Living simply -- small changes can make a big impact on the Earth - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Jennifer Hoff

Living simply -- small changes can make a big impact on the Earth

RURAL WISCONSIN (KTTC-TV) -- You've probably noticed 'going green' is all the rage - from political candidates taking a stand on climate policies, to environmentally-friendly home improvement.

But what does all that really mean? Where are the pitfalls? Most importantly, what works for you and your family?

It doesn't matter whether or not you are an environmentalist; it's time to make a difference to save the planet.

The kicker? You can even save money while doing it.

Here's a how-to guide to help you make a small change every day that will have a big impact on the Earth.

We begin with the Edel family, whose 'living simply' mantra has rid them of debt and the madness surrounding our consumer culture.

In this day and age, living successfully means you've got to keep up.

Living life in the fast lane is hard work, and can be just as hard on our planet.

That's why one family is saying good-bye to our mad consumer culture, and saying hello to living simply.

The quest for a simple life began in Rochester, and wound its way beyond civilization to this rural Wisconsin home.

It's where we found Miranda Edel, a wife, mother of five, and Graphic Design Professor at the University of Minnesota.

A hardworking woman who veered away from consumerism and says she now travels a more "ethical" path.

A path that first leads to - a clothesline.

Whether you live in the country or a city apartment, hanging your laundry is one of the easiest ways to reduce your impact.

The Edel's own a washer, and choose not to use a dryer.

It uses too much energy, says Miranda, who can't pass up the benefits of hang drying.

Miranda says, "Sometimes we'll hang inside, which is really nice because with the fire, it creates humidity."

If that's still not an option for you, check out Miranda's blog. She provides one new simple idea every day.

Re-use your towel. Miranda argues - your body was just cleaned, wasn't it?

Use fabric, instead of paper, to wrap presents.

Try a wood burning stove.

"Do you want to carry wood?"

The Edels pay a small fee at a nearby Amish sawmill for all its off cut wood, the end pieces.

Miranda says, "There are some sawmills around Rochester and what we did when we lived there was call and see if they had any offcut."

Off cut would otherwise be burned in a landfill.

Inside the Edel home, wood is the only source of heat.

Miranda admits getting here wasn't easy, but says the Earth's future is the reason to push ahead.

Miranda says, "One person may not be much, but when you add one person to many more, we can do a lot."

Starting small is key, says Miranda, who also grows most of her family's own vegetables.

Making the change means taking the road less traveled, but she says the end result is more rewarding.

Besides, who wouldn't want to save the planet and money?

Living so simply even helped Miranda pay off $50,000 worth of debt in less two years.

She also says her five children will be able to finish college not a penny in debt.

Click here to find a link to Miranda's blog, where you can find more simple living tips for every day of the year.

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