Tag Archives | eco families

5 Non-Toxic Ingredients for DIY Cleaners and How to Use Them

Many people with pets or kids have noticed that many of the ingredients in commercial cleaning products are not only harmful to people and animals but can be fatal. So, it’s no surprise that people are looking to remove these harsh chemicals from their homes and replace them with great, green, healthy alternatives. Fortunately, there are some great, green, affordable substitutes that can be used pretty much anywhere in your home and that you likely already have sitting in the pantry. Read on for my 5 favorite, non-toxic ingredients for DIY cleaners and how to use them in your home.

1. Vinegar
Vinegar is my all-time favorite non-toxic cleaner. It removes odors, stains, and grease and can effectively prevent mildew and mold when applied regularly to shower walls, sinks, and toilet bowls. Vinegar neutralizes pet odors like cat urine and will help keep colors from bleeding from a new pair of jeans or a red shirt if you soak the clothing item in vinegar for 30 minutes before washing or dump a cup or so into the washer with the detergent. To remove corrosion and chemical buildup from showerheads, soak the showerhead in vinegar overnight. Plain white vinegar should be used but if the smell offends you, you can add 10-15 drops of essential oil to your cleaning mixture. My favorite all-purpose cleaner, for bathroom, kitchen, and glass, is simply 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water mixed in a spray bottle. That’s it!

2. Baking Soda
Baking soda has virus-killing abilities and makes for an effective but gentle scrub for bathtubs, toilets, tile, and porcelain or stainless steel sinks. When I run out of Bon Ami, I pour baking soda in the sink, squeeze in half a lemon or pour in about ¼ cup vinegar, and scrub with a sponge or bristle brush. For a great toilet scrub, pour ½ cup baking soda into the toilet bowl and add 10 drops of tea tree essential oil and ¼ cup vinegar. The mixture will fizz while you scrub and cut through mold and grime while the tea tree oil disinfects. Tea tree oil and thyme oil are both great non-toxic disinfectants to be used in place of bleach. That said, just because they’re non-toxic doesn’t mean that you, your kids, or your pets should consume these products!

3. Castile Soap
Castile soaps are made from 100% plant oils so they’re safe and gentle but effective. While traditionally it’s recommended that wood floors be cleaned with pure water, I’ve added a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus castile soap to a warm bucket of water and mopped our wood floors with the mixture to clean and freshen up the room. Our floors aren’t wax-treated, so please ask a pro if yours are before using anything but water on your wood floors. Castile soaps are great all-purpose cleaners, too. Simply mix a tablespoon to a ¼ cup with warm water for washing down counters, tile, windows, or a sink full of dishes. The term “all-purpose” really applies to castile soap!

4. Lemon
Lemon juice kills mold and mildew, shines harder surfaces, cuts grease, and deodorizes. A cut lemon can be scrubbed over the surface of a cutting board to sanitize it. Simply rub a halved lemon over the surface, let sit for 10 minutes, and rinse. Lemon juice can be added to vinegar cleaning mixtures to add a fresh scent and aid in cutting grease. Lemon juice is a great bleach substitute for washing laundry, too; just add lemon juice to the rinse cycle.

5. Essential Oils
Peppermint, tea tree and thyme oils are my favorite for use in home cleaning products. Peppermint oil eliminates offensive odors and is a natural pest deterrent. I have successfully used peppermint oil to eliminate mice in one of our sheds by placing cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil around the entrances to the shed and places where the mice frequented. Tea tree oil eliminates mold and mildew; a few drops can simply be mixed with water and sprayed onto shower walls (don’t rinse it off) and left to kill mildew and mold. Thyme oil is a powerful, natural disinfectant that has been said to kill and prevent botulism, e. Coli, listeria, and salmonella. Add a few drops to your vinegar all-purpose spray or use in the same way as tea tree oil in the formula above.

YOUR TURN: What are your favorite DIY, green home cleaning products?

4 Reasons to Eat Seasonally and Locally This Summer

If you shop at the farmer’s market, are a local CSA member, or frequent the “local” section of your grocery store’s produce aisle, you are well aware that fruits and vegetables come into and out of season. Depending on the climate where you live, you may have a wide variety of fruits and veggies to choose from year-round, or you may notice that summer is truly a more abundant season for produce. Wherever you live, eating seasonally has its benefits. If you’re not already doing so, here are four reasons to eat seasonally.

#1: Fresher, More Nutritious Produce
Produce that doesn’t have to travel long distances to get to you will be fresher when you purchase it because it’s been harvested more recently. Also, since seasonal fruits and veggies are harvested when they’re ripe and grown outside, in their natural environment, they’ll contain far more nutrients and flavor than produce that’s grown in greenhouses or prematurely harvested and required to ripen off the parent plant.

#2: Supporting the Local Economy
Farmers harvest and sell what’s abundantly in season. By purchasing seasonal, local food, you’re supporting local farmers and therefore your local economy (you’re supporting yourself in many ways when you think about it!).  By supporting local farmers you’re not only helping people but also encouraging sustainable, green farming practices because local farmers will plant and grow only what is suited to the soil and climate where they live.

#3: It’s Cheaper
Fruits and vegetables that are in season are more abundant and therefore end up being cheaper than foods that aren’t in season. Buying foods out of season means paying a higher price to cover the transportation of the food and growing fruits and veggies in artificial conditions.

#4: It’s Eco-Friendly
Buying produce that doesn’t require transportation means that less gas is being consumed and less exhaust is being emitted. Additionally, fruits and vegetables that have to travel long distances (like strawberries traveling from Mexico to Wisconsin in January) require far more chemical-ridden sprays and treatments in order to stay fresh long enough to make it to the grocery store. By becoming a member of your local CSA or buying at the farmer’s market, you’re buying directly from a local farm where transportation and preservation time is minimal—many times you’ll purchase produce that was harvested the same day as you pick it up.

As you can see, eating seasonally and locally has some amazing benefits! I love sampling seasonal fruits and veggies when I travel because chances are I’m visiting a state or country with a different climate, ecosystem, and sometimes season—there’s so much variety to be experienced!

YOUR TURN: What’s your favorite local, seasonal recipe for summer or fall?

The Perfect Green Cocktail for Summer: Frozen Organic Gin Lemonade

Looking for the perfect drink for your pool party! The mister whipped up a batch of his famous Gin Lemonade recently and I was reminded how much I love it this time of year! Be careful though, they are strong – one is all you need. Ha!

What you will need:
  • juice from 5 organic lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups of organic sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup organic gin (you can also use vodka)
  • 8 cups ice

Directions:

Whisk the lemon juice and sugar together until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the gin and whisk again. Then, add the 8 cups of ice to a blender with the gin-lemon-sugar mixture and blend until smooth. Add lemon slices for garnish and enjoy.

Road-Tripping in an Electric Vehicle: 4 Tips for Success

There are a lot of different cars on today’s roads — and with a PwC forecast estimating 107 million vehicles will be manufactured globally in 2020, there are going to be even more in the next few years. And while having a vehicle is often necessary, CO2 emissions are at an all-time high, partly due to vehicle use. This is one of the many reasons more and more people are choosing to purchase electric vehicles (EVs). But if you’re traveling this summer, you may be wondering how to plan your trip with your EV. Lucky for you, we have a few great tips in this article.

Drive Smart and Save Your Battery

EV drivers have to make the most of a charge — this is why it’s important to drive smart. When you’re trying to get the most out of your car’s battery, you should accelerate and brake carefully. If you slam on either the gas or brakes regularly, your charge is going to go down more quickly. Don’t forget to use your accessories wisely, too. Additionally, you should always charge your vehicle right before you leave so you can start off with a full charge. And remember to keep charge times in mind to ensure you stay on schedule. With U.S. manufacturing producing 18.2% of goods globally, EVs have improved drastically over the past few years, but you still need to treat your car with care.

Plan Your Stops Ahead of Time

When you’re on a road trip, you’re usually rushing to get to your final destination in excitement. But when you’re driving in an EV, you need to plan to stop frequently. So when you’re planning your route and travel time, make sure to account for multiple stops. Not only will EVs require more stops than regular cars, but the stops will probably take longer — it takes more time to charge an EV than to fill up a gas tank. But with the global specialty gases market expected to exceed $14 billion by 2026, EV drivers can enjoy saving money and going green compared to regular vehicle drivers.

Go Where Charging Stations Are

Unfortunately, much of the country is still not equipped with electric vehicle charging stations. This is especially true in less populated areas. So when you’re deciding where to travel to in your EV, be mindful of where charging stations are located. Cities and urban areas are a great choice because they’re more likely to have multiple charging stations you can utilize. While there are plans in place to get more EV charging stations in place in less populated areas, for now, you should stick to high-traffic areas. This way, you won’t have to worry about being stranded without a way to charge up.

Expect the Unexpected

When you’re driving a traditional vehicle, it can be fairly easy to simply hop in the car and take off with no plan in mind. But this isn’t a smart thing to do with an EV. Running out of battery juice far away from a charging station can be bad news. This is why you need to plan for the worst and expect the unexpected. You should always have a backup plan, like knowing about a charging station before your planned stop, just in case. With 5.5 million car accidents occurring every year and millions of cars breaking down on the roads, there’s no telling what may happen. So be prepared for anything that may come up along the way.

Driving an electric vehicle is a great way to do your part to help the environment. But because road trips in an EV can be a little more tricky, keep these tips in mind to ensure everything goes according to plan.

9 Tips for Keeping your Family Safe from Sharks this Summer

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As you already know, my family loves the ocean. We spend the majority of our free time paddleboarding, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, and free-diving. Our love for the ocean includes everything that lives in the ocean. There are many creatures that inhabit that ocean that humans may find dangerous – especially after all of the media coverage surrounding some recent shark attacks. While I understand that some people may find sharks to be terrifying, the ocean is their home and we are simply visitors. However, as a family, we have a realistic view of these animals and follow the rules of the ocean to help ensure no harm comes to the sharks or our family.

Eben learned how to swim before he could walk or talk, he was almost 6 months old. He is a natural in the water – it is the one place where he feels completely at ease. When it comes to the ocean, he has no fear – he has been stung by jellyfish, bitten by countless creatures, stepped on a sea urchin and even tore his leg open kneeling on the ocean floor. However, all of these incidents have not changed his view of the ocean, it is still his favorite place on Earth.

I am not as adventurous as Eben or the mister, I am the cautious one – the one always on the lookout for possible dangers. We have swum and snorkeled with sharks many times and we have never felt threatened by them. In fact, we have nothing but love and respect for these amazing creatures. Since I am so cautious and a natural planner, I have tips that I live by to keep my family safe in the ocean. I am not trying to scare you, you are more likely to be hurt by a toilet than a shark! However, if you are hitting the beach this summer, read on and take note, these tips can help to keep your family safe.

#1: What’s Going On?
The first thing to consider before even getting into the water is to stay on top of what is happening in the ocean in your area. A great place to start is at the lifeguard station – they will have a sign that will outline any dangers for the day. Check the news, have there been reports of whale migration, baitfish or seals in the area? If so, stay out of the water. Also, if sharks are migrating through the area, it is a good idea to steer clear of the water too.

#2: It’s All in the Sky
Waters tend to be cloudy at dusk and dawn – and if you can’t see well through the cloudy water, a shark won’t be able to either. Many causes of shark bites happen simply as a case of mistaken identity. Also, if it is overcast or stormy, going in the ocean isn’t recommended – again the water is usually cloudy and incoming storms can stir up bait fish, the last thing you want to do is get between a shark and its prey.

#3: Watch for Fishermen 
I don’t recommend being in the water anywhere near fishermen. Whether the fishermen are simply fishing, cleaning the fish in the water, dumping fish guts into the water, or chumming, it’s a good idea to steer clear of the area. Sharks have an amazing sense of smell and taste and fish guts in the water may attract them to the area. Some sharks have been known to hang around areas where fishermen fish, snatching the fish from their lines too. So as a rule, we do not swim near anywhere near a fishing pier.

#4: Stick Together
As with many things in life, there is safety in numbers when in the ocean too. I don’t recommend swimming far offshore or even hanging out in the water by yourself. Sharks come into all depths of water. We have seen them in knee-deep water and 30-foot waters – swimming or playing in the water as a group is a much better option. Stick together.

#5: Skip the Shiny
Shiny or metal objects can attract sharks – they are curious creatures, they may just want to check out your bling. When heading out to the sea, remove all of your jewelry – and skip swimsuits with any shiny metal embellishments.

#6 Keep Noise to a Minimum
Stick to playing Jaws at the swimming pool only! Splashing around, yelling and thrashing about may attract sharks to the area. They may think you are a struggling prey or may just be curious to see what all the ruckus is about.

#7: Keep a Safe Distance
Most of the times that we have encountered sharks have been on a reef. We always respect their space, put a lot of distance between us and them, stay close together, all the while remaining calm and still. They have always just swum past or under us – never giving us a second look. Again, I don’t recommend snorkeling or diving at a reef alone and when you do see a shark, don’t freak out and frantically try to swim back to the boat. Stay calm and still, and most likely the shark will just swim by.

#8: Pick a Guarded Beach
If you are on vacation, not familiar on how to read the ocean or just want a little more protection, hit the guarded beach. The lifeguards are not only there to keep us safe from drowning, but they will also alert you as soon as they see sharks, baitfish or other dangerous creatures or weather conditions. As soon as you hear that whistle blow, get out the water until the lifeguard says it is safe to go back in. Also, when you arrive at the beach make sure to read the signs at the lifeguard station if there is baitfish in the area or they have a red/no swimming flag – follow their recommendations.

#9: Don’t Feed the Fish
There have been documented cases of people being bitten by sharks after feeding them. Sharks are highly intelligent creatures if you feed them once they will remember it and come back to the area for more. What happens when someone else swims in that spot and doesn’t have a treat to offer them? They may bite someone on accident simply looking for food. As in all cases, do not feed the wildlife, it isn’t a good idea for you or for them.

How do you keep your family safe from sharks at the beach? Are there tips I may have missed?