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I know what you’re thinking…. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle- right?

Here in California we’re all about recycling.  I’ll admit I used to think that as long as I tossed my empty water bottle in a blue bin I had done my part to keep it out of the landfill and my job was done.  But is that really where our responsibility ends as far as sustainability goes?

We all know that adding to the landfill pile is not sustainable and of course you should opt for the recycling bin over the trash whenever possible but unfortunately that is far from enough to leave the future generation a planet we’re proud of.

Now I know we all have a lot on our plate and I’m not here to pile on the guilt or hand you another to do list- ain’t nobody got time for that, I get it.  And it certainly doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  Sustainability is something you can build on and improve over time.  Just like with healthy eating habits, sometimes it’s easier to implement one or two things, and when you have it down and it becomes routine perhaps you’re ready to take the next step.  That’s how I roll.

Save Money Save The Planet

Sustainable responsibility is something I’ve been trying to apply to my life for some time now, and I’ll admit it’s not always easy.  I’ll also admit that most of the changes I’ve made have been with saving money as the primary goal and saving the planet has just been the bonus.

When I read Dawn Gifford’s new book: Sustainability Starts at Home: How to Save Money While Saving the Planet  it made me realize there are so many quick and easy ways to save hundreds of dollars per year by just taking a look at how we use energy in our homes, or purchasing inexpensive tools that will help us use less water or changing .  Most of these tips require little to no time at all to implement and only pennies compared to the savings you will rack up almost instantly.

Dawn breaks down the practicality of sustainable living with tips that are easy to employ, yet, they’re informative to the extent where she actually outlines how much you’ll be able to save from implementing each one of her tips.

This book is designed not to preach, but to inspire us in an unintimidating fashion to take steps to reduce our carbon footprint.  This isn’t a “tree huggers” guide to life; it’s a means to consume less, produce more, and save money!  Check, check, check!

We all know that we shouldn’t be leaving on lights unnecessarily, but how many of us have actually employed a method to saving on our electricity bills? Reading that American households spend up to 20% of their electricity costs on lighting really gives me the kick in the pants I need to make this the next change I make in our house.




I’ve been procrastinating researching this for ages.  I’m so glad Dawn has broken it down in layman’s terms so that I don’t have to.  What are all these different bulbs all about and why choose one over the other?

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) once were our go-to option, but the price and the damaging effects they can have make LED light bulbs a better option. Fluorescent light bulbs can break, and when they do, mercury vapor is released into the air. That’s right, mercury, one of the most toxic poisons known to humanity.  As someone who is currently dealing with high levels of mercury (long story) reading that makes me never want to use CFLs again!

Why LEDs are a better option:

  •       They use very, very little energy,
  •       They last at least 10 years,
  •       They contain no mercury vapor,
  •       They can be dropped or turned off and on repeatedly without damage,
  •       They can operate in very cold or warm temperatures without a problem.

–        Source: Sustainability Starts at Home

So with LED bulbs you’re not just helping the environment, you’re helping yourself and your bank account. Dawn outlines that if every workplace and family were to use LED bulbs, we’d actually be saving $3.9 billion a year! WOW- I have a few ideas of how we could use that money!


Reducing is the opposite of consuming and it’s a great first challenge on the road to sustainability at home. The Story of Stuff is a great little video that inspired me years ago to become a bit more of a minimalist (that, and a couple international moves will usually do the trick).  The bottom line is everything that comes in the home, will eventually need to come out, usually in the form of trash.

In Sustainability Starts at Home, Dawn suggests a “spend-fast”, which is a period of time where you only spend money on the necessities- needs vs wants. This may be a week, it could be a month, but it will help show you how little you really need to be happy.  I’ve done this before and it’s truly eye opening.  You may think you make very few unnecessary purchases but when you challenge yourself like this it can get pretty interesting.

A few years ago we decided to move closer to my office so that our family of 5 can get by on just one car.  Talk about a reduction! Not easy to do in Los Angeles and some weeks it gets a little trickier than others but this is one sure way to slash expenses while greatly reducing your carbon footprint.  It’s also a great way to get in a little exercise.

If you have kids, another great way to spend less is by using cloth diapers. It wasn’t until baby number 3 about 3 years ago that I even considered cloth diapers, but my only regret is not starting sooner! We did it to cut costs but when I learned that disposable dia pers actually make up 50% of household waste it was super motivating to keep it up and find other ways to lessen our carbon footprint.  I saved $5000 by using cloth diapers, and it really kick-started all kinds of other hippie ways 🙂


Reusing or re-purposing products is a great habit to get into, and just because something may not be able to serve its original purpose doesn’t mean it can’t still serve a purpose.

“The practice frees up space in landfills and cuts down on the need to manufacture new goods.” – Sustainability Starts at Home

At first it takes some adjusting to switch from paper towels to reusable kitchen towels and sure, it’s an extra load of laundry each week but pretty soon it becomes habit.  I found the easiest way to make this switch is to simply stop buying paper towels altogether.  Or if you like to use them for the occasional greasy disaster, just keep them further out of reach so you don’t reach for one every time there’s the slightest drop of water to wipe up.  Plus, how cute are these kitchen towels?

Purchasing a reusable water bottle or coffee mug can be a great way to save tons of money buying water bottles and cups of joe while sparing the landfill of heaps of stuff.

For us ladies, I think a really great way to reuse is by using a menstrual cup (I wrote about why I use a menstrual cup here). As was the case with the diapers, I didn’t like the idea of the amount of chemicals being used to create tampons, plus, the amount of money I was spending was unbelievable. The menstrual cup is generally made from medical-grade silicone, so they can be reused over and over again and can last for several years. They’re a healthier option and I found that I was saving a $120 per year!

And ONLY THEN Recycle

Once you have exhausted all options, only then is it time to recycle.  The bottom line is that recycling is meant to be a next to last resort.  In other words we should try our best to reduce and reuse first as much as possible.

Want to learn more?

I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book: Sustainability Starts at Home: How to Save Money While Saving the Planet

By just implementing any ONE of Dawn’s tips, this book will pay for itself. When it comes down to it, you’re not just saving money, you’re saving the planet, so go ahead and pat yourself on the back- you deserve it!

Dawn is offering an exclusive 30% off coupon just for Hollywood Homestead readers!  Use code HOLLYWOOD30 at checkout!

Click Here To Learn More and Order your Copy!


This post is a part of the following blog carnival: Food Renegade Fight Back Friday 

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Sylvie McCracken is a former celebrity assistant in Hollywood turned full time entrepreneur currently living in Ashland, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. She writes about treating and preventing health conditions with real food and natural remedies, as well as anything else she feels like writing about because she's a rebel like that. 😉 She also mentors entrepreneurs on her other site,