How to Realign Your Lifestyle Using Eco-Principles

With our global emphasis on green and sustainable living, many people are actively doing their part to engage in “green acts”. Whether it’s recycling, toting reusable grocery bags, there are a number of ways to engage yourself in balanced living

Seeing Differently

Step 1 to realigning your lifestyle using eco-principles is to begin seeing differently. See your entire existence as emerged within eco-living, rather than you as an individual acting out green acts.

 Stuart Haygarth would have taken this advice literally, inventing a sustainable eye glass chandelier that uses 620 pairs of discarded lenses to form a globe-like chandelier. For the designer, perhaps his living art is not only an example of using creativity to craft lifestyle choices, but also symbolic of what visionary work we can accomplish if we begin to see a little differently.

 Turning a Domestic Green Leaf

Turning over a green leaf begins with ourselves, in how we think and then in how we carry out those thoughts. Once we have internal balance, our focus can shift smoothly to an external balance. And while you may not be able to go save the rain forest, you can begin by changing how you view your home.

 View your home as an eco-habitat in itself, and once you perceive your home this way, you’ll treat it with more green care. The simplest way to begin thinking this way is to look at what toxic elements could be in your home – perhaps in your vacuum cleaner, carpet, paint, whether you have energy-efficient appliances, or even checking to see if the plastics you use to cook and eat with are made with toxic chemicals. It’s really very simple and just takes a small effort in reprogramming how you think. Once you shift how you think, your new thought patterns become healthy lifestyle habits.

 The Mind Body Equation

 Equally as important as your home is another vessel that you inhabit daily – your mind and body. These two are just as relevant in your eco thinking as your actions. When it comes to eco thinking, your habits aren’t just about what products you use or what daily habits you have that save that extra little bit of energy or water. It’s about how you think.

 Eco thinking is about harmony with one’s environment. And one of the most important things that should be in a harmonious state is our central selves. If we cannot achieve this, then in essence our eco habits are just frustrated (but not natural) extensions of ourselves. Achieving an eco balance internally through meditation, exercise, and intellectual stimulation is the simple solution to turning a truly balanced green leaf.

Shireen Qudosi


RI Sustainable Living Fest: A Recap

This post is long overdue as the Rhode Island Sustainable Living Festival took place about a month ago – but better late than never, right? 

The festival, put on by the Apeiron Institute here in RI is a two-day long event dedicated to showcasing sustainable living and renewable energy products as well as celebrating the green lifestyle.  Green Life Smart Life was an exhibitor at the event and met with individuals from across RI who were interested in learning about our green building project. 


While the festival presented an opportunity to showcase our project to the local community, it wasn’t what I would call a perfect event.  Some thoughts:

  • The festival took place at the Apeiron Instutite which is located in Coventry, RI.  For those of you not from RI, Coventry is very far from pretty much everything.  It is located in a section of the state that isn’t close to the highway and therefore takes many, many hours to get to (well, maybe not many, but it feels that way).  There is no way anyone would have just stumbled across the festival and we felt that this hurt attendance and also bringing the green message out to the mainstream.
  • Attendance was not great.  We had some nice conversations with folks who were clearly dedicated to sustainable living.  But like in the previous bullet, we weren’t reaching the consumers and Rhode Islanders who were unfamiliar or uneducated about these topics.  This is critical for making green a part of our every day lives. 
  • If you are from Rhode Island, you have to try Rhode iLin ice cream.  Their ice cream is made from local and organic ingredients and simply delicious.  Kim & I opted to eat a lot of this in place of lunch. 

We have a small mailing list as a result of the people we spoke with and many expressed interest in touring the home when it opens.  However, I don’t think the experience met our expectations.  I believe the staff at the Apeiron Institute worked extremely hard to put on this festival and do great work in the field of sustainability. 

But Rhode Island has a long way to go.  We need more mainstream events to educate people on the cost savings and benefits to the environment by living sustainably.  We need to be able to reach average Rhode Island families to talk about the health benefits of going green and dispel the myths that it is always so much more expensive than conventional living.  There needs to be a broad outreach to citizens to understand the environmental policies currently on the books in RI and where we can do better.  Now more than ever, with the RI economy in terrible shape and the best and brightest leaving to find jobs, we need to harness the power of sustainability to assess our current state and make smarter changes that create jobs.  Our infrastructure is falling apart, our deficit is through the roof and there is no industry left anymore. 

The RI Sustainable Living Festival brought to light one very important note: celebrating the lifestyle is not enough – we need solutions, change and mainstream adoption – and fast.

Posted by: Ashley / follow me on Twitter

Don’t Waste Your Waste; Compost and Let Your Garden Grow

My 4 year-old son and I were eating bananas on our patio last week when he carelessly threw the peel into our small flower bed/vegetable garden. Rather than scold the young whipper-snapper for sullying our tablecloth-sized, weed-laden attempt at sustainable living, I used the opportunity to teach a lesson about giving our “waste” a second life.  I turned to the youngster and half-jokingly asked, “What’re you starting a compost heap or something?”

Sponge-like and inquisitive as he is, he immediately replied, “Daddy, what’s a calm postheep?” I’m glad you asked. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to preserve landfill space while creating nutrient-rich soil for your garden, composting is simple, useful and well worth the minimum investment.

All of the information below is available on a website called, specifically in the, “Introduction to Composting” section which provides helpful and easy to follow instructions.

What you Need to Get Started:

Firstly, choose a bin system or specific area of the yard where the compost will be out of the way. This link  provides several different options depending on what your are composting and how you would like to use the final product

Beyond the bin, good composting is a matter of providing the proper environmental conditions for microbial life. Compost is made by billions of microbes (fungi, bacteria, etc.) that digest the yard and kitchen wastes (food) you provide for them. If the pile is cool enough, worms, insects, and their relatives will help out the microbes. All of these will slowly make compost out of your yard and kitchen wastes under any conditions. However, like people, these living things need air, water, and food. If you maintain your pile to provide for their needs, they’ll happily turn your yard and kitchen wastes into compost much more quickly.

What to Compost:


Actually, it’s usually easier to leave grass clippings in the lawn, where they will decompose and benefit the soil directly. However, they can be composted, too. Be cautious to add grass clippings in very thin layers, or thoroughly mix them in with other compost ingredients, as they otherwise tend to become slimy and matted down, excluding air from the pile. Fresh grass clippings are high in nitrogen, making them a ‘green’ compost ingredient.


Farmers are often very happy to get rid of spoiled hay bales that have been out in the rain, and will give them away or sell them at a low price. Grass hay will probably contain a lot of seed, which can resprout in your garden. Alfalfa hay will compost very readily. The greener the hay, the more nitrogen it contains. Be sure that any hay you plan to compost is well-moistened prior to addition to the pile.


Fruit and vegetable peels/rinds, tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells, and similar materials are great stuff to compost. They tend to be high in nitrogen (this puts them in the ‘greens’ category), and are usually quite soft and moist. As such, kitchen wastes need to be mixed in with drier/bulkier materials to allow complete air penetration. Many people compost their kitchen wastes in enclosed worm bins or bury them 8″ deep in the soil, to keep from attracting pests to an outdoor compost pile (check with your local government to see if it has regulations about this — some forbid open piles containing food wastes because of the pest issue). Avoid composting meat scraps, fatty food wastes, milk products, and bones — these materials are very attractive to pests.


If you live in an area where autumn leaves are still thrown away as garbage, cash in on the bounty each year by acquiring your neighbors’ leaves! Generally, leaves are an excellent compost ingredient. They can mat down and exclude air, though, so be sure that any clumps are thoroughly broken up, or that the leaves are only used in very thin layers. Ash and poplar/cottonwood leaves can raise soil pH if used in compost — this may not be beneficial if your soil is already alkaline, as many soils are in the West (especially in semiarid and arid climates). Dead, dry leaves are in the ‘browns’ category, while living green leaves contain abundant nitrogen and are considered ‘greens’.


Dry straw is a good material for helping to keep a compost pile aerated, because it tends to create lots of passageways for air to get into the pile. Be sure to wet the straw, as it is very slow to decompose otherwise. Straw is definitely a ‘brown’ and also requires mixture with ‘greens’ to break down quickly. Many stables use straw as a bedding material for horses — straw that has undergone this treatment is mixed in with horse manure and breaks down more quickly.


Many types of weeds and old garden plants can be composted. Avoid weeds that have begun to go to seed, as seeds may survive all but the hottest compost piles. Some types of weeds are ‘pernicious weeds’ and will resprout in the compost pile — avoid using these unless they are thoroughly dead. Green weeds are (you guessed it) a ‘green’, while dead brown weeds are a ‘brown’.


Wood products belong in the ‘browns’ category, because they are fairly low in nitrogen. Some sawdusts, especially from broadleaved/deciduous trees, will break down quickly in an active compost pile. Others, especially from coniferous trees, will take longer to decay. Stir sawdust thoroughly into the pile or use very thin layers. Coarse wood chips will very slowly decay, and are probably better used as mulch unless you have lots of time to wait. Be sure not to compost chips or sawdust from any sort of chemically-treated wood — you could be adding toxics like arsenic to your pile if you do.

 What NOT to Compost:

While it’s tempting to throw anything that decomposes into the compost heap, avoid including the following items to keep your garden healthy while reducing hungry scavenger traffic: diseased plants, human wastes, meat, bones, fatty food wastes, pernicious weeds and pet wastes.

Composting can be done 24/7, 365 and has no negative consequences so get on the patio and encourage the kids to start throwing banana peels, apple cores and eggshells…into the proper receptacle of course.

Posted by: Nick