Remember that time you said you were going to double down on being less wasteful at home? Good news: It doesn't have to be a huge undertaking, as long as you're willing to add a few quick and easy skills to your repertoire.
Being more self-sufficient at home starts with relying less on outside services and wasteful resources. It's the type of change that happens when you commit to a lot of small tasks in order to make a greater holistic impact on your home life. Through a series of modifications to your daily routine (we're talking the type you can keep up with over time), you can start to see a difference in how your home operates.
Here are a few small skills to add to your day-to-day:
1. Use last night's water for today's plant food
We'll start small. If you didn't finish last night's bedside glass, don't just throw it down the sink. There are plenty of ways you can put it to use—from watering your plants to filling your iron. Sounds easy enough, right?
2. Start an herb garden in your kitchen
Sure, you can add herbs to your grocery list every week, but wouldn't it just be better to source from your own mini garden? Starting an herb garden just requires some careful batching of the herbs you want to grow by the growing conditions they need. For instance, basil, cilantro, rosemary, and thyme can live together in a sunny spot; whereas, parsley, mint, and chives can cohabitate in a shadier home.
3. Break out the sewing machine
You know the one we're talking about—while it may just be collecting dust in your parents' attic at the moment, there are so many ways you can put it to good use. (Or even better, learn how to hand sew.) Curtains too long? Nothing a simple hem can't fix (at a far lower cost than a tailor). Rip in your favorite pair of work pants? You can mend that in a few easy stitches so you don't have to buy a costly new pair.
4. DIY your soaps and cleaning agents
Running to the store for cleaning agents (and all the plastic packaging that comes with them) feels like a waste when you can just mix up a solution of your own. You can tackle your floors with one part white vinegar and two parts water, cutting boards with a lemon and some course salt, and you can even make a wood cleaner with an olive oil, white vinegar, and warm water mixture. Keep a few key ingredients in your storage closet and you can create a toxin-free cleaning plan that won't send you to the store every other week.
5. Finally start that compost pile you've had on your mind
Don't let smells or aesthetics stop you from composting—take this task outside or find a compact bin to get this project started. Once you've decided where it'll go, you can start gathering your scraps in their designated composting area and you'll have soil of your own in a few weeks flat. A good rule of thumb to remember when composting is to try to keep a balance of greens (coffee grounds, vegetable and fruit scraps, eggshells) and browns (leaves, twigs, corn stalks, dryer lint).
6. Let's talk containers
Level one of container mastery is setting yourself up with glass food storage containers to preserve leftovers for longer. Level two is learning to jar and can food to really up your preservation game. Pro-tip: With an upfront investment in a pressure canner you can start preserving your food the way humans have done it for centuries. The best part about practicing preservation is that you can enjoy the fruits and veggies you crave when they're out of season, and you don't even have to think twice about their freshness.