Steps to Sustainable Living
Hey Mamas! My name is Alexandria Mills. I am a mom and the owner of Rhea Lana’s of Norman-Moore in Oklahoma. Before becoming a mom and while in college, I discovered a passion for the environment. Upon completing my bachelor’s degree, I decided to explore this passion further and studied Renewable Energy and Sustainability at the University of Southern California. My studies opened my eyes to the great need that was before us.
In 2018, the US alone generated 292 million tons of waste with 50% of that waste ending up in a landfill. (Source: EPA.gov) Have you heard of the trash islands forming in our oceans? There are at least five accumulations of plastics in our oceans. The largest being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch located between Hawaii and California. It is estimated that this accumulation of plastics is as large as twice the size of Texas or three times the size of Europe. (Source: theoceancleanup.com)
I also learned sustainability is very complex. Like a machine with lots of different moving parts. One of the biggest parts in this machine is us and our choices as consumers. The decisions we make on a daily basis have a big impact on our environment. From how we shop to what we are purchasing, there are so many easy and doable ways our families can choose to be eco-friendly.
Regardless of whether an item is made of plastic, wool, cotton or synthetic materials, the manufacturing process can be pretty resource-intensive. For example, water is commonly used in production as a way to cool plastics as well as dye fabrics. By choosing to shop secondhand first, you are reducing the amount of waste produced as well as helping to keep useful items out of landfills. When my son was born, I quickly realized babies need a lot of stuff. At the same time, my passion for the environment grew stronger because I was now helping to protect a world that I would one day leave him.
When I found Rhea Lana’s, I immediately fell in love with this eco-friendly mommy marketplace. I loved that Rhea Lana’s provided an environmental and budget-friendly way to buy my little all the things and I wanted to be able to share this with more families. This is one of the biggest reasons why I chose to purchase a Rhea Lana’s franchise.
Beyond things like clothing, shoes, books, toys, it is also important to re-think the many single-use products that we use in our everyday life many of which may not be recyclable.
Easy eco-friendly alternatives:
- Reusable paper towels. Make your own out of terry, cotton, or flannel fabrics. You can also purchase reusable paper towels from Marley's Monsters or similar brands.
- Reusable grocery bags. Reusable bags are a great alternative to plastic grocery bags. Plus, you help save our trees from all those little bags that get caught in their branches.
- Reusable Ziploc bags. The simplest replacement for Ziploc bags is one you probably already have in your kitchen, plastic ware! There are some other great alternatives like Stasher bags that function a lot like Ziploc bags. Stashers are great for throwing a healthy snack in a diaper bag or even a purse.
- Reusable Water Bottles. Plastic water bottles are one of the worst contributors to waste. By opting to use a reusable water bottle, we can help reduce the number of water bottles that end up in our landfills. Plus, you can reusable water bottles are fun to personalize. You can find them in so many colors and add flair with stickers!
- Reusable Wrapping Paper. This is one I just discovered and am super excited to implement. Instead of purchasing wrapping paper (most of which is not recyclable), purchase some play silks for wrapping Birthday or Christmas gifts. The best part, these also double as incredibly versatile toys. Use your silks for building forts, capes, play-scapes, and so many options. Love it!
- Install a Bidet. I’m just going to throw this out here because they are amazing! I was skeptical at first, but totally life-changing. Plus, bonus points for reducing the amount of toilet paper waste being sent to wastewater treatment plants. The bidet we have was very inexpensive and easy to install. You don’t really need anything fancy.
- Feminine Protection. This is another one I will be implementing this year. Tampons and pads create a lot of waste. A great alternative to these single-use items is a feminine cup or reusable cloth pads.
- Reusable Baby Products.
- Cloth diapers. If you still have infants in diapers or even toddlers in training pants, there are lots of great cloth diaper options. Once you find a diaper that works for you and your baby, it is easy to get in the habit of washing diapers.
- Flannel wipes. Flannel wipes are a great alternative to disposable wipes and easy to make yourself or inexpensive to purchase.
Sustainable living can be really intimidating. By taking it one step at a time, one day, one week or even one month, we can break things down to more attainable goals. The first step is simply making the choice to be more aware of what we are consuming. When shopping, ask yourself how was this made? What will happen when you are done with it? Is this something you will keep for a long time? Will it end up in the landfill, recycle bin, or will you be able to pass it on to a new family? When we are consistently thinking about the effects of our choices, implementing new ways to be more sustainable will be second nature. You can do it!