Moms' guide to living small

What is Living Small?  We think of it as living with the least impact on our planet from our daily activities.  As we have spent years thinking of ways to reduce what we use, it was time we put our combined experience in one easy to follow guide to help you.  We will update this guide as more ideas are submitted.  Send us yours: [email protected].


  • Compost at home: most towns offer reduced cost compost containers for at home use or make your own from an old trash barrel. Brookline offers a composting container through the Department of Public Works.

  • Compost with Bootstrap compost - this Boston-based service will deliver a bucket for your weekly or bi-weekly compost pickup and replace it with a clean one when they pick up your scraps.  The compost is taken to local farms; every subscriber receives 3 small buckets of compost a year.

  • Compost with Community Composting drop off at the Brookline Teen Center.

Trash & Recycling

  • When possible, buy products in recyclable containers. Glass and paper containers are easy to recycle

  • Try to avoid plastic wrappers and containers

  • Keep a set of silverware at your office, wash and rinse after use - avoid plastic utensils

  • Use kitchen towels and cut up old white T-shirts as clean up rags in the kitchen instead of paper towels.

  • Cotton washcloths work well as re-usable napkins in the kitchen and can be laundered with your kitchen towels.

  • Use bar soap wrapped in paper, rather than liquid soap in plastic containers

  • Use half the amount of dishwasher powder as recommended

  • Use newspaper, kids’ drawings, mylar balloons to wrap presents and re-use gift bags

  • Re-use plastic newspaper sheath or thick cardboard to pick up after your dog

  • Place reusable shopping bags into your car, bag, laptop bag, luggage and purse, so you have some handy when you're at the store.  Avoid plastic bags.  
  • When buying something, think about what resources were needed to make it and what will happen to it after you no longer need or use it.

Electricity + water use

  • Sign up with Mass Energy to turn your electricity green

  • Contact Mass Save for a home energy assessment

  • Replace all your light bulbs with their LED equivalent

  • Run a full dishwasher, on a short cycle if possible. Some dishwashers can wash a full load in 30 minutes, saving water and electricity.

  • Hang up laundry to dry on ceiling-mounted racks or stand up racks, especially in the winter when this can add humidity to your home.

  • In the winter, open the oven door after your food is done to make use of the valuable heat from within.

  • Keep the lids on your pots while cooking.  The increase in pressure, inside the closed pot, will speed up cooking time.

  • Boiling water, reheating soup, only heat up exactly what you need.

  • Use cold water to wash your laundry.

  • Save the water from washing veggies to water houseplants

  • Water outdoor flowers with your dishwater

Support sustainable practices and policies at school and office

  • No disposable containers for water - use the fountains

  • At home or at work, use seltzer makers for seltzer water

  • Replace single use serving items like plates, cups and utensils with reusable mugs, cups, bowls, plates, and utensils

Travel and Advocacy

  • Support complete streets with bike lanes

  • Petition for greater investment in public transport, faster and expanded train + bus service

  • Carpool whenever possible - especially if you have a long drive to work or for kids’ sports games

  • Do your grocery shopping with a full list; avoid driving to the store for one or two items.

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