HINT: Mountain air and meadow flowers are not actually used in your air freshener.
We’ve been sold on the idea of a clean smell. So we use air fresheners, room sprays, plug-ins, candles and dryer sheets to add fragrance to our home. But the ingredients used to create those “Mountain Fresh”, “Spring Meadow”, and “Lavender Vanilla” scents are not as natural as their names imply. Instead, conventional fragrances are created with synthetic chemicals, some of which are known or suspected carcinogens, hormone disrupters, and asthma or allergy-inducing chemicals.
Commercials even suggest that we can leave a month’s worth of take-out containers and old gym bags in a car – but it’s OK, because there’s a product that can cover up the smell. How did we get to a place where this sounds reasonable?!
Baking soda has been used for decades as a workhorse around the house. What exactly is it and what makes it so great? I’m glad you asked, because here’s everything you ever wanted to know (and maybe some things you didn’t) about baking soda.
Even if you successfully reduced your Christmas waste by choosing reduced packaging and wrapping with old newspaper or Furoshiki, you may have family or guests who haven’t jumped on your green wagon yet. Or maybe, like me, you still have wrapping paper and new tissue paper kicking around from your “pre-green” days. Either way, chances are you’re going to have more waste than usual on December 25th. Make a quick plan before the big day on how to manage it to avoid landfilling wherever possible. Here are some tips to help you reduce your Christmas waste.
Changing your décor can be a quick, cost effective way to make your home feel fresh and updated without extensive renovations. With some planning, you can reduce waste sent to landfill and reduce indoor air pollutants like VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Here are some eco decorating tips for your next remodeling project.
As soon I found out I was pregnant I started planning what we needed for the baby. I love planning in general, but found it very easy to get carried away – retailers and manufacturers have done a very good job at making us feel like we need everything that’s on store shelves. Don’t stress. While there are lots of things that make life with baby a little easier, they need very little, especially in the early days.
Here are a few tips on how you can save money while setting up your perfect nursery (and as a bonus, they’re all better for the environment too!). Making conscious choices to save money in some areas will also mean you have enough left over to buy healthier mattresses, furniture, and baby care products.
These have come a long way since the days of pins and rubber covers. Whatever your preconceptions are about them, it’s worth giving them some serious thought.
Depending on the types you go with, they will likely pay back in 6 months to 1 year. And the added bonus is you won’t run out in the middle of the night or have to go searching for the best deals every week for disposables.
If you can, find a local store that specializes in cloth diapering for tutorials on cloth diapering. You might be surprised to find out how easy they are.
Consider adding them to your registry to help offset the upfront cost! I used and highly recommend MotherEase One-Size diapers and covers.
These tend to fall more under the radar than cloth diapers, but are so easy. Disposable wipes are still great to have around for travelling and really messy diaper changes, but using cloth regularly will save you money, use less chemicals and produce less waste. Just spritz them with water (or use the recipe below), wipe, and toss in with the cloth diapers to wash and reuse.
DIY Laundry Soap
This isn’t really nursery-related but since we’re talking about diapers I wanted to throw it in. And let’s face it, you’re going to be doing a LOT more laundry.
I’m not a DIYer, but my friend made me a batch of detergent, and I am now a convert. Making your own not only saves money, but also reduces packaging and is healthier for you and the environment compared to conventional brands.
Get the recipe for this and my other DIY homemade cleaning solutions here.
Used Clothes, Toys, and Books
This is especially useful for young babies, since they grow out of things so quickly. Used gear is often in great shape and comes at a fraction of the price. Check out local consignment stores, mom-to-mom sales, Facebook buy and sell groups, and garage sales.
You can also augment your in-home library with books from the public library. It keeps everyone from getting bored of your selection, and you won’t have to stock up on as many new ones. Plus, trips to the library to return and restock make for fun outings with your baby.
One of the easiest ways to save money is to choose not to buy something. No matter how cute an outfit or stuffed animal is, if you have too many they’re not going to get used. You’re then stuck with a cluttered house and more to get rid of down the road (trust me!).
Get the essentials before baby is born, but wait until you’ve met baby and get into a groove before deciding whether you need the latest gadget (my kids never had the luxury of a wipes warmer and they seem to have fared OK) or product (try testers of lotions/soaps first to make sure baby’s skin doesn’t react). If you need help deciding what to get now vs later, check out my Guide to Creating a Healthy Baby Registry!
Have fun with this new adventure! Starting to make some green living changes now will pay back in spades as your kids grow. They are inheriting what we leave behind; you can show them first-hand how you’re making the world a better place.
Summer tiiiiime, and the air is steamy! I can handle the house being a bit warm, but as soon as it stays humid all night I need relief that open windows just won’t provide. And for those with allergies or asthma, I get it – opening the windows isn’t always feasible.
Whether or not you turn on your A/C, there are things you can do to help keep you more comfortable.
I’ve given you a week’s worth – try adding one per day for the next week, and keep it up all summer!
Close the blinds/curtains
It’s amazing what a difference this can make! For any windows that have direct sun exposure, close the blinds or curtains to keep the sun out. This is especially important on south- and west-facing windows where the sun is the strongest.
Install and use a programmable thermostat
If you have central air or a split system and don’t have a programmable thermostat, they’re worth the investment. Nest and EcoBee can even connect to your phone so you can adjust settings if you forget when you’re away.
Program the temperature higher during the day when you’re not home. 26-28°C or 79-81°F is a good range.
When you are home, don’t automatically drop the temperature below 26°C/79°F. Try dropping it half a degree at a time if you’re too warm. If you’re feeling hot, don’t just crank down the temperature – it won’t cool your house any faster and you’re more likely to let it stay colder (therefore wasting energy).
Try setting it for half a degree cooler than the current temp if you’re uncomfortable; often the house will feel cooler once some of the moisture is removed rather than the temperature dropping several degrees.
Make sure your filter is clean
If you have a furnace, check your filter at the start of each season and change it if it’s dirty. Your furnace has to work harder (and therefore uses more energy) if your filter is clogged. I typically recommend checking it every 1 – 3 months.
Air movement can help make you feel cooler without having to use air conditioning. Set up fans in the bedrooms to help you feel cooler over night, and in any rooms you spend time in during the day to help you feel comfortable without running the air conditioner as much.
Avoid the stove
BBQ or prepare cold salads so you don’t add heat to your kitchen from cooking. You could even take a picnic to a park or your backyard as your house cools down.
Take advantage of overnight temperatures
If the humidity drops overnight, turn off the A/C, crank open the windows (if health reasons don’t prevent you from doing so). Fans are great to help circulate the air too. Be sure to close the windows before the day heats up and if you turn your A/C back on.
Environmental Defence Canada issued a report this month on their study of potentially hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in household cleaning products. With 22 pages of text it’s a bit of a read (and tends to have alarmist undertones), but it has some interesting findings so I am using it to start off my discussion on green cleaners.
Do you use fabric softeners or dryer sheets? If so, maybe you use them because your mom did. Maybe it’s out of habit because commercials make us feel that we need something more than just detergent. But do we? Sure, they make clothes feel softer, reduce static cling, and add a spring-fresh scent. But have you thought about how they do this? A chemical layer is added to the fabrics. I decided to take a look at what these chemicals are.
I didn’t do much research when I started to prioritize organic food several years ago, but with two kids to feed, I decided I should take a look at the facts to see if organic produce is worth the cost premium. The short answer to my question is yes, the investment in organic produce is worth it, but not for the reasons you might think. This researched helped me keep organic into my budget, and decreased the guilt I’d feel about giving my kids non-organic.