Living Lightly

Susan Vogt on living more simply but abundantly

Browsing Posts in Days 365+

BOTTOM LINE for those in a hurry: • The best bags are ones you already have. Reuse them. (I had accumulated about 15 reusable bags over the years, mostly as swag from conferences. If you want to know which are the least harmful to the environment and why, read on. • Refuse Single Use Plastic […]

I recently returned from a trip to Olympic National Park on the Pacific Ocean. I saw some big stuff like huge Douglas Fir trees and millions of small stones along the ocean. It was awe inspiring and a visual reminder of how we humans are a relatively small part of creation. And then I returned […]

As my frequent readers know, I’m all into saving money and time. But sometimes my super frugal, efficient self gets in the way of my higher values of being generous and loving others. For example: Saving $ – Sometimes we have to spend in order to save. We’ve had solar panels on our house since 2018. […]

During this 2021 Summer of Covid one of my self-care, emotional survival practices has been weeding. Sure, I weed my garden more or less every summer, but with more time at home immersed in Zoom calls and less time traveling, the weeds have been calling to me – “Take me, Take me. Clean me out!” […]

Two recent experiences have prompted me to prayer. Ideally prayer is a conversation with the God who dwells within me as I explore deep spiritual truths about what is really important in life. Often this is a quiet time, prompted by scripture and nature. But sometimes the Spirit breaks in through the activities of my […]

We often use the terms reduce, reuse, and recycle in an
attempt to reduce our carbon footprint but consider the
stronger cousin of reduce – REFUSE.
Often we accept items we don’t need from restaurants or stores that find their way immediately to the
garbage can. If we do not need in the first place, REFUSE them, then we also don’t need to find ways of
reusing or recycling them.
Consider the Following:
1) REFUSE unnecessary plastic silverware, plates, napkins, or sauces when ordering food for
delivery or take out.
2) REFUSE excess plastic wrappings when carrying out from Restaurants. EX: plastic wrapping, etc.
3) REFUSE straws at Restaurants politely. If you don’t drink water, let the server know.
4) Offer positive feedback for Sustainable Practices at restaurants to encourage continued use
5) Consider giving the manager of the restaurant the sample letter below. Simply acknowledge
your enjoyment of the restaurant and ask manager to consider adopting sustainable practices.
6) Take reusable bags to the grocery store or other retail stores to use.
7) REFUSE plastic bags when buying produce at the Grocery Store.
8) Select sturdy and washable utensils and tableware for picnics and parties
9) Use washable clothes napkins instead of paper napkins
10) Use sponges and dishcloths instead of paper towels.
11) Refill Cleaning Supplies in Bottle from Bulk Refill Liquids.
12) Use rechargeable batteries
13) Bring Reusable Mugs to the coffee shop with you.
14) Reuse Printed Pages and Junk Mail for scratch paper
15) Use Handkerchiefs instead of paper tissue.
16) Borrow or Rent tools that you don’t often use such as ladders, tillers, tables for parties, tools.
17) Consider using cloth diapers.
18) Use Reusable Dryer Balls instead of dryer sheets.
19) Don’t treat “best used before” dates as absolute, check food to see if bad (non-meat/dairy).
20) Freeze excess leftovers rather than dumping it in the garbage. DEAR RESTAURANT MANAGEMENT,
I very much enjoy your food & service. In addition, I am very concerned about the welfare of our
planet. In the future, I plan to patronize business and order food from businesses and restaurants that
follow environmentally healthy practices. Please consider the following things.
1) Styrofoam plates and cups remain in landfills forever. They break down into small particles but
never go away. They pollute our land and our waterways forever. Approximately 1400 tons of
Styrofoam are buried each day in U.S. landfills. When burned, carbon black and carbon
monoxide are released into the air.
2) Plastic bags and plates are also not biodegradable. Animals and birds become tangled in the
trash and can suffocate or become permanently harmed.
3) Plastic silverware is considered one of the most harmful items to oceanic sea life. It breaks
into small sharp pieces that clog the stomachs of birds, fish and other animals.
4) Plastic straws break down into ever smaller particles releasing chemicals into the soil, air and
water that are harmful to people and wildlife.
There are small things that your restaurant can do to be more sustainable which I look forward and
appreciate. Please consider the following:
1) Use paper bags instead of plastic bags.
2) Use paper or cardboard plates and cups instead of plastic or Styrofoam
3) Consider biodegradable straws.
4) Don’t dispense plastic cutlery unless the consumer asks for it.
5) Consider biodegradable cutlery.
6) Use cardboard clamshells instead of Styrofoam or wrap food in aluminum foil.
Thank for the above considerations.

I’m not irresponsible. I’ve avoided eating in restaurants during the Covid pandemic. Nor am I stupid. I know that foam takeout food containers (often incorrectly called Styrofoam) are not good for our environment. BUT, I knew that our local restaurants were in economic peril from a lack of customers and I wanted to support local […]

Even though Lent has been over for a month and Easter candy has been consumed, I continue to ponder some lessons of creative fasting. Sure, during Lent I fasted from sweets and attachment to some of my older, unused possessions, but what about fasting from electronics and electricity? ELECTONICS – TV, radio, computer, phones TV: […]

Lent 2021 is over, but I have not pruned 100% of the hidden places (closets, drawers, storage spaces) in my home. As I reflect on these past 6 weeks, however, I keep discovering new insights. Here are 6 lessons that have bubbled up even after the Easter resurrection: 1. 100% is not the goal – […]

We’re down to Holy Week and I haven’t done a total clean sweep of all the hidden places in our home, but I have found stuff I didn’t know we still had and put them in 3 categories: 1. KIDS’ STUFF: * How many puzzles should one home have for a rainy day? Probably a […]

Sorting through misc. stuff can be fraught with thorny decisions. True, I’m not using it now, but maybe the next time we go camping we’ll want that old cook stove? Or maybe our kids will want it? Or it has sentimental value. These can be tough “first world lifestyle” decisions. But…once decided, corollary decisions arise […]

As I continued to search for stuff in secret places this past week, I stumbled upon the letter “S” – sheets, suits, squirrels, and surprises. (Those who like puzzles can stop right here and try to guess the connections.) For the rest of you: Sheets: When cleaning out the linen closet, I counted 11 sets […]

My last post was about giving away useful stuff (coats, curtains, rugs…) but I also found at least 6 kinds of hidden things that were pretty frivolous. Nerf Guns: Several years ago one of our children bought each family member a Nerf gun as a gag gift for Christmas (since we had a reputation for […]

I’m now 11 days into Lent and have carefully looked into hiding places in 2 of the bedrooms. I’ve found 2 expected giveaways, 2 surprises, and 1 disappointment. EXPECTED FINDS 1. Trivia: In a storage dresser I found miscellaneous items like an extra sewing kit, fancy gloves and purses that I have no use for. […]

On Feb. 17, 2021 Lent will begin again. 11 years ago I sought a more meaningful way to enter into the sacrificial season of Lent than just giving up candy. It started a Lenten tradition of trying to live more lightly on planet earth by decluttering my home, my life, and my spirit. A decade […]

I’ve been doing a lot of wondering lately. Perhaps it’s connected with Covid, aging, or a deepening spirituality – or maybe not. I wonder. Mostly I’ve been wondering about politics and how people of sound mind and good will can come to differing opinions about what is true. Isn’t truth by definition true? For example, […]

My blog post #218 focused on “Carrying a Heavy Heart.” That was 5 months ago. We still have Covid-19 and we in the northern hemisphere are still in the dark and cold of winter. Physical distancing still limits traditional socializing which usually lifts my spirit. I didn’t think political divisions could get much worse than […]

Having just finished 4 blog posts on the limitations of recycling plastics plus one post reminding us to commit to reducing our possessions, Christmas 2020 arrived. It hasn’t been a pretty year with the pandemic, racial unrest, and polarizing political tensions. Yet, many of us at least have probably received some nice new Christmas presents. […]

Reducing SUPs (Single Use Plastics) is a laudable goal. Although some SUPs are necessary (for example medical use), reducing & recycling plastics are only partial and temporary solutions. Therefore, the classic environmental mantra – Reduce/Reuse/Recycle needs a “P” for PREVENTION. I have divided Prevention into two sub-categories – Substitutions and Stop the Production. To explore […]

In my last blog post (Plastics-Is It Worth It?) I suggested you watch the documentary, Plastic Wars. If you did your homework, you may now feel discouraged. Is recycling plastic worth it? Yes, BUT…the better solution is to reduce use of Single Use Plastics (aka SUPs) so there isn’t so much to recycle. Sure, plastics […]