Updated: Jan 11
In the most rewarding kind of way...
As a holistic herbalist and public health activist, I teach more than just herbs, I teach how to live a sustainable and improved quality of life unique to each individual. Living sustainably also means protecting the earth and the sometimes fragile ecosystems that surround us.
Unfortunately, there has been a cultural movement in the United States misleading people into believing you need lots of money in order to live sustainably. We are bombarded by fancy electric car commercials, and it is hard to find (if at all) co-ops that offer refill and bulk food services in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods -- yet there is a dollar mart chock-full of foreign plastic junk, and processed foods that compromise our health around every corner. It is a classism issue: you wouldn't expect to see a dollar mart in an affluent neighborhood, would you? No, but you might see a fully stocked grocery store, co-op, and other high-end businesses touting sustainability (and I am not knocking it, I just want to see equitable access to all).
Now more than ever there is a widening socioeconomic gap, and prices are soaring with no end in sight this summer. I am taking a pause from the HW Spring Reset to bring you some information that may help you, and the environment. Contrary to what is driven down our throats --- we all can live sustainably and happy (with a little effort).
Sustainable Living Hacks & Ways to Save Money:
Walk, bike, carpool, use public transportation and plan out your weekly errands to save you trips and time on the road;
Cut down or cut out single-use plastics. Avoid the plastic water bottles already that leach chemicals into your water. Bring your own refillable stainless steel or glass bottle. Many places even offer discounts if you bring your own reusable mug for coffee and tea;
Respect and conserve water use - do not leave faucets running;
Collect rainwater to water outside plants (just be sure not to leave it around too long to avoid mosquito breeding);
Eat local and in-season - shop and support local farmers. If you wait till the end of a farmer's market you may be able to get fruit and vegetables at a discount because farmers do not want to truck them back home. If your local community is offering CSA shares this may also help you save money, and it will reduce transport emissions;
Have trouble affording fresh vegetables? Add dried nettles, parsley, and seaweed flakes to any meal to make it more nutritious;
Forage in-season plants safety. This time of the year dandelions, ramps, and violet flowers and leaves make beautiful green salads. Do not harvest from sprayed lawns or roadsides;
Create your own garden - no matter how small. A single pot is a step in the right direction!
Cut down on meat, and load up on the fresh vegetables --- mushrooms are a great way to stretch the groceries and they are budget-friendly. For instance, stretch a packable of ground meat by adding ground mushroom -- mix in meatloaf, meat sauces, meatballs, and hamburger, no one may even know the difference!
Learn how to cook your own food, and if you are running low on time -- cook large batch meals so you will have something healthy to eat throughout the week;
Don't use full cans, have excess vegetables, leftovers, etc.? Freeze them for another time instead of throwing them away. You can freeze items using leftover glass jars, just make sure the items are fully cooled before placing them in the freezer;
Use all parts -- save your beef and chicken bones to make your own nutritious bone broth. Put them in a crockpot and let them simmer all day long with water, herbs, and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to further extract the nutrients;
Compost. Buy coffee in bulk, and compost the coffee grinds. Go ahead and compost fruit, eggshells, and vegetable leftovers to reduce the use/cost of plastic garbage bags;
Buy loose items -- carrots, potatoes, avocados, you name it. You don't need the plastic bag, it's often cheaper, and you can vet the quality of each item you are buying;
Fix broken items rather than just throwing them away and buying new ones. Not sure how? Google how to sew, and mend all sorts of items;
Use non-toxic soaps --- bar soaps are cheaper and less waste (meaning you are not paying for the packaging);
When purchasing online, buy in bulk or wait till you have a large order. Large orders qualify for discounts, usually ship for free, and you can reduce packing and transport emissions;
Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store, many stores now charge 5-20 cents per bag. Forget your bags? Leave groceries in the carriage and just put them in your trunk, organize them at home;
Have access to a co-op and want to buy in bulk? No need to buy new containers! Reuse all sorts of leftover glass jars (from purchased pasta sauces, jars of nut butter, jams, wine bottles, etc.);
Learn how to properly store items to reduce food waste. For instance, learn what foods are high in ethylene (apples, pears, bananas, plums) and ethylene sensitive (lemons, avocado, oranges). For example, do not store potatoes next to an apple it will ripen faster and spoil quicker. Keep fruits and vegetables out of direct sunlight;
Use leftover dishcloths soaked, wrung out, but moist, to store herbs and greenery before putting them in the fridge -- this will keep them from wilting;
Bring homemade snacks on the go-to to avoid expensive pre-packed items. Nuts are always a great option and will not spoil or crush easily in your bag;
Whenever possible, choose wood over plastic -- it is greener, compostable and it will last longer;
Unplug kitchen appliances and office electronics when you are not using them to save energy;
Vintage shop and thrift clothing. I have found some of my most stylish pieces second-hand!
Switch from tampoons to washable period underwear and pads, and menstrual cups;
Use less toilet paper when able -- most of us use too much. Use a washable cloth to blow your nose;
Swap out dryer sheets for a dryer ball. Wait to do laundry till you have a full load;
Buy loose leaf tea instead of tea bags (it's cheaper and fresher). Brew in a french coffee press, or with a reusable diffuser;
Got stale bread? Make herbed croutons for salads. Chunk out the bread on a sheet pan and coat with olive oil and herbs, bake on 350 for 10-12 minutes;
Talk care and honor your items, they are an extension of your energy. You worked hard to buy them after all. Ask yourself every purchase, is it worth my lifeforce to purchase and care for this item?
Ask yourself, how is not buying something my act of resistance?
With love and care,
Dr. Ashley Bissonnette-Murphy