With longer nights, shorter days and freezing temperatures becoming the norm, fall is fading and to quote Ned Stark, “Winter is coming”. With that being said, how do we practice sustainable habits in colder temperatures?
In the summer, practicing a sustainable lifestyle can feel natural, almost easy. With farmers markets abundant with fresh produce, and the warm weather inviting us outside, living in one with nature feels possible. Come winter though, it can feel less like harmony, and more like a battle with the elements. The freezing temperatures, darkness and change in seasonal food can be challenging. Our Cosmic Body team decided to gather as many earth-friendly tips as we could to share with the community to not only get you through winter, but to thrive.
1) Find and fix drafty spots
Having an insulated home is the surest way to ensure cool or warm air stays inside. A poorly insulated home is both more expensive and harder on the planet. You want the heat you use to stay within the home, otherwise it’s an endless cycle of heating a space that can never stay warm. Insulation is your best friend, during both winter and summer. However, most of us aren’t in the process of renovating our home, and a lot of us don’t even own a home.
Our suggestion is that whether you rent or own, know your home and find and eliminate any drafty spots it may have. If you have your heating on, you should at least be using all of it! This seems like common sense, but honestly, it’s a good reminder. Your home could have a drafty window or doorway making you literally pour your money out of the house.
You can DIY or hire someone to help you depending on the severity of the draft. Check out this article here, for quick DIY fixes for drafts.
2) Watch out for deicers full of nasty chemicals
The salt we pour on our sidewalks and the deicers we use on our car windows can be anything but pet or environmentally friendly. Below are some sustainable alternatives you can use instead.
Some salts used to melt ice on the driveway can be seriously bad for your pet’s health. If your pet ingests the salt, it can cause vomiting, lethargy, and in some cases, kidney issues. Sadly, even if your pet doesn’t eat the salt, simply walking on it can irritate their paws!
We recommend using sand, ash from a fireplace, or kitty litter as a replacement. Both are better for your pet and the planet.
Note* Be sure to wash your pet’s paws after any outing they may have outside! Just because you’re using earth friendly products doesn’t mean everyone else is. Save your pet future trouble by keeping a towel near the door so whenever they come in, you can be ready!
Some deicers on the market contain nasty chemical components such as carbon dioxide and methanol. We recommend DIYing your deicer, as it’s safer for you and your family, and better for the planet.
Quick DIY deicer from Green Moxie:
- Mix 3 cups white vinegar with 1 cup lukewarm water in a spray bottle, use on car windows to wash away the ice.
3) Eat what’s in season, not what’s convenient
This rule applies year round, but is especially important to remember during the colder months. Eating your fruits and veggies is important all year, just try to do so in a seasonal way. Everything that doesn’t grow naturally in your environment has to be imported. Try to shop at your local winter farmers markets, Co-Ops, and zero waste markets, all of which source fresh food from local places, and typically which carry food that is in season.
Here’s a quick (although not complete) list of produce that’s in season during the colder months:
- Sweet potatoes
- Brussel sprouts
4) Remember, you can still compost!
Composting isn’t just for the summer, you can absolutely compost year round! For winter composting, here’s what you need to know:
- You can compost dead leaves, lawn clippings and more from your yard. Watch out for pine needles and plants/weeds that have been treated by chemicals, those won’t help your compost thrive.
- Move your composting bin to a sunnier portion of the yard, it won’t make the cold go away but it can certainly help!
- You can always freeze your compost for later. Sounds a little weird, but if you don’t have access to a compost bin, you can freeze your composting scraps and take it to your friend, or local community garden for later.
For a full, comprehensive guide to winter composting, we recommend this article from Family Handyman.
5) A few last things to sustain energy...
- Put on an extra layer before turning to the thermostat:
This is perhaps the oldest rule in the book, but it’s still just as applicable now as it was twenty years ago. Save some money and help the environment all at once with this golden rule.
- Turn the heat down when not at home:
Save money and help the environment at once with this tip. When not home, remember to turn the thermostat down! If you don’t have a pet, 60 degrees should do it. If you’re a pet parent, we recommend setting the thermostat to 68 degrees to keep your fur babies warm.
Sunshine is king:
Just because it’s chilly doesn’t mean the sun is completely gone! Utilize this natural resource as much as you can. Keep curtains open in the day and closed at night. Use the sunshine to warm up your home as much as possible. This may seem like a small thing, but small things can really add up.