Spring and summer deliver the weather we’ve yearned for all winter long, but along with these seasons come the creepy, crawly critters we’d rather not welcome into our homes. It might be enticing to deter them with a quick commercial spray or chemical, but don’t give in to temptation. Instead, fight pests the natural way.
Eliminate entry points. Any place air can get in; tiny bugs can enter, too. Repair or replace torn window screens and doors. Make sure thresholds are airtight and use door sweeps or seals when needed. As you batten down the hatches, you’ll get an extra efficiency boost, too. Local home stores are chock full of ideas to eliminate air leaks throughout your home.
Maintain kitchens and bathrooms. Keeping your bathrooms and kitchens sparkling clean means they won’t attract as many insects and spiders. Wipe down hard surfaces regularly with an eco-friendly solution, like those in GreenHouse’s EcoSpirit line and limit foods kept on counters. Make it a point to clean your stovetop daily and don’t let dirty dishes hang around in the sink. If there’s nothing interesting inside, bugs won’t want to come in!
Keep your inside clutter-free and clean. Indoor messiness provides protection for creepy-crawlies that have made it inside despite your best efforts. Keep toys organized, avoid paper pile-ups, vacuum and dust regularly. And wash pet dishes daily; it’s good for them and means food won’t sit out too long. Ongoing cleanings by a service such as GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning can help and provides the peace-of-mind of environmentally safe cleaning your whole household can enjoy.
Take garbage out often. In warm weather months, it’s especially important to take trash outside your home or apartment to eliminate smells that can attract bugs. Recycle frequently as well, taking care to rinse away all food from containers before placing them in bins. Keep outdoor receptacles clean with monthly scrubbing and washings and if bugs become a major issue, try lining cans with large, recycled trash bags before filling them.
Tackle outdoor spaces. If you have an outdoor space that includes green areas, make sure to do an annual spring clean up to reduce debris that could provide safe harbor to unwanted insects or spiders. Keep grass on the shorter side and shrubs pruned. If you relax or entertain outdoors, try planting containers of rosemary around your patio area to deter mosquitoes from joining the party.
Talk to us: When it comes to a pest-free home, what are your eco-friendly tips and tricks? Let us know what works best for you!
image courtesy of Ted van den Bergh/BY CC 2.0
Think your computer keyboard is clean? Think again. Studies show that computer keyboards, especially those shared by numerous individuals, can be host to a wide variety of bacteria, including E. coli and staph. Your cellphone? With each square inch of your cellphone containing 25,000 germs, Mashable found that your cell phone is actually dirtier than a toilet seat, kitchen counter, pet food dish, checkout screen and a doorknob.
Even if you have a cleaning service (like us!) that makes sure your space stays clean and healthy, we recommend doing a regular clean of your tech products as well. Here are the 3 products you need on hand when cleaning your tech gadgets and electronics:
Microfiber cloths are lint-free and non-abrasive, making them the ideal choice for dusting off technology screens and keyboards. They also remove bacteria from surfaces without the use of chemicals.
You can make an easy, effective and eco-friendly cleaner mixing a 50/50 combination of alcohol and distilled water in a spray bottle. This solution is great for removing smudges on screens and can also be used to wipe down your keyboard, mouse and tablet. Note: Great advice from Apartment Therapy: Use a vinegar/water mixture for cleaning the surfaces of plastic cased electronics to avoid “yellowing” of plastic surfaces.
Cotton swabs are a great way to get in between keys on your keyboard as well as to clean crevices between your cellphone and its case. You can also dip the swab into your alcohol/distilled water solution to clean earwax build up off of your headphones. Look for swabs that have cardboard spindles instead of plastic (the Q-Tip brand itself uses cardboard) for the most eco-friendly option.
We want to leave you with a few “Don’ts” when cleaning your tech gadgets and electronics.
• Leave electronics on while cleaning—be sure to turn off computers and TVs prior to wiping them down.
• Use tap water for it may contain minerals or chemicals. Always use distilled water.
• Use paper towels to wipe your screens—they are too abrasive and can leave scratches or nicks.
• Spray your cleaning solution directly on your electronic device—spray it on your cloth.
• Forget to recycle properly. Electronics in landfills are dangerous, so if you do need to get rid of products that are broken or outdated, search online for places that accept used electronics.
You tell us: What tips do you have for keeping your technology clean in between cleaning services?
image courtesy of Zero Chen/BY CC 2.0
The summer solstice marks a brief moment in time in which the Earth is titled in its greatest inclination toward the sun, providing the longest period between sunrise and sunset. On June 21, join past cultures in the historical celebration of the summer solstice. Here’s how:
Get outside. What better way to celebrate the longest day of the year than to spend it outdoors! For many cultures, the historical celebration of the solstice was a spiritual one. Consider traveling to a location where you feel truly connected to nature and spend the entire day enjoying the outdoors.
Hit the beach. Plan a quintessential summer trip to the beach to celebrate the longest day of the year. Pack a gourmet picnic with lots of water to keep you energized and hydrated all day long. Want to know what to bring in your beach bag? Read “5 Things You Never Thought Belonged in Your Beach Bag” .
Watch the sky. Check with local astronomy clubs or planetariums to learn how they’re celebrating the solstice and what programs or day trips are offered to the public. Remember, protect your peepers—never look directly into the sun.
Get your yoga on. If you regularly practice yoga, you’re familiar with sun salutations, a series of movements and poses that honor the sun. Do yours at home or join the masses in New York’s Times Square. On June 21, yoga enthusiasts will search for solitude in one of the world’s busiest places, in celebration of the year’s longest day.
Throw a party. Looking for a reason to get friends and family together? Consider the solstice! Carry the theme through sunny colored linens, drink refreshing, sparkling cocktails, feast on summer’s bounty and light up the night with paraffin-free candles. And be sure to decorate with just-picked flowers or herbs. Tradition says those picked on the summer solstice have healing energy. For more great eco-friendly outdoor party ideas, read “How to Host an Eco-Friendly Summer Cookout”.
Take stock. Historically, the summer solstice was an opportunity to set new goals, much like the New Year. Take this time to reflect on where you are and where you’d like to be in your life. Is there something you wish was different? Commit to changing it, outline your plan and start today!
Do more. Always short on time? Us, too! The extra daylight is the perfect opportunity to get some exercise, cook at home or finally make a decision you’ve been avoiding.
Fire it up. Many historical solstice celebrations were based on fire. Along those lines, find a local park or beach that allows it and plan a nighttime bonfire to celebrate the tired sun as it finally sets. And don’t forget supplies for s’mores!
Get grateful. Taking stock in your life not only highlights areas you want to change, it sheds light on what’s important. In honor of the summer solstice, start a gratitude journal. Each morning or evening—whichever is easier for you to remember—jot down five things you’re thankful for. You’ll be surprise as you start to cultivate more gratitude each and every day.
Start a tradition. No matter what you do, do something in honor of the summer solstice. It can be as simple as rising together as a family to watch the sunrise, but make a commitment to enjoy this—or something more appropriate for your family—together, every year.
Talk to us: Are you planning to celebrate the solstice this year? If so, how? Do you celebrate the winter solstice as well?
Any cook (or foodie!) worth their salt knows all about the culinary uses for sage, rosemary and thyme. But herbs have surprising uses beyond your favorite dish. Herbaceous plants, which are perfect for rooftop or container gardens, offer treatment for ailments of all kinds, act as natural cosmetic aids, make great cleaning products and even help keep pests away.
Under eye brightener: Dark circles or puffiness under the eyes is something many folks deal with. Parsley’s anti-inflammatory, brightening and tightening abilities just might help, according to herbalists. Crush a bunch of parsley to a fine paste with a mortar and pestle. Add two teaspoons of very hot water, combine and place in the fridge to cool. Once chilled, absorb the mixture into two cotton balls. Place cotton on eyes while relaxing for 10-15 minutes.
Joint and muscle pain reliever: Sore from yesterday’s workout or starting to feel the aches and pains that come with age? No problem. Make oregano oil by steeping the fresh herb in organic olive oil. Once cooled, rub small amounts into sore muscles or joints to ease soreness.
Dandruff fighter: Dandruff may not be a popular subject, but it is a common condition. To fend off its irritating effects naturally, boil rosemary leaves in water. Once completely cooled, rinse wet hair with the rosemary solution. Herbalists claim the solution reduces dandruff while also strengthening hair.
Skin soother: Plantain, a broad-leaf North American-based herb often mistaken for a weed, has a multitude of uses. Steep with water, cool and spray to provide relief of sunburned skin. Apply torn, fresh leaves directly to stings or bites or use to ease the itch of poison ivy or oak.
Digestion aid: Historically, Italians have used basil to reduce stomach upset and promote digestion. Feeling too full from tonight’s lasagna? No problem. Mix a half teaspoon of dried basil in a glass of water and drink to ease discomfort.
Natural air freshener: If you’re looking for an eco-friendly way to freshen the air in your home, use herbs. Place fresh rosemary or lemon balm in small vases to brighten your space with their clean scents. Or dry your favorite herbs to create a potpourri to use in containers or homemade sachets to tuck into small spaces.
Stress-reducer: Next time you take a few moments to unwind in a warm bath after a stressful day, add a few handfuls—about two cups worth—of fresh basil leaves to the water. Herbalists say the pleasing aroma promotes relaxation and stress reduction.
Hard surface cleaner: A chemical called thymol gives thyme its antiseptic and disinfectant properties. Boil the herb with water, cool and place the solution in a reusable spray bottle. Use the fresh-scented herbal cleaning spray to naturally refresh and disinfect hard surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen.
Mosquito deterrent: No matter where you live, mosquitos are a common summertime pest. Fight them naturally by strategically placing rosemary plants around your outdoor space. Mosquitos will steer clear and you’ll enjoy outdoor comfort with a glorious, herbal aroma.
Talk to us: How are you using herbs beyond their typical culinary uses? We’d love to hear from you!
image courtesy of Susy Morris/BY CC 2.0
When it comes to finding the perfect Father’s Day or graduation gift, tech gadgets always appear at the top of the list. We don’t often associate tech gadgets with being eco-friendly, but we have found some of the best gadgets on the market that will not only make dad or grad happy, but will help reduce their carbon footprint.
So, take a quick look at your list and find a gift for…
A satellite navigation system that lets you visually see how changing your driving can improve your fuel use. The system can show you the most energy efficient route for you to take while informing you of your MPG, CO2 emissions and other useful data. A great product for a dad who loves to travel or a graduate who will soon be adding a work commute to his or her daily plans.
The Plant Lover
Click & Grow Smartpot
Inspired by NASA, this technology helps make sure everyone can easily grow flowers and herbs indoors by creating a solution that gives plant roots an optimal amount of water, oxygen and nutrients at all times. Sensors and software measure the conditions and make sure your plant is always feeling well—allowing even those without green thumbs to be able to enjoy the benefits of having indoor plants, a great to addition to any dorm or office.
The Morning Sleeper
Bedol Water Alarm Clock
Great for home or dorm, this timepiece runs only on water using a technology that converts ions in the water into clean energy power. It keeps perfect time without requiring batteries or electricity and features a daily or hourly alarm. And another bonus? Water won’t need to be replaced for 6 months or more.
Solar Lighted Cover for Kindle Touch
Those late night reading sessions just got a bit more eco-friendly. The first solar book cover for the Amazon Kindle e-reader is designed to not only keep your Kindle safe from damage, but the built-in solar panel charges the reserve battery for the LED reading light while also providing extra power to the Kindle.
Eton rukus XL Solar-Powered Sound System
Connect wirelessly to any Bluetooth® enabled device and the rukus’ solar panel generates massive amounts of power to play your music all day long. If your entertainment takes you into the wee hours of the night, the internal lithium battery will keep music going for 8 hours.
Talk to us: What is the best (or worst!) gift you have ever given or received for Father’s Day?
Today is World Environment Day and one of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) challenges for consumers is to purge plastics. “It takes one minute to throw out a plastic bag you’ve used once. It takes less than that to down a bottle of water,” states the WED website. “They then end up in the garbage or the ocean where they live FOREVER–adding to landfills and killing marine life.”
Those of us who have made a commitment to go green in all aspects of our lives certainly know the pitfalls associated with disposable, plastic products. And we understand health risks, too. With research showing agents like BPA (bisphenol A), an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s, linked to hormone and behavior issues, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, it’s time to rid ourselves of the plastic habit once and for all. Here’s how you and yours can cut down on plastic in the home.
Toys, toys and more toys. Anyone with children knows that “plastic” and “toys” go hand-in-hand. For some early eco-friendliness adopters, the decision to eliminate plastics came before the decision to have kids. But for others, it can be a tough family transition to remove plastic toys from the home and prevent more from coming in. Start by sharing your desire to go plastic-free with family and friends so they can keep your wishes in mind when shopping for holidays or birthdays. And involve kids in the decision, the reasons behind it and, most importantly, sharing their toys through charitable donations to others.
Hail the simple Mason jar. Prolific and oh so affordable, the humble Mason jar has endless uses. Sip lemonade from one or use them for storage and organization galore, or even as flower vases. Available in many sizes and colors (we are loving the light green jars from Ace Hardware for summer), Mason jars are a great replacement for plastic containers of all sizes in the home. Not to mention the simple touch of stylish charm they add to your surroundings.
Go big. Replacing plastic utensils and food storage containers is a snap, but don’t limit your thinking to just those items. Consider your appliances, for instance. Does your blender have a glass or plastic carafe? Are you using a plastic coffee maker or single-cup system to make your morning cup of Joe? When it comes time to replace items like these, think before you shop. Choose a percolator instead of a coffee maker or other appliances not made from plastic.
Precycle. Overhauling your life to eliminate plastic isn’t simple or affordable. Avoid the hassle and expense by thinking up new ways to use plastic items. Store small tools or supplies (think: nuts and bolts) in used, washed plastic food containers. Organize kids’ craft supplies the same way. You’ll keep the plastics from making contact with your consumables and from landing in landfills.
Commit to plastic–free living. Once you’ve taken steps to eliminate plastic in your home, stay the course. Stop buying plastic containers or conveniences, opting for glass or stainless whenever possible. And walk the walk, especially if you have children. What they watch you do will shape their thoughts about green living for years to come.
Talk to us: Have you taken steps to eliminate or reduce plastic inside your home? We’d love to learn what have been the easiest and most difficult things to give up!
image courtesy of Geof Wilson/CC BY 2.0
Spring brings a little more than just beautiful blooms and balmy temperatures. It’s a bit of an oxymoron that, as soon as Mother Nature delivers some beautiful weather, many of us start sneezing and suffering with watery, itchy eyes. What should be a wonderful season can be dreadful, but it doesn’t need to be. Tackle this season symptom-free with the help of some natural allergy adversaries.
Keep allergens at bay. When you’re allergic, limiting exposure is key. Get to know what triggers your allergies by keeping a journal. Then keep pollution, pollen and other irritants out by keeping windows closed and irritants out. Designate certain rooms as pet-free, if their dander gets yours up. Regular dusting and vacuuming is a must; enlist the help of a green cleaning service like Greenhouse Eco-Cleaning to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep allergens where they should be: outside.
Use Food. Did you know that many everyday foods pack a real punch when it comes to your allergy fight? These powerhouses have lots to offer when it comes to the allergy battle:
- Citrus fruit: tackles symptoms with good old vitamin C
- Apples: fend off inflammation with flavonoids
- Red grapes: fight inflammation with antioxidants and resveratrol
- Collard greens: reduces allergic reactions with the help of carotenoids
- Fish and nuts: boost immunity and fight inflammation with the help of omega-3’s
- Pure, local honey: may build natural antibodies to the pollen in your area
Try tools of the trade. It might sound simple, but there are a few natural remedies to help stomp symptoms out before they become unmanageable. A cold compress does wonders for puffy eyes, as do caffeine-based eye creams. And a neti pot, an ancient Indian ceramic pot used for natural nasal cleansing, can be very helpful when it comes to relieving congestion and pressure. Herbalists say a few drops of oregano in a glass of water or vaporizer can help with congestion and sore throats as well.
Know your counts. If you suffer with seasonal allergies, it helps to know what you’re up against. The internet, local television and radio stations track pollen counts and report them regularly during allergy season to help folks know when it’s safe to get out and enjoy the weather and when it might make sense to stay home. This year’s long, cold winter most likely means a delayed pollen spike, but when it does come, look out for new heights.
Talk to us: If you suffer with seasonal allergies, we want to hear from you! Have you found natural ways to combat your symptoms? If so, let us know!
image courtesy of Jim Lukach/CC BY 2.0