Simple Steps to a Sustainable Lifestyle

Simple Steps to a Sustainable Lifestyle

Living a greener, more sustainable lifestyle really doesn’t take drastic measures. You don’t need to be living off the grid, eating most of your produce that you’ve grown yourself, and make everything from scratch – although the thought seems delightful to me. But, there are very simple things you can do living in an urban area. Here’s just a few:

  • When not in use, turn it off! In fact, even when it’s turned off, like small appliances, they are still using electricity. My kids and I have gotten in the habit of unplugging small appliances we aren’t using. Or plug them into a power strip that’s easy to turn on and off with a flip of a switch.

  • Don’t be a consumer. Start being mindful of the things you buy. At the grocery store, buy less prepackaged foods; start making dinner; pack your own lunches for the day; buy things in bulk and put in re-usable containers for everyday use. Frequent the thrift stores and second hand shops; and buy used clothing and items. You are saving lots of money and re-using items that usually are in perfectly good condition.

 

  • Simplify! How many of you have lots of different cleaning products? Water and vinegar cleans most things around the home and I put it in a re-usable spray bottle. If you don’t like the scent of vinegar, add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil. Also, baking soda is a great item to have as well for some of those hard to clean things. It’s cheaper, easier and better for the environment also! And go through your home and de-clutter. Donate or giveaway the items you are not using and don’t need. When you go to the store refrain from “consuming”, a.k.a. buying things. You can even find websites and classifieds where you can barter and trade. There’s one on KSL.

 

  • Eat local, fresh foods. We are lucky to live in an area where we can get local produce and other locally made items. One of my favorite places to go to is the Downtown Farmer’s Market in St. George. You can get locally made breads, cheeses, fresh produce, and great items produced locally. By doing this, you are creating a smaller environmental footprint: less refrigeration, less gas for transportation, less packaging. Pat yourself on the back.

 

  • We live in a desert. We should probably start acting like we do. Although it may not seem like we have a water shortage, we are using a limited resource in our area. Start being active in using minimal amounts of water. Time your showers or put in a water-saving shower head. Taking baths actually uses less water. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth. Get rid of your grass and do water smart landscaping – it’s so much prettier! When washing your dishes, fill up the sink; don’t let the water run.

I hope these tips spark some ideas of simple steps you can do starting today! Get your family on board, tell your friends and neighbors. As a community we should be actively preserving the amazing lifestyle we have in Southern Utah by one little action at a time.

Gardening in St. George, Utah

Gardening in St. George, Utah

One of the best ways to practice green living is to have a garden! Even you don’t have a large yard or yard at all, there are many opportunities to get your hands into the dirt and grow edible things – even if it’s just herbs.

First you need a spot on your patio or in your yard that get at least 8 hours of sunlight a day. This will facilitate in larger vegetables and stronger plants. Plan on the orientation of your garden. Do you want your vegetables in pots, raised garden beds for example? If you are planting them in rows, it is ideal to arrange the rows to run North – South for best sun exposure and growth.

Next consider the soil condition. If you are planting in pots or in a raised garden bed you are completely controlling the soil elements and nutrients. If you are planting in the ground you will want to supplement the soil and enrich it to make sure the plants have the nutrients they need to grow and fruit. You will want the soil to be well-drained and rich in nutrients. I love adding steer manure to my garden and do it religiously at the beginning of each new growing season. Compost is amazing for your soil as well. I like to use organic matter in my garden. Your local nursery can guide you in the products they have. Also, be sure that you supplement your soil at least 2 weeks prior to planting. This ensures time for the soil to stew in all those wonderful nutrients and rest prior to going to work – feeding your plants.

There are many different elevations in Southern Utah. I have a garden in Leeds, UT and the gardening season starts a little later in the year. Whereas, in the greater St George area, the gardening season can start as early as January. To know when’s a good time to plant your veggies, visit your local nursery. They will have guides on planting time.

What to plant? Plant vegetables you like to eat! And try new things. Every year I experiment with a different vegetable or fruit. I like to get starters at the nursery if they interest me or I will look online on seed catalogues and play around with heirloom veggies and fruits. One year, we grew a mysterious melon that tasted fabulous!

Don’t forget to set up a watering system. You can set up a drip line that’s attached to your automatic sprinkler system or you have a system set up on a hose that you turn on and off. I like to have mine on an automatic drip system so even when I am out of town, my plants ware being watered. Your local nursery or hardware store will have the necessary supplies.

There’s so many more details I could get into but these are the basics to get your started thinking and planning your next garden. It’s best to start off small and then add to your garden so you don’t get overwhelmed. It’s addicting and you may find yourself adding a new pot or gardening bed to your yard. Get your kids involved also! Some of our best memories are out in the garden enjoying the fruits of our labor.