October Mission - Better Choices

October Mission - Better Choices
I have been feeling the need to organize, simplify, and generally just hunker down at home. I think the fact that it FINALLY feels like fall is contributing to this. It’s cooler in the evenings so I don’t have the itch to be outside, not to mention that it’s getting dark SO early. Is it throwing anyone else off? I haven’t adjusted yet so when its super dark at 7pm, I keep thinking it’s 9 or 10. I was making dinner last night and finished around 7 and couldn’t figure out how it had gotten so late! Turns out, it wasn’t late, my body’s just all thrown off!

With all this change, I’ve been focusing my attentions inside my house (and self) instead of outside. I’m organizing and cleaning out my cabinets, closets, and basement; and assessing the things I bring into my life. I was listening to a podcast a few weeks ago (Young House Love Has A Podcast episode 60– if you’re interested) where they had The Home Edit ladies as guests. They were talking about organizing and one of them said “You can either have the thing, or the space, but you can’t have both”. I don’t know why, but that really clicked with me. Since then, I’ve really been taking stock of my possessions: trying to make sure the things I bring into my house are EXACTLY what I want/need; and getting rid of things I already have that I no longer need or want (through donations and responsible recycling). And all of this goes perfectly in hand with my mission for October.

Better Choices

For the month of October, I have decided to focus on making #betterchoices. To me, this is at the core of sustainable living. There are SO many options out there for pretty much anything you want to buy: organic food; organic bedding; fair trade clothing; all natural cleaners; non-petroleum based candles; glass, ceramic, metal, or cast iron cookware; the list goes on and on. Sometimes these #betterchoices may be more expensive, but I’ve found a lot of the time they’re either comparable or less expensive – especially when you count the indirect costs.

The most common indirect or external cost is often the environment – what resources are being pulled out of the earth and what pollution is being put back into it – but another huge cost is health. What does the exposure to excess chemicals do to your health? How does your body react? Maybe you have allergies or your skin gets irritated, or maybe if you eat processed foods you don’t have the same energy levels as you would eating natural foods. I find that by making #betterchoices, everyone wins. And I’ve also found that tidbit from The Home Edit to be particularly useful with this – yes I could buy a “fast-fashion” top that addresses an immediate need or want, but long-term will I still want that top? Will it even hold up over time or be in vogue in a couple of months? Instead, I try to purchase things that I will benefit my life longer-term and don’t have harmful effects to myself or the environment. All that being said – this month’s mission is to focus on actually making those #betterchoices – not just knowing they exist.

So now that I’m off my soap-box – what are some ideas for ways you can make #betterchoices?

Fair Trade

A LOT more items are being certified as Fair Trade these days. This basically means that the products were made with respect to people and the planet. The producers of these items were paid a fair wage, and the items and process meet social, environmental, and economic standards. According to the Fair Trade USA website “when you choose products with the Fair Trade label, your day-to-day purchases can improve an entire community’s day-to-day lives. This really impacts those communities, and all you have to do is choose Fair Trade {coffee, sugar, flowers, etc.) over regular.

Photo by fireskystudios.com on Unsplash

Organic

There are a TON of options for organic. Two of the big ones include:

  • Organic food – I suggest checking out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen to see which foods have the most/least pesticide reside on them. If you’re purchasing organic food, look for the USDA Organic certification so you know it’s legit and support farmers that seek this certification.
  • Organic cotton/textiles – this can be clothing, bedding, home furnishings, and so on. A lot of companies are moving toward 100% organic cotton, but I’ve also been noticing the GOTS certification cropping up a lot more. GOTS is the Global Organic Textile Standard so if you see this certification, it means that the item is certified as organic. The term organic can be a little tricky when it comes to reading product descriptions (similar to the term “natural”) so it is an easy green-washing technique. If you really want to make sure something is organic, see if they have any certifications.

Cleaning

  • Cleaning products – choose ones with fewer chemicals, plant-based materials, or make your own (check my Pinterest board on Better Choices for some recipes).
  • Use rags, unpaper towels (buy or make your own), or use recycled paper towels.

Food and Snacks

You are what you eat. How many people heard this growing up? I remember being in health class and having some kid joke that other kids were then “made of junk” since they eat junk food. I’m sure everyone remembers that kid. Ha! But it’s actually kind of true! If you eat a mostly natural diet (as in plants and animals occurring in nature) then you’re eating foods that have the building blocks your body needs to run optimally. If you’re eating mostly processed foods (things that come in a box or wrapper) there are a lot of building blocks missing, and a lot of extraneous stuff your body doesn’t need but will probably store. Making better food choices doesn’t have to be hard. There are a lot of delicious and healthy recipes and snacks out there. I have a whole Pinterest board focused on Healthy Recipes, and places like Thrive Market make it easy to pick foods that align with your values.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Personal Hygiene Products

My favorite “hack” for knowing I’m making #betterchoices with my personal hygiene products (and food choices) is to use the Healthy Living app. It’s by the Environmental Working Group and has information on over 120,000 food and personal care products so I don’t need to analyze every product myself. For each food product, it tells you what level of Ingredient Concern, Nutritional Concern, and Processing concern they have; and for each personal hygiene product, it indicates the level of Allergy Concern, Cancer Concern, and Developmental Concern they have based on the ingredients. This app really makes it SO easy to make #betterchoices when I’m shopping. I can’t recommend it enough.

Household Items

A lot of items off gas (the release of chemicals – especially harmful ones – as gas into the air) including a lot of items in your home such as paint, rugs, furniture, and cleaners. When choosing products for your home, if they are made with natural ingredients instead of chemical-based ones, they are less-likely to off gas harmful chemicals. If you are bringing in new furnishings opt for materials such as organic cotton, jute, sisal, or wool. Also be mindful of “air-fresheners” which are usually completely made of chemicals. Consider essential oils or natural candles instead.

Habits

Often #betterchoices stem from better habits. Every choice you make impacts your life, and to live your happiest, healthiest, most environmentally friendly life, it helps to think about making #betterchoices with your habits. Consider the following:

  • Sleep more
  • Exercise more
  • Make your own meals
  • Spend more time with friends and family that bring joy to your life
  • Practice gratitude
  • Opt for less or none if you don’t need something
Photo by Kevin Delvecchio on Unsplash

If you’re looking for more ideas, I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to #betterchoices. You can check it out here.

There are also a bunch of resources around the blog that can help you make #betterchoices. You can also check out some of my favorite products, or check out the Shopping, Disposal, or Tools and Guides pages under Resources.

As in previous months, I also have a tracking calendar for you if you’d like to mark your progress: October Mission: Better Choices

Do you have any ideas for what #betterchoices you want to make? Did any of these ideas spark your interest? What changes have you already made in your life? I’m always looking for some inspiration. 🙂 Please share!