Hi! My name is Kelsey - I am a farmer, photographer, and educator. Sustainable living is my jam so today I want to share with you how my partner, Paul, and I got started with living la vida crunchy!
Living sustainably doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye. Getting to this point in our sustainable living journey took hours of reading and researching, months of trial and error, and years of grit and hard work. I want you to know three things:.
1. That our path hasn’t been perfect. We still throw plastic in our garbage can some days, and convenience still has its moments in my day to day routines.
2. That this process should be fun and not guilt-ridden. Feeling guilty is counterproductive to a sustainable life. If you are railing on yourself constantly for not getting it “right,” ask yourself how long can your willpower stand up to that negative self-talk? Carrying around “green guilt” is the opposite of sustainable.
3. You do not, and I repeat DO NOT, need acres of land, a farm, or a homestead to achieve a sustainable life. Although we have found our own slice of paradise on five acres, it doesn’t mean you can’t also work towards a sustainable life in a suburb or apartment building.
Are ready to learn how I got here? Let’s dive in!
If there is one part of your body routine that you should switch, it would be swapping toxin-laden antiperspirant for natural deodorant. Since the skin of our underarms is exceptionally absorbent, this simple swap can reap enormous benefits for your health. First, I'll share with you my go-to DIY recipe for deodorant and then I'll share the best natural deodorant options I've found on my sustainable living journey.
Things I take into account when choosing my top favorites:
Okay, let's dive in!
Before we jump into natural deodorant options, I want to talk about how you can make the switch from conventional anti-perspirant to natural deodorant as smooth as possible. Your armpits are one of the most absorbent areas of your body, second only to your genitalia. We start applying antiperspirant when we hit puberty, leaving us with decades of clogged underarm pores. All those nasty toxins that conventional deodorants contain like parabens, heavy metals, phthalates take time to detox out of your system. Transitioning to natural deodorant from antiperspirant and all its sweat-stopping aluminum can be a real stopgap for people, myself included.
This was a tough acclimation period for me. I'm talking struggle bus from coast to coast. I suffered from hyperhidrosis as a teenager, meaning I was sweating all the time, even just sitting at my desk at school. Pit stains on the daily. I used such high-level aluminum antiperspirant it had to be prescribed by a doctor. The roll-on liquid stung and gave my underarms a painful rash and it didn't even work. For years I struggled with hyperhidrosis. After college, I finally threw up my arms and stopped using antiperspirant altogether. I had a come-to-Jesus moment while on a long run, my underarms red and chapped, and realized sweating is NORMAL. It's our body's way of excreting toxins. Why was I working so hard to stop this? What would happen if I just let my body do what it kept telling me it needed to do?
Enter the underarm acclimation period! You have to detox and unclog those pores to let your skin breath and your body acclimate to life without antiperspirant. Let's go over my top tips for the underarm acclimation period.
If you love apple cider vinegar then I have got great news for you - this health tonic is incredibly easy to make yourself! Every September, we have a feral apple tree in the back of our farm that gives us about three bushels worth of ripe deliciousness.
Paul and I will head out back with a drop cloth, an apple picker, and a few apple boxes to harvest as many apples as we can. The first flush of fall weather gets us both so excited for crisp mornings and cinnamon spiced goodies, so apple picking is the best way to kick off the month. One of my favorite things to do with all our apples is to make homemade apple cider vinegar. Let’s dive in!
For beginner sustainable farmers there are multiple resources at your fingertips to successfully break ground on your farm, but often you are juggling advice between a dozen different books, articles, and magazines. I remember the stack of information on my coffee table four years ago as I planned and dreamed my way to the first planted heirloom popcorn seed. From accounting to basic soil science, there was so much to know as a wannabe farmer and I was more than overwhelmed. I remember wishing there was a basic manual to teach new farmers the first principles of having a farm.
Start Your Farm achieves exactly that. The authors Forrest Pritchard and Ellen Polishuk are not only incredible farmers but gifted writers as well. It was an honor to be asked to leave a review for their book. Let’s go over why Start Your Farm is a must-have for any aspiring or beginner sustainable farmers, and even some seasoned ones at that.
So you’ve got your organic garden planted, and seedlings are popping out of the soil left and right - what do you do next to stay on top of your garden’s needs? That’s what we’re covering in this post, how to provide for your organic garden to ensure a bountiful harvest all through the growing season. We’ll discuss watering, mulching, fertilizing, and weeding. Let’s dive in!
So you’ve looked at that sunny patch of lawn or abandoned raised bed for a few years and have wondered, what if I finally started that vegetable garden I’ve been dreaming of? I’m here to give you a big old nudge to get going! There are so many joys to starting a vegetable garden, from learning more about how things grow to that first delicious bite of a tomato fresh off the vine. In this blog post, I want to go deeper than the obvious pleasures of gardening and teach you about what I think the top five reasons are you should start your own organic vegetable garden.
Four years ago when I started my Sustainable Pledge, I had the darndest time finding sustainable shoe companies I could trust. So many footwear brands didn’t openly talk about where their materials were from, how their shoes were made, and how they treated their workers. The opaque quality of the fashion industry is starting to be chipped away thanks to nonprofits such as Fashion Revolution and trending hashtags like #WhoMadeMyClothes.
Transparency is what I look for first and foremost when assessing if companies are eligible for these sustainable posts. If companies aren’t openly sharing how they treat their workers and what they are doing regarding buffering their effect on the environment, it’s a hard pass.
Next, materials used to make the shoes is assessed. If there is no open statement on their website about where they source their materials then it's a pass. I look for eco-friendly, regenerative or sustainable, and organic materials being used.
Lastly, how comfortable and versatile the shoes are comes into play. I won't lie, I think Toms are hella uncomfortable! Maybe my feet are extra sensitive. Rest assured, I won't be sharing any companies that may work hard to be transparent and eco-friendly, but fail to consider the customer's comfort level.
So let’s dive into the top three sustainable shoe companies I’ve found and why they rock!
You've dreamt about it. You've been pinning all the pins. You have got serious chicken fever. I hear you! Four years ago I was in the same place, my friend. The more I learned about these fluffy cuties, the more I fell in love. These amazing creature recycle our food scraps into delicious eggs, fertilize our yard better than any store-bought chemical, keep tick populations at bay, and provide us endless entertainment. So I put together a post that truly cuts to the chase of what you need to know to raise backyard chickens. We cover the basics, but I include tips that you may not have found thus far in your search. So read on my fellow chicken lover!
One of the worst feelings as a chicken owner is when you have a sick bird and you are at a loss on how to help them. An impacted crop in a chicken can be a death sentence if you don’t have the right knowledge or tools to fix the issue. Here on Green Willow Homestead, we’ve had two hens who have suffered from an impacted crop. Thanks to the encouraging words from an avian vet, some YouTube research, and my own grit - we were able to save one of the two through operating on them ourselves. In this post, I want to teach you about what an impacted crop is, the options you have to fix it, and how to successfully perform surgery on your hen in order to save her life.
Thanks for stopping by Green Willow Homestead! From chicken rearing to orchard planting, we've got our hands full and we love sharing what we've learned along the way. Follow along as we strive to live sustainably and turn these five acres from just property to a fully functioning small-scale homestead.
1. Joe Salatin
2. Rachel Carson
3. Wendell Berry
4. Temple Grandin
5. Sustainable Dish
6. Zero Waste Home
7. Allan Savory
Favorite Books of 2018
2. Bringing it to the Table
3. Holistic Management
4. The Small Scale Poultry Flock
5. In The Company of Women