What does “simple living” mean to you? Does it mean reducing clutter or streamlining your chores?
While it means different things to each of us, living a simple life is an important way that we can protect our mental health as well as the physical environment where we live in.
While simple living often feels more like a personal choice, opting for sustainable choices in our daily lives also can be a moral prerogative that directly impacts our health.
When we reduce waste and model that behavior for our children and neighbors, we reduce wear and tear on the environment.
Small changes by each of us can truly add up to a major positive difference for the environment.
Sustainable living is living in such a way we are making a positive impact on our planet.
What does simple living have to do with sustainability?
This may sound very intimidating, particularly if you see others not caring about their impact or doing their part.
But when you break it down into small steps, you truly have more power to effect change than you realize.
Reducing our use of plastics, repurposing items in our homes, and recycling or donating things reduces our carbon footprint and the number of items that end up in landfills.
The Paper-Free Perogative: In past blogs, I have touted how turning digital can streamline many tasks for you.
Whether it is online banking, scanning receipts or opting for e-communications from creditors and stores alike, you are not only helping reduce the amount of paper used but are streamlining your own life at the same time.
Digital receipts and statements are easier to catalog and track and online banking can save you from having both physical and mental clutter on your desks and counter tops.
If you have not gone paperless yet, contact your credit card, mortgage, and utility companies to sign up for this option — in some cases, it may even result in a bill reduction!
To do your part, use your Notes app on your smartphone to take notes instead of using sticky notes or paper pads, and opt for double-sided printing when you have to make paper copies of things.
Wants Versus Needs: I have this conversation with myself often so please know that you are not the only one who buys things you do not necessarily need in your life!
I mean, this might apply to me during virtually every Target visit I make!
Now, I am not saying do not ever buy for fun but simply being more aware of the want-versus-need notion can truly help you reduce clutter.
Think about this for a moment: The more you buy, the more clutter you have, correct? If you have more stuff, it literally takes up more space in your life, yes?
Do you feel like your house is too small or do you need more storage?
You are literally working harder, just to accommodate the extra “stuff” that you may not have a use for.
So, when making those fun purchases, be sure you mindfully purchase things that truly do bring joy to your life.
Meal Planning Prowess: I used to roll my eyes at the notion of meal planning and get grumpy when I would see someone post on social media that they spent their entire Sunday afternoon preparing meals for the upcoming week.
I mean, how stressful is that, right? Well, I am here to confess that I have become a convert to this way of thinking and encourage you to do the same. I am adding one caveat — in your menu planning for the week, add a day for just leftovers Call it something clever if you want , like “Fun Friday” or “Whatcha Want Wednesday” — but meal prep with the intention of not wasting any food.
If you have grilled chicken on Monday, make enough to have leftovers that can be used as chicken caesar salad or chicken tacos later in the week. Make pulled pork sandwiches that can become quesadillas or a nacho casserole on later days. Extra spaghetti and meatballs can become meatball subs or a pasta salad.
You are simplifying your routine, meal-prepping in advance — and by using leftovers, can better take advantage of local grocery sales (because we all know food costs are ridiculous these days too!)
Cleaning Routines Can Be Green: I have often shared my love affair with cleaning products that are all-natural.
A couple years ago, I fell in love with the products from a friend who introduced me to Norwex and my cleaning routine has never been the same, I do not need all those bottles and wipes anymore — just a few essentials that I keep in a caddy that comes with me as I clean the house.
Whenever I go to clean, I am not overwhelmed by a ton of cleaning supplies or deciding which one I need to use.
I grab my caddie that has just a few key items and whether I need a quick spruce up or heavy-duty cleaning, it suits my needs just fine.
You can do the same by purging all those unnecessary cleaning items and putting your most-used spring cleaning tools in a container. Unsure what is an essential item? Try stocking up with antibacterial microfiber cloths, an easy eraser, dust and wash microfiber mitt, window cloths, a bottle of all-purpose cleaner, and get to work.
Finding reusable options will save money in the long run — and help with that small step toward a more sustainable household.
(Editor’s Note: Kristine George is a freelance journalist who resides in Easton.)