piggy_bank_1When I had my first child, “organic” and “green” were not words you heard every day. Organic cotton clothing? Eco friendly toys? BPA free bottles? To most I was speaking a foreign language. I remember expecting my first child, my request for cloth diapers was met with a collective gasp. “Why would you want to do that, disposables are so much easier?” That was almost 30 years ago.

When the last of my seven children was born three years ago, organic baby products were now readily available and were an expected part of any nursery. And that child I mentioned, born almost 30 years ago? It was from her store that I purchased the organic cotton cloth diapers for child number seven!

What a road the years between these two children has been. As a young mom, I wanted to do everything right. I wanted to protect that small child of mine from any sort of harm. I envisioned a care-free child, running through a field of wildflowers in the country.

The reality I’m afraid, was anything but what I had hoped for. Lead paint scares, mad cow disease, asbestos in the schools, tainted baby food, it wasn’t long before I realized it was in an uphill battle, and it wasn’t going to be pretty. I couldn’t sit back and wait for the world to become a safer place for my child. Nobody had her best interest at heart more than I did. I needed to be proactive and find a better way. It was trial and error at first, to be sure. But nothing gave me a better feeling than knowing I knew exactly what was in her food and where it came from.

I have to smile and chuckle when people say to me “Oh I would love to live a more green lifestyle, but I can’t afford it.” Raising my children in an eco friendly lifestyle, has been immensely rewarding personally, and financially.

Here are seven tips to help you go green, live a healthy lifestyle, and yes save money:

1. Grow an Herb and Vegetable Garden – It’s true, kids will eat their vegetables, if they had a hand in growing them…well there is a better chance anyway.

2. Repurpose, Reuse & Recycle - A must for a large family, green or not! I love to hand one of the kids something I would usually recycle and ask “what should this be now?” Just watch their imagination go to work. Get together with other families that buy organic cotton clothing and swap clothes! In any group, there is almost always a child a size or two bigger than your child. This works great for organic cotton baby items too, such as: blankets, bibs, hooded towels, burp cloths slings, diapers and baby toys.

3. Use Every Day, Non-Toxic Items for Cleaning – Examples include lemons, salt, vinegar and baking soda. Not only is the house free from toxic fumes, it costs just pennies on the dollar.

4. Plan Ahead When Traveling – If you can’t bring food with you…plan ahead! Search for your favorite organic restaurants online to see if there is one near your destination. Print out your map and off you go! If all else fails, visit the local grocery store and stock up on food for your stay. Is there a Whole Foods store nearby? Bonus!

5. Choose Healthy School Lunches…. It’s no secret that the choices offered in most schools are not the most nutritious choices for our kids. We save quite a bit of money packing lunches, and the choices are endless. Not only do we save on food, we use “waste-free” lunch kits. No need for juice boxes, plastic bags or wrap, paper bags or paper napkins. This is a great eco-friendly option.

6. Staying Fit & Get Healthy – The health benefits of living an eco friendly lifestyle are fantastic, and perhaps fewer trips to the doctor….even better. Eating organic food is more nutritious and less fattening, doesn’t contain toxic chemicals or pesticides, what’s not to love there! If you’re not the 10K type, a simple yoga routine does the body and mind wonders. You will find yourself looking forward to this quiet time, and will fiercely protect it at all cost!

7. Create Craft Projects with the Kids – Keeping the kids occupied doesn’t have to mean putting them in front of the TV for hours at a time to “veg-out,” or taking out a loan to visit the amusement park. Some of the most memorable times we’ve had, were being elbow deep in easy to find (in the house or in nature) items for making crafts. Their one of a kind masterpieces will be something you treasure for years to come.

These are just a few of the examples of how green living doesn’t have to break the budget. Doing what you know in your heart is right for your family, can be cost effective as well.

Now, I have been called frugal by some. I take this as a compliment! You can buy organic food, clothing, cleaning products etc. very affordably – I have been doing it for years. Children number 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 have had the added benefit of a healthier, safer environment, than their oldest sibling.

Raising kids in a healthy, green environment gives me peace of mind knowing their food is healthier, their clothes are free of toxic residues, their toys won’t be on the next recall list and nobody has to run for the hills, eyes watering, when it’s cleaning day.

About the author: Cindy Miller is a Registered Nurse of 21 years and the proud mom to seven wonderful children. Because of her passion for her children and living a healthy, green lifestyle, she launched the website OnlyTheBestForThem.com, dedicated to living a more natural and healthy lifestyle.