Although it's a year old now, I find myself returning to Micaela Preston's excellent book, Practically Green, on a regular basis. Subtitled "Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making," Practically Green is a small, handy, good-looking book intended to make it easy to be green (sorry Kermit, couldn't resist). The book doesn't pretend to be a comprehensive guide to green living, local food, recycling, or anything else. It's not political or didactic; it doesn't preach or make me feel bad about what I'm not doing better. Practically Green includes broad, easy-to-follow sections (Eating, Living, Cleaning, etc.), with loads of specifics suggestions for things to buy and make.
Micaela is a committed mom, a talented author, an active blogger (at Mindful Momma), and -- I'm sure I'd say this even if our kids weren't in the same kindergarten class -- a super nice person. I'd been meaning to ask her about Practically Green, and with the holidays right around the corner, I knew she'd offer lots of good tips as well. Here's our email interview.
SGT: Do you involve your kids in your quest to be "more green"? If so, in what ways?
Micaela: Yes, my two boys are growing up green whether they like it or not! Basically, if you just speak the “language of green” at home, it ends up sinking in eventually. My 10 year-old is an avid food label reader and reminds me to buy local at the grocery store. My kindergartner helps me sort the recycling and tries to remember to turn off the water when he brushes his teeth. I think this generation of kids will grow up with much more awareness of their impact on earth’s resources than we did … and that’s a good thing.
SGT: What do you suggest for our readers who are interested in eating local, organic, and sustainable food but think it's too expensive?
Micaela: Don’t forget to consider the amount of money you save when you make healthy, homemade food instead of eating out or buying packaged, processed food. We have taken to making our own homemade bread, granola and yogurt. By saving money in some areas, we can justify spending more on organic milk and produce. When it comes to eating meat, I recommend buying high-quality sustainably produced meat, but eating less of it.
SGT: What are three simple things any of us can do to be more green?
Micaela: Hmmmm … three simple things? Which ones to choose? Reducing consumption is my battle cry so I’ll focus on that.
- Buy less – If you don’t need it, don’t buy it! I try to follow my Less is More shopping mantra when I’m out shopping. Believe me it isn’t always easy, but it helps.
- Reduce waste – There are so many ways to reduce the amount of garbage that you kick to the curb. Check out my post about 8 Ways to Reduce Waste at Home to get started.
- Invest in a programmable thermostat. They don’t cost much and can save you a chunk of change in heating and cooling bills. It’s a simple change that has a big impact.
SGT: The holidays tend to be such a time of excess - from childrens' toys to food to spending money like crazy. What tips would you offer readers who are looking for ways to cut back without feeling like they're missing out on all the fun?
Micaela: It’s so true – commercialization of the holidays has really gotten out of hand! I think it’s important to focus on the experience of the holidays rather than the stuff. When I think back on my childhood, I remember the feeling of the holiday season much more than what toys I received each year. Instead of buying tons of gifts for your child, invest in one or two high quality toys that can be passed along from one child to the next. Instead of loading up on cheap holiday decorations for your home, start a tradition of making a new holiday decoration each year. Consider giving gifts of experiences rather than things … like a membership to a park or a museum, a cooking class, or even a membership to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)! I especially love making homemade gifts – both crafty things and food gifts. As for holiday meals, keep it simple and made with love. Holiday entertaining does not have to be expensive.
SGT: What gift(s) are you most excited to give this year?
Micaela: I’m excited to give reusable items for gifts this year: things like reusable containers and snack sacks for lunches or high-quality reusable shopping bags like this carryall tote from Esse Reusable Bags – a local company!
For food gifts, I will also be making my favorite chocolate, hazelnut spread – it’s like homemade Nutella. Perfect for friends, neighbors and teachers!