” I used to make fun of my grandmothers for reusing cookie tins and coffee jars but now we realize how much more environmentally friendly they were compared to us.”
Becoming more environmentally friendly has been a goal of mine for a while. I first became interested in the environment during my university studies and after converting to Islam. Islam teaches us that humans are the maintainers and caretakers of the earth. Yet, it took me a long time to put environmentally friendly habits into practice.
After becoming a mother, I realized that I became even more wasteful than planned. I started using disposable diapers plastic straws, baby food pouches, and wasting food. It felt morally wrong but I was exhausted. I knew that I had to change. I also wanted to teach better habits to my children. We ended up switching to cloth diapers, buying reusable baby pouches, and trying to waste less food.
It took me some time to figure out where to start. The truth is, I felt overwhelmed by the number of blogs and social media pages that were geared towards becoming eco-friendly. Eventually, what worked for me was making a list of small goals and consistency. I want to keep up with becoming more environmentally friendly in 2022 and beyond.
Our Environmental Goals
- I’m working on eliminating the use of plastic water bottles. We purchased a water filter and we hope to invest in quality glass or stainless steel water bottles for myself, my husband, and the children.
- I’m not going to be using plastic disposable straws anymore. My toddlers enjoy using straws. We are experimenting with bamboo, stainless steel, and silicone straws. There are numerous reasons why straws are horrible for the environment. They are even becoming banned in several states and countries.
- I’ll work on bringing reusable shopping bags to the grocery store. I’ve built up a collection of reusable grocery bags but I tend to forget them, especially if I make spontaneous grocery trips. Like straws, plastic shopping bags are terrible for the environment and are banned in several countries.
- I will re-use and thrift when possible. There are so many products that we can re-use from pasta jars, old spice containers, old clothes, etc. For example, Instead of using paper towels to clean sometimes, I use older clothes that I’m not able to donate. Thrift stores are also a great place to find books, kitchen items, bikes, and toys. You just have to get creative.
- I will try to ditch ziplock bags and plastic wrap. This is probably the hardest for me because of the convenience. I always feel guilty using them. There are wonderful alternatives nowadays.
- I will work on wasting less food. This is where I am most guilty and it makes me feel horrible. I have three small children who are selective eaters due to sensory issues. Every time I throw away food I feel disgusted with myself. Throwing away food is a horrible act especially with the number of those who suffer from world hunger. When we waste food, we also waste all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it.
- I will work on using less water. This is another area where I am guilty. I’m often headless with the amount of water that I use. I’ll work on taking shorter showers, and not leaving the water on while I’m making wudu and brushing my teeth.
- I will set up a new recycling bin next to my trash and be stricter about it. My entire household can do a better job of recycling. I’m going to focus on being strict about sorting out items and teaching the children to do the same.
- I will buy more locally grown produce. I come from a family of farmers. I’m also blessed to live in the agricultural state of North Carolina, USA. There are numerous reasons to buy locally. Locally grown produce may be safer, fruits and vegetables grown in season may also be healthier, local food helps preserve green space, and eating more local food reduces CO2 emissions.
- We will reuse more paper in homeschooling and limit the amount we use. I’m guilty of printing a lot of unnecessary printables, not using them, and then throwing them away when I get frustrated with the mess. I’m going to work on organizing my papers better and re-use them for art projects and scissor skill practice.