Sustainable Home

5 Ways to Make 2022 More Sustainable

As we come to a close of 2021 and look to 2022 and all that it will hold, it is easy to become overwhelmed and worried.

Did I create too much waste this year? Can we afford that eco-friendly item? Can I quit my job, move into the woods with my husband and dog, have a library, and bake all day? (Ok, that one might be more specific to me.)

Sustainability is important in every aspect of our lives, even- or especially- our mental wellbeing. You can’t make wise decisions regarding the environment or our homes if you are not well mentally.

I don’t know about you, but I could use a little help in the mental health department. It’s hard living day to day when you don’t have anything to look forward to. (Cabin in the woods, I’m looking at you.)

Luckily, my mom is quite wise and told me this when we last visited: Goals help you feel accomplished and motivated. It gives you something to look forward to.

Instead of dreading work and envying other people and what they have… Why not find things to work on where you are now?

We can start at the most basic level- maybe you want to keep a plant alive because you have a brown thumb. Read an article on it and put it in a place where you see it regularly. (You might be surprised how easy it is to keep a Pothos alive.) Or you can start saving for that trip to England that you have always wanted to go on.

These goals, no matter how big or small, give us perspective. They help us see our improvement and help us focus on the positive in life.

If you are struggling to find goals or aren’t sure where to start, I compiled a list for you! Some are big and some are small. Just start where you feel comfortable! As you continue to make and complete goals, your comfort zone will grow- maybe you will even step outside of it a few times!

1. Go for a 10-minute walk every day. It can be around the block, in the mountains, or to your local grocery store. It will help improve your mood and you get a little exercise and sunshine! (Pro Tip: If you can bring a furry friend along, it will only make it more fun!)

2. Try a new recipe every month. This will not only introduce you to new flavors and cuisines, but it will help you learn to cook or bake better. I am always trying to learn new things in the kitchen! Joshua Weissman or Ann Reardon are both great content creators on Youtube that teach food science and how to make recipes.

3. Spend less time on electronics. I know I struggle with this one. Since I make this blog, I am always looking for new ideas and inspiration from social media. However, I am coming to realize that I don’t need to compare my progress or blog to anyone else. It is uniquely me! I am not putting a time limit on this one because we all have different jobs and lives and we can assess our electronic usage ourselves.

4. Try a new hobby every 3 months. It doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. You could thrift a bird-watching book and learn more about your local birds. You could learn how to weave a blanket on a loom. The sky is your limit! Trying a new hobby every 3 months means you will learn FOUR new tasks this year! Learning and working on our skills is always a worthy pursuit.

5. Find something you are grateful for and write it down. Every day. I promise it will help you feel less envious of the YouTuber living their dream life in the Washington forest. (Is this me projecting again? Yeah… Yes, it is. Oops. I need this list more than I thought.)

While this list can’t promise that your 2022 experience will be perfect, it will definitely help you feel better about yourself and what you have. I will be referring to this list regularly to remind myself of all the good in the world.

Best of wishes for the new year, and remember that the best goals are the ones you take one step at a time.

Sustainable Home, Uncategorized

How to Make the Holiday Season More Sustainable.

It’s easy to get all wrapped up (ha, get it?) in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. There are so many gifts to get, treats to make (and eat!), and family events to go to.

I don’t know about you, but another worry to add to the list is all the waste during this time. Gift wrap, plastic wrapped toys, and ribbon all end up in the dumpster.

However, I realized that if I take the time to simplify or thrift my decor and reuse what I already have, I don’t have to worry so much! Without further ado, here are five tips to make the holidays a little better for the planet.

1. Reuse Christmas bags. This is pretty simple, and I think a lot of people already do it! No need to go out and buy more wrapping paper if you have plenty of gift bags at home.

2. Use alternatives to the typical wrapping paper. There are stores that carry recycled or paper-free wrapping, or even reused sari scrap fabric to wrap gifts in. Obviously, these options are more expensive, so no need to feel guilty for not using these! Just refer to tip #1. 😉

3. Reuse whatever fake Christmas tree you have or cut down your own live one (And please dispose of it correctly! Most towns offer a service after Christmas to pick up the trees). Either way, you have fun memories and decrease the need for a bunch more plastic trees.

4. Make your own decorations! I know that the dried orange decorations have been popular lately. I tried it out, and it is fun! I highly suggest making your own ornaments instead of buying new plastic ones each year, like stringing popcorn, cranberries, and more. (But remember, if you already have plastic ornaments or are gifted them, use them! They are still fun to look at and have a use! No need to feel guilty. Better to have them on the tree than in the garbage.)

5. Make treats and give them as gifts. Who said that we have to give elaborate gifts to show our love? This year, I made a bunch of sugar cookies to give out as gifts. It’s a fun way to show your appreciation without having to buy more stuff that people may or may not use. Who can refuse a cookie?? Of course, as a blog that focuses on dairy-free and lactose-free recipes, I highly suggest asking people if they have any allergies or intolerances before making them treats.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and are able to visit your loved ones! Remember that a little switch here and there for sustainability makes a difference too- you don’t have to empty your wallets in the name of saving the planet. Thriftiness and family actives are just as good- if not better- than new gifts.

Sustainable Home

Natural Hair and Skin care will change your life!

If you have been on the internet at all for the past several years, shampoo bars and fancy soap bars have increased in popularity. My husband and I had been thinking about them for a little while, but they seemed expensive to us.

My husband happened to pick up a shampoo bar at Walmart. It was fine, but not the best quality. I happened to go to our local soap store, The Spirit Goat, and saw that they carried shampoo and conditioner bars alongside their usual soap! Even better, they list every ingredient on each of their products so I didn’t have to guess if it will work for me.

We tried out the shampoo and conditioner bars, and LOVED them! No need to worry about a cumbersome bottle to throw away- you can use the whole product without breaking into a container. The bars come in little fabric bags and we reuse them- another benefit!

They keep our hair soft and healthy and leave no residue. (They also smell fantastic!)

As for the price- y seem more expensive up front, as a large shampoo bar is generally $13-$15 dollars. But you can use it for a couple months (if you don’t let it melt in a puddle of water) just as you would a nicer shampoo. I think it can outlast most bottled shampoos!

Conditioner bar on top of Rosemary Lemon Tea Tree shampoo bar

They use as few ingredients as possible in their products to make them as soothing and cleaning as possible. My husband has a finicky scalp and my skin is sensitive to many products.

I love their soap because it doesn’t irritate my skin. My hands are very sensitive and my eczema gets worse when I use liquid hand soap. I don’t know why yet, but something in it really hurts! Our local store also adds goat milk to all their products for a more soothing product.

In the end, it is your body and your decision. I highly recommend natural hair and skin care for healthier hair and skin, less waste, and more identifiable ingredients. I also highly recommend hard wood soap holders, as I before mentioned that shampoo bars can melt, like any other bar of soap.

If you want to check out The Spirit Goat for yourself, find their website here.

Sustainable Home, Uncategorized

5 Tips for a More Sustainable Home

Sustainability is a broad topic that involves so many things! There are so many ways to live a sustainable life, and doing so generally grows your skills- i.e. making jam by buying local produce, growing a garden, or becoming a beekeeper.

Of course, being sustainable isn’t always easy- or cheap. But here are a few simple swaps you can implement without emptying your wallet!

  1. Switch from plastic toothbrushes to bamboo. There are so many brands on the internet for varying price ranges. You can usually find bamboo toothbrushes for the same price as plastic toothbrushes. We found 8 bamboo toothbrushes on Amazon for around $8. Sounds pretty good, right?!
Kitchen hand soap from The Spirit Goat in a hard wood soap holder.

2. Use bar soap instead of liquid soap. Of course, this is a personal preference, but I think bar soap lasts longer and treats my hands better than most liquid hand soap. I highly recommend finding a small company that makes soap locally or online. We love our Spirit Goat soap here in Cache Valley!

Flowers from The Willow Farm here in Cache Valley.

3. Find joy in what you have. It’s easy to get caught up in social media and what everyone else is doing. Just because a famous person on Instagram has a certain shirt, or home, or job, doesn’t mean you need those things too to live a fulfilling life. This is something I have been working on lately. Having gratitude for what we have and the opportunities in our lives makes life much better! (And cheaper!!)

4. Cook from home more. I know, I know, being a food blogger makes me a little biased, but seriously- it can save a lot of money! If meal planning stresses you out, there are so many awesome lists on other blogs that include everything you need for a recipe. Then you can plan simple freezer meals or 30-minute meals to make on busy days when it seems like it would be easier to eat out.

5. Shop local!! This has been a big trend on social media lately, especially with COVID over the past year. But it isn’t only a trend- it is a way to support other people and buy quality products! I like supporting ethical, local businesses because I can get to know the owners and their practices. It makes me feel so great knowing I am helping people create by buying their products.

These are just a few tips I have from trying to be more sustainable in my home. This list is by no means perfect or all-encompassing, but I hope it helps!

Sustainable Home, sustainable kitchen

5 More Tips for a Sustainable Kitchen

Sustainability is one of my favorite topics, and there are countless ways to make your life just a little bit better each day. Here are 5 more of my ideas. Let me know if you already to these, or if you have any to add!

Grow your own herbs. Not only is it fun to see the herbs grow, but you eliminate the plastic you buy live herbs in- and you don’t need a bunch of space like gardens do. Fresh herbs really help to elevate a dish and seeds aren’t expensive. I am currently growing strawberries, mint, rosemary, thyme, and lavender- and we live in an apartment, so every spare space has a plant. (Sorry, hubby!) I am so excited to start using them this summer!

Prep your veggies and fruit and store them properly. I have this problem where I buy produce and forget about it at the back of the fridge until fridge-cleaning day… I feel guilty for buying something and not using it. It’s not budget friendly, and I hate creating more food waste. Some ways to prep food is to cut carrots and submerge them in water until you are ready to use them, or for a healthy snack. You can portion out meat into separate containers and freeze them so you don’t have to defrost the whole package when you next need meat. There are countless other ways to store your food so it lasts longer.

Eat what you have. This is a super simple thing to do to eliminate food waste. I try to buy what we will actually eat- for example, I know bell peppers are healthy, but neither of us like them. I am less likely to actually cook with them than something we do like- like carrots. So buying carrots would be a better option for us. Also, if you have the time to do so, I highly recommend making freezer meals! They save time on busy days and instead of going out to eat, you can pop the meal into a crock pot or instant pot, and voila! This has really helped us eat healthier meals without having to a) figure out what to eat and b) actually prepare it after a long work day.

Have a meatless meal or day every week. This actually helps the budget and can potentially make room to eventually buy quality sustainable meat from a local farmer. Our goal is to have more meatless meals and buy meat from local farmers that raise their animals well. No ideas for vegetarian meals? There are many delicious ideas out there! Sweet potato taco skillets, quinoa chili, pancakes, and countless other recipes can be found on Pinterest.

Use cast iron! Cast iron pans last forever- my mom has her grandma’s cast iron pan and it still works great! Stuck on non-stick pans? If your cast iron is used often and seasoned well (and used when HOT), you don’t have to worry about cleaning up a huge mess every time you use it. I am including this point because some non-stick pans have been proven to have some not-so-nice chemicals in them and you don’t have to buy more than a couple cast iron pans over your life time (and hopefully your grandchildren’s lifetimes too!)

I hope these five tips help you on your sustainability journey! And remember- you don’t have to do everything perfectly. Just one or two changes at a time have a big impact.