Thursday, April 22, 2010

Love Thursday - Earth Day Edition

How long has it been since we've had a Love Thursday around here? I know, forever, right?

This week I'll break our Love Thursday down into two categories: things I love that are pretty cheap, and things I love that are a little investment. All of the things highlighted today are here in honor of Earth Day...think about incorporating one or two or all of my loves into your routine to reduce your waste and honor Mother Earth.

Easy and Inexpensive ways to make Earth Day every day:

1) Add a second trash can to your kitchen for recycling. It's a lot easier to do the third "R" when the can is sitting right there in your face. Banish the ugly blue bin to the garage or the side of the house, and keep a stylish kitchen sized trash can in plain sight (I like a step can, for hands free operation). I promise you, all of a sudden you will find yourself filling the recycle bin before your trash can is ready to be taken out. It's amazing how much recycling a small family can make! This will run you less than $10 and it's so easy to do. So do it.

2) While you're picking up that trash can, pick up a gallon of white vinegar and an empty spray bottle. Dilute that vinegar and use it for cleaning everything....spritz onto produce for a natural and cheap fruit and veggie wash, spray into your kitchen sink as disinfectant, use as window cleaner...the possibilities are endless! Each bottle of diluted vinegar and water will cost you only pennies, and clean your home without harmful fumes or chemicals. The vinegar and the spray bottle will run you between $3 to $5 depending on where you're buying it.

3) Are you buying this stuff at Target? Well then, you're in luck! Zip over to the automotive department and pick up a pack of their Zoom brand microfiber cloths. These are great for dusting, cleaning and general wiping up. Use these instead of paper towels, then wash and reuse over and over again. They are far superior in absorbency and surface cleaning ability to paper toweling, and will reduce your need for paper products. $5 at all Target stores.

4) Are you reading this at work? Use this ridiculously easy tip to reduce your paper waste. Flip it over. Don't recycle anything until you've used BOTH sides of the paper. I know this is kind of a "duh" thing to mention, but you'd be surprised how many reams of office paper get trashed after only being used on one side! Tis a shame.

5) Want to breathe cleaner air? Get a plant. Plants can purify the air of toxins. Here's a list of the top 10 houseplants for cleaner air. Getcha one.

Are you ready to make a more serious investment in your family's health and respect for our planet? These things that I love are a little more spendy, but well worth it in the long run in my opinion.

1) Reduce or eliminate the use of commercial cleaning solutions in your home by following Karen Logan's Clean House Clean Planet. Make your own cleaning solutions, insect baits and repellents and so much more. This book is my cleaning "bible". I adore it. Everyone needs a copy!

2) STOP TAKING PLASTIC BAGS FROM THE GROCERY STORE! I have a wardrobe of reusable bags, but my favorite by far are Flip and Tumble's 24/7 bags. They roll up into a little ball like a pair of socks when you're done using them - the perfect size to stash in your purse or pack. They hold up to 25 lbs, they're roomy, they're freaking adorable, and they have a long, comfy, cushioned shoulder strap handle. Pair them with Flip and Tumble's mesh produce bags for a fully "green" reusable shopping bag solution. I recommend at least one set of produce bags, and 3 to 4 of the 24/7 bags to start up. When they get dirty, just toss them in the wash then hang them dry. They'll be ready to rock and roll again in no time.

3) Sip out of reusable non-leaching stainless steel. Klean Kanteen are my favorite, by far. Their double walled vacuum insulated wide mouth bottles keep your latte hot up to 6 hours, and your iced tea cold for up to 24 hours! They come in 12, 16 and 20 oz. sizes (aka "tall" "grande" and "venti".) Hand washing is recommended but shhhh! I always clean mine in the dishwasher. I also love their fun, bright water bottles. I fill them with my Brita filtered water and stash them in the fridge for grab and go convenience.

4) Stop buying alkaline batteries. Invest in the Eneloop Power Pack Kit. These batteries are magic! 1) they come pre-charged. 2) they won't discharge when stored due to new low-discharge technology. 3) they convert from a AA to a C or D cell with a sleek little battery jacket. A C or D cell gives the same power as a AA cell, it's just a different size. So you slip your AA into the little C or D size jacket, and you instantly have whatever size battery you need! So ingenious!

5) Switch over to CFL bulbs already. You can't beat IKEA's CFL offerings for the price. I also love that IKEA takes in exhausted CFL's for proper disposal. Check out their Sparsam E26 rounded-style bulbs. So much prettier than the coil-shaped CFL's, and at $9 a two pack you can't go wrong!

6) Switch your detergent. I LOVE Charlie's Soap! It has no fragrance, bids stains of all kinds adieu, and rinses completely clean and residue free. It's great for sensitive skin, babies, and folks with allergies. It's environmentally friendly, hypoallergenic and super concentrated. A gallon of their liquid will run you $25, but it is enough for 128 loads. Plus, the company is run by FANTASTIC family-oriented people. I love supporting the entrepreneurial American spirit of the Sutherland family instead of giving my money to a giant corporate machine.

There are few things in life that I'm REALLY passionate about, but one of them is sustainable living. I hope these ideas that I'm sharing inspire you to make a few changes to your routine - or become more committed to the changes you've already made. Join me, as I do my best to practice the 3R's and preserve all the beauty in the world.

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." (Native American Proverb)

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