Sustainable Creation Care
“The more I strive to have, the less I feel I have. The less I strive to have, the more I feel I have.”
Bread Bags & Soft Plastic Bags
Recycle your bread bags along with your soft plastic grocery sacks at a retailer near you if your city’s recycling program does not accept them. You can usually recycle most soft plastic there.
In Corpus Christi, Texas, HEB keeps bins out in front of their store where these may be recycled. You may also include dry cleaning bags, newspaper bags and stretch film.
Bulk Food Bags & Jars
Skip the store provided plastic for bulk items and meats and take your own cotton bags or jars. If you don’t want to pay the extra bit for the added weight of a cotton bag, ask them to weigh it and take off the weight at check out.
If your store allows you to weigh and label your own product, you can use one of their bags, weigh your product and then dump it into one of your bags. You can then re-use their bag to weigh the next item and so on.
You can also take glass jars for meats from the deli and ask them to deduct the weight of the jar.
Cast Iron Skillets & Cookware
Consider switching to cast iron and ditch the non-stick coated cookware. Some come already pre-seasoned and they are relatively easy to take care of. Food tastes great on them and they last forever. Click Here for tips on taking care of cast iron.
Simplify and skip the harsh chemicals. Almost all your cleaning jobs can be accomplished with either Vinegar and/or Baking Soda. **Be sure not to mix the two together.**
– Add 1 cup of distilled white vinegar to your rinse cycle when washing clothes in lieu of fabric softener. It will help soften and also disinfect your laundry.
– Vinegar is also good for jelly fish stings.
Reusable cleaning rags may be used for multiple cleaning jobs.
Tips: Cut up old clothing or look for bulk cotton towels at the hardware store. Opt for natural fibers that will not put harmful microfibers into the water stream.
Coffee & Filters
Consider buying your coffee in bulk with a reusable or recyclable bag. Switch to a French Press, Coffee Sock or other means to eliminate filter waste. Tip: Using a brewing method that removes plastic from the equation can greatly improve the flavor and health of your coffee.
Use a spill proof, insulated, non-plastic coffee mug when taking coffee from home with you.
Composting is the activity of taking left over food and breaking it down into compost which can be used to fertilize new plant growth. You can start a compost at home or find a community garden. They usually will jump at the chance to take your scraps. Check with your local garden for acceptable items. Learn more about composting here.
Tips: If you go to a community garden to compost, try storing your leftovers in natural fiber or cotton bags washable bags in the freezer in between trips to the garden. In Corpus Christi, Texas, you can take your compost to the GROW Local STx’s Learning Garden. Visit their website here. Texas A&M also has a composting program. Visit their website here.
Dish Washing Cloths
Reusable small dish cloths (wash cloth size) may be used to wash dishes and are more sanitary than sponges and other disposable products.
Tips: These cloths can also be used for quick spill cleanup and other cleaning jobs that will not spoil the cloths. Consider using fabric or cloth with texture to help with scrubbing work. For really tough jobs, keep a scrubbing pad on hand and use 1:1 vinegar & water solution to soak it when disinfecting is needed.
Use a fresh cloth with each batch of dishes. Keep these dedicated for “clean” jobs and keep a batch of “cleaning” cloths separate. Opt for natural fibers that will not put harmful microfibers into the water stream. If you are crafty, you can make your own from old clothing or other fabrics.
Wash and save glass jars to use for food storage instead of plastic containers.
Tips: Baby food jars make great holders for spices. If you buy bulk spices, cut out the name of the spice from the bulk label to label your baby food jars. If you opt to buy containers, look for glass, non-plastic for home and lightweight metal for travel.
Fruit & Vegetable Stickers
Don’t want to eat that label? (Yes, stickers and the glue holding them in place are food grade.) Well, no worries. Stick that little guy right onto one of your recyclable items to go into the recycling stream.
Reusable grocery bags helps you avoid plastic and paper bags.
Tips: If you are crafty, you can sew old clothes, pillow cases or other items into hand crafted bags. If you buy reusable bags, look for canvas or other natural fibers that can be washed, will stand the test of time and will not put harmful microfibers into the water stream.
Reusable large hand cloths may be used to dry dishes and help you avoid disposable towels. These cloths can also be used for quick spill cleanup and other cleaning jobs that will not spoil the cloths.
Tips: Keep these dedicated for “clean” jobs and keep a batch of “cleaning” cloths separate. Opt for natural fibers that will not put harmful microfibers into the water stream. If you are crafty, you can make your own from old clothing or other fabrics.
Use reusable cloth napkins instead of disposable ones.
Tips: You can make these from old clothing or fabric. In any case, opt for natural fibers that won’t pollute the water cycle with harmful microfibers.
Organic Food & Goods
Always choose organic food and goods when possible to support our suppliers working hard to keep their products clean and to take better care of your family. They may cost a little more, but they are worth it and so are you. As you begin switching to a more sustainable lifestyle, you are going to find that you save a lot so you can put some of that savings into buying quality products when you do decide to spend.
Refrain from using the plastic produce bags at the market. Tips: Some produce doesn’t even need to be bagged. You can take it as is since you are going to wash the produce before use anyways. Use a vinegar and water wash for your produce to clean and sanitize.
If you need a bag, use fabric reusable produce bags instead of the plastic ones provided at the market. You can make these from old clothing or fabric or purchase. If you buy, look for natural fibers. These bags can also be used to keep your compost in the freezer in between trips to the community garden if you compost that way.
If you end up needing to use a plastic produce bag at the market, be sure to wash, dry and recycle the bag at your local market. In Corpus Christi, Texas, our HEB’s have a bin in front of the store where plastic bags may be recycled.
Reusable Biodegradable Food Wrap
Instead of plastic wrap, consider investing in organic biodegradable food wraps.
Simple Plant Based Diet
Try limiting your diet to what you can buy fresh from the produce section combined with what you can purchase in bulk and weaning yourself off of meat and dairy. You may be surprised how many delicious & healthy meals you can produce with very little waste. The meat and dairy industries are, for the most part, inhumane.
Do you love straws? If so, ditch the single use straw and invest in reusable straws. Always carry one in your bag to reduce waste.
Like Tea? Try switching to buying bulk leaves and use a metal tea strainer.
Skip the disposable plastic bottle and opt for a reusable water bottle and a good home water filter.
Tip: Look for a water filter company that recycles their filters and send them back the used filters. I have had good success with Zero Water filters. They take back the filters and give you a coupon to use on future purchases. (Note: I am not affiliated with Zero Water nor am I being compensated for listing them here in my post. I have just had personal success with their product.)
Personal Care Solutions
Air Freshener & Perfume
Use a small glass spray bottle (approx. 2-3 inches high from natural care section where they sell essential oils) and fill it with water and 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil.
Keep it in your purse for multiple purposes. You can spray it in your toilet water before #2 to reduce the odor (or use 1 drop of straight oil). You can also use the spray bottle for air freshener as well as perfume when needed.
Also consider a device for your home to diffuse your favorite essential oil. Shop around and opt for a glass/wood model instead of plastic.
Consider using organic cotton swatches (washable) and cotton ribbon for minor cuts and scrapes. You can wash and disinfect the material with 1:1 vinegar and water soak after washing.
To reduce waste and minimize plastic, consider bar soaps with no or little wrapping for your bath soap as well as bars for shampoo, conditioner and lotion.
Bathroom Hand Towels
Consider cutting back on the number of hand towels for your bathroom if you have an abundance. Hand towels should be switched out at least every other day so 3-4 should be sufficient.
Bath Body Towels
If you are like most people, you may have a large selection of bath towels. Consider cutting down to 2 towels per person; one to use while one is in the laundry cycle. If you are switching to reusable kitchen and cleaning towels, you most likely will not miss the abundance of bath towels. You may consider one extra towel per person dedicated to recreation such as the beach or pool.
Look for a natural deodorant that works for you or make your own.
Here are several ideas (Be sure to test for skin sensitivity and use sparingly especially for the lemon juice and alcohol):
– Baking soda and cornstarch.
– Lemon juice
– Rubbing alcohol
– Essential oils
– DIY Deodorant Recipe
Tips: If you are going to buy a natural deodorant, look for a company whose practices are cruelty free and whose ingredients are plant/mineral based. Also, look to see if their packaging is recyclable or reusable. Example: Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant…You can send back the jars for recycling and they are also handy to re-purpose around the house if you prefer not to send them back.
Also, try skipping the use of deodorant all together on days you will not be sweating much or on days you plan to stay home. Give your body rest from those chemicals/products.
If you use disposable diapers, consider switching to reusables.
If you use ear plugs, opt for a good pair of reusables to avoid waste.
Consider switching to Family Cloth in the place of toilet tissue.
Tip: There are crafters on etsy you can buy from or you can make your own with organic cotton flannel. Just cut into squares and use pinking sheers to help cut down on fray. If you have a sewing machine, you could also hem them. You can craft a bag for yourself to hold the used cloth as well. Just throw into the wash with your other towels and reuse. If you want to use these for #2, I recommend a bidet, either a hand held bottle or formal unit for your toilet.
Pick a natural fiber floss that will break down quickly unlike the typical nylon waxed floss.
Consider skipping the harsh chemicals and go natural. Tip: Color your hair closer to your natural color to let it grow out without a sharp contrast and consider a hair cut to remove old color.
Just The Basics
Consider minimizing your personal care products to the following:
– Toothbrush & Toothpaste
– Natural Lip Gloss
– Metal Tweezers
– Natural or reusable floss
– Natural Wood Hair Brush
– Sturdy Metal Hair Clips
– Ponytail Holders
– Metal Nail File
– Metal Nail Clipper
– Natural Deodorant
– Essential Oil & Water Mix for Perfume
– Shampoo & Conditioner (Also use watered down conditioner for hair taming/styling.)
– Bar Soap with no packaging (Or use an all purpose shampoo for body soap)
– Body Lotion (Universal for all lotion needs – Use a small glass bottle to fill with the lotion for your purse or bag to use on the go.
– Vegetarian Multi-Vitamins
– Washable Cotton Fabric Swatches for tissues and in the place of q-tips.
– Washable Cotton/Flannel Family Cloth (with hand held bidet or formal installed bidet for #2) in lieu of toilet paper.
If you use a lint brush, opt for a reusable one instead of the disposable tape variety.
If you use make-up, ensure it is produced free of animal cruelty and look for suppliers using sustainable practices.
Tips: Think about going natural and slowly begin going out in public without make-up. If you decide to go natural, know that it takes time to adjust; so be very patient with yourself. In time, you will get used to it and feel completely “normal” without any make-up at all.
…Why highlight your eyes with makeup? You adorn yourself in vain… Jeremiah 4:30
Razors – Reusable
Switch to a reusable razor with blades that can be re-purposed or recycled. Better yet, put this activity down altogether and give your body a rest from it.
Next time you look to replace your shower curtain, opt for a natural fiber curtain that you can wash. Skip the plastic liner.
Consider using washable soft cotton/flannel fabric swatches in the place of disposable tissue.
Toilet Water Freshener
Use a small glass spray bottle (approx. 2 inches high from natural care section of store where they sell essential oils) and fill it with water and 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil. Keep it in your purse for multiple purposes. You can spray it in your toilet water before #2 to reduce the odor (or use 1 drop of straight oil). You can also use the spray bottle for air freshener as well as perfume when needed.
Next time you replace your tooth brush, opt for a natural product such as bamboo that can be composted or recycled.
Consider using soft cotton/flannel fabric swatches in the place of disposable q-tips.
If you use disposable sanitary products, consider a reusable substitute. You might try reusable pads or a reusable cup.
Consider cleaning out your wardrobe and donate to charity. Take it down to a bare minimum and try to keep only natural fiber clothing. Those synthetic fibers put harmful micro-fibers into the water stream.
Tip: If you work, consider a Signature Work Wardrobe where you find one outfit you love and keep multiples to wear as a sort of uniform. This can help simply your morning routine.
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15
8 R’s of Low Waste
Here are the 8 R’s of low waste living with faith. Practice these guidelines to reduce your waste.
–Right Relationship: When you get into right relationship with everyone and everything starting with God, Jesus and Christ, the remaining R’s happen more naturally.
-Reduce Responsibly: Try to reduce what you bring into your life to minimize waste. Source responsibly, locally and from sources that are committed to taking care of people and Earth.
-Repair: Before letting something go, see if you can repair it.
–Re-use: Try to re-use an item when possible.
–Re-purpose: If you can’t re-use an item for it’s intended purpose, try to use it for another purpose
–Re-cycle (or Compost)
Skip the expensive air purifying machines and get your hands on a few Peace Lilies. A study conducted by NASA reports that these plants clean the air well.
If you use batteries, opt for re-chargeable. You can even get solar powered if you use them while off grid.
Budgeting & Relief
If you currently do not budget, consider starting to look for ways to improve your financial health. I highly recommend the Goodbudget application. It uses the envelope method of budgeting and works well. Learn more about Goodbudget here. (Note: I am not affiliated with Goodbudget nor am I being compensated in any way for recommending them here in my post. I have just personally found good success with their application.)
Tips: As you begin making changes toward a more simple, sustainable life, you may find you spend and need a lot less. Consider adding more resources in your budget to helping alleviate the suffering of those in need within your community.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25: 34-36
Broom & Pan
Consider, as an alternative to plastic, this wood/corn broom and metal dust pan.
CFL & LED Bulbs
When replacing your light bulbs, look for CFL or LED bulbs to conserve energy and save money in the long run.
Clean Out & Donate
Go room by room and clean out and declutter your home. Simplify and minimize as much as possible donating excess goods to your local shelters or friends in need.
Organize what remains and commit to maintaining minimal possessions. When you bring something new into your home, commit to letting something go in it’s place.
Reusable cleaning rags may be used for multiple cleaning jobs.
Tips: Cut up old clothing or look for bulk cotton towels at the hardware store. Opt for natural fibers that will not put harmful microfibers into the water stream.
Conserve Energy & Use Renewables
Make a conscious effort to reduce electric energy usage.
Tips: Open your blinds and use natural light whenever possible. Use efficient light bulbs and turn off lights when not in the room.
Consider using reduced focused lighting for tasks instead of broad overhead lighting that fills the whole room.
Consider switching to personal solar/wind or switch to an electric provider that uses renewable energy.
Ensure your windows and doors are insulated. Look for light showing through the closed window/door and use weather stripping to close the gaps.
Evaluate and reduce/eliminate all unnecessary use of electronic technology including television, movies, music, phone, internet, etc.
Glass & Metal Goods
Opt for glass, metal or other natural material whenever possible and avoid plastic when you can. Even though plastic is mostly recyclable, it takes the addition of “new” plastic to be able to recycle it. And, plastic can only be recycled a limited number of times. Glass can be recycled indefinitely.
Create a small organic mend kit to repair clothing and other textiles instead of replacing them. You can find organic thread on Etsy.
Opt always for natural fibers for your clothing, towels, bedding, blankets, shower curtain, etc. Synthetic fibers can put harmful micro-fibers into the water stream.
Mop & Bucket
Use this wood and metal mop with either a 100% cotton string mop head or opt for 100% cotton terry shop towels.
Either way, you can wash the mop fabric in between each use which is more sanitary. You can find these at your hardware store.
You might also consider this wringer bucket from Behrens and avoid the plastic variety.
(I am not affiliated with either of these products or companies nor am I being compensated for mentioning them here. I have just found good success with them.)
Plant Based Goods
Consider bringing into your life only plant and mineral based goods and stop using leather products. They are a by-product of the meat industry which is, for the most part, inhumane.
Rain Water Harvesting
Consider harvesting rain water for watering your garden beds and other non-potable needs. Or, setup a filtration system to allow you to use the water for drinking, etc. Learn more on harvesting rainwater here.
If you haven’t already, commit to recycling. Check your local area’s guide to recycling since every area has different guidelines. When shopping, try to pick only items packaged in recyclables to reduce your waste. Make sure to wash and dry them thoroughly or else they will just send them to the landfill.
In Corpus Christi, Texas, glass is not accepted in the bin so it has to be taken directly to the landfill. Consider a neighborhood collection where you take turns running it out there. If you live in Corpus, find local tips and recycling guidelines here.
Refillable Pens & Pencils
As an alternative to disposable pens/pencils, consider investing in the refillable kind.
Consider going low waste and recycle or compost all goods. If you have left overs that are not recyclable through your local recycler, consider giving TerraCycle a try. They will take almost everything but there is a cost associated so you might consider using them with a group of friends to reduce the cost. Visit their website to learn more. (Note: I am not affiliated with TerraCycle nor am I being compensated in any way for recommending them here in my post.)
Save water by putting a large glass jar filled with water inside your toilet tank. It will use less water to fill.
Faith Focused Solutions
Assess your current vocation and seek to find a more authentic expression if needed. Consider formal assessments but also pray. Ask Jesus to show you areas that may be a good fit for you and take steps to move in that direction even if it is only part time. Coaching services may also help you in this area.
Create balance in your life and consciously focus on improving all relationships. Balance time, energy and resources between all life aspects. Complete a Life Balance Assessment to help you identify areas on which to focus.
False Teachings & Idols
Evaluate and remove sources of false teaching, false idols and false programming from your environment. Ask Jesus to show you where they are and he will guide you to identifying and removing them.
Consider fasting to give your digestive system rest. There are many types of fasts and you can start small. Be sure to check with your health care provider before making any major changes to your diet especially if you have health issues.
Tip: There is an app for that! Check out Zero – Fasting Tracker. It might help you keep up with your fasts. Visit their website to learn more. (Note: I am not affiliated with Zero – Fasting Tracker nor am I being compensated in any way for recommending them here in my post. I have just personally found good success with their application.)
Start a garden at home or join a community garden.
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Consider reading up on how to improve your stewardship of home and family. Become more aware of what you are letting in your home from television to internet media to print publications, music movies, etc. Start clearing out anything “unclean” and get back to basics. Ask Jesus to show you the areas where you need to make changes and He will show you.
When you spend time with family playing be cautious of competitive games. There is a very high level of competitive energy in our society and early Christians did not compete; they held everything in common. Competition drives the enemies tactic of “Divide & Conquer”. Instead of competitive games, consider playing with your children in activities that foster cooperation and sharing.
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. Acts 4:32
Consider keeping the Sabbath at a new level. Think about God’s creation all around us and how we are constantly interacting with it. Imagine God saying, “Please stop messing with my creation today and take a break!” See how “hands off” you can get on the Sabbath including a fast and not driving. You might also consider spending some of that down time walking in nature and appreciating God’s creation.
Create a Local Sharing Community or Basic Needs Giving Program in your faith group, neighborhood or community.
Local Sharing Community:
A Local Sharing Community shares their goods and services. This works especially well with big ticket items.
For example: Someone in the sharing group may own a lawnmower. Someone else may not but is in need of one so the owner of the lawnmower shares so the person in need doesn’t have to go buy one. It’s that simple. You can manage this via a simple email distribution list or you could use a private social networking site.
Basic Needs Giving Program:
This is different from the Local Sharing Community in that this group is focused on goods and services that are designated as “Basic Needs”. It gets your group focused on self-sufficiency and basic needs trades & vocations that your group members may be interested in learning. Members may consider learning a new trade or skill to contribute to this group.
Basic Needs can be defined by your group and may consist of food, shelter, clothing, basic goods and services that people need versus things people just want or would like to have.
Both of these programs focus on unconditional sharing in that there is no money involved and no requirement for direct trade for items shared and given.
“People do, people share, people receive, needs are met…period.”
Technology & Nature
Start paying attention to the amount of time spent on or with electronic technology and start cutting back where you can.
Spend more time outdoors connecting with God’s creation. While nature worship may be an issue for some who do not acknowledge God, don’t let that stop you from enjoying Earth! You know God is the creator of all life and he wants you to connect with it, enjoy it and take care of it in a responsible and respectful way. You may also want to take note of what you observe and learn from nature and how those lessons may be applied to your own life.
Suggestion: Get out and take a walk in your community park. Take along a reusable bag and pick up any litter you find on your way. Most of the litter on our streets and sidewalks gets washed down the storm drains and out into our waterways where it pollutes our water and harms our marine life.
Help for the Homeless
With some of the money you save living a more simple, sustainable lifestyle, consider connecting with the homeless in your community and “outfitting” someone. Many homeless people are with a disability and have fallen through the cracks or they cannot tolerate the shelters available so they sleep outdoors on the ground. Think about a good Bivy Sack, Sleeping Pad and Sleeping Bag to help them out. You could also consider other hiking gear to lend them some comfort.
Other Life Solutions
Basic Needs Trade/Vocation
Learn a basic needs trade/vocation for increased self-sufficiency and for sharing/giving. Some examples are gardening, clothes making, pottery making, metal working, wood working, fabric growing/making, home building, etc.
Bus, Bike, Walk & Carpool
If you have a public transportation system in your area, consider taking it a couple times a week to reduce your footprint.
If you have never used public transportation, know that any fear you feel when thinking about riding it is completely normal. Get a friend or family member to go with you to try it out on one of your days off. Better yet, see if you can find someone who knows the system and can show you.
Some cities have bike racks on their buses, so you might consider riding your bike to the bus stop to enjoy a bike ride and save time. If you are not far from your destination, consider biking as an alternative to driving.
You might also consider carpooling and, for destinations close by, walking.
Either way, have fun with it!
Coffee Mug – To Go – For Car
Keep a non-plastic, spill proof, insulated coffee mug on hand in your car for “to go” coffee you get on the road if you do not always take a mug from home with you each day.
Food Storage – To Go – For Car
Keep a clean wide mouth glass jar or reusable non-plastic food storage container in your car for when you need a “to go” container. Your kids will think you are weird but don’t let that stop you! This will help you avoid those awful foam and plastic containers.
Utencils & Napkins – To Go – For Car
Put together cloth napkins and utensil sets to keep in your car for when you need them on the go. This will help you avoid using disposable plastic utensils and disposable napkins when you get food to go.
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