About Small Footprint Family
“In our way of life, in our government, with every decision we make, we always keep in mind the Seventh Generation to come. It’s our job to see that the people coming ahead, the generations still unborn, have a world no worse than ours and hopefully better.
When we walk upon Mother Earth we always plant our feet carefully because we know the faces of our future generations are looking up at us from beneath the ground. We never forget them.”
—Oren Lyons, Iroquois tribal leader
Welcome to Small Footprint Family™!
Our goal is to empower and inspire you with the tools and ideas you need to reduce your family’s resource footprint so that you can save money, consume less, produce more, and live a more meaningful, healthy and sustainable life.
The first step in creating a more sustainable, just, and healthy world is in becoming conscious of the personal choices we make (and don’t make), and their effect on the lives of our children and grandchildren.
In other words: Sustainability starts at home.
On this site you will find tons of information about:
- saving money while conserving water, energy, oil, trees and other natural resources;
- whole food nutrition and eco friendly food choices (including tons of grain-free and dairy-free recipes);
- DIY and sustainable family living;
- non-toxic homes and natural healthcare;
- gardening, homesteading and permaculture, and
- giveaways and discounts on the healthiest and greenest products, classes and books.
Our aim is to give you the resources you need to make powerful choices that improve your health and well-being— and thereby the health and well-being of the only planet we’ve been blessed with.
Be sure to sign up for my weekly blog update so you don’t miss any exciting new articles, recipes, gardening tips or giveaways for great eco-friendly products!
If you have any questions or thoughts, I’d love to hear from you!
About the Author
My name is Dawn, and my main occupation is currently Mama to a beautiful, 5-year-old girl we call Babyzilla (because of her awesome T-Rex impression), partner to a dedicated and creative man we call Papa, and a primary caregiver for my mother-in-law with Alzheimer’s. But this was not always so.
In my former, work-a-day life, I was a Master Gardener and Master Composter, horticulture teacher and extension agent, as well as a certified arborist and Permaculture designer.
I founded one of the first greenroof companies and social enterprises in the nation, and have spent most of the last 15 years designing and running award-winning workforce training programs for “green-collar” environmental jobs in tree care, low-impact development, sustainable landscaping, and urban agriculture.
My company was sponsored by the USDA, the EPA, the D.C., Virginia and Maryland governments, the Ford Foundation, the Aspen Institute, and more, as well as featured in The Washington Post, American Gardener magazine, the Washington Business Journal, and other publications. I was at the top of my game.
But everything changed after I had my daughter.
After a stressful, vomit-filled pregnancy that culminated in a challenging, 63-hour home birth, the “new mom exhaustion” I experienced after giving birth to Babyzilla just never went away. In fact, it grew worse and worse as the months of breastfeeding progressed, until in her seventh month, I grew so ill that just the act of getting up to go to the bathroom would give me frightening heart palpitations, spots before my eyes, and shortness of breath.
I ended up mostly bedridden for over a year with Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome, pyroluria, burnt out adrenals and fried mitochondria. My heart literally didn’t have enough energy to pump the blood required to hold my body upright.
My digestive system quit working properly, my detox system sputtered out turning my skin yellowish and blotchy and covered in cysts and rashes. My hair went very gray, very fast. And, as you might imagine, I felt as lost and depressed as I have ever felt in my life.
I even lost a tooth as my reserves depleted more and more. It crumbled right out of my mouth.
Meanwhile, my newborn daughter developed severe colic, terrible poop issues, horrible eczema, and cried unconsolably from about 7pm to midnight, every night.
As a researcher by trade, I began frantically looking for possible solutions, and I learned that, because my digestion was so compromised, she could be allergic to foods that I had eaten because their poorly digested proteins were in my breastmilk.
Over the course of a couple of months, I eliminated and reintroduced dozens of foods and food groups into my diet in search of the secret combination that would eventually stop the awful pain in my dear baby’s gut and skin.
It turns out Babyzilla was sensitive to almost everything I liked to eat most! Finally I found the answer to her miserable colic, eczema and green poop, but it required eliminating anything artificially flavored or colored, all grains, all dairy, most tropical fruits and nuts, soy and most beans, cane sugar, most fish and seafood, onions and garlic, celery, and a handful of other odd things.
And, as I cut these foods out of my diet so they wouldn’t be in my breastmilk, Babyzilla’s colic and her horrible eczema rapidly disappeared. Just like that.
And to my surprise, I discovered that I felt a lot better without those foods too, and enough of my energy and health returned that I could get out of bed. Just like that.
But living the rest of our lives on such a restricted diet was just not acceptable to me, and while no longer strictly bedridden, I still had less than half of my usual energy back.
Mainstream medicine had nothing to useful to me but diagnostic testing. I didn’t want drugs or creams. I had to learn why we were allergic to everything, why my gut was leaky as a sieve, and why I barely had enough energy to pump my heart if I ate or did the wrong things. As a gardener to the core, I wanted to get to the root of things.
I had to learn to cook and I had to learn to heal.
Thus began our real food journey.
Because my daughter has severe food intolerances, I have CFIDS, and my mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s, I have come to truly understand why Hippocrates said that food is the first medicine.
My “early retirement” has forced me to put most of my precious energy into learning to deeply, restoratively nourish myself and my family, remove all toxins from our home, and sustain my household without my former income.
This means my environmental expertise and passion have necessarily shifted from the public sphere to home and hearth.
Sustainability starts at home, after all.
Inspired by Permaculture, the raw food movement, Paleolithic-style eating, and Dr. Weston A. Price, I think the choices we make about what we consume (or avoid consuming) are some of the most powerful means through which we can live our values.
I believe the paradigm of “better living through chemistry” is an arrogant folly that denies our inherent interdependence with all things and our natural birthright to healthy food and a clean environment.
Food should come from farms and forests, not from factories.
We are on a first name basis with the market farmers who grow our food, we belong to a CSA, and we also grow as much of our own as we can. We value whole, organic, local food, pasture-raised animal products, and traditional fats. And I will show you how to grow, purchase and use these important foods in your own home.
I am still healing, and I genuinely don’t have the energy to do a lot of cooking, but I must offer nutrient-dense, allergen-free, whole food meals to help heal my family. So, you’ll find that the majority of my recipes are in-season, very nutritious, and simple and quick to prepare—which is how we like to eat. I bet you do too.
All recipes are grain and soy free, and the majority of them are Paleo/Primal, GAPS-legal and/or raw vegan.
Like many modern, “green” American families, my family aspires to live in an eco-friendly, “off-grid” home powered by renewable energy. Toward that end, I will show you tons of ways to make your home less toxic and more resource efficient too.
We used cloth diapers, keep our money in a credit union, buy a lot less, and reuse and produce a lot more. We can’t imagine life without an organic garden and compost pile, and we choose nutritional and alternative therapies over pharmaceutical drugs whenever possible. Many of my articles will show you how and why you might want to do the same.
I sincerely hope you enjoy what you read, and maybe even take something away that creates more abundance in your own life.
Blessings to all your generations!
Kudos for Small Footprint Family