Tuesday, 11 April 2017 00:00

The number of cleaning product choices at the grocery store can be overwhelming and expensive at times, when standing in an aisle looking at countertop cleaners, floor cleaners, and toilet bowl cleaners, among numerous other options.

But did you know there is a healthier, simpler, less expensive way to clean your house?

It’s true, there is an eco-option available sold at any grocery store that can clean and disinfect. The secret is white vinegar.

Here are the top 20 white vinegar cleaning uses:

1. Clean windows
2. Remove carpet stains
3. Remove water stains
4. Clean toilet bowl
5. Clean ceramic tiles
6. Clean pet accident areas
7. Clean the fridge
8. Clean coffeemaker
9. Wood floor cleaner
10. Clear drains
11. Cut grease stains
12. Remove stains from pots and pans
13. Brass polisher
14. Remove sticker residue
15. Clean tubs and showers
16. Clean mirrors
17. Clean ovens
18. Remove clothes stains
19. Eliminate odors from garbage disposal
20. Clean and disinfect cutting boards

In some cases, white vinegar will need to be diluted with water before cleaning, or another ingredient added to the solution before using.

Check back soon to see cleaning recipes using distilled white vinegar!

Friday, 07 April 2017 00:00

In 2017, we might as well have our smartphones grafted onto our hips with how much we use them. Besides wasting hours of your day playing apps, snapping photos, or shopping online, there are actually a LOT of green apps out there. Today I’ll share four awesome apps that ought to make living sustainably a little easier.

For anyone who loves buying their food fresh, the app Farmstand helps you locate the farmers market closest to you, as well as inform you on what’s currently happening at your local farmers markets. This app provides open times, directions, and photos of delicious food courtesy of other market-goers. Farmstand also allows you to share photos and your experiences, which is a great way to advertise locally-grown food. Unfortunately, it’s only available for iOS devices, but it’s free to download. 

Want to carpool somewhere? Carma is an app that allows you to do just that. Doing everything in real time, you can search for other users heading in your direction. The app even lets you decide if you want to do a return trip with the same person or a new carpool trip with someone else. Using an automated micro-payment transaction based on the distance driven, all drivers and riders share the cost of the trip. One dollar plus $0.20 per mile traveled is deducted from each rider's Carma Carpooling amount, and 85% of that is credited to the driver. There’s also a prompt for riders and drivers to rate each other at the end of the trip. This unique app is free to download and available for both iPhone and Androids.

Want to be less wasteful? Dropcountr is an app that connects with your water utility and helps you track how much water you use. Using real data, you can set goals for yourself to reduce your water waste and save money. You can customize your goals, or even just get an alert if you forgot to fully turn off the faucet. The app is free to download and available for both the iPhone and Android.

So hopefully these apps can help with your sustainable lifestyle. I’m excited to give these a try!

Friday, 17 March 2017 00:00

It’s easy to use reusables at home, where your cups, plates and containers live, but for most people, it gets a bit more difficult when you’re out and about.  I try to keep a few things with me at all times to help me prevent waste, like when I'm out getting coffee or if I have leftovers at restaurants.  It also helps stop the use of those disposable napkins and plasticware that seem to come with everything. I bring different things for different outings, but some things, like my coffee mug, I try to have with me at all times.

Here is some of what is in my eco-friendly bag:

 • Reusable coffee cup for coffee (or really, any drinks, hot or cold) on the go.

 • Napkin for wiping your hands or face, or cleaning up small messes.

 • Glass jar or other container for leftovers or to-go orders, or to hold compost or certain recyclables until you get home, since many public spaces don’t offer these facilities.

 • Spork or knife/fork set to avoid disposable plasticware.

 • Cloth bag to hold food items; for example, pastry or a sandwich.

You can mix and match these items as needed, or add in you own.  For example, someone might prefer a steel tiffin-style container instead of my glass bowl, or chopsticks instead of a knife and fork. 

Friday, 09 December 2016 00:00

First, a confession: the title is slightly misleading. I will be giving gifts to my friends and relatives this year; it’s just that most of them will not be physical gifts. Gift-giving—specifically, the act of unwrapping a physical present—is such a key part of most holiday gatherings that many can’t imagine a celebration without them. However, there are some things to consider about when thinking about a gift.

First, most people in the Western world have enough things. In fact, many of us have too many things. More people are beginning to downsize and declutter—why would you want to impede someone’s progress?

Second, most gifts, while meaningful at the time of giving, don’t end up used. There are, of course, exceptions, but many gifts I’ve received are either not exactly my taste (clothing items that don’t suit me), or something I don’t use (specialized cooking equipment). And on top of that, most people feel a lot of guilt around giving away something that they acquired as a gift, so its likely fate is collecting dust in a forgotten corner of someone’s home. I think that’s a waste of our precious resources, and I want better than that for my gifts, which is why I’m giving mainly consumable homemade gifts, and experience gifts.

Consumable gifts include things like food and body/cosmetic products. These are great things you can make at home, which means you can put them in reusable or zero-waste packaging—for example, homemade cookies in a large glass jar, homemade sugar scrub in a reused (clean) container, homemade lip balm, or a DIY baking kit, where you include the ingredients and a recipe so that the recipients can learn to do it themselves! A great thing about homemade gifts is that they can be completely unique and customized; you can even create your own creative labels. Experience gifts include things like movie tickets, tickets to see a local play, or a gift certificate to a spa or massage clinic. Encourage the recipient to maybe try something they haven’t before, like a gift certificate to a restaurant with a unique type of cuisine, or a natural health treatment, such as acupuncture, that they haven’t tried before. The best part of this is the memories they’ll have, and memories don’t take up any storage space!

As you can see, there are many different ways to give gifts that are kinder to the environment, so this holiday season, think about skipping the big-box store, and giving unique, eco-friendly gifts from the heart. 

Saturday, 19 November 2016 00:00

Fall cleaning can be a serious chore.  Regular chores include mopping, vacuuming, and cleaning the bathrooms.  Then there is fall cleaning—preparing your home for the winter months ahead. And don’t forget the prep for holiday guests. This, of course involves a plethora of tasks: cleaning drapes, washing walls and baseboards, cleaning upholstery and carpeting. I could continue on...

After all of these tedious but necessary chores are checked off my list, I enjoy refreshing my house with homemade scents.  I grew tired of spending money on expensive all-natural air fresheners, so I tried making my own, and it’s the only kind I value now.  
I use distilled water, essential oils, and a spray bottle.  Choose whichever lovely essential oil suits your desire.  My go-to scents are grapefruit and lavender.

Follow these quick, simple steps:

Combine 15-18 drops of essential oils of your choice, ¾ cup of distilled water, and ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol or witch hazel (optional) in an 8 oz. spray bottle.  Shake well.  Note: Using rubbing alcohol or witch hazel aids in mixing the oil and water.

Spray your homemade air freshener, and fill your home with wonderful scents.  I love the fresh, natural scents homemade sprays can make.

Some essential oil ideas include:

• Peppermint
• Lemon
• Citrus
• Lavender
• Frankincense

Or try combining two or more oils:

• Lemon, citrus, and lavender
• Orange and patchouli
• Lemon, lime, grapefruit, and citrus

Just make sure to use quality oils.  Lastly, create a label for the spray bottle so the next time you make homemade scents, you will know which oils are preferable.

As for purifying the air or removing chemicals from indoors, there are a few very effective plants to consider. Houseplants are widely known to absorb toxins from indoor environments, making the air your family breathes much less harmful. Check out these five houseplants to put on your cleaning supply list:

Spider plants
Golden pothos
Peace lilies

These plants can remove such chemicals from the air as formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene, trichloroethylene, carbon monoxide, and ammonia.

According to Healthline.com, some additional ways to maintain clean indoor air include:

• Vacuuming and mopping floors often
•  Eliminating the use of synthetic cleaners and/or air fresheners
•  Reducing humidity indoors
•  Utilizing a ventilation system
•  Replacing air filters often

With the winter months drawing near and the opportunity to open windows dwindling, the aforementioned are abundant ways to help reduce the amount of toxins in your home and add a fresh, natural scent without compromising your air quality.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016 00:00

Regardless of what comprises your exercise routine, there are ways to make it more environmentally friendly. Here are a few tips to lower the footprint of your walking routine, bike trip, yoga, Zumba, or whatever it is that you do!

1. Skip the disposable plastic water bottles and cups. This is probably the most obvious tip for anyone familiar with environmentalism, but it can't be said enough! Except for a few well-known examples, tap water in the U.S. is healthier and more regulated than bottled water, and way cheaper. If you can't afford a fancy Kleen Kanteen or other stainless steel reusable bottle, reuse a bottle you already own! On a similar note, make sure you keep your water bottle with you during sporting events, and refuse the little plastic cups.

2. Get your gear secondhand. I obtained my current yoga mat by making a post on Facebook asking, "Does anyone have a yoga mat they're not using?" I ended up trading a rarely-used mat and its carrier for a few books off of my shelf. Of course, there are more formalized ways to participate in the reuse economy: thrift stores are great, but if you can't find what you need there, try a reuse app or website like OfferUp or Craigslist. A lot of fitness websites and magazines will have you believe that having the latest gear and buying it new is of utmost importance, but except for a few things, like shoes for long-distance runners, pre-loved items will do just fine!

3. Turn your commute into exercise time. If you can, biking or walking are great ways to incorporate movement into your commute. Even taking public transit can make one more active due to walking to stops or between transfers. The extra benefit is that these things are usually far cheaper than owning a car. Unfortunately, many people live too far from their school or work to do this, but if you live within a few miles, I highly recommend checking out your options for a cheaper, more eco-friendly, more active, and healthier commute.

These are just a few of the ways you can make your fitness routine more eco-friendly! There are many other ways to reduce your footprint, including buying bulk snacks instead of individually wrapped ones, and taking shorter showers. What other ways can you think of to green your routine?