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Our Consuming Natures – We Can Live More Sustainably

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How much do you consume? If you could measure and keep track of it, do you think it would make a difference in your regular consumption levels? In our culture of mass consumption, we are so accustomed to buying products and having products around for our “convenience”, we seldom stop to think just how much we are consuming and how much waste we are producing as a result of that over-consumption.

Stop and think: do you really need to consume everything that you do? Challenge yourself to consume less of everything for one week. Keep a journal of the things you are doing without and ask yourself if you can do without those things permanently. At the end of the week, compare your reductions in consumption with your previous levels of consumption.

Here are some ideas for reducing levels of consumption:

  • Ride your bike or walk to work, the store, or to a friend’s house. I’ve even heard stories of people riding their horses – don’t laugh…do it, if you can!
  • When you do have to drive somewhere, combine trips to various locations that are in nearby locations. Instead of driving every day of the week, cut back your driving to 3 or 4 days a week.
  • Carpool whenever possible.
  • Use items over and over. Whenever you have containers, devices, or utilitarian items that can be used more than once, store them for later use to use again and again. This includes glass, paper, canvas, wood, metal, tin foil, boxes, plastic containers, clothing, and anything else you can think of. Find ways to reuse and re-purpose everything.
  • Replace plastic with paper, wood, canvas, cotton, glass, metal, ceramic, tin foil, or wax paper.
  • Stop buying dryer sheets. Hang your clothes in the backyard to dry on a clothes line. If you do use a clothes dryer, dry them without anything at all. I have been doing this for years with no adverse effects to my clothes. I don’t have static cling, and I am saving my family the hazards of toxic chemicals in dryer sheets (as well as a lot of $$).
  • Wash your clothes all in cold water. I have been doing this for over 10 years and my clothes always come clean. If they need a stain removed, I soak them in a non-toxic detergent or soap, and add a non-toxic stain remover to them before washing.
  • Use bar soaps for everything in your house including the shower and all the sinks. Good bar soaps are those made from natural ingredients – olive oil-based soaps are great for your body. If you do buy liquid soap, consider Dr. Bronner’s (buy in bulk) or make your own with purified or distilled water, herbs, and, essential oils. Here are some great recipes for homemade soaps using ordinary bar soap. Stop buying commercial liquid pump soaps. They are bad for you and the environment.
  • Make your own shampoo and wash your hair less. When you wash your hair less, you find the need to condition your hair less frequently or not at all, thus saving your health and your pocketbook.

Make a basic castille shampoo with 4 ounces castille soap flakes and one quart water. Bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat and pour water over the soap flakes. Stir until the soap flakes dissolve. Once the mixture has cooled, store it in a reusable bottle such as plastic (with no BPA), glass or ceramic, or stainless steel.

Add essential oils to the mixture for natural scents. Lavender is calming while oils like peppermint and citrus are more lively and promote blood circulation in the scalp. Try different oils to find those you prefer. To use essential oils in your recipe, mix 4 to 8 drops of the oil in to the soap mixture just after all the soap has dissolved.

You can also create an herbal shampoo using herbs. Instead of plain water, make an herbal infusion. For each quart of water, use approximately one-half ounce of dried herbs. Let the herbs steep for 20 minutes or more. Reheat the infusion if necessary, pour the hot infusion over flaked bar-soap or castille soap, and stir well. For dark hair, use rosemary and for lighter colored-hair, useĀ  chamomile. For dry or oily hair, create an herbal infusion of comfrey and rosemary leaves, burdock root, and nettles. This will help return your hair’s natural balance to normal.

  • Turn off your television or computer (to save electricity and $$) and read a book, do an art or craft project, invite a friend over for tea or a snack, engage in a cleaning project you’ve been putting off, or take a walk or do some gardening and get some Vitamin D. Most of us are short on Vitamin D and need it for good health and to keep away illness and disease.
  • Consider alternative energywind, geothermal, solar, hydro, and other emerging technologies in alternative energy efforts. Incentives provided by the government can help offset the cost, and pay-back models for various alternative energy solutions are becoming more appealing and feasible as time goes on.
  • Make your own cleaners from items in your home. Vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and olive oil work well for many different uses, are non-toxic, and economical. Buy spray bottles, use filtered or distilled water, and add your ingredients to make great cleaners that will do the job without harsh chemicals and odors.
  • Stop using personal care products such as lotions, moisturizers, hand creams, and other similar items. Remember, most products on the market are designed to create a need in the consumer’s mind and make money. Most companies spend more money on their marketing and advertising budgets than on the quality of the product itself.
  • Pay more attention to eating natural foods with whole, natural fats in them to supplement your health and support healthy skin, hair, and nails. Consume more Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) such as raw butter, raw cheese, raw milk, sprouted nuts, grass-fed meats, and fresh fish, cod liver oil, and other seafood from safe sources. If you must moisturize your skin from the outside (topically), use fresh, real oils like coconut, olive oil, apricot kernel, and sweet almond oil, or shea butter. To support healthy skin, hair, and nails, you need healthy oils and fats in your diet. Drinking more water does not hydrate your skin because the water in our skin is generated from the consumption of fats.
  • Buy as many whole foods as possible, and less packaged and processed foods. You will save $$, your health, and the environment.

Want more information on reusing, re-purposing, saving money, and living sustainably?

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