Finding green living ideas for young families may sound challenging, or maybe it seems like it’s only for families willing to go to extremes. But that’s not true at all!
Green living is a journey that each person or family can take at their own pace, and you can pick and choose what you are willing to do to meet that goal.
I want to share a little with you today about my family’s gradual journey toward a greener lifestyle. We have come a long way, and we still have a ways to go. However, we are very proud of the progress we have made along the way, and we have found it all to be incredibly rewarding.
Green Living Ideas for Young Families
Starting your green living path with baby steps is a more sustainable transition from a mainstream lifestyle. It usually involves new ways of doing things and developing new routines. It can be less overwhelming for young families just starting out to focus on just a thing or two at one time.
My family definitely started with baby steps; we started simply by just trying to recycle properly! At the time, that honestly seemed like more than most people around us were doing, so it was a good starting point.
We didn’t move on to the next baby step until we had our first child. During pregnancy, I was scared and stressed about money because we were pretty young and not yet that established in our careers. This led us toward our next green decision in our life.
Cloth Diapers Weren’t Left in the Past!
We didn’t intend to use cloth diapers from the beginning. But I happened to stumble upon them during my pregnancy. Concerned about finances, I was researching different ways to save money when raising a baby. My research led me to an article describing cloth diapers.
Initially, I was surprised this was even a suggestion as I thought the use of cloth diapers died off decades ago (heck, even 100 years ago for all I knew!) I pictured pins and plastic pants and wasn’t sold on this idea at all.
However, I kept reading about them because there was a part of me that liked the idea of it. I’ve always been one to be interested in “old fashioned” things, so I didn’t write the idea off immediately. But it just seemed so inconvenient that I didn’t commit right away.
The Decision Was Made
As I learned more and more about them, I realized that cloth diapers had really come a long way and were modernized now. I presented the idea to my husband and we decided to go for it! While saving money was a big reason we went down this path, I also loved the idea of producing less waste.
Fast forward several years and now I run my own blog about cloth diapers. I really have developed a passion for them. As the years went on, I grew to love that they helped me be more self-reliant on top of the other perks I already mentioned. Using cloth diapers is a great way to incorporate some green living ideas into your life.
Cloth diapers have led my family down a more sustainable and self-reliant path in general. Growing up, I was blessed to be raised by parents with a general appreciation for gardening and quality, homegrown foods. Now, my parents were definitely not homesteaders by any means, and I wouldn’t say they were “green”. But my mother was an avid gardener, composter, canner, and cooked from scratch. I really was lucky to be raised with an appreciation for these things.
My husband had a different experience growing up. Though his mom gardened at times, his parents were not as into these things, and he had never really given much thought to living a green lifestyle. But he is a champ and is coming along for the ride.
I always knew I wanted to have my own garden, figure out composting, and cook meals from scratch for my family (among other things). I believed this was not only a healthier way to live, but there is something so meaningful and pure about taking charge of your life in this way.
Somehow, I also believed that in many ways it was a more responsible way to live. Not only can you be healthier, you can save money and also make your life more sustainable, which is an increasing concern nowadays.
Developing a Green Thumb
These feelings led us to start our garden. Our first garden (other than some flowers out front) was just a cedar garden box my husband built for me. It was not very large, but I was worried I would kill everything so I was okay with that. While we did probably kill a few plants, overall we had a lot of success that year growing our own lettuce, kale, green beans.
Over the next couple of years, we grew our vegetable garden output by adding big planters. We learned from our mistakes of years past and had our best growing season ever last summer. I absolutely love watching my kids gobble up homegrown veggies. They can’t get enough!
Even though there can be more work involved in a green or self-reliant lifestyle than a mainstream one, it truly is so rewarding. The work involved may turn some people off. But I believe it has really helped my mental health to live this way. I do feel it has simplified my life. Many of these things became hobbies for me that bring great joy.
Some of our more recent self-reliant endeavors include homebrewing beer (we love a good IPA!) and hydroponics gardening. We live in Minnesota where summers are short, and getting fresh, quality produce in the winter is a challenge. I started growing some things hydroponically simply because I wanted a way to enjoy salads that weren’t bitter in the winter. Our hydroponics growing system is still pretty small (just some herbs and salad greens in an Aerogarden), but I am so excited to expand upon it and try out other systems, including a DIY system one day. I have many plans for the future. Having fresh, high-quality, and pesticide-free produce grown at home in the winter is a dream!
A Sustainable Future
Our next step for our family is to move. We currently live in the suburbs on a .19 acre lot. Yep–.19 acres. Not much land at all! Due to our jobs, we won’t be moving too far away, so our homesteading will still be suburban. I’d love to live in a rural area, but it’s just not in the cards for us. However, I think having a homestead in the suburbs is not only possible but is a very cool experience!
We truly love and appreciate our home and neighborhood. But we are ready to find a bigger home with a bigger yard for a number of reasons. I won’t get into all of them here. My desire to have the freedom to grow more (since my current back yard doesn’t get much sun) is on that list. I’d love more room for my hydroponics. Eventually, I would love to get some backyard chickens once we get our gardening under control.
One Step at a Time
My family is on a journey toward living the most enjoyable and responsible life that we can. The above baby steps I described aren’t the only things we do to live a self-reliant life. And I am by no means saying that we are the example of what it means to have a green lifestyle. I have no desire to be that example because we are all on our own journey and have different priorities. My family has so many areas we want to develop further.
We are so excited about our future and can’t wait to grow our homestead here in the suburbs. We want to be able to use our gifts (our homebrew, fresh veggies, etc) to bless our friends, families, and neighbors.
Baby steps are how we started, and that’s all I recommend for any other young families starting out. You are trying to juggle a lot of responsibilities between jobs, raising kids, and maintaining things around the house. You don’t need to go in 100% to get started, you just need to take that first step.
Holly lives in Minnesota with her husband, two sons, her dog (a Welsh Corgi) & her orange tabby cat. She blogs at Rocking the Cloth about cloth diapering and green living for families.
Holly works as a middle school reading teacher and works primarily with students with dyslexia and ADHD. Outside of work and blogging, she is active in her church and enjoys a number of hobbies, such as hydroponics, beer brewing, baking & cooking (especially using the smoker on all sorts of meats!)
Holly loves to help others with their cloth diapering journey. If you are interested in learning more, check out https://rockingthecloth.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions and comments are welcome!