Tag Archives | green families

Green Tip: 4 Things to do Before You Leave on Vacation

Are you going out of town during the fall months?  Have a fabulous road trip or getaway planned? I am so jealous.

Don’t forget to do these simple green things before you leave on vacation.

#1: Adjust the thermostat accordingly and turn down the temperature on your hot water heater.
#2: Unplug all appliances that you won’t be using while you are away, such as your coffee maker, microwave, washer, dryer, lamps, TV’s etc;
#3: Put your home lights on a timer or have a neighbor stop in and turn the lights on/off, instead of leaving the lights on the entire time you are gone. Burglars are keen on this too, they realize if your porch lights are on all day and night, chances are, you are out of town.

#4: Put a hold on your mail. This will save the post office, UPS and FedEx from having to drive to your home – this is especially effective if you live in a rural area.

YOUR TURN: What are your fall vacation plans? What are your green vacation tips?

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.