Tag Archives | eco home

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?

What Should Eco-Conscious Homebuyers Look for in a New House?

Buying a home can be an exciting time in your life. Maybe you’re celebrating financial security or you’re ready to start a family. But for the eco-conscious among us, house hunting can be a little bit more challenging. Fortunately, more homes have green features in them now. But it’s up to you to know what to look for. Here are a few features to keep your eyes peeled for.

Roofing

When you’re looking at houses, roofing should be one of the first things you check regardless of whether you want a more eco-friendly home or not. The state of a home’s roofing can tell you a lot about what kind of issues you may or may not have to deal with upon moving in. Under normal circumstances, a roof should be inspected once or twice annually. An asphalt shingle roof should be replaced every 10 to 15 years or so, as well. So when you’re looking at a home’s roofing, make sure you ask when it was last replaced. If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly option, look for homes with metal roofing. Metal roofing not only lasts for upwards of 50 years, but it can help lower your overall energy costs because of its ability to reflect sunlight and heat away from a home.

Good Insulation

Insulation might not seem like a great indicator of a home’s eco-friendliness, but the truth is that it makes a world of difference in energy usage. When a house is well-insulated, interior temperatures will remain more consistent with less need to use artificial heating or air conditioning. Having poor insulation means that not only are you using these utilities more often, but also that when you do, that warm or cool air is escaping through your walls, doors, and windows. Essentially, poor insulation means wasting precious energy. When you prioritize good insulation in your search for a home, you’re ensuring that you’ll use and waste less energy.

Water-Efficient Plumbing

Did you know that almost 10% of homes in the U.S. have water leaks that could waste up to 90 gallons of water per day? Whether it’s a dripping faucet or a shower head that isn’t fitted properly, the water efficiency of some homes is less than ideal. If you’re looking at homes as an eco-conscious buyer, make sure you inquire about water-efficient plumbing. For example, ask when the plumbing was last inspected. Any recent leaks or pipe problems could be indicative of underlying plumbing issues. In addition, don’t be afraid to take a look in the bathrooms of the houses you look at and test the plumbing for yourself. Does the faucet drip after being shut off? Is there a low-flush toilet or does the toilet run for a long time after flushing? These are the kinds of inspections you need to make if you’re set on learning whether or not a home is eco-friendly.

Solar Panels

The presence of solar panels on a home should clue you in almost immediately that you’re looking at an eco-friendly property to some extent. In most cases, homes will have solar panels installed on the roof or independently somewhere on the lawn. While they’re a good indicator of eco-friendliness, it’s still important to ask about how often they’re maintained, when they were installed, and how much energy they supply on average. The answers will give you a good idea on what kind of output you can expect and when you may need to consider replacement.

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly home, you’re not alone. Most people move almost 12 times in their lives, which means others are likely searching for some of the same things you are. With your eyes peeled for these features, you should be able to find the eco-friendly home of your dreams in no time.

Tips to Maintain Your Privacy at Home

Tips to Maintain Your Privacy at Home

Whether you are a parent with young children or someone that likes entertaining, everyone is familiar with the experience of finding unwanted guests in just about every room in your home. You might find a kid playing with your laptop in your office or a house guest in your bedroom. No matter the culprit, it can be frustrating to feel like no space is sacred. Even intruders with pure intentions can cause you to feel anxious or uncomfortable.

Creating a private space might seem impossible, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. A few simple steps can prevent unwanted visitors into your private spaces and give you the peace of mind that your things are safe and secure where you left them. Whether you simply need a barrier to stop the mildly curious or something with a bit more security, there are budget-friendly options for all needs.

Change the Hardware

To keep unwanted guests out, choose door hardware with a sturdy lock. This will make it clear to anyone that tries to open the door that this space is off-limits. While a heavy-duty lock would do the trick, there are also more creative hardware pieces to consider. Wrought iron slide locks couple well with non-traditional sliding door styles, such as barn door fixtures. Check out the best barn door hardware for a unique take that can add character as well as security.

Slide locks can provide a polite but firm message to nosy guests and can be put out of reach of adventurous small children. A simple slide lock can be purchased from the hardware store on a budget, but unique pieces can often be found at local shops or farmers’ markets where a local blacksmith has a booth with the added benefit of supporting local businesses.

Install a New and More Secure Door

Many homes, especially those that are not brand new, may have lightweight doors with handles that just don’t latch very well and may swing open at the slightest breeze. Wooden doors and doorframes will warp over time and need to be replaced.

It is important to check door frames for wood rot. It may not always be obvious to the casual eye when the damage to the door frame is caused by more than warping from age. Replacing the entire frame is relatively inexpensive if you can do the work without a carpenter. Once the frame is secure, an additional easy solution to a door that won’t latch is to install a new door with new hardware. Sometimes a soundly closed door is enough to discourage nosy guests.

Install a Green New Door

When you’re doing any DIY project, it’s important to keep smart recycling tips in mind. The same idea applies when you are looking to install a new door. A quick check with a local carpenter or Habitat for Humanity ReStores will give you access to recycled building materials and doors to choose from rather than buying a new door from a home improvement store. Choosing a recycled piece is the green choice, but it can also provide you with a beautifully unique door. This solution is particularly good for a creative space such as an art or craft room or a home office where the door becomes as much art as functional security.

Consider a Few Budget-Friendly Security Measures

For more serious security concerns, or in cases of persistent intruders, there are a few budget-friendly security options that can be put into place. Installing a deadbolt on offices or the master bedroom is certain to keep out intruders of all sizes. It is inconvenient to have to carry a key to get in and out of these rooms, but the inconvenience might be worth the peace of mind. Little fingers can do a lot of damage to expensive electronic devices in the space of a few minutes.

A deadbolt can be as simple as a key lock entry or can be as sophisticated as requiring keypad entry or specialty cut keys that only a locksmith with specialized equipment can reproduce.

Helping Holidays: 4 Green Gifts That Give Back

The holidays are all about celebrating acts of giving, making it the perfect opportunity to make your gift giving smarter this season. There are so many amazing businesses out there that give back when you purchase one of their products. These companies are tied to doing good somewhere in the world every time a purchase is made. Read on for my 4 favorite gifts that give back – and if you hurry you can still get these goodies by Christmas.

1. Warby Parker Glasses
Eben and I both wear glasses and love the stylish, affordable frames from Warby Parker. For every pair of glasses that you buy, a pair is donated to a person in need. If you don’t wear glasses, that is alright – Warby Parker also offers fantastic sunglasses.

+ Warby Parker  

2. Feed Bags
I have been familiar with FEED Bags for a very long time – I remember first seeing them in Whole Foods back when we lived in Georgia! FEED Bags come in a huge selection of styles and sizes and with each purchase a portion of the proceeds go towards feeding the children of the world.

+ FEED Projects

3. TOMS Shoes
Most likely you are already familiar with TOMS shoes – for every pair you purchase a pair is donated to a child in need. With a great selection of shoes for everyone on your list, TOMS is the perfect holiday gift!

+ TOMS
4. Smile Squared
Every year I stick a toothbrush in the holiday stocking – this year I will be stuffing a brush from Smile Squared! Smile Squared is another company that donates a product to a child in need – in this case, an eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush – because a healthy smile is a happy smile.

+ Smile Squared

Do you have a favorite gift to give that gives back too?

5 Budget and Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Shopping Tips

5 Budget and Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Shopping Tips Sweet Greens

While this time of the year is the most wonderful  – it is also the busiest. You may feel like there are so many things that you need to prepare and buy and deciding where to start can be overwhelming. Instead of getting things done ahead of time, many of us tell ourselves we will get everything done when the holidays get closer. Then, the next thing you know the holidays are upon us and we end of spending too much money, getting completely stressed out, and not making the best choices – not exactly the feelings that you want to experience. It happens to the best of us, right?To get your holiday shopping off on the right foot, I thought I would share my favorite budget and eco-friendly holiday shopping tips. These are all tips that I use every year to make sure that this time of the year is definitely the most wonderful without breaking the bank or losing my head!

1. Make a List – Check it Twice
Every year, I create a simple holiday gift list in my iPhone. It includes the name of everyone on my holiday shopping list, gift ideas for each of them and my spending limit per person. Since my list is on my phone, I can consult and update it at anytime. Then, I mark off each person as I finish their holiday gift shopping. This has saved me a lot of time and money and I never have to ask myself – did a buy a gift for so and so? Or, how many gifts did I buy for Eben or the mister? I just check the list and I am done!

2. Start Early
The earlier that you start your holiday shopping, the better. Just think, if you finish all of your holiday shopping early, you can spend the day after Thanksgiving at home, snuggled up with your family and a yummy warm beverage. I can’t think of anything more stress-free then having all of the holiday shopping done before December even arrives. It really frees up all of December to focus on making fun memories with my family. This is another place that #1 comes in, if you shop early picking up items when you find them on sale – you save a ton of money.

3. Shop Locally
Instead of hitting the closest big box store this holiday season, consider supporting small, independently owned businesses. Many towns have a shopping area that is filled with adorable shops that focus on the work of local artisans and many have eco-friendly options. In my opinion, a handmade gift is the best gift! You could also give a gift from your local farm, such as; fresh vegetables, fruits or dairy items. Another option is to check out Etsy for fantastic handmade goods, you can click here to shop Etsy shops located in your local area.

4. It’s All About Quality
Each year, I like to focus on purchasing the mister and Eben quality gifts that they will enjoy for years and years to come. I focus on items that I think they will really enjoy and steer clear of items that are disposable, or would only be enjoyed temporarily. My favorite items to purchase for them include; books, experiences (see below), heirloom quality items that they will keep forever and gifts that focus on their favorite hobbies.

5. Give the Gift of Experience
I am a huge fan of giving the gift of experience, some that I have given in the past include annual passes to local nature and science museums, state parks, botanical gardens, art centers and even scuba lessons. I think gifts that allow the recipient to learn something new or go to place they have always wanted to see builds memories and brings much more happiness long-term than any material gift could ever could. Plus, it’s just another excuse to spend more quality time with my family – and that is the best gift of all.

What are your favorite holiday shopping tips? Please share them in the comments section – I would love to hear!