How to Go Green on a Budget

Our family didn’t start out green. When my husband and I got married almost 2o years ago (Wow! That’s a long time!), the idea of “going green” was still a little weird in our minds. We worked out and considered ourselves pretty healthy, but we didn’t think much about recycling, rarely read food labels and pretty much assumed that if it said “Healthy” on the package, then that was like a legally binding contract, and a company couldn’t say it if it wasn’t true, right? Ha!

Well, there’s nothing like having a child (or children) with sensitivities or allergies to make you question and reevaluate your way of thinking, especially when it comes to the environment.  Now everything from the quality of the air we breathe in our home to researching how a company chemically treats their products before buying is a natural part of our every day.  Many of the changes we made came because someone in the family had a sensitivity or allergic reaction to something in their diet, a detergent, a house cleaner or just something in the environment. In a nutshell, our journey from where we started to where we are today didn’t happen overnight. It’s just been a series of small changes we’ve made over the years to help us live a more thoughtful life when it comes to our personal health and that of the environment.

No judgment here. Everyone should do what’s best for their own family, but for anyone who’s on the same path, I wanted to share a “pinch” of our backstory. We’ve learned so much over the years about some of the questionable ingredients in our food and products that we’ve made a conscious decision to be mindful of everything we put into our mouth or on our bodies. Even on a budget, we’ve learned that a wise investment on the front end can save a lot of money on doctor’s bills and “fixes” on the backend.

Choosing natural products or those with more wholesome ingredients is a challenge for a family of 9 for sure, but over the years, we’ve learned where to look, when to buy and when to splurge. I can assure you that if I recommend a product, it’s because it has been thoroughly tested by our family, retested to make sure it wasn’t a one-time success and then tested some more to receive our family’s stamp of approval.

Here’s our family’s personal list of favorite products that we’ve come to trust and value over the years. I’ll keep adding to the list as we discover new products. There are NO affiliate links here (maybe next time 🙂 ).

Baby Products-

Many grocery stores now carry their own organic line. Here in the South, our Kroger stores carry the Simple Truth® and Simple Truth Organic® which is pretty good and like most stores, sales are common, so keep your eyes peeled for good deals and stock up when you can. (The baby wipes are great!)

The Honest Company. Compared to “regular” baby products in your grocery store aisle, The Honest Company prices can be a big a shock to the system, but for the quality of their “good for your body” products (we loved their diapers!), it’s totally worth it. I found the best prices locally at our Target, but you can save even more by getting their subscription service. *I just found out that they donated one million diapers to those in need through their #diapergap initiative. I know how many diapers we’ve gone through, so I think that’s pretty awesome! 

For those of you wondering why this green family didn’t choose cloth diapers, it was a difficult choice. I wanted to use cloth diapers, but when we began researching, we had 4 kids 3 and under, and, honestly,  I was already washing a truckload of clothes and wasn’t getting much sleep. I absolutely chose convenience.

Face/Body

Alima Pure Cosmetics– I’ve been a fan of this company for years. After my 2nd pregnancy (twins), my makeup routine was pretty non-existent. I needed something easy that took less than 5 minutes, that also matched my skin tone (They have 45 shades, what?)  I’ve tried other mineral makeups (at different price points and quality), but Alima Pure has been my go-to brand for probably close to a decade. This is not your drugstore brand. It is pricey in comparison, but the quality is second to none. It doesn’t clog my pores and the customer service is amazing!

Sky Organics – We recently discovered SkyOrganics for our body and bath oil products, and love them!  The one HUGE thing I’ve learned about natural products is that quality can vary considerably. If you’re not sure about a product, try their smallest size first before making a larger investment. But, once you find something that you love, buy in bulk (be careful if the shelf life is short—make sure you can use it all). It’s usually cheaper the more you buy.

Hair

Theraneem Naturals– I have a sensitive scalp which became more apparent after having children. When the brands I’d been using didn’t work and left my scalp irritated, I tried natural products, but most just felt like watered down conditioners that did nothing for my hair. I finally tried the Thereneem line of products, and I’ve been a fan ever since.

Hydratherma Naturals– I was recently introduced to this line of products, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Their Protein Balance Leave-In conditioner is amazing. I look forward to trying their other products.

Cleaning Products

We make many household cleaners ourselves, but when we do purchase them, we’ve been pleased with the following companies:

Seventh Generation – There dishwashing liquid is fantastic! It’s not watered down like most natural dishwashing liquids and it cleans really well. (I’m not a big fan of their bathroom products, yet, but we’ll see.)

Mrs Meyers– For all “other” home cleaning products we are big fans of Mrs. Meyers. The products are not 100% natural. Read about the ingredients and how they formulate their products here. 

J.R. Watkins I always smile when I see these products. My grandmother was a big fan of their linament back in the day (early 1900’s  people). It’s nice to see that they’re still around and still making great products.

Food

Huge can of worms here. With all the interest in eating clean these days, it seems like everyone and their uncle have created a product, slapped it with an “all natural” label and placed it in the health food section of your local grocery store. Unfortunately, you can always believe what you see, especially since the FDA doesn’t actively regulate products labeled “natural”. My suggestion? Get to know the people who work in the department. It’s been my experience that they are usually pretty knowledgeable about the quality of the products, are willing to share their recommendations and even other customer experiences. They can even tell you when to get the best deals. Also, do your own research.

One of the easiest ways to save money on organic produce is by starting a garden. We decided that the cost of organic produce was outstretching our family’s food budget, so this year we planted a garden. Here’s a pic of our newly planted garden in the backyard. Let’s hope Hubbylicious can get that garden fence up this weekend!

Research

Does something sound too good to be true? Look it up. Check out customer reviews. Try it yourself and return it if it doesn’t live up to the package’s claims or your expectations. Deciding to “go green” and live a healthier lifestyle for you and your family is not a simple road, especially when you’re on a budget and don’t want to waste unnecessary $$, but with careful research, it is possible to find a good fit for your family. Here are some of my favorite websites for product information:

Environmental Working Group

Wellness Mama

Mommypotamus

This is just a little drop in the bucket of what our family looks like on the other side of this computer. Maybe next time I’ll share what mealtime looks like in a house with 1 vegan (me) two burgeoning vegetarians (my girls) and a house full of hardcore omnivores (the men). Ha! It’s interesting for sure, but we make it work.

Until next time!

Keep doin’ what you love.

Shannon

 

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