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"Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, waterbugs, tadpoles, frogs & turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, hickory nuts, trees to climb, animals to pet, hayfields, pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets – and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education." -Luther Burbank 1849 - 1926
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Simple choices to make for a simpler, higher quality life

Sometimes we just need a few good options from which to choose. Sometimes we need reason to change our habits. Sometimes we need a good story to tell. Making smart choices is a great story to tell! It makes you feel good and it gives your listener new ideas and options. the spirit of sharing a good story, here are some great idea starters from people I admire at Straw Bale Innovations.


Shop where things are produced locally. Consider that everything you buy has to travel to get to you. Have you ever found yourself eating a strawberry while watching the snow fall? Just think of how much fuel was burned to get that fruit to you. Find local community supported agriculture (CSA) or cooperative farms and buy your vegetables from them. Try to buy organic if you can find it and afford it. *


Grow your own food when possible. There is no shorter shipping route than from your garden or window sill planter to your table. Try your Green Thumb on and see how it fits. It’s in all of us, sometimes it just needs to be nurtured to shine.*


Bring your own bags when you shop. I saw a teller ask a man who had just bought a small paper bag full of nails if he wanted a bag. He looked at her and said “I already have one” holding up the paper bag. She said “no, a bag to put that in.” Bring your own bags and make a point to tell the check out clerk why. “Paper or Plastic?” I don’t like either option thank you, I brought my own!


Use recycled paper products in your home. Consider the following statement from Seventh Generation® Bathroom Tissue. “If every household in the U.S. replaced one 12-pack of 400 sheet virgin fiber bathroom tissue with 100% recycled ones, we could save:
  • 4.4 million trees
  • 11.6 million cubic feet of landfill space, equal to over 17,000 full garbage trucks
  • 1.6 billion gallons of water, a year’s supply over 12,700 families of four
  • And avoid 275,000 pounds of pollution”
Just think if every subscriber to this newsletter used nothing but 100% recycled bathroom tissue all year, every year. That would make a difference.


Adjust your water heater and your heating and cooling systems. By simply reducing the temperature on your water heater by a degree or two, you can save a lot of energy. The same is true for your heating system. The difference between 68°F and 73°F is not that great, but the savings are. If you have an air conditioner, raise the setting by five degrees and see the savings roll in. Even better, open your windows at night if you live in a climate where the temperatures cool off in the evenings. If you close your windows early in the morning, you will be able to hold on to much of that cool air and keep the AC from kicking on for hours. You can save money and minimize your impact on the planet by changing the settings on your HVAC system and water heater (and perhaps opening your windows).

Consider the above items a challenge. Can you do this for a year? For a month? A week? Whatever effort you can make will have an impact. My friend Jeff Golden, host of the Jefferson Public Radio show “The Jefferson Exchange,” ends his show every day with the saying: “Until next time, please do what you can do.” I love the simplicity of this statement and the shear truth of what it implies. We all can only do what we can do, no more. I encourage you to stretch into your true ability and then, as Jeff says, “do what you can do.”

Written by Andrew Morrison
Copyright 2006 Straw Bale Innovations, LLC

Straw Bale Innovations, LLC are the creators of the How-To Series of Instructional Straw Bale and Construction DVDs. To learn more about their step-by-step How-To straw bale DVDs, and to sign up for their FREE Straw Bale articles, visit