Food and Cuisine

Published on February 8th, 2011 | by Karen Lee

3 Tips for More Sustainable Living

There are a million different ways to live sustainably and if you think about them all, they can make your head spin. I’m the epitome of ‘Give me the Cliffnotes version!” type of a person. I know there’s a saying, “There are more than one way to skin a cat” but I don’t want all those ways. I just want one. OK, two, tops. That’s it.

So, here are 3 easy ways (out of a million) to live sustainably that will make you and the environment happier. Each week I’ll be giving you 3 more ideas to live a simpler, more sustainable life.

1. Eat sustainably.

This might sound hard but it really isn’t. The best way to eat sustainably is to eat whole foods and cook from scratch. Avoid the middle aisles in the supermarket and shop around the perimeter of the store. The only items you should be buying from the middle of the aisle are organic personal care products, like shampoo, soaps, detergents, and dishwashing liquid. Now if you are a true, die hard, handmade guru, you can make all those items from scratch too. But you’ll still need the ingredients from the middle aisles of a market and the patience of Caroline Ingalls. Oh, and, if you eat more plant based diet, you’ll achieve this goal a lot faster as meat production is a lot more damaging to the environment, not to mention your health.

2. Clean with non-toxic chemicals.

This took a little bit of getting used to when I started but now, non-toxic cleaners are all I use in my house. In addition, they are in every supermarket and are just as cheap and just as effective as those nasty, eye tearing, nose itching, chemical loaded cleaners. Non-toxic cleaners are so much gentler on your skin, not to mention our water ways. Again, you can make your own detergents if you feel adventurous but you don’t have to if you are too busy bringing home the bacon. If nothing else, try using vinegar and baking soda for all your surface cleaning. You’ll be surprised how well they work and how inexpensive they are.

3. Reduce Consumption and create less waste.

Wow. What does this mean? You mean, don’t buy anything? No. It means, weigh the Pro’s and Con’s of what you are buying. Some items are not worth the money and the space they’ll take up in your house. If you see something you like, walk away for ten minutes and ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” If answer is “Yes”, then, think about it for one more day. If the answer is sill ‘Yes”, then, buy it. And then, when you bring it home, don’t open it, and let it sit in the bag for another day. The chances are, if it’s an impulsive purchase, the impulse decision will now have lost its glitter. Then, you can return the item and get a refund. You’ll leave the store with more cash in your pocket than when you walked in and less clutter in your house. And less waste for the landfills.

There are more tips on its way next week. Stay tuned!

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About the Author

Karen lives a simple, frugal, green life and shares her eco tips and news on ecokaren and is a co-founder of Green Sisterhood, a network of community of green women bloggers, making change. When she's not managing Green Sisterhood or blogging on ecokaren, she is a chauffeur to two greenagers, wife to an accidental recycler, master chef to hungry locavores, seamstress, knitter, and dumpster diver, not necessarily in that order.

15 Responses to 3 Tips for More Sustainable Living

  1. Wonderful post, I look forward to reading more here’s to #freshfood and living healthy Annie

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  3. Vivian says:

    Even when you already are living green, it’s always refreshing and exciting to read about it. Great article.

  4. Tracy says:

    Question for point 1 – “Sustainable” seems to be the new “organic” – How do we know something is “truely” sustainable?

    Question for point 2 – Do you have a list of products you have tried?

    • ecokaren says:

      Great questions Tracy. As per Wikipedia, “Sustainable” in referring to ecology, means, “how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. And for us, the humans, “sustainability is the potential for long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions” So when I refer to sustainability, I am actually referring to both because one can’t exist without the other. So, when choosing a product, whether it’s a cleaning product or a food item, you have to look at how they would affect the environment as well as our own health. My best method is to go with a proven brand that you trust and know that they are all about the environment and not just for making money. When it comes to foods, home made food from scratch with whole organic ingredients would be the best way to go. When purchasing foods, organic is always sustainable but not if it’s imported. I’d prefer locally grown but with sustainable methods. So, produce from a trust worthy farmer from a farmer’s market would be the best, if not from a local organic farmer. Actually your first question ties into your question for #2. I use Method and Seventh Generation for certain things but I mostly use vinegar and baking soda for all cleaning. I think a bottle of Method cleaner I have in my closet is about a year old. I use powder dishwasher detergent from seventh generation. But if you are not sure about a chemical that’s in any of your products, you can always check if its sustainable by going on Environmental Working Group.

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  7. Go Green says:

    Nice tips, I like your site.

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  9. Cindy says:

    Just stopping by to say I am saving lots of money with baking soda and vinegar and my house is cleaner then ever!

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