• Elizabeth Listerman

Living Healthy and Sustainably


Two years ago, I moved into a cute, quaint house in the westside of downtown Grand Rapids. Being a big fan of home decor and having a mother who has horded weird knick-knacks and antique furniture her entire life, I knew this house was not going to be empty or have any lack in character. This was going to be my dream downtown GR house that I had always wanted. My bachelor pad you might say. I moved in when I was 20 with two roommates, and I knew that was the beginning of the greatest years of my life.

I knew what I wanted in this house right away, being a mega-fan of Fixer Upper and having an eye for cute things, and a mother who loved to help even when she shouldn’t. I knew this house’s style was going to embody me (and my roommates’ style) no matter what.

First, I wanted plants, lots of them, indoor and outdoor, all over the house, who cares, just everywhere. Next, I wanted open kitchen shelving to show my odd collection of copper teapots, but also my expensive dinnerware from Anthropology that did not deserve to be kept in some dark, dingy, old corner. After that I wanted/needed an herb garden out back, no exceptions, it was a must. Lastly, I wanted a recycling service, weird necessity I know, but I had never had recycling before, and I felt it was important my empty wine bottles, and Amazon boxes went somewhere where they could thrive and not pollute the Earth.

As all these features came full circle in our house, I knew I was in love. In love with the idea of living in my 20’s in downtown Grand Rapids with my best friends, and in love with the plants and ambiance that is our home.

After the first year and a half, two more of my friends moved in, and in a small little house with one fridge and a very narrow, and short driveway, we now housed five. What we noticed right away was how fast our trashcan filled up, how much we went through dish soap/dishwasher pods, and with Covid-19, how harmful and toxic our cleaning supplies were. We had to make a change.

First, paper towel was expensive and wasteful, and we knew that had to go. My roommates found reusable paper towel on Amazon, easy enough, and so inexpensive it was crazy. We bought a bunch and stuck them under our kitchen sink a long with a couple miscellaneous rags, and we were golden. So easy to use, clean them in the dishwasher, and now you are one step closer to being a slightly more sustainable household.

Next, we just cut out those paper plates. Get rid of them, don’t buy them, switch to using your plastic, porcelain, clay, or glass REUSABLE plates. I know you might feel fancy even when just eating a bagel but trust me it’s worth it.

Dryer sheets? I don’t know them. We ended up just recently switching to wool dryer balls. They are natural, reusable, eco-friendly, do not administer any chemicals, and honestly fun. They also shorten drying time, and when paired with a little bit of essentials oils dripped into their wool, they leave your clothes smell amazing. Lavender and bergamot are my go-to’s.

Next, we switched our cleaning supplies. Our dish soap and laundry detergent both are now Ever Spring, a brand that prides itself in being naturally scented, cruelty free, bio based, with biodegradable packaging, and also inexpensive compared to big, popular brands that are harmful in chemicals. As well as our multi-surface cleaners are now Thieves essential oils, thanks to my roommate and her free samples. Thieves was an amazing switch. They are all-natural ingredients, not chemically harmful, and smell so good compared to bleach, it’s crazy.

Straws was our next out. In a female-oriented house, we love our straws with our Moscow mules, mojitos, or iced coffee. But what made it even better is when we bought reusable, copper straws from Target. For one, it looks so much cuter, and two, we weren’t being wasteful or endangering turtles’ lives. Win-win.

These healthy and sustainable changes we made in our house really became a game changer. We cut costs, became somehow less cluttered, saved on trash pick-up and garbage bags, ultimately smelled fresher all the time, and overall just felt more comfortable and confident in our lifestyles and how we live day to day in our home when we want to be environmentally conscious individuals.

Now, when I rethink concepts that I knew I wanted when moving into this house. I have to add one: plants, open shelving, herb garden, recycling, and sustainable and healthy products that are environmentally friendly. Even though we haven’t changed much, we still made a change, and from there I hope to grow and expand my lifestyle in order to do my part to help take care of the home that takes care of me.

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