We live in an era where the term “sustainable living” is a common term, although maybe not always understood. What does it mean to live sustainably? Does it mean we all live on farms, grow our own food, and camp with little or no electricity or running water? Does it mean we put the occasional can in the recycle bin so we feel less guilty about putting 3 bags of garbage out that week while our neighbors put out 1?. Maybe it means a little something different for each of us. By that I mean, each person and each family can find ways to practice sustainable living. I came across this great article by Whole Living that shows you how to “walk the talk.” We are not talking about changing your electrical system so that your house is solar powered, but more small steps. Sometimes it’s not the giant leaps that get us there, but more the small steps, taken one at a time that helps “win the race.” When I looked at this list from the perspective of my family, who like most of you is busy, over scheduled, somedays overworked and longs to just “sit down,” I was surprised to see how easy some of these ideas were to implement . I hope you take a look because you might be surprised at how many of these ideas you are already practicing and how many more you can do.
I have listed the Top 12 here but for the whole list, please visit: www.wholelving.com
1. Use the Whole Vegetables
The stems of cauliflower or broccoli, the inner leaves of celery, the fronds of fennel, the greens of beets, even the stems of herbs: all edible, all tasty.
2. Get to the Root
Forgo bagged and boxed salad greens for loose bunches, and look for anything with the roots attached. You’ll use zero packaging, and you can compost — or maybe even eat — the stems.
3-7. Be a Farmers’ Market Regular
Your purchases will directly support local agriculture. There are now more than 5,200 farmers’ markets in the country (find one near you atlocalharvest.org), and the numbers will continue to grow if we make them our personal Stop & Shops. Get staples. Instead of only a handful of tomatoes, pick up onions, potatoes, and herbs. Buy heirloom. It’s not just a boutique marketing term. It describes vegetables, fruits, grains, and beans from seeds that have been passed down for generations, grown in small crops that may restore the health of the soil. Stock up. Buy in bulk when produce is in season. Freeze it, pickle it , or preserve it, so you can still eat local when you have off-season cravings. Get advice. Ask the farmers for recipe suggestions. Challenge yourself. Try to use only what’s at the market for a week’s worth of meals.
8. Buy Organic
“Local is always the priority, but the organic label really does mean something,” says chef and author Alice Waters. “If you can’t buy local, buy organic — coffees, teas, jams, olive oils, honey, nuts, raisins, oatmeal, beans, grains. There’s so much available across the country now.”
9. Buy Local Eggs
Purchase them at a farmers’ market, directly from the person who collected them. Keep in mind a cage-free label in the grocery store doesn’t necessarily mean the eggs came from chickens that were running around a yard — they still could have been raised indoors.
10. Use Your Basement the Old-Fashioned Way
Hardy root vegetables like squash, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, and rutabagas will keep four to six months in a chilly cellar where the temperature stays 40 degrees or below. Store them as close to the time they were harvested as possible — preferably unwashed, green tops still attached, and packed in sawdust or moist peat moss.
11. Get Farm-Fresh Food Delivered (This is easier and less expensive than you think!)
Find a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm near you at eatwellguide.org or localharvest.org and pay a subscription fee for regular batches of local produce (and, in some places, grass-fed meat). If you’re worried about being able to use it all up, go in on it with a friend or two.
12. Be Package Conscious (This is easy and we all have reusable bags)
“If you’re buying food at the store, try to choose products that come in the least amount of packaging possible, or in containers that are easily recyclable in your area,” suggests Alexandra Zissu, author of “The Conscious Kitchen.”
50 Ways to Live Sustainably : whole living magazine
Photo Credit: Sustainableecho (Flickr)