I find myself at a crossroads. On the one hand, I feel very strongly about saving the environment and eliminating toxins from my home and food. I want to reduce waste. Grow food. Save water. Learn how to be more self-sufficient.
On the other hand, I’m a work-at-home mom engaged in constant time triage—prioritizing tasks yet never accomplishing everything I set out to. The battle to live according to my ideals without pilfering all my time (and money) is constant.
I try to be educated. I read about nutrition. How food is grown, butchered and transported. In doing that I scare the crap out of myself, certain that everything is poisoning us all in some way or other. I know it’s better if I grow my own but I have a balcony, not a yard. I never learned how to garden. I like to travel. I hear plants don’t like to be neglected.
So I shop at the grocery store. But at least I buy organic, right? I pay attention to the labeling, not getting tricked by meaningless claims like “all natural” that sound good but are meant to distract us from their nothingness. And I (mostly) stay away from processed foods. But sometimes, at the end of the day, I really just want something quick and easy. Sometimes doing it right is just too much effort. For me, anyway.
I drive a Prius, I don’t buy bottled water, I recycle, I pick up litter. I try. I really do. But I often don’t meet my own ideal. I want to do better.
For other work-at-home parents out there you understand my struggle: trying to be productive while entertaining a kid at home on spring break. I usually don’t get anything work-wise accomplished during his breaks, and by the time he goes back to school I think of a bunch of things we could have done to fill those two weeks. (Yes, TWO WEEKS OFF!)
So this time I’ve decided to plan some things out. Things that I’ve wanted to do for quite a few years, but never seem to get around to doing. Things like reducing our family’s waste, planting a veggie garden, and making my own household items that are healthier, cheaper and easy to make.
Here’s where my nerdiness comes in handy. I enjoy research. And the Internet is a smorgasbord of tutorials, recipes, tips and other people’s trial and errors. All hail YouTube!
Seeing as I’ve kept an herb garden and a houseplant alive for a whole year and my orchid re-bloomed (with a little help from Jango Fett) I’m feeling up to the challenge.
My seven-year old son is really into science so we decided to set up some gardening experiments that we can keep track of together. Our first one is based on two different ways to grow a potted lemon tree. One site said to cut into an organic lemon, clean the pulp off the seed and plant it in potting soil while moist. Then, cover with plastic wrap held on by a rubber band and puncture a few small holes in the plastic. The other option was to sprout the seeds first by peeling the outer layer of the seeds, placing them in a damp paper towel, folding it and sealing it inside a Ziploc bag. We’ve done both and now we’ll see what happens.
Next, we made deodorant. My husband was pretty skeptical but he was game enough to try it. It’s ridiculously easy and only calls for coconut oil, baking soda and arrowroot starch/flour, all of which was available at our local grocery store. I added a few drops of Tea Tree oil because I was feeling fancy (and it was in the cupboard.) It’s the end of day one and so far so good. No stinky pits in our house.
With nearly the same ingredients we also made toothpaste. A little baking soda, coconut oil and peppermint oil (or essential oils of your choosing) in a small mason jar and voilà! A non-toxic, waste-free, cheap and easy solution. I’ve never had problems with store bought toothpaste, but it’s not cool that it’s poisonous if swallowed. Especially when I don’t trust my son to always spit it out.
So far I’m the only one who’s tried our concoction, and while it’s definitely not foamy like store bought, my teeth feel clean and minty fresh. I’m considering it a success. *after writing this, it got the kiddo stamp of approval. Hooray!
In our final act for today, we planted some potted garlic. We’ll see how that goes. Still on our list for this break: plant tomatoes, make a vertical garden for greens out of an old pallet and start composting. I realize that this is a bit ambitious for one break, but I think we can do it.
I’m waiting to try soap making with a friend because working with lye seems a little dicey. Multiple videos warn of possible explosions if done wrong. Might not try that with a seven-year old whose favorite show is Mythbusters.
I feel like it’s been a pretty successful Monday.