This week, I’m going to attempt to make our laundry detergent too.

Slowly and steady, we’re going to make these changes. I’ll be keeping track and posting how much this is costing our budget as well.

Do any of you “go green”?

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Daisy July 25, 2012 - 9:26 pm

Going green is pretty important to me. I try to go paperless at work unless necessary that I print. We’ve eliminated almost all plastic around the house – we bought reusable containers instead of using sandwich bags and wrap. We use reusable bags to the grocery store and even try to throw away as much garbage as possible in alternate bags. It’s important.

SavvyFinancialLatina July 24, 2012 - 10:09 am

I want us to be more green as well. I think it’s a work in progress. My parents recycle everything!

Jordann @ My Alternate Life July 24, 2012 - 8:52 am

I think these are all great steps! When most people think about winning the lottery, they think about travel, big houses, and fancy cars. I think about buying everything I possibly can from local/organic/fair trade sources. Because, unfortunately it can get very expensive.

My big thing is food, since we’re directly ingesting it I think it’s the number one thing that needs to be organic, as such we buy mostly from the local market/butcher, and really really try to limit our consumption of processed foods. The next steps I’d like to take are cleaning products and personal hygiene products. I’m excited to hear about how you make out on this journey!

Julie @ Freedom 48 July 22, 2012 - 7:57 pm

We have a veggie garden, and a composter (to supply soil for our gardens). We haven’t done it specifically to be green, but more so because we like living a more simple life. We also use a rain barrel to water our gardens.

Elizabeth @ Broke Professionals July 22, 2012 - 10:28 am

I used Tom’s for deodorant for a while… it didn’t work for my husband or I, we were very smelly! I can’t imagine switching the body products/makeup/etc. I never really considered doing that on a larger scale. Good for you!

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Jessica @ Budget For Health July 20, 2012 - 2:27 pm

I hope to have a garden soon! We don’t have a porch in our 2nd floor apartment, so it’s not possible now. Next year though…I’m the same with wanting to buy organic but not wanting to pay for it, so I just hit up farmers markets because many folks there grow stuff the right way and don’t charge a ton. Plus you can barter!

Teacher Girl July 20, 2012 - 9:04 am

I think it is so important to be conscious of what we are eating. I am thoroughly convinced that so many of our health issues in the US come from what we eat. Yay for you and Eric going green!

Angela July 20, 2012 - 8:42 am

I’ve tried a bunch of chemical-free deodorants and Tom’s is the ONLY kind I find actually works! Not fun going through the process of finding a good one, but totally worth it 🙂

shannon July 20, 2012 - 6:45 am

I think you have the right idea, start slowly and go from there. It can be so overwhelming! We stick to organic meat and dairy and try to get as much as we can from our neighbors fields or farmers market. Target has a great line of chemical free cleaning supllies we use and I’ve made some of my own. Good for you two!

serene July 20, 2012 - 2:18 am

we grow our own herbs too! for our family, we recycle every plastic bottles, cans, and glass bottles. and we always bring our own bags when doing our grocery shopping! other than that, we switch off all power points before heading out (except the fridge)!

there are many more ways to go green and thank you for sharing your tips!

Claire July 19, 2012 - 9:45 pm

Good for y’all! I’ve been doing the homemade cleaning products and laundry detergent for years. I absolutely love it. My mom has allergies and I have skin problems; making my own products has helped us both. Homemade cleaning products are also a lot cheaper than store-bought ones!

Adrienne July 19, 2012 - 3:06 pm

I wholeheartedly believe in a greener lifestyle with more whole foods, but it can be ex-pen-sive!

We try to eat as little processed food as possible, go for the clean 15, avoid the dirty dozen, cook, and we don’t drink soda of any kind, but we also have taco bell every once in awhile. And, if I’m sick, I’ll drink ginger ale. SO we’re not crazy, but we’re healthy 80% of the time! 80/20 right?

Mo' Money Mo' Houses July 19, 2012 - 3:03 pm

I definitely would love to live a completely green life but ya sometimes it’s just too expensive. So far we try to use as little electricity as possible, I walk or bus almost everywhere, and we buy organic milk and eggs. I’ve also tried to stop buying processed foods, but sometimes I find it hard to find out what is and isn’t processed. Basically I refuse to buy any premade frozen foods besides frozen pizza and perogies, and I try to make all meals from fresh ingredients.

eemusings July 19, 2012 - 2:23 pm

I do a spot of composting in the garden, am pretty strict about recycling, and we occasionally go to the farmer’s market. I also switch off things at the wall and we have a lot of energy saving bulbs (though we also have some that aren’t, and I’m not going to replace them till they die). And we only have one car – I walk to work and back.

Of course we could be doing much more but I’m happy with our current level. I think we’ll be able to be even greener when we finally buy a house (hard to commit to composting/a veggie garden when you move every couple years).

Kathleen @ Frugal Portland July 19, 2012 - 10:35 am

yes! but that’s part of the culture here. good luck, it’s worth it!

Laura July 19, 2012 - 10:29 am

We do a lot of similar things that you do. We are fortunate that our city is very “green”-friendly, and we are able to score organic food on sale fairly frequently and we have numerous farmer’s markets close to our house. We also stay away from non-organic “dirty dozen”. Sometimes I’m able to pick up organic snacks and things on amazon.com for a good price.

We also only buy BPA free products and we’re going to attempt cloth diapering when our little bundle of joy comes in a few months. I freaked when I heard one disposable diaper can take over 250 years to decompose.

shaba July 19, 2012 - 10:24 am

I’d like to be a little greener, but our area makes it very hard. Our city doesn’t even recycle!
I did recently replace all our storage containers with ones that are BPA free, and I think I may start sneaking in more organic produce (seriously, I’m the one who eats the most of it, so it should be my preference). We do buy organic milk,and I’m interested in organic cleaning products, but I don’t think I can make the switch to organic deodorant. Clincal strength or bust!

Ana July 19, 2012 - 9:45 am

I gotta be honest – my husband is not very much “green”. But he agrees with me in a lot of things. We don’t (or hardly ever) buy frozen food, we grow our own herbs and some produce , we recently stopped buying pre-packaged meals and whenever it makes sense, we buy organic. I want to get rid of BPA and start buying chemical-free make-up. It’s really overwhelming to do all that at once, but I hope we’ll be a lot “greener” once we have a baby. It’s really a matter of breaking down and going step-by-step.


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