Guide to Tips and Best Practices to Sustainable Living
written by: Olivia Emisar•edited by: Paul Arnold•updated: 10/11/2011
We can all do this, there is no excuse in today's environment for not making the effort to conserve water or reduce the size of our landfills. Families with young children will find the biggest reasons to engage in sustainable practices and from their tiny hands, the biggest allies in recycling.
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We have all heard about sustainable living but what is it? With words like recycling and reusing, how does it fit in with reducing waste, conserving, and most importantly not living like a monk? Actually very well. All those things combined as well as choosing to buy local products are steps in the right direction to sustainable living. You don't have to save the world all at once, but you can do your part from the comfort your home with a minimum of effort that will be good for the planet and keep money in your wallet.
Sustainable living involves knowing why things are good for you and what it takes to make and transport items and produce from thousands of miles away. Can you find options closer to home? You can start small and gradually increase your level of involvement until it becomes second nature to think before purchasing new items.
Tip: Think about the next birthday present you have to buy and choose something useful made locally or from sustainable woods and fabrics. Buy things that people will use for the long-run, not end up in a landfill for eternity.
Recycling is what you do to make aluminum cans and plastic bottles stay out of the landfill longer. This is a good practice for the junk we already have, but it is best to reuse and repurpose items to avoid replacing them with similar items that increase the carbon footprint on the planet through transportation and production.
Tip: Make the effort to purchase plastic products made of plant materials rather than fossil fuels. The plant material based plastics will biodegrade into a healthy organic slush that leaves a zero carbon footprint within a matter of weeks or months. Fossil fuel plastics can take hundreds of years to decompose into toxic waste; from garbage bags to disposable diapers and shampoo bottles, we can make different choices, help the environment and still continue to have all the modern conveniences we enjoy.
If you have never tasted the difference between an average tomato and an organic tomato, you are in for a treat! Organically grown tomatoes have an attractive fragrance and a fresh taste that will remain with you forever. The same can be said for carrots, lettuce and other commonly used vegetables and fruits.
The nutrients found in organically grown fruits and vegetables are plentiful and people notice that they eat less, are satisfied longer, and have fewer cravings for junk foods. All in all, this is great news for the waistline and the bank account.
Tips: You can grow vegetables you enjoy in planter containers if you live in an apartment, or if you have a yard, grow a variety of compatible vegetables and join your local farmer's market or donate the surplus to food pantries and homeless shelters. Social responsibility and sustainable living are great companions.
Companion Planting Strategies to Improve Your Garden
We have all been told that organic food is expensive and one look at the prices at specialty stores will confirm those statements. You can purchase locally grown produce for a lot less than those organic products that are trucked to major retailers, and you'll help to reduce carbon emissions in the process.
Tips: If you shop at Costco, look for recent additions to their shelves and freezer sections labeled with a green tag. These tags denote organically grown products that include canned tomatoes, whole grains (not modified) and seasonings. Take advantage of your local farmers' markets in your area and get to know the vendors and their planting practices - most farmers take pride in how they grow their vegetables and having the best produce available on a weekly basis.
How many batteries have we tossed into the landfill? Isn't it time to use the best rechargeable batteries and not buy disposables ever again? Your next decorating or remodeling project can include organic paint and re-purposed furniture or eco-friendly floor tiles or wood. From choosing appliances to disposing of old ones, we can all do our part to engage in sustainable living and reduce our carbon footprint.
The world we create is the one future generations have to live in - let's gift them priceless things: clean air, healthy food and clean water. Following are simple steps you can feel good about that will also save you money in the process.
Did you Know? You can refurnish furniture with Eco-friendly products that are vegetable and water based rather than chemically based? - A table or chair can get years of practical use and beauty in just one day.
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Life Goes On
You can change some of the things you do out of habit and find a better way of doing them to help you and your family stay healthy alongside the environment. For instance, you can find ways to use less energy in your home and reduce waste, or when you need furniture pieces, sport equipment or clothing, practice going through FreeCycle and Craig's List first.
Places like GoodWill and the Salvation Army use the money earned at their stores to feed the homeless and provide rehabilitation and training to vulnerable members of society. These are purchases we can all feel good about while reducing the impact on our environment.
Do you have sustainable living tips that you would like to share with us? We welcome you to share them with our readers through our comment section.