Tomorrow is Earth Day–what are you doing to celebrate everything that is lovely about our planet? While we encourage daily green behaviors such as recycling, reusing and reducing, we wanted to share with you 4 fun and unique ways to celebrate the Earth this month:
Some interesting statistics from the EPA: A 10-minute shower consumes 50 gallons of water and that nice, relaxing bath takes up to 70 gallons of water. To put this in perspective, the typical family in Africa gets by on a tenth of that for an entire day. Today, stay dirty. Skipping the daily shower or bath will not only save gallons of water but may even make you feel healthier. “Showering every day can wash away natural oils that our skin and hair need to grow and can deprive the immune system of the germs it needs to fully develop,” writes HowStuffWorks.com.
Turn off the TV, shut down your computer and stop charging your phone. Make a real effort to unplug yourself from electronics and spend the evening reconnecting with your family and friends. Or, pick up a great book—some fun, eco-friendly reads: The Lorax, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life and Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology.
Have an Earth Day Dinner
Use locally produced food for tonight’s dinner—heavy on the vegetables and fruit as they use fewer resources and provide minimal impact to the planet. If you are dining with meat lovers, look for locally produced, organic meat by looking online at sites such as LocalHarvest.org. Need some recipe ideas? Head over to FineCooking.com—they have several recipes that “save the planet.” Be sure to use eco-friendly dishes and decorations and consider dining by candlelight—eliminating the need for electricity.
We love this idea from Inhabitat.com: “Recently, there’s been lots of excitement over a renewed interest in sharing time, money, and resources as a way to increase everyone’s access to things they need. Experts call this ‘collaborative consumption’ or ‘the Sharing Economy’ but we just call it common sense.” Checkout sharing services like yerdle, B-Cycle or Airnb. Not only will this save you money, but will help you become better connected with your community.
Talk to us: What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day this year?
There is no better way to celebrate National Garlic Day than to make some of your favorite spice-filled dishes (click here for ideas). But garlic isn’t just for cooking. Here are 4 creative ways to use garlic outside of the kitchen:
Repair a Crack in Glass
According to Care2.com, the natural adhesive quality of garlic is what makes it a great quick fix for small cracks in glass. Rub the juice of a crushed garlic clove onto the crack and wipe away the excess liquid. In addition, you can use garlic as “glue” for other things like paper crafts.
Keep Bugs at Bay
Simply mix garlic and water in a spray bottle to create a natural pesticide that can be misted on plants to keep away unwanted insects. You can make the spray even more powerful by adding additional ingredients such as crushed hot pepper, liquid soap or mineral oil. Click here for the complete recipe. One other tip: Rub crushed garlic on your skin for a quick mosquito repellant.
Remove a Splinter
Place half of a garlic clove underneath a Band-Aid and leave overnight. In the morning, not only will the splinter be gone, but because garlic contains antibiotic and anti-inflammatory compounds, there will be no sign of swelling.
Clean Your Face
This may not be the most popular choice in skincare, but using garlic as a facial cleanser dries out acne and tightens and exfoliates your skin. Massage a paste of minced garlic, olive oil, facial cleanser and sugar into your skin and rinse thoroughly.
Talk to us: How do you use garlic outside of the kitchen?
image courtesy of cc unsplash/matthewpilachowski
Organized people may be getting a bigger refund this tax season. “It takes time to gather every receipt, every figure, and every single piece of documentation you need to file your return,” writes Erika Rawes in an article for USA TODAY. “So, getting these items together in advance can help prevent you from missing any pieces of documentation that may result in a larger refund.”
Now that you have finished filing for 2016 (if you haven’t filed yet—you have until midnight tonight!), here are some tips for getting things organized now so you are more organized for tax season 2017:
Take Care of the Past
Spend some time organizing your 2016 tax returns. Create a folder where you can put all of this year’s papers, bills and receipts and place that folder in a file box with your other past returns. We also recommend making an electronic copy of your 2016 tax return and all your documents. If your other past returns are all sitting in one big box, take a few moments to organize them into separate folders marked by year.
Know What You Need
One of the biggest reasons people get so disorganized during tax season is that they have absolutely no idea what they need to be keeping and/or what information they might need to have on hand. While taxes are still top of mind, create a list of the things you might need by looking over your returns from this year or by downloading a tax preparation checklist like this one found from TurboTax. Once you know what documents you will need to collect during the year, purchase an accordion folder and mark each section by category (i.e. mortgage, bank statements).
Create a Place for Paid Bills
We often think of creating spaces for bills when they come in, but we often miss the opportunity to create a space for bills we have already paid. As soon as you have paid a bill, scan it (if it was a paper bill) or duplicate it (if it was an e-bill) and place it in an electronic folder on your desktop. At the end of each month, move all the items from your electronic folder to an external hard drive. You can also check out some online services that help you organize your bills such as FileThis.com.
Manage Your Receipts
Did you spend a good chunk of your time this tax season scrounging your briefcases and desk drawers for receipts? This year, place a large envelope marked “2016 Receipts” in your home office. At the end of each day, make a habit of emptying your pockets and wallet in your home office—immediately placing all receipts in the envelope. If you have some extra time, write a note on each receipt so you remember what it is for (i.e. Business lunch with Sue). At the end of each month, transfer all envelope contents to a monthly file or folder or scan them into your computer. Click here for more great ideas on how to manage your receipts.
Talk to us: How do you keep things organized for tax season?
As you make your final plans for Easter Sunday brunch or dinner, we wanted to share some things you can do to make it a more eco-friendly affair:
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, planning menus in advance can limit waste. In addition to outlining foods you will prepare, also consider the number of guests you will be serving—this will make it easier to buy the correct amount of ingredients. Throwing an Easter brunch potluck? Don’t hesitate in being a little bossy when it comes to telling guests what to bring in order to avoid a table filled with multiple versions of deviled eggs.
Reuse, Reuse, Reuse
Even if you are serving a crowd, consider using reusable dinnerware or look for sustainable disposable options such as these. If you are purchasing new dinnerware, think small—using smaller plates will help your guests avoid overfilling their plates with excess food. With spring colors filling up our outdoor spaces, reuse the beauties of nature to decorate your home indoors as well.
Use Energy-Efficient Lighting
In addition to using energy-efficient bulbs for indoor and outdoor decorating, opt for a candle only dinner experience to decrease the amount of energy you are using. Use unscented candles to avoid competing with the delicious food scents and add candlelight to your outdoor space as well should evening fall during your festivities. We love these tin can luminaries on a porch or walkway.
Reuse Your Leftovers
Ask your guests to bring their own reusable containers for leftovers and have them throw food scraps into your compost pile. Remember that meat and dairy products should not be composted, so keep the kitchen scraps to things such as potatoes and green beans. Consider donating any unused canned goods or non-perishable items to a local food bank or homeless shelter, spring is not usually a time when folks think to donate. Click here for a list in NYC.
Click here for even more great ideas for having an eco-friendly Easter.
Talk to us: What will you be serving for Easter brunch this year?
Discover our Best Recommendations for Eco-Friendly Pet Care Tips!
How you care for your pet can have a major impact on the environment. Luckily, there are now plenty of eco-friendly pet supplies available which make it easy for you to take care of your pet from bath time to play time.
Dogs don’t love bath time, but you can choose an eco-friendly shampoo to make it less stressful and gentler on their skin. Traditional pet shampoos include harsh chemicals and alcohol that can irritate your dog’s skin and cause rashes, dryness or allergic reactions. Look for shampoos with all natural ingredients such as aloe vera, vitamin E, coconut, honey, oatmeal, and lavender.
But beware, not all natural shampoos are safe for your dogs. Avoid products with tea tree oil in them because this can be toxic to dogs. Regardless, if your dog develops any kind of rash, dryness or begins scratching at their skin after you begin using a new product, stop using the product and consult with your veterinarian.
Cat lover? Save the water—you don’t normally need to bathe cats unless it’s been recommended by your vet.
There is no reason you can’t become an expert and groom your pet at home–you just need the right equipment, patience and lots of treats! Pet clippers, sharp scissors and a good brush are all essential tools you’ll need to get started with the grooming process. You may also want to recruit a volunteer to help you hold your pet.
One the essential tools for a groomer is the table and while your kitchen table is the perfect height, we suggest purchasing one like these options from Wayfair or building your own using these instructions from petful.com. Regardless of your table choice, make sure you invest in a non-skid mat to place under your pet.
The money you’ll save from doing the grooming at home will be worth the effort you put into it. After you’re done, you can add you own bows and fun eco-friendly outfits to fancy them up! We can’t get enough of these cute options from Eco-Pup.
Every pet needs a place to call its own. Some prefer a special bed; others prefer just a pile of blankets in or outside of their kennel. Whichever your four-legged companion prefers, you can find an eco-friendly version of both. Here are a few examples of ones we like:
- The Molly Mutt Upcycled Dog Bed is like a duvet cover in which you stuff items – such as towels, blankets or clothes – into the mesh case to create a soft bed for your pet.
- West Paw has an organic cotton bumper bed available in several different colors and sizes for all different types of animals and households.
- Crypton William Wegman’s Pool Doodle Bed is made with environmentally friendly fabrics, with no harsh chemicals and is 100% waterproof!
- Pet Dreams has several eco-friendly dog beds, including their memory foam and bumper beds.
- Earth Dog’s recycled blanket is made from organic hemp canvas and recycled fleece.
- The Comfy Pup blankets are soft and lightweight because they are made from organic cotton.
- West Paw’s Big Sky Blanket has faux suede on one side and Sherpa lining on the other side – all synthetic and chemical free fabrics.
Having toys for your pets keeps them busy and hopefully distracted enough from chewing on your shoes or the couch! But most toys are made of plastic, rubber or synthetic cloths – all of which are bad for the environment and not the best choice for your pet. When purchasing toys for your pets, be sure they are made from recycled materials. Not only will they be good for the environment, but they will actually last longer!
Here are a few good ones we found:
- West Paw has eco-friendly toys for dogs and cats as well as organic catnip. “As close to indestructible dog toys you’ll ever find” according to their website.
- The Huck is like a tennis ball, but bounces and floats and it comes with an indestructible guarantee.
- The Owl Rope is an all–natural canvas owl with two rope ends. Allowing your dog to chew, fetch and play tug of war.
Talk to us: What is your favorite eco-friendly pet product?
image from West Paw Designs
While reaching for your coat in the closet, three shirts fall to the floor instead. You’ve run out of room for your sneaker collection. And you can’t find your mascara anywhere underneath all that eyeshadow. Sound familiar?
In today’s world of constant advertising and same-day delivery, it’s easier than ever to accumulate stuff and get caught up in a “more is more” mentality.
But research shows it’s actual experiences, not goods, that make us happy.
This may be why many people are rejecting materialism and turning to minimalism. Don’t worry – you don’t need to swap your walkup for a camper to call yourself a minimalist. You might just need to reevaluate your relationship with stuff.
Here are seven easy ways to become a minimalist, whether you’re going all in or just testing those hyper-purified waters.
Make a list
Write down all your valued possessions – without actually looking at them. As writer and minimalist Rosie Leizrowice points out, “If you cannot even remember you own something, the chances are that it matters less than you think.”
Use your list as a starting point. The items you’ve written down should stay for now. Consider removing the objects you’ve forgotten.
Get five boxes ready
Set aside containers for the following categories:
- Donations: From old textbooks to your ex’s iPhone 5, you can find a new home for almost everything.
- Duplicates: How many mixing spoons do you really need? Do you have multiple copies of a book or CD you really loved? Give extras away to friends, or add them to the donation pile.
- Recyclables: Keep in mind that some items, such as batteries and light bulbs, require responsible rehandling.
- Storage: Items such as seasonal clothing or equipment can be stored until you actually need them.
- Trash: This should be your last resort. Remember, anything you toss into landfill-bound bins will be cluttering Mother Earth. Which kind of defeats the purpose.
Some people like to get rid of everything in one go. Others find it best to break the chaos down into rooms, then conquer each one when there’s time.
Build your support system
Invite a friend to join you for a month-long elimination challenge. On the first day, you both get rid of one thing each. On the second day, get rid of two items. Continue in this pattern for an entire month.
You could also make a group challenge of it. Invite friends and family from all over to join in, then share your progress via Facetime or Google Hangouts.
Participants can choose anything – clothes, electronics, toys – to get rid of. Just make sure to remove each item (via donation, recycling, or whatever method is most sustainable) by midnight of each day.
Another option is to pack literally everything you own into boxes. Invite friends to help – call it a packing party, since “everything is more fun when you put ‘party’ at the end.” Take out only what you’re using over the next few days.
After three weeks, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what you really “need.”
Invest in better, fewer choices
What sounds ironic at first – spend more money, become a minimalist! – actually makes total sense. Invest consciously on durable items that offer multiple returns in the long run. Here are a few examples:
Instead of Teflon, use stainless steel or cast iron. These materials both last longer and pose fewer health hazards.
The next time your lightbulb fizzles out, replace it with an LED. LED light bulbs last up to five times longer than their traditional incandescent counterparts, and waste far less energy.
For your wardrobe, streamline your style. Then put more money into staple pieces you’re comfortable in and that boost your confidence. This will also make your morning routine a breeze, not to mention laundry day and packing for trips.
Bonus: Fewer choices = less decision fatigue.
Borrow, don’t buy
Get your literary fix at the library, rather than purchasing books you may not even read. Donate or sell old DVDs, then revive your Netflix queue. With these two switches, you’ll also have consistent access to a wider range of options.
Amateur cyclists may even consider swapping out their space-swallowing bicycle for a bike-sharing membership instead.
Keep these habits consistent
Moving forward, come up with some personal ground rules to keep your home free of clutter.
Toss junk mail into the recycling immediately. Make a personal pact to put clothes away immediately after wearing them. Designate spots in your home for items that consistently enter, such as paper, coins, or your children’s toys.
Keep countertops, nightstands, and other flat surfaces clear. Kitchen appliances in particular may not seem like they take up much space – until the first time you cook dinner after clearing them.
Hold yourself to a 30-day rule: If you want to purchase an item, write it down on a list and wait 30 days. If you still really want it, go ahead and buy it. More often than not, you’ll lose the urge (while also saving money and space).
Having trouble getting your S.O. or roomies to stick with your new simplified lifestyle? Here are four approaches to get them on board.
Accept your own version of minimalist living
At the end of the day, minimalism – especially at its most extreme – isn’t practical for everyone. But the underlying takeaway is universally true: You, and your family, are more than the sum of your belongings.
Plus, there are multiple ways to approach the minimalist lifestyle. Many of these methods transcend minimalism’s contingency upon objects. This 10-step challenge from Hip Diggs, for example, is all about eliminating negative forces beyond objects – things like screen time and junk food.
And whether you’ve decluttered or not, you can always give your home an energy reboot by purifying it with white sage.
This post was written by MakeSpace, a full-service storage company that picks up, stores, and delivers your stuff so you never have to visit a self-storage unit.
Booking a spring cleaning service is the best way to celebrate spring. Greenhouse Eco-Cleaning. Use coupon code springcleaning to receive 10% off your next cleaning service.
Just like the season itself, our spring cleaning offer won’t last long–offer is only good until April 15th.
Schedule your cleaning service by clicking the service below and apply coupon code springcleaning at checkout to receive your discount.
Why Should Our Homes Get All the Spring Cleaning Fun?
Now that spring seems to really be on the way, we are getting out our best eco-friendly supplies and tools in preparation for giving our homes a deep spring clean. But why should our homes get all the spring cleaning fun? While spring cleaning your entire office may seem like a daunting task, we challenge you to just start with your desk. Here are 5 tips for giving your office desk a quick spring clean:
Get It Clean (& Healthy)
Clear all items from your desk and, using an all-purpose, eco-friendly cleaner like our Ecospirit brand, wipe down your desktop, phone and shelving. For your tech tools, make an easy, 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 be used to wipe down your keyboard, mouse, and tablet. Click here for more eco-friendly tech cleaning tips.
Keep It Clear
An OfficeMax study found that a clear desk actually improves your productivity and motivation. The only things you should have on the top of your desk are things you are actually using. For most people, those things can be narrowed down to a computer, a phone, a writing utensil (or 2), a pad of paper and possibly a lamp. Other items such as file folders, paper clips, and binders should be put in drawers and/or on shelves. If you must keep something personal on your desk, limit yourself to one thing—such as a framed family photo or a small inspirational quote plaque.
Organize Your Drawer
While you were clearing off your desk, did you just dump those paper clips and sticky notes into your “catch all” drawer? We knew it! Purchase drawer organizers like this one from Bed, Bath and Beyond that will help you create compartments and individual spaces for all of your supplies. Organize what is currently in your drawer—finding a new home for things that just don’t belong. This will also help you keep an eye on your supplies allowing you to proactively purchase things that are running low.
Get Rid of Paper
As an eco-friendly cleaning company, we encourage our clients to limit their use of paper; however, we have yet to find a completely paperless office. Go through the piles of papers on your desk and file them, toss them or scan them. Recycle paper you no longer need and create an easy-to-use filing system such as To Read, To Do and To File for organizing what is left. Consider scanning all those papers that end up in your To File folder. This will eliminate your paper clutter and make it easy for you to find those documents when they are most needed.
Clean Your Desktop
Even if your desk is spotless and clean, you may still feel the sting of clutter when you turn on your computer desktop and see a screen filled with images, folders, and documents. Delete items you no longer need and organize everything else into a digital filing system that is not only easy for you to use and maintain but will not clutter your desktop screen. Click here for more ideas on how to quickly clean & organize your computer.
Talk to us: What tips do you have for getting—and keeping—your office desk clean and organized?
image courtesy of flickr cc/Lindsay Holmwood