Have you been enjoying this week’s Instagram tour behind the scenes? If you haven’t seen it yet, check out The Eco Chic Event Instagram to get caught up. It gives a peek at easy, casual, earth-friendly living. We decided to give the tour after receiving a lot of questions about how to incorporate green living into an average daily routine. “Average” meaning people who live in the city or suburbs, and who work but aren’t about to splurge at Whole Foods every night. This week’s article expands on our Instagram home tour and answers some of the specific questions we’ve received. Enjoy!
The five R’s at their best! Salvaged, reclaimed, vintage, pre-loved – however you like to describe it – these finds give the house personality and warmth. Our place has a Santa Fe style interior, so we chose rustic elements that compliment that look. See the salvaged lighting fixture above – très eco chic!
Appliances are unplugged when not in use to prevent drainage (seriously, try doing this for a month and see how much lower your electric bill is). We use LEDs in the evenings, and during the day enough sunlight comes in that we don’t need any more. Clothing is laundered in cold water on a quick wash setting, and then dried outside.
Cleaning products are nontoxic and still work just as well as the chemical-laden variety I grew up with. Plus, they smell way better: lemon or lavender instead of bleach. It’s much more inviting, and makes cleaning less a chore.
Showers … yes. Here is where many people will jump ship, so in an upcoming article I’ll be talking about how to make a quick, drought-aware shower feel more luxurious. In my house we enjoy invigorating, chilly, two minute showers. Before you run away in disgust, keep in mind that cold water improves circulation, doesn’t dry out the skin like hot water, and offers a number of other health benefits. And yes, the shower head is low flow, just like the toilet.
There are no paper towels in the house; we use all cloth napkins and cleaning rags. While it may sound inconvenient to those who grew up with disposables, it’s actually just as easy, and saves money, to boot! Not to mention using cloth napkins makes meals feel more like … meals.
Speaking of food, we eat very little meat, using it more as a condiment than a food group. As I always say, less and better. The meat we do buy comes from a nearby farm and is organic, free range, the whole nine yards. If that sounds extreme or unusual, it is becoming more mainstream to source meat this way … and yes, you can taste the difference. What we don’t grow ourselves comes from the farmers’ market or a local co-op that supports the community. They carry some of the best raw honey I’ve ever tasted. The way I see it, everything you eat becomes you. It’s worth the extra pennies.
Of course, no plastic bags. We bring our own reusable shopping totes wherever we go, and keep a few in the car for unscheduled stops. With all the chic and adorable options, how is anyone not using these all the time? I also keep smaller bags for purchases from the bulk section, and to use for sandwiches, snacks, etc. Little choices add up!
Being vegetarian-ish, cultivating a productive garden is a high priority. We grow our own produce organically, watering the trees through a greywater system, and the vegetables as needed during approved hours. We also harvest cotton year round from a tree that requires no watering. I don’t weave, but I do use the cotton cosmetically, and occasionally for decorating (cobwebs, snow, clouds, etc.).
We built side-by-side compost bins from salvaged untreated pallets and an old fence. We like the rustic look of it in the yard. All kitchen scraps, yard trimmings, and other biodegradables go into the bins, and the result is a fantastic soil conditioner year round. For those who have asked, the answer is no. The bins aren’t stinky; they smell mildly of hay and dirt.
Happily, we live only a mile from most places we like to visit regularly. It’s a short walk to the library, post office, farmers’ market, and recycling center. This keeps us fit and saves money! When traveling longer distances, we check with friends and neighbors to see if anyone would like to carpool that day, or if we can pick up anything to save them a trip. Not only are we keeping more cars off the road, but we’ve made great friends with the people on our block, and it’s made us feel more like a community.
Far from homesteading, this is a level of green that we find extremely comfortable and easy to maintain; it suits our eco-fabulous lifestyle. Everyone has different priorities, and that’s alright (read about this in our short post last year on eco-compromises). Our setup is maintained on a minimal income, with some DIY magic and creative thinking. We hope this week’s tour behind the scenes has been interesting and informative – keep the questions coming and keep it green!