Natural Living: The Simple Guide to Start Today [+ Free Resources]

Natural living feature image

The world is moving towards natural living again.

That’s great news! So, what is stopping you from taking the first few steps towards choosing this lifestyle?

We think it might be due an information overload arising from the trendiness of the topic.

That’s why we’re going to break this down into a detailed, yet simple guide for you.

The word “Natural” itself has become an umbrella term including various practices such as zero-waste, organic, ethical, sustainable living and many others. So, how does one live a “natural” life? Well, here’s the thing: there’s no rulebook. However, we can make some practical decisions and choices about how we live our lives right now with the tools we have.

And that’s exactly what this guide is for.

We have pulled together our collective knowledge on natural living to bring you this ultimate guide to natural living. Plus, look out for our favourite resources under each section.

What is Natural Living?

Natural living can be defined as a set of lifestyle choices one can make to have as little negative impact on the environment as possible. It’s about being mindful of where your products come from, how they are made, and what they leave behind in terms of waste.

For example, if you are shopping for a few groceries, think about what you’re putting in your cart. Are those fruit in season? Were they shipped in from far away? Is this fish sustainably caught? This is your first step: asking the right questions. And on that note, we’re going to introduce you to all the other facets of natural living.

At a glance: what is covered in this guide?

  1. Food: a few ways to make natural living choices when it comes to food, not only for you, but for the environment.
  2. Home and Furniture: how to introduce natural cleaning products, furniture and other household items into your life.
  3. Going Zero-Waste: one of the most important parts of natural living is reducing one’s waste. We’ll uncover a few quick ways to start reducing your waste from Day 1.
  4. Health and Fitness: from your exercise regimen to your mental wellbeing, we’ll explore a few natural ways to keep fit and healthy.
  5. Natural living and the environment: how to be mindful of how your consumption affects the environment around you.
  6. Books: a list of our favourite Natural Living books from respected authors.

Natural Living Food

Natural Living Food

You should ideally be approaching this from two sides: the best choice for you, and the best choice for the environment.

Grocery shopping

Let’s look at how to make the best choice for you. It’s actually quite simple: shop fresh, cook fresh and eat fresh!

Natural foods tend to be locally farmed without the use of harmful pesticides, hormones, and grown from organic seeds or parent plants. Look for ingredients which are not overly processed (i.e.: in its most natural, raw state). This can be as easy as choosing a sachet of dried herbs and spices over a cook-in sauce with lots of artificial flavourings and powders.

Harvest your own

Why not take it a bit further and plant a few seeds and cuttings of vegetables like carrots and lettuce? In no time at all you could be harvesting your very own organic fruits, herbs and vegetables.

Knowing the source of your food

Now, let’s look at food choices for the environment. The key thing is to keep it local and in season. The shorter the distance your food had to travel to get to you, the lower its carbon footprint will be. And this is a good thing! Trucks, planes, container ships or even couriers burn fuel when transporting even the most ethically grown produce, so make sure that you know the source of your ingredients.

Read and understand the labels

A word of advice: don’t fall for fear-mongering. Everything contains chemicals and not all chemicals with a funny name are toxic! Just learn how to read the ingredients labels correctly. Here’s a really helpful guide to chemical ingredients that are found in everyday products.

Our favourite Natural Living Food Resources:

Natural living home & furniture

Natural Living home & furniture

When it comes to kitting out your home, there are a few ways to go about it while keeping things natural and eco-friendly.

Furniture and bedding

Look out for furniture made with sustainable or reclaimed wood, or recycled materials. Avoid making fast fashion choices by purchasing durable, timeless furniture for your home. Also, avoid purchasing anything containing microfibres.

What’s the problem with microfibres – via Friends of the Earth (England, Wales & Northern Ireland)

For bedding, choose products with natural fibres such as organic cotton or hemp sheets, ethically sourced down feathered duvets, breathable bamboo mattress covers and so on.

Do it yourself

Making your own home-made soaps and cleaning products is a great way to save money and avoid harmful chemicals from entering your home and garden. You’ll be surprised at how much you can do with simple kitchen ingredients like vinegar, baking soda and a few orange peels!

Around the house

Do an energy audit on your house and swap your light bulbs for energy-efficient ones. You can even go as far as choosing things like compost toilets, installing greywater and rainwater systems, setting up indoor living green walls and solar power in your home as you progress along your natural living journey.

Our favourite Natural Living Home & Furniture resources:

Go Zero-Waste

Natural living - going zero-waste

We should all be aiming to produce less waste, whether it’s by choosing less packaging, composting, or by purchasing longer lasting products. The goal is to throw away less and less until you’re really just down to recyclable material such as packaging, paper bags and so on.

This one is so much easier than you think and we’ve mentioned it before on this blog. Living zero-waste isn’t a destination it’s a journey.

Zero-waste clothing

Start by doing an audit of your things. That’s right, ALL of it. You can use the famous Marie Kondo Method in your closet or do entire rooms in your home. Just make a start.

Get rid of clothing and household items that you no longer use (you can donate these to a charity store), and then start a plan to replace the leftover items as they run out – source your new items from a zero-waste shop close to you.

While shopping, look out for items which are:

  • Free from plastics (including packaging)
  • Long lasting
  • Made with natural fibres or organic material
  • Made in local ethical factories from locally-sourced raw material
  • Handcrafted by artisans

While you’re here you might want to check out our guide to ethical clothing brands from around the world.

Embrace Minimalism

Minimalism is gaining traction around the world in different forms. It’s all about living with less. We encourage you explore how minimalism can contribute to natural living in a way that makes sense for you and your family. Take zero-waste living and ethical clothing for example, and you’ll find that these all overlap at some point.

Keep in mind that minimalism is not about sacrificing or depriving yourself of anything, it’s about learning to let go of things that you can do without, and focus more on the things that matter.

Start a zero-waste kitchen

In the kitchen, you can start by washing out glass jars and bottles and using these to fill up with ingredients and pantry essentials at your nearest zero-waste grocery store. You’ll be surprised at just how many are popping up every day.

Add a composting bin to your kitchen to dispose of food scraps which can then be turned into compost for your garden – this reduces waste significantly AND you get something out!

Make yourself a zero-waste kit with cotton shopping bags, refillable jars, fresh produce bags and other containers so you’re always prepared for a trip to the shops.

Our favourite zero-waste resources:

Natural Living and the Environment

Beach Cleanups

We know that you care about the environment, and there are a few ways to make sure your carbon emissions are low and that your consumption isn’t contributing towards the devastating effects of climate change. Start with small changes like practicing the 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and you’ll be well on your way to natural living.

Get your friends involved

Encourage your friends to practice a few natural living habits like carrying their own water bottles, avoiding single use plastics, plastic bags and so on. You can even teach them by example and invite them to join activities like beach clean-ups and up-cycling workshops.

Don’t forget about your car

If you don’t need a car, don’t get one! With the rise of remote working and video conferencing, you CAN actually drive less. Get familiarised with your area’s public transport system, use a ride-share app, carpool or bike to work if you can. If you simply can’t do without driving regularly, opt for a more energy efficient car with low emissions.

Reduce your meat consumption

It is a well-known fact that large-scale animal farming contributes to climate change due to deforestation, water usage, energy use… the list goes on. It’s also a well-known fact that many people find it difficult to give up meat, so here’s how to achieve that balance: reduce your consumption, and make better choices in what kind of meat you do consume – this is a known as a ‘flexitarian’ diet.

Reduce your energy consumption

Making a few good substitutions can significantly reduce your environmental impact. Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • Keep the heat in during winter by draught-proofing your home, using solar heating solutions and investing in proper insulation.
  • Switch to energy efficient appliances. Look out for eco-friendly settings (like an energy star) on things like fridges, dishwashers and washing machines.  
  • Make us of natural lighting techniques such as mirrors, skylights and even a lighter shade of paint to bright up a room.

Our favourite resources on environmentally-friendly natural living:

Natural Living Health and Fitness

Natural Living Health And Fitness

Part of natural living is to grow closer to nature itself. And as you spend more time outdoors, you’ll discover all the wonderful ways to stay fit and healthy without needing a gym membership.

Keeping fit

Did you know that a 30-min stroll in the park or to the grocery store will burn up to 150 calories? Here are some easy ways to keep in shape, the natural living way:

  • Visit local parks and recreational areas (look for outdoor gyms!)
  • Join a hiking club
  • Take the stairs whenever you can
  • Try and include a 15 – 30 min walk into your day
  • Use housework time as a workout opportunity
  • Choose eco-friendly shoes and workout gear
  • Invest in a few weights such as dumbbells or kettlebells and use these in your workouts at home
  • Make it fun! Introduce some variety in your workouts such as dance routines, mini challenges, and family activities
  • Gardening counts as a workout, too!

“Just half an hour’s weeding burns around 100 calories, while the same time spent digging burns up to 250 calories. Movement like this also raises the heartbeat, which is the best way to guard against heart disease.”

~ Garden Yourself Happy

Nutrition

Food is medicine, and this has been common knowledge since ancient times. Certain foods and medicinal herbs can be used to alleviate symptoms of seasonal allergies, colds and even aid the healing of minor scrapes. Do keep in mind that the use of natural remedies should never take the place of prescribed medication and you should always consult with your doctor before. Remember, it’s about balance.

Mental health and well-being

Meditation and yoga are great ways to tend to your physical and mental health.  Try introducing a few minutes of meditation first thing in the morning to help you prepare for the day ahead. Practicing meditation also helps with keeping you mindful of your daily consumption and could assist with the transition into natural living, because it really does take a while to adjust to a new lifestyle.

Try this: Forest Bathing

Ever go for a run in a beautiful woody area just after a fresh summer rain and just enjoy the scents, sounds, and general feeling of peace around you? The Japanese call this shinrin-yoku : Forest Bathing. And it’s a wonderful, natural way to de-stress and bring calmness back in your life.

All you need to do is find a lovely spot in a forest, leave your devices behind and just sort of wander around slowly, letting your senses guide you as you become totally immersed in nature.

The Art and Science of Forest Bathing with Dr Qing Li via Penguin Books UK

Our favourite Natural living health & fitness resources:

Natural Living Books

Learn more about natural living from experts. We’ve selected a range of books and e-books that are filled with in-depth knowledge about nutrition, food, wellness, fitness and much more.

The Beginner’s Guide to Natural Living

This is an extremely well-researched natural living book by author and advocate Larry Cook. It’s an honest and straightforward guide for beginners and covers everything from food to health. The book is packed with practical resources such as shopping lists and recipes.

The Organically Clean Home: 150 Everyday Organic Cleaning Products You Can Make Yourself – The Natural, Chemical-Free Way

Well-known blogger Becky Rapinchuk has produced a real gem of a book with this one. This How-To featuring 150 super easy recipes made from natural ingredients should really be in every kitchen.

If you can learn how to make gently scented natural cleaning products such as floor cleaner, mirror wipes and hand soaps while saving a fortune – what more could you ask for? Give it a read!

Healing & Prevention Through Nutrition: A Holistic Approach to Eating and Living for Optimal Health, Weight, and Wellness

Expect nothing but the best from this highly respected author. Evita Ochel brings decades of experience in the medical and wellness fields into this book and provides real-world examples that you can implement in your daily life.

Learn about nutrition and the healing power of real food with her guidance and you’ll be well on your way to natural living, and confidently in charge of your wellbeing.

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

Natural living, simplified

We often say it, but it’s worth repeating: small steps lead to a big impact. Moving to a natural lifestyle doesn’t have to be a daunting overhaul of your life. Change a few habits, make a few substitutes to your shopping list, and learn to make conscious decisions about what you consume. Even if you start with just one thing from the list below, you’re making progress.

  • Buy fresh produce that is grown locally and in-season
  • Avoid processed foods and artificial enhancements such as flavouring and colourants
  • Wear your clothes for longer, avoid fast fashion
  • Reduce your kitchen waste by using a composting bin
  • Start a small herb or vegetable garden and use your kitchen compost to keep it alive
  • Choose ethical sources for things like electronics, clothing, and furniture
  • Ditch the plastic bags once and for all, get yourself a canvas shopping bag
  • Carry a reusable water bottle so you don’t have to buy bottled water or soft-drinks
  • Choose sustainable and organic materials for your clothing and household items
  • Make your own biodegradable cleaning products
  • Participate in community events that benefit the environment
  • Read labels on everything you purchase, Google the words that you don’t understand
  • Recycle, donate, or swap with your friends to give clothing and other items a second life
  • Support eco-friendly holiday destinations such as eco-lodges
  • Share articles like these with your friends to help spread the word about how easy it is to embrace natural living

Resources

Natural living tips: https://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/green-living/natural-living

8 simple habits for longer-term natural living: https://theartofsimple.net/long-term-natural-living/

How to live the natural life – a checklist: https://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/beauty/how-to-live-the-natural-life–a-checklist/news-story/6a46b8403394b6adabd60e1906c7b982

50 Ways to Make Your Life More Environmentally-Friendly: https://biofriendlyplanet.com/nature/environment/50-ways-to-make-your-life-more-environmentally-friendly/

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