Clear the Clutter

Think it’s impossible to see how your brain works? Walk over to a closet or open a drawer in your home. What you see is what you’ve got. While a few of you may be looking at something that could grace the pages of a Martha Stewart publication, chances are most of you are looking at a jumble of products, clothes and knick-knacks that live together for reasons unknown to your rational mind. Coupons, letters, bills and a hand sanitizer shoved into your kitchen junk drawer? Don’t get embarrassed — get organized!

The following room-by-room checklist offers the perfect opportunity to cut through the clutter while staying light on the landfills and giving you peace of mind!

Get room-by-room help for the bathroom, the kitchen, the home office and the clothes closet using this step-by-step green home guide.

Helpful hints for getting started

  • Get a good night’s sleep before any major project and work at the time of day you feel at your physical peak. A tired mind makes tired decisions.
  • Eat a good meal before you start and have lots of water and healthy snacks available.
  • Create an environment that supports your best efforts; music and aromatherapy are a couple simple things that will soothe your soul during the process.
  • Be sure you have set aside a block of time commensurate with the size of the project. The ideal first pass is five hours.
  • Warn family members that you will need some private time, and do not let yourself be interrupted. Nothing is worse than coming back to a disastrous closet when you’ve used all your strength elsewhere.
  • If any aspect of getting organized is outside your comfort zone (for example, if you have a large collection of receipts that need to be sorted and you don’t know what to save for the IRS), hire a professional organizer or call upon an organized good friend or family member for guidance.

The bathroom

If we are indeed spiritual beings having an earthly experience, then it stands to reason that taking care of the body is a sacred task. Yet most of our bathrooms are often neglected and/or abused. Let’s see how we can transform this room to a place of peace.

1. Linen check

What’s the condition of your towels? If they’re faded, threadbare and holey, let them go. Take them to your local vet or animal hospital. They need your old sheets as well.

2. Let go of disappointments

We all invest in products from time to time that disappoint us. We feel too guilty to let them go, letting them live on indefinitely in our cupboards as space hogs. The solution? Host a “Product Swap Party” for your friends. With everyone’s hair and skin having such different needs, what disappointed you might be a great find for a friend.

3. Divest in packaging

Are there products you love so much that you purchase them in multiples? Very often the commercial wrapping that comes with these products takes up a lot of space. Recycle the plastic and cardboard.

4. Detangle your haircare

Take an honest look at your brushes, combs and rollers. Pull out any you might not be using. If they’re in good shape, remove all excess hair and soak them in a solution of water and baking soda before rinsing, air-drying and donating to a shelter. Exceptions are items with wooden handles, which will waterlog, those with boar bristles, which will curl, and those with rubber cushioning, which will split. For these, remove all excess hair and scrub clean with a good shampoo. Rinse under the faucet and let air dry.

5. Face the bacteria

Check the expiration date on your makeup. Separate out anything that is more than six months old, as bacteria likely resides there. Rinse and recycle all recyclable glass and plastic (making sure to check the number of the plastic, so that you don’t put anything on the curb that will ultimately not be recycled).

6. Sort your meds

Take a look at your medicine collection, identify what’s expired, then remove the label, and rinse and save the bottles for travel purposes.

Helpful hints for everyday upkeep:

  • Keep a sponge handy for quick wipes of the counter every time you exit.
  • The mirror gets water and toothpaste splashed at regular intervals. Keep a spray bottle of homemade cleaner and a soft cotton cloth under the sink. Spray and wipe at least once a day.
  • Make your own cleaner for the countertop and the mirror by mixing equal parts vinegar and water. Vinegar has the added benefit of being both a disinfectant and a deodorizer. The smell dissipates the minute it dries.
  • Straight vinegar will clean your bathroom bowl.
  • When your counters need a good scrub, use baking soda! Add a little water and you’ll have a natural cleaning paste.
  • Remove and recycle the plastic wrap from around your soap. Soaps last longer when they’ve been dried out a bit.

 

Find the whole article from our friends at Gaiam.com (including complete checklist) here!

Celebrating Quirky Men!

The statement, “Eat more kale” sounds like something you might hear from Dr. Oz, Kris Carr or anyone at a health food store, but when a Vermont man named Bo Muller-Moore took the slogan to a t-shirt, he got some very  surprising resistance. The fast food chain Chik-fil-A filed a cease-and-desist letter for infringement on it’s slogan “Eat mor chikin.”

In Bo’s words, “Cease and desist? Like hell. I’ve decided to fight.” Choosing to stand up for the little guy,  this man is a lesson in courage and determination. Now he’s making a documentary, aptly titled, “A Defiant Dude” that earned a landslide of Kickstarter funds. Like his cause? Find him on Facebook!

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/05/us/eat-more-kale-t-shirts-challenged-by-chick-fil-a.html

 

Bob Carey’s Tutu Project began as a heartfelt way to help his wife beat breast cancer for the second time. He wanted to give her the gift of laughter and began taking pictures of himself—a chubby, middle-aged man—in a pink tutu. These beautifully shot, funny, and often poignant, profiles capture the sadness, joy, and confusion of his journey.

http://www.thetutuproject.com/

-Compiled by Courtney Sorrell

How Will You Celebrate Earth Day?

For 41 years, Earth Day has been commemorated on April 22—a day for green-thinking people to join together to celebrate, educate, and take action in the name of a healthier planet. Of course, the catch is that in order to truly make a difference, Earth Day should be something we strive to celebrate in small ways every single day, instead of just one day in April every year. Still, though—just as New Year’s resolutions give us the chance to examine our lives and see the places we can grow, Earth Day is an opportunity to assess our ecological footprint and pledge to make changes for the better.

Here are some of our favorite Earth Day ideas from around the web. How do you plan on spending Earth Day? What will you pledge this year?

Bring farm-fresh foods to your kids’ school: An exceptional article in Whole Living shares suggestions on how to green up the lunches (both nutritionally and carbon-footprint-wise) in your local schools’ cafeterias, plus 11 other beyond-the-CFL-lightbulb ideas on how to truly make a difference for the planet.

Make a public eco-pledge on Facebook: A Facebook app won’t save the world, but A Billion Acts of Green still gives you the opportunity to make a public pledge to do one (or 12) green things this week for Earth Day. You can also read and take inspiration from what other people have pledged.  Simply follow the link above to make your pledge.

Lose 10 tons of CO2 (and save money while you’re at it): The average American is responsible for more than 20 tons of heat-trapping pollution being emitted into the atmosphere each year. Small changes in your home and lifestyle can drastically cut your carbon footprint; just follow the 12 step program listed over at the National Resources Defense Council’s website.

Share Earth Day with your children: Turn Earth Day into an opportunity to spend time with your children outdoors, engaged in activities that help them understand important lessons like conservation, preservation, and appreciation of the natural world. Plant a tree together, plan a wildlife garden, have a scavenger hunt in the backyard, go for a hike and bring a wildlife identification guide. For more kid-friendly ideas, check out The Nature Lady blog.

Learn a tip a day: Journalist Mindy Pennybacker’s blog, greenerpenny.blogspot.com, is a great resource for green living ideas and eco conundrums, such as which plastics are safest for human health, or the best types of cookware for the environmentally conscious kitchen.

Dedicate your yoga practice: It might still be too cold for yoga outdoors, but you can still take a moment to dedicate your practice and send out a little love to the Earth. For other yogi-friendly ideas on making the most of Earth Day, check out this post on yogajournal.com.

Green Your Spring Cleaning Routine

Citrus contains excellent natural cleaning enzymes. Image via apartmenttherapy.com

Spring is finally, slowly, creeping in, and we are finding ourselves struck by the itch to throw open the windows (or crack them, when we remember that 45 degrees really isn’t that warm) and start cleaning.

The commercial cleaning industry has undergone its own green revolution in recent years, with many companies offering eco-friendly products that get the job done without harsh chemicals, petroleum-based surfactants, and phosphate, a common laundry and dish detergent ingredient that pollutes lakes and rivers by encouraging rapid algae growth. (Though there are still a lot of products that use these nasty ingredients, which is why it’s so very important to read labels!)

While we applaud big cleaning product companies for getting with the program, we’re big fans of making our own green cleaning products at home. Assembling a home green cleaning kit is super easy—not to mention a big money saver—and there are tons of green cleaning recipes around the internet.

The basics ingredients for a green cleaning kit?

-Baking soda

-White vinegar

-Borax (found in most grocery stores’ cleaning aisles)

-A few essential oils

-Unscented castille soap (like Dr. Bronner’s)

-Water

-Fresh and/or dried herbs

Armed with these ingredients and some handy recipes (see links below), you can tackle just about any cleaning project around the house. Plus, your home will smell wonderful, and you can rest assured that you aren’t exposing yourself, your family or the environment to harmful fumes and chemicals. Happy spring cleaning!

A few links for green cleaning recipes:

Planet Green: Assemble a Green Cleaning Kit

The Daily Green: Easiest Green Cleaning Recipes

Apartment Therapy’s Re-Nest: 25 DIY Green Cleaning Recipes

Monday Fun: Organic Dairy Rap Video

A cheeky rap video spoof from a UK organic dairy farm had us busting a gut this morning… while wondering how they pulled off those awesome tractor wheelies. Proof that eco-conscious organizations don’t have to be all doom-and-gloom to get their point across.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOHAUvbuV4o&fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0]

Yes! More on this Yeo Valley Organic Milk video, including a link to a behind-the-scenes vid from the director, at Grist.