My House Guide to Sustainable, Simple, and Healthy Living
Right now, I live off the grid in a very tiny house. I’ve taken earth-friendly living much further than I’d ever imagined and to many, my way of life is extreme. Of course, I know we’re not all going to live off the grid in tiny houses and most of us aren’t going to drastically change our lives overnight. But not that long ago, when I started to live a more earth-friendly life, I had a typical apartment and lived a pretty typical life. My transformation started with small changes to the way I was used to doing things, and just kept growing from there.
This is my house guide to sustainable, simple, and healthy living. These were all the building blocks that took me from Drunk Dude to Dude Making a Difference. All of these practices are good for the Earth, your community, and yourself and create health and happiness for all humans and creatures. I recommend making a list of all the things you want to start doing from this guide and hanging it on a prominent place on your wall. Start with the easier things that you can enjoy doing and then move to the more challenging ones. With each little success, you’ll feel more empowered to tackle the next challenge, and it will become more enjoyable and more exciting as you go! It’s all about taking it one day and one step at a time to get to where you want to be.
Around the House…
-Do your best to create minimal waste. You can do this simply by following the 3 R’s- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. It’s important to follow them in that order. Compost all of your food scraps and yard waste (see my guide on How to Compost to learn how to do this). Make a goal of filling your garbage can less often. If you want to set an ambitious goal, get rid of your garbage can all together! For tips on reducing your trash see my guide How to Live a Near Zero Waste Life.
-Conserve electricity. Turn off everything when not in use. Unplug everything from the walls when not using it. Use natural lighting by opening windows during the day. Use LED or CFL bulbs rather than incandescent. See my guide How to Use Less Electricity for more tips.
-Conserve Water. This comes down to simply being conscious and using only what we need. You can:
-Flush the toilet less. If it’s yellow, let it mellow.
-Wash clothes less often and in full loads. Wear your clothes more than once.
-Take shorter and fewer showers.
-Shut off the faucet when you’re not using it.
-Grow food instead of lawns.
-Fix any leaks you have.
-Install efficient shower heads, faucets, and toilets.
See my guide How to Use Less Water for more tips
-Avoid any one-time use items. This includes napkins, paper towels, garbage bags, tin foil, shrink wrap, etc. If anything is going to be used only one time find an alternative that is long lasting. Instead of napkins and paper towels, for example, use wash clothes.
-Use natural cleaning products. Ditch all of the cleaning products that contain chemicals and get natural ones.
-Practice natural hygiene and medicine. A lot of what you think you need, well, you really don’t. There is definitely a more natural, less toxic alternative for everything that you do need. Ditch all the body care items that have toxins in them! A healthy diet and exercise will do wonders for your personal hygiene and your health. Watch the Story of Cosmetics to see what inspired me! See My Natural Personal Hygiene guide for tips.
-Stay away from having plastics in the kitchen. Get rid of plastic bags, Tupperware, plastic utensils, etc. Go with glass, ceramic, wood, metal, etc.
-Cook on proper cookware. This means no Teflon, aluminum, or plastic. Use cast iron or stainless steel cookware.
-Donate items you no longer need to the secondhand store rather than throwing them away.
-Use drugs and alcohol in moderation, if at all. That includes coffee.
-Get rid of the TV.
-Get rid of the microwave. This will force you to eat healthier and spend time with your food. See 10 things You Should Get Rid of Today for more tips on simplifying.
Outside the House…
I highly suggest getting rid of your car and riding a bike instead. But at the least, you can minimize driving when it is not necessary and instead choose biking, walking, and public transport.
-Choose electric vehicles over gas-powered vehicles. Use a car share program like Car2go if you have one in your city! See my guide How to Reduce Your Impact from Getting Around for tips on transportation.
-Shop locally and at responsible businesses. Ditch the big box stores and support small local businesses instead.
-Be nice to everyone and do good deeds for fellow humans!
A few Tips…
Less is more. The less stuff you have and need, the easier it is to live simply and sustainably. Think about whether you really need something and, if you don’t, remove it from your life to live clutter free.
-Share. You don’t need to own everything, instead you can share with friends, neighbors, family, and even strangers. The library is an obvious place for sharing, but you can share much more than that. There are tool sharing programs, sporting goods rental stores, and all sorts of sharing economy websites. Sharing or borrowing is especially important for items that you will use infrequently, and keeps you from having to buy your own.
-Minimize your bills. The more bills you have, the more work you need to do, and that’s less time spent with your family and friends, pursuing your passion, or simply relaxing. Unless you really love your job and want to be there, then do your best to reduce your spending so that you don’t have to work as much.
-Switch to a local credit union rather than using the corporate banks like Chase and Bank of America. This will keep your money in the hands of good people. For more information on this see Why I Switched to a Local Credit Union.
-Be conscious. When you make decisions, take into account where things come from and how they were produced. If you don’t know, then find out. Take action by putting the information you find to good use.
-Live beyond yourself. Think, how do your actions affect other humans, animals, and the Earth? Make your decisions based on the well-being of everyone and everything, not just you.
-Make what you can. Many things are much simpler to make than you think. You’ll gain a new appreciation for your possessions and your food when you make it yourself.
The Basics to Ethical, Healthy Eating…
-Eat primarily a plant-based diet. If you don’t want to stop eating animal products and meat completely, just eat them in moderation. Most of us only need these items a few times per week or even per month, if at all.
-Eat a lot of vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
-Choose locally grown food and shop locally rather than purchasing food that was grown far away by a large corporation.
-Chose organic and natural when possible.
-Eat a whole-food diet. I’m not talking about the grocery store Whole Foods though; I’m talking about simple foods that are one ingredient, from the Earth. For example: An apple is a whole food, whereas applesauce is not. The more you stick to whole foods, the healthier you’ll be, and the more money you’ll likely save. Avoid processed foods with a long list of ingredients, especially if you can’t pronounce any of them.
See From Clueless Consumer to Real Food Dude for the story of my transition to eating healthier and
The Planet Friendly Diet for more tips on eating in a more environmentally friendly manner
-Choose unpackaged foods whenever you can. Buy from the bulk section and bring your own reusable bags or jars
It’s all about taking it one day and one step at a time. Don’t be overwhelmed, instead be excited to start living for the benefit of the earth, your community, and yourself! Print this list out or write down your favorite items, and put it up in your house to remind you to make little changes each day.