How We Do (Sustainable Living)

Friends, we just jumped right in last night with that Food Swap post and didn't really give you a chance to get to know us. Or what we do. And we do a lot of things everyday that get us called dirty hippies or granola (lovingly, of course), but it's ok. It's ok to call us hippies, but it's also ok to learn from us and maybe implement some of our practices. We are admittedly some of the busiest people we know. We usually have at least one "after work" event a day and sometimes there will be 3 or 4 things to go to on a weekend day. Amidst all this business, we are desperately trying to keep the house at a controlled level of chaos and feed ourselves and our pets. With all this going on, there is some serious thought and intention put into what we are consuming, food and otherwise.

We want to be sustainable. We want to take small, significant steps to make our living intentional and reduce our impact on the environment. As you can see below, we do a lot already, but we are always looking to do more. I will probably post later on about how being sustainable is an act of queerness and how being queer fits into sustainable living. For now, consider this post less a manifesto and more of an act of full disclosure.

As a caveat, we do recognize that our lifestyle and our interests come from a place of privilege. We are both employed and we make enough money to afford the set up costs of some of the projects we take on. Some things, like making your own yogurt, require little investment, just a candy thermometer, but worm composting or buying a home carbonation device both have a sizable "set-up" cost. We would probably be able to achieve a certain level of sustainability even if we weren't so financially blessed, but there are definitely some things that would go by the wayside or would be much harder.

Finally, bear in mind that we plan to write in-depth posts about our planning and process for some of the projects listen below. This is just an overview. We just want everyone to know exactly how nerdy we are. If you feel you need to know anything immediately, please feel free to say so in the comments, and we will focus on those topics sooner rather than later.

Projects related to housekeeping:

  • Making orange infused vinegar for cleaning
  • Woodworking with reclaimed wood
  • Buying recycled paper products and aluminum foil
  • Giving away two items for every one item we bring into the house
  • Trying to buy things with as little packaging as possible
  • Switched to wind powered electricity (it's cheaper too!)
  • Using homemade washable swiffer pads
  • Using rags instead of paper towels
  • Recycling basically everything we can

Projects related to self care:

  • Using baking soda as shampoo
  • Making homemade deodorant
  • Making homemade lotion/balm
  • Making homemade facial oil blend
  • Using Chinese medicine/natural healing home remedies instead of Western medicine cures
  • Receiving acupuncture/chiropractic/massage regularly for health and balance
  • Meditation practice

Projects related to food:

  • Making stock with veggie scraps and chicken bones
  • Making staples for the week (baked-boiled eggs, congee, etc)
  • Making homemade drink syrups (to flavor carbonated water)
  • Infusing liquors (vanilla vodka and ginger vodka so far)
  • Drinking vinegars, a.k.a. shrubs
  • Making ricotta, yogurt, mustard, cheezeits, etc from scratch
  • Canning, fermenting, and dehydrating food for long term preservation
  • Bringing lunch to work
  • Trying to eat locally sourced, humane and organic food as much as possible
  • Signing up for CSA and egg share
  • Using all of an item if we buy it, e.g. whole chicken, eating beet greens and broccoli stems
  • Choosing to eat at restaurants that serve sustainably sourced food
  • Participating in community food events, like the Chicago Food Swap

Miscellaneous Projects:

  • Not buying cable
  • Homemade gifts
  • Feeding our cat and dog grain free/raw pet food
  • Using community garden plot
  • Reusing jars and bottles for all forms of storage
  • Worm composting
  • Tithing/giving to projects and people who are trying to make the world a better place in a sustainable way

We know that these projects and goals aren't static and that they will change over time, but for now this is how we do sustainable living in Chicago. We'll check back in and let you know how things are progressing. Please let us know if you have any questions.