Sustainable Living


Beyond energy efficiency


What is Sustainability?

Sustainability refers to the reliability of a system over time. The determining question to ask is: Can this practice be maintained indefinitely without causing harm or degradation as a long-term consequence? We must ask these questions of ourselves in many facets of life, especially in industrialized nations. As a society, we have access to almost anything we can think of, and it’s up to us to self-regulate. We have the economic, legislative and resource power to affect the world on a mass scale. To quote Stan Lee, “With great power comes great responsibility.” To maintain our integrity, our health and our planet, we must consider the consequences of our actions, and make choices accordingly.



suggested reading


Lifestyle Tips for Sustainable Living


Less is more! When possible, just use less. A simple example is not double bagging every grocery item. Another way to look at this is efficiency. By increasing the efficiency of your vehicle and home, you are saving energy and resources. So, get that drafty window sealed up!


In a throw away society, this can be a tough one. We are so accustomed to buying one-use products, which are harmful because they take a long time to break down. Instead, buy products you can re-use like a metal water bottle, a reusable bag, or a retractable straw.


Purchase products that are recyclable and/or made from recycled materials. We can save billions of trees from being cut own by re-processing what we already have. Some materials are easier to recycle, and items like glass are ideal. Glass is natural and recycled by nature!


How often do you read the label on your products to see what is in them, or if they have been tested on animals? All the terms can be intimidating, which is why research is so important. Every product has a journey before it reaches you. Be mindul of what you are buying.

Supply V. Demand

Demand dictates supply. Put simply, the consumers have the power to determine what goods and services are made and sold. If no one is buying the products that are toxic, they will discontinue to be manufactured. Where you spend your money is your vote for what you support.

When in Doubt, go the Natural Route

Products that are organic, biodegradeable, and non-GMO are better for the environment and our bodies. Yes, it might cost a couple dollars extra, but thats a small price to pay. Also, these costs are likely to drop over time, as the market improves.


Creating a sense of autonomy for yourself liberates you to make choices that are ahead of the “curve”. You can do this by starting a garden, using solar  products, and utilizing nature. When you provide for your needs, you are no longer reliant on a wasteful system.


Start a garden with little to no cost, by using seeds and growable sprouts from fruits and veggies you already have around the house. Poke holes in the bottom of an old bucket for planting. Use soil from a home-made compost system. Add sunlight, and vaula!

Invest in Renewables

Don’t be intimidated by solar panels and other renewable alternatives. The initial cost can be very low, as payment plans are used to take estimated savings into account. Once they are paid off, any savings you make is money in your pocket. Plus you’ll always have energy!

Farmer’s Market

Support local produce. Not only are you helping small businesses, but you are shortening the distnace food travels. This food is more likely to be fresh, organic, and nutritious. Find a farmer’s market near you, and you will know exactly where your food is coming from with what process. 

Resources for Sustainable Living

Below, we have provided a list of useful resources to help improve your ecological impact. These companies have designed products with humanity in mind, so please take a look! Pick an item you like and support a good cause today. Beyond Energy Efficiency is not affiliated with these companies in any way. These are companies we want to support because they align with our values and sustainable living.

  • Compost:

The SubPod –

Take the guess work our of composting. This company has created a composting system that combines compost technology with soil biology and worms. Close the nutrient loop with your food leftovers and get back a great soil addition for your garden. Plus, you’ll get an informational packet to guide you every step.

  • Gardening:

Coco and Seed –

An independently owned company created for the purpose of connecting folks in small spaces to their own food production. A variety of different sprout options for at a small scale provide a well-rounded and highly nutrient dense addition to your diet. Plus, there is the added benefit of feeling empowered in your food sovereignty and connection to what you eat. 

  • General Shopping:

Grove Collaborative – 

This is a pretty incredible database of high quality products that can be sent as a monthly delivery right to your door. The packaging is all recyclable and the products cover all kind of ground from kitchen to self care to bathroom to men’s care. Our favorite products are Seedling Toilet paper, made with quick regenerating bamboo instead of trees, and the Woolballs Dryer set which helps decrease dryer time, saving you energy and time.

  • Laundry Detergent:

Earth Breeze – earth

The original and much replicated, lightweight and space efficient laundry detergent alternative. Instead of heavy, bulky, watered down detergent, this company has created a low-chemical condensed laundry strip. It very effective for most laundry, and ships in space saving, recyclable packaging.

  • Mushroom Kit:

Nearby Naturals –

If you love mushrooms, this company is a great resource! Another provider of home-grown food, you can explore cultivating different fungi within your own home. From medicinal to the culinary their packages offer a whole system to supplement your diet and your wellness.

  • Phone Cases:

Pela Case –

This company makes entirely compostable phone cases. They are made with hemp and bio plastics. Pela Case will even take back old cases to compost in their own facilities. That way there is no hassle of finding industrial composting facilities in your area. Even the packaging and shipping materials are minimalist and recyclable!

  • Portable Light:

Lucy Light –

If you’re a traveler, this is one of those off-grid must haves. The Lucy light is a lightweight, compact solar powered light. There’s even an energy port to charge your phone. Mind you it’s a small solar panel so it takes longer for energy sucking gadgets like phones, but it will help you out in an emergency and the energy efficient LEDs pack a powerful illuminatory punch.

  • Women’s Underwear:

    Thinx –

    This is a truly revolutionary idea in women’s care. This multi-layered underwear is for female bodies who experience their monthly cycle. It can be rinsed and tossed in the wash after use. In the world of menstruation, the market is flooded with single use products, often containing plastics and toxic chemicals. This is a welcome change.


Suggested Reading for Sustainable Living

Must Reads…

  • Farmer’s Almanac

    The oldest known guide for all things seasonal. The Farmers Almanac is an annual publication that gives insight gardening. Topics inculde the best growing times, the role of astronomy, tidal charts and much more. It’s a great resource for aspiring gardeners.

  • Self-Sufficient Backyard by Ron and Johanna Melchiore

    An in-depth guide to transform an acre of land into a food forest. This couple decided after years of living a conventional lifestyle that they needed a change. They got a piece of land and learned how to tend it over the years, and now lead a thriving, fully self-sustaining life.

  • Small is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher

    In ‘Small is Beauitful’ the author explores the conservation of resources. By pointing out the consequences of mega systems like large cities, he reveals a new paradigm in which smaller communities can make us stronger. In this way, we can build unique systems that pertain to the individuals needs, rather than using a “one-size-fits-all” approach. It truly matches the theme for sustainable living.

Stories of Sustainable Living

sustainable living beyond energy efficiency

A Family Affair – Solar at Sea

“I have the incredible honor and privilege of knowing this family as dear friends. I was so excited when they invited me to their boats – two beautiful trimarans – for an interview about how they use their vessels as a model for offgrid living. In my conversation with Jay and his son, Wes, we discussed the history of sailing in both Atlantic and Pacific, their personal story of sailing, and what draws them to the ocean. The main focus was on alternative energy solutions and self-sustaining systems provided by their boat. They showed me how their technology works and how it has evolved over time, making these systems even more efficient. This story is a great example, proving solar energy as a viable option for long term savings and sustainable living.”

-Sonya Barriere

As a young boy, Jay was introduced to sailing by his father. He continued this practice as a teenager, until joining a 20 person crew on a larger vessel. Jay, naturally, passed this practice along to his son, Wes. Wes has never known life without a boat, and spent much of his childhood at sea. They are both drawn to the pace of the ocean, and to involvement in sailing. Together, they’d explore new land to interact with the natives. Exploring the coasts, and the life therein, gives them the gift of learning about different cultures. Jay and Wes described these cultures as community oriented as well as mentally, emotionally and physically healthy. Traveling by boat, they were able to take their home with them everywhere they went!

Naturally, these sail boats are primarily wind and tidal driven. However, there are an abundance of other factors that go into their sailing trips. Food is about the only thing they didn’t worry about becuase they were able to stock up when they landed every couple weeks, and  had a large refrigerator. Not to mention, they were surrounded by fresh seafood, which they captured to supplement their diets. Jay’s vessel even has the capacity to generate its own fresh water source and power, via a desalinator paired with solar panels. Their solar panels also power all modern conveniences like their music, DVD player, and navigation equipment. On Wes’ vessel, a solar powered electric motor is hooked up to the 12 space efficient solar panels, lining the lifelines at the edge of his boat. They can generate up to 1,300 watts per day, which is stored in the battery. That’s enough energy to motor the entire boat for about 12 miles when wind is scarce.

For cleanliness, they keep solar powered showers on board. Basically, they are heavy duty black bags with hose ends that sit in the sun for a couple of hours, until they gather enough warmth to be used. Next, they would like to start using solar ovens, which would decrease the need for propane for cooking. Again, this hobby represents a different pace of living.  Everything is done slowly because it’s occuring naturally. Water boils in 45 minutes and can cook anything in 2 hours. This teaches patience and humility. More than that, this lifestyle represents self-sufficiency. They do not rely much on any one system, as they supply their own needs. When they do land for food, they enjoy the often neighborly culture associated with harbor life. There are many fishing villages abroad, which provide a netwrok to exchange work materials and labor.

Their family also runs a solar business, Sun Pacific Solar Electric, out of Santa Barbara. Having previous experience has made set up of these systems very straightforward for them. Solar technology has been commercially available since the 90s. Advances in technology, as well as legislation, have made solar power incresingly accessible, efficient, practical, and financially feasible for Americans. For example, there is a Federal Tax Credit for installing solar panels, that was launched in 2016. It gives consumers a percentage of installation costs back if they owe taxes. Wes explained the benefits of an electric motor, as compared to a gas powered motor. They’re quieter, more efficient, with zero emissions, and manufacturing is cheaper. Solar power generated from his panels is stored in a battery that can pay for itself in 5-6 years of use. While it has a higher initial cost than most gasoline powered motors, it doesn’t require gasoline nor require the same level of maintenance. Thusly, long term savings offset costs, and eventually gaurnantee a profit.

Truly, their story is inspiring! In our conversation, on the deck of Wes’ boat, I felt the slowness of time and calm. As I spoke with Jay, he mentioned that he looks forward to the day when he can retire and sail the world. Then, he can connect with ocean dwelling communities in South America, while spreading the gift of solar power. This will teach others how they can sustain themselves. What truly remarkable intentions! We wish them the best on their ventures and hope to learn from their story, as a Non-Profit. One of Beyond Energy Efficiency’s goals is to develop off-grid solutions, which utilize renewable energy.

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