When Kirbi, Hank and I moved into our new house this past September we decided this wasn’t just going to be a place to start new memories, but also the starting place on our path towards living more sustainably.
Kirbi and I have always been diligent recyclers and made periodic efforts to make positive changes, but knew we could be doing more. This became especially true after having our son, Hank, and moving into a bigger house. Our footprint was growing with our growing family and we needed to do something about it. That is why we decided as a family that we would start making changes that would reduce the impact we were having on our environment.
I am not writing this blog to say I am an expert or that we have it all figured out. We are still very much beginners in this and have a long way to go. I write this to share our experiences to encourage others to begin their journey or share the lessons they’ve learned while making changes in their own lives. I am proud of the progress we have made but am constantly looking for new ideas, products or people/companies that are doing things responsibly.
A few of the main objectives we are striving for include reducing single use products/packaging, consuming more products that are either recycled or recyclable, and supporting local or small companies that have similar values to us. Below are some of the products and behaviors we have built into our lives that we believe are helping to reduce our negative impact. These are not paid product endorsements; these are simply things we have found that work for our family. We would love to hear about the products or behaviors that work for you and your family!
Baby Care: I love my son Hank but I tell you what, kids are terrible for the environment. Between the diapers, wipes, toys, and clothes there is so much waste. To combat this here are a few changes we have made:
- Plant based and sustainably made diapers and wipes from Hello Bello. I am always looking for more environmentally friendly diapers and these are the best I’ve found.
- Hand-me-downs have become a great/free way to reduce the amount of new things we have to buy. Especially if you consider how quickly kids grow out of clothes, it is incredibly wasteful to be constantly buying new clothes and shoes. Plus, no one turns down the opportunity to get old baby stuff out of their house.
- “No gifts please” This is our least effective effort, grandparents and relatives like to ignore this request, but we discourage our friends and family from buying Hank gifts. For the most part he already has everything he needs and honestly most toys have a very short relevancy lifetime. We instead encourage 529 contributions or experience related gifts.
- If people insist on buying gifts we encourage them to shop responsibly. We recently found a locally owned small business, Gumdrop Tots that sells clothing and toys made from wood or recycled materials to reduce the amount of plastic and BPA he encounters. Added bonus, many of their toys and books have a diverse and socially responsibly theme.
House Care: Running and keeping your house clean, especially during a pandemic can create a lot of waste, use a lot of natural resources and involve harmful chemicals. I may have been borderline germaphobe before, but now with a baby in the house I am pickier than ever. It takes a bit more searching but there are plenty of cleaning solutions out there that don’t contain all the harmful chemicals but are still efficient cleaners. A few of the product changes we have made include:
- Toilet paper and paper towels made from either bamboo or recycled materials from Who Gives a Crap. This was a tough change to make, as American’s our bottoms are very pampered, but I’m telling you the bamboo alternatives are just as effective and are much better for the environment. Cherry on top, Who Gives a Crap not only has a fun name but they donate 50% of their profits to build toilets for those in need.
- We have completely replaced our supply of cleaning products with plant based, chemical free products from Puracy. This includes cleaning/disinfecting sprays, laundry detergents, dish soap, hand soap, dishwasher packs, hand sanitizer, body wash, shampoo and even baby bubble bath. All of them come in bulk versions with refillable containers, greatly reducing the number of plastic bottles created.
Recycling: One of the necessary evils of this pandemic has been online shopping and with it comes the piles of cardboard, Styrofoam and plastic wrap. To top it off now that I live within the City of Cincinnati we only get recycling pickup once a week. Luckily, I have found several resources to reduce our packaging pile ups.
- Eco Development: A company in Mason Ohio has drop off recycling for Styrofoam. I hate Styrofoam, it makes a huge mess, takes up a ton of space and was previously difficult to recycle.
- Kroger: Those bins at the front of the store aren’t just for grocery bags, they also accept bubble wrap, plastic overwrap, cereal box liners, bread bags, dry cleaning bags, produce bags, newspaper sleeves, plastic shipping envelopes and clean sandwich bags. Now when you take back your ClickList bags you can take the other plastics that Rumpke won’t take at the curb.
- Hamiltoncountyrecycles.org: This site is a huge resource for everything recycling. For example, it informed me of recycling dumpsters around town that are available to the public. The two dumpsters in Ault Park have been huge in clearing our house of cardboard boxes in between recycling weeks.
There you have it, a quick run down of what the Hais family is doing in their effort to reduce the impact that have on the environment. If anyone has any other products or lifestyle changes they believe in please let us know.
Chris Hais is the Portfolio Counselor of Ohana Wealth & Life Planning based in Cincinnati, OH. Ohana specializes in life and financial planning along with ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) investing principles. The firm is an independent financial advisor and a fee-only fiduciary. Chris and the firm also enjoy volunteering and giving back to the local community. You can reach Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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