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What do Natural, DIY bloggers talk about in the car? Usually stuff like this:

“How many simple sustainable living tips can you list? GO!”

It took only a few minutes to come up with this list of 10 ideas; some we’ve covered before, but they’re always worth mentioning again.

If you’re scratching your head about what living a sustainable lifestyle  means and why it’s important, consider these manifest advantages.

We were also inspired and humbled by our recent Plutus Award for the Best Sustainability Personal Finance Blog. Thanks everyone, let’s change the world!

Benefits of Sustainable Living

Sustainable Living

Using less resources – The ability to be sustained in certain areas of life means that you’re not depleting resources. Whether you’re concerned with saving trees, using less energy, or saving water, sustainable habits will support these (and many more) natural resources.

Eliminating harmful chemicals in your home – When you begin “going green” or learning how to make more of your own products at home, you are reducing the chances that harmful chemicals will be present in things your family uses. Your family’s health is no longer compromised by chemical-laden products and the earth is protected from the disposal of these chemicals.

Saving money – Learning to live sustainably almost always results in savings. Sometimes huge savings! When you are relying more on yourself and less on large companies to provide life’s essentials, the profit-driven middle man is removed from the equation. A more sustainable mindset will also cause you to reconsider purchasing certain products or services you once thought were absolutely necessities.

Simplifying – Sustainability is about checking out the big picture. Do I really need this big house, or could we create a happy home in less square footage? Do I absolutely need a closet full of this season’s latest fashions, or can I be creative with a few wardrobe staples? Do my kids need a room full of toys, or could they survive on one toy chest full? Should we take a trip to the amusement park or spend the time planting our garden? These are questions that quickly come into perspective when your goal is sustainability. You need less, buy less, spend less, and ultimately want less.

Creating less waste – When you purchase less and make more of your own products, far less packaging is used. Have you noticed how companies go so overboard with packaging? Sustainability promotes using what you have until it can’t be used anymore, recycling, and purchasing used.

Increasing personal skills/knowledge – Living sustainably always comes with great lessons. Have you ever researched specific ingredients so you could prepare more healthful food? Or found and followed a great do-it-yourself tutorial? Your personal skills and knowledge base grow each time you take steps in sustainability.

10 Sustainable Living Tips

Compare this list against your curent practices and challenge yourself to tackle one at a time.

We’re depending on YOU to help advance the sustainable revolution.

1. Bring your own water bottle

I’m starting with one of the easiest things you can do to save resources, create less waste, and save money. If you’re still buying bottled water, take a trip to the store and check the oodles of great reusable water bottles on the market. We don’t go ANYWHERE without our BPA free Nalgene water bottles. Get into the habit of treating your reusable water bottle like your purse or your wallet. Make sure it goes to work, school, and around town with you.

2. Use handkerchiefs instead of tissues

I recently wrote about my transition to hankies and caused quite a flurry of controversy. The issue of germs becomes a barrier for some, but can be easily remedied by keeping clean hankies on hand and putting soiled hankies in directly into the laundry or a reusable wet bag to avoid spreading germs. This sustainable practice saves money, uses less resources, and creates less (germy) waste around the house.

3. Bring your own shopping bags

Don’t just take your reusable shopping bags to the grocery store…take them everywhere. Haul them to the Farmer’s Market, the Dollar Store, the hardware store, or even GoodWill. Have you seen the documentary “Bag It,” about the impact plastic bag usage has on the environment and our health? After watching this documentary, Matt and I won’t even use the little plastic produce bags.

Make a small investment in a few shopping bags and reusable produce bags that will last several years, or better yet, make your own! How do I solve the problem of standing in line at the store and realizing I forgot my bags in the car? I have a set of Chico Bags that stuff into a tiny ball when not in use, and sit in the bottom of my purse so I always have them. Don’t carry a purse? Keep your bags in a place you will see them and remember to take them with you.

4. Reusable cloths instead of paper towel

We used to go through enormous packages of paper towel in our wasteful heyday. Those enormous packages have an equally enormous price tag. And it all gets thrown away! Ugh! Make a switch to reusable cloths…microfiber towels, cotton dishrags, or even old t-shirt squares. Keep a stack of towels in drawers or baskets around the house, making them easily accessible when family members need to clean up a mess. If you can’t commit to eliminating paper towels completely, hide your paper towels (so you’re not as inclined to use them) and see if you can get by without them for MOST things. Read more about using less paper products in your house.

5. BYO to-go containers and silverware

We haven’t actually tried this one yet, but are dying to see the looks on faces when we pull out our own to-go container for leftovers while dining out. Or what about busting out a set of bamboo silverware at an event where plastic is being used? We can’t think of any reason we wouldn’t be allowed to bring our own. It would create so much less waste, and you would have control over the materials your containers and silverware were made from. (I hate when a server puts my hot food into a styrofoam to-go container! Ew!) Trying this experiment might even give onlookers the courage to do the same.

6. Make your own cleaners

Large companies have duped us into believing we need a separate cleaner for every job in the house. Not true! We also don’t need to fill our home with cupboards full of harsh chemical cleaners. Making your own cleaners is so simple and fun we wrote an entire book on the subject. Natural ingredients can be purchased very inexpensively, and can be used for many purposes around the house. Family members with allergies, asthma, or other health conditions can benefit from chemical-free homemade cleaning products. Consider purchasing our book to learn how to make all your own household cleaners.

7. Make your own beauty products

Wouldn’t you love to have complete control over all the ingredients in your personal care products? Starting with a few simple products, like deodorant or shampoo, is a great way to get started if you haven’t dabbled in this sustainable area yet. It’s astonishing that the regulations on cosmetic ingredients still aren’t very stringent.  Making your own will help you eliminate harmful ingredients in your products, save money, learn new skills, and simplify your products. Furthermore, if you make your own you can use upcycled containers, eliminating all kinds of waste from packaging.

8. Grow your own food

The more food you can grow, the more you can cook at home and preserve. It cuts down on grocery bills, increases your sustainability, and creates a wonderful sense of accomplishment at harvest time. Growing your own food doesn’t have to mean becoming a small-scale farm. Grow herbs in the windowsill, or a few of your favorite plants on a balcony or porch.

9. Make your own condiments

A good rule of thumb: if it’s sold in the store, you can make it at home. Yours will be cheaper, made from ingredients you choose, and designed for your tastebuds. Your skills in the kitchen will increase, and your friends will think you’re genius. Get some tips at Nourished Kitchen for some great, healthy condiment recipes.

10. Become a one car family

We finally bit the bullet a few months ago and made the permanent transition from two cars to one. Now that we both work from home it was a logical choice. Travel may require planning ahead and rearranging schedules, but being a one car family is a great lesson in sustainability. We’re saving gas, eliminating operational costs for another vehicle, and learning to plan ahead and run all our errands during one trip. I know owning one car would be more difficult for some families than others, but sometimes you never know you can do it until you try it. Consider biking, walking, or utilizing public transportation as other sustainable travel habits.

A Sustainable Living Challenge

This conversation is just beginning…

Are you already doing all of these things to live sustainably? If not, we challenge you to choose one (or more) that you can adopt – let us know what it will be.

What ways are you living sustainably that are not mentioned in this article?

The community depends on your input!


photo credit to Simple Solar Homesteading

About Betsy Jabs

Betsy holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Counseling, and for nearly a decade worked as an elementary counselor. In 2011 she left her counseling career to pursue healthy living. She loves using DIY Natural as a way to educate people to depend on themselves to nourish their bodies and live happier healthier lives. Connect with Betsy on Facebookand Twitter.

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  1. Erin says

    I have been making all of our household products for months now and I can’t believe the difference in the amount of trash we have to put out on the curb Sunday nights. We used to barely get by with three trash cans, shoving bags in to make them fit. Tomorrow is Sunday and I have one of the trash cans half full to go out and that’s it. Feels good. Also feels good knowing that I am making everything my family needs to survive. Can’t wait to plant my first organic garden next month!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      YES! The reduction in waste is an added bonus! My hubby and I realized we didn’t need to pay for a weekly trash service after making sustainable changes in our house, and instead we paid for tags that were about $1 each and were attached to each bag on the curb. We only put about one large bag out per month, so our trash bill went from about $18/mo. down to $1/mo!

  2. Hannah says

    Thank you for the great and helpful information! I am just starting to make an effort to live more sustainably and this website has been very helpful so far. I can’t wait to start making my own cleaners! Thanks again!

  3. Tammy says

    Hi, thanks so much for your site! It’s by talking together that we’ll get there, right? We play the same game as you in our house: name that sustainable measure lol guess we need a better title.. Your site is so full of so many great ifeas, we are loving it… Anyways here are a few things we do:

    -Buy good quality clothes and shoes. We go to Winners (TJMaxx i think in the US). The cost is reasonable but the quality is better so these good pieces, always simple designs so they dont go out of style, last us forever.

    -The Great Book Exchange. We exchange books with friends, permanently, so no one ever resents bot getting their books back, and everyone always has something fresh to read.

    -Organize sustainable events in your neighborhood. We have a group of fellow moms over once a week to make purees for the babies and a large quantity of something to freeze for the older folks (like a lentil soup yumyum). We also regularly meet with other friends tobplay music. The point is – get together with like minded people and work together on your projects… We’ll be starting a ccommunity garden this spring!

    -Use powerbars and turn off your entertainment systems and kitchen appliances with one switch when not in use.

    Thanks again, guys, and keep up the good work you really are changing the world and I for one feel really good when I switch to one of your recipes (today: toothpaste!)

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Tammy, what great ideas…thanks so much for sharing! I especially love your book exchange and sustainable neighborhood event ideas…I want to do this now!!! Thanks so much for reading our articles and returning to add your insights. Good luck with your toothpaste project! 🙂

  4. Organic aspiration so says

    Thanks for posting this great list! I do a bunch already and I want to try to do the takeout containers too. I would love if you would share this with us at Eco kids link up on my website!

  5. Jen B says

    I’m so glad I came across this site. I just made my first batch of homemade laundry detergent and was looking for a dish soap recipe. I’ll also be making the wool balls you have a post on. Thanks so much! Trying to get green and DIY (to save $$) a little at a time!

  6. Joy says

    I’ve been following your great ideas for a few years now, and I wouldn’t be doing my own DIY projects if it weren’t for your support that we can all do this! I had to write to you about the bamboo silverware. I developed an aversion to metal silverware and I use the bamboo and I LOVE them! I even bought wooden plates and bowls and after my family making fun of me for them, now everyone uses those more often than the regular plates.

    Keep up the wonderful work you have many loyal followers!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      It’s reader comments like yours that keep us going Joy! Thank you so much for your kind words.

      As far as the bamboo goes, I always chuckle when I hear about families laughing at one member for their crazy ideas, and then falling right in line later with those “crazy” things. 🙂 I just love my bamboo cutting boards and mixing spoons, but we don’t have any bamboo silverware….yet! 😉

      Thanks for reading and sticking with us as we throw more ideas out there for everyone!

  7. Mel says

    I googled “how to make your own laundry powder” and came across your site.
    Im so glad I did! We are a one income family of 5, trying to live more sustainably. I cant wait to try some of the awesome recipes on here.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      We’re glad you found us Mel! It can be challenging to support a big family on one income…it definitely requires a more resourceful mindset. Be sure to return and let us know how some of your projects are going!

  8. Marlies says

    I received 32 pounds of pig fat a couple months ago and just started making my own lard. Definitely has a smell and a wonderful taste all of its own. Still learning the process of making mayonnaise– some times it works and other times it goes down the drain. My next condiment to learn is mustard. It really is a mindset as to how to live and what your priorities are. Mine– go as natural as possible and if it worked for our grandmothers or great grandmas– then it works for me.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Great points Marlies! I think we get so accustomed to the conveniences of life these days that it’s hard for some people to pull away from store-bought items and learn new skills. Matt’s in the kitchen trying to perfect homemade ketchup as I write this. 🙂

  9. Pam Cooper says

    Just stumbled across your website today. Enjoying your articles and information.
    I like to see like-minded people getting the word out. My husband and I set out on our journey 36 years ago and embraced a down-to-earth lifestyle. We have given our selves freedom to flex as needed (for work, time, and other deterrents) but always sustained a base of self-sufficiency and walking softly on the earth.
    We love, tend and appreciate our ‘gifts’.

    Good job and appreciate your good advice!

  10. Ty says

    Compost! The benefits are boundless and it is extremely easy. Since I have a small area to garden and an even smaller area to compost, I choose the old fashioned route of pit/trench composting. This process is anaerobic as opposed to above ground composting which is aerobic. Pit composting also retains many more nutrients than aerobic processes plus there is no smell and worms are attracted to feed. The greatest upside is that I need no additional fertilizers, I use less water for plants, soil structure is amazing, and the veggies taste great. I also make my own fertilizer for my indoor potted plants by utilizing the weeds in my garden by making a “Weed Tea”. Plus less material sent to the landfill that creates excess methane which is 21x more potent than CO2 as a green house gas.

    Our health is a direct reflection of our environment.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Wow! Thanks for sharing all the great information Ty! I’m curious to know how you go about making the “weed tea?” Does it work well? This is something we haven’t experimented with.

      • Pam Cooper says

        Weed tea . . ., I presume, is very similar to manure tea made with . . . manure. I suspect weed tea is similar in that the composted weeds and other rotted plant materials are put in a bucket (or barrel) with water added and allowed to set a spell (a day or a few) then just use the very tea-like nutrient-rich liquid for watering your plants.
        I personally make manure/compost tea a few times during the year (used as fertilizer) but it could be done more frequently. It just takes more time than we have to do it for all all of our planting so I use it only for bedding and porch plants. I use well rotted compost and/or tea (strained) otherwise you get unwanted weed seed in your perennials and potting soil. My husband cleans out the barn and chicken house in the fall and adds the hay and manure, as well as fall leaves, to the garden and tills it in to give it time to compost and break down before planting season next spring. We get most of our potting soil mix from this ‘well’ of good basic ‘dirt’.