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!
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!
In my last post, we talked about the biggest toxic offenders lurking in your kitchen cleaning supplies. In this post we are going to go over the cheap and effective toxin-free cleaners you can utilize instead. After spending years with generic cleaning brands, the switch can be a little bumpy. Due to this adjustment period, I want to take you through how what we use to clean our homes works on a technical level. Let's dive in!
I grew up with familiar names like Windex and Dawn in our cleaning supplies at home. These brands and many others are ones we’ve trusted to keep our kitchens clean and sparkling for decades. Unfortunately, the trust we have placed in these brands has been taken advantage of. Household brand names in our cleaning supplies are full of toxic chemicals and the findings only keep mounting. From heightened risk of miscarriage to developmental delays to cancer, nearly all of our common cleaning supplies are wrought with problematic ingredients that have dire consequences. I want to take you through the biggest offenders to give you a snapshot of what you are up against when you clean your home. In my next post, I’ll provide you with some easy toxin-free DIY or Conscious Consumer approved alternatives.
In Part One of this blog series we talked about why it's crucial to switch over to a natural hair care routine, in Part Two we set you up for natural shampoo success with the acclimation period, and now we are going to talk about the top five toxin-free shampoos I've used. Let me be clear and state that everyone’s head of hair is different. There is no definition of a good or bad head of hair here. That’s why there are five choices and not one be-all end-all choice. I encourage you to try one, stick with it for a month, and then try another if it isn’t working for you.
Allow me to personally vouch for these shampoos, as I have tried all of them for extended periods of time (at least 1.5 months). At the moment my hair is somewhat thick, un-dyed, medium length, slightly wavy, and gets greasy in about three days. My post-shower routine is to not blow dry unless I have to be somewhere special, which ends up being maybe three times a month. I used no post-shower product while implementing these shampoos. I have blow dried with each of these products though, and all of them passed the test.
Typically, post-shower I run a wide toothed comb through my hair as sparingly as possible. Next, I turn my head upside down and shake my wet roots loose from my scalp to give them some drying oomph. I look like a wet dog when I shake my hair out - I promise it’s fun! Then I’ll let my hair air dry. If I’m feeling sassy, I’ll twist it up into a loose top knot once it’s halfway dry with a singular bobby pin and let it get a slight curl to the ends. That’s it!
Alright, let’s jump into my top 5 favorite toxin-free shampoos...
Don’t be upset if you go to try natural shampoo for the first time and aren’t pleased with the results. For those that have tried natural shampoo already, you know how frustrating using a natural shampoo can be. Enter the acclimation period. Every time we make a change to our rituals or our habits, our body always needs a little time to catch up. Once I realized that results were not going to be instant I calmed down a touch. I had also experienced this acclimation period with natural deodorant and was met with success, so I knew there was hope if I stuck it out. When it comes to hair, sometimes acclimation can take two weeks, sometimes a month or more. The pain point here is that it sucks to have a bad hair day out in public for an extended period of time. Luckily I have a few hair care tricks and perspective shifts to push you through it!
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