Slow Living with Nicole Hasenbein

Slow Living with Nicole Hasenbein

Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?

My name is Nicole Hasenbein and I am a working mom with two kids under 6 years old. I’ve been teaching English for the past almost thirteen years. My husband and I will be celebrating being married for ten years in July 2024.

What inspired you to incorporate slow living, sustainable practices, and environment awareness into your family’s lifestyle?

 I was inspired by my great aunt, grandma, and dad to continue slow living practices today with my own family. I was raised this way as a child and it didn’t occur to me that it would be categorized as “sustainable living.” My earliest memory was my aunt and grandmother saving jars and using them to make jam or chili sauce.  I always wondered why they would save a jar of olives to reuse for their latest sauce creation. Another example is when I was sick, my aunt would give me a handkerchief instead of tissue paper to blow my nose. I was not an instant fan of this, but it slowly became the norm. During the summer, my aunt would cut out patterns using old newspaper and would sew clothes for me and my siblings. Another memory I have is of my dad and aunt also maintaining a garden and I would often eat sugar snap peas and beans from wherever they decided to grow them. I remember seeing the compost and being disgusted and not understanding why we needed to compost.

Eating fresh food from our garden is certainly a favorite pastime of mine. When I was child, I didn’t quite understand the purpose behind doing these practices and I didn’t have friends who had a similar upbringing living in Los Angeles. However, I did have environmental awareness at a young age. I remember winning an art contest that was dedicated to recycling, which made a huge impact on me. Since I could remember, I was a huge proponent of carrying my own water bottle when people were still opting for drinking out of a plastic water bottle. Not only did I have memories of thinking this way at a young age, but I also have fond memories of being out in nature at a young age and vacationing in northern California, which also contributed towards my love for nature and growing my awareness for our planet.

I think that diving into slow living or living sustainably doesn’t need to happen all at once. The first thing I started with was carrying my own grocery/shopping bag everywhere, then it extended to carrying our own cutlery and straw, then replacing paper towels, then maintaining a garden, etc. It truly is a lifestyle change and I find a higher success rate of maniganing it by doing one thing at a time. It really boils down to a mindset. I am always looking at ways in which I can reduce my carbon footprint. I have come to accept that it is an imperfect process. For example, It wasn’t until about five years ago when I stopped buying from fast fashion companies and became more aware of rewearing what I already have. I would buy a new outfit for every occasion, which is extremely wasteful. I took a sewing class over ten years ago and just recently started sewing again for myself and my kids. I do my best to buy from small companies that have a strong ethos to helping the planet and ultimately being transparent.

What are some activities you enjoy doing with your children that promote slow living and mindfulness? 

It wasn’t until I became a mom that I realized that I wanted to raise my children with similar slow living principles that I grew up with. Prior to becoming a mom, I would just use ball jars for food storage, but after having my daughter, it increased to reusing bags, opting for paper/stainless steel straws, using an old rag to clean up messes instead of using paper towels, starting a garden and a compost, using stasher bags, etc.

My daughter is involved in all aspects of these living practices. She has been accompanying me to the farmer’s market since she was an infant. She will often grab one of our bags before someone offers her one. She grabs a towel to clean up spilled milk, she has plants in our garden that she tends to. She is also part of the sewing process in terms of finding fabric whether it's online or at a thrift store. I am slowly getting my son involved in all of this too. A challenge I come across is planning for a school field trip because most teachers want a lunch that can be “disposed” in the trash and we don’t have ziplock bags or disposable water bottles in the house, so I have to get creative with paper in the house.

How do you involve your children in activities such as gardening, composting, recycling? 

They follow our lead and just join us in the adventure. I think prefacing the activity as “something we do as a family” normalizes the practice. Most of the time, my daughter loves to check on the strawberries or find any critters that are eating our plants and will move them to the grass. It’s a community effort. I want them to be part of the process and understand the impact of our choices at home and I hope that it carries out into their lives separate from us one day.

How do you incorporate nature into your children’s upbringing? 

We try to get out of the house as much as we can and limit screen time to weekends only. Honestly, I would love to get rid of the television, but that’s a non-negotiable for my husband. I was, however, able to remove the microwave when I first moved in with him prior to starting a family.

I try to have a project for us to work on outside whether that’s watering the garden or picking oranges from our tree. We frequently go on walks, go hiking and I plan scavenger hunts. We sometimes use pieces of nature to make art too. I love examining leaves, flowers, twigs, clouds, rainbows, etc. I will often point out the beautiful sunset, night sky, or moon to my kids. I feel that those small moments make a huge impact in being present with nature.

How do you use outdoor time as an opportunity to teach your children about the environment?

Recently, I took my daughter to a beach cleanup with @christydawn. I didn’t force her to come and I told her what I was going to do and how it was part of one of mom’s goals this year and she was excited to participate with me. I think it gave a bigger meaning behind earth day for her and she was able to share her adventure with her classmates. I love moments like this where she can see other kids and their families participate in this activity too. I want my kids to know how their actions impact our planet and surrounding communities.

Do you participate in any community or volunteer activities related to the environmental conversation?

As mentioned earlier, I want to get more involved in beach cleanups, and if possible, bring the family. I was hesitant to bring my two-year-old son for fear that the clean-up would not take place, but I definitely see him getting more involved in the future.

How has your family life changed after incorporating environmental practices and slow living into your day-to-day?

Although slow moving, hence the term ‘slow living,’ these shared practices have helped us to strengthen bonds with one another and provide purpose. We emphasize this idea of working as a team to help our community.



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