I thought it would be fun to share a few ways that my wife and I have acted “counter-culture” to improve our home and the environment outside. We live in the central part of town, with a nice backyard but it’s not huge
In 2009, I was inspired by my co-worker Tundra Man that I could ride my bike to work and avoid driving miles. I’ve racked up a lot of miles since and haven’t stopped.
|Savings MPG * Price
|Savings $.54 per mile
|Total Net Saved
Some days it gets cold, but you just add some more layers :-).
Due to learning and then to my diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis (an auto-immune disease), we’ve been eating more healthy all the time and closely reading labels. The gardens are great for that. Since we don’t get enough from our vegetables, we have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farmer friend that delivers to us every week. We support her farming and she with her family provides us a good supply of veggies in the summer and fall. Costco helps as they have a lot of good choices (though there are some downsides, it’s not local and I wish there was a way to have less packaging).
Result: It’s helping my maintain my health, is good for all of us and local food is better for us and the environment.
We enjoy our backyard that we are blessed with.
We use a manual lawn mower. We don’t have gas, less noise, I can mow in my bare feet, the kids can do some and I can have the kids near by when I mow. The lawn doesn’t look quite so precise and it doesn’t pick up leaves to chop them up, but we haven’t minded it much (ok I don’t always enjoy the extra raking) using it the last 10 years.
The rain barrels store 45 gallons each and only require a small round hole in the down spot. A good rain will fill both of them up. We save a couple hundred gallons of water for the gardens over a summer.
Gardening is a fun pass time we can do together as a family and we get some decent output.
We have re-used old fencing wood. This is our third setup over the years.
Result: Spend more time at home with your family, there are multiple health benefits from being outside: grounding , stress reduction, exercise, mind clearing, etc. Save on gas and water. There are a lot of possibilities in a backyard.
We all want a nice lawn, but do we really need to put all of the water and fertilizer and chemicals on it? Our house was built in the 1964, so we didn’t have the perfect sodded lawn that new houses have. We’ve decided to skip the chemicals and make it better for the kids and us to walk in and lay in.
We’ve also left some areas for playing in the dirt and flowers that are helpful for the butterflies and bees.
Result: We have browner grass in dry months, more crab grass than I would want, and a bit of clover is ok with me. As long as we have some good grass to be on and not all dirt we’ve been satisfied and can enjoy the yard with ease of mind.
We have been using a small stainless steel compost bin and putting our food scraps in that. We then take it out and dump it into our compost. Without much work, this becomes good soil for our gardens in the spring.
We don’t take all of our leaves to the leaf dump. We have an area in the backyard where we pile up a bunch. By the next fall, it’s mostly healthy dirt.
We are fortunate to know people how live out of town in our church. We’ve had a few deliveries of sheep manure that have helped our garden soil.
Result: Better soil and ecology. Hopefully better plants and heathier food grown in the gardens.
Do you really need to take a long shower or give the kids a bath every day?
Result: Save water, money and time by taking less showers and baths.
Do you really need to have it set to 72 degrees? We find that 68 with sweatshirts in the winter and 75 to 76 is just fine. Open the windows when it’s a nice temperature.
Good windows really help. So does better insulation and ceiling fans. We paid a bit more and had to pay shipping, but wool insulation is a lot easier to work with and better for the environment (inside and out).
Our water heater stopped working 3 years ago, so we spent a bit more on a tankless water heater. It works on demand and does a great job. One bad side is that you can smell the gas outside if you’re standing right by the direct venting. Overall, it’s worth it.
Consider paying for attic insulation and sealing your basement joints for an older home. They found that they needed to remove all of the attic insulation, then seal all the joints and then blew in to 3x the amount we have. That should save a lot on heating and cooling costs and keep the 2nd floor at a more consistent temperature
Result: Save natural gas, money and enjoy the outside more from inside. (prices have gone up a lot with the Russian/Ukraine war)
My wife found she can make deodorant and tooth paste with coconut oil, plus other things.
Result: Avoid the chemicals they add and know what you are putting in your mouth and arm pits every day.
Kombucha is very helpful for your gut with the pro-biotics. Since I can’t have soda/pop and have to watch the labels on anything, I tried Kombucha and liked it. Buying Kombucha is expensive.
It’s very easy to make Kombucha . First, find someone with a SCOBY. Every week or so, I boil water with green or black tea and add sugar. I let it sit until the water has cooled off. I pour out the batch that is in my big glass jar into separate glass jars (using ones I bought previously from the store). We add flavorings such as ginger powder and lemon juice or ground hibiscus or cut up fruit or fruit juice. We let that sit in the cupboard for a few more days before moving it to the fridge. Then we pour the new tea sugar water into the SCOBY jar and let it sit. The SCOBY eats the tea and sugar and ferments it into Kombucha.
Result: We enjoy a healthy, home made drink with fizz and low sugar. We save a lot buy not buying it at the store (usually $2-4 a jar).
My wife found Norwex and has been selling to friends and families. Their goal is to reduce chemical usage in household to improve wellness. These chemicals can harm your health over time.
Result: We have gotten rid of the chemicals and our home is safer.
Kishu Charcoal Water Filtering works well for us.
Result: Avoid plastic filters and have well filtered, good tasting water.
Go for the bar soap over a big bottle.
Result: Avoid a plastic bottle that may be filled with micro-plastics .
I hope you got some simple ideas of things you could do. Go out and do something to improve things. Send me more ideas @alignedDev
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