Guidelines To A Sustainable Lifestyle:

  1. Simplifying as much as possible. Only keep the things and activities in your life that you find necessary.
  2. Taking a full inventory of our purchases (products and services), our modes of transportation, etc. This helps us identify and shift away from unsustainable choices.
  3. Making a lifelong commitment. These sacrifices may seem difficult in the beginning but as our new lifestyle grows, so will our happiness.
  4. Bonus: Observing an Eco-Sabbath. For one day, afternoon or hour a week, commit to using absolutely no resources. Don't purchase anything, don't use machines, don't switch on anything electric, don't cook and don't answer your phone.

Find your level based on energy and food consumption »

-Set specific energy reduction goals (for electricity, gas, etc.) created from your individual baseline usage.  For example, commit to using 20% less energy per month until reaching a sustainable level.

-Talk to your electricity company about the use of renewable electricity and select the most energy efficient appliances when upgrading.  Click the following link for information about certified "clean electricity" providers in your state:  http://www.green-e.org.

Conserve Energy:

-Reduce standby power. Plug appliances into a power strip (turn off when not in use).  Unplug all chargers and cables.  Set computer to sleep or hibernate mode.

-Typically, a water heater is set to 140 degrees fahrenheit when 120 degrees is sufficient. Turn down the temperature.  Every 10 degrees of heat reduced can save approximately 600 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.  Additionally, insulate your hot water heater.

-Use items such as blinds, tints and deciduous trees to reduce heat from the sun (especially on the West side of your house).

-Switch to energy efficient light bulbs and turn off lights when not in use.  Install a well insulated skylight if more light is needed. 

-Open windows/doors or use the ceiling fan instead of air conditioning.

-Close windows/doors when using air conditioning.  Turn off the AC when not needed. 

-Install an automatic/self-learning thermostat to prevent unnecessary usage. Click the following link for more information about making the switch: https://nest.com/thermostat/real-savings/ .

-When heating your home, set your thermostat 1 degree cooler every 2 days until you reach your limit.

-When cooling your home, set your thermostat 1 degree higher every 2 days until you reach your limit.

-Clean or replace air filters as recommended; open closed air vents for more efficient distribution of air. 

Utilize Appliances:

- Washing machines produce 51 kilograms of carbon dioxide per household annually. Reduce energy consumption of this appliance by: washing full loads of laundry, changing the setting to warm or cold instead of hot and air dry clothing. 

-Wash your dishes by hand or don’t rinse them before using the dishwasher

-Refrigerators account for about 20% of household electricity use and emit 175 kilograms of carbon dioxide per household annually.  Turn your refrigerator down: set the temperature to 37 degrees fahrenheit (2.5 celsius) and your freezer at 3 degrees fahrenheit (-16 celsius). 

-Install low flow shower heads and take cooler showers.  

Animal Products:

-Switching to a vegan diet is the most powerful way to help protect our environment and ensure everyone has enough to eat.  Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, 91% of Amazon deforestation, occupies ⅓ of the world’s ice-free land and is the leading cause of extinction, ocean dead-zones and habitat destruction.

-The production of beef is much more damaging to the environment than the production of pork and poultry.  If you plan to continue eating meat, set specific consumption reduction goals.  For example, commit to eating 20% less red meat per month and replace 70% of your red meat consumption with more environmentally sustainable meat products like poultry. 

-Buy all your meat from locally raised, grass-fed animals and support farms that re-use the methane produced.

-We could see fishless oceans by the year 2048.  Limit fish consumption and only purchase from local fisheries. 

-Purchase eggs from local/organic farms or raise your own chickens. 

-Limit your consumption of dairy by setting specific reduction goals.  For example, commit to consuming 20% less dairy per month and replace 70% of your dairy consumption with substitutes like soy or almond milk. 

-A vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is the most sustainable and healthy.  For information and help with the transition, click on the following links:

http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vsk

http://features.peta.org/how-to-go-vegan/.

Additional Eating Habits:

-Buy locally and organically whenever possible: each pound of local food you purchase prevents  ¼ pound of carbon dioxide emissions.  To search for local stores and products near you, use the following link: http://www.localharvest.org.

-Buy products containing non-GMO soy, cotton and corn.  Eat unprocessed and unpackaged food whenever possible.

-Buy in bulk products that can be stored for long periods of time (rice, flour, beans, etc); buy in smaller quantities foods that expire more quickly (fruits, vegetables, etc). Note that you can freeze fruits for up to a year. 

-Create a compost for peels and other biodegradable food items to keep them out of landfills and waterways.  Donate excess food to your local food shelter. 

-To reduce the excess of plastic in the food purchasing/consumption process: bring reusable cloth bags when grocery shopping, create your own snack foods (potato chips, granola bars, etc) and pack food in metal or glass containers.             

-When eating out, choose restaurants that support local farms by serving locally grown food.  Always take your leftovers, but provide your own containers to avoid the plastic/styrofoam ones typically given.  To find local and vegan restaurants near you, click the following link: http://www.happycow.net

-Set specific water reduction goals created from your individual baseline usage.  For example, commit to using 20% less water per month until reaching a sustainable level.  To keep track of your water usage, you can use the following site: Water Footprint Calculator.

Conserve Water:

-It is estimated that 13.7% of household water is wasted by leaks. Keep an eye on your water meter; if it continues to move when no water is being used, there is a leak.

-Always use the lowest water pressure necessary. Keep water turned on only when needed; turn off the tap when brushing your teeth and washing hands. 

-Make use of leftover water by watering the plants or washing your car.  Place a bucket in the shower to collect the runoff and save the remaining water from things like pasta and rice.

-Keep a pitcher of drinking water in your refrigerator so you don't have to let water run to cool.

-As a rule of thumb, consume less red meat and electricity, as the production of these items requires an incredible amount of water. 

Utilize Appliances:

-A washing machine consumes 65 liters of water, while a dishwasher consumes around 20.  Only turn on these appliances when they are full and use lower temperature and single rinse cycle settings.  Refrain from hand-washing dishes or clothes beforehand. 

-Switch to low flow or dual flush toilets.  Flush the toilet every other time or when there is solid waste.

-Install low flow shower heads.  Limit shower time to around 5 minutes. 

-Insert flow restrictor aerators inside all faucets.  These screw-in devices cut the flow of water from the tap and can save energy by reducing hot water use.  

 

(The 7 R’s)

-REFUSE what you don't need:

Think about what you buy or take.  Consider the impact the products you buy will have on the environment.  Try the 30-Day Rule; wait 30 days after deciding you want a product before purchasing to avoid impulse buys that will quickly turn into waste. 

-REDUCE what you do need:

Reduce your usage of resources that cannot be reused, composted or recycled.  Buy only as much as you know you'll use for items such as food and clothing.  Avoid creating trash and POP (persistent organic pollutants) whenever possible.

-REUSE what you consume:

The easiest way to reuse is to donate or buy used products.  Organize garage sales and a community swap program (designate an area where people can leave unwanted items for others to use). Switch from disposable to reusable items such as glass containers and cloth shopping bags.

-RECYCLE what you cannot refuse, reuse or reduce:

Create designated bins for each type of recyclable (glass, paper, plastic, metal, etc).  Many products, including glass, aluminum and other metals benefit from upcycling, in which their quality improves upon recycling.  Support sustainable packaging by encouraging companies to maximize nontoxic recyclable and compostable packaging content.  For information about joining this movement, click the following link: http://www.sustainablepackaging.org .

-REPAIR what you would throw away:

While there some products, like expensive appliances and electronics that are obviously worth repairing, you can save many resources by repairing cheaper products as well.  Limiting the amount of luxuries we buy by repairing ones we already have is an easy way to reduce our overall consumption. 

-ROT what can be composted:

Always compost your food and plant waste; start a compost pile with food scraps and plant trimmings or look into worm composting.  Mulching converts cut grass into a natural fertilizer.  You can even buy compostable "cradle-to-cradle"-products.

-REPLACE what you cannot refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle or rot:

Replace products that generate waste with more sustainable resources.  Use metal or glass containers for food and water instead of plastic.  Buy products in bulk to avoid plastic packaging and avoid single use items to limit waste. 

You can find alternatives and tips at the following website:

http://www.zerowastehome.com/p/tips.html?m=1

 -14% of the total 65% of CO2 released into the environment comes from transportation.

Alternate Transportation:

-Walk, ride your bike, and use public transportation.  Take the 2 Mile Challenge: ride your bicycle or walk to places within a two mile radius of your living location.  You can build these activities into your exercise routine.

-Join a carpool.  To coordinate a carpool with your company, click the following website: http://www.carpoolworld.com .

-When purchasing a new vehicle, look into fuel efficient and low emission cars.  Considering buying one that uses alternative and renewable fuel sources.  Use the following website to find an environmentally friendly car that suits your needs: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.shtml.

-When traveling, plan “green vacations”.  Pay to offset your carbon footprint when it’s necessary to fly.  Click the following link to find the lowest carbon way to take your next vacation: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/getting-there-greener

Simple Solutions:

-Slow down acceleration time (accelerate 0 to 60 mph in 15 seconds).

-Drive the speed limit and use cruise control when possible.

-Shut down car if idling for more than 1 minute.

-Combine errands within close proximity to take the shortest route possible.

-If buying a car, only purchase optional equipment if needed. 

-Use multi-grade, energy conserving (EC) motor oil to improve fuel efficiency or buy re-refined oil to support the recycling of oil.