Ready, Set, Go: Your Green Getting Started Guide

When I had my son, four years ago I was far from green, but my husband was–kind of. He was the one that hassled me to recycle or to not go over board on purchasing and consumption. I was the wife that threw the soup can out verses cleaning it and recycling. Sorry, but I just wasn’t in to it and frankly, I didn’t get it. Now, I’ve got it. Funny thing is, it took having my second child for me to wrap my head around toxic chemicals and how bad they are and how I want to be more earth friendly.

When it comes to going green and being some shade of green there seems to be so much pressure. The media loves this “go green” phrase and every other advertising or product has words that say green or natural on them. Friends are being competitive when it comes to what brands they buy or who’s doing what. It’s enough to turn someone away. Even though I have a green website and it’s mostly all I write about, read about or research, I find it overwhelming. Just trying to buy a car that isn’t loaded with toxins is driving me crazy. It seemed less complicated four years ago when I was doing nothing but that’s just it. Taking the easy road because it’s less complicated and takes less energy isn’t the right thing. Neither is going over board and doing too much right away to overwhelm yourself or your family.

So where do you begin? What can you do that won’t make you go bonkers? I’m going to tell you from my point of view and having gone too far and doing too much too soon, what I advise. I wish I could have read an article like this and had a place where I could begin. Maybe I would have felt less out of control and confused. With all the pressure from friends, family and media to be more earth friendly and buy this, drive this, don’t do this, it’s hard to know where the starting line is.

Guess what? You make your own start and finish line. That’s the best part. My advice: sit down and figure out what is going to work for your family now and what your priorities, obligations and motivations are. How can you work going green into your life for five minutes each day? Sit down, grab a piece of paper and write down the following:

1. What do I want to teach my kids about sustainability and being Earth friendly?

2. What products do I use in my home that are toxic? List personal care products and cleaning products.

3. What foods can our family make switches to that are hormone free and healthier? Can we garden or could we afford to start buying locally?

4. What jobs can I give our family members to cut down on energy or waste (Maybe have a child in charge of turning off the lights or rinsing out the recycling)?

5. When it comes to driving, can our family car pool or walk more? Is it possible to save on gas and have our children choose one activity verses three (Maybe you’re child would be interested in helping you decide how more errands can be accomplished with less driving)?

Involve the family and decide what is going to work off this list or turn it into more of a go green brainstorm! If you decide to start with buying non-toxic cleaning products, research alternatives and start there, make that your start line. When you’ve accomplished that switch and are happy with a brand then move on to the next thing you’re ready to tackle as a family. Taking the easy road and doing nothing is what I did years ago and looking back, I’m not proud. It makes me sad actually. So start somewhere, anywhere and long term you’ll be happy you did. Ready, set, go!

Original post written for 5 Minutes for Going Green

Read more from Sommer over at Green & Clean Mom, where she writes about being some shade of green every day. Subscribe to her blog here and don’t miss out her latest finds, contests, giveaways and sexy and sassy green tips!

7 Responses to Ready, Set, Go: Your Green Getting Started Guide
  1. Lisa@EWG
    July 28, 2008 | 3:08 pm

    Hi! As a mother to two young kids (2 and 5) and staffer at Environmental Working Group, I can really appreciate this sage advice re keeping it simple and taking on what you can when you can so as not to get overwhelmed! I am so immersed in all this for work that it can be hard to buy – literally – anything. Which, BTW, my husband loves :-)

    We are working hard to make our research easy to digest for parents so that it’s not overwhelming. We’re expanding our ‘For Parents’ web page ( and would love feedback on how we can be helpful in sharing resources. Also, as an online parent organizer, I am available to answer questions at [email protected].

    We are also very involved in the effort to pass stronger laws around safe products, so if you’re interested in that type of advocacy (in 5 minutes a day!!!), get in touch. We’d love to work together to keep unsafe products off the shelves, rather than put the burden on all of us already time-poor parents!

    Thanks for a great site and inspiration, it’s great stuff.

  2. The'
    July 28, 2008 | 6:30 pm

    You know, I never thought about eliminating all of the products I have in my home that are toxic. Now THATS a crusade I could join in on. I’m not sure where to start, but I guess just thinking about it for now is awesome. Perhaps just one product at a time?

  3. Nell @ Casual Friday Everyday
    July 28, 2008 | 8:27 pm

    What a great post! So much information that will prove helpful. Thank you.


  4. Donielle @ Raising Peanuts
    July 30, 2008 | 6:45 am

    For me, my green journey started to keep my family healthier. As I read more and more, and did more research, I was finding so many things we were ingesting, and buying, and putting in our homes were toxic. My son was just starting to eat real food and I found so many chemicals in packaged food, that it totally changed the way we ate. Then I started to tackle our cleaning supplies and our personal hygiene products. It’s amazing how far I’ve come in just one year. We took it just one step at a time.

  5. Meg
    August 1, 2008 | 2:57 am

    Great post! Its so easy to get overwhelmed and disheartened when trying to switch to a greener lifestyle. Starting off one change at a time and keeping it simple is such good advice.

  6. Monica (Healthy Green Moms)
    August 1, 2008 | 4:16 pm

    Great post Sommer!
    I relate to Donielle in that we also started by focusing on our health first. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with the information, so we focus on one area until we have a rhythem and then we move on to the next project. I have satisfaction that change is happening right here in our home, one day at a time.

  7. 5 Green Reads
    August 7, 2008 | 8:03 am

    […] I read parenting books, fiction and now going green titles.  Last week, I wrote about how to start going green and I thought it would be a great follow up to recommend some of my favorite green reads that have […]