Green Living, Natural Living, Sustainability, Eco Friendly … what does it mean?
Natural Living or Green Living really means different things to different people, so perhaps I should change that to What does Green Living mean to me?
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links which simply means if you click through and buy or sign up, this site may get a small commission, at absolutely no extra cost to you.
In a nutshell, to me it means living with nature and not opposed to nature, as much as possible. Living in harmony with the many plants and creatures. Walking lightly on this beautiful planet of ours while enjoying and breathing in its gifts.
Leaving nothing but a footprint which means living as close to zero waste as possible. Choosing Eco Friendly options when I can. Mainly … being aware of my impact on the earth, the animals and the environment. Here are the various ways that I enjoy eco friendly, natural, green living.
REDUCE, RE-USE, RECYCLE. Remember that campaign? That was a long time ago but it’s still catchy. While recycling programs have come a long way since then, they are still very much lacking.
I grew up in Germany in the 70s and remember very well the large, brightly colored recycling containers in our neighborhood. That was 40 years ago and the US has not yet caught up to those basic programs. Come on guys, it’s really not that hard to do! Here are just a few super simple, basic things anybody can do to reduce their garbage:
Green Living means Re-use and Re-purpose:
- Skip the plastic produce bag at the grocery store. You will wash the veggies at home anyway. (Or opt for reusable cloth bags instead)
- Bag your goods in reusable shopping bags instead of plastic. (I admit, I’m terrible at remembering my reusable grocery bags). In a pinch, ask for paper bags instead. Those are fully compostable.
- Opt for a reusable water bottle instead store bought bottled water. Did you know that bottled water is not regulated like tap water? And, did you know that most bottled water is tap water?
- Buy large items such as laundry detergent, dish detergent or cat litter in cardboard boxes instead of plastic containers. They are recyclable and mostly compostable
- Ditch the paper towels and napkins and go for washable ones instead. Just toss them in with your regular laundry.
- Re-use cardboard boxes as weed barriers in the garden
Trust me, I know it can be inconvenient to recycle your glass, aluminum and cardboard especially when you already have your hands full with your children and a full time job. I get it, I really do.
And, I also realize that you may not live in an area that offers curbside recycling. We are fortunate to have home pickup recycling program. Yes, it does cost a bit extra but the amount of recycling we put out there is nearly double that of the actual garbage we accumulate!
Honestly though, recycling should be the last part of the puzzle. The first part should be us not using that piece of garbage in the first place.
And as far as reducing goes … I’ve gotten into the habit of asking myself: Do I really need that item? Do I already have something at home that will work just as well? Or, if it’s a rarely used thing, can I borrow that item?
This is a biggie for me. Being out in my garden is my meditation. I can get completely lost out there digging in the dirt, sowing seeds and enjoying the many deer, birds and occasional turtles that come to visit.
I’ve been flower gardening for as long as I can remember but I really just started my first serious vegetable garden last year. We’ve always grown tomatoes, herbs and maybe some cucumbers but anything more than that was a pain due to the herd of deer that calls our yard home. Don’t get me wrong, I love my deer but they don’t share. They eat EVERYTHING!
So, finally I decided that a fenced in, raised bed garden is the way to go. That way, I can actually keep the critters out of my vegetables…. for the most part.
My vegetable garden is not that big but you would be surprised by the amount of fresh beets, radishes, broccoli, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, herbs and greens it produces.
Oh and while we’re on the subject of eco friendly gardening, please stay away from the chemical fertilizers and pesticides. You really don’t need them to grow beautiful produce. Your vegetables will flourish and your body will thank you later.
That’s a pretty nice composting setup there (not mine). Home composting really doesn’t have to be very elaborate, though. Our system is super simple.
Basically, we just keep a medium sized bowl with a lid on the counter and as I’m chopping fruits and veggies, the ends and refuse get tossed in the compost bowl. Once a day, one of us takes the compost out to the garden.
In the wintertime, we just toss our veggie scraps in a very basic chicken wire bin near the garden. During the growing season, I bury all scraps directly into my vegetable and flower beds. After doing that for about a year in one of my flower beds, I was shocked to see how many worms were in the dirt!
What Can I Compost?
Anything plant based that’s still raw. Cooked food tends to attract rodents. You definitely don’t want that. Egg shells are great. Also, any plain cardboard such as toilet paper and paper towel rolls. Straw is good but stay away from hay or anything else that might have weed seeds in it.
Once your veggie scraps are broken down into a lovely black “dirt”, add it to your garden beds to help feed your plants.
DIY Cleaning and Beauty Products
I’ve been making my own beauty products for a while now but I’m just starting to experiment with DIY cleaning products. Mostly, I use some variation of a white vinegar blend. You really can’t go wrong with white vinegar. It clean and disinfects everything without the toxic fumes you get from most store bought cleaning products. Plus, there’s a lot less plastic for you to throw away!
It is surprisingly easy to make your own bath salts, foots scrubs and lip balms. Out of all the crafts I’ve tried over the years, making my own beauty products is one that has stuck with me. It’s also super fun to grow herbs such as mint and lavender to incorporate in your beauty recipes. I’ve shared a few DIY beauty recipes at my FiberArtsy blog:
Getting out in nature to hike or forage is really more for your mental and physical wellbeing than for healing the Earth. In this day and age of computers and fluorescent lights, we all need to make a date with ourselves to get out in the fresh air. Whether it’s to hike or kayak or just have a picnic in a park. Do it! It’s super important!
There is so much more I will share in future posts but I hope this gives you some ideas. Do you enjoy gardening or hiking? I’d love to hear all about it.
Get out there and enjoy!