“The thing that I’ve been working on for my sustainability journey has been more food-focused,” said Kristina Shane. “That’s something I feel I have a lot of control over in my life because I manage the household and cook.”
Kristina Shane, One Planet Life writer and editor, has always been someone who has cared about the environment. But with four young children at home, living sustainably can be challenging.
Shane estimates her family eats vegetarian meals at least four days a week. By utilizing unique spices in her recipes, she’s able to do a lot with a basic assortment of vegetables.
“You’ll notice that the recipes I post on One Planet Life have funky spices or stuff that you don’t tend to see in a typical American kitchen,” she said. “I can take a humble piece of cauliflower and roast it down with all these other awesome spices to make something truly flavorful and crave-able.”
Shane also keeps a supply of pre-roasted vegetables in the refrigerator to help make meal prep easier. “I’ll roast them one night, and then I’ll use them throughout the week in whatever recipes I’m making,” she said. “Plus, if I have roasted vegetables around, I’m less likely to snack on the junk food in the house.”
Getting natural and local ingredients – as well as making what she can from scratch – is a goal Shane strives to maintain. She makes her own sourdough bread and yogurt as her schedule allows. “I fall off every now and then, depending on our schedule and what the kids are doing. But I’m a foodie, so for me, good food is worth it; local food is worth it.”
Shane’s children are also interested in helping with the dinner-making process. “My oldest son, who’s eight, will walk over and say ‘Ooh, can I help?’ and it’s been really fun to teach him some simple kitchen skills and spend time with him. I hope he loves cooking someday as much as I do.”
Bringing the Family Along for the Journey
For Shane, it’s important to have her family learn about sustainability too. “I take the kids on the journey with me,” she said. “I pulled out the cloth napkins the first night and was like, ‘Alright, kiddos. We’re hugging the planet tonight.’ I like making it a family activity.”
Shane doesn’t have the space to grow a garden like the one her father had when she was a child. But she’s found ways to eat locally by supporting local farms – and making it a fun and educational experience for her family. “The kids have a blast picking their own U-Pick strawberries, tomatoes, and peppers. There are no pesticides on it, and it’s much higher quality. Plus I’m supporting local farmers. It’s a win for everyone.”
With sustainability and the planet part of the regular family discourse, Shane is hopeful her children will carry their curiosity, mindfulness, and sustainable habits into adulthood.
“They were really excited about it,” she said. “It’s creating another generation of kids that are thinking about this. If it becomes normal to them, then my impact is quadrupled because it’s something they’re also thinking about with greater frequency.”
Making the Switch to Sustainable Alternatives
With young children at home, cutting back on consumption isn’t always simple. It can be a challenge to break the plastic habit when pre-bagged snack packs are so convenient. While Shane doesn’t always avoid them, she’s making progress. “I use bento boxes to send the kids’ lunches, which I felt was a better compromise.”
She has made efforts in other aspects of her everyday life to make mindful replacements that are better for the planet, like reusable mesh produce bags and buying bar soap instead of bottled. Switching to reusable napkins was a big adjustment for the whole family.
“We’ve switched over to cloth napkins,” she said. “If I’m being honest, it’s more that I need to fold when I’m doing the laundry, but it’s a sacrifice I’m still willing to make for the planet. I still have paper napkins around if it’s one of those nights where I just don’t have it in me. But I am buying paper napkins in far less frequency than I was before. It’s still a better change than if I never made the switch to begin with.”
Goals for the Future
While Shane has made many changes to live more sustainably, she still has goals she’s working toward to make a larger impact – composting being one of them.
“For me, my initial hesitation was, ‘Is it going to smell? Do I have to take care of it?’ Because again, I’m keeping enough alive as it is. But I’m making it my goal this year to learn more and to make that jump. I’m going to get there in 2023 somehow.”
Having support from the One Planet Life team has encouraged her to keep up with her new habits.
“It’s a really great community of people,” she said. “I don’t know that I have many family and friends that are currently connected in this way, where we’re all thinking about sustainability together. It’s made me realize that I’m not alone in my journey. Like what I am doing does truly matter.”
The staff at One Planet Life are serious about sustainable living. That’s why we decided to share the struggles and successes of our individual sustainability journeys. We will share tips directly from our team members, curated through authentic personal experience. We hope that by sharing our stories, we can help foster a community committed to helping each other – and the planet!