Organic Bound

4 Simple Steps to a Sustainable Home

April 2014

Our friend Sara is the energetic talent behind the Go Gingham blog. During Earth Month, she’s sharing with us her family’s strategies for living well and living lightly on the Earth at the same time. It’s about making choices that connect with your priorities — and rewarding yourself when you make it work. The proof is literally in their shopping cart…so it’s easy to see how they make every cart count!

Want to embrace sustainability, but don’t know where to begin? My husband and I didn’t either, until we found our sustainable-decision-making sweet spot: “good for you, good for the environment and good for the pocketbook.” These values have helped us simplify our family’s lifestyle choices so much!

Find a goal that will help fuel and reward your efforts. Our family loves to travel, so we seek out home-swap opportunities that let us experience new places AND broaden our perspectives on simplifying our lives and saving resources at the same time.

Here are our top sustainable habits:

  • We eat healthier with meal planning and cooking at home. And we’ve committed to reducing our food waste by eating all the food we buy or grow ourselves rather than let it go bad. This was an easy way to reduce our food budget — and the savings allowed us to take a home-exchange trip to Spain.
  • We set up drying lines in our basement and hang laundry year-round instead of using the dryer. (You could use your garage, too, or maybe even your yard in good weather.) It saves energy and reduces wear & tear on clothing. We were inspired by a drying system we found installed in a small space during a home-swap in the Netherlands.    
  • We’ve stopped buying disposables for the kitchen. For me, cloth napkins and cloth towels are easy to sew — or you could buy a package of washcloths and designate them as reusable “paper towels.” In our family, everyone has their own set of cloth napkins, in different colors so there’s no confusion about whose is whose. Hanging them to line dry has made them last longer, too.
  • Recycling is good, but not accumulating in the first place is even better. We try to buy food items from the bulk bins, where there’s less packaging. My kids still enjoy scooping and weighing the ingredients. We’ve also embraced shopping for household items and clothing in second-hand shops — budget-friendly and fun!

Extra-Credit-Worthy Habit: Keep Backyard Chickens

When we were in the Netherlands, we were surprised and delighted to discover a modest-sized chicken coop in the backyard. Fresh eggs every morning, using our food scraps as feed, and that extra pest-control assistance in the garden convinced us that we, too, could keep hens at our house back home.

By making mindful decisions and considering the impact of our actions, we’ve built sustainability into our lifestyle, and now it’s second nature. We’ve been able to save money, conserve the Earth’s resources, and see the world we’re helping to protect.

Sara Tetreault is the creator of Go Gingham - Stylishly Frugal Living, a great source of inspiring tips, tricks and techniques to save money, resources and time. Find her on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.

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