In the Part I on Simple sustainable living in the city I was writing about the reasons to make your life greener. Part II has some simple green ideas to start your sustainable living. Part III is about us: what have we done and what are we doing to live sustainably in the city.
What does sustainable city living mean for us
We are an ordinary, average family of 4 living in a big city. We aren’t striving to be self-sufficient: it’s hardly possible to be in an urban jungle. We are just trying to live more sustainable life, implementing green changes one step at a time. We aren’t perfect and don’t do everything right all the time every time, but trying our best. And hope to get greener as we go, because we believe sustainable living is a journey, not a destination.
Here are some aspects of green sustainable living that are important to our family, in no particular order:
- Living consciously
- Reducing our energy use
- Growing some of our food
- Living simple life where family comes first
- Reducing waste
- Eliminating chemicals from our home
- Shopping consciously
- Cooking our meals using fresh and ingredients in season
- Walking / cycling / using public transport whenever possible
- Introducing the concept of sustainable living to our children.
Our sustainable journey so far (more green tips)
- I like to cook and bake bread, so food category is the first on the list.
- We strive to by local produce when possible, fresh and in season fruit and veggies. Farmers markets, u-pick farms and our own garden are favourite sources.
- We have three chickens, very spoiled ladies that wreck our veggie and herb garden every so often. But eggs are great, so we can’t complain.
- We have reduced our meat consumption for health reason, but when buying we choose organic / free range.
- Things we buy organic: milk, meat, coffee, tea and cocoa (last three fair-trade too). For fruit and veggies choice depends on availability and season.
- When shopping, I read the labels and avoid food with preservatives, artificial colours and flavours.
- My husband and kids have homemade lunches for work/school/kinder every day – all spoiled a bit too, but it’s healthier and I don’t complain. Neither do they 🙂
- I like to MYO everything; keep coming back for more recipes.
Energy and Water
- Let’s start with the most common: we changed light bulbs to energy saving ones
- Air conditioner is rarely switched on in our home
- We don’t have a clothes dryer
- The ceiling insulation has been installed and windows and doors sealed
- All power points are switched off at night; even our 8 y.o. son is doing it now
- We switch off the computer when not in use even if it’s only for an hour or so
- Rooms not in use aren’t heated nor light left on.
- We have switched to green energy
- Showers are timed to 4 minutes, garden is watered with grey water and dishwasher uses less water than I do and never complains about dirty dishes!
- We have a front loader washing machine which uses a lot less water than top loaders.
- Water saving shower head has been installed.
- We have a small urban garden that we are sharing now with our chickens. I plan to introduce them to the world via this blog – they aren’t camera shy!
- At the moment, we have only one fruit tree left, a mandarin. The lemon died due to constant pruning to remove gall wasp infected branches. A fruitless avocado doesn’t count.
- The herb garden is recovering (chicken attack) and waiting to be relocated into pots in a safer position.
- Front garden has been planted with drought tolerant plants and hasn’t been watered for ages. Whichever plants don’t survive, sorry, it’s not for this climate.
- We own one car and that one is often parked in the garage for days.
- My husband uses public transport to get to work.
- Kids and I are cycling / walking to school and kinder whenever possible.
- When using car, I try to combine several things I need car for like shopping, visits and appointments in one day.
- For holidays we chose local destinations and only every few years an overseas trip.
- Green cleaning is one of the first changes we made. My favourite method is microfiber cloth and pure water. I also use natural soap, bicarb soda, vinegar, lemon and essential oils in tiny amounts
- We have floorboards and tiles throughout the house for easier cleaning.
- Shoes are taken off before entering the house, for the same reason as above
- A plant based liquid laundry detergent is used for coloured washing, though there’s still the conventional one for whites. I’m testing and trying different eco brands right now.
- There will be more on green cleaning on this blog in the future.
- For the kids we buy natural and organic bath and shampoo products. They aren’t petroleum based as most baby and kids products on the shop shelves.
- Our toothpaste is natural and fluoride-free. We have far too much fluoride in our water already.
- We also use bicarb soda as a tooth cleaner as well as natural deodorant.
- We prefer a vegetable based bar of soap and natural ingredients shampoo.
- I’ve stopped dying my hair 5 years ago and don’t use hair products like gels or hair sprays
- Most cosmetics have vanished from our bathroom shelves; on a daily basis I only use a natural lipstick and a face cream, preferably my own mix.
- My husband uses natural and organic shaving gel.
- Generally, I shop less and really buy less stuff. Mindless shopping is not in.
- I ask myself before buying: do I really need it or can I buy it second hand?
- I like to shop at second-hand and op-shops and also give my unwanted items there
- Whenever possible, I go shopping without kids – no need to explain this one 🙂
- I try to shop locally
Recycling and Composting
- Composting is one of my passions so much so that I have to write a separate post about it.
- As most of us, we do recycle paper, glass, tins and plastics. However, we are trying to reduce packaging as much as possible: buying in bulk, buying loose fruit and veggies, making our own etc.
- Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle is our approach. Recycling uses energy too.
- Our recycling and general waste bins are mostly 1/3 full in time for garbage collection
- This last but not least category deserves to have a blog entry of its own.
Are you still with me? It’s quite a lengthy post although we have so much more to add. Instead to continue on and on, we would rather tell you about our simple sustainable life through the posts on our blog.
What are our plans and future projects?
There are so many! The simplest way to follow our journey is by subscribing to RSS feed.
P.S. This cute removable and re-usable sticker on the photo above, made from a non-toxic, biodegradable material is from rippleproducts.com.