Cutting Down for Sustainable Living
Recently I have started to cut down on the amount of junk and clutter in my home. I realized that not only was I living an unhealthy life style but my living was also unsustainable. The way I was living was hurting me, my family and the environment. That is when I knew I had to do something about it. In my journey to sustainability I have uncovered several areas in which I needed to improve. Perhaps you can improve these same areas in your life?
- Garbage, garbage everywhere – The first thing that I found out was really negatively effecting my family was the clutter. We had boxes piled up everywhere, a garage full to the brim, extra parts and do dads lying around on the floors and so on. It was one step short of hording and it was killing us. We had to make paths through the junk to even move and it made us all feel very bad. Not only was it hard to move in the house but it was also dusty, dirty and hard to look at. You never wanted to sit in the housebecause you had to look at junk. We would also often lose things and have to buy replacements for things we already have. It was very frustrating and expensive. Even in the kitchen lost items like pots and pans made cooking hard and forced us to eat out or buy prepared meals far more often than we really should have needed to. It was hard on all of us and we seemed to be stuck in a cycle. Whenever something new would come into the house there would be no where to put it so it would just add to the junk. It was kind of like a messy store. Who cares if you drop something where there is already a mess? However if you keep things clean messes seem to stand out and need to be cleaned up. Gradually we have cut down on the junk in our house. It has been hard and is still a work in progress as we try to clean out all the boxes and make room for the stuff that needs to be kept. We went through ten boxes this weekend and two of those were kept because they were board games we had been looking for. The rest were junky toys my kids had long grown out of, old clothes and purses and things like that. We gave the good things away and trashed the rest. It might not have made a huge dent in the mess but with a big project like this one you have to take it one step at a time. I have also reduced clutter by dealing with new thingsright away. Instead of letting mail pile up on the table I go through it and take the bills out to pay them and throw the rest of the mail away.
- Reduce use – I have also started to reduce the amount of junk in my house by reducing what I use. Intend of paper towels I use dish rags to dry counters and hands. I try to use reusable items instead of products that will get thrown all over the house. I also try to buy only one thing at a time and use it up. That way we don’t have to find a place to store many items of the same type. While in the long run this ends up being expensive sometimes it helps to cut down on clutter and makes us more aware of what we are using every day.
- Water use – Since I have a big yard with lots of plants in it we were watering a lot during the long, hot summer. The water bill went up and up and I finally had to tell my family to be aware of their water use. Not only was it bad for our expenses but wasting water is bad for the environment as well. Instead I try to get them to water when it is cool outside and only water the plants that need it. A drip hose would be a good investment but like I said we are trying to cut down on the stuff we are bringing into our home right now. We also have tried to cut down on the length of showers and baths in our house. No one is that dirty! The dish washer has been changed to a short wash and the washingmachine is put on one rinse only to save water. I also wash as much as I can in cold water to save on energy from the water heater. During the summer it is easy to get my kids to take cool showers too, so that helps!
- Air and heat – Since we live in a very hot region the air conditioning goes all summer long. Our central air broke a while back and we have not had the money to fix it because it needs a whole new system. However we did invest in several window units which are costly to run. But by buying energy efficient units and only running them in the room we are currently in that helps a lot. During the winter we can get away with no heat at all for a long while due to the mild weather. When heat does need to be used we have a small portable heater for the bedrooms and use electric blankets. We also do a lot of cooking in the winter so the heat from the oven helps to keep us warm.
- Cooking and eating – Speaking of cooking I have found out that a lot of money and energy are wasted in food production. As I mentioned, many times my family eats to go food or microwave meals instead of real food. This is bad for our health and the environment due to the processing and packaging. In order to change that I have tried to set up a meal plan that allows us to buy our food for the week in one trip and cook several meals at once. This reduces our electricityusage and the heat that competes with the air conditioning. I love to use my crock pot as it cooks tender food and stays cool in the heat of summer. We also cook outside and make sure we cook several meals at once when we fire up the grill. The grill can stay hot for a long time and it is great for veggie and fruits as well. I love grilled fruit! Instead of eating on paper plates we have switched to real plates, but small ones. That way we can have smaller portions and fit more into the dishwasher on one cycle. We have also learned to use forks and spoons through the whole meal instead of getting multiple ones for salads and desserts. Eating cool foods during summer is also a great way to cut down on electricity waste. We eat a lot of salads and lunch meats to use less energy and time in cooking.
- Clean up – When it is time to clean up I have started to use natural cleaners. Not only is it better for the environment it is also better for my family’s health and cheaper too. Things like white vinegar help to clean and have multiple other uses too, including cooking. That way we can use only one item for many things, cutting down on the items we need to store. Baking soda helps scrub off tough stains and peroxide helps to kill gems and whiten porcelain sinks. There are many uses for these cleaning products so I don’t feel like we are wasting our money investing in big jugs of them.
As you can see, cutting down on the stuff in my house is one way I have become more sustainable. As time passes I hope to cut down even more and maybe even move into a smaller home that forces us to live cleaner lives. It can be hard to get rid of clutter and junk in your home but you feel much better when you do. Living asustainable life is healthier for you and for the environment so see what you can cut out of your life today!
Stephanie has many years of experience as a nanny. She has always loved children and has continuously been involved in childcare activities. Currently she is one of the writers for houstonnanny.com. If you want to get in touch with her, you can email her at stephanie. Houstonnanny @ gmail. com.