Spice plants sitting on a table.

How to Incorporate a Greener Life

No matter where you turn these days, the world is “going green”. It’s amazing how quickly the trend toward a greener life has spread. Thankfully, this trend is actually something to be excited about because it is creating a better world for the generations ahead of us. With climate change, we can no longer look the other way when it comes to being efficient, mindful and definitely not wasteful. Who knew saving the environment and using the earth’s resources in a more responsible way could be so fulfilling? When I think back to years ago, the green movement was in the news, but it seems in recent months to have really taken off because of the urgency to make things right and the emergence of more and more eco-friendly products. Sometimes “going green” sounds intimidating, but in actuality, if all of us take a few small steps we can really make an impact on saving the earth. I hope by reading these ideas, you can incorporate green living into your everyday lifestyle. Take a look at the list below for a few ideas on ways to go green.

Green Products For Your Home

  • It’s a no-brainer to switch to energy-efficient CFL light bulbs, LED type bulbs that last 10 times longer than traditional bulbs.
  • When you’re in the market for a new appliance, choose Energy Star appliances for better efficiency
  • A full freezer is easier to keep cool, so fill it up.
  • Embrace smart green living and download apps that help control lighting and your thermostat when you are not home.
  • Installing ceiling fans throughout your home will make the actual temperature feel lower than it actually is. (This is doubly effective for homes with high vaulted ceilings)
  • Repurpose glass containers and jars into food storage or lunch containers instead of using plastic
  • Choose a cast iron skillet over nonstick varieties to avoid ingesting chemicals.
  • Use cloth napkins, diapers, dish towels, and anything that’s a reusable choice over paper products.
  • Opt for PVC-free and BPA free plastic for all types of household products.
  • Look for “Fair Trade” on labels and support smaller businesses.
  • Use reusable bags when grocery shopping. If you have an abundance of plastic grocery bags, then continue to reuse them. They last a very long time.
  • Choose to paint your home with Zero-VOC or low-VOC paint. There are countless colors and types on the market today.
  • Purchase a vacuum with a HEPA filter and remove more allergens and contaminants from your home’s air.
A closeup of a man using a vacuum on a hardwood floor
Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter removes allergens and contaminants from your home

Eco-Friendly Products For Everyday Use

  • Using liquid flea prevention medicine, you apply once a month is a greener choice than using flea collars. The pesticides on the collars are often harmful and are potentially a human carcinogen.
  • A reusable water bottle keeps plastic disposable bottles out of your daily life and also promotes the healthy habit of drinking more water. Take it with you in the car, to the office, or at the gym.
  • Reuse gift wrap, ribbon, and gift bags.
  • Coconut oil is an all-natural facial cleanser, make-up remover and moisturizer. It also works wonders when shaving your legs and styling and moisturizing your hair, not to mention it smells great too.
  • Grow your own spices for a fresh, sustainable twist when preparing meals.

The Perfect Eco-Friendly Hobbies

  • Plant a garden filled with vegetables and herbs, then remember at the end of the season to freeze your final harvest so you can enjoy all winter long.
  • Create a compost bin
  • Collect rainwater and reuse for watering your garden and plants.
  • If you’re unable to grow anything or simply don’t have the space, then shop at your local farmer’s Market and buy local. 
  • Making your own clothes can be a fun and rewarding hobby and makes great gifts too.
  • Choose all-natural ingredients and make your own household cleaners and detergents.
  • Watering your garden, lawn or flowers is more efficient if done in the morning or evening. Mid-day will have the water evaporating much quicker.
  • Mulching your landscaping also helps provide a barrier so that water absorbs rather than evaporating.
  • Turn Meatless Monday into a more frequent event and add-in another day. Have fun getting creative with your menu and get the whole family involved. Even better, become vegan.

Spice plants sitting on a table.
Home grown spices are a great way to add a new freshness to your meals while going green.

Act Now! Ways You Can Start A Greener Life Today

  • Keep lights off or put them on timers you can control from your smartphone.
  • Skip the warm or hot water settings on your washing machine and wash your laundry in cold water.
  • Fix running toilets and leaky faucets. You’re not only saving water but money, too!
  • When you do laundry or wash dishes, make sure the load is large and the dishwasher is full.  In fact, using your dishwasher over hand-washing your dishes actually uses 1/6 of the water it takes to hand wash according to the EPA.
  • Skip the dryer and let your clothes dry naturally either indoors on racks or outdoors.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use or use power strips
  • Check your home air filters monthly to keep your furnace and AC unit running more efficiently.
  • Lowering your thermostat and water heater temperatures can improve your home’s efficiency and reduce your ecological footprint.
  • If walking or riding your bike is an option for transportation to where you’re going, then by all means use this method.
  • Try to combine all of your errands into one trip rather than going back and forth several times from your house.
  • Visiting a carwash actually uses significantly less water than when you wash your car at home.
  • Be mindful when grocery shopping. On average over 20 pounds of food is thrown away each month.
  • Avoid using disposable paper plates and Styrofoam coffee cups. 
  • Instead of letting clothing and household items you don’t use accumulate or get stored away, why not donate to thrift shops, sell on apps like Poshmark or Let Go, or give to a shelter or charity you like to support.
  • Reading books or watching documentaries about climate change and the environment can be very eye-opening. Sometimes just being mindful can open a door to adopting a whole different lifestyle.
  • Pay bills online as much as possible to avoid paper waste.

Really, the possibilities are endless when it comes to uncovering ways to add greener habits to your daily routine. Try adding in a new one each week, and suddenly you will be living green with a much smaller ecological footprint than you were the year before!

A completed puzzle with different candies printed on it.

Cost-Effective Holiday Gift Ideas

One of the goals my family and friends have been trying to implement this year has been to think before we spend this holiday season. So, how does someone go into the holiday season not worrying about overspending? Many people gravitate toward gifts with more meaning, something from the heart with a little thought put into it rather than emptying their wallet on the latest trendy gadget or game. While some people are creative enough to make their own holiday gifts, others are not so versatile. So, here are some ideas that hopefully will make the holiday season less expensive and thoughtful for everyone. 

Make a Playlist – The gift of song is something everyone enjoys. But, to actually put an ensemble of songs together for someone can be very personal and meaningful. This is an especially good ideas when thinking of gift ideas for people who may harder to buy for (such as finding gifts for dad). Plus, it’s the gift that keeps on giving all throughout the year every time they press play on their smart device.

Share a Meal – Let’s face it, everyone has to eat. So, besides being a necessity, turn a mealtime into a fun holiday gift idea by cooking something special for someone. You supply the groceries and the recipes or theme for the meal and whip up something delicious. Not only will you be making memories, the food and company will be very much appreciated especially for someone older who may not get enough time with the people they love, or don’t get out much.

Surprise Bag – Aren’t you always amazed at the great things you can find at the Dollar stores? So are we – from art supplies and Christmas decorations to kitchen gadgets and toiletries, these stores have a lot to offer for less. For someone who may have just moved into a new place, a gift of kitchen and household gadgets would be well appreciated. Or, how about a craft basket or storage bin? Fill it with art supplies, construction paper, paints, yarn, glitter, you name it. Just walk around the store and you’ll be surprised how easy it can be to come up with a theme. You can even use this approach to come up with plenty of stocking stuffer ideas.

Feeling Puzzled? – Buy an inexpensive challenging puzzle and spend time helping someone put it together. You can even frame it when completed. Putting a large puzzle together offers a challenge especially for younger children, while at the same time allows you to spend quite a bit of time with this special someone.

A completed puzzle with different candies printed on it.
A colorful, festive puzzle can be a brilliant way to spend times with loved ones while engaging in a fun challenge.

A Gift from the Heart – Spend a minute on Pinterest and you’ll find countless ways to make something for a family member or friend this holiday season. Some of our favorites include candy, sweet treats like cookies, breads or cakes, a gingerbread house, candles, bath salt scrub, mixed spiced nuts or even steak or barbecue seasoning rub. And, if you are too crafty or skillful in the kitchen, then look to Etsy and find someone who is and makes things inexpensively.

A freshly made gingerbread house.
Few gifts are more heartfelt and special than those that clearly show the effort and care that went into their creation.

Garden-inspired – If you’re a gardener, then there are lots of ways to share your garden goodies with others. Clipping some flowers and arranging them in an inexpensive vase is sure to bring a smile to someone’s face. Or, if you love growing veggies and herbs, then a gift of dried herbs or a jar of homemade salsa from your abundance of tomatoes over the summer will be gladly received with joy. A beautiful bouquet of flowers is particularly nice when looking for gifts for mom, and serves as a beautiful centerpiece in main living areas.

A bouquet of flowers on top of a glass table.
A beautiful bouquet can add comfort to your living space while brightening your partners day for weeks to come.

Make an Ornament – Buy a container of ornaments and let the kids decorate away! This is one of those Christmas gift ideas that’s hard to go wrong with. These sweet gestures of love will be a fond memory every year when they get hung on the tree.

Netflix and Chill – If the holiday season has your family and friends going in a thousand different directions, then why not create a gift of relaxation – set time aside to relax and enjoy each other’s company with an evening of movies. Let them select their favorites and you supply the candy and popcorn and the night will be perfect!

Make it Meaningful – Maybe you have a way with words, or the person you’re giving to means so much to you that the feeling of them in your life is easy to put on paper. Write a poem or find a quote or quotes and simply write it down. Put it in a frame or print it on paper in a pretty font. This is a gift that won’t soon be forgotten. 

Your Favorite Book – For all those readers out there, why not take your favorite book from the last year or perhaps a few favorites and pay them forward. Books also tend to make very good gifts for men, as nobody can resist a good story that piques their interests. All fellow readers love to receive a really good book. Then, after they read it, plan a coffee date to talk about it.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – Photos spark memories that last a lifetime. Whether you choose one great photo of you and the person you’ve giving to, or you put together a book or album, it will be cherished especially since it’s rare that anyone develops their photos anymore and they tend to get lost on your smart device.

We hope these ideas motivate you to give from the heart rather than the wallet this year! Happy Holidays! 

Various tools hanging on a wall.

Essential Tools for Every Homeowner

It’s probably happened so many times – you find the perfect curtains or decorative picture to accent your home’s décor, and you completely forget that you don’t have the proper tools to hang them. After searching through junk drawers, the garage, and every other place you can think of, you still can’t find a single tool for such a small task. In order to avoid this frustration in the future, take a look at the list below and hit up your local hardware store to stock up on these few essential tools that every homeowner should have stored somewhere.

  • Tape measure – A 25-foot tape measure that is ¾ inch wide is great for projects around the home. It is ideal for small or large tasks without being cumbersome. It is essential for any home tool kit.
  • Level – Laser levels are fancy and seem extra useful is our technology-crazed world. However, levels are only useful if they are accurate. Invest in one that works, be it laser or the basic bubble that has served so many homes for many years.
  • Screwdrivers (and screws) – At the bare minimum, every toolbox needs a flathead and a Phillips screwdriver. Quality screwdrivers are available in sets of all sizes, so a small set of five different sizes could come in handy. 
  • Hammer (and nails) – A medium weight hammer is best for a variety of tasks around the home. A rubber handle will be good for all grips. Consider investing in a rubber mallet if your hammering needs may be above the average.
  • Pliers – Needle-nosed pliers are all that most homes will ever need.
  • Wrenches – There is some debate over the need for wrenches and which ones. However, like screwdrivers, quality wrenches often come in simple sets that should serve most any need that would arise.
  • Utility knife – Utility knives often come in handy around the home and should be the only cutting tool needed. If interested, a handsaw could also be a wise investment. Few homes truly have the need for circular saws or other pricey machinery, so avoid being sucked into the hype.
A pile of various tools.

The Perfect Places To Store Your Household Tool Kit

The above tools should all be kept in a toolbox or other storage container that has a designated spot within the home. There are no rules about tools- they do not have to be stored in the garage or the basement. Simply find a place that keeps them accessible but inconspicuous when not in use. Also, consider a few other items that may come in handy around the home. Painter’s and duct tape, various glues, pencils and straightedges, and step ladders are all accessories that could make any handy task a little easier and fit perfectly in any household tool kit.

A pile of painting tools on a tarp.

After browsing this list, you probably found more than a few tools you needed at one time or another. These are only a small number of tools that may be a necessity in your house plan. However, these are the basic tools that every homeowner will need to complete most projects and home fixes quickly and with little frustration.