Green Tip 11 - Sustainable Living

Hocking Hills, OH –

The terms "Sustainable" and "Sustainability" are used a lot these days due to the increasing awareness of Global Warming and other environmental, social and economic issues. When you dig deeper, there are specific categories under "Sustainable" such as development, agriculture, design/architecture/building, living, tourism, energy and communities. Although we are hearing these terms quite frequently, there is still confusion. Today's green tip will focus on Sustainable Living in general.

Simply put, most native tribes and cultures around the world have lived sustainable lives. They lived off the land, literally. Everything used and made by these groups from their food to homes to weapons to clothing to heating to utensils to transportation came from something in nature. Everything came from the earth and went back to the earth without a bunch of artificial processing, packaging and polluting in between.

These primitive cultures would grow, hunt down and pick their food (without polluting pesticides and fertilizers, hormones and antibiotics). Homes were made out of wood, animal skins, clay/mud, or plants. Wood and stones made useful tools weapons and utensils. Clothing (if worn at all) would come from animal skins/fur and natural fibers. Harmful chemicals were not used for cleaning, staining, dying or for personal use. Paints, dyes, perfumes came from harmless plants. Wood was burned for heating and cooking, a plentiful and well-managed resource. For transportation they used boats and carts made of wood and horses (toxic fumes were not an issue). Then, when they were all finished using their things, the items would rot down naturally and completely biodegrade back to nature nature's recycling (no hazardous substances leaching into their land, air and water). Many groups had great reverence and respect for all things living and non-living. They did not overuse and abuse or take advantage of their resources.

Far from living so closely with the land, we will not, as a human race, go back to the lifestyles of previous tribes. But, for the sake of our survival as humans, it is essential that we change our behavior and learn to respect and protect our resources.

Here are some questions we can ask ourselves so in order to live more sustainably.

1. Is an item needed? If so, purchase used first, borrow or reuse. Example: used furniture, cloth napkins instead of paper, old rags for cleaning instead of paper towels.
2. What is the item made of? The closest to nature is usually best, unless it is coming from a resource that is being depleted too fast. Things closest to nature and unprocessed are more biodegradable and less toxic. Example: organic cotton, wool, hemp or linen instead of Polyester.
3. Is an item in a container that is highly recyclable such as glass, tin, aluminum, cardboard and paper? Most organic and environmentally responsible companies do this. Example: choose the glass drink container over the plastic/cardboard detergent box over plastic.
4. Is an item recycled? Example: recycled paper, toilet paper.
5. Is this item or service close to home, locally or regionally grown, made and/or purchased? Items and services close to home use less gas in transportation plus support the local economy. Example: produce and meat from local organic farms.
6. Can something be purchased in bulk (larger container/quantity)? This saves on packaging and transportation. Example: bulk food from a local organic grocer/larger container instead of lots of small containers.
7. Are you conserving energy use in your home and work? Examples: CFL light bulbs, turning lights off, using less water, heat/AC, driving less/carpooling.
8. Are your cleaning, toiletry and make-up products organic/all-natural/biodegradable? If not, then your skin may be soaking up harmful chemicals and harmful chemicals are going into the air in your home, down the drain into our waterways and soils.
9. Is your food organically grown without harmful chemicals, antibiotics and hormones? Example: purchase as much produce, meat and dairy organic as possible.

These seem like big changes, but taken gradually, a little at a time, it is possible. For our survival as a human race we must develop a healthy relationship with the planet.

Southeastern Ohio (and the rest of the world) we can do it!

Byline Bio: Gwen Corbett, owner of Bear's Den Cottages, Green Lodging
Helping Individuals and Businesses to Go Green