Earth Day 2015

Before this year, I didn’t consciously think about Earth Day. Okay, maybe when we colored a picture of the Earth in school or when a teacher had us go for a walk in my earlier years. As an adult, I didn’t really think about it… or care about it. Sure the idea of “saving the planet”, “being greener”, etc sounded good but not good enough to provoke any action on my part.

I’m proud to say I have changed as a person. In some ways for the better… in some ways, just weirder :). Through my recent health struggles, I have learned to take better care of myself, my family and my surroundings. I have learned to research EVERYTHING, to pay attention to what I’m doing, to think about how my actions will effect other people and things.

This year, I wanted to celebrate Earth Day with my family and really think about what we can do to make our world a better place. In addition, one of the brands I love is also helping everyone make the world a better place. So Delicious is having “The Shortest Grant Application” process through social media (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook). It’s called the “#140Difference“. In order to enter the grant contest, you need to post on social media your idea of how to make the world a better place (sustainability, conservation, animal protection, food, etc) using 140 characters or less. So Delicious will the make their selections and give $30,000 in grants to people for their ideas! How awesome is that?! Click here to learn more about how you can submit your idea! Here’s mine: I would LOVE to start an afterschool program for kids that teaches them how to live healthy and clean. This includes recycling, healthy eating and cooking, wasting less, gardening, etc. I know kids get informed on this topic but I would love to expand the education and apply it to their lives. Go ahead and submit your idea – there’s already some great ones being posted!

Back to Earth Day – LPHJ Kitchen style! My kids are still relatively young (my son is 6 and my daughter is 2) but they already know the sacrifices we make just related to our groceries so I figured they could understand Earth Day. Here’s a few things we are doing to not only help us but also help our environment:

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1.) Recycling. I literally just found out last week that our little town had a recycling station. We already recycle aluminum cans but now we have NO excuse to recycle other items since there are bins just a short drive away. My son wanted to create the little labels for our recycling bins to put in our garage. We’ve already got a bin full of paper! He seems very excited about this part.

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2.) Gardening. We moved less than a year ago into a house on a larger lot with a huge garden set up. We have that garden full of vegetables, herbs and some fruits. We’ve already picked about 3 lbs of asparagus and our seeds are starting to sprout. To be honest with you, I have a terrible time growing plants of any kind. My mom has been a huge help getting the garden ready and giving me tips. I have a feeling I’ll be spending most of my summer out here! Want to know what we’ve planted? Mostly veggies- turnips, beets, zucchini, yellow squash, parsnips, kohlrabi, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas, beans, cucumbers, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, tomatoes, peppers, kale, arugula, leeks, celery, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, fennel, onions, spinach, lettuce, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries + TONS of herbs. Like I said… I’ll be busy.

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3.) Shopping local. This kind of goes along with our gardening plan but we love supporting smaller, local farmers. In a magazine article about my situation, the writer said “Instead of reading labels for foods she can’t have, Courtney spends her time at farmer’s markets getting fresh foods.” This is so true and perfectly said. I’ve had the privilege of talking to some of the farmer’s at local markets and they really do care about the Earth and how they grow their products. That’s so important and sometimes hard to find!

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4.) Water conservation. A few weeks ago, I was asked my Samaritan’s Purse to help spread the word about one of their efforts, World Water Day. I read their stories, their plan and the need they expressed for water for people in underdeveloped countries. It was amazing and really hit me hard. I realized I wasted a LOT of water. Two showers a day sometimes, water on while brushing teeth, etc. So, our whole family pays more attention now. In addition, we also installed a little rain water tank to collect rain water (especially now) and we will then use it to water our big garden. We have a terrible drainage problem and the water usually collects inside our garage … not good. This not only helps that but wil greatly help our water bill during those dry summer months.

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5.) Less plastic. I love this picture of my little princess. It’s a little deceiving though. That’s not her glass water bottle – it’s mine. She really loves them BUT she’s pretty destructive. Overall, we have eliminated our plastic serving dishes – plates, silver, cups, etc – and only use glass. One exception: the children. Both kids have a couple plastic items that they use to eat with most of the time (Minnie Mouse bowl, Batman cup, etc). I don’t really trust them with glass just yet 🙂 We also reuse glass jars and bottles. It’s funny – my mother and grandmother kept every Cool Whip bowl they had – or sour cream, cottage cheese, etc. I thought it was so funny and ridiculous but I do it too – just with glass jars and bottles. We use them to store bone broth, juices, kombucha, leftovers, etc. Plus we do a lot of canning in the summer so I like keeping the canning jars for that purpose.

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6.) Less waste. Our food bill is by far our biggest expense each month. Granted – I have a food blog and I’m constantly trying new foods and recipes so that doesn’t help. I would say over 80% of the groceries we buy are fresh produce, dairy or meats. We buy very few packaged items and it keeps getting fewer. Most of you know, fresh foods don’t keep well for very long. I hate going grocery shopping every week but in order to have the freshest foods, you almost have to. I also HATE wasting food and I will do everything in my power not to. Lately, we’ve been keeping a container of juice-able foods handy : apple cores and peels, other fruits or vegetable peelings, etc. Once a week, we juice all of our leftover parts to drink or use in other recipes. I’ve gotten so bad (or good) that I actually used a banana peel to rub on our wood table because I heard that it would make it look nice. It didn’t – it just made for a sticky mess. Lesson learned. You get my idea though. We also save citrus peels. Not only do they make a great natural cleaner but take a lemon peel and rub it on your face. It’s like  a natural toner – I love it and now do it  almost every day!

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7.) Less carbon emissions. I didn’t take a picture of this because frankly it’d be hard and we’d look silly BUT we are becoming quite the bike riders. When you live in a small town, it’s pretty easy to ride a bike everywhere, I just never did before. Now, my daughter and I run our simple daily errands around town… on our bike. After we drop the boy off at school, we load up on the bike and drop mail off at the post office, take any local bills to their respective locations, go to the store, go to the bank, etc. It’s actually really nice. I get a relaxing, easy workout while little miss gets to enjoy the breeze in her hair (through her helmet of course!).

8.) Just owning less – becoming minimalist. Have you heard of this minimalism thing? You should check it out. My favorite resource so far is Becoming Minimalist and any work by Joshua Becker. He has an amazingly easy and smart approach to minimalism. It wasn’t until I had to leave work to take care of my health stuff that I realized we put too much effort into owning stuff. We just bought a bigger house, more furniture, more clothes, more crap. More stuff we didn’t need. We both had good jobs, steady incomes, and it seemed like the thing to do. When we were deciding about me leaving work, we really had to focus on what was important since our income would be drastically reduced and we had just bought a new home. We sold my SUV. We got rid of DISH. We paid off all student loans. Currently, our only debt is our home. It’s so amazing and freeing to now have to worry about that other stuff. We went through boxes and bags of clothing that hadn’t been worn in years and donated it. We really downsized our belongings and now really pay attention to our spending. Instead of spending loads of money on things, we are now putting some of that towards experiences as a family. Plus, there’s less stuff to pick up, clean and find a home for!

Overall, we’ve made some big strides in being more aware of our environment. We are not perfect by any means but we are trying to be better. What I love most is that we are doing it as a family and that everyone is involved. It’s been so rewarding to teach my kids about this and see how excited they are to participate and try new things.

I’m curious: what are your thoughts and ideas for Earth Day – or any day for that matter? What do you do to make life more meaningful and help others? Please share with me and everyone else! We all need new ideas! 🙂

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