Welcome to Homesteading with Hyacynth!
Homesteading with Hyacynth is a monthly look at ways to lead a healthy, greener, more sustainable life. My intent with Homesteading with Hyacynth is to offer genuine, practical experiences and humorous and helpful tips. Of course, I am not a medical professional so these are my tips and what worked for my family.
It’s actually easy being green.
Just like most lifestyle changes, once we wrap our heads around taking steps to a more sustainable life, we ease into a new way of doing things. More often than not, we find success.
I agree wholeheartedly that sustainability options often are more time consuming than other convenient options; but, when incorporated, they actually become habit and less costly as well as less time-consuming.
Here are my favorite ways to embrace more sustainability without suffering from serious over-extension of time and resources:
1. Trade in paper for cloths towels
Reduce your family’s garbage by cutting down on buying paper goods like paper towels and napkins. Every six months to a year or so we buy a new package of washcloths and aim to use washcloths as napkins, spill cleaners, cleaning rags, etc. we do still have paper towels on hand but we use them much less frequently than we used to. It’s pretty easy to toss washcloths into a load of bath towels or bedding, which makes this sustainability option pretty easy to turn to habit.
Tip: buy dark colored washcloths and hand towels so as to better hide stains
2. Say goodbye to chemical lawn care
Chemical lawn care and fertilizers are damaging to our ecosystems for myriad reasons. If you’re interested in learning more about the nitty gritty check out the work done by the Environmental Working Group.
Personally, I like to keep things simple and easy when it comes to lawn care so I particularly enjoyed this post by Rich Soil: Organic Lawn Care for the Cheap and Easy. It’s some work upfront, but overall it becomes less work with less mowing involved and less cost and less chemicals! All wins!
3. Shop your local farmers markets
When you shop your local farmers markets and skip the store, you’re doing so much good with so little effort — cutting down on the transportation costs and fuel needed to ship foods across country alone is worth the while! Our area boasts some fantastic markets, too. We list all of them here but I’ll tell you right now that my favorites are the Grayslake Farmers Market, Libertyville Farmer’s Market and the Woodstock Farmers Market. This is one of those easy changes that just requires habit. I most frequently shop the Grayslake Farmers Market so Wednesday afternoon (during the summer – Saturdays in spring) automatically becomes one of my grocery shopping days. I buy eggs, beef, chicken, bacon, fruit, veggies, honey … There’s even bread, cheese and locally made jams and salsa and pies.
4. Grow food to feed your family
You don’t need a sprawling garden to grow some of your own food. Simply setting up a few pots on your back porch, filling them with nutrient dense soil and planting simple greens like kale, spinach, basil, chard and lettuce can cut down on your grocery bill and increase your nutrient density when eating these foods! These greens are pretty simple to grow and maintain by following instructions on the seed packages.
5. Grow flowers that feed our pollinators
Here’s a super simple one: buy your plants from a local grower who doesn’t use neonicotinoids, a pesticide that may be contributing to the decline or our bees. Many big box stores are now getting on board (which goes to show if the mainstream puts up a big enough stink …) and managers at these stores should be able to help customers identify plants that are not grown with the harmful pesticide. Even better? Grow your own native wildflowers in your yard! That takes more work, of course, but goodness are they pretty! (Think Purple Coneflowers and Goldenrod!)
Need an even easier way to feed the pollinators? Leave your dandelions alone! Let them grow and provide early sources of food for our waking pollinators. Your neighbors will thank you when they still have apples and strawberries to eat, as both rely on pollinators to bear fruit! (Of course you might have to tell them that when they complain, but it might bring up interesting conversations!)
Happy spring, my friends!