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Columbia, Tennessee, United States
I am promoting public awareness and education on hoarding, household downsizing, junk elimination, and how you can help the environment by cutting back on all the stuff in your life.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sustainable Plan

Sustainable Plan

Julie Malone

EPM 4232 Sustainability Policy and Practice

Arthur Purcell

November 17, 2010


Creating a sustainable plan is not a simple task. It takes seriously thought and consideration of ideas of how one can help the environment, obtain a reasonable ecological footprint, and provide substance to future generations. This sustainable plan begins with a definition, family background, why a sustainable plan is necessary, eight planned goals to achieve, needed resources, timetable, costs, environmental and social benefits, obstacles, and concluding with an ideal outcome.

Sustainable Plan

A sustainability plan is about developing a process to create a stronger environment, social responsibility, and be bottom-line driven. It is assuring continuous functioning and growth of this planet. Society needs to minimize resource use and maximize resource efficiency allowing future generations to have part of the enjoyment process. Sustainability entails critical resource, and environmental, social and economic components. We need to manage the earth’s resources and get rid of air pollution.

One way of looking at personal sustainability is not dumping one’s personal “pollution” on the next generation. When we are living, we are often hoarders and never get a chance to de-clutter our lives. We often have to die before we release our clutter. This does not benefit our relatives or friends at all since they have the burden of cleaning up our mess, where it becomes a curse. There is not enough money in the world that can help the mental and physical anguish of cleaning up someone’s clutter.


This sustainable plan is about my family and providing various ways we can improve the sustainability of our home. This class is about sustainability, and what a better way of grasping the concept than starting with one’s personal life. I found it time to de-clutter my life and my home. I learned about personal sustainability the hard way: watching grandparents that lived through the Great Depression hoard clothes, chemicals, food, hardware, and wood for over forty years. After their death, I realized there were other folks out there just like them; afraid to throw anything away because they “might need it someday”. That day never arrived but was a learning lesson for me to create a sustainable plan to become eco-friendly.

Why a Sustainability plan is Needed

A sustainable plan is needed when we accumulate years’ worth of “stuff” that could be passed on to another in need. My husband, John, and I accumulated over 40 years worth of stuff. We also inherited my mother’s clutter after her death in March 2009. Being sustainable helps with our environmental footprints; I recently took a test of my footprint and I use three earths just with my needs. I believe that every family is like a little company since we use chemicals, products, electricity, office supplies, food, and dispose of unwanted items. We are all a part of an environmental meltdown (Hart 2010, 8). American families have become consumerists by purchasing electronics, vehicles, clothing and demanding material items. We use raw materials and fossil energy in order to ship products and service. As individual families we contribute to air emissions, dead zones, and waste management by the products we purchase.

Families are used to the industrial revolution with cheaper cars and appliances. The new way of being sustainable is purchasing and using products that will last for years. Similar to a company, families also believe in the “Great Trade-Off Illusion” (Hart 2010, 23) since we believe that we must sacrifice finances to meet social obligations. However, this is not true. We do not need to believe in the make, take, and waste philosophy in a sustainable world. Our lives have become more efficient and we believe in recycling our unwanted items.

When examining at our stuff, I realized that we are part of a non-sustainable consumer-based society. We have extra computer hardware and miscellaneous gadgets for the “just in case days”.


  • The first critical step in the sustainability plan is to assess, identify and inventory our lifestyle, activities, and hobbies to determine the associated environmental impacts.

Define Goals and Targets

  • For those actions that have a potential to cause an impact to the environment, I will need to develop goals and targets for the reduction or elimination of the associated negative environmental impacts. I need to maintain balance between my personal lifestyle while taking into account economic, environmental, and social costs and benefits.

Action Plans and Monitoring Plans

  • I will develop an action plan and monitor my family on a daily basis. If such plans need implemented, goals and targets can be edited per my schedule allows. The monitoring plans will measure progress toward meeting sustainability goals.

Implementation Initiatives

  • Each action plan contains implementation initiatives with general actions that will reduce my family’s impact on the environment.

Monitoring Performance

I will use Word documents, along with dates and actions taken to monitor performance.

Goals and Objectives - Realistic and Idealistic

The main goal for this sustainable plan is to get rid of unsustainable products in the house as much as possible, recycle unneeded items, or give away items that we no longer need. Companies and homes are similar; every company has departments, every home has rooms.

Goal 1: Eco-friendly cleaning products

Increase use of 100% environmentally-friendly products by end of FY 2010

Implementation Method:

  • Change laundry detergent to Seventh Generation®, (Seventh Generation 2010) to help with environmentally-friendly ingredients and positive impact on the environment.
  • Hair and body products that is earth-friendly and better on the hair such as Burt’s Bees® Products (Burtsbees 2010).
  • Dawn® dishwashing soap (Dawn-dish 2010) for cleaning dishes and help the wildlife at the same time. Seventh Generation® also produces dish soap.
  • Green Works® All-purpose 97% naturally derived cleaner instead of national brands for cleaning purposes (Green Works 2010).

Goal 2: Energy-efficient

Decrease electricity costs up to 75% by end of FY 2010

Implementation Method:

  • Replace regular light bulbs (incandescent) with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL).
  • We can save more than $40 in electricity costs over its lifetime.
  • Use about 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and lasts up to 10 times longer.
  • Produce about 75% less heat, so it's safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling (Energy Star 2010).
  • Replace regular holiday light bulbs with light-emitting diode (LED) technology (Hart 2010 p 160).
  • LED is extremely energy-efficient (80-90 percent more efficient than incandescent), last 8-10 years, and are durable.

Goal 3: Water Use Efficiency and Management

Obtain healthy drinking water immediately

The mission is to compare Highlands Ranch’s water quality (Highlands Ranch 2009) to a more healthy and environmentally-friendly water, Culligan® (2010) for our water supply.

  • Highlands Ranch treats and monitors its water through fluoride and chlorine, yet it tastes similar to “soap”, which could be caused by either the district water or apartment complex’s pipes.
  • Culligan, on the other hand, uses the Aqua-Cleer® Drinking Water System, the most innovative water filtration system available today. The system features 13 interchangeable water filters that enable the system to be customized to address specific water problems and offers filters that reduce a wide-range of impurities, including sediment, chlorine, lead, radium, and arsenic. We will receive water delivered (20 pound bottles) on a bi-monthly basis. This service will save on the cost of single-serve bottles ($1.00 each) of water and plastic from ending up in landfills, not to mention offers a healthier alternative from drinking sugary drinks.

Goal 4: Downsize and Reduce Goods

Healthier living

The mission is to organize and reduce personal items in the home and garage to better fit our needs and live more functionally by the end of summer 2011. Clutter is visual pollution and tends to keep your mind busy by avoiding life. We need to focus on the important things in life and not on accumulated stuff.

Implementation Method: Organize all items into four categories: Keep, toss, recycle, and donate. Items to be kept: place in container and label. Toss: big garbage bag. Recycling items will need to be separated into paper, metal, cardboard, glass, and plastic. Donated items can be separated by either Goodwill, Cancer Society, Freecycle™ (Yahoo group), and any other organizations.

  • Unwanted vitamins, office supplies, hair products, magazines, food, clothing can be offered on Freecycle™ to provide free items to other family in need.
  • Outdated newspapers and magazines, glass, and plastics can be put in recycle bin to help save on landfills.
  • Donate wigs, hair pieces and accessories to the American Cancer Society to help cancer survivors.
  • Donate fabric to the local hospitals for quilt-making (end of life quilts).

Goal 5: Organize Food

Decrease hoarding for end of FY 2010

Being sustainable means only having enough food that feeds a family now, without hoarding, and giving away excess supply. My husband and I designed an Excel spreadsheet and inputted all of the food supply (canned, boxed, or jars) we possess, organized the food on shelves in order by categories, and will give unwanted food to either food shelters or advertise them on Freecycle™ for others to enjoy. Badly outdated food will either be used immediately or discarded. Foods that are not really necessary will be used up first and not repurchased until we need them for specific meals.

Goal 6: Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals

Reduce pollution as a continuous goal

While taking a class on sustainable transportation, one of my assignments was to browse the grocery store’s produce section to learn where and how far fruits and vegetables originated from to arrive at my local store. To my surprise, the major countries include Indonesia and Mexico, but very few from Colorado. This experience taught me to look for locally grown food to be more sustainable.

The goal of organizing our food thereby helps with menu preparation. Also, if food is hidden, it costs money to replace the item and unneeded pollution in the air from driving, when a simple inventory can tell us what we have or haven’t got on hand.

Goal 7: Grow Our Own Vegetables

Healthy bodies

My sustainable plan will include growing my own fruits and vegetables for Spring of 2011. First, my porch will need protected from prying neighbors; chicken wire held my four large wooden sticks will be appropriate. I will purchase various types of vegetation that will grow in a small area (5 x 10 feet) such as tomatoes, lettuce, and bell peppers. My plan will include a watering can, planting dirt, pots, and fertilizer for a safe and happy growth.

Goal 8: Reduce Paper

Clutter and visual pollution

My plan includes organizing paperwork such as past statements and college research, scan important information, shred confidential information, and deposit in recycle bin by Summer 2011.

Resources Needed

The sustainability plan will require the following items: a laptop with an Internet connection, Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, various size bags, cell phone, shredder, and a vehicle (when necessary).

Overall Plan and Timetable

The overall plan and timetable for my sustainable plan will be immediate, continuous, and up to a year to complete, depending on weather and school requirements as well as unforeseen handicaps.

Anticipated Dollar Costs: Short Term, Long Term

The only dollar costs anticipated will be the cost of grocery shopping. All other items I already own, including CFL bulbs and LED Christmas lights. Unanticipated costs will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Environmental Benefits

My sustainable plan will contribute less to landfills and provide other families with extra household items for free. Using environmental-friendly soaps will help with the already eroded sewer systems and any water runoffs that end up in the ocean. Electricity and fuel savings will reduce air pollution significantly. Growing our own vegetables will also reduce fuel (transportation) costs and pollution.

Anticipated Social Benefits

The anticipated social benefits will involve helping people and organizations through household donations. Wigs and hair accessories will help women cancer survivors. Clothing donated to organizations, such as Goodwill, will help train employees, provide jobs, and clothe others in need. Giving to Freecycle™ will provide others in need of food, clothes, and appliances for free.

Largest Potential Obstacles

The largest potential obstacles facing my sustainability plan are time, school, and proper organization. I need to use my time management accordingly in order to re-organize my home and accomplish all of my goals. I will need to schedule my sustainability plan around my college classes. Organization will play an important key in my sustainability plan.

Ideal Outcome

This sustainability plan focuses on nature’s economy since items in my household are going to be reused or recycled, instead of just throwing out items while other people have to rely on the money economy and purchasing nonsustainable products (Hart 2010, 58). The ideal outcome is to decrease my family’s environmental footprint, so that we are using less than one earth instead of three.


Burt’s Bees. 2010. Shampoos. http://www.burtsbees.com/natural-products/hair-shampoos/ (accessed October 24, 2010).

Centennial Water and Sanitation District. 2009. 2009 Highlands Ranch water quality report. Highlands Ranch. http://www.highlandsranch.org/
November 12, 2010).

Culligan. 2010. Products. http://www.culligan.com/en/faq/. (accessed October 24, 2010).

Dawn. 2010. Products. http://www.dawn-dish.com/en_US/home.do (accessed October 24, 2010).

Energy Star. 2010. Light bulbs (CFLs) for consumers. http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=find_a_product.showProductGroup&pgw_code=LB (accessed October 24, 2010).

Green Works. 2010. All-purpose cleaner. http://www.greenworkscleaners.com/products/all-purpose-cleaner/ (accessed October 24, 2010).

Hart, Stuart. 2010. Capitalism at the crossroads. New Jersey: Wharton School Publishing.

Seventh Generation. 2010. Laundry. http://www.seventhgeneration.com/Green-Cleaning (accessed October 24, 2010).

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