If you’re following the trends, you’ve started to be a bit more sustainable in your lifestyle…right? Or at least you’re trying. Everywhere you look there are posts to help you get healthy, eat better, DIY-cleaner/washer/toothpaste/shampoo, grow food from scraps, recycle, and it goes on, and on, and on. Realistically, you’d have to have a lot of time, money, and material to do everything sustainable. For some people, the goal is to completely cut out all processed everything. For others, the goal is to feed their family a little bit better. For others, it is to keep their home a little less cluttered. Whatever the reason, we need to focus on doing whatever we can to reduce, reuse, or recycle. Our earth depends on it, whether you believe it or not.
Here are 25 tips to help you, realistically, achieve these goals:
- Start small – switch from supermarket eggs to local eggs. Support your local farmers, or neighbor, who has chickens. This is any easy thing for any newbie to change and it is relatively inexpensive.
- Buying a new gadget? Instead of hopping on Amazon.com – try to find what you’re looking for at your local store. Maybe they won’t have it, but maybe they will. And if they do, your purchase helps support a neighbor.
- Don’t be an all-or-nothing hippie. It is okay if you can’t afford the BEST household cleaners. When I first started making over my life with green products, I balked at the cost of Clean Day or Ms. Meyers products. They smell so good but that’s a hard price point to make work. If you can’t justify the price, look for a DIY alternative, or just find something biodegradable. Any change is better than none at all.
- Find a support system. Connect with other people who are on the same journey. You can, join a club or start your own. In the good ol’ days, women would get together and can tomatoes, make cheese, or bake. Let’s bring this back and build a community around the local food movement.
- Learn to sew. I’m working on this one. Wouldn’t it be nice to sew a hole in your favorite pair of socks instead of tossing them out? I think so. The lost art…but let’s bring it back!
- Learn to cook. Okay, seriously though, learning to cook is the best way to eat well on a budget. If you can swing it, buy a part of a cow or pig. You’ll save tremendous amounts of money. It’s cheap to buy bulk beans and grains. Seasonally fresh vegetables are always lower in price than supermarket, year round, flavorless veggies.
- Learn to garden. Start your own backyard garden. Grow fresh herbs in flower pots on your windowsill. Kickstart a community garden in your neighborhood. Sprout your own beans/seeds. Do something to grow fresh food in your own house. You can do this all winter long if you want.
- Preserve your food. If you can garden, learning to can/freeze/dehydrate food is the best way to get your food to last the whole year. If you can’t garden, buy fresh, seasonal produce, in bulk, and preserve away! I buy berries in the summer and freeze them to have all winter long. Think tomatoes: salsa, pasta sauces, sundried…yum.
- Volunteer. Get involved with local organizations that support a sustainable lifestyle. You can get incentives like discounts on food, gardening experience, meeting like-minded people, and giving back to your community.
- Stop eating fast food. There is nothing sustainable about fast foods. It’s mono-cultured crap product that is marketed as “food” but is barely that. It doesn’t rot. It always looks the same, tastes the same, and does the same damn thing. Makes you sicker and the CEOS richer.
- Always buy organic. Do you believe in the organic food movement? You should. And even though there are the “clean 15” – your dollar talks. Spend on what you believe in.
- Bake your own bread. I recently started baking sourdough at home. It’s amazing how much this saves in our monthly budget. My husband usually eats a loaf every 2 to 3 days. I love getting it from local bakers, but cashing out around $6/loaf just kills us. Now that we bake our own, it costs about $1.50/loaf and it is sooo delicious.
- Make, and stick to, a monthly budget. It takes some time to really develop this into a habit. Download a financial planning application. I use MINT. Streamline all your accounts (banking, credit cards, loans) into one place to keep your eye on your spending. Then start saving all your receipts for a few months. Breakdown your spending into categories to figure out how much to budget in each area. We have a big grocery budget – $600 a month – because that is what is most important to us. We cook almost every meal with fresh goods all from local farmers. We eat high quality meat and drink raw milk. We enjoy maple syrup, local honey, and cane sugar as sweeteners. We eat well, and that is reflected in our budget…it’s how much we also pay in rent.
- Reduce your debt. Speaking of budgets…the best way to live more sustainably is by being frugal. Cut spending on cheap, made in China goods, and watch the dollars build up in your savings account. Slowly hack away at build up debt – use the snowball method if you need. Do whatever it takes to reduce your monthly debt expenses. Once you get out of debt, stay there, by staying with your monthly budget.
- Get practice fixing things yourself. Have you always wanted to be able to change your own oil? So do it. Learning this fix will save you a few hundred dollars a year, depending on your car. And that’s just basic. Learn even more and fix your own tools, appliances, and toys.
- Turn off the lights. This is the oldest tip in the book. Never leave your lights on in your house. Reduce your monthly utilities bill by reducing electricity and water use. Be smart with your energy use. Hang dry laundry. Get energy efficient appliances. Let the oven, which is super hot from baking so much bread, warm up your house in the morning.
- Switch your provider. Shop around for deals. Get a pay-as-you-go plan for your phones. Only use social media when you’re on WiFi to reduce your data costs. Pinch the pennies because it does add up.
- Bring your own bag. Container. Produce holder. Whatever it is, use it. Reduce the plastic bag waste. Reduce the paper recycling. Support the local shop selling cute reusable bags. I bring jars everywhere I go. It was annoying at first but now I can’t stand having plastic packaging on my counter. My mason jars filled with rices, spices, and everything nice are much prettier.
- Grind it yourself. Buy coffee beans and grind them at home. You’ll have fresher coffee and you can usually get whole beans for a bit cheaper and in bulk. Buy your spices whole and grind them too – cumin seeds are way cheaper. Buy your herbs & spices in larger quantities to save packaging and cost. Special order from your local health food store, or order online.
- Collect your rainwater. This is especially great from us living in the West. Water is a scarce commodity these days…but it still falls out of the sky. Reap the rewards of the rain by capturing your rainwater. It may not be best to drink it, but your plants will love a sip!
- Compost – save the earth and a few extra bucks. Reduce the number of plastic trashbags your toss into the dumpster each week. A lot of trash is actually compostable, so set yourself up with an easy way to get rid of food waste.Build your own and get composting! Contact your local garbage service, they may even take care of it for you. Whatever you do, reduce what you toss into the can.
- Keep a journal. Record what you’ve done along your journey. It’s interested to see how far you’ve come since you started down the sustainable road. When life gets you down you can reflect back on all the amazing things you’ve done to decrease your footprint and increase your own abilities.
- Get creative. Find an activity that you love and practice, every day. Love to paint? Love to dance? Love to cook? Whatever it is, do it. Reward yourself with time to enjoy an activity. Adding this to your daily routine will help you stay grounded and happy.
- Get political. Ask questions of your local politicians. Find out who is supporting the local food movement and support them. If they don’t, ask them why. Get the local officials on our side.
- Get busy! All these tips will help you develop your sustainable lifestyle. None of them will work if you sit around reading ways to make changes…you have to start! So go! Do something today! It’ll feel great, I promise.
Until next time – with love & light ❤ Rosie Hearted