Ten Things (February)

Living sustainably is all about the choices we make throughout our lives. That’s why I’ve started a year long series detailing habits and actions I’ve incorporated into my life to live more sustainably. This is the second installment in the series. Enjoy!

Wearing a Sweater

I keep my house a little chilly in the wintertime. Usually a sweater, socks, or a blanket are enough to keep everyone comfortable. If anyone ever complained, I would turn up the heat, but only after they tried wearing a sweater for a while first.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-in-sweater-sitting-on-a-couch-while-seriously-reading-a-book-6632944/
Photo by Karolina Grabowska: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-in-sweater-sitting-on-a-couch-while-seriously-reading-a-book-6632944/

Acquiring Plants (Responsibly)

I’ve always loved houseplants, but I’ve never had a green thumb. Last year, I acquired a few succulents. I managed to keep them alive and happy for several months, so when a mom in my community offered up some baby plants for free on facebook, I jumped at the opportunity to add to my collection. Why is this better than buying plants from a store? Well, conventional stores usually sell plants that were grown in heated greenhouses and in soil containing peat. Large plants mean that they were in these conditions for years, which comes with quite the environmental impact. Instead of getting (admittedly gorgeous) large plants from a store, I got baby plants from someone who grew them in their own home. Because they’re baby plants, they will take years to mature, but they’ll be years growing in my home instead of in an unsustainable greenhouse, and I’ll get to nurture them the whole time. Oh yeah, and the planters were purchased secondhand ; )

Checking the Pantry, Etc

I took the time to thoroughly check the food in my fridge, pantry, and freezer (read more about food checks and limiting food waste here). I checked dates, prioritized using up ingredients, and got creative. I realized various canned goods were nearing their expiration date, so I made a plan for how to use them. Sure, I know that canned goods are still safe to eat past the listed date, but if food has been in my pantry long enough to have an expiration date coming up, I obviously need some motivation to actually use it.

Visiting the library

I love my local library. The books/resources, events, and community building are such a wonderful asset. This year I have made an extra effort to go to more events (like a free sewing class, a native plant seed swap, and a fix-it clinic) and speak to the organizers about what events I think would benefit the community in the future. I also visit the library at least once a week to get books for me and my kids to read to ourselves, as well as books on all sorts of topics for us to learn about together. By utilizing the library, my family has enjoyed reading thousands of books without needing to buy or store them, which has been better for the planet as well as our finances.

Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-in-beige-coat-standing-near-white-wooden-book-shelf-4855385/

Going to Therapy

I try to go to therapy twice a month. It is a luxury I couldn’t afford for a long time, but I have been so much happier since prioritizing my mental health. I have worked hard for years to break the cycle of generational trauma my family has engaged in, to establish necessary boundaries, and to see myself as just as worthy of love and kindness as other people. Okay, some of these things I’m still working on, but I’ve definitely improved! How does this relate to sustainability? Well, I can’t serve others when I’m depleted, and I won’t see added tasks as joyful or worthwhile if I’m struggling. Prioritizing myself has allowed me to continue learning, growing, and changing without getting burnt-out or resentful. And working through past traumas has helped me to see past my own scope of view to more effectively connect with others. Sustainability isn’t just doing good for the planet, it’s being able to sustain the tasks at hand. Going to therapy helps me to sustain my efforts in all of life’s endeavors.

Photo by Alex Green: https://www.pexels.com/photo/crop-unrecognizable-black-man-sharing-complains-with-female-psychologist-5699466/

Using Green Energy

Solar power wouldn’t make much sense where I live, due to too much shade. My husband and I still wanted to support cleaner energy sources, so we joined a solar garden about a year ago. We get all of our power from it and therefore don’t have to support other dirtier forms of energy. Yay!

Photo by Tom Fisk: https://www.pexels.com/photo/directly-above-solar-farm-9893731/

Decluttering Responsibly

I try hard to live minimally, but stuff still accumulates and becomes unnecessary over time. I spent several weekends going through my home and looking for outgrown clothes, unwanted toys, furniture that we don’t need any more, etc and posted them for free online. This certainly took longer than taking a load of stuff to a thrift shop, but by posting things for people to pick up personally, the items are much more likely to get used again. Plus, gifting in this way helps support the giving community. I’ve gotten so many wonderful things for free from the community, and it feels good to give back.

Prepping condiments

I love condiments: sauces, dressings, pickled vegetables… I think everything tastes better with a flavorful condiment on top. I like to have a few homemade condiments in the fridge at all times. I tend to opt for creamy or tangy condiments, but I like them all. Whenever I notice I’m running low on a condiment, I plan which condiment I’ll make next. Doing this helps me to eat more veggies, and is much better for the planet than what I would normally gravitate to whenever the condiments weren’t prepared ahead of time: cheese.

Photo by Bris N: https://www.pexels.com/photo/vegan-tacos-on-plate-in-close-up-view-8404792/


Advertisements feel out of hand lately. People can’t even walk around the neighborhood without getting bombarded with marketing schemes. In fact, humans today are seeing approximately ten times as many ads as people were seeing 50 years ago. And marketers are clever; they use tricks, create urgency, and ultimately convince people to buy products they don’t need. Because of this I do my best to limit ads. I unsubscribe from emails and paper mailers, and do my best to limit exposure to the pressures of advertisements. By doing this (and pairing it with some gratitude exercises), I limit the pull I feel to buy more stuff I realistically don’t need.

Photo by Burst: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-using-macbook-374720/

Caring for Tech

I’m a phone dropper. I have broken so many phone screens, it’s ridiculous. Yes, I try to be careful, but I also know I will always be a phone dropper. So, I protect my phone as best as I can. I always have a pela case on my phone and I use a liquid screen protector to further safeguard my phone screen. I have not broken a phone screen since using both of these products, which is something I can’t say about other screen protection products.

I hope this inspired you. Check back next month for another ten things list.