Sustainable Living "Off the Grid" with Madrone Hill Cottage (sponsored by Sol Organics)

I sat down with my mom- Karin Cantlon, of Madrone Hill Cottage this past week. 

At Madrone Hill Cottage, she and my Dad- Joe, live off the grid. When i say “off the grid” I don’t mean they just live in the middle of nowhere (which they do), I mean they live off of the electrical grid and they have no city plumbing or city water. No, this does not mean they are living like campers!

Instead, they power their home with solar, use a compostable toilet, and collect their own rainwater. 

They practice sustainable living in some very big ways. But I asked Karin, what about the small things? What are some ways they practice sustainable living in their everyday choices that the rest of us can reap inspiration from? 

Karin gave me 4 things she does to foster her environmentally conscious lifestyle while living off the grid. 

  1. Karin is mindful to purchase her linens and towels from companies that are sustainable and ethical. She, like myself, uses SOL organics! Sol Organics is fair trade, uses zero plastic in their packaging, and even donates $7.50 per sale to charity! SOL uses 100% organic cotton grown from non-GMO seed. They are committed to supporting better farming practices that reduce carbon footprint, conserve and protect drinking water, and keep us and our communities safe. Being certified fair trade, they have a commitment to no child labor- EVER, and they partner only with facilities that pay a LIVING wage and are committed to the wellbeing of the people who work there. (use code RFF20 for 20% off)


    Not to mention- how beautiful is this bedding bundle in their cottage?! 

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2. From day one, Karin was conscious of her interior design. I learned thrifting and antique shopping from my mom. She’s been popping tags since before it was cool. (haha- Macklemore anyone?!) Instead of buying new, most of her items are up-cycled! She has a whole blog post HERE dedicated to sustainable and affordable ways to design, but here are a few examples:

  • The “kitchen table. Karin and Joe used the top of of my childhood table that we’ve had since I can remember to create their island table. They simply cut off the legs and mounted it to the metal storage base that they wanted.  In her blog post, Karin says, “I was going to purchase hardwood lumber for our island table, which was going to be somewhat pricey. Joe realized that our current tabletop would fit perfectly, we just needed to remove the legs! I was super happy we could incorporate it, since it was the first piece of furniture Joe and I purchased as a married couple and both our kids grew up eating meals, finishing homework, and making crafts at this table.”

  • The green “pantry” door. A great score from an antique store!

  • The bathroom “vanity”. To create this lovely piece, Karin cut a hole in the top of an old dresser that she repaint and put a sink in it! The plumbing process was a more intensive than that… but you get the idea!

  • The kitchen sink. She found this old barn house sink from Craigslist. She looked for 8 months before she found the perfect one. According to Karin, patience is KEY in sustainable design.

The kitchen table.

The kitchen table.

The pantry door.

The pantry door.

An antique dresser from an estate sale.

An antique dresser from an estate sale.

The barn house sink from Craigslist.

The barn house sink from Craigslist.

3. She shops in bulk. 

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4. Karin is conscious of her water usage. When you live in Central Texas that is prone to droughts and you are responsible for collecting all your own water from the rain, you become highly aware of your water usage. This is true even in times of plenty. At this point, Joe and Karin have built up enough water supply that they really don’t NEED to “watch” their water usage, but water becomes more precious when you know where it came from and have a realization that it is a finite and valuable resource. This is a lesson we can all apply!! 

Use code RFF20 for 20% off @ Sol Organics.

Sustainably Supported by SOL Organics. As always, all opinions are mine & these are products I truly love!  #sponsored


8 Easy Ways to Reduce Plastic in 2019

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1. Ditch single use grocery bags.

This is huge. Check out these stats from biologicaldiversity.org:

  • Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture.

  • It only takes about 14 plastic bags for the equivalent of the gas required to drive one mile.

  • The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year.

  • Plastic bags take 1000+ years to break down.

The best solution to single use bags is not to buy reusable plastic bags. While that is certainly better, these bags are still plastic and not biodegradable. They will eventually end up in landfills. So the best alternatives are those made of cotton or hemp or other compostable material.

When my cotton bags get dirty, I simply throw them in the wash.

Alternatives to plastic bags:

2. Ditch plastic baggies.

Yes, they are so so convenient for snacks. But a great and reusable alternative are reusable silicone bags, and beeswax wraps.

Alternatives to plastic baggies:

3. Shop in bulk

Think about it- essentially everything you buy is packaged. That is a LOT of packaging. You can easily reduce this dramatically by shopping in bulk. Bonus points- you save money and have a very spiffy and tidy looking pantry!

For shopping in bulk, take your own mason jars and/or small cotton bags for things like nuts and legumes. Ask the merchant to weigh the jars and write the tar weight on the lid so you are not paying for the weight of the jar. Most stores will have no issue doing this.

If they do, just use the bags/containers they provide and reuse them for next time.

Google search for a bulk store in your area! Of course, many grocery stores have a bulk section, but you’ll really hit the jackpot if you can find a store dedicated to BULK!

Some of my favorite bulk items are:

  • Oats

  • Pasta

  • Baking ingredients such as cocoa powder, flour & sugar.

  • Nuts

  • Dried fruit

  • Grains & legumes

  • Tea

  • Spices

  • Balsamic vinegar

  • Apple cider vinegar

Items for bulk shopping:

  • Eco bag produce bags

  • Mason jars

4. Make your own multi-purpose cleaner.

The truth is, you don’t need a different cleaning product for every crevice of your home! You can simply make your own multi-purpose cleaner to reduce money and waste.

(note: not for use on granite or marble countertops - the vinegar can damage the natural stone.. But it’s great for everything else!)

Cleaner Recipe

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar (I use this because I can get it in bulk- but you can use white vinegar as well. Both of these vinegars you can get in glass jars.)

  • 2 cups water

  • 25 drops essential oil of choice  (I recommend you choose a citrus or green oil, such as, lemon, orange, tea tree, or eucalyptus. They are super fresh and antibacterial as well.)  

Method:

Mix ingredients together and pour into a glass spray bottle. Use as needed. (You can grab some glass spray bottles here! Use code ROOTFORFOOD)

5. Switch to a safety razor.

Plastic disposable razors have a very short lifespan. Per the EPA, we throw away billions of razors every year. Where to these end up? Landfills and oceans never to decompose.

On the contrary, safety razors are meant to last a lifetime! Only the razor blades need to be recycled and unlike multi blade razors, standard double-edge safety razor blades are fully-recyclable.

Grab yours here! ( promo code ROOTFORFOOD)

6. Switch to a compostable toothbrush.

3.5 billion toothbrushes are sold every year. We can assume that the majority of these are not compostable or recycled. Need I say more?

Grab your own compostable toothbrush here. ( promo code ROOTFORFOOD)

7. Switch to a menstrual cup.

Ladies, how environmentally friendly are your periods?

It is estimated that over 45 billion products related to periods are thrown away every year. This includes tampons, pads and applicators. Sadly, the Ocean Conservancy collected nearly 30,000 used tampons and applicators on beaches in just a single day in 2015.  When tampons are flushed, they can end up in sewer systems and waterways. When they are thrown away, they go to landfill. Plastic applicators take centuries to biodegrade- cardboard is a better alternative.

Pads are majority made of plastic and therefore, are not biodegradable.

As an alternative, menstrual cups take a bit to get use to, but once you go to one, you will never go back! Seriously- this thing has changed my period experience. Grab yours here. You'll want a size A if you’ve never had children and a size B if you have.

8. Switch to Plastic Free Skincare!

My absolute favorite skin care line is Primally Pure. Not only do they use glass jars, they take their sourcing very seriously with ethical and sustainable standards! You can listen to their esthetician talk about their company, their product, and holistic skin care here.

Not to mention, this stuff has changed my face.

My favorite items are:

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More Sustainable Holiday Tips - from you all!

I asked you all on instagram what you do to make YOUR holiday more sustainable.

And y’all delivered!!! I got so many great and inspiring responses. Of course, I had to make a blog post out of them. I think we can ALL take away some inspiration from this list!

Enjoy! If you have any more tips, leave them in the comments section!

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  1. I’ve been getting thrifted scarves and such to wrap presents in instead of paper!

  2. Aquarium passes for people with kids.

  3. Buy tickets to an experience or membership, instead of an item.

  4. Supporting local artists!

  5. Using re-usable wrapping paper & home-making gifts!

  6. Buy good, sustainable, local coffee beans from roasters near you!

  7. Donate to a cause that each person in your family would love!

  8. Sponsoring family events instead of gifts. Laser tag and bowling together.

  9. Making little zero-waste starter kits as stocking stuffers! With a mason jar + bamboo utensils + reusable straw.

  10. Giving homemade/local edible gifts!

  11. Carry chop sticks, reusable wear on the go! Making my own doterra gifts.

  12. Use Sunday color comics as wrapping paper. This is really a tip for next year. Save the comics from each paper for a year.

  13. I’m asking my family to not use wrapping paper.

  14. We’re having a homemade Christmas and I always wrap with / reuse paper bags and newspapers.

  15. Fair trade gifts (coffee, leather goods, jewelry, etc.)

  16. My husband and I thrift at local shops regularly so we plan on a thrifted Christmas!

  17. I’m pretty serious about using fair trade super & chocolate for all that holiday baking!

  18. Using the app Good on You to find sustainable fashion and jewelry brands to gift people!

  19. Making everyone essential oil rollers. Making the ladies face oils and the men beard oils.

  20. I’m gifting reusable bags in the shape of fruit to all my my family members!

  21. Instead of gifts, everyone is getting holiday spirit and cheer from me!

What are you doing to make the holiday season more sustainable?!