By far the most dreaded household chore, cleaning bathrooms means headaches and burning eyes for many people. No one wants to bathe in germs, but many bathroom cleansers contain incredibly harsh chemicals that can not only harm you, but also the environment. Check out these eco-friendly alternatives to clean soap scum and other bathroom chores for a greener, cleaner bathroom.
• Scrub That Tub- A simple mixture of vinegar and water makes a miracle cleaner when it comes to getting rid of mildew buildup in the tub. Simply spray the solution on the problem area, let sit, then wipe away. Soap scum can be removed with a baking soda paste composed of baking soda and dish soap. Scrub with a toothbrush to remove stubborn patches.
• Polish The Porcelain Throne– To maintain a sparkling clean toilet, use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar rather then harmful bleach. Scrub the toilet once a week to keep it at its cleanest.
• Make Your Sinks Sparkle– You can polish your faucet with a vinegar and water solution and wipe mirrors clean with cloth and white vinegar. The sink basin can be cleaned with a mixture of baking soda, dish soap, water and vinegar, which should tackle even the toughest stains.
• Unclog Those Dreaded Drains– Instead of using powerful (but harmful) chemical cleaners to clear a clogged drain, try using a combination of baking soda and vinegar. First manually remove what you can from the drain, and then add the vinegar mixture. Let it sit for 15-30 minutes, and then run some hot water down the drain.
• For Fantastic Floors– There’s nothing grosser than a dirty bathroom floor. Try mopping the floor with a mixture of baking soda and warm water, and you can add some lemon juice for a fresh scent that’s WAY better than Pine-Sol. Hang bath mats to dry after every use in order to avoid a buildup of mildew. –Kristen Nipper
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Having a Green thumb should mean more than just being a good gardener! Follow these 5 simple tips on creating eco gardens to make your garden greener, both literally and figuratively!
• Send Pesticides Packing- Harsh chemical pesticides can have lasting negative affects on the soil and be deadly to certain wildlife. Instead opt for an organic means of controlling pests such as employing the use of ladybugs or moles to eradicate certain unwanted insects from the garden.
• DIY Compost- Artificial fertilizers are harmful to the environment. Try making your own fertilizer by composting scraps of food or using manure from a local farm in your garden.
• Catch The Rain- Using a container to catch rainwater is an inexpensive way to supply water to your plants as well as reduce run-off and soil erosion. Not only will you reduce your monthly water bill, but you’ll also have an extra source of water for other activities, such as washing your car.
• Grow Your Own Food- You can easily produce many common delicious veggies right in your own backyard. No need to waste gas driving to the supermarket and spending big bucks on organic produce that you can grow yourself. Consider collaborating with neighbors, with each household growing enough of 2-3 different vegetables to share among the group.
• Go Native- Plants that are native to your region will require less water and fertilizer, and be more naturally resistant to pests. They’re also less expensive than non-native plant species. –Kristen Nipper
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Let’s be honest: Not all of us can ever hope to become the best chef in the world. But, with a little bit of practice, you can certainly become the greenest! Here are five simple tips for ways that you can make your kitchen more energy-efficient, eco-friendly and start cooking green.
• Put a lid on it- Just by covering a pot on the stove top, you can reduce energy use by up to two thirds and heat food faster, saving you both time and effort.
• Keep the oven door shut- When baking, try to resist the temptation to peek at those cookies every 2 minutes. Opening the oven door lets valuable heat escape and prolongs the time it takes for the food to cook, thus wasting a considerable amount of energy.
• The microwave is your friend- Microwave ovens use up to 80% less energy than a conventional oven does. It also cooks faster, leaving you more time to commit to environmentally-friendly activities.
• Multi-task- Simultaneously preparing more than one food in the same pot saves both time and energy. For example, while boiling pasta you can easily steam fresh vegetables over the top of the pan.
• Keep it simple- Forgo your desire to be the next Paula Deen and toss out all those fancy-shmancy cooking gadgets. Using good old-fashioned elbow grease is the most energy-efficient way to cook. For example, use knives instead of food processors, spoons rather than electric mixers, etc. –Kristen Nipper
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The room where you prepare your family’s food should be the last place you expect to find harmful chemicals. But many common cleaners leave behind a chemical residue that can harm both you and the environment. You shouldn’t have to wear a hazmat suit just to clean your kitchen! Luckily, there are plenty of green ways to clean that will leave your kitchen gleaming and your pockets full:
• Ban Chlorine Bleach- Bleach may seem like a cure-all for disinfecting, but scrubbing with this potent liquid can be hazardous to one’s health. Bleach contains harmful chemicals that can leak into ground water as well as fumes that are harmful to the environment. But there are plenty of other ways to get your kitchen dirt- and germ-free. Many manufacturers have come out with green household cleaning products: Clorox, for example, now has a Green Works cleaner that is environmentally friendly and cleans great.
• When Life Hands You Lemons- Clean with them! Lemons have antibacterial qualities and will leave your kitchen smelling fresh. Tough stains on countertops can be removed by simply leaving lemon juice on the stain for a few minutes and then wiping it away with a wet cloth.
• Toss the Paper Towels- Paper towels not only waste countless trees each year, but they also cut deep into your wallet. Paper products account for a third of the total waste in landfills, and the toxic fumes produced from manufacturing them have harmful effects on the atmosphere. Sponges and cloth towels are cheaper, reusable, take up less space then a roll of paper towels, and are easily disinfected by boiling them in hot water.
• The Best of Baking Soda & Vinegar- Baking soda and vinegar are not only great cleaners, but both are non-toxic and remarkably cheap. To clean counters, simply sprinkle baking soda on a wet cloth and wipe down the counter top. Vinegar acts as an all-purpose cleaner and can also be used as a disinfectant. Lemon juice will help cover the vinegar smell.
• Ditch the Dishwasher- Everyone loves the convenience of a dishwasher, but hand-washing dishes helps conserve water and saves money. Filling up the wash basins in your sink rather than just letting the water run while doing dishes uses half the amount of water a dishwasher would use. Sure, it takes a little more time, but it will save on your water bill as well as conserving H20 for the generations to come. –Kristen Nipper
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So now World Water Day is over and those of us who can have donated our money, time and/or influence to help organizations such as Water.org in their mission to bring potable water to even the most impoverished of developing nations. What next?
While big annual events serve as great reminders of the global water crisis we all seem to forget about, there are simple water saving tips each of us can use to not only help conserve water for the planet, but also to conserve cash for our wallets. Here are some simple suggestions, most of which cost little or nothing!
• Hit The Showers- A full bath can take 70 gallons to fill, while a 5-minute shower uses just 10-25 gallons. Better yet, shower with your spouse and together you’ll save nearly 100 gallons of water!
• Let It Flow, Slow & Low- Installing a low-flow shower head costs $20, but this simple screw-on attachment can reduce water usage by 50-70%! Better still, Lifehacker.com offers a DIY shower shutoff valve, allowing you to cut the water off while you get soapy without having to re-tweak your temperature.
• Replace Your Porcelain God- Any toilet manufactured before 1992 uses at least 3.5 gallons per flush. Modern toilets use less than 1.28 gallons, saving 60% of the water. A new toilet may cost a few hundred bucks, but it will save you several thousand dollars in water consumption over its lifetime. (Note: adding a brick to the toilet tank will help save even more!)
• Go Au Natural- According to the EPA, a typical single-family home uses 30% of their water on irrigation to water their lawn. In many cases, more than half of that water is being wasted due to evaporation and runoff caused by overwatering. Instead of high-maintenance lush green lawns, consider using the natural landscaping of your region, or at least creating an edible garden to offset your water usage.
• Refuse Not To Reuse- A big part of our water problem isn’t just that we over-use, but that we don’t make the most use of the water we have. You can put a bucket in the shower to catch the grey water, then use that to flush your toilet. My grandmother used to wash her dishes in a plastic bin, then pour the nutrient-rich water over her plants. And rain water catchment systems can be as simple as an open barrel set below a drain pipe with a fine screen to keep insects out.
Saving water, and saving money in the process, is simple. It’s replacing our precious planet and its natural resources that’s hard… –Bret Love
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