There are tons of lists out there with steps to take toward living a more sustainable and earth friendly lifestyle. Here are 12 things that we have done in our home and that have made great differences in our life. Maybe something here will work for you too.
1. Switch to bar soap: I prefer the Yardley brand that I pick up at Walgreen’s when it goes on sale for 69 cents/bar for myself. There are probably other less expensive options when bought in larger packs but I just like this one. The point is, a small box to recycle and the entire bar gets used up. If you usually toss the small piece that is left at the end of a bar, don’t! Stick it to the next new bar or save them up until you have enough to melt them all together to make a new bar. Also, it takes up less space in my stockpile to store small boxes of soap than large bottles.
2. Make your own breadcrumbs: Store bought breadcrumbs often contain artificial preservatives and high fructose corn syrup. Not to mention, yet another container that may or may not be recyclable. I prefer to save up the ends of my bread in the freezer until I have enough to make a batch of crumbs or crutons. For the breadcrumbs: Lay bread heals on a cookie sheet and bake until dried but not burned. Put them through the food processor and back into the freezer for storage.
3. Compost: Even if you never intend to use the dirt made from composting, you will save space in the trash. We typically fill a kitchen trash bag once per week and that includes trash cans from all over the house being emptied into it. Check out this site for a list of things you can and cannot compost.
4. Line dry clothes: Sure, it’s a bit more work but not only will you save energy, you’ll get outside to get some vitamin D and fresh air. I hope to be better about line drying indoors this winter since our laundry room is so warm and cozy with the furnace in there. Even if you throw the clothes back into the dryer for a bit to finish it off, you still save.
5. Cook/bake from scratch: The options are endless here. Start simple by baking your own bread. Less packages coming in, less waste produced, plus healthier eating!
6. Use coconut oil: When you discover the many, many benefits of coconut oil, not only for cooking and baking, but for personal use you will no longer need to buy bottles of lotion, facial cleansers, massage oil, make-up remover, aftershave, shaving cream, and on and on and on. Here is a list of 80 ways to start using coconut oil, surely you can find at least a couple! I have only scratched the surface of it’s many uses and we love it.
7. Discover Norwex products: Safer for the environment, safer for your family and work amazingly well. I cannot say enough great things about Norwex products. I no longer buy bottles and bottles of cleaners, bleach, toilet cleaners, dusting sprays, etc. etc. etc. Again, eliminating more bottles and packages from coming into the house and Norwex rags last so long you don’t need to constantly replace things. Here are my cleaning supplies now:
8. Buy used clothing and reuse old clothing: It pains me to buy new clothes for any of us, kids especially, since they practically outgrow it each season. Buying used just makes sense for so many reasons. When I am ready to get rid of clothes I sort through them to see what I can reuse for projects or other uses around the house. I recently made these wall pockets for my son using all scrap materials like old t-shirts and jeans. I have another pile waiting to be made into wall pockets for my daughter.
9. Buy in bulk when possible: I stock up on rolled oats for making oatmeal instead of buying boxes of individual packets. Large bottles from olive oil provide hours of entertainment for the kids when I use up all the oil.
10. Preserve your own food: Apple pie filling, jelly, salsa, syrup, pears, apples, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, zucchini…the list could go on and on. Reusable jars and containers make much more sense to me than continuously buying more cans and containers.
11. Say no to individual water bottles: Need I say more? Ok, I will. When we do need to use bottled water, like for camping, we take along gallons of water that we refill and reuse. We each have our own stainless steel water bottle to refill for drinking. As convenient as it is to have a plastic water bottle for everyone, I think more of that water gets left sitting on a table because no one knows who’s is whose. Having our own means we know which is ours and we only refill when needed.
12. Cut back on disposable items: We have been a paper towel/paper napkin free home for at least a couple of years now and haven’t missed them at all. We keep old shirts & towels to use for rags and cloth napkins are something I can’t imagine doing without. The only time I really use disposable plates & utensils is for birthday parties. However, I am hoping to stock up on small plates and silverware at garage sales next summer to make up a box of reusable party supplies.
I could go on and on with this list but these are probably some of the easiest steps we have taken to not only save money and simplify our home but to make our home and daily lives more earth friendly.