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10 Practices To Be More Sustainable At Home

Sustainable ideas for your home from Jillianne Pierce
Shared with kind permission from Jillianne Pierce who honeymooned at Bawah in 2020 and is the  founder of meaningful travel blog Tacos + Takeoffs.

After living in our new house for a short while, I’ve compiled a list of 10 sustainable practices at home.

Like most people around the world, we have been spending a lot more time at home than usual the past several months. The photos and statistics from around the world have been staggering. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, pollution levels around the world decreased and the record-breaking hole in the ozone layer began healing. At the same time, poaching was the rise in certain places, an apparent result of a decrease in tourist traffic to deter such actions. We are able to see firsthand how human activity directly impacts other humans, and the health of our planet as a whole.

Saul and I moved into our first house together in the midst of the global pandemic. We are using this extended time in one place (a first for us, as individuals and as a couple!) as an opportunity to evaluate our consumption habits and set up our house and lifestyle in a more sustainable way. That doesn’t mean we do everything perfectly. We realize that there’s plenty of room to grow. Still, we are proud of the progress we’ve made, and this blog post is our way to share our best practices for a sustainable home!


1) If possible, integrate sustainability into construction


Our home is a new build, so we got to select many of the features and appliances that went into it, keeping in mind our desire to incorporate sustainable practices. Some studies show that running an efficient dishwasher daily may actually use less water than hand washing, and many of the new models have special compartments to wash water bottles and re-usable straws. We also went with an electric range instead of gas, which would have utilized a nonrenewable and polluting resource. We purchased an electric washer and dryer, and opted for a side-loading washing machine instead of a top-loading model. I didn’t know this before (I have always had a top-loader), but side-loading models use less water and are gentler on clothing! The home building company that constructed our home also emphasizes sustainability, and installed energy-efficient windows, LED lights, and a hybrid hot water heater. In addition to being top ways to incorporate sustainability at home, they also save us money on our utility bills!


2) Eliminate single-use plastic

Bawah Copper Water Bottle

Plastic bags have always been standard for me to have on-hand, and I’d absentmindedly throw leftovers or to-go snacks into them. Over the last several months, we’ve had time to slow down, and haven’t been going out much. So, we challenged ourselves to not purchase any plastic bags, and guess what? I’ve hardly missed them! I’ve been loving these reusable silicone bags for storing chopped vegetables in the fridge. They’re also great to store the last few slices of sourdough or banana bread from all that #quarantinebaking! Leftovers and pre-washed fruit go into glass storage containers in the fridge, and cheeses go in beeswax wraps. We have also been using mason jars to store excess coffee, fresh squeezed juice, and sauces. In a pinch, I’ve even used mason jars for storing sliced vegetables or leftovers if the other storage vessels are in the wash. I also really don’t like using the little pipe-cleaner-like brush to clean out reusable straws, but our new dishwasher has an innovative slot for our stainless steel sippers! We have replaced single-use plastic soap bottles in our kitchen and bathrooms with refillable bottles. For the few times we do venture out on local outings, we bring reusable water bottles (I especially love the insulated copper-colored bottle we got on our honeymoon at the Bawah Reserve).


3) Reduce use of paper towels


There’s nothing like a pandemic-induced-shortage of paper products to make you realize your rate of consumption! While we are not adventurous enough to swap out toilet paper for a bidet (seriously, I’ve seen a ton of Instagram marketing for that!), we have made several changes in the kitchen. We’ve been using microfiber cloths to mop up spills and clean countertops, and used dish drying towels for, well, dishes…. and hands! We also ordered linen napkins and wax-coated paper placemats. Both are machine-washable.


4) Learn to garden

Permaculture Nature Garden Water

I won’t lie. These #apocalypsegardens on Instagram have me swooning, and I’m planning to install a backyard garden to grow some herbs and vegetables. But for now, I have been re-growing green onions on my windowsill. It’s super easy: once you’ve finished using the green part, simply add an inch or two of cool water to a jar and submerge the roots. Leave it in the window, changing the water about every other day, and just like that, you have re-grown green onions. Growing your own food is good for your physical and emotional health, and cuts back on the carbon footprint created when bringing produce from harvest to market.


5) Shop local

As much as I enjoy cooking and learning new recipes, some days I just feel tired or get busy with a zillion Zoom calls. We’ve been ordering delivery or curbside pick from local restaurants. Another thing I’ve been wanting to do but haven’t yet is order from local farms. I have really loved seeing some of the smaller restaurants creating virtual farmer’s markets of sorts – selling produce and other ingredients that they would ordinarily use to prepare in-restaurant meals. This helps to keep their suppliers in business, and provides more transparency and connection for customers.


6) Use “clean” cleaning products

Bawah-reserve-medium-res-3875 Beach Suite Bathroom

Our dishwashing fluid, laundry detergent, and cleaning spray are all earth-friendly varieties. We’ve also begun using wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets, which can last much longer and therefore require much less frequent disposal. As mentioned above, we have eliminated single-use plastic soap dispensers in our home. In our bathrooms, we have been using (and loving!) BLUELAND hand soap. This innovative company was on Shark Tank, and I discovered it online at West Elm. You fill the glass bottles up with tap water, add a tablet, and watch it dissolve. Then, viola! Foaming hand soap. When it’s time for a refill, you can just order more tablets. BLUELAND also offers dishwashing and laundry detergent tablets.


7) Improve your lawn care


Lawn care is something neither of us has ever had to deal with. Saul found a brand-new grass cutting business in our area that utilizes solar powered lawn mowers and claims to be emissions neutral. We also employ a fertilizer company that applies a product that contains 65 percent less synthetic chemicals than “standard” fertilizers.


8) Recycle

waste separation

We have two bins in our kitchen: one for garbage, and one for recycling. We also break down all of our cardboard delivery boxes (of which there are currently MANY). Once a week, our city collects recycling on a different day than it collects trash. Check with your waste management company; some cities collect all on the same day.


9) Consider getting a hybrid or electric car

Social distancing and a hodgepodge of different laws and travel restrictions has led to an uptick in domestic travel, which means… road trips!!! Saul and I didn’t have a car when we moved, and the pandemic gave us lots of time to do thorough research. We leased the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, which gets up to 55 miles per gallon, more than double the average US vehicle fuel economy! The technology in hyrbid vehicles has come a long way in the past few years, which is good news for the planet and our wallets. Best of all, driving this car helps us to extend our sustainable practices at home to sustainable practices on the road.

10) Eat fewer animal products

close_up_sweetcorn_fitters_with_variety_of_sambal (2)

I have been following a pescatarian diet for the past year and a half, with an effort to eat vegan at least one day a week. Many studies show that the production of animal products, especially meat, contributes to greenhouse gas production. Since we’ve been cooking together in quarantine, I am proud that Saul has more or less adopted a similar diet. We’ve found many nutrient-dense, hearty, plant-based recipes to enjoy together. Another plus during these times: many of these ingredients are shelf-stable.

Thanks to this time to slow down and consider our consumer habits and impact on the planet, I am confident that I will be able to transition some of my sustainable practices at home to make better choices when I travel. I already pack a reusable water bottle and bamboo travel cutlery, and always hang my towels at hotels so the maids don’t waste water washing them daily. In the last year, we’ve also been more conscious about choosing to spend our money to support hotels that prioritize sustainability. Some of our favorites were on our honeymoon: Bawah Reserve in Indonesia and Rosewood Luang Prabang in Laos.

I’d love to know what you think! What other suggestions do you have for making more sustainable choices at home or when traveling?






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