Make changes to live more sustainably

reusable bag with recycling symbol

I recently watched a show on Netflix called Down to Earth. It featured a young famous male actor who travels the world with a health guru in search of ways to live a more sustainable life. I turned it on as background noise but soon found myself immersed in this show.

I watched all the episodes in one day. It really made me stop and think about my life and day-to-day activities and the impact that I have on my environment. Yeah, I’m just one person, but there are billions of us on this planet, and we all have day-to-day activities.

I began to think “What can I do to lead a more sustainable life? What can I do to lessen my impact on the environment and at the same time, what can I do to make a greater impact on my environment?”

For starters, I could probably stop using Netflix as background noise on my energy-sucking TV. Let’s take baby steps though.

I’m not busting down the door to go live in a tree or anything, but I’m sure there are plenty of ways that I could change my habits and lessen my use of our natural resources. I mean I work for an organization whose sole purpose is natural resource conservation, I should be a pro at this.

The truth is, we could all probably change a few things.


Let’s start with energy. We all use it. Right now as I sit in my air conditioned office, under these florescent lights, in front of my bright computer typing this article, as I munch on the pizza rolls I just nuked in the microwave, I’m using energy. Once you really become aware of it, you will see how many different ways you use energy.

Turn off lights and the TV when you aren’t in the room. Hang your clothes outside to dry. Consider setting your thermostat at a higher temperature in the summer and a lower temperature in the winter. Unplug cords when not in use. Even though you aren’t actively charging your phone, that charge cord is still sucking little bits of power throughout the day.


I can definitely toot my own horn on the topic of water. I’m pretty conservative when it comes to water. I use a reusable bottle every day that I fill at home with tap water. Why use bottled water when tap water is so much cheaper and convenient and there’s no bottle waste left behind?

Much to my husband’s aggravation, I have probably only washed my car a handful of times in the five years that I’ve owned it. If it’s dirty, I let the rain take care of it. The rain is free! Get a rain barrel and capture it. Always shut the tap water off when you aren’t actively using it. Only wash clothes that really need it. Take quick showers.

We need water to survive. It amazes me that in some parts of the world, people don’t have access to clean water, but here we use it to flush our toilets. So please don’t take water for granted. It is such an important and vital natural resource.

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

I will admit that I only recently started recycling in my own home, and now it pains me to see people throwing cans and bottle away in the trash.

Recycling is so easy. Just get a couple of totes and set them next to your trash can at home. One for paper and cardboard and one for plastic and cans. Then once a month, bag it all up and drop it off at a local recycling center.

Take reusable bags to the grocery store. Limit the use of single-use items like straws, paper towels and sandwich bags. I hate thinking about my contribution to landfills before I started recycling because I now know how easy it is to keep all of that waste from just being another bag on the pile.


I hate seeing food go to waste. I will intentionally eat something that I don’t want just to prevent it from being throw away…although I’m pretty sure that’s still considered wasting it.

Even if you do have to throw away food, you can throw it away into a compost pile and turn it into food for plants. Grow a garden at home and use your nutrient-rich compost for fertilizer.

Growing your own food is a great way to begin living a more sustainable life, not to mention its great knowledge to have. When you grow your own food, you omit the waste associated with all store-bought items not to mention the sense of accomplishment you feel when you bite into a fresh ear of sweet corn.

Another way to convert food waste back into something useful is to get yourself some chickens. Everyone needs about a dozen of these feathered garbage disposers. When it comes to multitasking, chickens are a winner. You can raise chickens for food, you can raise chickens for eggs, you can feed chickens your kitchen scraps, and you can use chicken poop for fertilizer. All this in one compact little clucking body.

There are so many simple ways to waste less. The more conscious you become about your daily habits will allow you to become more aware of how much energy and resources you use. The first step to any change begins with you.


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Samantha Ackerman is the agricultural technician for the Belmont County Soil and Water Conservation District. She is a graduate of Ohio University Eastern. She was raised on a 200-acre farm where she and her family raised pumpkins and continue to raise beef cattle.



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