The ultimate goal of sustainability is as simple as a closed loop, a circle. Unfortunately, with all the excess of modern times this goal appears more complicated than it needs to be. One person can make a difference in their energy consumption and waste output by closing the loop. Living a more simple life will save money and create less stress and clutter in our homes. Easy practices we all know to reduce energy consumption such as turning lights off when we leave the room, turning the faucet off while brushing our teeth, and recycling became routine years ago. In 2009 we can take these habits a step further. The following practices are surprisingly simple and go a long way in saving water and energy while preventing unnecessary waste:
We spend most of our time in the kitchen so most of the work of reducing, reusing and recycling happens here with what we buy and with what we do with what we buy:
- Buy products with limited packaging or products that can be recycled or reused in your home.
- If you are only buying a few things at the store, refuse a bag
- Try to buy in bulk whenever possible. Items such as grains, nuts, flour, sugar and dried fruit can be purchased in bulk at most health food stores.
- Use a sturdy water bottle and fill with water from a faucet or refrigerator purifier rather than buying a pack of small water bottles that will become trash in a land fill and are made of weak plastic that can leach harmful chemicals when re-used or left out in the sun.
- Cloth napkins and small towels clean up messes as well as paper towels without filling up the trash can. Soaking napkins and sponges over night in a bowl of white distilled vinegar diluted with water refreshes them without having to do a load of laundry.
- Keep a couple of canvas grocery bags both in your car and at home for shopping without using petroleum based plastic bags or wasting paper.
- Re-use plastic grocery bags to pick up pet waste, line small garbage cans or to carry your lunch.
- White distilled vinegar and baking soda go a long way in keeping a kitchen clean, sanitized and deodorized without using cleaners with harmful chemicals and sickening odors.
- Using a dish washer saves more water and energy than washing dishes manually.