In Part 1 of this 3 part series, (check it out here HERE) I covered all the health benefits of simple living. Today, in part 2, I’m covering all the amazing environmental benefits to living a simple lifestyle. Truthfully, I think that all these incredible environmental benefits that I cover will also contribute largely to our health.
I focused mostly on food in part 1, which, most of you will agree, is the most important factor in our health. Food and environment tie in together, because that is where our food comes from (or SHOULD come from). Fruits, vegetables, and grains that we eat grow in the earth, and the animals we eat, live and grow on this earth. If the earth is not healthy, neither are we, or our food. So, environmental benefits is a very close second when it comes to healthy simple living.
Humans play an enormous hand in the environment. I’m not going to get super preachy about global warming etc., because I personally don’t like conflict and there are VERY strong opposing opinions on MANY environmental issues. That’s not my goal here. I’m just a simple girl, telling you about a really awesome lifestyle and how it happens to be very earth friendly. (Yeah, I might hug a tree once and awhile, I admit it.)
Just like my eating habits, I’ve not always had the best earth-friendly habits, either. SO MUCH WASTE! (I still am not where I’d ideally like to be in this area) Sure, I recycled, but I was guilty of tossing many recyclable items in the trash when more convenient. I would impulsively buy lots of useless things because they were inexpensive and/or trendy, not because I really needed them. I used to throw away SO many things that could have been reused or repurposed or should not have even been purchased in the first place. Someone I know and respect, told me once, “you can buy some clothes so cheap now. They’re practically disposable.” Meaning, that you might as well buy it at that price because if it doesn’t work out, you can toss it without much of a financial loss! How sad is this, am I right?
It’s true we live in a society where many things are disposable. Or made so cheaply that they break and get thrown out without a thought. This WILL catch up with us eventually. Hopefully, if more people start adopting a more simple approach to life, many of these issues won’t be such potential threats. An even bigger reason is setting an example for future generations. If our kids see the environmental benefits of this lifestyle, maybe we have a chance of turning things around.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS
- LESS WASTE
OK, you guys, this one is HUGE. Living simply has everything to do with making due with what you have, and appreciating the things you have and making them last. Reducing waste happens automatically with this mindset.
For example, we buy many things second hand, especially clothes. (Check my thrift store haul HERE) But if I do purchase something new, I research the heck out of it. (Hello Amazon reviews) It has to be good quality and durable. (And preferably sustainably made, with little or no plastic involved) I make the purchase with the intent of using this item until it literally cannot be used by us anymore. If it’s outgrown clothing, we will find it another home. If it can’t be fixed or used for its original intent anymore, we find a way to repurpose it or recycle it. Most of the time this is very cost effective, and we naturally appreciate and care for our things more because time and money were invested in each purchase.
Another way simple living reduces waste is in the area of food waste. Americans waste an astonishing amount of food annually. This can be dramatically reduced by living simply. For example, If you have a homestead, uneaten food can be repurposed as feed for certain farm animals. Another way is composting. Seriously, anyone can compost! (Check out my worm composting post HERE)
Simple living also involves a TON of cooking from scratch. This will reduce the amount of packaging waste and garbage that results from convenience food and fast food. Growing your food and/or purchasing from local farms also reduces packaging waste from traditional grocery stores. Plus, you need somewhere to use all that amazing compost!
(If you are a documentary nut like me, here is an eye-opening movie that focuses on waste, specifically plastic. PLASTIC PARADISE available on Netflix.)
- LESS ENERGY USED
When you live simply, another area that benefits the environment is the amount of energy saved with this lifestyle. A really huge energy saver is the fuel that is used to transport food from another state or another country to your local grocery store. When you grow your own food there is literally no fuel used to get that food to you. When you buy from a local farmer, your dollars are supporting them and their sustainable practices and not spent on fuel for giant trucks to transport your food hundreds or thousands of miles.
If you grow your own food, this will also save on the gas in your own vehicle that drives you to your local grocery store. Simple living involves a lot of amazing food preserving practices, which leads to full pantries and freezers. When your pantry and freezer are stocked, you will require fewer trips to the store. fewer trips to the store also will mean not only less gas but also less impulse buying, which means less waste, which ties into the previous section.
Someday, I would love to take advantage of all the amazing home energy alternatives out there. Solar power electricity and geothermal heating and cooling are great examples of this. For now, small things like line drying clothes and unplugging unused appliances are a great start. We’ve switched to LED light bulbs in our house and noticed a big change in our electric bill just by doing that.
- LESS CHEMICALS
Oh, I could seriously go on for hours about this. So many chemicals everywhere! From pesticides to cleaning supplies. Simple living drastically reduces the chemicals in our environment.
The chemicals in pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, specifically the types used on conventionally grown food, are a huge issue for our own health and for the environment. Avoiding these chemicals goes right along with simple living. Grow your own food people! I know I’m getting a bit preachy and I promised I wouldn’t, so bare with me. Once again having a garden or supporting local organic farms is benefiting our health and the environment.
Everyone has their opinion on organics, be that as it may until we truly know how damaging these chemicals are to our health and the well-being of our planet, the best route is avoiding them as much as possible. There is a very real environmental issue involving this, our planet’s bees are at risk. Largely because of these chemicals. This is an issue that will most definitely affect our food supply. Bees are our biggest pollinators and without being pollinated, plants cannot produce fruit. (Check out this amazing documentary that goes in depth about our bee crisis, MORE THAN HONEY. Also available on Netflix.)
Chemicals in cleaning supplies are another huge issue for our health and the environment. These harsh chemicals linger in the air for us to breathe in (bleach is now being linked to some respiratory disorders) and that go down our drains. Most of these cleaners are required to be disposed of at a hazardous waste facility. What does that tell you!!
I make all my own cleaning and laundry supplies. I’ve ventured into homemade personal care items as well. (Check out my DIY hand soap HERE) My whole family suffers from extremely sensitive skin, and I am ultra sensitive to artificial fragrances and chemical fumes, so making these supplies have become a necessary normal thing for us. I’ve done almost all my cleaning with vinegar and baking soda for years now. Simple as that. Not to mention vinegar and baking soda are super cheap.
(One more recommended documentary is CHEMERICAL. This is one of my favorites, and I have watched it more than once. It’s been on Netflix, and I’ve also seen it on Hulu Plus. It documents a real family while they remove all the chemicals from their home. The testing of the chemical levels before and after are astonishing.)
Alright, people, I know this was a long post, but these are truly real things and they won’t go away on their own. Fortunately, living a simple lifestyle will automatically reduce waste, reduce energy and reduce the chemicals that potentially threaten our environment.
Did I forget anything? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! Oh, and be sure to check out part 1 HEALTH BENEFITS if you missed it.
Check out Part 3, Financial Benefits of Simple Living HERE!
Check out Part 1, Health Benefits of Simple Living HERE!