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Living Green Simply and Easily | Fall 2013 Out Here Magazine

Living Green Simply and Easily | Fall 2013 Out Here Magazine

By Carol Davis

Katie Martin's family, of Danbury, N.C., proves that living sustainably doesn't require making massive changes; just a bit of common sense.
"We don't have a 'green house' or lots of 'green products,' but we are still 'living green' in our small house in the woods," she says.

Because their house is small, with fewer windows on the side where the north winds blow, it uses less energy, less maintenance, and less housekeeping. "We have a limited amount of space, so we consume less," she says.

The Martin family also makes conservation a part of each day:

Their wood stove not only warms their house, but it holds a kettle of simmering water to humidify the house during dry winters and provide a quick cup of tea or cocoa; simmers soups and chili; and its warm top helps bread rise easily, providing maximum bread with minimum flour, Katie says.

They heat their home with wood, most of which comes from their property.

They cook corn, potatoes, onions, cabbage, and stew in the stove's hot coals. "Rolled in foil, the food cooked in the wood stove has a totally different taste," Katie says. "It changes an ordinary evening into a special event."

They recycle hardwood ashes by spreading them on the vegetable garden to feed the soil.

After dinner, Katie fills the dog's water bowl with leftover water from the dinner table. "If there is additional water, I water the herbs growing in the window sill, or the rose bush outside the front door," she says.

Paper grocery bags are recycled by baking chicken, steak, roast, or apple pie in them, along with using them as grocery bags.

If Katie uses the electric oven, she bakes the entire meal together. "I place the vegetables — frozen or otherwise — in a casserole dish with the rest of dinner," she says. "I adjust my timing a little, and everything will come out of the oven at one time."

All laundered clothing is hung outside to dry.

"All of these things are easy," Katie says. "To us, it is not just 'living green,' it is 'simply living.' "

Carol Davis is editor of Out Here.