5 Things We Downsized To Be More Eco-Friendly

And save the whales.

Eco-friendly, minimalism, sustainability… the popular buzzwords these days. There seems to be some sort of eco-renaissance sweeping our world (and I like it!)

Citizens are asking themselves how they can help prevent climate change, or even save the turtles and whales (cue famous Tik Tok videos…)

Before we go any further, I know a lot of people are skeptical about the impacts of climate change. Here’s the best video that argues why we should do something about it, whether climate change is true or not. 

Now back to our regularly scheduled post…

During shelter-in place, Nick and I spent some time thinking about the things we have downsized and what else we could change in order to reduce our carbon footprint and debt footprint (and of course, save the turtles.)

A quick PSA, I’m not going to sit here from a platform of perfection… that would be a lie…

But what we did, and what we all could do, is take some time to look at the debris we create. It’s easy to see what we could cut out in order to make our lives simpler and more sustainable. 

If you’re looking for ways to reduce your waste, look to our list and see if there’s something that inspires you! If we all make changes to our lifestyle to help the environment, who knows what type of impact we could make!

1. Gave Up a Full Sized Fridge for a Dorm Fridge.

In 2016, I moved in with Nick and his dorm fridge. At first, I thought he was crazy. How in the heck was I going to fit all of my food into that thing?! 

But now, 4 years later, there’s no way I’m going back. 

What is it that we actually store in our fridges? 

Let’s start with the door… oh that’s right, every salad dressing and condiment to ever exist. But how many options does one family truly need?

After I ditched the half-used dressings, cut mayo from our diet (have you heard of the ingredient Calcium Disodium EDTA?) and moved ketchup to the pantry (all restaurants leave condiments out on tables…) I realized I didn’t need a lot of fridge space.

The other added benefit of a dorm fridge is you have less food wasting opportunities. How many times in my life have I purchased produce, thrown it in the back and forgot about it?

By downsizing your fridge, you’re ultimately cutting down on wasted food.

2. Tilled More Lawn Into Gardens.

Large garden next to Annie and Nicks' house. In front of the garden is the small push mower.

Grass is a great thing, it’s what our cows love to eat! But grass to mow, now that’s the bain of my existence. By downsizing our yard, I am able to cut down on gas for the mower and create space for a garden!

Of course, adding a vegetable garden is another step towards living sustainably! But if you don’t want to tackle that right away, consider adding a wildflower garden. 

Pick out some perennials so you don’t have to replant every year, pull a few weeds, then sit back and watch as this new garden brings in all sorts of entertaining wildlife.

3. Moved To a 900 Square Foot Home.

Downsizing and moving is easier said than done, so this item on our list is a bit extreme. But if you’re ready to pull the trigger on a more sustainable home, smaller square footage is something I would highly recommend.

Before I moved in with Nick, I lived in a three bedroom home in the city. This house was roughly 1500 square feet and packed full of furniture that I never used. Imagine the largest bed-set possible, a kitchen table that collected mail, and a couch that was only used by the dog…

What I’m getting at here is that the 900 square foot space I live in now doesn’t feel claustrophobic because it’s not overstocked with things I don’t need. I got rid of small kitchen appliances (i.e. swap your coffee maker for a French press), have shelving in our closet instead of dressers, and the dog kennel was replaced by a plywood door that keeps Luna in the basement.

4. Skip the Dryer, Install a Clothesline!

Clothing drying rack that is meant for indoor use. Caption states it's great for indoor drying in place of outside clotheslines!
Drying racks are a great alternative to an outdoor clothesline!

Drying my clothing on a clothesline has vastly changed my life. Not only does the dryer use a TON of energy, but it ruins your clothes. 

Ever wondered what lint was made of? The cotton fibers from your clothes. So basically, your dryer is pulling out little pieces of your clothing with every tumble. This leads to clothing wearing out and creating further waste. By line drying, you’re making your clothes last longer, which saves you money AND keeps clothes wearable longer.

Don’t just take my word for it, skip the dryer for a month and take a look at your electricity bill. You’ll be amazed how much of a difference it makes. And when you’re using your scratchy towels, just think of all of the coal that didn’t need to be burned just so you could have a fluffy towel.

5. Less Items In Your Beauty Routine.

Worker B Hand Cream, Alaffia Face Lotion, Not Your Mother's Dry Shampoo, Derma-E Anti Blemish serum, Dr. Bronner's Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Bert's Bee's Wild Cherry Chapstick.
Annie’s beauty regimen requirements.

I’m going to assume that anyone reading this article is already buying eco-friendly beauty items, so I’ll let that topic rest. But I will say that downsizing my beauty routine was one way to be more environmentally conscious.

I’ve spent the better part of the past year quitting every one of my products and seeing if I can live without it. This step was surprisingly fun, it was kind of like a science experiment! First, I asked the question, how many products do I truly need? Then, I tested the independent variables. Here are my results…

  • I don’t really like wearing or applying makeup.
  • I cannot survive a Minnesota winter without some sort of hand moisturizer.
  • Makeup wipes are dreadful and the lazy way out of washing your face.
  • Breakouts happen and I like having a reactive acne product to respond.
  • I LOVE chapstick.
  • Coconut oil is the answer to everything, plus it comes in a glass jar!
  • Dry shampoo is a necessity.

All of these conclusions led me to the perfect (for me) beauty regimen of items I’ve deemed important. 

I quit purchasing the things I could live without and accepted the fact that not everything is 100%, perfectly eco-friendly. Unfortunately, as much as I would love to quit buying plastic, the options are not always available.

If you take anything away from this post, please remember that a sustainable lifestyle is not one-size fits all. It’s a combination of choices you make that suit your family needs. This list of items to downsize might not all be for you, but taking the time and putting in the effort to downsize your consumption is bold and heroic.

Read more in our sustainable category!

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This post was written by Annie Schmitz, September 2020.

Annie standing at the Lincoln Waterfowl Production area during a gravel bike ride.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Andrew

    A mini fridge! Do you have a separate freezer? I remember trying ineffectively to fit a Smirnoff bottle into that little compartment during college.

    1. Annie Schmitz

      =) Just the mini fridge! But we do have a chest freezer, we need somewhere to store all of our grass-fed beef!

  2. Cally

    Love these ideas!

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