As I come close to five years working for MOM’s, I am amazed by how much I have been able to learn and experience. I have met and learned from so many great people within and associated with the company. I’ve been able to participate in some pretty neat things and have been inspired to spearhead my own learning in many ways. I’ve developed a passion for all things E.R. and am constantly finding new ways to better myself environmentally.
I started working for MOM’s in June 2008. Both of my sisters worked for the company and loved it. As a brand new vegetarian, I knew MOM’s would be a cool place to learn more about my options. And cool, they care about the environment.
Before being hired, I thought I was doing a pretty good job with my environmentalism. I grew up with curbside recycling. I was really focused on animal ethics and didn’t purchase cosmetics tested on animals. This also led me to become a vegetarian. I picked up after myself and wouldn’t dare litter- although looking back I’m thinking of the cigarette butts I’ve contributed to the landscape. My mom raised us to always turn the lights out in order to save money on electricity. I thought I was doing pretty well!
And then I started working at MOM’s. What an overwhelming smack on the face of all the environmental things I was NOT doing! What was compost? What was so important about organic food and why on earth was it so expensive? What does the word commingled mean? What are wind turbines and how do we get electricity from them? What is a Renewable Energy Credit? There are how many different kinds of apples?! I thought buying in bulk is what the hippies did. What is kombucha? What does Gluten-Free mean? What is an “ER” cleaning product? What does “Sustainable Seafood” mean? What’s the big deal about not using plastic bags? Why is it so important to recycle batteries? What exactly is a hybrid car?
Let me tell you…. it was overwhelming. But I had to step back and realize a few things.
- I have a lot to learn. I am not perfect.
- No one else here is perfect either! Yay!
- What are the easiest ways for me to get started making my life just a little more ER friendly?
- What things do I eventually want to be doing?
It was evident as time went on that this was not just a neat little food store- this was a store with a passion to make a difference in the environment and help others along the way.
Even in the 5 years I’ve had to learn the ropes, I know there are still ways that I can make improvements. But I will share with you some of my milestone moments.
- At the time, I was a make-up junkie; so the first place I looked was my cosmetics. While I focused on purchasing products not tested on animals, I realized that doesn’t mean environmentally friendly. I can be perfectly honest with you and tell you that my make up still isn’t as clean as I’d like. But I do look at things like packaging, and I do my best to avoid petroleum based ingredients. I have also compiled a collection of packaging and half used product for that magical day I find a place to recycle it.
- Toiletries I found to be a bit trickier. Again, my focus was primarily on not being tested on animals. I found it most difficult to swap out my shaving cream and my antiperspirant deodorant. In fact, it wasn’t until last year that I was able to find replacements that I liked. I’m in love with the Herban Cowboy line MOM’s carries, which has a women’s deodorant (sometimes I use the men’s one because it smells so good!). I also really love the Kiss My Face shaving lotion as it lathers up nicely and feels great on my skin.
- Cleaning products were easy! I loved the wonderful smells of Mrs. Meyers and also frequently used Seventh Generation and surface cleaners like Parsley Plus. In the past year, my fiance and I have converted to one of the cheapest and simplest and most diverse cleaning products around! Diluted white vinegar. It’s marvelous. We recently had a clogged bathtub, and he was able to unclog it using a combination of baking soda, vinegar and hot water. No Drain-o here!
- My next task was to get myself a reusable water bottle! MOM’s sells some really nice ones. They also now sell silicone squirt tops for the Klean Kanteens, which makes drinking ultra quiet (the solid plastic tops were really loud)! I can’t remember the last time I purchased a bottle of water. I don’t even want to imagine what that expense can be. I think it’s a silly and soon to be outdated concept too. Check this video out for a little insight: The Story of Bottled Water.
- I knew there was room to improve with recycling, so when I moved into an apartment with my school mates, I acquired a large bin for us to use. The apartment complex we lived in did not have recycling, so I had to drive 10 miles down the road to the drop off center every week. Despite how smelly the trip could be with all the beer bottles in the recycling, I remained committed! Currently, my faince and I are recycling maniacs and try to recycle everything we can. Anything that can’t be picked up, we take to our drop off center or MOM’s.
- While in college, I did the best that I could to buy good food with my budget and still seemingly limited knowledge. Unfortunately at the time, Baltimore didn’t have a MOM’s, so whatever I didn’t bring back from weekends spent working in Frederick, I had to look for elsewhere- which meant Giant, Whole Foods and sometimes Trader Joe’s. As time progressed, I learned more and more and am currently able to purchase all of my groceries from MOM’s. I also go for the organic options when available.
- Energy efficiency didn’t happen quite as naturally. Currently we do the best with what we can as we do not own our house. We put in a water efficient shower head that decreases water use by 20% but still gets AMAZING pressure. We use CFL bulbs. We avoid using heat and air conditioning as long as possible. We haven’t used the air conditioning since living in our house- I hope it works!
- Composting was finally achieved as of the past 2 months! It started getting really bad when we realized that our trash can was filled with soooo much compost! After seeing a landfill for my first time ever 2 months ago, I really had that “aha” moment and got on it! Why would I want all of my valuable compost to go sit in a landfill and
- not be turned into beautiful nutrient for my garden
- take up space in the landfill
- but most importantly, my compost would just sit there producing loads of methane gas which is one of the most prevalent greenhouse gases produced! (when in fact my compost can be used to enrich soil making it healthier and more capable of absorbing damaging carbon from the air)
- We purchased a Hybrid vehicle in January of this year thanks to help from the MOM’s employee Green Benefit! And we are certainly blessed with the little light that comes on every week or so letting us know our tire pressure needs to be checked. I try not to be annoyed at how often they fluctuate, but rather remember that the car will run more efficiently.
- I’m making my very first attempt at organic gardening this year! I have a 4’x8’ raised bed set up filled with some great soil products from Organic Mechanics, which is sold at MOM’s. I also purchased the Southern Exposure Organic Seeds that MOM’s sells, as well as the organic plant starters primarily sourced from A Thyme to Plant Herb Farm in Virginia.
- I say no to bags, even when I have to fight with the cashiers about it.
- I don’t remember the last time I was in a Wal-Mart, and it’s been 4 years since I’ve had McDonald’s french fries.
- We’ve made the switch to Clean Currents for our house. Just 2 weeks ago, we went to my mom’s cabin in West Virginia and were able to experience wind turbines up close. What a treat that was! They span from Garrett County, MD way into West Virginia. We were also able to see them from my mom’s property. My mom says her neighbors there complain about them, but I bet you they’d be complaining a lot more if they had a coal mining project behind them!
- We have adopted all three of our marvelous little fur-kids from the local shelters around us, BARCS and the MD SPCA. They bring a whole new thought process on environmentalism, such as compostable poop bags to quality food to holistic medical treatment.
Bottled water is a waste, not a convenience. Plastic straws are a single-use convenience that is generally unnecessary. Plastic bags should be outlawed. Styrofoam plates and cups? Really?? I saw a container of Round-Up in someone’s flower garden last night while walking my dog and wanted to explode. I get especially angry when I have to shoo my dog from sniffing in yards that have signs warning of pesticide application. I see no use for driving monster trucks on a regular basis. I’ve developed an annoyance towards the mall, and as a result found some great finds at the local thrift stores. I cringe at the thought of using bleached feminine products. And I can’t even begin to imagine basking in toxic household chemicals.
Environmentalism has been a journey for me and a pathway to a new mindset. I see things very differently, and continue to be open to new ways I can be better. What’s your Step One?
Krista currently works at MOMs Central.