Interview with EcoKaren, Superhero of All Things Eco

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Introducing EcoKaren – a stay-at-home-mom and blogger working hard to save the environment one day at a time. How does she do it? We found out.

We asked: “What is the single most important lesson you’ve learned along your eco-conscious journey?”

She answered: “I was never a big spender on frivolous things. I don’t frequent Target or Wal Mart but I became more aware of how little I actually need to live on. Sure I need food and water but I don’t really “need” too much else. And when I think I “need” something, I can always find them ‘used.’ I don’t want to contribute to more waste and pollution from buying new goods. And I think if everyone follows that rule, the world would be a better place to live. Consumerism was getting out of control. The bad economy has curbed our appetite for buying new goods for a little while but the ultimate test will be when the economy recovers and people don’t feel that economic ‘pinch’. Would people realize that they were fine without all that stuff? I hope so.

We asked: “What’s your favorite “trick” for living a healthy, green lifestyle on a budget?”

She answered: “When it comes to food, I try to buy “Clean Fifteen” foods and avoid the “Dirty Dozen” so that on a budget, I can at least buy organic for those dirty twelve. EWG just updated its list and I find them to be really useful. So when I absolutely need to buy organic, I know what to buy. I also don’t waste money on unhealthy processed packaged foods. I cook from scratch which is always cheaper and healthier. I go to farmers market whenever I can and buy for the week. And we finish whatever we buy and don’t waste food. I rarely use laundry detergents to its full strength – even Jefferey Hollender, CEO of Seventh Generation, says you don’t have to. So I buy biodegradable non-toxic laundry soaps but use less than directed. I want to try making my own soap one of these days. I use vinegar and baking soda for all cleaning which is super cheap compared to cleaning products – toxic or non-toxic. And I use reusables instead of disposables. Using disposables is like throwing away money.

We asked: “Which aspect of your eco-friendly life are you currently most proud of? Least proud of? Why and what are you considering to change about it?”

She answered: “I am proud of little steps I made to change my family’s habits. I can’t change everyone all at once. It’s a ‘one-step-at-a-time’ process and it’s pain-free. It would be hard to change everything all at once. So, subtly, we are all changing our daily habits, little by little, for the better.

The aspect that I am least proud of is my car. My two teenagers are involved with a sport that requires me to lug long and heavy equipment. So I needed a large car to accommodate their equipment, back and forth, from their club. So we needed a SUV. It is a gas guzzler and I cringe every time I have to drive it. But I had no choice three years ago. The car is leased and the end of the lease is coming due. My son is going to college in the fall so, I am so relieved to get rid of the car for a better fuel efficient car – preferably a small clean diesel car when the lease expires. That has been the thorn in my life. When I leased the car, I wasn’t educated about the environment or hybrid cars. Now that I am, I am regretting the choice I made three years ago, ignorant consumer that I was.”

Thanks, EcoKaren for your honesty and inspiration! Be sure to check out her blog at www.ecokaren.com.

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