10 ideas for sustainable living.

My dream cottage will be on a lake somewhere, in the middle of nowhere, with not a neighbour in sight for miles.  It will be "off the grid" a term used when a house is completely self-sufficient and does not need to rely on energy from a corporation or any services provided by a city.

Though you may not be anywhere near being able or willing to purchase $30,000-$100,000 in solar panels to install on your roof, there are a few things you can begin doing to become more self reliant and thus practice some form of sustainability.

Here are some non-obvious ways to practice sustainable living.

1.  Grow a garden.

It does not have to be anything extravagant or complicated. Carrots grow wonderfully in a large pot, believe it or not! Perfect for apartment dwellers. As do tomatoes, herbs, and peppers. You can have a decent garden just on your balcony. Just make sure it gets a lot of sun (and water daily).  For what you can't grow, visit local farmers! It's a fun and enjoyable way to spend the afternoon with your children while teaching them that not all food comes from a store.

2.  Collect rainwater.

Just something that'll collect the water from your gutters that you can water your plants and garden with!  You can buy them at hardware or garden centre, or you can make one from an old garbage can!

3.  Compost

Instead of throwing away your apple core, egg shells, salad, coffee rinds anything that isn't meat or dairy basically, you can toss in the compost.  This will turn into a rich composition that will then feed nutrients to grow your beautiful vegetable garden! You can use it for your houseplants too! Visit canadian gardening for more tips!

4.  Invest in a clothesline!

Great way to save on your energy bill.  And I love folding my clothes as I pull them off the line. I get a tan and my clothes get put away that much faster.

5. Invest in energy saving lightbulbs, dimmers, and a programmable thermostat. 

Seems obvious enough but a lot of us don't actually program our thermostats to lower when we are gone during the day! It'll save you bundles over the year!  Also, turn your fan to auto position instead of on. Close your curtains when the sun is beaming into your home during the summer (if you haven't got any nearby trees that create the shade you need).  Here is an interesting article from Living Green Magazine.

6. Recycle, anything you can.

Again, obvious but many of us don't.  If you recycled, composted and donated, not much would end up in your garbage can.  Even grass clippings are added to our composter or are left on the lawn as "mulch".  

7. Drive the speed limit.

Apparently you can save upwards of 20-25% of your gas bill simply by driving the speed limit and accelerating gently.  Also take your bike (like with the kids to the park or library) when you can.

8. Eat meat less often. 

Here is an interesting article from the Huffington Post.  Aim to have 4 meatless suppers a week. It'll slice a good portion off your grocery bill as well.

Visit this great post by Chatelaine Magazine for an awesome vegetarian barbecue.

9. Stop relying on things your grandparents didn't use...

Okay, I'm not talking about my Iphone. I don't think I could ever give that up. But other simple things like paper towel, Ziplock bags, large garbage bags, etc... If you try to live without these things for 1 month I promise you, you won't miss them. I almost never buy these things and what I do have has been in my cupboard forever. Package all child lunches in reusable containers and thermoses. What do they really need juice boxes for anyway?

10. Everything homemade whenever possible.

Halloween costumes, food from the garden, less pre-packaged food, homemade cleaning products, the list goes on. All these things add up to savings for you and a huge impact on our ecological footprint. Please see my Pinterest cleaning page for great homemade cleaning product ideas, or google some.

Just as a child feels the first time they tie their shoe lace, or ride their bike by themselves, you too will be amazed at how self reliant you can be when you break from the mainstream! 

What will you try?

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Maira Gall