Natural Cleaning Tips For Healthy Living - June 2016

Create and maintain a clean environment of your very own.

packing tips summer camp Upcycling

4 Upcycled Products You Should Pack for Camp

GEC_Camp

With July 4th marking the unofficial middle of summer, summer camp season is in full swing.  You probably have a list of items your little camper needs to bring (if you don’t click here for a great list from SheKnows) and are already wondering how everything will fit in one suitcase—and not get lost between home and camp.

We have found 4 of the very best upcycling ideas that will get your child’s camp experience off to an organized, eco-friendly start:

 

Tic Tac Container
Tic Tac containers make wonderful travel partners.  They are the perfect place to store bobby pins and hair clips (you can also put hair ties around the outside) or small craft items such as beads.  And, you can even turn it into a small flashlight.  Get instructions here.

Shower Cap
Wrap your child’s shoes in a shower cap before putting them in a suitcase.  This will keep the dirt from your soles from getting onto clothing–especially helpful for the camp to home trip. The shower cap will become a great accessory at camp as well—waterproof shoes by stepping into the shower caps before going outside in the rain or use it as a wet bag for swimsuits.

Lip Balm Tubes
Clean your old lip balm tubes (great cleaning tips here) and use them to store any cash your camper may be taking with them (who doesn’t need an “emergency $10”?), The tubes are also great for storing any small items such as earrings.

Sunglass Case
While we hope most—if not all—of the camp experience will be one that is unplugged, if you do need to transport chargers and chords consider using an old sunglass case. You can also use this to first aid items like band-aids and tissues or summer things like fishing lures.

 

Talk to us:  What household item do you upcycle to help keep you organized?

 

 

 
image courtesy of flickr CC/Joe Ross 

 

organic chocolate Outdoor Living s'more recipes Summer Fun

5 Unique S’more Recipes

S'more

One of the best ways to spend a summer evening is to sit around the fire with your friends and family and make s’mores.  S’mores are pretty much the unofficial food of summer and while the traditional graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallow version is tasty, we went on search of some of the most unique s’more combinations we could find.

Here are 5 s’mores you need to try this summer and just you don’t feel too guilty about the indulgence, we’ve given you an organic chocolate option for each:

 

Because bacon makes everything better…
campfire_dessert_620x413_bacon_smoresSalty Caramel Bacon
Graham Cracker
Bacon
Chocolate w/ Salted Carmel
Marshmallow
Organic Chocolate Option: Lake Champlain Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Bar

 

 

 

When you are feeling a little more sophisticated around the campfire…
peach brie smorePeach, Brie and Dark Chocolate
Graham Cracker
Dark Chocolate
Brie Cheese
Fresh Peach
Full recipe here
Organic Chocolate Option: Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate, Dark 70%

 

 

 

For the kid who loves a peanut butter sandwich…
smores-cookies-lPeanut Butter and Chocolate
Crisp Chocolate Wafer
Peanut Butter
Marshmallow
Full recipe here
Organic Chocolate Option: Tate’s Bake Shop Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

 

 

Bring a rock legend to the campfire…
Smores The Elvis kerstiepederson(1)The Elvis
Graham Cracker
Banana
Peanut Butter Cup
Marshmallow
Full recipe here
Organic Chocolate Option: Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups

 

 

 

Who says s’mores aren’t for breakfast…
Waffle-Smore-Recipe-smS’more Waffles
Waffles, freshly toasted
Chocolate Chips
Marshmallow
Use the waffles in place of the graham crackers!
Organic Chocolate Option:  365 Organic Chocolate Chips

 

 

Now that you have a few new recipes to try, why not host a s’more party of your own? Click here for some great party ideas.

 

Talk to us: What is your favorite s’more to make during the summer?

 

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Kevin Smith

 

Cleaning Summer Toys First Day of Summer Summer Cleaning Tips

How to Clean Your Summer Fun Items

GEC_SummerCleaning

Happy First Day of Summer! Along with welcoming those lazy days of summer, we also love welcoming back those summertime items that keep the season fun like pool toys, gardening tools and grills.  Although we may only use these items for a limited amount of time, they still need to be kept clean.  Inspired by a recent article in Real Simple magazine, here are some eco-friendly cleaning tips for your summer fun items.

Gardening Tools
You might not ever think of cleaning your gardening tools, but this is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of fungus, bacteria and mold. According to Organic Life, you should always wash off soil and debris with water and dry completely before storing.  For stubborn spots such as tree sap, cover with a paste made by combining ½ teaspoon of castile soap, 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Rinse well before drying.

 

Grill
A great time to clean your grill is after you have used it.  While the grill is still warm (not hot), scrape with a wire brush and use tongs to rub a cloth dampened with vegetable oil over the grill gate. In addition to cleaning the grill, the vegetable oil will help prevent food from sticking throughout the entire grilling season. Get more info here.

 

Patio Furniture
Combine a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water into a spray bottle and use it on all of your patio furniture—and even your patio umbrella—to not only keep items clean, but to keep them from getting mildew.  If you need to do a deeper clean during the summer season, find some great DIY eco-cleaning solutions for each type of material here.

 

Pool Toys
To avoid items from getting moldy, squeeze water out of each item after every use and spray off with a hose.  We also recommend periodically wiping down items with vinegar—this is a great way to disinfect without using chemicals. Once you have rinsed off the toys, let them dry in the sun before putting them away.

 

Talk to us:  What is the one item you breakout to welcome the summer season?

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Omer Ziv

 

 

Flag Day How to display U.S. Flag How to fly the U.S. Flag

How to Properly Display the U.S. Flag

US Flag

While not an official federal holiday, today we celebrate National Flag Day.  Established back in 1916 (and made official by an Act of Congress in 1949), June 14th commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States and U.S. citizens are encouraged to fly the American flag not only for today, but for the duration of the week.

Ready to get your flag flying?  Here are some things you should know about how to properly display the U.S. flag:

 

Keep the flag visible.  Traditionally, the flag could be only displayed from sunrise to sunset; however, now the flag may be displayed at all times if it’s illuminated in the dark.  When displayed from a flagpole (or from a staff projecting from a building), the union (starred blue) should be placed at the peak of the staff.

Always display with the union side up.  Displaying a flag with the union side down is a signal of distress.

Never let the flag touch the ground.  Actually, never let it touch anything beneath it—ground, floor, water, etc.

Do not use it as decoration.  The flag should never be draped or drawn back in folds.  Draped red, white and blue bunting should be used for decoration. In addition, never use a flag as apparel, bedding or drapery and do not place anything on the flag such as letters, insignia or designs.

Avoid aging or weathering your flag.  People are discouraged from displaying flags during inclement weather (unless you have an all-weather flag).  Knowingly subjecting a flag to damaging conditions is considered disrespectful.

Dispose of worn out flags.  When a flag is worn out and no longer fit for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified way.  Check with your local veteran’s post or American Legion and inquire about disposing your “unserviceable flag.”  Many have official flag burning ceremonies.  You can also contact a flag recycling service like the ones mentioned here.

 

Talk to us:  Share pictures of your flag flying–Happy Flag Day!

 

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Clyde Robinson

 

Cleaning Your Cutting Board Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tips Natural Ingredient Cleaning

How to Clean Your Cutting Boards

Cutting Board

Warmer weather brings with it fresher foods and soon your cutting boards will be getting a real workout.  While you may be tempted to just use water and dishwashing soap, that combination could actually weaken wood fibers and may dulling your colors.  Here are 3 eco-friendly ingredients (that you probably already have in your kitchen) that will have your cutting boards clean before dinner:

 

Lemons

We love lemons (see our post here on ways we use them!) and we especially love using lemons to get rid of cutting board smells that often follow the chopping of foods such as onion, garlic or fish.  Simply rub the cut side of a lemon all over your board or wash it with undiluted lemon juice.

 

Vinegar

Wipe your board down with undiluted white vinegar (apple cider vinegar works as well).  Vinegar is especially great for wood surfaces—it is a great disinfectant and has been known to be effective against e. coli and salmonella. If you need the board to be deodorized as well, sprinkle baking soda over the cutting board surface, spray with vinegar, let sit for 10 minutes and wipe clean with cold water.

 

Baking Soda

While it is a great combination when used with vinegar (see above), it also works well when put into a paste of salt and water.  Just 1 tablespoon of each will give you a cleaning solution that works well on both plastic and wooden cutting board surfaces.  Be sure to rinse with hot water when done.

 

If you have already been using dishwashing soap to clean your cutting boards, you may notice they are a bit dull.  Rub them with a little salt and you will instantly see them brighten in color.

 

Talk to us:  How do you keep your cutting board clean?

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Jeff Attaway

 



 

Staying Cool in Summer summer heat Ways to Stay Cool Without AC and Beat the Summertime Heat

No Air Conditioner? No Problem

IceCubes

With the real heat of summer hitting most of us this weekend you might already be thinking about cranking up the AC.  But, for those of us who don’t have air conditioning—or, are choosing to use it as little as possible—there are some creative ways to stay cool during the hot summer months.

5 Ways to Stay Cool without AC:

 

Close Your Windows
Yes, you read right “close” your windows. “It may seem counterintuitive, but on hot summer days, opening the windows will often make your home warmer, not cooler,” writes Good Housekeeping.  Open your windows when night falls, when the air outside is typically cooler than the air inside, and let cross-ventilation cool your home.  However, be sure to close the windows (along with blinds and shades) before the sun hits your house in the morning.

 

Create Your Own Cool Breeze
If you angle a bowl full of ice (or an ice pack) in front of a large fan, the air “whips off the ice at an extra-chilled, extra-misty temperature,” writes the Huffington Post.  Another hint:  Use a metal bowl to hold the ice—it keeps things even cooler.

 

Freeze Your Water
An Apartment Therapy reader suggests freezing a 2-liter bottle of water, putting it in a pillowcase and holding it to your chest like a teddy bear.  “Cooling down the central core will cool down the extremities as a result,” writes Novalis.  “My roomie calls them ‘ice babies’.” This trick works even better with a hot water bottle.

 

Choose Cotton
The light, breathable feel of cotton is not only good for summer clothing (& PJs), but summer bed linens.  “Save the ooh-la-la satin, silk, or polyester sheets for cooler nights,” suggests Greatist.com.  For an even cooler effect, dampen a sheet or towel in cool water and use it as a blanket.

 

Get Cooking…Outside
Obviously, when the heat rises in your kitchen, it also rises throughout your home.  Summer is a great excuse to fire up the grill—not only for dinner, but even breakfast (click here for some fun grilled breakfast options).  In addition to using your oven less, you should also limit the use of other appliances such as laundry machines and dishwashers.  “Limit these activities to the cooler times of day, like mornings or evenings,” suggests Gretchen Becker from Angie’s List.

 

 

Talk to us:  What are you doing to stay cool without AC this summer?

 

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Kevin Saff

 

Summer Bucket List Summer Cleaning Tips Summer Fun

5 Things to Add to Your Summer Bucket List

SidewalkChalk

With today being the start of our Meteorological Summer (the first official day of summer isn’t until June 20th), we wanted to share 5 things we think every person should do to fully enjoy all this season has to offer.  And, because we are an eco-friendly CLEANING company, we’ve added 5 cleaning tips that go with each activity.

Whether you will be spending your summer in the city or visiting the country, be sure to cross these 5 activities off of your summer “To Do” list:

 

Go Geocaching

Looking for a way to combine your child’s love of technology with the great outdoors?  Try geocaching.  There are 2 million geocaches worldwide, some are probably near you right now.  Grab your phone or GPS, create a free Geocache account (www.geocaching.com), choose the geocache you want to find and navigate to its location.  Once you find it (and we know you will find it!), you can sign the logbook and move to the next adventure.
Cleaning Tip: Checkout a Cache In Trash Out event.  This ongoing environmental initiative encourages geocachers around the world to preserve the natural beauty of our outdoor resources.

 

Host a Barbecue

Nothing says summer like outdoor entertaining. Throw an eco-friendly bash by following these tips and get creative with your side dishes with these farmers market-inspired ideas.  No large backyard or spacious deck?  No problem.  Grab some of these ideas on entertaining in small spaces from Better Homes & Gardens.
Cleaning Tip:  While the grill is still warm, scrub down the grates with a wire brush.  Get eco-friendly grilling tips from our website.

 

Make Homemade (Healthy) Lemonade

This recipe from Amy’s Healthy Baking adds just a tablespoon of stevia to freshly squeezed lemons and cold water.  For even more great lemonade recipes, checkout these crazy concoctions from Real Simple.
Cleaning Tip:  Use leftover lemons to do some serious summer cleaning. Visit our website for great lemon-inspired cleaning ideas.

 

Create a Sidewalk Masterpiece

Nothing says summer more than a sidewalk filled with colorful chalk-drawn pictures.  We love this Veggie Sidewalk Chalk—not only is it made from organic ingredients (vegan, no wheat, no sugar, no preservatives, no dairy!), but the chalk is thick enough for the tiniest of fingers.
Cleaning Tip:  Should chalk (veggie or regular!) get on your child’s clothing, simply shakeout the loose chalk particles, place garment (stain side down) on a stack of paper towels and blot the back of stain with rubbing alcohol.

 

Visit a Farmers Market

We are such big fans of the local farmers market—it’s a great way to support your local farmers and economy and also gives you a better (and usually cheaper) way to eat fresh and healthy.  You can find a list of local NYC markets that are open here.
Cleaning Tip: Not only can you create delicious dishes from seasonal finds, but you can create effective cleaning solutions. Click here for 5 farmers market products that are cleaning powerhouses.

 

 

Talk to us: What is one thing you want to do before the summer is over?

 

 

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Elvert Barnes