Guest Post by Joyce of Grow Your Green Family

Today we are pleased to welcome Joyce to the Bushbunch!

Hello to all of the wonderful mamas and families out there! I am an Illinois native, a mama/stepmama to three kids (two teenagers and a toddler!), a hydrogeologist, essential oil educator, and aspiring writer/inspirational speaker. I am so thankful to Bushbaby for letting me share a bit of my story! Bushbaby is such a fun shop – I had to carry Ella, my three year old, out last time because she didn't want to leave!

Let's see...more about me? I developed a passion for environmentalism in high school. I grew up in a family that never went camping, fishing or anything outdoors, so I was new to the outdoor world! I took my first camping trip with a dear friend at the age of 18.

At 20 years old I wandered out west to get my degree in Geology and Environment/Natural Resources and have some adventures! Wyoming is an incredible place to get to know nature – I jumped into the outdoor scene and tried everything: hiking, camping, backpacking, downhill and cross country skiing, horse back riding, snowshoeing, winter camping... you name it. It was wonderful.

There was so much to learn in school but the focus tended to be on all the things that were "wrong" with the world. I spent a few years eating vegetarian, setting up a recycling program at the restaurant I worked at, and telling everyone I knew about the state of the world and all the things we needed to change. I was very passionate. And relentless. No one seemed to be changing anything! No one seemed to care.

I left college feeling frustrated and angry that there seemed to be such disregard for our planet and our future. My career kept me busy for the next few years so I just sort of stuck my head in the sand regarding all of the things I had learned. I had been overwhelmed by all of the information and felt that I just couldn't handle being green for awhile.

The lessons of life came to pass and I slowly gained more perspective. I became more forgiving, more understanding. I became more compassionate for people and families, especially when I married my husband and came to live with him and his two kids (6 and 8 at the time). The realities of raising a family, coordinating 4 different schedules, cooking meals, fitting in showers and bedtimes – it was eye opening!

But what really changed things for me was the birth of my daughter Ella in 2012.

I was forced to review everything I had learned about products, our food, and lifestyle choices. The question became "How do I want to live and raise my family?" That made things more simple and direct. Instead of making judgments on what I felt everyone else should be doing – I now had to come up with my own plan. How realistic and livable was the lifestyle I felt everyone "should" be living? Furthermore, how would I implement that ideal "green" lifestyle when we had been living the standard American lifestyle already? And on a budget?

We started small and we were strategic about our Christmas list! LOL. Every year for three years we asked for pyrex style glass kitchen containers so we could get plastic out of our kitchen. And we just kept making small changes from there.

I know now that the world is made of a network of families – just like yours and mine. We are all doing the best we can. And change finds its way through our homes and our lives slowly. All we can do is live our own lives and make our own choices.

We can let people see that they do have choices.

We do not have to accept the generic, low quality unhealthy products sold at the same outlet chains and department stores. We can choose well made, sustainable, products such as those sold at BushBaby.

We do not have to purchase all of our items from big corporate chains the funnel money away from our communities. We can choose to purchase from small locally owned stores and businesses!

We can let people know that there are so many wonderful things happening in the world! Change is happening all around us everyday. Positive change. It's inspiring and it builds hope for me. I tune down the negative news of the day and look for the positive news. It is there, just waiting to be found and shared with others.

You and I have the opportunity daily to create more change in the world through our purchases. The corporations of this world spend enormous amounts of money studying our purchasing habits and interests. Show them that we are interested in sustainably made, environmentally friendly products and those products will appear. Every dollar spent is a vote for our future. What do you want our future to look like?

This is the approach I take with our family. This is what I want to share through my website Grow Your Green Family. Whatever your green journey – it happens one step at a time. One small change at a time. There will be switchbacks and wash outs. That's ok. The time for judgments, criticisms, complaints about the way things are – it's over. Now is the time for inspired change. One day at a time.

"Be the change you want to see in the world."

Wow, Joyce! What a great story! We love your practical suggestions + your encouragement to other families to just get started with small steps. Thanks so much for sharing! Don't forget to hear more from Joyce at her blog, Grow Your Green Family.