Making Green Resolutions and Goals for 2013

New Year’s resolutions and goals include green resolutions too. Four goals to add to your list to live a healthier and greener life in 2013.

We survived the end of the world and many of us awoke to a snow covered landscape on December 22, 2012. So while you’re still working on your 2013 resolutions, be sure to include some green goals too.

I changed my focus of making resolutions that I couldn’t stick with to making goals several years ago. Goals are great because if you don’t achieve them, you’re not as disappointed and you may just need to reword them or create smaller goals to achieve the larger one.

Include ways to green your life in 2013.

A few of my goals for 2013 include greener choices for my lifestyle and the environment…hope you have included a few of your own as well!

Buy more eco friendly cleaning products that aren’t harmful to me, pets or the environment. Through the use of using coupons, I found Method does a better job of cleaning than other brands and they smell soo good! I ditched the other brands in my cupboard. Although a little more expensive, I will buy when Method cleansers are on sale and I have coupons to use. Other eco friendly cleaning products I like include Seventh Generation and Green Works.

Buy local. It’s true that if you buy from small local businesses and local farms that more of your money goes back to your community. As much as 50% is returned to local businesses when you choose to buy from small businesses and local farms instead of buying from national big box stores. It’s oftentimes easier to just buy all your groceries and home supplies from 1 location; however, I find that I will spend more and pickup more POS items that I DON’T need. Make a list of sale items and stick to it. Buy fresh produce when it’s in season and learn to can/freeze it for the off-season months. Ask your local farmers if they will sell blemished produce for less & buy in bulk. Small businesses love returning customers – tell your friends to shop there too.

Enjoy nature and the outdoors more than commercial entertainment. Almost every city & town has some acreage that’s reserved just for enjoying. Whether it’s a bike trail, walking trails, ski/sledding hills or man made lakes and ponds – get out and enjoy the fresh air. Health experts say we only need 20 minutes of sunshine to get our daily dose of Vitamin D. And if your little burg doesn’t have a trail, take a walk or work in your yard…green is good for the soul, mind and body!

Eat less processed food. Not only is it healthy, it’s also better for the environment. Read EVERY label, look for  “artificial flavors, colors, high fructose corn syrup (this also goes for any type of high ___ ___ syrup) Yellow #5, sugar substitutes, MSG, BHT, soybean oil” and other ingredients I can’t even pronounce. Here’s a list of 12 Additives to avoid in food for your disgusting enjoyment!

So what’s on your goal list for 2013? Share here!

#Recycling: Reusing Dryer Sheets

Do you use dryer sheets to soften your clothes and reduce static cling? These are not usually biodegradable, but you can reuse dryer sheets for many other household uses.

Originally posted on RecycleBank.com by Sebrina Zerkus Smith.

Do you use dryer sheets to soften your clothes and reduce static cling? These are not usually biodegradable, but you can reuse these sheets for many other household uses. And if you don’t use dryer sheets, great for you because they can be replaced by using vinegar in the wash or on an old towel in the dryer without clogging your dryer duct.

  • Keep some used dryer sheets in a container in your car for wiping the dashboard. Place one under the driver side seat to give it that new car smell.
  • Use one to smooth your hair and prevent winter fly-aways.
  • Use them for cleaning bug splats from your windshield. Just wet one or more softener sheets and wipe over splats. Wait a couple minutes, wipe again and then flush with water.
  • Use on grill, headlights, side mirrors and any other surfaces.
  • Place used dryer sheets in the bottom of your trash can before you add the new bag, It will absorb any drips or leaks and leave the can smelling fresh. This works especially well if you use paper grocery bags in your can, which tend to leak easily.
  • Place a used dryer sheet near the trashcan at your next barbecue or picnic; it will repel bees and flies. Also, wipe one over your arms and legs to repel mosquitoes.
  • Soften the soles of your feet by soaking your feet in some warm water and rubbing them with a used fabric softener sheet.
  • Place a used fabric softener sheet inside your vacuum bag next time you change it to freshen as you clean.
  • Place them in the rafters of your home to keep spiders and other bugs from nesting.
  • They’re great for removing stuck on foods from your pots and pans. Fill the grimy pan with water and drop the sheet inside. – – Let soak for about an hour and wash as usual.
  • Use old dryer sheets to easily wipe up messes like talcum powder and flour.
  • Use old dryer sheets in the bottom of flowerpots to cover the drainage holes.
  • Stuff them in and around any place that needs freshening like tennis shoes, closets, laundry hampers, luggage and dresser drawers. Tuck one in your pillow and sleep on a fresh scent every night.
  • Use them instead of paper when doing ‘paper piecing’ for quilts. First ironed them smooth, then trace your pattern onto the dryer sheets. They’re lightweight, don’t add bulk to your quilt & they smell great.
  • Use them to remove pet hair from your clothes and furniture.
  • Run a sheet over a piece of thread before you thread the needle when sewing. The thread will glide through the eye and won’t tangle when sewing.
  • Rid your house of unwanted pests. Find any place where pests like mice are entering your house and stuff the hole shut with used sheets.
  • Use them to remove soap scum on your glass shower door, or use to wipe windows when cleaning.
  • Used dryer sheets make great dusting cloths for your wooden furniture.
  • Use just like you would a Swiffer sheet on your floors to pick up dust and pet hair.
  • If your scissors are dull and not cutting as smoothly as they should, wiping them with a used dryer sheet will remedy the problem.

Which of these are you more likely to reuse dryer sheets? I especially like the car uses and removing pet hair from clothes.

Keep Your Body and Bathroom Clean and #Green Part 2

Tackle turning your house green one room at a time. The next room in this series is the bathroom. Besides using non toxic chemicals such as vinegar and peroxide to clean your bathroom, you’ll want to treat your body with toxic free scrubs and rubs.

I use coupons with just about every product I buy; however, I started using plain baking soda as my facial scrub with surprisingly success and now I don’t pay exorbitant prices on brand name facial scrubs and soaps. You can make your own body soaps, scrubs and lotions that are good for your skin and the environment.

 

Use handpicked herbs to create your own green and chemical free homemade body soaps.

Milk and Honey Soap

Rosemary and Lavender Homemade Soap

Moisturizing Hand Balm

Sugar Body Scrub

Brown Sugar and Honey Body Scrub

Brown sugar is a natural exfoliate while honey and almond oil are natural moisturizers that your body will love.

What you will need

3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sweet almond oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
2 tablespoons oat bran

Instructions

Place the ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Spoon into a storage container. To use, apply to damp skin on your face or body and gently exfoliate. Wash off with warm water, then moisturize.

Storage

Store leftovers in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Create your body lotions and lip balms with easy to follow recipes from The Urban Farm Handbook available on Amazon.com.

What types of bath, body and beauty products have you made at home with success or learned from your failures? I’d love to hear your stories!

St. Patrick’s Day – 5 Great Ways to Live a #Greener Life

Plant a garden with flowers, herbs and vegetables.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! One of my favorite holidays, not only for the color, but also to celebrate the Irish heritage.

Uncommonly warm and sunny in the middle of March in Ohio, St. Patrick’s Day inspires me to truly think & be green today – the greenest day of the year!

5 Ways you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and Live a Greener Life

1. Start a garden. March is the month to start planting seeds, repot last year’s houseplants, prep the ground (or planters) for your summer garden. visit your local greenhouse to answer questions about what you should plant and where. Living in an apartment with only the morning sun on my balcony does limit what I can plant; however, greens like lettuce, spinach and kale will fare well in mostly shade. Assess your space whether it’s a 8′ x 12′ plot in your backyard or a 6 foot cement patio, you can still fill your space with plenty of fresh herbs and veggies that will be ready when the summer heat hits.

2. Volunteer with a community garden. Even if you don’t think you have a green thumb (sometimes I wonder myself), there are plenty of tasks to do to keep a garden green and growing all season long. There’s weeds to pluck, seeds to plant, and oftentimes community gardens accept veggie scraps and leaves for the compost. Get your kids involved too. Ask around about community gardens, look in the newspaper or call your local city hall to find the nearest community garden. Urban gardens are sprouting up, literally, where abandoned houses and parking lots used to be. In my area, I’m just tickled green to see another fenced in garden in the most run-down neighborhoods. That’s urban development in the most greenest sense to me!

3. Start a compost. Thinking green, invest in creating or buying a composter for your kitchen or backyard. Amazon has
countertop compost bins if you don’t have space or the time to have one outside. Use the compost in potted plants, your garden, your neighbor or community garden. The nutrients combined with soil will yield better and organic crops. Read more about how to use compost in your garden here. Worm bins are also a great alternative to using indoor compost bins and buckets. Of course, you’ll  need worms and some soil, but worm poop is the best organic fertilizer for your plants and if you take care of “feeding” the red wrigglers, you won’t have to endure the stink of their process either.

4.  Eat more plant based food. Have you noticed the rising cost of food lately? Meat, especially pork, will continue to rise in price throughout 2012 and beyond. Do yourself, your health and your family some good and reduce the amount of animal products in your diet. Plant based diets are easily digestible, contain protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals to keep all your organs working properly. Start simply, eliminate one animal based meal a week with a vegetable or grain entree. Two of the 3 main meals I eat daily do not contain meat or animal by-products.  I buy tofu (soybean) based products as well as whole grains to replace the protein found in meats.

5. Buy local. Local farms and roadside stands are more abundant or maybe as abundant as they were 30 years ago. Buying local seasonal foods decreases fuel costs, lessens exposure to harmful pesticides and herbicides and puts your hard earned wages back into the community. Check out this resource to find a list of local farms in your area, LocalHarvest.org

I could go on and list more, but I know you really want to get out and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and I have some Irish recipes to tend to today, so enjoy this great Green day.

Go Irish!

#Recycling: Electronics and Lightbulbs

Moving and downsizing is a chore and a relief. A chore to sift, sort and figure out where to recycle the things that work or don’t work as well as a relief that those coffee pots, printers, monstrous stereo speakers and all the other miscellaneous electronics and old light bulbs are not going in the trash which eventually wind up in our landfills.

Here’s what my mother and I have sorted out so far – that we’re saving from filling up the local landfill and also where we are recycling/ethically disposing it.

2 automatic coffee makers (probably contains BPA too) –  Environmental Recycling in Bowling Green Ohio (found on Earth911.com)

2 printers (circa 1990s) minus ink cartridges – Environmental Recycling. Best Buy will also accept computer printers and PC peripherals and dispose of them responsibly. Call your local store & ask if they charge a fee.

1 set of monstrous stereo speakers (we are keeping 1 set, once we find the right speaker wires to use) – Best Buy or Environmental Recycling.

3 CFL Lightbulbs – Put them in a plastic bag and drop off at local Lowe’s, Home Depot or hardware store. Look for the CFL recycle bin or ask at the customer service counter. CFL’s do contain a small amount of mercury – you know the type that is found in fish and is a concern for pregnant women and young children. Do you part to reduce the risk of adding more unhealthy mercury levels to our water and landfills.

2 boxes of used VHS tapes – recorded TV movies & shows that we just don’t care to save anymore. Environmental Recycling or Toledo Computer Recycling (check Earth911.com for places closest to your zip code).

Various PC peripherals like keyboards, mouses (mice?), LCD monitor and PC cables – Best Buy and local computer repair shops will disburse these items to the right places for free or a small nominal fee. Call your local store first before you drop them off.

Other electronics and places to recycle:

CD’s and other visual/audio media – If still in good shape and playable consider donating them to your local library, used bookstore (oftentimes you’ll get a store credit), EB Games/GameStop (will also offer you store credit) and check out SecondSpin.com.

Cell Phones – Check with your service provider about returning old cell phones. Oftentimes service providers like Virgin and AT&T will accept older model phones to sell as “refurbished” phones. Also check DigitalTips.org and Cell Phones for Soldiers, which enables service women and men to call home from their overseas duty stations.

Batteries – One time use batteries no longer contain toxic metals, but the casings contain acid, so it’s safe to throw them in your regular trash as long as you put them in sealable plastic bags first. Rechargeable batteries that have lost their charge can be dropped off at designated recycle stations such as Lowe’s and Home Depot or check Call2Recycle.org for other drop-off locations.

 

**Some sources were derived from Family Circle May 2011 magazine.

 

 

 

 

Greener Living Tips: Eco Friendly Living Rooms

Green and Eco-friendly Living Room Tips

Going green is a great idea for a variety of different reasons. The top two reasons to go green include helping the environment and saving money. What many people don’t realize is that you can start going green right in the center of your own home, ie: your living room. The living room is often the center of relaxing, entertainment, family bonding, and more. So why not make your living room more eco-friendly with these easy tips!

Check Your Thermostat
Since the thermostat for your house is often located in your living room, it’s a great place to start. Make your wallet and the environment happy by simply turning down your thermostat in the winter and turning it up in the summer. Of course, you don’t have to freeze or melt either. By changing your thermostat just a few degrees, you’ll be making a huge difference. You’ll also see your energy bill go down a bit too, especially if you’re keeping you’re thermostat at more eco-friendly temperatures throughout the year. And make sure you don’t have anything warm (like electronics that create a heat byproduct) near your thermostat otherwise it can alter the AC or heat.

Buy Secondhand and Vintage
It’s official. Vintage is in the season once again and is continuing to make a great comeback when it comes to furniture and décor. So instead of purchasing a brand new sofa, paintings, vases, and more, try checking out local antique stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army, freecycle.com, and craigslist. These locations and websites have a ton of different options for vintage and secondhand items for your living room. Plus you might just score a $200 item for about $20 bucks!

Invest in Drapes and Curtains
Drapes or curtains are great things to have. They can keep sun out during the harsh summer months and help lock in heat during bitter cold seasons. Needless to say they are a relatively inexpensive way to help regulate temperature within your living room. And don’t just limit it to your living room either, follow this simple tip for the rest of your house as well, including your bedroom.

Eco-Appliances
A great way to go green is with your appliances. Make sure your TV meets energy standards and is one of the most eco-friendly on the market today. Don’t be afraid to shop around either. Also, invest in other green electronics as well, including stereo systems and gaming systems. Another great tip is to make sure your electronic devices are unplugged when not in use. You may think that just because they’re off it means they’re not using energy, but it’s not true. Unplug and save money!

Keep Your Fireplace Clean
Many of us have fireplaces in our homes. These are great for a variety of different reasons, including keeping warm during the winter. Not only that, but they create a cozy atmosphere. However, go green with your fireplace by keeping it clean. Hire a chimney sweep often to reduce ash buildup and more. Make sure you burn clean burning logs too.

Original article by Rachel Krech, AssociatedContent.com