Monday, November 7, 2016

At Home With A Naturalist: An Eco-Friendly Lifestyle

And now for something completely different...

Well, not completely.  It is entirely in keeping with a main theme of this blog, conservation, which is a favorite topic of mine. 

In posts titled "At Home With A Naturalist," I will endeavor to give a brief glimpse into the day-to-day lifestyle of a naturalist or conservationist, since naturalists ought to be, by definition, environmentally conscious, green-living individuals.  It think it's necessary and important to set a good example through our actions, and it would be hypocritical of me to write about the beauty and grandeur of nature, as well as the harsh reality of environmental issues, but not live accordingly. 

No one wants to see a "naturalist" drinking from a plastic water bottle!! (At least I sure don't!)

These posts will address issues related to environmental degradation, especially those brought on by our general over-consumption as a society, and what every consumer can do to help by offering tips for reducing your ecological footprint and living quite happily while using fewer finite resources.  The "At Home With A Naturalist" series will be a glimpse into how I try to live everyday, and an example of the environmentally friendly lifestyle that I try to set.

First, to set the scene:

Our Home: 820 square-foot apartment, cozy and comfortable, minimally furnished (largely with repurposed furnishings) and complete with plenty of books.

Our Family: The husband, a college professor; his wife, a naturalist, wildlife care center volunteer, and dabbling student; Dog #1, a scruffy terrier-mix rescued from the local animal shelter; Dog #2, a black lab adopted by a friend from a Bay Area SPCA.

We happily choose to live what some would perceive as a "simple" life, as this translates to decreased financial obligations and increased opportunities to reduce our "footprint," or the amount of the world's resources it takes to sustain our lifestyle. 

Future posts will delve deeper into these ideas. 
For now, I'd like to give a brief overview of some eco-friendly lifestyle choices and habits to consider practicing in your own household.  These are all things that we do regularly; I know from experience that they are completely realistic and attainable, with very minimal cost or effort.  A bonus is that many of these simple changes will actually save you money and benefit your own health as well as that of the environment.

>> Say NO to single-use plastic!!  I can't stress this point enough.  We MUST get over our infatuation with harmful plastic that is used once for a trivial purpose and then set loose in the environment.  Single-use plastics are a fairly recent introduction.  There were happy, successful, well-rounded people before single-use plastic existed; we will be okay without it!

>> Bring reusable bags to the grocery store, and every store you visit.  There are many reusable bag options available that are inexpensive as well as practical, and they will last a long time.  In addition to larger bags for groceries, I keep two compact bags with me at all times; they roll up into neat little portable bundles that weigh very little.

>> Bring reusable produce bags to the grocery store.  Using fabric produce bags (usually made from a mesh material or cotton) eliminates the need for those flimsy produce bags they offer at the store for vegetables and bulk items.  While regular plastic bags can be used for trashcan liners and so forth, it's almost impossible to find a second worthy use for produce bags.  Let's eliminate them altogether.

>> Make reusable water bottles a habit (stainless steel or BPA-free plastic are fine examples).  There is no valid reason to purchase plastic water bottles.  This is an incredible waste of money and resources, and it's hard for me to believe that people have fallen for this marketing ploy so completely in recent years.  Use a water filter if you're concerned about the quality or taste of tap water, though in most all of the U.S. our water is perfectly safe, and you'll get used to the taste.  Carrying a reusable water bottle with you any time you go out will save you from the need to buy a drink somewhere, which almost always means a plastic bottle (or other single-use container).  You know you'll be thirsty eventually; be prepared.

>> Refuse to buy single-serving beverages of any kind: bottled water, bottles or cans of soda, energy drinks and sports drinks, soda at fast food restaurants, coffee at Starbucks... just SAY NO.  Once again, I can think of few things as unnecessary as disposable bottles, cans and cups that we use for a few minutes to hold a luxury beverage, then throw away.  Having a reusable water bottle with you when you're out will solve the problem every time; at home, drink water or milk out of real glasses, tea or coffee from real mugs!  Most other beverages aren't good for your health anyway.

>> Think twice before you buy.  Our consumer habits drive the economy of the world.  We have the ability and responsibility to tell manufactures what we do and do not want to see on store shelves.  Only buy what you really need; resist emotional impulse purchases and buying something because it's "cute" or "neat" or the latest trend.  Know your needs, and that most of what is being sold to you is not truly a need.  Realize you're being duped by marketing.  When you do make a purchase, think about where the product came from, if it will be long-lasting, and where it will go once you're done with it.  Purchase quality items, from responsible sources whenever you can.  Choose items with less packaging.  Buying lightly used items will keep them out of landfills.  And take good care of the stuff you already has, so that it will last many years. 

My list of ideas for living more lightly on this beautiful and precious planet could go on for days (it probably seems as if it already has).  But I'll stop for now; another day, another list! 

The above are a few easy habits you can adopt in your own home, starting today! 

1 comment:

  1. Hi baby!! This list is incredibly helpful and I love that we live this way! I love you! (Oh, this is your husband speaking) :)