7 habits of eco-living

the 7 habits of eco-living

At a certain point in my life I stopped needing to be right and I started wanting to be better. I’m not sure what that’s all about but I think it’s a stage we all hit. Like your teens is full of angst and learning how to handle your body, your 20s are all about figuring out who you are, and your 30s are about not giving a shit. For whatever reason, I started wanting to be a better human, a more critical thinker, a more ethical individual, a kinder, more empathetic person. Working in a leadership role in social services I have lots of opportunities to learn how to grow. I also recently picked up The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen Covey. I’m not done the book [ it’s a thick, thought-provoking doozie ] but so far my mind is getting blown every time I turn the page. I think I’m going to write a few posts over the next while on this theme Because. Really. The lessons in this book are UBER translatable – they can be applied to your life at home, at work, or [ drumroll …] the environment.

the 7 habits of eco-living because really

Today I’m into the Product / Production Capacity balance lesson. I know – that sounds hella technical and boring. BUT IT’S NOT! trust me – because the lesson is taught through a fable [ a story about something that teaches you about something else entirely – so deep! ]

‘This fable is the story of a poor farmer who finds his pet goose sitting on a glittering golden egg. At first, he thinks it must be a trick. But he has second thoughts and takes the egg to be appraised instead.

The egg is pure gold! The farmer can’t believe his good fortune. He becomes even more excited the next day when he finds a second golden egg. Day after day, he awakens to rush to the nest and find another golden egg. He becomes fabulously wealthy; it all seems too good to be true.

But with his increasing wealth comes greed and impatience. Unable to wait day after day for the golden eggs, the farmer decides he will kill the goose and get them all at once. But when he opens the goose, he finds it empty. There are no golden eggs – and now there is no way to get any more.

Within this fable is a natural law, a principle – the basic definition of effectiveness. Most people believe that the more you produce, the more you do, the more effective you are.

But as the story shows –the 7 habits of eco-living true effectiveness.png

If you adopt a pattern of life that focuses only on golden eggs and neglects the goose you will soon be without the asset that produced the golden eggs. On the other hand, if you only take care of the goose with no aim toward the golden eggs, you soon won’t have the wherewithal to feed yourself or the goose.’

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Now – consider this through an eco-lens.

Humans have learned to take  what we need and are nourished and prosperous as a result. This is the basis of consumption. In a sustainable system the consumer leaves byproduct that is consumed by the producer and continues to replenish (the producing capacity is taken care of by the product). In a capitalist system the singular focus on production and consumption without nurturing the eco-system that made it all possible to begin with throws all balance off kilter. We have been only focusing on the golden eggs for decades, and our goose is struggling.

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In the spirit of celebrating the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I believe there are 7 easy things everyone can do to nurture our goose of a planet a bit. My 7 for this week will be:

  1. Riding my bike everywhere that I can – I’m going to get some fresh air and work on my buns of steel
  2. Eating vegetarian [ meals not people ] as often as possible [ it’s always possible ]
  3. Going plastic free – this one may be tough. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but that shit is EVERYWHERE
  4. Turning the air conditioning down – sweating is for winners
  5. Not buying anything other than groceries. I have all I need.
  6. Making natural toothpaste. I think it’s going to be gross but any taste can be acquired. Stay tuned.
  7. Unplugging appliances that aren’t in use

I can do it – want to try some of your own?

Let me know about it, maybe I’ll pick up your habits too


A cure for wasteful living – cleaning your home the natural way

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If you’re anything like me you maybe grew up thinking the house is not clean until it smells like chemicals. And that nothing can get it clean like chemicals can. Bacteria are all bad and they all have to go, and nothing kills bacteria like lysol. When I decided to consciously live greener this is one of the first [ easiest ] changes I made.

The easiest way : Barely change anything

Remember when you bought your Mr Clean at the store? It is becoming more and more common that you can also buy eco-friendly alternatives at your grocer. A couple of my favorites [ because they work well and smell so so good ] –

See that tiny cap on the Method Laundry Detergent? You only have to use half of that to wash a load. Sure it’s a little more pricey than Tide, but you’re going to save the money when you get twice as many loads done.

Once you got the products down, you need to ditch the disposals and embrace ‘UNpaper towel’ [ which just means washable cloth – like the olden days ]. The easiest way to do this one is to

a. Find rags

b. Use them

If you’re stuck on a. Find rags – Zero Waste Memoirs has a great post on their blog about where to start. I love that they make it easy by recommending you start with your own linen closet, moving on to your friend’s linen closet, then your clothing  closet …

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Basically, if you have a closet [ or reasonable access to someone else’s ], there is no reason you can’t accomplish this step.

If you’re up for some effort : Check out small businesses selling local, organic, eco-friendly and handmade products

I did a little groundwork for you on Etsy this morning [ and you’re welcome – Etsy shopping it like a trap; there are SO MANY amazing vendors to be found! ]

So again, you’ll need the products :

And you’ll need a way to use them :


If you are up for all the effort : Make your own

I’ve been working my way up to this step and I feel like I’m ready [ cue image of me doing a Rocky-style jab-dance move in the kitchen ]. I’ve already tried making un-paper towels and was so pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. I used thrifted [ CLEAN ] facecloths as my base and chose a cotton fabric from my scrap stash in a print that I love.

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And voila!

I’ve not yet tried making my own cleaning products but I hope to soon. I’ve found some recipes on Pinterest [ they’re EVERYWHERE ] with differing difficulty levels  like this one that I’m going to try to start off with :

Have you tried it? Any tips?

Reading David Suzuki – the Legacy

david suzuki the legacy

I stumbled on David Suzuki’s book The Legacy in a thrift shop a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure whether I’d like it; knowing that Suzuki is a scientist, I was terrified it would be full of scientific mumbo-jumbo that I couldn’t understand or relate to. But instead it is poetically written full of wisdom, a strong dose of reality for anyone needing to be converted, and hope.

Combining biography and his life’s learnings, Suzuki tells us a story story that reinforces how all humans belong to complex [ but simple ] eco systems that we require for survival, that we risk through modern economic practice, and that we hold responsibility for nurturing.

I’m not a fan [ at all ] of trying to urge action by scaring the shit out of people. And Suzuki does do a bit of that. But I forgave him because I liked it – and I like him …

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He tells us a story about bacteria, dividing every minute in a test tube (the bacteria represent us, and their test tube is the planet :

“At time zero, there is one cell: at one minute, there are two; … and so on. At sixty minutes, the test tube is full of bacteria and there is no food left. At fifty-seven minutes, it’s only 3 per cent full. If at that moment, one of the bacteria points out they have a population problem, others would jeer, ‘What have you been smoking? Ninety-seven percent of the test tube is empty, and we’ve been around for fifty-five minutes!’ Yet they would be five minutes from filling it.

Let’s say that at fifty-nine minutes, the bacteria belatedly realize they have only a minute left and pour money into scientific research. But the test tube is all they have. They can no more increase the amount of food and space than we could increase the amount of air, water, soil or biodiversity on Earth.

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The attempt to maintain endless growth is a delusional fantasy. We are already past the fifty-ninth minute. It takes 1.3 years to replace what humans exploit in a year. In other words, rather than living on biological interest, we are drawing down on natural capital. I make no apology for what I say.”

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The Legacy isn’t all about doom and gloom – it shifts to hope at about the half way point. Reminding us of our humanness. Encouraging cooperation with nature and with each other, our ability to learn and re-imagine how we live. Our potential for sustainable life is only limited by our ability to believe we can do it. Just like the fish, birds and bears, we evolved and are capable of adaptation. Suzuki [ who I wish I was on a first name basis with by now, but calling him David just doesn’t seem right ] reminds us that ‘Our great evolutionary advantage was the ability to line our sights and look ahead, to imagine the world as it could be and then make the best choices to move toward that vision’. It’s just a matter of ensuring that the vision we are working our way toward is a responsible, ethical and sustainable one.

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The writing flows beautifully and it was an easy read; both educational and inspiring.

If you’re still unsure – would you like to read my copy? Because I believe in passing a good thing on. Leave a comment if you’d like a chance and I’ll choose someone to mail my copy to – happy reading!

the trouble with resilience

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Resilience is like the mother load of all personality traits. It’s one of the best ones. If you’re resilient, it doesn’t matter if you suck – you are likely capable of coping with it, then adapting to better suit your environment, and trying again [ bouncing back ].

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In a world of positive bias, resilience represents strength, confidence, effort and ability – all the things that are good in the world. And we get really excited about it; celebrating resilient kids, or relying on the resilience of the stock market, working our resilience muscles so they are as big as our minds, bodies and souls can contain. We can’t get enough.

But the world is made of balance and everything positive has a limit, where it becomes a vulnerability, or a downfall. And resilience isn’t bullet proof – it has a rarely considered downside as well.

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Resilience can be hella confusing : Resilient people are capable of coping but don’t always feel resilient [ I know – what?! ] :

  • There are moments and days when all efforts at resilience [ coping ] escape you
  • On those days, you may feel weak [ not resilient ]
  • But a resilient person recognizes that not all days will be made of unicorns and sunshine, not all battles will be won, not all emotions are enjoyable to go through
  • So a resilient person will feel the shittiest of shitty days
  • But understands that it’s a part of life, it’s temporary, and this too shall pass
  • And will bounce back when they’re ready
  • [ and repeat ]

Demonstrating resilience may encourage us to overlook a conflict that needs to be resolved : When a weed grows through the cracks in the pavement it demonstrates resilience. That doesn’t mean that we should pour cement over all our green spaces. When nature still exists despite pollution, we are at risk of doing nothing; seeing only the resilience and forgetting about the problem.

Adaptability may look like resilience, but isn’t always : When we are so resilient that we are able to adapt and thrive despite an unhealthy environment, I think this is when our strength stops being resilience. And resilience becomes selfishness instead; only considering whether we can thrive ( forget you endangered species ), or whether we can thrive now ( forget you children-are-our-future ).

the trouble with resilience - forget you endangered species.png

Sometimes what we think is resilience is actually complacency : A positive outlook stops being a strength if something is wrong in your environment [ ahem – global warming ] but you put your blinders on and shut it out. It’s not resilience when you forget how effing rad you are and how you are capable of being part of change. When the status quo is all you’re maintaining, you may want to re-evaluate whether the status quo was good enough.

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I have a confession to make – resilience is one of my favorite things. It makes us humans incredible and it’s one of the traits that we have in common with nature [ and nature is my home girl ].

You build it through caring [ how cool is that ?! ]. Fill up other people’s buckets, and fill up your own. But consider building resilience carefully: paying attention to how you practice resilience and critically thinking about whether your resilience is serving more than just you. Because in an ideal world, resilient people make resilient communities; giving as much as they take and living in balance.


what we have to gain when living with less

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I feel you – there are lots of reasons to believe you can’t succeed with a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Or that it’s not going to benefit you enough to balance out everything you’ll lose. People are always quick to embrace financial wellness, or physical health and fitness changes, where the personal benefits are obvious and immediate. Eco-friendly changes don’t come with as obvious personal gains.

I know you’ve wondered whether it’s worth it. I think we’ve been led astray a little bit by a culture and society that taught us from birth that we should be able to have whatever it is that we want, we should be able to have it conveniently, and we should be able to change our minds whenever we like – abandoning the old in favor of the new. We are actually so attached to these beliefs we forget they are beliefs. We accept them as truths instead and we forget to critically think about the negative impacts that our lifestyles may have.

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The result is that we’re probably all a little messed up about how we live in and on the earth. Now we are reasoning adults who aren’t so sure the earth can sustain all those rotten habits we grew up with. So we end up confused, and unsure, sometimes with more disbelief in ourselves than belief in our ability to change.

Some of the eco-resistant thoughts that I struggle with are:

  • I am going to get in so much trouble for being late for work if I can’t get there in under 5 minutes in my car [ I seem to have an extreme dawdling problem on workday mornings ]
  • Am I responsible for my live-in man-friend’s habits too?
  • Am I going to be miserable if I just keep cutting things out [ ie: meat, packaged anything, getting new things just because I want new things ]
  • How do I stay clean when even eco-friendly bathroom products still come wrapped in plastic?
  • Holy sh*t I forgot my bags – how many of my groceries can I fit in my purse / arms?


One of my favorite inspiring quotes – because of it’s simplicity, it’s positive focus, and it’s ‘let’s own this shit’-ness – is :

what we have to gain from living with less - if you don't like it change it if you can't change it change the way you think about it.png

And I’ve been batting that idea around in my head each time one of my defeatist ‘i can’t do this eco-thing’ thoughts comes up.

So what do you have to gain?

  1. Likely some muscle and fitness. If you put any effort into reducing your reliance on motor vehicle transportation you’ll find yourself walking more, skateboarding / biking / skating to your destination.


2. Peace and quiet. When you train yourself to look away from all the shiny deals you don’t need you stop walking around believing that you don’t have enough, looking for something you can buy to make you more whole. Instead you know you are whole enough, and you only shop when needed.

3. Dolla bills yo – your bank account will likely benefit when you start thinking more critically about whether or not you ‘need’ that new __ ( fill in the blank ) ___ and more often than not you decide not to buy.

4.Quality. Now that you’ve decided not to buy unless you have to, you may also choose not to buy unless the item is intended to last. Hello high quality clothing, good bye fast fashion. Yes to well made furniture. See ya to plastic. You get the idea.




little green dress

little green dress a spotlight on eco-friendly fashion

Welcome back to my Little Green Dress spotlight series. If you missed our earlier spotlights, check out my features on Rubypearl, Kimmi Designs, Pondhopper Studio, Green Market Vintage, and last week’s Perch Traveling BoutiquePerch Traveling Boutique.

I started this spotlight series after perusing Etsy for summer clothes and being blown away by the talent that people have creating beautiful fashions that are eco-friendly. And I wondered, what would it look like to spotlight all of them in one place? [ like here?! ]

Today I’m featuring Emmevielle. I stumbled on this dress on Instagram from @emmevielle and thought it would be a great dress for a summer beach party or evening out. When I realized that it was hand painted I thought it was effing brilliant. I reached out to Emmevielle who was happy to be featured.

Tell me about you and your shop

First and foremost, I am a mixed bag. I took a roundabout way to finding my true passion. I am trained in Latin and classical Greek with a graduate degree in Applied Linguistics. Thrift shopping had always been my way of relaxing and recharging. Little did I know that it would become integral to my business.

Years ago, a friend told me about Etsy. At that tiime, I had been making coats for little girls. I decided to try Etsy and I loved it. Over time, my creative expression evolved to designing upcycled clothing.

What inspires you to run an eco-friendly business?

I am a clothing designer who finds inspiration in the cast off goods at thrift stores. To me, thrift stores offer endless possibilities for creativity – I really look forward to shopping every week.

Years ago while shopping, I happened to pick up 2 pieces that appealed to me. That’s when something clicked; I realized that the 2 pieces would look even better combined. Up until then, I had only sewn with new fabrics – mostly winter coats for little girls.

When I put the 2 pieces together, I realized that this would be my new direction in sewing. I decided to work almost exclusively with recycled clothing. It brought together the 2 things I love – thrift shopping and sewing. It was a bonus that this was an eco-friendly direction to take.

My shop mainly offers upcycled, reconstructed clothing. From time to time, I do work with new fabric when something really catches my eye. I feel really good about what I do.

Do you have an eco-friendly mantra that you live by?

The mantra I live by is to do the most with what I have. I shop at about 3 thrift stores each week and I am always looking for the unique, colorful possibilites that I can create. My focus is to create something beautiful out of clothing ‘soulmates’ with different backgrounds. It is incredible when different pieces click to develop something extraordinary.

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I have found my passion! The gritty trips to the usually bad neighborhoods make thrifting challenging sometimes. But I find it to be so worth it. When I achieve my vision for a particular piece, there really is no better feeling for me. Sewing is a creative outlet for me.


little green dress

little green dress a spotlight on eco-friendly fashion

If this is your first time stopping by my blog – hello and thank you. I’m Sarah and I started Saving Sarah Grace hoping that I can help inspire people to consider living an eco-friendly lifestyle. This is my Little Green Dress spotlight series – where I’ve featured Rubypearl, Kimmi Designs, Pondhopper Studio, and last week’s Green Market Vintage.

I was ‘window shopping’ on Etsy for some summer clothing and started to notice that there are some seriously talented people creating beautiful fashions that are eco-friendly. And I wondered, what would it look like to spotlight all of them in one place? [ like here?! ] So I started the Little Green Dress series highlighting all the awesome I found.

This week I am SO excited to be featuring my dear friend Robyn and her business Perch Traveling Boutique [ a beautiful blue fashion bus ] and Perch E-Boutique.

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Tell us about you and your shop

It was New Year’s Eve 2012. Friends from the States were in town to help us celebrate.  Sometime during that visit, I was introduced to the concept of a mobile boutique. “You have got to see this shop called Lodekka! And right next door is another little gem called Wanderlust!” gushed my dear friend.  So, of course, we searched the world wide web…. and there they were…. two charming vintage shops, one housed inside a double-decker bus and one in a tiny trailer. At that moment my world changed.  I knew I had to have a mobile vintage boutique, and the concept of Perch Travelling Boutique was born.

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Our first attempt at a mobile shop was with a renovated concession stand, somewhat like a trailer. We used it for one season, but at 8′ x 10′, it simply wasn’t big enough. We started hunting for something different. We took a look at countless trailers and tour buses, and finally we found it; the perfect headquarters for my travelling boutique… a twenty two foot school bus!  She was classic school bus yellow, and covered in a layer of grime, but she had good bones.

perch travelling boutique

how sweet is this little blue bus? PS : it’s upcycled!

We brought her home and little by little transformed the old bus  into a sparkling shop, complete with laminate floors, shelves and racks for clothes, a tiny~ yet functional~change room and a new coat of robin’s egg blue paint!  A bit later I added lettering and illustrations to the exterior.

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it’s dreamy in here …

The rest is history! We filled the blue bus with all sorts of vintage treasures: clothing to accessories, housewares to books.  And off we went to events and community markets, making friends and wow-ing passer-bys wherever we went.

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The successes I’ve had with Perch makes my heart swell with pride. I accomplished my goal of creating an inviting, charming, unique mobile shop unlike any other retail boutique in the Okanagan. What is  next for Perch?  Who knows? The sky’s the limit!

perch e boutique

Perch e-boutique was born last night! Stay in touch to see what gets added to the inventory here

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My mobile shop is the cornerstone of my vintage clothing business. It is the first of its kind in the Okanagan.

What does running an eco-friendly business mean to you?

Being eco friendly is a side effect of ‘buying vintage’. When you buy, and wear, vintage clothing you aren’t contributing to fast fashion and consumerism. The quality and longevity of vintage clothing makes it easy to reduce the time and money spent replacing today’s cheaply made clothes.

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Do you have an eco-friendly mantra you live by?

It may be a bit cliche but my eco-mantra is ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. I feel like that’s what I’m doing everyday and it’s been a way to find joy in my work.

reduce reuse recycle oldschool mantra from a vintage girlboss