Household Sustainability Challenge

by - 7:00 AM

Our Household 

Our house consists of roommates of all different ages with many different views on life, politics, and preferences. However, we all agree that saving money is our common denominator. Our household has decided we are challenging ourselves to be more eco-friendly and sustainable. Regardless of one another's beliefs, this will help us in the short-term and long-term as far as lowering our costs on household items, our energy bill, and dependency on single-use items. 

In order for us to do this, we have to adjust our habits on a lot of things. The most obvious are energy saving habits around the house: turning off lights when not in use, turning off power strips that are draining power when not in use, keeping the thermostat to reasonable levels, lower our water usage by taking more efficient showers, turning the faucet off while brushing your teeth, things like that. 

The Concept

Older generations had it right when they used things like handkerchiefs, reusable glass milk bottles, reusable diapers, re-purposing old newspapers, making quilts out of old textiles, drying laundry on clothing lines, drinking from water fountains instead of plastic water bottles, returning their soda and beer bottles to the store to be recycled, canning food in glass jars, etc. 

But newer generations have it right in the use of reusable grocery bags and reusable produce bags, composting organic and biodegradable items, buying non-processed foods, buying biodegradable items, encouraging healthier recipes and ways of cooking, the acceptance of hybrid vehicles, and promoting an overall eco-friendly lifestyle. 

Regardless of what generation you are from or who gets the credit for any of these sustainable methods, the biggest factor today is that we are all inhabiting the same present moment. If we can focus the shift away from the blame game and simply practice what we preach, we can combine all of these efforts and methods to cultivate a truly sustainable and waste-free way of life. 

Photo Credit: E. Ria Designs

Our Household Sustainability Challenge: 

  1. Reducing our dependency on disposable paper towels (this also includes disposable anti-bacterial wipes, Swiffer pads and Swiffer dusters) 
  2. Steer away from gift wrap this holiday season and reuse newspaper or purchase only recyclable wrapping paper. 
  3. Buying more things in bulk (shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, dish soap, detergent) to reduce the amount of plastic containers we have to throw away or recycle and lessening the amount of fuel and pollution by-products of their manufacturing. 
  4. Making the switch from single-use plastic water and soda bottles to using our own reusable water bottles. 
  5. Getting rid of our dependency on plastic bags, including grocery bags, plastic sandwich  baggies, plastic gallon or quart storage bags, and cling wrap. Switching entirely to reusable canvas grocery bags, reusable mesh produce bags, Tupperware and containers or reusable "baggies" for storage. 

So far, #4 has been the easiest transition. #5 has also been fairly easy to do. We just implemented #1 and #3 this week and will be purchasing more things in bulk this month when our shampoo and detergent stock needs replenishing. 

 The Breakdown

We calculated the math, multiplying our household usage by our local pricing to figure out how much we are spending on paper towels, toilet paper, disposable mop pads, plastic baggies, water bottles, soda/juice bottles, Lysol wipes, soap and disposable cleaning products over the course of a year. So far our total is around $519.16 for a household of 5. With the changes, we hope to save at least 80% of that. Lowering our overall costs to $100 or less.  

Long Term Challenges

These are the things we have an interest in tackling later on.

  • Starting a compost bin
  • Using some of our savings to make the switch to eco-friendly toilet paper brands
  • Residential solar panels
  • Joining a farm collaborative program to purchase our produce from local farms and/or shopping at the Farmer's Market weekly

Combining Generational Mindsets

The thing I am most excited about is seeing the overall savings and money back in our pockets thanks to these changes and knowing that we are less dependent on wasteful products, products that older generations did just fine without. Essentially, combining the mindset of the older generation with the clean living lifestyle of the newer generation. 

I've also decided that if we were to buy our dream home, I'd want a clothing line in our dream backyard. I have fond childhood memories of hanging clothes on the drying line with my grandma and the thought of bringing it back to give our kids or grandkids the same memories would just be awesome. At the time, I was not aware of the environmental or cost savings significance of this chore. I think my grandma genuinely did things that way because it was how things were done back then. Imagine, if we could bring things like that back BUT at the same time educating the next and next-next generations on why they matter (whether it be environmental, financial, or for the sake of doing things manually), I think we could all eventually agree on a lifestyle that could benefit multiple generations - past, present, and future. 

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