In our last blog post we talked about how reducing the number of items we have can be a first step to leading a more natural, simple lifestyle. When we take the time to reduce that we have in our home, we become more aware and conscious of the items we bring into our homes. We begin to question the value of the item, how it will be used, how often it will be used, whether there is a place for it. Using a critical eye can open the door to inviting higher quality, more natural items into your home.
Customers will often look at price tags first when making purchase decisions. We all do it and we do it without even realizing it. Organic and natural items will most often (not always though) have a higher sticker price - and shock! When we become more critical of items we bring into our home we are able to prioritize our funds so that we can in fact purchase these more natural, organic or safer products. Here is a quick example, consider a family that buys 10 plastic toys each at $15 each. These purchases would total $150. Several of the toys may not get played with very often since they will either break, your child will grow out of it quickly, or the toy doesn't foster imagination so your child does not play with it for long. Now imagine a family that has purchased 3 natural and organic, quality toys each at $40. They have spent relatively the same amount of money ($120) but have chosen safer, more natural and engaging toys. The end result is the same cost but with increased benefits to your child, family and the earth. When we take the time to truly consider our purchases and the items that enter our house, we can begin to make choices that align with our values and goals. Natural, organic living can be a part of your home life by reducing the number of items within your home and choosing carefully the items that enter your home. Quality becomes more important than quantity.
Another great example comes with baby gear. There are so many gadgets, accessories and gear pieces on the market. What do you truly need? Many of these items take up large amount of space in our home (and mind!). Does your baby really need a bouncy chair, swing, jolly jumper, play mat, play pen and exercauser? All of these items can add up to well over $1000 and have high levels of toxic chemicals imbedded within. These items can release these chemicals over time into your home and into your bedrooms (otherwise known as off-gasing). While having many of these items may be helpful at some point in time during your baby's life, the reality is that you can easily get by without any of these items, or at the very least simply a couple of them. Try to borrow or purchase these items second hand if you are concerned about off-gasing and toxic chemicals or look for more natural versions.
Watch THIS AMAZING VIDEO to learn more about toxins in your baby's room and your home.
Nursery furniture and decor is another area of a baby's life whereby we tend to spend large amounts of money. Families will often invest in complete matching nursery sets (cribs, change tables, drawers or armoires) along with matching decor (mobiles, lamp shades, curtains, bedding sets). All of these items, like the baby gear above, can cost excessive amounts of money and are filled with toxic chemicals (paints with high VOCs, vinyl coverings, leaching plastics, pesticides on the cottons and so on). Take heart though that you can easily turn it around by investing your money in natural alternatives. What does your child really need in his room? Not much! A mattress would be a great start. Choosing a natural and organic mattress such as this one made by Sleeptek in Canada is one of the best decisions you can make when trying to go green. Babies and children spend 12 hours+ per day sleeping on their mattress (unless they are co-sleeping in which case they are sleeping on your mattress). A natural mattress can seem like a pricey investment up front, but the rewards will pay off! Babies don't care about whether their dresser, armoire and change table match their crib. They don't care about matching decor or fancy bedding sets. They don't care that you have 5 different sheets sets in a variety of patterns or colors. Closets can be used to store clothes, beds and blankets on the floor can be used as change tables, and mattresses can even be placed on the floor Montessori style if you don't have the funds for a crib. This can all reduce the cost of your baby necessities so that you can invest in a natural mattress and organic cotton bedding.
The same can be true for all categories - clothing, books, kitchen gadgets, boots and shoes, gear, etc. When we make more conscious choices that better reflect our values and choose to purchase quality over quantity, we begin to prioritize and make more careful decisions that align with our values. All of this aligns itself well with a simpler and more economical lifestyle.
If you are pregnant, take the time to truly look through your baby list and cross out items that may not be a necessity and that fall clearly under the want category. Invest in natural, organic and quality for your need list!
If you already have a baby or young children, take inventory of what you have. Go back to our first post about simplifying to find ways to reduce the number of items you have in your home so that in the future you can begin to bring in more natural and quality items. What can you let go of?
We can all benefit from taking an inventory or doing a careful analysis of where our funds go - aka budgeting. This is something I do on a regular basis to ensure that 1)we have enough money to get through the month and 2) to make sure that we are on track with our values and ensure that our money is going towards what we value (and not what Starbucks values). Look at how much money you spend on coffees, treats, dinners out (or in!), magazines, movies, cable subscriptions, internet, phones, etc. These all add up quickly! What can you let go of? What can you do without? If living a more natural lifestyle is a priority for your family (which I am not saying it has to be - that is something as a family you will need to decide), then you will want to carefully look at your budget and take time to prioritize.