Simple, Sustainable Living

Use it up
Wear it out
Make do
or Do without

--traditional New England wisdom


Simple, sustainable living used to be a way of life for everyone: living within (or beneath) your means, cultivating personal relationships and community, paying attention to nature, and learning as an integral part of a practical, productive life.

For many people, reclaiming this heritage is the focus of their lives today.

There are so many people and programs and workshops and websites dedicated to sustainable living that it can be hard to know where to start. Sure, we recycle. Sure, we don't litter, and often pick up litter when we see it. But where do we go from there? How can we incorporate more sustainable practices to create a life that feeds our spirits as well as the Earth?

Here are three dozen ideas to get you started on the path toward a more sustainable lifestyle.











Simple, Sustainable Home

Patch clothing, repair furniture, household items and toys

Grow a garden and save seeds for next year's garden

Freeze meals, preserve abundant garden produce

Enjoy cheap entertainment like charades, board games, and make-your-own movies

Make toys, cards, and simple clothes

Put a pot of soup or baked beans on the wood stove

Hang laundry outside to dry (or on a rack by the woodstove)

Use cloth napkins, cloth bags, and cleaning cloths

Collect a dozen things you no longer need or use to give away

Clean the house in ten minute bursts

Create a sanctuary spot that you know will always be clean, neat, and welcoming

Relax in your sanctuary spot for a little while each day

Simple, Sustainable Relationships

Write a letter or pick up the phone rather than sending an email or text

Share resources, meals, extra seedlings, babysitting, etc.

Share good news and bad

Stop everything, make eye contact, and listen

Help another person (repair a bike or broken chair, do a sewing repair for someone who can't sew, dog sit)

Take a walk together, have a picnic, play a game (cards, Scrabble, backgammon, tennis)

Greet your neighbors by name

Ask for help when you need it, and accept help graciously when offered

Reminisce about fun times you've shared together

Make music or art together or dance together

Spend one-on-one time with the people you love best

Make time for yourself

Simple, Sustainable Learning

Find the joy in discovery, enjoy the wonder of learning

Follow interests and weave academics around these interests

Drop time limits and let learning happen at its own pace

Explore outside

Wander together

Wonder together (post a "wonder board" where everyone adds notes like "I wonder why…" or "What would happen if…"—answers are not as important as the questions)

Develop practical, useful knowledge and skills

Make meaningful connections between academics to personal life

Integrate art and encourage creative interpretations of what is being studied

Cultivate social connections (group classes, collaboration, brainstorming with others)

Seek out mentoring relationships

Think big (theme-based learning, project-based learning)