Eco Living: One Step at a Time
There are many ways to live eco and as you take one step, you keep on moving ahead toward a more sustainable lifestyle. I’ve compiled some of the ways our family chooses to live eco and have started with the easiest/quickest things, moving to those that require slightly more planning/effort. I will continue to add to and update this blog post as our family's sustainable lifestyle evolves.
1. Explore Nature
- Simply by being in nature, whether it is your back yard, local park, campground, or hiking trail, you feel and see and experience the beauty of nature. You know that it is special. You know that for us to be well, we need our environment to be well. This awe inspiring nature connection nurtures us to choose to live sustainably.
2. Reduce consumption
- While reusing and recycling is great, the first and most important step to reducing human impact on the earth is consuming less material goods. We need to learn to distinguish between wants and needs. This is a very empowering first step because this decision can also lead to significant financial freedom. When I want less, I have more money available to choose experiences or even further, when I want less, I can work less, and have more time for truly living…. I encourage you to read Marie Kondo’s book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” to delve further into this topic.
3. Volunteer with environmental organizations
- There are many environmental organizations doing incredible work in and around your communities. Join in the fun and make a positive contribution through volunteer work. Our family really enjoys volunteering with Nature Conservancy of Canada and Water Rangers.
4. Choose reusable water bottles and go mugs
- This simple choice has a massive impact. Make it a habit to leave the house with these. Not only will you be reducing waste but think about how many people’s hands have been all over disposable water bottles, paper coffee cups, straws, etc. You don’t want that near you! Instead, enjoy your clean mugs and water bottles!
5. Choose reusable grocery bags
- Whether it is a sturdy cardboard box or washable cotton bags, make it a habit to never use plastic grocery/shopping bags. We have two reusable bins and cloth bags that we frequently wash. We keep these in our cars and once we’ve unloaded them, we put them in front of the door. The next you leave the house you have to load them into the car. If you’re grocery shopping and happen to forget, ask an employee in the produce aisle for a box. They have tons and are happy to give you one! If you think it’s not big deal, look up plastic waste in the oceans and then picture your plastic bag suffocating a sea animal….
6. Eat local and organic whenever possible
- Shop at your local farmers markets and organic grocers. Choosing organic is better for your health and the health of the environment (no chemicals, right?) but have you thought about the workers…. Each time you choose conventionally grown, pesticide laden foods, you are choosing to also impact the health of those growing these foods – directly since they apply these chemicals and indirectly because you are polluting their environment in which they live. Choosing local foods means that you food isn’t being transported long distances. When food is shipped, it creates a substantial amount of emissions. It also results in a lot of road kill and the need for ever increasing infrastructure to bring goods to communities
7. Bike, walk, or catch a ride as much as possible!
- Lower your footprint and get some exercise. It’s a win-win!
8. Lower your thermostat in the winter. Raise it in the summer.
- Heating and cooling costs and environmental impacts are huge. You can save money and reduce your environmental footprint by lowering the temperature on your thermostat by a few degrees, even just when you are out of the house. Each time we leave the house, I go the thermostat, lower it, and return it to the normal temp upon returning. We also sleep in cooler temps too. Throw on a sweater and get cozy for the winter! Come summer, we don’t turn the air conditioning on unless we really need it (sometimes at night during the summer).
9. Hang your clothes to dry - especially in the summer!
- You can buy indoor clothes trees for $20-$30 new and they will fit a whole load of clothes. It takes you a few extra minutes to hang the clothes but you’ll naturally moisten your air, get a little workout, and feel good about not wasting your money and power running the dryer! Installing a clothesline is also a great choice. In the summer, sometimes our clothes will be dry in as little as 10 minutes - way faster than the dryer!
10. Ditch the gas mower and get a human powered lawn mower.
- These are such fun to use and are really quite easy, not to mention economical. We purchased this Remington model this past summer for less than $150. We love it! And, no more loud mowers or needing to buy and refill a mower with stinky, harmful gas. We have a hill in our backyard so pushing it up takes a bit of work and is a great booty workout, but who doesn’t love soaking up sun, getting a workout, and feeling good about living sustainably?!
11. Garden - organically! Grow some of your own food and enjoy a sustainable hobby!
- I adore gardening. Growing up, my mom planted flowers and I loved helping her. When we bought our current home and had space for a garden, I immediately started planning. I had no experience and let me tell you, you don’t need any. Just plant a few rows of veggies – carrots, lettuce, beets, onions, potatoes… they are all quite easy. If using garden boxes, check out “Square Foot Gardening” from the library, give it a quick read and get growing. It is so satisfying and extra fun to share with children too! If you don’t have a garden, you can join a community garden, growing plants in pots or try indoor gardening.
Composting is one of the easiest ways to reduce household waste and it isn’t complicated. It can be as simple as digging a hole in your garden or yard, dumping a bucket of compost in and covering it with soil. If you want it tidier, you can use a compost bin. If you want to visualize how much compostable waste you are throwing away, get a large pail or bucket and throw all of your scraps into it for one week. Include fruit and veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds and compostable tea bags, toilet paper rolls, and other food waste except meat and dairy. It adds up quickly so all you’d have to do is instead of throwing it in the garbage, dump it into a compost bin and let nature do the work. If you don’t have a yard, you can vermicompost or sign up for a compost collection service. It’s a win-win for everyone!
13. Install rain barrels to water your plants, lawn and garden.