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Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1220pm (central) every Wednesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: When you’re organizing your spring cleaning keep in mind that switching to green cleaning products will improve your health, lessen adverse environmental impacts and save money.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), of the 2,863 most commonly used chemicals only 7% have complete toxicity data and 43% have NO toxicity information available.

A few of my favorite green cleaning recipes/tips:

GLASS CLEANER:

  • Mix white vinegar and filtered water in a spray bottle. Reduce waste by using a soft cloth or newspaper instead of paper towels (and they leave a better finish).

ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER:

  • Dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of warm water, or;
  • Mix 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water.

TUB AND TILE:

  • Mix 1 & 2/3 cups baking soda, ½ cup liquid castile soap and ½ cup water. Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar, or;
  • Use half a lemon with a sprinkle of baking soda on it. Rinse with water or white vinegar.

For more green spring cleaning recipes, visit Green Tip – Spring Cleaning.

Shopping tips:

Look for products with the Green Seal. Green Seal, Inc. is the only organization that comprehensively evaluates non-toxic products.

READ LABELS. Companies are not required by law to list all product ingredients so only purchase brands that advertise full ingredient disclosure so you know what you’re bringing into your home.

Do something good for your family, the environment and orphans in Africa! How? Purchase Shaklee cleaning products through Lindsay Erhardt and 100% of the profits go to help babies in Africa. For more information, go to Lindsay’s blog: A Journey in Joyful Living.

And while you’re at it, here are some other ways to green up while you clean up:

  • Hang dry your laundry. Drying your clothes in an electric or gas dryer isn’t just hard on your clothes; it’s also hard on the environment. Don’t stop with natural laundry detergent. Stay green every step of the way and install a clothesline in your backyard. If space (or aesthetics) is an issue, look for a “retractable clothesline” which takes up virtually no space when not in use. Weather permitting, line-dry your clothes outside to reduce pollution, cut your energy bill, get more exercise, enjoy the sunshine, and extend the life of your clothes. And they’ll smell like a clean breeze, not a fake “clean breeze scent.”
  • Add a little greenery. Clean up your indoor air by installing living air filters — houseplants. Some of the most efficient air-cleaning houseplants include Spider plants, English ivy, rubber plants, and peace lilies.
  • De-clutter your wardrobe. Donate gently worn items to charity, where they’ll get a second life, and donate torn and stained items (if they’re made of an absorbent fabric) to your rag collection, where they’ll replace wasteful paper towels. And as you’re packing up your winter sweaters, replace those stinky mothballs with a natural and better-smelling version: stuff a lonely unpaired sock with cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and whole cloves and tie it at the end.
  • Ditch the paper towels. Save trees, cash and landfill waste. You can buy specially-made, washable cleaning and dusting cloths (in all types of fabrics from cotton to microfiber). But better yet? Use what you already have and give an old piece of cloth (stained towels, ratty sheets and pillowcases, too-small T-shirts, etc.) a new life. Simply cut or tear your old item into smaller squares (if you want to get fancy, finish the edges with a sewing machine).
  • Swap out your Swiffer. Instead of continually buying expensive single-use mop pads, invest in a reusable mop. Casabella is one brand that’s widely available in health food stores and general stores. Their mop heads can be washed in your washing machine, hung dry, and used again and again—well worth their moderate price tag.

Source: 25 Green Spring Cleaning Tips: Good for You, Your Home and the Planet by Liza Barnes

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Organic.org
The goal at Organic.org is to educate people on the benefits of organic agriculture, food and products. With an increasingly crowded marketplace of organic goods, it is crucial to understand what the word ‘organic’ means, what type of products are available, the significance of purchasing them, and finally, how someone with little knowledge about organics can begin to take steps towards an organic lifestyle.

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: If you’re new to green living, there are a few simple tips you can incorporate right away to begin living sustainably.

10 Simple Tips for Green Living

1.  Reduce, reduce, reduce. Here are a few simple ways to reduce your impact and conserve our resources:

  • Turn off the tap water when brushing your teeth.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Use cold water to wash clothes whenever possible.
  • Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full.
  • Drink filtered tap water instead of bottled water.
  • Regularly replace the filter on your Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) system. Check furnace or heat pump filters once a month for blockages and replace them regularly. A dirty air filter can increase your energy costs and lead to early equipment failure.
  • Install a programmable thermostat in your home (and then actually program it).
  • Walk or bike instead of driving.
  • Turn off the lights when leaving a room.
  • Reuse envelopes and backsides of paper, print double-sided and purchase high recycled content paper.

2.  Buy local, organic produce. Food travels an average of 1,200 miles before it reaches your plate, so buy locally produced items to save energy and prevent emissions from going into the air.

3.  Recycle. By recycling materials such as aluminum cans, newspapers, and glass jars, you can save energy and landfill space, conserve natural resources, and also prevent pollution. Earth911.com is a wonderful resource for learning about recycling.

4.  Unplug electronics when they’re not in use. Many appliances continue to draw electricity when they’re turned off, releasing unnecessary pollutants into the air, and costing you unnecessary dollars.

5.  Use non-toxic laundry detergents to avoid harmful exposure to chemical detergents and water pollution.

6.  Properly dispose of hazardous waste. Electronics, compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), certain batteries and other household hazardous wastes contain toxic materials so they should not be sent to landfills where they can pollute the surrounding land and water. A single computer monitor may contain 4 pounds of lead as well as other toxic heavy metals. For the City of Fargo, check out their site for information regarding hazardous waste.

7.  Buy recycled. Look for the words “post consumer” or “recycled” when shopping. There are over 4,500 recycled-content products available including paper towels, printer paper, note pads, packing boxes, sleeping bags, laundry detergent bottles, glass containers, nails, carpeting, trash cans, and trash bags. The amount of post consumer content can vary from a small percentage to 100 percent, so look for labels that indicate the highest percentage. (Source: US EPA)

8.  Compost. Compost your food scraps and yard clippings. This will keep them out of the landfill and provide you with mulch, soil amendment and potting soil.

9.  Buy reusable products. For example, washable utensils, tableware, cloth napkins, and dishcloths can be used many times.

10. Buy used products. Check out your local resale or consignment shops. Locally check out the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Thrift Store, Once Upon A Child and so on.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

 Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
The NRDC’s mission is to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends.

For more tips on how to reduce energy consumption visit NRDC.org.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at WDAY.com.

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