Tag Archives | green lifestyle

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.

How to Reduce Your Waste and Start Living a Greener Life in 2020

Whether you like it or not, it’s become apparent that Americans really need to embrace going green. And while U.S. businesses are starting to embrace eco-friendly methods as a means of appealing to consumers and keeping up with the competition, protecting the planet typically starts at home. In fact, Americans threw out over 258 million tons of municipal solid waste (or discarded trash) in 2014. A separate study estimates that Americans throw out seven pounds of trash per person every day — or 2,555 pounds of materials per person every year.

But unnecessary waste doesn’t merely refer to garbage. We also regularly waste electricity, water, and heating energy without a second thought. Whatever your green goals, there’s no better time to tackle them than the new year. If you want to make good on your environmental resolutions in 2020, here are some simple ways to reduce waste and start living a greener life.

Let There Be (LED) Light

Reducing waste doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Start by switching out your traditional lightbulbs for LED ones. The U.S. Department of Energy maintains that LED lighting has the potential to reduce nationwide energy usage by nearly 50%. By using LED bulbs, you’ll need less energy to light your home, lower your monthly bills, and end up saving money in the long run (as LED bulbs last longer than incandescent bulbs).

Of course, you should still make an effort to turn off lights when you leave a room or go out of the house. If you’re going away, invest in a timer so you don’t waste too much energy while you’re gone. Be sure to unplug electronics and appliances while you’re at it, as these can drain energy sources even when they’re not in use. These steps are simple enough once you make them a habit — and since you’ll be financially benefitting at the same time, they’ll be easy to remember.

Pay Attention to H2O

We tend to take water for granted, but this precious resource needs to be protected. For one thing, you should make an effort to locate and fix any leaks. If an undetected leak continues for a year, you could waste thousands of gallons and approximately $164.50 (or more, in some cases). Even if your home doesn’t have any plumbing leaks, you’ll still want to be more cognizant of your water usage. Be sure to run the washing machine or dishwasher only when full, as this will save water. Keep in mind that washing in hot water will require more energy, so washing your clothing in cold water is a good idea when possible. Of course, you’ll need to use hot water when washing dishes, but make sure to shut off the faucet when washing by hand. You should also consider taking shorter showers and turning down the temperature on your water heater. Data shows that 15% to 25% of all energy consumed within a home is due to a running water heater. You can probably stand to lower the temperature (it should be no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit) to save energy without sacrificing your comfort.

Get Ready For Winter

Winter has only just begun, but you’ve probably started feeling the effects in your home. You might already be cranking up the heat — and if your home has leaks or cracks, your HVAC system is probably working harder than necessary. It’s a good idea to keep your thermostat on the lower end in order to save energy. But if heat is escaping, you’ll have a hard time being comfortable. If you haven’t already, make an effort to seal any vulnerabilities to keep the warm air inside. You might also consider adding extra insulation or upgrading your windows. And while the winter isn’t an ideal time to get a new roof, choosing the right roofing material can help you save as much as 30% on your home’s energy needs. In other words, you might want to get started on the process now and at least schedule an upgrade to prioritize greener living in 2020. You might also want to take this opportunity to have your HVAC system serviced, as you may be able to avoid problems this season if you’re proactive.

Be Smart When Shopping

Water and energy waste are big problems, but food waste should also be a major concern. The USDA estimates that 30% to 40% of the nation’s food supply is wasted. That means most Americans need to be more intentional in how they shop, how they cook, and how they eat. Organic is typically best in most cases; in SEO, it’s over five times better than paid search ads, and it’s usually the higher-quality option in the grocery store, too. But if you’re not using that organic food and end up throwing it away, that’s a huge waste.

It’s a good idea to stick to a list and buy only what you need. If you plan out your meals in advance, this can help you to prevent impulse buys and make sure you use everything possible in the fridge. Try to stick to multi-purpose items that can be used in a variety of ways throughout the week, rather than specialty ones that might be allowed to go bad. Whether you prep your meals each Sunday or cook every night, mapping out how you’ll shop and eat can help your family reduce food waste next year. While you’re at it, bring your own reusable grocery bags to go plastic-free and make sure to invest in reusable food storage containers. In general, cut down on single use plastics at home to reduce the other items you’ll throw away.

Repair or Buy Used

Another good way to reduce waste is to take stock of what you already have. If you have a piece of furniture that’s seen better days but is structurally sound, you might consider having it professionally cleaned or repaired. It’s recommended that you have upholstery cleaned once a year anyway (though you should try to ensure the cleaning methods used are eco-friendly!), but you might even consider having a piece reupholstered with vintage fabric or fixed using reclaimed wood. Appliances and electronics may also be repairable, so don’t be so quick to throw them out and buy new. Shoes and clothing can often be fixed, as well, particularly if the problem is something like a zipper or a heal. By having these items repaired, you’ll be able to keep them out of landfills, save money, and support local businesses.

While it might not be realistic for your family to get your waste production to zero, it’s simpler than you think to reduce it. By keeping these tips in mind, you can go a lot greener in 2020 without much effort.