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It’s been no secret that we here at Santa Barbara Stone Masters are big fans of environmental sustainability. It is a practice by which we abide in our work, and one which we encourage of our employees, clients, and friends.

But often times, the idea of living sustainably can become conflated with expense and effort. And although there are many wonderful practices you could adopt that have a heavier start-up cost, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be so hard!

In fact, here are several small ways of sustainable living which I practice that can go a long way towards preserving our wonderful planet:

Reusable Water Bottles

Starting you off with an easy one!

There are few things worse for the planet than plastic waste, so ditch single-use water bottles and find a reusable bottle you like. Bring it with you wherever you go!

If you’re a real enthusiast, go for stainless steel – the production methods and overall durability are tops. At the end of the day though, even an affordable, reusable plastic water bottle is better than dozens or even hundreds of single use bottles.

Forget Forgetting Reusable Grocery Bags.

When I first began practicing sustainable living, I would constantly find myself halfway to the grocery store before I realized I forgot my reusable grocery bags at home. And I’d kick myself the rest of the way there, knowing that I’d be paying ten cents per bag for trash I didn’t even want to have!

Well, forget forgetting your grocery bags.

If you can, invest in twice what you need – leave half in your car during any grocery store trip, so that if you happen to forget some that you’ve previously used, you’ve got some to spare!

When you’re done unpacking your bags, set them near the door with your car keys. That way when you leave for the day, they’ll be the last thing you grab on your way out the door.

If you don’t want to spend extra on extra bags, recycle ones that you already have! You don’t need a fancy cloth bag – reuse the paper or plastic ones you have littering your pantry instead! They work just as well. But, if for some reason you’ve got way more plastic bags than you could ever reuse at the store:

• Grocery bags for bathroom trash liners.

Grocery bags make excellent liners for short waste bins that you might keep in your restrooms, bedrooms, or home office.

Using grocery bags for this purpose is a great way of giving them added value, without having to purchase additional, flimsier plastic wastebasket liners. And if after all of this you are still swimming in plastic grocery bags, most grocery stores have a dedicated bin for recycling those very bags! So there is no excuse for throwing them into your trash.

Diligent Upcycling!

In the vein of repurposing your used goods, take every opportunity to repurpose items you might typically throw away.

I drink a lot of coffee, and it occurred to me that I was throwing out a lot of coffee cans. I decided to look for another way of using them, and now I store all of my dry goods like rice, oats, and pet food in them! When I had more than I needed, we started using them as cute little planters for our herbs.

Alternatively, you could think about investing in mason jars or similar reusable containers and take them to the grocery store. The cashier can weigh the empty container (just ask them to “tare” it!) and you can use them to collect loose coffee beans, granola, oats, and rice! It’s a great way of getting the groceries you need without being stuck with unnecessary packaging.

LED Lights

I’m not going to lie to you – the up-front cost of LED light bulbs ($5-$8/bulb) are much more expensive than incandescents ($1/bulb).

But the truth of the matter is that over time, between replacing bulbs and utility costs, you’re actually spending much more on incandescents!

Over 25,000 hours of use (which is the industry standard for measuring efficiency), you would need to buy 20 replacement incandescent bulbs and spend approximately $180 in electricity costs for the single fixture. Over the same amount of time, a single LED bulb would last the entire way, and would only cost you $30 in electricity costs.

So by going with LED, you’re actually saving yourself $163 per fixture over that period of time, while simultaneously conserving energy resources. Switch to LEDs!


Your used electronics, and your batteries in particular, are some of the worst things that you can send to the landfill.

The chemicals in electronics aren’t necessarily dangerous on their own, but when when they leak into the ground after rainfall, they mix together to create toxic leachate which can pollute the soil and water supply.

Don’t just throw them away!

Donate your outmoded electronics to a school, library, or even just the Goodwill! And where batteries are concerned, many office and electronics stores have recycling programs at little or no cost! Check out your local OfficeMax, Staples, or Best Buy to see how you can safely dispose of your dead batteries.

Thanks so much for tuning in to this edition of our humble blog!

We at Santa Barbara Stone Masters prioritize sustainable restoration methods on all of our jobs, so if you have natural stone that needs some TLC, give us a call today!

Skip Jankoski

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