This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Natural Living Blog Carnival hosted by Happy Mothering
This month, our members are reflecting on the successes they had from last year, and setting goals for
themselves this year.
Check out all of the posts to get ideas on how you can start your New Year off green!
It’s a new year, and traditionally many of us want to dispense with the old and
usher in the new.
But year after year I have made lifestyle resolutions which I am sad to say I did not adhere to fully.
So this year I have decided to use this time to reassess who I am, what I stand for, where I have
come from , where I am going and where I want my “green” journey to take me.
I have been on a healthy, green and natural living journey for as long as I can remember.
It actually started in college when I first read “Diet for a Small Planet“, which introduced
me to an alternate way of eating: vegetarianism.
This was a huge departure from my family’s traditional southern-inspired, soul food meals.
But when I was given a battered paperback copy of “Back to Eden“ by a classmate, my life
I immersed myself in learning how to eat naturally and live simply, while at the same time
trying to climb the corporate ladder and achieve career success in the publishing industry.
Clearly my journey was not easy.
The road was winding.
The path was often bumpy.
Along the way, I studied at the Kushi Institute and gained knowledge and incredible
natural living insights from the simple, balanced approach to diet and lifestyle they taught me.
Brown rice, seaweed, aduki beans, miso soup, steamed, fresh, organic vegetables, kukicha tea.
I flourished–eating healthfully-prepared, organic food, made with love from scratch.
During that period, I also learned the power of proper chewing, fermentation and yin and yang.
Next, I was exposed to the blessings of shiatsu massage, yoga, tai chi, breathing and mindfulness.
This was a heady time!
I became passionate about making things by hand.
I explored pottery and made my own hand built clay bowls, plates and cups.
I learned to make candles.
I sewed many of my own clothes and experimented with traditional batik fabric design.
I traveled to lands where the indigenous people farmed, built their shelter, dug their own clay, wove
their own baskets and made their own colorful cloths.
In essence, they still were living in the same natural, traditional and sustainable manner as their
forebears had for centuries.
And it comforted me to know that despite rampant urbanization, some people still lived this way.
Each experience touched, inspired, changed and shaped my journey to where I am today.
In reality, I was just “living simply, eating healthy, trying to be as natural as possible”,
while at the same time living a contemporary, multi-faceted life in the city.
By the way, I had not heard the terms “green or eco friendly” yet.
I finally learned the lingo and took a deep dive into the principals of green living when I
started working for a “green” magazine.
I read “green” books and articles, attended workshops and conferences and began to incorporate
what I learned into the healthy lifestyle I had been shaping for many years.
Fast forward to the present…
Today I realize that living green is a truly a lifelong journey.
For most of us, it is about making small changes to improve our lives and the lives of our loved
ones–while at the same time contributing to the cumulative effect of millions of us all working
to make a positive impact on our environment.
Each “green baby step” that we take matters–they all add up!
And when it comes down to it, what we do every day is what really makes a cumulative
I know that have a long way to go, but I am trying to make little changes and create new
“green habits” each day.
Like most of us, I am a “green” work in progress.
My Big Green Must Do List
Here are 22 of the most important green lifestyle changes from my own life that I
am continuing to tweak and refine this year and that you might choose to add to your own
green ‘to-do’ list or in some households your “honey-do” list.
1. When you wash dishes, don’t leave the water running while you scrub the dishes.
Put dirty dishes into a sink or dishpan full of soapy water, scrub them, then dip them into a sink o
or tub of rinse water.
If you are concerned about germs, boil a couple of cups of water and pour the hot water over the
rinsed dishes to sterilize them (the hot dishes will dry faster too).
2. Don’t flush the toilet after every visit.
Liquid waste does not have to be flushed away each time.
Every flush uses about 1.6 gallons of water.
So each time you refrain from flushing, you’re saving 1.6 gallons.
That can add up over the course of the month.
3. Turn the lights off when you leave a room.
4. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or LEDs instead of incandescent bulbs.
These really do cut down on your energy use.
Don’t forget outdoor lighting.
Use energy-efficient floodlights if you have them, and use solar lights for your steps
5. Augment your household heat with other energy-efficient heating.
6. Install a programmable thermostat.
It is much more precise regarding temperature setting, and you don’t have to worry
about forgetting to turn the heating down when you leave the house or go to bed.
7. Install curtains and blinds that you can open to let the sunshine in on
cold, sunny days.
Then close them at night to keep cold air out.
8. Insulate your home and use weather stripping on your doors and windows.
9. Use fans and open windows instead of air conditioning.
10. Eat local food whenever you can.
Local food means the food travels fewer miles to get to your plate or store.
Fewer miles mean fewer emissions and less fossil fuel.
That’s why I love to shop at my local farmer’s market.
I am thinking about joining an organic CSA in 2014 if I can find one in my community.
11. Organic food is preferable to conventionally-grown food.
Organic food is grown in a sustainable manner, making it a much greener choice.
Avoiding pesticides, insecticides and GMO foods is a must for me!
12. Support local businesses.
Once again, imported items use a lot of fuel.
Try to buy whatever you can from local producers, craftspeople, and so forth.
13. Reduce consumption of unnecessary new items.
I used to be a “shopaholic” along with my girlfriends.
I won’t deny that those were fun times.
But now I know better.
I basically buy what I need.
But I try to reuse, repurpose, upcycle, repair, regift, barter or even borrow
as much as possible.
I also donate items I no longer need or use to others or to charitable thrift
shops to hopefully help someone else.
14.Fine tune your recycling.
Most of us recycle, but you may not be recycling everything you could be.
Effective recycling goes beyond just glass, plastic, paper and metal.
For example, don’t toss out old electronics.
See if they can be donated, refurbished, or recycled.
Old appliances can be donated to a second-hand store.
Our local farmer’s market has a recycling station for designated items
including old electronic equipment.
15. Use rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones.
16. Detoxify your home.
Vow to replace all your chemical cleaners with natural ones.
You can purchase natural, biodegradable cleaners, or make your own.
Chemical-based cleaners to consider replacing around your home include:
-“All-purpose” cleaner for counter tops, tables, and so forth.
*Dryer sheets or liquid fabric softener – Consider dryer balls or other natural softeners.
*Powder cleaners or gritty scrubbers can be easily made, for example:
I mix 2 cups baking soda, 1/2 cup borax, a tablespoon of biodegradable liquid soap,
1-2 cups of water, and 10 drops of peppermint essential oil to make a creamy scrub for
sinks and tubs.
*Toilet bowl cleaner – Vinegar and baking soda cleans toilet bowls very well in my home.
17.Green your beauty routine.
Did you know that more than 12,000 chemicals are used in personal care products—89% of them
haven’t been reviewed for safety.
Reduce your exposure to toxins in most conventional beauty and personal care
products by avoiding harmful ingredients.
Knowledge is power.
Read labels to avoid chemicals like parabens, sodium laureth sulfate, and oxybenzone.
Do your homework before shopping for beauty and skin care products by checking out the extensive
Skin Deep database at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com to find safer products.
Or best of all, you’ll know what is in them if make your own natural body care and beauty products.
*Shampoo –1 tablespoon of baking soda in 1 1/2 cups of warm water makes a cleanser for my hair.
I use a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 2 cups of warm water as an effective conditioning rinse.
*Bath soap -Switch to natural, vegetable-based soaps. I use Dr. Bronners Castile or Peppermint Soap.
*Lotion (Switch from chemical-filled, petroleum based moisturizers to natural, organic oils like
coconut oil, almond oil, avocado oil)
*Lip balm – Make your own instead of using petroleum-based products.
Here is the natural lip balm recipe I use.
*Toothpaste – Switch from chemical-filled, fluoride toothpastes and make your own from baking
soda and essential oils.
At this point in my green journey, I have tossed all of my expensive, brand name beauty aids and
cosmetics and replaced them with coconut oil and a few other natural beauty products which I whip up
in my kitchen, for the most part.
18. Improve your indoor air quality by using environmentally-friendly paints, and replacing
toxic flooring, bedding, furniture, shower curtains when they wear out with safer,
It is alarming to realize just how harmful the materials in our furnishings are.
Use green plants in your home.
19. Walk or bike to your destinations as often as you can.
20. Carpool or take public transport to work or school whenever you can.
You can even carpool with your neighbors or family for errand running.
21. Reduce your use of and exposure to plastics.
Ditch the plastic containers, plastic bags, plastic utensils and dishes.
Try to live a plastic-free life as much as you can.
That’s why I love to eat from my handmade bowls.
And I carry recycled tote bags with me when shop.
22. Avoid hidden harmful additives in “health foods” such as carrageenan.
After reading the labels and finding this unhealthy additive in more than 15 of my
favorite products including almond and hemp milk, I avoid it by making my own
My green journey continues
Of course, this is just a start.
The tip of the iceberg.
I have so much more to learn and do.
For example, I don’t want to be a “fashion victim” so this year one of my new green
resolutions is to choose underwear, nightgowns and clothing basics made from
eco friendly, organic fabrics.
I have learned a lot about how toxic some clothing and textiles are and it is alarming.
Best of all, I have made a commitment to educate myself and help others by sharing
the journey to living a healthier, greener, more natural life on Urban Naturale.
This is quite an ambitious undertaking.
It takes a lot of research, trial and error, time and money.
But I also realize that we must be kind to ourselves.
We inch forward buoyed by the knowledge that each “green baby step” we take adds up.
What we do each day makes a cumulative difference in our environmental impact and the
health of ourselves, our families, our communities and our world–now and in the future.
Visit Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project to learn more about participating in next month’s Natural Living Blog Carnival!
Please take some time to enjoy the posts our other carnival participants have contributed: