As fans of the planet–and yeah, humanity in general–we’re always looking for ways to live more sustainably and to help our kids be more aware of it too. And as we’ve all discovered over the years, it doesn’t have to be about massive life changes or suddenly turning your guest room into an organic vegetable garden. Even the smallest changes can make really make huge difference.

In other words, all that nagging the kids about turning off the lights really does help.

So we’re thrilled to be working with our newest sponsor PURE Energies, a big deal energy adviser that aims to help families across North America adopt solar power and other products that save us money and energy. Since the back to school season is a great opportunity for parents to reset and make some simple, small changes towards living more sustainably, we’ve put together some of our own ideas that we’ve used ourselves. Give them a shot if you haven’t already–you’ll be surprised how excited kids can be to play a part too.


– Don’t miss the awesome giveaway of 10 cool solar backpacks each filled with $500 cash. Details below –


Sustainable living ideas: Nest thermostat

1.Take control. Temperature control.

If this winter is anything like last winter, we might be more worried about our heating bills than the snow itself. Smart appliances for the home like the Nest learning thermostat, actually get to know your habits–not just when you’re home and away, but your activity as well. It then adjusts the temperature in your home accordingly, which, as you might guess, does wonders for your wallet when the gas and oil bills arrive. It’s super easy to install too, which is why it’s been such a huge hit since its launch.


Sustainable living ideas:: PaperKarma app to reduce clutter

2. Just say no to junk mail

If you find yourself overwhelmed with the amount of junk mail and unwanted catalogs in your mailbox, you can actually cut it down dramatically with very little effort. Check out PaperKarma (above), which has you snap a photo of an offending piece of mail, then automatically processes your request to get off the mailing list. Also, visit Catalog Choice  which we’ve found does a very good job of cancelling all your catalogs for you. You may have to check back once a year or so, but wow, what a huge difference it makes.

3. Email receipt? Yes please.

Lots of shops and restaurants are following in the footsteps of ATMs, by offering the option of not printing a receipt. However if you’re like us and want to keep track of your purchases to compare with your credit card statements, now many retailers allow you to have your receipt emailed. You might even keep a separate email account just for those receipts, which also cuts down on junk email you have to weed through. To make things even easier on yourself, we love how easy it is to create labels in Gmail; mark yours by month or quarterly, for easy tax preparation throughout the year.


Sustainable living: PURE Energies high-efficiency LED light program

4. Change your light bulb

You can’t get any easier than changing your traditional incandescent light bulbs to LED bulbs, which are far more efficient and the money savings can be staggering. We’ve covered a few new technologies in the past, but PURE Energies will actually be offering their own high-efficiency LED light program that allows you to change over all your current bulbs, and even add dimmers which is another smart way to save energy. Plus? Mood lighting after the kids are in bed. Bonus.


Sustainable living ideas:: LivingPlug inlets that eliminate energy vampires

5. Get rid of  energy vampires

As you might know, appliances and gadgets that you leave plugged in all the time are still sucking energy, and therefore costing you money you definitely don’t need to be spending. Hey, we get it; you can’t always remember to unplug the toaster and the coffee maker. However with gadgets like the attractive LivingPlug inlets we recently found, you can leave the appliances you use all the time (and can’t necessarily unplug all the time) alone, and save energy too.


Sustainable living ideas: Boxed app money-saving app makes coupon cutting virtual

6.Clip coupons virtually

While we all know by now that you never buy anything online without first looking for a discount code or coupon (right? right?) be sure you’re doing it virtually. All kinds of stores are now letting sending you digital coupon right to your phones; the popular Target Cartwheel app is a fantastic example. Plus there are so many dedicated money-saving apps, like the Boxed app that we recently discovered, which offers you warehouse prices without even going to the warehouse club. For online shopping be sure you’re using both Priceblink and the Honey browser extension which are personal favorites around here. And there’s no actual clipping involved.


7. Borrow books

While of course there’s always the library (and we love supporting our local libraries!) for you ereader fans, it’s fantastic that borrowing ebooks on your Kindle is a snap.


Sustainable living ideas: Paperless Post online invitations as gorgeous as paper ones

8. Get on board with online invitations

It’s no longer considered gauche to use online services to send out digital invitations or save-the-date notices. Especially when they look as amazing as the ones from Paperless Post which we use all the time for our own events. Plus it makes it easier to keep track of the RSVPs, and that’s one (huge) less thing to worry about when you’ve already got party-planning to do. We also love all the amazing greeting card apps and websites out there that save you paper, stamps, and trips to the post office.


9. Unplug x 2

Obviously unplugging your cables, cords, and gadgets is extremely important when it comes to energy savings. But then there are all the benefits of unplugging, in the other sense of the word. It helps you be more present with your friends and family, more productive in whatever you’re doing, or hey, maybe it will just help you finally get through the entire Sunday crossword in record time, without all those social media and texting distractions.

Thanks to our our sponsor  PURE Energies which is making a real difference in so many homes and communities with solar power. When you’re ready to make bigger changes toward sustainability, they’re available to talk you through the whole process of upgrading to solar power, even show you the numbers so you can make an informed decision.


Solar power: Breakdown of the process via Pure Energies

EXTRA COOL: WIN IT! Submit your #smallstep online at and be automatically entered to win one of 10 prize packs of a Voltaic solar backpack ($199 value) each filled with $500 cash. Whoo! 

Plus, you can earn extra entries by sharing with your friends and family on social media and helping to inspire them to live more sustainably too. Find all the details at at PureEnergies.comWinners will be drawn at random and posted on their #smallstep page on Sept 12th. No purchase is required. Good luck!