Contributed by Laura Wylie
Earth Day is one of those rare times that cause people to stop for a moment and reflect on the impact their actions have against the environment. It reenergizes community cleanups, recycling efforts and education initiatives amongst other ‘green’ activities in neighborhoods across the world. While these achievements in environmental awareness and community mobilization are both important and beneficial, they often last for only a day, a week or a month if lucky. For this reason, we must treat every day as it is Earth Day. We must stress the importance small actions can have on the larger picture. And ultimately we must commit to healthy and sustainable habits that are good for our bodies and planet.
One of the quotes I find most inspirational around the importance of sustainability comes from a Native American proverb: "We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” I find this is so relatable and down to Earth (no pun intended); it’s simply a matter of protecting the planet we call home as we would our children. Just as no mother would do purposeful harm to her child, so we should do no harm to our environment. Rather, our job is to nurture, grow and better the Earth.
And lucky for us, it’s not hard to do! Here are a few easy habits to get you started from our friends at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
Save Energy. Unplug (not turn off, but unplug) appliances. Even when appliances are plugged in in an off-power mode they are consume electricity, energy and dollars. This can be easily done if you use a power strip; that way you only have to unplug one cord instead of multiple. Or invest in products that help you manage your energy use like Nexia Home Intelligence.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This is an easy one. Reduce by purchasing long-lasting products rather than disposable ones (like water bottles for example). Reuse items instead of throwing them away (good examples in Wardrobe Reuse Makeover blog article). And recycle. You can recycle everything from paper products to electronics these days – no excuses!
Shop greenly. When shopping look for items that are locally made, use recycled packaging or promote energy efficiency. Or better yet, buy used items! That can be fun itself!
Again, it doesn’t matter how small these things seem. When incorporated over time into your lifestyle habits, they make a real difference. They not only impact your home and your environment, but your children’s as well. From one human being to another, I dare you to look at these Earth Day photos from NASA and tell me this place we call home isn’t the most phenomenal and truly majestic place you’ve ever seen. And I double dare you to pick one simple lifestyle change, even if that’s just turning off the lights when you’re not in the room, and commit to it. Commit to doing it for yourself, for your home and for your future.
Contributed by Laura Wylie
Okay Ladies, it’s the second week of April, which means it’s officially time to go through your closet and get your wardrobe in shape for warmer weather. It’s time to kick the wools sweaters and fleece hoodies to storage and welcome your light, airy and brightly colored garments back home. However, if you’re even a little bit like me, you have severe separation issues with your clothing, making seasonal wardrobe changes quite a challenge.
Have no fear!
We’re going to do this together. The first step is admitting you need help, right? I’ve found 2 things that work really well for me: donating items that I’ve outgrown or no longer wear and finding unique uses for items that I can’t possibly bring myself to get rid of because of sentimental value. So today we’re going to find a second life for those items that are too dear to your heart to pass along.
T-Shirts are always usual characters prime for donation. But the hard thing about giving away those tees is that usually you’ve spent good memories in them or they are from special events. And I’m sorry, but I’m not giving up my 2004 Powder Puff T-Shirt (even though it hasn’t seen the light of day in years).
-Braided T-Shirt Headband: This is one of the coolest and easiest ideas I’ve seen for unused t-shirts! Tripping Over Joy teaches you how to make a headband out of an old t-shirt. Way cute, way easy and I get to use it to beat the heat on my next Spring outdoor activity.
-Detailed T-Shirt Scarf: You’ll need a sewing machine for this one, but it’s so simple even I could do it (and I have next to zero sewing skills). Make It and Love It goes step by step showing you how to transform your old tee into a light and comfy scarf that’s uniquely yours and perfect for Spring weather.
-Whimsical T-Shirt Pom Pom Balls: While this is not something you can necessarily wear in your new Spring wardrobe; it would be PERFECT for putting a little Spring into your home! Craftaholics Anonymous shows us how to create these whimsical, fun and easy pom pom decorations that give your old tees a new look at the world.
Sweaters are good for cold weather and cozying up to the fire, but they go out of style quickly as fabrics and cuts change annually.
-Sweet Sweater Covered Planters: These small clustered sweater-covered planters are so adorable and shabby chic! And they’re so easy – Factory Direct Craft Blog shows you how to cut the sleeves from an old sweater and slip them over the jar or planter, then use hot glue at the bottom to affix them to the jar.
-Sweater Koozy for Spring Potluck Dinners: Craftzine came up with a great use for old sweaters in the form of a koozy for potluck dishes. How many times have you been to a potluck and someone insulates the gorgeous dish that they labored hours over with an old ratty towel? It’s all about presentation! And with this cute and functional insulated envelope, your dish will instantly be the talk of the Spring BBQ.
Fleece is a staple during the winter months; it’s toasty and relatively inexpensive. But how many fleece pullovers do you really need? These DIY projects will make you think twice before tossing that old fleece.
-Blossoming Fleece Hair Accessory: Every girl loves a pretty bloom in their hair every now and again. This bright fleece hair accessory featured on Fleece Fun will last you all Spring. And the best part is there is no sewing involved – perfect! BONUS: Use an old broach or lost earring that you were going to throw away as the center of the flower for an extra dash of uniqueness.
-Puppy Fleece Toy: Even your puppy loves something new! HGTV uses old fleece garments for braided dog toys that are tough enough to handle even the tug-o-war champs. You pup will love the toy and your wallet will love the extra cash that you saved.
Changing out your wardrobe for a changing season is a great way to identify all the items that are not being used and find unique ways to give them a new life! What are your favorite clothing re-uses?
Contributed by Laura Wylie
It’s that time of year! You guessed it; it’s time for the quintessential Spring Cleaning!
I personally love Spring Cleaning (no, I’m not crazy)! Think about it…the feeling of warm fresh air blowing through open windows, de-cluttering the house of unused items and reorganizing the belongings that made the cut…feels good doesn’t it? On a more serious note, the once a year deep cleaning really does do wonders for my mood, outlook and overall health. I sleep better, breathe better and feel more at peace with a clean environment.
Where to start? If you do a quick Google search for Spring Cleaning tips you’ll find tons of resources that can help you get started. I started with one from SheKnows. It’s a Spring Cleaning checklist that walks you through each room of your house – cool! You can even download handy room-specific checklists and print out for your convenience. I thought this was an excellent approach, so decided to use the checklists as a guide and tackle it room by room.
The Kitchen. The kitchen is probably one of my least favorite places to clean because it often times takes a ton of time and inevitably (and admittedly) I find something really gross along the way.
Go through your cabinets and throw away expired goods. This includes food, medicine, spices, etc. However, DO NOT throw away food just because you’re tired of looking at it or storing it. The EPA found that 14% of landfill waste is food, resulting in more than 34 million tons of food in 2010!! Instead, go to Shelf Life Advice to learn more about when it’s necessary to toss ‘expired’ goods. If you must throw something away, think how you could possibly reuse or recycle the container. Glass and plastic jars are great to reuse for storage and organization!
Clean those appliances! Your fridge, microwave, dishwasher and oven all need a good scrubbing. And with a little baking soda, lemon and vinegar you can get most everything done, all without any harsh chemicals. Just be sure not to use baking soda in your microwave; it contaminates the taste of food.
Dust away the dust bunnies. Commercial aerosol dusting products are harsh to the air and the environment. Use lambswool instead. It can be found at any home improvement store. And if you miss the shine that the commercial dust sprays give your wooden cabinets, polish them after dusting with a little vinegar and olive oil.
The Living Room. Ah, by this time I’m thinking I’m ready to sit down and relax in front of a good movie. However, it doesn’t take long to look around and see what needs to be done.
Step 1, we need to de-clutter. Put away things that don’t belong in the living room. Then go through all the items and separate into 2 piles: keep and donate. Make a pile of recycled goods like books and magazines that would not be fitting for donation. Then re-organize everything in a way that easy to maintain.
Now it’s time to actually do some cleaning. Cleaning your pillowcases, curtains and blankets will make your space feel fresh and clean. But don’t overlook your carpets and couch cushions. There are plenty of environmentally-friendly carpet cleaners available at local supermarkets and how-tos (like this one from eHow) online.
Dust electronics, furniture and wall hangings with lambswool to avoid contaminating your air with harsh chemicals.
The Bathroom. Can I get a show of hands for who actually likes to clean bathrooms? That’s what I thought. This will be the most efficient bathroom cleaning you’ll ever do.
Spray down your shower, mirrors, sink and toilet with the appropriate environmentally-friendly cleaners. By doing this first, it allows the cleaning agents enough time to break down the dirt and grime while you’re tending to other areas of the bathroom. TLC Home has some great Green Bathroom Cleaning Tips for you if you’re looking for more details.
Go through all cabinets and divide items into piles that can be put away, donated or tossed. If you must throw away any item, try to recycle the packaging if possible. For example, I know I can recycle the plastic my lip balm comes in. So instead of tossing that; I’d recycle it.
Replace worn towels if necessary. Don’t throw away those old towels –there are so many uses for them! Apartment Therapy has 10 creative uses for those old towels here! Who would have thought to donate them to an animal shelter? Love the idea!
The Bedroom. Give yourself a green pat on the back! You’re 75% done! In my opinion, the bedroom is the most rewarding place to clean because of how the clean and fresh environment translates into a peaceful and tranquil space that’s perfect for a good night’s sleep.
Go through closets and drawers to separate clothing to hang on to and clothing to donate. A good rule of thumb is to only keep something if it makes you feel fabulous. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t worn it in 6 months. What matters is that it makes you feel fiercely confident.
Reorganize drawers and closets with the clothing that made the cut.
Wash any bedding, pillow cases and blankets as directed.
Vacuum floors (even under the bed)
Dust furniture, light fixtures, fans, blinds and baseboards with lambswool to avoid those harsh chemicals.
Whew! I don’t know about you, but I’m just about ready to lie down in my clean bed and take a much needed nap! I hope this article helped kick your Spring Cleaning into high gear and gave you some useful (and environmentally-friendly) cleaning tips along the way!
We’d love to hear your best kept secret cleaning tips. Share with us below!