Replacing Electronics- Cut Down on Your Energy Usage

The United States’ residential electric usage sits around 1.44 trillion killowatthours (kWh) according to a 2019 statistic from the U.S. Energy Information Association. 1.44 is a lot of energy, and that’s only or residential usage. 1.44 kWh doesn’t account for industrial, commercial, or transportation usage. All of that combined puts us in second place for the highest energy consumption per year only behind China.

Currently the U.S. gets most of it’s electricity from natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy according to the U.S. Department of Energy; however, steps have been made to move towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy sources like wind turbines, solar plants, and geothermal energy. Even so, U.S. energy consumption is expected to rise gradually over time and everyone being stuck in their homes isn’t helping.

To do your part and combat the effects of excessive energy consumption if you live in an area that depends on less sustainable energy sources, there are some simple everyday steps you can take to live a more eco-friendly life.

My favorite way to cut down on energy consumption is to replace electronics with cost-effective, manual-use items. This not only helps me cut down on electricity consumption, it also helps me be more mindful of the products I use and consume. More-or-less, it helps me to live simply and be more kind to the planet.

Here are a few ways you can cut down on your energy consumption!

Use a french press instead of a coffee machine- This has become one of my favorite morning routines, albeit I’m not yet a master of the french press. My sister will tell you, you’d be lucky not to get coffee ground in your coffee when I make it. Instead of using the coffee machine in the morning, or plugging one in over night on a timer, we use a french press which isn’t an electric appliance at all. Beyond helping us cut down on electricity usage, the french press also helps me to be more conscious in my morning of how much I’m making and allows me to care more about the process. This has also helped us cut down on our use of items like disposable coffee pods and coffee filters. It’s a win all around.

Hang dry your clothes instead of using the dryer- I have never been a very big fan of laundry racks, but will do it when it’s reasonable. A simple laundry rack costs about $16.00 at Target, and there’s always a variety at other stores as well. The reasons why I’m not very keen on this method is that it takes clothes far longer to dry than in the dryer, and it takes up a lot of space depending on how much laundry you do per load. However, it does help cut down on the energy that would have been used while running the dryer for upwards of an hour per load.

Use candles/open windows instead of lamps- Who doesn’t love some fresh air and a delightfully scented seasonal candle? NO ONE! In our house the lights only get switched on if necessary when the sun goes down. Any other time of the day, we leave the blinds open on our windows and burn candles for light (and for a peaceful ambiance). One of the first things most people think of when they try and identify their energy consumption is that they leave lights on often during the day, and for the most part it just isn’t necessary. Switching from overhead lights and lamps to natural light and candles is a nice way to be a more conscious energy consumer.

Take a walk instead of using the hair dryer- This one is great both for decreasing energy consumption and for your mental and physical health. Sure it won’t get you that blowout you see in the magazines, but it will defiantly give you a nice windswept look. One of the biggest reasons hair dryers made this list is there one of the only items that will almost always cause a blown fuse. If it’s using enough energy to blow a fuse, it’s using too much energy. Aside from that it can be so nice to get out and get some fresh air, and I know, being stuck inside these last few months, we could all use a little more time in the sun. Go out and get all the nice crisp fall air you can and let your hair dry naturally. It’s healthier for your hair as well.

BONUS TIP: Designate one set of outlets in each room that can be used for plugged in objects. If you can only use two outlets at a time, you’ll be more conscious of your energy usage. Unplug anything that is not actively in use and prioritize what you’ll need charged or actively need to use.

Hopefully some of these ideas have struck a cord with you! These little ways in which we can cut down on energy usage can have a huge difference in the long run if we all do our part. And these are just small ideas, beyond these there are so many ways you can go even further in to cutting down your energy consumption in your home or in your community. Your wallet will thank you when the electric bill comes, and the planet will that you every single day.

Let me know: How do you cut down on your energy consumption in your day-to-day life? Have you found any tips or tricks to be particularly helpful in your endeavor to be more eco-friendly with your energy usage?

Finding Somewhere to Start

Where to start? Where on Earth to start??

And, no, I didn’t just start this post with that because I didn’t know how to start it. I started this post that way because when starting literally anything else these are the exact questions I’ve asked. (Although, I’ll be honest, I do ask these questions when coming up with posts sometimes too.)

So often we find ourselves in places where our only options are to try things that are brand new. We may be used to living life a certain way, but at the drop of a hat every bit of plan we had is turned upside down and we run blind for a while.

You may face a sudden career shift or alteration to the life plan of your dreams, or maybe your day started with sunshine and BAM! you’re standing in a downpour with no umbrella. No matter how big or small your shift may be, there comes a time when your only option to move forward is to try something new. A new job in a new field. A new house or a new family member. A new shelter until you can find a good umbrella…

And you might be asking yourself, what does any of this have to do with sustainability? Everything. EVERYTHING. Seldom is anyone, especially in the U.S., born into a sustainable life. We spend our entire young lives producing waste from tiny snack packs and toy’s we outgrow in under a year (unless you have an eco-conscious parent). And finally making that shift when we can for ourselves to being more eco-friendly can be tough. It can seem inconvenient, and we begin to wonder “I’m just me, what impact could little ol’ me possibly have?”

Time and time again, two things have stuck in the back of my mind when moments like these arise.

“The only thing you can control is yourself.”

and

“Take it one day at a time.”

These two principles are the key to just about every door. Even though they feel disgusting at first, they’ll get you through just about any everyday scenario.

“The only thing you can control is yourself” has honestly got to be one of the hardest things I continue to have to relearn daily. As human beings we are most comfortable when we feel we have control over the situations we’re in, but we just about never actually do. No matter what path you may be running down, thinking you’ve got everything figured out, that path may become impassable in an instant. No matter whether you thought your had everything figured out or not.

To some degree you might say if you have control over yourself and only yourself then you should be able to control your circumstances, but the truth is you only have control of how you react to them.

You can take being fired from your job as a crushing blow and quit trying, or you can learn from that experience and find something new. In the same way, you can learn more about the global climate crisis and sit back saying there’s nothing you could do, or you can begin taking steps to live more sustainably.

This principle can sound discouraging in so many ways. The biggest reason I was upset with it at first was that I thought,”what’s the point of running down any path then if it’s inevitable that the situation will change and I’ll have to react whether I want to or not?” And that’s reasonable at first. But, there’s no real way to live a full life when you allow this mindset to rest within you.

A good way to avoid feelings of discouragement is to set personal goals for yourself that you can accomplish through every day actions. These are goals that don’t have to change just because something in your life that you couldn’t control changed.

For myself these goals included a lot of personality and mindset adjustments. First, I wanted to meet a daily goal of showing kindness to everyone I met. I never have to worry about the world changing this goal for me, I know that if I show up with the intention of being kind to others I am much more likely to accomplish it over time. Another is that I wanted to be friendlier to the planet and therefor friendlier to others (luckily this goal helps me accomplish the first one I mentioned for day’s where I have limited contact with others.) The world may change around me, but I can make daily decisions to be a conscious consumer and waste producer along with so many other practices.

“Take it one day at a time” is, likewise, something I really wasn’t ready to accept when I first heard it. Like so many other college students (and people of all ages really), I had been encouraged to plan my entire life out. We frequently get asked, “where do you see yourself in 20 years?” and expecting the answer to that question to actually come to fruition is often foolish.

If we can’t control anything outside of ourselves, then how can we expect that each day will go exactly as we want it to for us to move forward. Taking things one day at a time can not only help with the existentialism that naturally comes from these kinds of questions, but can also provide a way forward that will ultimately bring you greater peace.

Yes, you can still plan for a vacation that’s months away, or set a date for an event in advance that you’re looking forward to. But the biggest thing you shouldn’t do is set expectations.

To take things one day at a time and still be reasonable it can be necessary to make plans in advance, but that doesn’t mean you have to let that consume your daily mentality. When you focus simply on the day, or even the next hour, ahead of you, you’ll find you’re living much more successfully in the moment. You aren’t clouded by the plans of the future that may seem daunting or cause you anxiety. You can focus on what’s in front of you which ultimately will allow you to be more successful in accomplishing it. You’ll be able to set a better foundation for that future without actually having to stress yourself out about what exactly that future will look like.

Thankfully, I came to terms with taking things one day at a time before quarantine, and before my graduation was postponed, and before hiring rates plummeted. I was able to adjust and accept life on life’s terms much faster than I expected and find some of the joy ahead of me even in this odd and unexpected season.

And EXTRA thankfully, it’s never to late for you to learn either.

I found that the best ways to adjust to a “just for today” attitude were simply to really focus on my mental inventories. Every morning I start the day by journaling in a gratitude journal. In doing this I can both let go of worries for future issues and set intentions to be grateful for what I have right now. Once I’ve established things to be grateful for, I find myself noticing them much more often in my day, and, from there, since I’m so focused on what is bringing me joy in the moment I don’t have as much time to worry about what comes next.

That being said, these things are much easier said than done. It took me quite a good amount of time to learn these lessons, but once I learned them they stuck like glue to my mind. I will never forget all that I’ve learned by allowing these two principles to guide my mindset, and I hope in time you won’t either.

Wherever you may find a road block, inconvenience, or life altering shift, remember “the only thing you can control is yourself” and to “take it one day at a time.” In the long run you’ll be able to find more joy in productive practices that may seem small or commonplace, but can have a huge and healthy impact in the long run. Simply, they’ll help make restarting feel more like a fresh start.

Let me know: Have you used these two principles in your own life? When do you find it most challenging to accept these truths?

Making Do, Even When You Don’t Want To

A big part of being sustainable is doing what you can with what you have, finding contentment with where you’re at, and not going out and pulling together new items and resources. And, you know what, sometimes that’s hard. Sometimes making do feels like a drag. Sometimes it hits you before you’ve accepted it. Yes, in sustainability you make do by reusing old materials instead of picking up nice new ones, or you go without once you’ve realized something just isn’t a necessity even though it brought enjoyment. But, there are so many other times in life where we have to make do with what life has handed us. It can leave you sad, frustrated, lonely, and wanting. This season exposes those emotions in a BIG way.

I often find I’m happier to make do in my sustainability than in the rest of my life. I’d rather let go of making purchases once they become unnecessary or begin making certain things from scratch once that becomes an option then admit that I have to put off a dream or set a goal aside when resources and opportunities become scant.

I graduated college in May 2020, possibly the worst time to graduate college in years. Through zero fault of my own, of my college, or of my community, I spent my final semester in quarantine. I never got to say goodbye to my advisor or favorite professors who taught me so much, spend final nights with my roommate and best friend (and her cat), or attend the graduation I had worked so hard to get to. There was no closure, and I still feel quite lost.

Before this all happened, I was considered pretty hirable. I have worked a number of different jobs both in and out of my field of study, and had shown loyalty and growth at many of these jobs. I never thought it’d be that big of an issue for me to find a decent, or even good, job in my field. But quarantine turned that on its head. Now, I’ve sent out dozens of job applications and have heard absolutely nothing back. It’s crushing. This is a time where I now have to make do with what life has handed me, and I haven’t been very quick to embrace that.

In this season my anxiety has gone up, and my patience has plummeted. But, I’m learning. I’m learning to set goals involving things I used to put on the back burner, to embrace the lessons I can learn outside of a classroom or an office, and to accept stillness and quiet as part of my daily living.

I’d like to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from blessings in disguise these last few months. Hopefully you’ll begin to see them in your life too.

The blessing of TIME, even when you didn’t want it.

If you’re an active, on-the-go-constantly person like me, sitting at home that entire first week probably felt like you were beginning to decay.

So much content was being posted online about how this was the perfect time to write your first novel or invent a life changing device no one has ever seen before. While, simultaneously, content about how no one should feel pressured to do anything with their time was also being posted. You chose. You can either be lazy or singlehandedly change the world.

I’d like to argue, this blessing of time has given us the opportunity not just to fall in to being active or inactive, but to reevaluate our lives before continuing to move forward.

For me (as you can probably tell by the fact that I started this blog in the middle of all the craziness), in my reevaluation I realized one way I wanted to be more active was in encouraging others to take better care of the planet we share. I had been studying sustainability and making my own DIY recipes for eco-friendly products for a while, but I’d never really shared any of that with anyone. All this time, and the lack of a job, freed me up to be able to begin reaching out and trying my hand at teaching others about sustainable practices.

The blessing of SPACE, even when things feel empty.

By space, I mean both physical and mental space. We’re socially distanced from others when we’re out or clammed up while we’re at home, but so many of us are also facing this wall of more empty time than ever.

Personally, I haven’t seen any of my friends in person (even socially distanced) in about 5 months. It’s rough, but I’m so thankful for technology that’s gotten us through it. It’s not the same as seeing their faces in person, but I’ll take it.

On the other hand, all this quiet distance I’ve had from people, places, and things, has allowed me to approach life in new ways. I took on new goals I never thought I’d be able to accomplish with my busy life, and created space for new hobbies to emerge.

Before any of this happened I had just accepted that I would never have time to read the Bible or actually start my own garden. But by allowing this season to create so much mental space, I realized these were all possible right now in this time. Once I finished my final undergrad semester, I dug right in. I set these new goals and decided I didn’t need someone else (i.e. a job or school) to dictate how I filled my days or my living quarters. And now, when I finally do find that job I’m longing for, I’ll be able to carry this lesson with me and realize there is so much more life to live outside of the goals others set before me.

You can use this lesson as well, and hopefully give yourself space to start a garden or learn something new about taking care of yourself and our planet that you can carry with you all the days of your life.

The blessing of RESOURCES, even when they’re limited.

During this so many of us have limited our time in grocery stores, have primarily shopped online, and have learned to do what we like with less. Sometimes this might feel inconvenient. You might find that you really want a certain new product online, but shipping isn’t something you can afford. Or, you really want to make your favorite recipe, but you’re not going out to the grocery store for another week.

However, there is another way to look at these inconveniences. Rather than seeing the specific things that can’t be done in the moment, look at the possibilities the resources you have in front of you can offer.

I’ve run into this a lot while cooking these last few months. As I try and limit the frequency with which I visit the grocery store (or go out in public in general), I’ve run out of ingredients significantly before I intent to return and get more. At first I was bummed out by not being able to use exactly what each recipe called for, but I found a blessing here. I found the blessing of experimentation. I am NOT a chef (just ask my sister, she’s the chef in the family), but, without being able to follow exactly every recipe I had to a ‘T’, I’ve gotten pretty good at tossing ingredients in that I think might work and coming up with something new and awesome.

This same principle applies to sustainability. In so many ways making less frequent grocery trips (or purchases in general) has helped me cut down on the amount of gas I use driving my car, cut down on my personal purchase rate of items that might not be sustainably sourced or packaged, and helped me to learn and see just how many other areas of my life I could use what I already had first.

It also made me deeply appreciate the items I do have that are reusable. Never have to worry about running out of those, thank goodness.


So much of being sustainable is making do, and I’ve realized, so is so much of living life. We have a choice to make: is making do going to weigh us down, or show us how to live life with a little (or a lot) more peace is our hearts?

I know as well that there are still so many people who have been able to keep their jobs or find new ones (congrats! and thank you for keeping on keeping on!), people who are at home with family they might not wish to be with, and people who don’t quite have enough to make do in an enlivening way. Whatever you’ve got going on in this season, I know you’re doing your best. It’s all anyone could ask, even of themselves. I’m rooting for you, and hope no matter where you’re at you find yourself a blessing to hold on to.

Let me know: What blessings are you finding in this season? Have you learned anything you’ll carry with you?

Beginning the Sustainability Journey in the Pandemic

We’re all taking on this season as best we can. Some of us are working from home, some have lost their jobs, some have family to take care of, and some are spending more time with themselves than they ever wanted to. One thing, though, that I’ve seen a lot of people learning in the pandemic is how to love the planet in better ways, and therefor love each other better.

Before any of this, so many people would be out each day purchasing food to-go in toss away containers, driving everywhere all the time, and pretty much just barely acknowledging their role in contributing to pollution. But now, the pandemic has forced people all over the world to step back and pause. To breathe and notice the low air quality. To open their eyes and notice the lack of wildlife. To consume with greater consciousness of what and how we are using the resources at our disposal that we often take for granted.

The biggest excuse I have heard for the roots of sustainability not to take hold in people’s lives, and one I’ve even used myself in the past, is that it’s just not accessible to be sustainable. It’s hard to see where you can make lasting changes in your daily habits when you’re constantly busy, running from class to class, or are barely home due to long, hectic hours at work. I used to feel like there was just no way I could do more to avoid all of the single use plastic I was using. That I couldn’t swap driving my car for riding my bike to get to nearby places because I just didn’t have time. Or, that I couldn’t cut down on water usage because I was too active to maintain a short and sweet shower routine. 

I would pack my lunch in reusable bags, drink from a reusable water bottle, use dry shampoo to cut down on shower time, and bring reusable bags with me when I went to the store. All of this was fine and good, and I still do all of them today, but it wasn’t enough. I used to think, “I’m doing enough. Even a small amount is something,” and, yes, doing whatever you can to create a more sustainable life it fine and good as well. However, it’s important to really ask yourself, “is this actually enough?” 

Actionable Steps for Everyday Sustainability:

  • In the shower switch to all natural shampoos and cut down on the number of days per week you wash your hair.
    • I used to wash my hair every day, and that was non-negotiable. But out of necessity for time and having heard about how much water I could save simply be skipping that step a few times a week, I decided to try it. It took about 3 weeks of greasy roots for my hair to adjust, but now I can go 3-4 days between hair washings without my hair looking unkept. 
    • Tips: 
      • When you shower use a natural shampoo without sulphates, parabens, and phalates. These ingredients can strip your hair of natural oils causing your scalp to over produce oils to compensate, leaving hair greasier quicker. They also will not cause chemicals and other harmful ingredients to go down your shower drain and out into the world. My favorite natural haircare products are from Calia Natural.
      • You can help your hair maintain volume between washes by putting it in a high ponytail over night to lift the roots. And there are plenty of hairstyles that will help hide greasy roots or use them to your advantage during the day like a slicked back ponytail or simple french braid. 
Calia shampoo and conditioner- I use their purifying set for dry hair.
  • In the kitchen
    • Meal Prep
      • Cook a weeks worth of meals on Sunday to save.
        • This can be a weeks worth of fresh cut fruit for breakfast, or a big pot of soup with rice for dinner. Whatever you can grab an go when your busy.
        • This will help you cut down on food waste if too much is made for a single meal, as well as encourage you not to use excess electricity or gas to cook every single day.
        • I am hoping to post some of these extended recipes soon!
    • Use reusable cooking accessories
      • Instead of using plastic wrap, try beeswax paper or reusable rubber and metal containers.
        • This will cut down on the day to day waste of products simply used to store things in the fridge.
      • Trade parchment paper and aluminum foil for reusable cook mats.
        • My roommate and I switched to these a year ago, and have been using the same ones ever since. They last forever and are really easy to clean.
          • These are the one’s we purchased!
  • If you have to leave the house (wear your mask, please stay home if you can and refer to the other sustainable practices to learn from in the mean time.)
    • Keep a recycling bag in your car
      • When you’re out during your day and find yourself snacking in your car or grabbing a to-go meal, keep a recycling bag handy along side your regular trash bag. This will give you the opportunity to be a conscious consumer, and recycle what you can when you get home.
    • Cut down on the use of your car when you can
      • It’s not always possible if your destination is far away or you need to get there fast. But if you can plan for a little extra time to get where you need to go, or you live close to your destination, consider riding your bike to get there. This will give you exercise and help reduce carbon emissions that are harmful to the planet. Being stuck inside so much, our minds and bodies could both use a little more movement and fresh air.

This is a good time to take advantage of your time in quarantine. Use this time to take care of yourself, and when you’re ready learn to take better care of the planet and your fellow humans. There are so many little things we can do every day to shift and be more eco-friendly, and there’s no better time to start then now.

Let me know: What have you started doing during quarantine to be more eco-friendly? Are there any sustainable practices you’ve found difficult to maintain during the pandemic?