Whole People’s 2020 edition of the Natural Living Guide sets out to lay down the broad definition of what “natural living” is and can be.
Many people are attracted to the idea of natural living, but it is often difficult to define exactly what we mean by “natural living” that’s because there are many different interpretations of the phrase.
This is good news because it allows you, in part, to define what natural living means and to decide how you will change your life to accommodate it.
In this guide we offer up what we feel most people would mean by natural living, some of the benefits of choosing to live this way and some tips to help you get started living naturally.
Please remember, you don’t have to change everything in your life at once.
It’s better to make small changes, turn them into habits and then make more changes – you’re more likely to succeed and to enjoy the process of change when you take it slowly.
The Principles Of Natural Living
We think the basic principles of natural living are as follows:
- We live the way that nature meant us to.
That is whenever possible we choose the natural over the chemical. We follow the laws of nature rather than trying to bend them to our will.
- We are conscious of our environment.
We want the Earth to be a better place so that we can live in harmony with it.
- Natural living is an everyday occurrence and we make time for it.
We eat fresh foods, spend time outside and choose positive outcomes whenever we can.
- We prefer organic to pesticides and preservatives.
There’s no need for your food to be put through a chemical wringer.
- We choose local over international.
Transport miles are incredibly damaging to the eco-system when we can, we choose local products.
- We work with the seasons.
Seasonal produce is natural untreated produce. The world has seasons, so should our lives.
- We take control of our environments.
We grow food when we can. We make eco-friendly products. We know what goes onto our plates and into our homes.
You see, natural living doesn’t have to be complicated. You can interpret these guidelines in a way that makes sense for you.
There are no “natural living police” and there’s no examination or certification that makes you better (or worse) than anyone else at natural living.
For additional ways to live a sustainable lifestyle check out our reviews of This is a Good Guide and Sustainable Home: Practical Projects, Tips And Advice For Maintaining A More Eco-Friendly Household.
The Benefits Of Natural Living
Why do we choose natural living? What do we expect in return for opting for this way of life?
We think the main benefits are:
- A better world for our children.
Natural living is eco-friendly. If we want our children to thrive on this planet, we need to leave them a planet worth living on.
- A better world for ourselves.
Did you know that 90% of people are subject to air pollution every day of their lives? That all the plastic waste thrown in the world’s oceans each year could cover every inch of coastline around the world? We want better than that.
- Better health for us and our families.
When you consume natural products – you are consuming products that nature intended for your body. Manmade chemicals may or may not be harmful, but why risk it?
- Less stress.
Many natural living approaches are designed to minimize stress, and this makes us happier and more peaceful.
- Cost savings.
Did we mention that natural living tends to cost less than the alternatives? It’s true, though in some cases, it may take a while for savings to make themselves known.
It’s not quite so “hippy” sounding when you break down the benefits, is it?
Natural living isn’t silly new age nonsense – it’s a means to a better life for everyone.
Practical Ways To Live Naturally
OK, we know what people mean by natural living now and we know what the benefits are, but what actions can we take to live a more natural life?
Let’s take a look:
Go For A Walk (In Nature)
There’s no easier change to make in your life than to make space for a walk every day.
Ideally, your walk ought to be somewhere green (if you don’t live next to a forest, don’t worry, an urban park is just fine).
Why? Well, walking itself is good exercise.
If you walk for 45 minutes a day, you’ll lower your blood pressure, feel fitter, be happier and have some time to think and plan your life.
You take a walk in a natural setting because research shows that green scenes make us feel calmer and more at peace.
Human beings weren’t designed to live in cities.
We were made for living in small nomadic tribes in harmony with nature. Check out our Sustainable Travel Handook!
It’s no surprise that walking in the outdoors makes us feel connected to the big picture, it’s what we were designed for.
If walking is not up your alley then maybe Yoga is the better choice?
Got kids? Check out Yoga for Kids, maybe.
Eat Better, Healthy, Natural Whole Foods
It’s harder than you think to start eating healthy food but it’s also very easy when you’re in the habit.
The trouble is that people get confused easily and big agriculture loves to muddy the waters. For example, snacks made out of fruit will often be labelled as one of your 5 a day but, in reality, they’re not.
Fruit is one of your five a day. The sugar, preservatives, chemicals, etc. in a fruit snack are not healthy for you.
Here’s what we recommend to begin taking control of your eating:
- Wherever possible buy unprocessed foods.
That is vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, nuts and when you buy meat, fish and chicken avoid the deli counter and buy unprocessed products. Check out At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well and build a healthy ingredient shopping list.
- Work out where your local grocery store keeps all its junk food. Stay away from it.
It’s much easier to avoid these areas than to fight temptation to “just buy some candy” when you’re there.
- Buy local as your priority.
This over and above organic produce. Food transportation over hundreds of miles wrecks the environment more than anything else. For additional reading, see The Feast Nearby a real-life story.
- Buy organic if you can.
You can check the EWG pesticides guide if you want to find out more about what you’re eating.
- Visit farmer’s markets in preference to grocery stores.
Buying your food directly from small farms can make a massive difference in the quality of produce to hit your table. There are over 8700 famer’s markets in the US according to the National Farmer’s Market Directory.
- Cook your own meals.
Restaurant chains are often doing nothing more than heating up a ready meal and even in more bespoke restaurant offerings, you can’t get a clear idea of what’s in the dishes.
- Bake at home too.
Snacks like cookies and cakes can all be made in much healthier forms when you make them at home. Your home will smell nice for it too.
- Use Sustainable food storage solutions
Check out products like Bees Wrap Food Wraps.
Meditating is easy. It requires no cash outlay. It can be done almost anywhere. It is simply the practice of taking some time to clear your mind of thoughts. (This bit can be a little tricky, but you can get the hang of it with practice).
Simply sit in a quiet place, close you eyes and clear your mind of thoughts. When a thought arises, and it will, acknowledge it, don’t pay any attention to it and let it go. Do this for 5-15 minutes a day.
Why? Well, it’s been demonstrated that people with a sense of purpose are more likely to succeed and achieve in life. It’s also been shown that people who meditate are far more likely to have a sense of purpose.
Also, mediation is linked to many health benefits including lower blood pressure, reduced stress and lower levels of anxiety and depression.
You may also consider starting to do some form of Yoga. You can even do Yoga with your kids.
Change Your Household Over To Natural Products
Most of the products we buy and bring into our homes are chemical and can be hazardous to our health and to the health of our pets and the environment.
Making a change in this area is often painless and can save you a lot of money.
You can find plenty of practical advice on how to maintain a more eco-friendly household in Christine Liu’s book Sustainable Home: Practical projects, tips and advice for maintaining a more eco-friendly household.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Choose wood, glass and metal.
That is instead of plastic. Whenever you can, opt for something that can be washed and re-used and that is not made out of plastic. Check out the amazing wooden sunglasses on the market now. For more insight on the materials we use to make common products check out Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.
- Choose cookware that is cast iron, ceramic or stainless steel.
Non-stick coatings may be convenient, but they’re also linked to toxicity. For more information on safe cookware check out the reviews on Kitchen Authority.
- Choose natural fibers.
Change your clothes, bed sheets, towels, etc. to fabrics made from organic cotton, bamboo, wool, etc. Read our informative Benefits of Organic Cotton Guide.
Check out our guide to ethical jeans for some choices. Ditch the polyester and other chemically made fabrics.
- Choose natural beauty.
First, you should educate yourself on the clean beauty movement. Read No More Dirty Looks for the ultimate guide to safe and clean cosmetics. Also, check out An Atlas of Natural Beauty.
In particular ditch anything with parabens, artificial fragrances, sulfates, etc. Check out this book on how to make your own natural milk soaps.
You can also get cruelty-free cosmetics right at your front door with a company like Love Goodly, a subscription box for ethical, vegan cosmetics.
For more on natural beauty products check out our Natural Beauty Guide. Or read Plant-Powered Beauty and learn to make your own skin care and beauty products.
Consider swapping in vegan leather for real leather for your next ethical handbag.
Check out our Best Natural Beauty Blogs round-up for additional inspiration.
- Choose natural personal products.
Thankfully, there’s now a variety of sustainable and ethical choices for personal hygiene products. Check out our choices for this year’s best natural deodorants. Also, you can choose Hemp Tampons.
- Choose natural cleaning products.
Vinegar is better than window cleaning fluid and it’s natural. Look for safe, eco-friendly ingredients. For a more natural kitchen clean up tasks you should consider using bamboo dish cloths.
For additional organic cleaning products check out our article about the best 9 organic cleaning products and how to keep your home clean the eco-friendly way.
- Make things yourself. The best way to get better makeup, better cleaning products, etc. is simply to make them yourself, the Internet is awash with guides to making every product you can think of, naturally.
You can also make your own ethical and sustainable cosmetics and beauty products.
Some General Eco-Friendly Natural Ways To Improve Your Life
Everything in this list is easy to do and almost all of it will save you money too. This is the best part of natural living, don’t miss out!
- Reusable rather than disposable.
Everything you can buy that can be reused rather than discarded is going to save you money in the long run. Check out bamboo kitchen rolls for example.
- Don’t waste water.
Switch off taps when you’re not using the flow, switch out your shower heads for low-flow, flush toilets only when needed, etc.
- Cut down on energy waste.
Install time controls for lights, thermostats, etc. Insulate rooms where necessary. Unplug devices when not in use, don’t leave them on standby.
- Buy second hand.
You don’t need new clothes, new tables, etc. buy used whenever you can. Thrift stores and Craigslist are your friends.
- Repurpose before you discard.
Don’t throw out tubs and containers, make them into other things. Rip up old clothes and use them for rags. Before anything goes in the trash, ask how else it could be used?
- Give up junk.
Take a walk around your home and you’ll find it’s full of stuff you bought but rarely (if ever) use. Before you buy anything ask, “do I really need this and will I really use it?” If not, don’t buy it.
- Grow your own food.
Or at least, some of it. You can grow food even in the smallest apartment or condo.
- Buy in bulk.
You can save money buy buying everything you can in bulk and then putting it into smaller reusable containers at home.
- Walk or cycle rather than drive.
Eco-friendly and great for your health too!
- Buy things that last.
Check out Buy Me Once, a company that only sells products that last a long time. Companies like Wild Minimalist also have durable and sustainable products.
- Go Zero Waste
Achieving Zero Waste may seem impossible but it’s worth the effort. Check out 101 Ways To Go Zero Waste Is A Practical How-To For Sustainable Living by Kathryn Kellog for some great strategies for a more sustainable lifestyle.
Our Final Thoughts On Natural Living
Natural living doesn’t need to be confusing or hard work.
The trick is to decide the principles by which you want to live naturally, understand the benefits that they will bring and then taking small actions in every area of your life to live by them.
Once you start, you won’t want to stop.
You will feel healthier, you’ll have more money, and the planet will benefit too. Never has living a good life been so easy.
Living naturally is awesome.