I have the intention of living a natural lifestyle - one where I feel good about the products I buy, the food I feed my family, and what I spend my time doing.  I don't however, just like most of the world, have an endless supply of money to make this a reality.  Nor do I have the energy and know-how to snap my fingers and have all of my dreams come to fruition.

What are some small steps I can take to further my goal of leading a natural lifestyle here in Buffalo this summer? And how do I, at the same time, not spend a fortune and not set myself up for failure? These are some steps I am ready and willing to take this summer to make my home a better place for me and my family.

I wish Buffalo would give us a bin and collect our kitchen waste like they do in Canada. Everyday I throw my produce scraps in the garbage and every time I do, my gut wrenches.  I want to have a compost pile in my yard for produce waste - have for a long time.  My neighbors have a real serious one in their backyard that I am jealous of. I am determined this summer to start small and cheap and to build something similar to the one in the above images and explained here. All it seems to require is a big plastic tote, some soil, leaves, and a screwdriver to make some holes. I got this!  There is also this handy list that tells us what we can put in compost and what we should not.  I will let you know how this goes.

Growing Herbs
I would also like to, for once in my life, grow a successful herb garden. We use herbs in every meal at our house; imagine if I had more of a variety of fresh herbs to use and how much money I could save?! It seems like every few years I try to grow herbs and something always goes wrong.  What is the foolproof plan?  This website seems like something I can handle.  I will choose to plant in containers.   Now, the question is, what are the easiest herbs for a gal like me to successfully grow in pots?  This site seems to know what its talking about as far as what herbs are easy to grow and the herbs are standard: mint, thyme, sage, parsley, cilantro, basil... the site also goes over what plants are cool to be planted in a pot together and in what size pots they thrive in. I will also let you know how this goes.

Buying Bulk
My husband and I revamped our kitchen recently and invested in all sorts of glass jars to hold our staples.  We keep our rice and oats, lentils, and beans in separate jars.  We bought new spice jars with labels for the spice cupboard and even put some of our really pretty jars and their contents like Indian chili peppers, bay leaves, and loose tea mixtures on display on floating shelves in our kitchen.  Now when one runs low I buy a big bag to fill it up and place the remainder in large totes in the cabinets. This system can work just as easily with cleaning, bathroom, and paper products.  I usually buy the bulk sizes at Wegmans and I am wondering how I could shop around a bit more for the cheapest and best quality products.  I am intrigued to compare prices at Wegman's, Trader Joe's, The Lexington Co-Op, and online options like a Amazon and Thrive Market.

Eating Cleaner More Local Food
Months ago, I wrote an article about eating local here in Buffalo- read it here.  Funny things is...I haven't taken any of my own advice.  This summer I am on it!  I am going to get my eggs, meats, and cheeses from the local farmers mentioned.  I will buy produce from local farmers whenever possible.  As far as eating cleaner foods without mountains of money to spend, I have committed to memory the EWG's Dirty 10 and Clean 15 lists to help me navigate which fruits and veggies are a must to buy organic and which I can relax around and buy conventional.

A Simple and Natural Bathroom 
My bathroom right now has 9 million products in it.  A product for every single body part and every possible ailment one could come down with. Isn't there a way to reduce these?  Can't I use one soup for my face and body?  A shampoo plus conditioner for my hair?  An appropriate base oil like coconut in the summer for my body and face?  The products I will buy will be natural, not full of chemicals and pollutants.  This summer I am going to go through my products and reduce and simplify by deciding what is necessary and what is not. Do I need those old nail polishes? Do I need the expired cold medicines? - no! Grove Collaborative looks like a great place to source some of these bulk natural products.

Summer is here and in Buffalo it is a great time to make some changes for the good of all. Start simple and don't embark on too many projects that will overload you.  Pick something to start with and see how it "grows" as a habit in your lifestyle.