Greening your life doesn’t have to be complicated. It is an ongoing process through which you constantly learn new ways to lead a sustainable and healthy existence, and the changes you decide to make should be ones that make sense to you. Because keeping a healthy home is a great place to start the journey, I recommend using Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills by Raleigh Briggs as one of your go-to references. This hand-illustrated book offers simple, practical skills that anyone can learn and apply to everyday life.
A book that’s just as at-home in the garden as in the kitchen, Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills by Raleigh Briggs will empower you with the knowledge and skills it takes to truly live sustainably. Photo By Dani Hurst.
In the first chapter, “Health and First Aid,” Briggs offers herbal remedies for many common ailments and discusses everything from the different types of essential oils and their uses to how to make homemade salves, infusions and tinctures. Although many of the ingredients can be found at local health food stores or co-ops, some of the ingredients mentioned, such as astragalus root for the immune system or the aphrodisiac damiana, are a little more exotic and thus harder to acquire. Start out with the ingredients you feel comfortable with, then branch out when and if you feel ready.
“Nontoxic Cleaning and Body Care” urges you to rid your home of harmful chemicals found in many commercial products by concocting your own household cleaners, pest repellents and body care products. Near the beginning of this chapter is a page dedicated to basic cleaning ingredients and their specific uses, which I found to be very helpful. Some of the ingredients and uses I was already familiar with (lemon juice as a grease-cutter, cleanser and deodorizer), but a few were new to me (canola oil as a wood conditioner). I especially enjoyed the pages dedicated to homemade body care products, including an easy-to-make deodorant powder, DIY toothpaste and even homemade dog and cat shampoo.
Last but not least, we come to “Gardening.” In this final chapter Briggs gives advice on all the important aspects of growing your own food, including how to assess your potential garden space, when to plant, how to test and improve your soil and how to start your seeds. A page dedicated to the plant buddy system explains which plants grow well together and which ones do not.
One of the features I love most about this book is its conversational and witty tone. Briggs is never condescending and instead inspires the reader to better his or her life with her simple tutorials. Briggs also urges readers to be safe and offers helpful advice for every step of the way. Even though some of the recipes call for uncommon ingredients, I constantly refer to this book when I’m looking for natural and sustainable answers for my home.
You can buy your own copy of Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills for $6 from Microcosm Publishing. Visit their website to learn more about this title as well as other books by Raleigh Briggs.