Living Sustainably


Around the House: Inside

  • Use a microwave oven rather than a conventional stove or oven to cook most of your meals (if you cook at all). In fact, going raw is a great way to stay more natural in your eating as well as save energy.

  • Lower your thermostat to 65 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter.

  • Raise your thermostat to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. [Note: This is TOO hot for me. I keep my thermostat set at around 66 degrees all year round.]

  • Consider installing a programmable thermostat.

  • Limit shower lengths to 3 minutes. If you enjoy (and/or need) longer showers, limit shower lengths to 3 minutes on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays.

  • Turn off the lights whenever you leave a room…even if you plan to come right back.

  • I hate LED and florescent light bulbs, so I won't make any recommendations or comments about these types of lights bulbs except this: The waste generated by these products is extremely toxic and, as such, difficult to dispose of properly.

  • Plug all appliances into surge-protecting power strips, and turn off the strips whenever you leave your home or, when practical, you leave a room.

  • When you leave your home for more than a day, shut off the water.

  • Insulate, insulate, insulate. Check attic spaces for insulation depth (an 18 inch depth is recommended), and consider topping off the insulation with cellulose insulation (e.g., shredded newspaper and borate). Make sure your HVAC ductwork has been insulated properly.

  • Most of a home's heating and cooling losses occur around windows and doors; make sure these areas are caulked and weatherized properly.

  • When replacing old windows, buy windows that carry an Energy Star rating.

  • When having a home or building built or remodeled, implement solar, wind, and/or geothermal technologies to meet or supplement your energy needs.

  • When having a home or building built or remodeled, incorporate rainwater harvesting to supply water that could be used for non-potable (e.g., non-drinking water) needs, such as landscape irrigation, toilet flushing, etc.

  • When having a home or building built or remodeled, use low-flow toilets, faucets, and showerheads.

  • Install a flow restrictor in existing showerheads.

  • Purchase appliances and other electrical items that carry an Energy Star rating.

  • Fix any leaking toilets or faucets.

  • Turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth.

  • Turn off the faucet or shower while you're shaving.

  • Turn off the shower while you lather your body or your hair.

  • Rather than "washing" off your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher, allow several dishes to soak for about ten minutes, and then pour the water that’s been soaking those dishes onto other dirty dishes. Repeat this until all your dishes are ready for washing.

  • Limit your use of the garbage disposal. Garbage (even shredded garbage) in sink discharges can contribute to the clogging of sanitary sewer lines, which can cause sanitary sewer overflows (yuck!!).

  • Use environmentally friendly cleaning products.

  • When using the dishwasher, forgo the drying cycle.

  • Let your hair air dry partly or completely.

  • Hang clothes to air dry partially or completely to reduce clothes-dryer usage. Your clothes will also last longer.

  • Discontinue using aerosol sprays.

  • Discontinue using aftershaves and perfumes. Chemicals from these products are now being found in our waterways.

  • Don't flush medicinal products down the toilet.

Around the House: Outside

  • Garden.

  • Erect or hang bird feeders.

  • "Mulch" your grass-clippings.

  • Compost yard waste.

  • Compost food scraps.

  • Use a manually powered mower. If you use a gas powered mower, mow in the morning or evening.

  • Allow some areas of your yard to naturalize. If a small creek runs through your property, allow 15- to 30-ft from the stream bank (on each side) to naturalize. If you have a roadside ditch in front of your property, allow the ditch to naturalize (if at all practicable).

  • Discharge your house downspouts into underground gravel pits.

  • Direct your house downspouts into a cistern or a collection of rain barrels. Harvested rainwater can aid in meeting irrigation needs.

  • Limit the use of herbicides, pesticides, and lawn fertilizers.

  • When purchasing a house, consider its proximity to common destinations such as work, the grocery store, the park, and the homes of your friends. Is it easy to walk in the community? Does the home have a porch to facilitate interaction with neighbors?

Diet and Exercise

  • Eat organically.

  • Buy local produce and supplies.

  • Eat lots of plants, nuts, and seeds.

  • If you eat beef frequently, forgo beef consumption at least one day a week. The carbon footprint required to provide one fast-food hamburger is about 4 to 5 kg of CO2.

  • Consider eliminating all grains, legumes, and wheat from your diet. Eating these "foods" creates inflammation (the engine of autoimmunity). It also produces an elevated insulin response in the body, which contributes to the storing of excess fat and increases the risk of developing Type II diabetes.

  • Drink a lot of water (at least 8- to 12-glasses a day).

  • Discontinue drinking small, pre-packaged bottled water. Opt instead, to drink filtered water or filter your tap water. [Note: Tap water is generally unfit for human consumption.]

  • Engage in at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least five- to six-days a week. Engaging in some combination of walking, hiking, jogging, biking, running, and HIIT (Burpees, etc.) is recommended.

  • Engage in wind sprints and/or stadium runs about once a week.

  • Engage in some form of weight-bearing exercises twice a week. Not only will it increase muscle and tendon strength, but it will aid in increasing flexibility. In addition, it will help to increase bone density, which is especially important for women.

  • Stretch daily.

  • Take a class on edible plants and insects.

At Work

  • Shut off your computer and computer monitor before you leave the office each night. If your employer requires your computer to stay on for computer maintenance needs, turn off your monitor each night.

  • Work from home one business day out of every ten, if possible.

  • Limit your printing out of e-mails and other documents.

Recycling, Reuse, and Redevelopment

  • Learn what can be recycled and what cannot—or cannot be accepted by your community recycling program—and why.

  • Recycle everything possible.

  • When buying pre-packaged items, try to buy items in packages that are recyclable, reusable (in some way), and/or biodegradable.

  • Supplement your wardrobe and household items with clothing and other goods purchased at yard sales and consignment and thrift stores. Donate (or sell) such items in a similar fashion.

  • Use cloth grocery bags; if you use plastic grocery bags, recycle them at the grocery store.

  • Support efforts to reuse discarded items or to refurbish existing buildings or structures.

  • Recycle your old running shoes. Nike has a program to recycle running shoes; old shoes can be dropped off at specified locations throughout the country.

Disposal Practices

  • When disposing of old computers, microwaves, televisions, or other electronics, look into recycling and proper disposal locations available in your community.

  • When disposing of paint, chemicals, gasoline, and/or containers that hold chemicals, look into your community’s disposal requirements.

  • Properly dispose of any medical products such as syringes, patches, and unused medications.

Transportation

  • Don't text while you're driving. [Note: Even though this is the law, I still (way too frequently, actually) see people scrolling through their phones while driving.]

  • Keep your car's engine tuned up, and keep your tires inflated to the proper air pressure.

  • Have your car serviced at a business that disposes of all used fluids (i.e., oil, antifreeze, etc.) properly and responsibly.

  • When (and if) practical, carpool, walk, bike, or use public transportation to travel to and from work or school or to run errands.

  • Create an "errand plan," and try to take care of as many of your errand needs as you can in one or two geographical locations.

  • Wash your car at a carwash establishment that recycles used wash water.

  • If you hand wash your car, wash it with harvested rainwater (e.g., water captured in a cistern or a rain barrel), wash it on a grassed surface, and use environmentally friendly cleaning products.

  • Carry gasoline only in containers specifically manufactured to store and transport such fluids.

  • The next time you purchase a vehicle, consider purchasing a hybrid or an alternative fuel vehicle.

Good Housekeeping/Consideration for Others

  • Pick up trash as you walk in your neighborhood, around town, or in your local park. If appropriate, recycle recyclable items.

  • At the movies, pick up your trash as well as at least one piece of trash not generated by you.

  • Participate in stream cleanup and/or highway beautification efforts.

  • Pick-up your pet’s waste, and dispose of it appropriately.

  • In your car, office, or home, consider lowering the volume of entertainment or news delivery devices.

  • Limit your use of roadside or yard signage.

Personal and Public Safety

  • If you have a front porch, use it. Studies have shown that an increase in front porch use in a community can significantly reduce crime incidents in that community. Adopt the slogan, “Nosey neighbors keep criminals at bay.”

  • Join a neighborhood watch group.

  • Take a self-defense class. Or, even better, train in the combat arts (boxing, wrestling, shooting, etc.).

  • When using chemicals, read the warning labels regarding the chemical's proper use and storage as well as any recommendations on what to do should an emergency arise.

  • Memorize the number for local poison control, and program it into your cell phone.

  • Memorize the number for police non-emergency, and program it into your cell phone.

  • Learn which fire department station is closest to your home. Do you know how many calls that station responded to last year?

  • Develop a fire escape plan for each bedroom in your home.

  • Test the batteries in your smoke alarms, and replace any dead or expired batteries.

  • Keep a fire extinguisher in your home; monitor the expiration date on the extinguisher.

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector.

  • Frequently tip over (or clean out) anything in your yard that might contribute to a standing water problem and potential mosquito breeding. Examples may include bird baths, roof gutters, and plastic covers over firewood stacks.

  • Learn about and learn how to recognize the poisonous snakes and spiders that live in the area where you live.

  • Learn to identify (in the winter and summer) poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.

  • Take a first aid/CPR class.

Personal Growth

  • Engage in some form of prayer and meditation every day.

  • Join (or start attending) a church/faith-based redemptive community.

  • Read sacred literature several times a week.

  • Do something every day you love.

  • Take time to be quiet. Can you get through an entire hour without saying a word? How’bout an entire day? I know of a Buddhist nun, who did it for an entire year.

  • Learn to deescalate your aggression—especially toward yourself and toward those you care about and love.

  • Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slower still to become angry. Listen to those around you, including the wind as it blows through the trees (especially in the fall) and the creatures that "come out" at night.

  • Every so often, take a day-long vacation away from your personal problems. Actively pretend you have no problems, and treat those around you in a manner you feel would be consistent with someone who has no personal problems and carries no "baggage."

  • Smile before you answer the phone.

  • Refrain from all negativity for an entire day.

  • Enjoy the weather, no matter how cold and rainy it might be.

  • Give to a charitable organization.

  • Learn all you can about the environment.

  • Read "Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible," by Dr. Ellen Davis.

  • Adopt the slogan, "Nature has no garbage; everything is used," and look for ways to reduce your own personal generation of garbage or ways to use such garbage in a manner that's beneficial.

  • Be happy… for an entire day…without a reason in the world.

Ecological 10-20 and 411 (e.g., Your Environmental Location and Vitals)

  • Learn what local and regional watershed you live in (i.e., Difficult Run/Chesapeake Bay, Mud Creek/Cape Fear, etc.).

  • Learn about the predominant soil type on your property.

  • Learn what the highest and lowest elevations are on your property.

  • Find your property on the USGS quad map for the area in which you live.

  • Find your property on the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) panel for the area in which you live.

  • Research how much annual rainfall you get in the area in which you live. Have there been any changes in recent years?

  • What were the two wettest and the two driest months last year, two years ago, and twenty years ago? If you don’t know, find out.

  • What is the average time that elapses between storm events in your area?

  • What were the average winter, spring, summer, and fall high and low temperatures last year in the area where you live? What were they two years ago? Twenty years ago? One hundred years ago?