- Politics and Social Issues
Mom Has Mad Green Skills!
One of the best ways to teach your kids about green family values is to set the example with your own actions. You may have already taught them about the 3Rs... reduce, reuse, and recycle. You may have taught them about turning lights off lights and conserving energy. Every little step helps. But what else can moms do personally to help minimize their family's ecological impact? It just so happens that moms especially have opportunities to reduce their impact on the planet and make it a better place for generations to come. It all starts with cultivating a green home.
Moms typically run the home. They oversea the cooking, cleaning, kids care, and household purchases. They are uniquely positioned to make green choices and have a green home. Mom's green housekeeping skills can be a force that changes the world for the better.
5 Green Housekeeping Tips
The air inside our homes is far dirtier than the air outside, according to experts. Why is this? Most likely because of the products we choose to sprinkle, spray and shake around our dishes, furniture, appliances and laundry.
In order to protect the health of our loved ones who breathe indoor air as well as the long term health of our planet, here are 5 quick tips anyone can implement to make their home healthier and less toxic.
1) Start with laundry
According to Malcolm Rands, founder of EcoStore, switching to a safer, natural laundry detergent or soap is probably the most important first change to make to green your home. Why? Because most of us wear clothes 24 hours a day. Much of what our skin rubs up against will end up in our blood stream. Find biodegradable detergents with plant based ingredients. These are available online and in major health food stores.
2) Clean green
If you do a little digging, you can find recipes that utilize such basic ingredients as vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and olive oil for most of your cleaning projects. Not the type to make your own? That's fine. There are many effective non-toxic cleaning products on the market. If you wouldn't drink it, you shouldn't use it for cleaning.
3) Pest smart
One of the most toxic offenders are pesticides. Pesticides are linked with a variety of health problems including fertility issues, breathing difficulties, leukemia and other cancers. You can purchase products (such as boric acid) that are safer for use in your home and are quite effective against pets. Some herbs and spices also repel various creepy crawlies.
4) New? Not
Obtaining most of your furnishings used can go a long way towards keeping formaldehyde and other toxins from offgassing into your home. Not only will you save money, you'll also keep great stuff from hitting the landfill. Check out ebay and craigslist next time you need a piece of furniture.
5) When In Doubt, Air it Out
While sealing up your home may make it more energy efficient, it also has the effect of trapping in pollutants. Make it a point to open doors and windows whenever possible. Spend some time outdoors every day. Avoid the use of "air fresheners" and even scented candles since they are full of known toxins. Airing out your home and using items like baking soda, lemons, essential oils properly diluted, and herbs and spices will clean your air safely.
Ways To Decorate Green!
Maybe you've just moved into a new house or apartment. Or perhaps you're a college student who needs to decorate their dorm room on a budget. Whatever the case, you want your living space to be comfortable, welcoming and that reflects your personal style. You can do that with a small budget. Here are some ideas to help you do that.
Look on Craigslist's Free, Barter and Furniture Sections - People give away all kinds of things on Craigslist. I've seen people give away beds, sofas, chairs, pictures, well you get the idea. You may have to touch up the paint on some furniture or clean the items well to make them more attractive, but you will certainly save money. The only catch with this is that you typically have to have the transportation and gas to go and pick these items up.
There are a lot of interesting items being offered for trade on Craigslist. If you have a service, you can trade your services for the value of the item that you're looking for. You could also trade something that you're not using for what you do want.
Of course, you can also find inexpensive used furniture for sale on Craigslist. A lot of times when people move they put their heavy items on Craigslist so that they don't have to deal with moving it.
Arts and Crafts Make Great Decorations - If you're crafty yourself, you can find the supplies necessary to make your own decorations. You can also think outside the box when it comes to decorating. You can find interesting pictures in art books at used book stores. Frames are relatively inexpensive but framed art is often pricey, so you can use these pictures and frame them to make your walls attractive. You can even use things from nature to decorate. Rocks and shells and the like can be arranged attractively. Search around online for ideas.
Painting is another inexpensive way to change the look of a room quickly and dramatically. For just a few dollars you can buy a gallon of paint and makeover a room. Look for the cans of paint at the hardware store that have been mixed up incorrectly and are discounted. They may not match someone else's dcor but match your tastes perfectly!
Consignment Stores, Ebay and Thrift Stores - Another good place to find decorations at a great price is a consignment store. The best way to find consignment stores in your area is to look in the phone book or go on Google and type in consignment store + (your city). You should look for one that specializes in furniture and home furnishings so you don't get sidetracked and come home with shoes instead of decorations for your house. Of course, yard sales are another fantastic place to find decorations, art, rugs, pottery, and furniture at a fraction of the retail price.
Ebay is another awesome place to find decorations for your home. Just make sure that you check the seller's feedback rating before you do business with that seller. Read the comments that other buyers have left for that seller. Ebay is a great place to find really obscure items for an eclectic style.
Decorating your house or apartment doesn't have to cost a lot of money. You just have to know where to look to get good deals.
Green Cleaning Works!
There are several reasons why one might want to use more natural and green cleaners to tidy up their home. Conventional cleaners might be effective in cutting through dirt and grime but they do so at the expense of our health and the environment. Many people use cleaning products with very little prior thought or concern. The widespread availability and use of conventional products indicates to them that they must be relatively safe for use. But these cleaners contain many chemicals that can be toxic, reactive, corrosive, or flammable. There is also the potential that they can cause serious health issues and environmental damage. Just ask yourself if you really need to clean your home with ingredients like these:
* Hydrochloric Acid
Not only do ingredients like these and the hundreds of other potentially toxic ingredients used in mainstream cleaners have the potential to cause physical harm, they can do environmental harm as well. Each day millions of pounds of household cleaning products are carelessly poured down drains. Many of these toxic substances are NOT able to be processed adequately by sewage treatment plants or septic systems and contamination of surface and ground water can occur. Fish and other wildlife might also be negatively impacted.
It is for all these reasons that green families everywhere are choosing to use cleaners made with natural ingredients that do not endanger their children or the planet. Natural ingredients can be just as effective as harsh conventional cleaners but without the negative side effects. Some of the favored natural cleaning ingredients are below.
* Vinegar is a natural all purpose cleaner. It also disinfects and deodorizes. It kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs and viruses.
* Pure castile soap is a basic cleaner that works wonders. Why do you need fancy cleaners when good old soap and water so good?
* Lemons can be used to make your own cleaning pastes when you add baking soda and vinegar. They dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits and they shine brass and copper. Since they smell so divine they can also be used to deodorize. For instance, grinding some lemon peels in the garbage disposal takes care of odors beautifully.
* Vegetable oils can be used as a furniture polish to hydrate and shine your wood furniture.
* Baking Soda is one of the more preferred and versatile natural cleaners. It deodorizes, it scrubs surfaces, and it can be used to make liquid pastes. Add a few drops of essential oil to baking soda and you have a scented toilet and tub scrub.
Making your own cleaning supplies with natural ingredients is easy and safe but if you don't have the time or inclination to do that there are also a growing number of green cleaners available at health food stores and online. There is just no reason why you can't clean with green power in your own home.
Green Home Cleaners
Launder Your Clothes Naturally
The object in doing your laundry is no doubt to get your clothes clean and smelling fresh. The supermarket isles are filled with hundreds of products that claim to do the best job in helping you accomplish that. Not only are they supposed to clean your clothes they also claim to make your laundry smell like spring flowers, fresh picked berries, or even a refreshing rain.
It is ironic then that many conventional laundry detergents unintentionally and many times even intentionally, leave residues on your clothing. These residues are the byproducts of the numerous chemicals that these detergents contain and these chemical residues are anything but healthy for your laundry. They are not particularly healthy for your family either.
Since wearing clothing is most likely and every day, all day occurrence your cumulative exposure to these chemicals may cause some concern and rightly so. So what can you do?
A laundry detergent with more natural ingredients is a good option. In recent years there has been a large upsurge of natural detergents available on the market so finding one that works for you should not be hard. Here are some tips to help you find the best natural solution for your laundry.
cAvoid detergents with optical brighteners. Optical brighteners intentionally leave a residue on the surface of your laundry. These brighteners stick to your clothing to reflect light and give the appearance of cleaner, brighter clothes. If you look at your detergent under a black light and it glows.it has optical brighteners. These chemical residues can cause skin irritations and allergic reactions.
* Avoid detergents with fabric softeners. These softeners leave a water-repelling residue on your laundry. This can be problematic for items such as towels or cloth diapers, making them less absorbent and useful in the very purpose that they serve. If you need extra help softening your laundry try using a natural fabric softener or some dryer balls.
* Skip the synthetic fragrances and opt for a detergent that utilizes natural fragrances such as essential oils. You can even do it yourself and ad a 2-3 drops of lavender or tea tree oil to the wash.
* Considering using a soap based cleaner instead of a detergent. Detergents are made with petrochemical ingredients whereas soaps are made with natural oils and minerals.
* Many of the chemicals in dryer sheets designed to keep your clothes wrinkle and static free have been linked to cancer. Use a vinegar rinse while clothes are in the wash instead or use a small sachet of dried lavender in the dryer.
* Instead of using harsh bleach on your clothes, soak clothes that need brightened in a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide to 8 parts cold water and then wash. You might also try a half cup of lemon juice and baking soda.
* Conventional stain removers are too harsh, use a baking soda paste to scrub and pre-treat stains.
Natural Lawn Care
If you want a nice luscious green yard, there are a lot of things you can do without introducing chemicals. You see, even though there are yards with lots of different chemicals and they look really great, the chemicals are not good for the environment and not good for the health of our family. Do we want our children playing on a lawn treated heavily with chemicals? No.
Luckily there are still some things you can do to improve your lawn naturally. To start with make sure you are keeping up with regular maintenance. You should be mowing the grass to keep it clean cut and healthy. You should be watering it deeply and regularly if rainfall is not sufficient. If there is any sign of drought you should be careful with water, perhaps installing rainwater collection barrels to collect water for times when water is scarce.
When you water your lawn the best time to do it is in the morning or evening to prevent evaporation from the sun. You should water it until you have given it an inch of water.
You can put a measuring cup under the sprinkler to be sure. If you have the time, the best way to do it is by watering it one half inch letting it sit for an hour and then the other half inch.
Another tip for having a natural lawn is you leaving your grass clippings on the lawn. This is called mulching. This way you don't waste the plastic bags or energy you use to put the grass out to the road. Leaving grass clippings also helps maintain moisture.
You should also clip your lawn a little bit higher. You can keep it up to 3 inches high if the codes in your area allow. This helps to keep the essential microorganisms in the soil safe. Another good idea for easy and natural gardening is to choose plants that are native to your area. When you do this, the plants need almost no additional care and will grow almost naturally. Control weeds with natural ingredients like corn gluten or spot-treat them with vinegar. The mowing process can cause pollution if you gas powered mowers. Look into electric or even solar powered mowers instead.
There are runners that grow above the soil but lower than the grass and these should be controlled as well. These runners are called thatch and should be kept at under a half inch. If you don't, the soil won't get the nutrients and water it needs to establish healthy roots for your lawn, and keep it looking healthy. The best way to get rid of this thatch is to use a metal rake whenever needed to break it down.
Keeping your lawn naturally healthy shouldn't be hard at all, and it is actually really good for the environment. Give it a shot by practicing these tips and you will love the lush green yard you have, and you won't feel the need to use chemicals anymore.
Ways to Conserve Energy and Money
People are tightening their belts right about now with economy being so precarious. In addition to worrying about job security, investments, and daily expenses, it is also a concern that winter is just around the corner. Winter months usually mean hefty electric and/or gas bills for many families and they may be wondering right about now how they can stay warm without breaking the bank. There are many ways to cut your energy consumption and save some green while you conserve resources. Here are a few ideas:
Power Strips – Plug several appliances into one power strip and then make a habit of using the master switch to turn them off each night. For instance, you could plug your TV, DVD player, and cable box into one strip and then simply turn it off when finished. This is important because appliances and electronics still draw power even when not in use. They are often called energy vampires for this reason. Turn off everything that you can each night for big savings.
Motion Lights – Local hardware stores often carry motion sensing light sockets at affordable prices. They simply plug into a standard light bulb socket and then the regular light bulb screws into them. They sense motion and turn on and after the motion ceases for awhile they automatically turn off. This is a perfect solution for closets, garages, basements, and laundry rooms where lights may be left on accidentally. They pay for themselves quickly with energy savings, especially if you have children who are prone to leaving lights on.
Insulation – Take a trip to your local home and hardware store to see what type of insulation products they offer. You can find insulating blankets for hot water heaters and pipes, caulking and weather stripping for windows and cracks in the foundation, draft stoppers for doors, foam outlet inserts, and even foam blankets for windows. These items are relatively cheap and they help keep your home warmer so that the heater does not need to run as much. You can check for drafts on a windy day by lighting a candle or an incense stick in suspicious areas and seeing if it flickers or smokes. If it does you have a heat leak that needs to be plugged.
Get the Family Involved – Try setting your thermostat as low as possible…especially at night. Let your family know they can double up on blankets if they get cold and they can wear sweaters and warmer clothes during the day. Also make sure they are mindful of letting doors hang open for too long…make it a contest of sorts to see who in the family can up with the most ways to keep the house warm and save energy. Competition always stirs creativity!
Window Treatments – A lot of heat is lost through windows. Once you have caulked them or applied weather stripping, put up thick curtains or blinds, or both. Keep south-facing windows open and clean during the day to allow sunlight to enter for solar heat gain.
Making just a few changes can have a big impact on your electric and gas bills this year.
Great Green Reading...
Easy Ways to Make your Home More Eco-Friendly
We all want to do our part to protect the environment, but without a large paycheck, that can be seem difficult, if not impossible. But doing your part doesn’t have to be hard. Small steps add up to a big difference, you just have to know which ones to take.
Use less water.
Saving water is all about small steps, here are a few that will help save big.
- Shut off the water while you brush your teeth
- Take showers that are a minute or two shorter
- Only flush the toilet when you need to
- Only run full loads of laundry and dishes
- Buy from sustainable producers. These are farmers, ranchers, and other producers that use techniques that pollute less and use less water. You can do some research online or ask at your local organic market to find these products.
Use less energy.
If you don’t have the money to buy a hybrid car or convert your house to solar power, you can make a big difference with small changes.
- Buy energy efficient appliances. They may be more expensive, but make up for the increased cost in lower energy bills.
- Unplug chargers when you’re not using them. Cell phone and other chargers use up powers even if there’s nothing attached to them.
- Put devices with remotes, like T.V.s, VCRs, and stereos, on a power strip and turn it off when you’re not using them. These devices use a lot of power to run the remote receiver even when the device is off.
- Walk or ride your bike for short trips.
- Buy local products. It takes energy to transport food and other products across the country. Buying local not only supports your local economy, it helps them use less energy.
When it comes to saving energy and water, it’s a great idea to get the kids involved. You can even make it a game. Have them track how much water and electricity everyone is using. You can compete to see who uses the least water. You can often count on your kids to help keep you on track when given the task.
Most of us know the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle, but when we work on conserving, we often leave reuse out of the picture. While you can often find tips on how to reuse common products from other people, what you need most is creativity. With a little thought there are many items around your home that can be reused – toilet paper holders can be used to sow seeds for the vegetable patch. And old yogurt containers can be cut into strip to make plant labels. Old food jars can be refilled with homemade foods or can make great impromptu vases.
Use environmentally friendly products. When you go to the grocery store, you probably see more and more “natural” or “eco friendly” products every time. There are generally two big problems with these products: 1. Just because they’re more natural than regular products, doesn’t mean they’re entirely natural. 2, They’re often expensive.
If you want inexpensive, natural, safe products, why not just make them yourself. Vinegar is a great way to clean and disinfect glass and other surfaces. Need to remove stubborn stains? Just add some baking soda to your vinegar cleaner. Some quick searching online will lead you to hundreds of other natural safe home-made cleaning products.
We all knowing that going green means better for the environment, but it’s also better for you. Conserving resources also helps save you money, which is something most of us are happy to live with.