Sunstainable You

Here are suggestions for things to try as you head down the road to greener living.

1) Reduce. The first, and for some of us the toughest, of the 3 Rs. Ask—Do I really need that new whatever-it-is? Will it last? Will it be out of style tomorrow anyway? Avoid impulse buying. If you see something you want, wait. If you’re still dreaming about it a week later, then consider it. Remove temptation by axing your catalog subscriptions.

2) Reuse. OK, so you’ve decided you must have a whatever-it-is. But before buying it new, consider whether you can get it used instead. Or can you borrow or rent it? If you have to have your own, you may find it for a fraction of the price at a thrift store, or for free through the local freebie network.

3) Recycle and Compost. Is your trash can full to overflowing? For just you and your cat?! Get with it. Composted kitchen scraps and yard waste are black gold for your garden and recycling is super easy, especially since curbside pickup is on its way to Bozeman. You'll be amazed how your trash load will shrink. Most households can divert at least half of their refuse from the landfill by recycling and composting, and you can do even better if you consider the next few tips.

4) Axe the Packaging. Buy stuff that’s packaged in cardboard rather than in plastic or better yet, that's not packaged at all. Buying in bulk saves you trash can space and sometimes money, too.

5) Paper or Plastic? Neither, thanks. Some research says each person in the U.S. uses 300 plastic bags a year; some says it’s twice that. Either way, it’s a heck of a lot. Besides, you need oil to produce plastic bags and we know there’s not enough of that to go around. Adopt a new slogan: Plastic Bags Blow. The paper alternative is a bit better, but go for the best—reusable cloth bags.

6) Get it Clean, Keep it Green. You can get rid of most of your home’s harsh chemicals and still get ‘er clean. There are now very effective and cost-competitive alternatives to the nasty, nasty stuff that's been marketed to us for years. Or try homemade cleaners. Making the shift keeps the creeks clean and reduces health risks to your cleaning lady. Uh, that’d be you.

7) Buy Quality. When you buy, buy the best quality you can afford so you never have to replace it. Crunch the numbers. Maybe that gadget is more expensive off the shelf, but what about over the course of its life? It may be less costly to maintain. Case in point: The electric waffle iron that we use at least once a week. My folks got it in 1947. Not ’74, ‘47. How’s that for a good purchase?

8) Think about Stuff. Really want something new? Where was it made? How was it made? What’s it made of? Who made it? You may find you don’t want it anymore.

9) Buy Recycled Paper Towels, Toilet Paper, Facial Tissue, Office Paper, Coffee Filters. It's all available and most of it works great. Reusable coffee filters are also a great option (and make a better cup of joe).

10) Buy Local. Purchasing from local vendors often gets you better products and better service, while keeping your hard earned bucks in your own community. And take a look at what businesses are the big supporters of your favorite local organizations. Surprise, surprise. It’s the locals.

11) Buy Organic. Organically produced foods are simply much better for you, the land, and the folks who work the farms.

12) Or Grow Your Own. Make your plan for spring. Organic veggies right from your own back yard. Yum.

13) Train ‘Em Young and Make It Fun. Do the kids in your life know a recyclable from a compostable? Do they cut up old wrapping paper for art projects, and old art projects for wrapping paper? Sustainability has been a hard word for us grownups to learn. Let’s get it right into the vocabulary of this next generation of consumers.

Suzy Hall Hoberecht is the owner of Mountain Home Vacation Rentals and mama to two conservation kids.

Giving Life the Green Light: Sustainable Resources for Every Day

There are so many things you can do to make your lifestyle less consumptive and more sustainable. Find ones that work for you, work them into your life, add a few more. Here are some resources to get you started.

Stopping the Junk Mail and Catalogs
Head to to get off all the catalog lists you want to—all at one time. Visit to keep from getting on new lists, and go to to avoid getting those credit card offers. is another anti-junk-mail service to check out.

Getting and Giving Stuff for Free
Check out It’s your local source for freebies. The Chronicle and the Mini Nickel also have free sections. Also check out our local online classifieds-alternative at

Recycling Resources
For Bozeman drop-off sites and accepted materials visit If you’re outside the Bozeman area check out Triple R Recycling (388-9494) offers inexpensive monthly pickups (bins included) for both home and office.

Cleaning Supplies
Most local independent grocers have a very good selection. For a list of professional cleaning-lady-approved green cleaners e-mail [email protected]

Learn about Stuff
You’ve gotta check out this funny, informative, and thought-provoking video about the life of “stuff” at

Buying Local
Visit the Gallatin Valley Independent Business Association’s website at to learn about the buy local concept and to find out what businesses are owned by locals.

Buying Used
We all know about the Salvy and Sacks, but have you ever visited the Re-Store in Belgrade? Great deals on everything from wall fixtures to water softeners. 388-2851.

More Info
Check out the archives and subscribe to the newsletter at, Consumer Reports’ sidekick site for everything green.

-Suzy Hall Hoberecht