Beginner’s Guide to Going Green: A Year Later

by Erika Torres

lightbulbWhen I first started this blog, I wrote a lot about how we wanted to go green.  We had a few setbacks in going green:

  • At one point, we just had no extra money to devote to becoming a green family (ie, buying organic)
  • It gets overwhelming thinking about all the changes you have to make.

Going green can truly be daunting. I checked out this book from the library only to become completely overwhelmed by everything I had to do. Did you know mattresses, as in the thing you sleep on, is loaded with carcinogens and just bad bad stuff? It seems like everything I touch is just bad for you, nail polish, plastic, cashier receipts (loaded with BPA!), even my precious almond milk (contains carrageenan, a known carcinogen)!

Without losing sight of our goal to become a green family, I decided to just slow it down and take one step at a time, such as switching to organic almond milk from Whole Foods. As Oprah says, when you know better, you do better. So every time I learn something, I try my best to right our wrongs.

Here is the original list we started with and our current progress:

  • Buy organic produce if they’re on the Dirty Dozen List (Normal is okay for the Clean 15)  We now buy pretty much all organic produce except for whatever is on the Clean 15 list
  • Eat more whole foods (fruits, vegetables) and less processed foods This whole month I have barely had any processed food thanks to a new lifestyle diet Eric and I are on. More details to come.
  • Slowly eliminate cleaning supplies, make our cleaning supplies Well, our cleaning ladies find it hard to clean with just vinegar alone, but we have converted to environmentally friendly cleaning supplies like Seventh Generation
  • Make our own laundry detergent or stick to chemical-free detergent I did make two batches of our own laundry detergent but wasn’t a fan. We now use Whole Foods laundry detergent
  • Switch to chemical free body products (deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, lotion) We’re about 50% there.
  • Switch to chemical free make up (eek!) Any make up that runs out, I have been replacing with Tarte brand makeup. My favorite so far is Tarte Maracuja Miracle 12-hour Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15 in Light. I LOVE this makeup line!
  • Use low-VOC paint for any crafting projects did that for my Pinterest mirror
  • Compost We totally have a compost! will share details soon
  • Garden and grow our own herbs We have our own vegetable and herb garden! Hope to do a post on this as well
  • Get rid of BPA as much as possible We still need to work on replacing our plastic lunch containers that we take to work with us. I haven’t been able to find any bpa-free containers that are also microwavable. I bought glass ones (I think Snapware?) but they are so hard to snap!!

I can’t believe how well we’re doing! It just goes to show that going green definitely takes some time and you can’t expect to become a green expert overnight. The more you learn, the easier it is to go green.

I guess I need to work on some new going green goals. One of those is to recycle digital waste, such as DVDs and CD’s.

Here are some resources that may help beginners interested in going green:

Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to SImple Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home

Mommypotamus One day I want to read this blog from the beginning

100 Days of Real Food

Food Babe

Do you try and be green? Any resources you’d like to share? Or green centric blogs?


Webseite April 16, 2013 - 7:34 pm

I personally make an effort to separate my food and have a bin for decomposition which in turn feeds my plants! I’m all for it and this is the way to sustainability.

Laiken March 27, 2013 - 7:33 am

Can you share what brands you are using for the chemical free body products? I am trying to go more green in that area and I am curious about brands that would accomodate that!

Fred@Foxy Finance January 27, 2013 - 12:44 am

The initial costs of going Green are always pretty high. I went green for health benefits and have since noticed substancial increase in wellbeing. You can’t put a price on that!

Elizabeth @ Broke Professionals January 26, 2013 - 4:34 pm

I tried cleaning with vinegar for a few months, but by the end, my countertops (and every other surface in my house) looked grimy, felt grimy, and probably WERE grimy! I too started option for products like 7th Gen.

Canadian Budget Binder January 25, 2013 - 8:49 pm

We also use some of the seventh generation but we also have tonnes of cleaning supplies that we got practically free with coupons. What we have been doing is using vinegar and water for so much in 2012 up until present that we have hardly touched many of the products we have. We said once most of them are gone we will continue to use vinegar and water but there are some we are ready to part with. We have near 100 jugs of laundry soap so if we make it through them lol we’ll start to make our own. We also grow as much fruit, veg and herbs as we can in the summer time.

Link Love/Week in Review 1/25/13 | Budget and the Beach January 24, 2013 - 10:21 pm

[…] Beginner’s Guide to Going Green: A Year Later- Newlyweds on a Budget […]

CeCe @Frugalista Married January 24, 2013 - 1:58 pm

I think it’s great that you are doing this. That being said, it does sound extremely overwhelming! I’m not sure that it’s something I would ever do on such a large scale but I commend you for it. We recycle!! That’s something.

NoTrustFund January 23, 2013 - 5:32 pm

This is an impressive list- I especially appreciate the make-up tip. I’ve made a huge effort to go greener with lotion, deodorant, and shampoo and have done great in that area, but I have not yet changed make-up.

We by organic produce and meat as much as we can. And we’ve also switched to glass water bottles and food storage containers. Always room for improvement but I’m pretty happy with the changes we’ve made over the last couple of years.

Budget & the Beach January 23, 2013 - 5:29 pm

Good job with your efforts. It’s so hard, but any small change is better than none. I need to eat more organic, especially foods on the dirty dozen. I eat celery and lettuce all the time. I also had no idea about almond milk. Holy crap! I love it but that will make me think twice about the brand I buy. As if my grocery budget wasn’t bad enough already…

Holly@ClubThrifty January 23, 2013 - 5:20 pm

I love these! I have thought about making my own laundry detergent but I am also afraid that I won’t like it. I’ve gotten so used to store bought brands. Maybe one day!

Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies January 23, 2013 - 4:20 pm

My office is super green… I think my boss secretly wishes we wouldn’t bring our non-organic foods to store in the fridge, but we haven’t made too many strides at home.
Step 1 for us is cooking more – once I feel like I’ve got that under my belt, I’d like to move forward from there.

Mackenzie January 23, 2013 - 4:06 pm

I drink Almond milk all the time! I didn’t know it had a carcinogen in it. Thanks for the heads-up! I will switch to organic 🙂

Tori January 23, 2013 - 3:12 pm

OMG! I’m so stoked that you said you tried Tarte. I’ve actually been considering. I even went to Ulta and played around with it last night. What brand did you switch from? What is your skin like? How do your pores look after a full day of work with it on? Do you reapply throughout the work day?

Megan January 23, 2013 - 12:13 pm

Nice progress! Are you guys going Paleo?

newlywedsonabudget January 23, 2013 - 1:13 pm

We are! Do you have any experience with it? I’ve been hesitant to write anything about it since it’s a bit controversial to some, but I hope to do a recap in a few weeks.

Nichole Hoppenichole January 23, 2013 - 11:58 am

Try livehealthyhere.com! They have all the top of the line green home products, cleaning and toiletries. The laundry detergent, shampoos and toothpaste. Toothpaste can be really bad for you as we’ll as deodorant. All these goods are through Market America and use natural products. Also, they have chemical-free make-up called motives. Check it out. It’s the best I’ve found. Totally agree with you on the green living!

Felix Lee January 23, 2013 - 11:31 am

I have a personal goal to go green as well and I soon realized it wasn’t going to be easy… or cheap! I decided to take it a step at a time. Every effort counts, no matter how small it may seem. It looks like you’ve achieved a lot in a year. That’s so great!

Army Amy* January 23, 2013 - 10:28 am

I’m impressed with how green you are! I have found that it’s easier to be green since moving to Germany. The recycling over here is crazy specific and mandatory. It makes me go a little crazy at times (it’s confusing and they take it very seriously!), but I know it’s good for the environment. Back home in Texas? Yeah, no recycling.

There are also tons of farmer’s markets here, so it’s easier to buy local produce, which is an easy step to take towards being greener.*


Leave a Comment