In the Beginning it Was Drugs & Music Over Sustainability
My desire to live a greener, more sustainable life style probably started when I was in high school. It was the mid-nineties and hippy culture was re-emerging as the popular subculture. Though in the 90’s I feel it was more about the drugs and music than it was about free love. Or sustainability for that matter. Though I remember buying hemp pancake mix at a head shop in Cambridge Mass.
I remember one summer I went to a Phish festival up in Maine with a few friends of mine. The Lemon Wheel in ’98. We chose a spot to camp but unfortunately it was a few spots over from a tent that was selling nitrous balloons. It wouldn’t have been so bad if they hadn’t played the same 5 or so funk songs on repeat the entire weekend. I never heard “Brick House” so many times in a three day period, nor do I ever want to again 😀
As time passed, I changed in a lot of ways. But I always held onto some of that culture in my personality. I traded the drugs for coffee and now it’s most recent iteration tea. But I still bust out the Dead every once and a while and Phish as well.
7 More Sustainable Home Practices
More recently I’ve adopted the more sustainable elements of the culture. Recycling and buying sustainable goods that will last longer than their plastic counterparts being among them. Also making sure the items I’m buying have a shorter decomposition rate after they’ve run out their usefulness. So it wasn’t long before I started looking around my house to find ways of making the process of keeping to these tenants a little easier.
A Recycling For Every Room
One of the things I’ve started doing is keeping a recycling bag next to the rubbish barrels in all rooms. I started thinking about it while I was in the bathroom taking a shower. I reached for the face wash or the soap when I looked at the empty bottle of shampoo that had been sitting in the shower caddy for I don’t know how many weeks. My intention was to recycle it. But that meant going downstairs to the kitchen where the recycling is kept. And by the time I got dressed, I’d forgotten to go back into the bathroom to bring the bottle downstairs to be recycled.
So I put a paper bag next to the rubbish in my room and since I’ve found that my recycling fills up much faster than the garbage barrel does. Thinking about it now makes me a little sad. To think about all the things I could have been recycling that went to the trash previously. But it’s been nice feeling that I’m not just tossing things in the garbage that could go to recycling. Because I was too busy to go downstairs.
What Am I Wearing
Second, I’ve been paying closer attention to the fabrics that I’ve been keeping around my house. Instead of fabrics made from synthetic materials, I’ve been buying either 100% wool or cotton. And hopefully, slowly replace what I have that’s made from polyester. If you’ve read my post on taking care of your needs for clothing, you’ll know that I shop pretty regularly at thrift stores. So my selection is a little limited on what I’m able to buy that’s made from natural fibers.
This post on micro fiber pollution from Friend of the Earth, says that materials such as polyester, rayon and acrylic are a few of the fabrics that are made from plastics. According to the article one of the main issues with these fabrics is when they’re washed, they release microfibers into the water supply. The fibers are then consumed by sea animals in the food chain. The plastics absorb toxic chemicals from the environment, so who knows what they would do to our bodies. And for me, knowing that my clothing will turn to compost either during, or not long after I’m gone brings me a sense of ease. Knowing that the clothes I bought that are made from plastics will be sitting in landfills for decades makes me a bit uneasy.
How are You Washing Yourself and the Things You Own?
Speaking of laundry, the third thing on my sustainable list is making your own soaps. I’ve made soaps in the past using castile soap. Castile soap is a blend of oils and potassium hydroxide (lye), and can be mixed with various other common household ingredients to create household cleaners. Anything from body wash to all purpose cleaners can be made on the cheap from castile. By adding some essential oils to the mix, you can customize your new cleaners to suit your own personal tastes. Putting your own touch on the ways you clean yourself and your space.
The best part is, that the ingredients found in castile soap are all natural and have been used for centuries. So there’s no surprises when you pick up a bottle to clean surfaces that you prepare your food on. Or for use in the shower and sinks. Areas that you come in close contact with and use the most. This blog post on Live Simply by Kristin Marr, shows you how to craft your own household cleaners using castile soap.
As well as saving money, you can also cut back on the amount of plastic you’re buying by picking up a few reusable glass bottles to hold your new cleaners in. A quick google search will yield multiple results for spray bottles or dispensers for both hand soap and shampoo. Whatever your container needs may be, you’re likely to find it with ease.
Upgrade Your Hangers
My fourth idea is to replace the plastic hangers in your closet with wooden ones. Plastic hangers tend to break and need replacing more often than wooden ones do. And by replacing and recycling your old plastic hangers with wooden ones, your using a more sustainable material that will not only be functional a lot longer than their plastic counter parts, but look better as well.
Wear Your Clothes More Than Once
Fifth on the list is, I’ve been wearing some of my clothes more than once. Pants mostly and some pajamas, sweatshirts and bandanas (I wear a lot of bandanas.) By wearing some of the same clothes over again before washing, I have fewer clothes to wash which means the time between loads is longer. This saves on soap and water use and not to mention frees up some time you could be doing something else with. Also it helps to make your clothing last a little longer. Which means more money in your pocket.
Sixth, as I’ve mentioned on this blog before I burn a lot of candles. I’m burning three as I’m typing this article! I haven’t made the switch yet, but beeswax candles are considered carbon neutral according to this article from alive. Candles are usually made from paraffin wax, which is a byproduct of crude oil. This means you’re releasing Co2 from oil production into the atmosphere when you burn paraffin candles.
The carbon in beeswax has been sequestered so recently from the environment, that it’s considered neutral. Plus, beeswax has the added bonus of releasing negative ions into the atmosphere. These ions purify the air of allergens and pollutants.
As I’ve said above, I’ve been in the habit of burning candles at night. The candles I burn now are made of coconut or soy wax. Either when I’m in my room unwinding from the day or cooking dinner at night. I feel they set a relaxing tone with their ambient lighting which gives everything a softer feel. It’s also something to look forward to. Coming home to a place that has spa vibes, cozy. When I’m having a tough day I can think about my self-care Sundays (Mondays now) and it brings that same sense of ease and calm. So burning bees wax candles brings some sustainable elements to your self-care routine.
Number One Not Number Two
The seventh one may make some a little squeamish but I’ve gotten in the habit of not flushing the toilet after going number one. I drink a lot of water and tea through the course of the day. So the amount of times I use the facilities is pretty high. Only flushing after a number two helps to reduce the amount of water that is being flushed into the wastewater treatment system.
The benefits are that you use less water. Which translates to a lower water bill and on the other end there is less waste to process. This saves on energy and resources.
Speaking of water, most people know this tip, but washing your clothes using cool water instead of warm helps to conserve energy that would otherwise go to heating your wash water. Which means you’ll save on your electric bill as well.
I hope some of these sustainable suggestions have been useful in some way. It won’t be easy, but together we can change the course of our collected future, one small change at a time. If you have any suggestions or tips you use regularly to help keep your home a little greener, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below. Thanks for reading 🙂 peace.