In no particular order we offer the following tips to living sustainably.
Abide by hierarchy of the 3 R’s
Reduce consumption. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Choose minimally-packaged goods. Reuse what you buy. Reusing the tar out of a product is one of the most earth- and pocketbook-friendly acts you can do. If you get a plastic bag, use it again or donate it to a food bank. Recycle/Compost the rest.
Use home-made green cleaning products. Buy the ingredients in bulk and they’ll take less time to replenish than “natural” products you purchase at the store. CoolMom.org has more about why you should make your own and how even some “environmentally-friendly” products are still not good for us humans. Here are some of the recipes we use.
Use a reusable furnace filter. Buy one > Insert in furnance > Remove to wash > Replace to use > Repeat!
Choose Food. Spend your discretionary income on real foods grown organically. When buying processed foods make sure to read labels to educate yourself about what you are eating (say no to high fructose corn syrup!), and where it comes from.
Choose Local. Purchases from locally-owned businesses (ideally of locally-produced products) supports a sustainable bottom line for our community. Seattle Good Business Network has an awesome, growing directory of such outstanding establishments. The Chinook Book is also a great resource.
Say no to plastics. Buy/store products in glass or metal containers whenever possible.Use cotton shower curtains and nylon liners. Use tupperware to store only non-consumables.
Go on an energy diet. Turn off lights. When replacing appliances, do so with Energy Star certified products. Use smart power strips everywhere you can! Unplug infrequently used lamps, clocks, appliances, and other devices. Replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs and CFLs. Use timers for your bathroom fans and outside lights.
Heating it up. Use a programmable thermostat. If you don’t have one, buy one – they are easy to install. Keep the heat two-degrees lower than you think you will be comfortable in a t-shirt, then put on a sweater.
Drive Less. Walking, biking, and mass transit are the easy solutions and the City of Seattle, King County, Cascadia Bicycle Club, and Feet First all have great resources and tips. But for some, those alternatives just aren’t feasible. In those cases, constantly ask yourself, “Is there something else I need to do while I’m here.” That sort of thoughtful planning of your daily and weekly trips will maximize your time, money, and tread more lightly on the planet.
Choose OPJ [Other People’s Junk]. Before buying new, think first if you can find it used. Salvaged and re-purposed goods and materials can save you tons of money!