Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day: 7 Tips to Live Simply

Well, it is Earth Day, afterall, so I need to give you some tips on living simply and what endeavors my family has conquered to lighten out load.

#1 Two years ago, we stopped using the dryer. I have a fantastic antique drying rack on the wall in our bathroom and, in the warmer months, I dry outside. This year I am installing a retractable clothes line, as I think we can all agree that clothes lines can become very unsightly in a small yard.

#2 Last year we went paper towel free (except around Christmas when I told Colby he could grab some paper towels since we were having a lot of guest and he took the opportunity to buy the largest case of paper towels he could find!) We now use rags, cloth napkins and, my new favorite this year, Skoy Cloths, which are 100% biodegradable and a great way to keep your home germ free.

#3 This year I finally started my composter. I made a very simple plastic trash can version from this tutorial from Simple Mom. You can also check out my post from last year with some great composting links. I think I have had the composter for about a week now and I am simply shocked at how much waste we produce per day. As Colby noted, we do eat a lot of fruits and vegetables here, so that creates a lot of peelings and cores... so I should expect a good amount of compost in a few months. I have figured out, however, that we will need at least 2 compost bins. Once 1 fills up, it will take a couple of months to 'cook', and in that time, we will need an additional place to put our scraps. Ideally we will be able to switch back and forth between 2.

#4 Last year, I went all natural with most of my cleaning products. You can see my recipes here.

#5 I am a huge proponent/lover of using found items and/or salvage to decorate your home. When I lived in Littleton, New Hampshire, I discovered my first salvage store: ADMAC Salvage. It was like a shoe whore living next to Off Broadway Shoes. I was constantly shopping there for anything from trinkets to cabinets. Not only does the stuff have great personality, you are saving it from a landfill. I have a great island in my kitchen that I built with legs fashioned from stair banisters. I would recommend that everyone go to your local salvage store and take a peek, you'll be shocked at the great stuff they have. In (and around) New Hampshire, we have
ADMAC Salvage
Vermont Salvage
Old House Salvage
Nor'East Architectural Antiques

And for tips on how to decorate green or with found art, check out these sights:
Planet Green
Today Show
Care 2 Green Decorating

#6 We like to donate to stay green.
There are tons of ways to keep your junk out of landfills. One of the best ways is to donate it. We all know the standard donation ideas, but here are some more unique ones:

• Donate old glasses at One Sight: drop off old prescription or nonprescription glasses at your local Lions Club, LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears, Target, or BJ's Optical store (they'll give you a receipt for taxes), or mail them in (and request a receipt)
Donate an old car rather than let it end up in a junk yard. This can be a great tax write-off.
• Donate sneakers in ok condition at Soles4Souls. Soles4Souls facilitates the donations of shoes to aid the hurting worldwide. They coordinated relief efforts for the Asian Tsunami and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, netting over 1 Million pairs donated for these disasters.
• You can also donate sneakers that are not suitable for wearing to Nike's Reuse a Shoe Program. The Reuse-A-Shoe program takes your worn-out kicks and turns them into Nike Grind, a material used in sports surfaces, playgrounds and even new Nike products.
Donate your wedding dress to a metastatic breast cancer patient who will be a bride herself.
Almost anything you have can be donated to a local church or charity and will keep tons of garbage out of our landfills while also saving all the resources of creating a new product.

#7 My newest tactic to live simply is to simplify our bath and beauty products in the house. I officially moved to all Dr. Bronners, which is the 18-in-1 miracle cleaner. You can use this one cleaner for baby, body soap, shampoo, shaving, face, mouth rinse (yucky), hand soap, laundry... and the list goes on. You can buy it in a gallon jug, which saves all of the plastic from all those little plastic bottles. And it is pretty concentrated, so it is really cost effective. I did get the mild baby version so that our whole family can use it, but they have a wonderful peppermint, a tea tree, and the yummiest almond version (among many others.) And the best part? This product ranks a '1' on the Cosmetics Database, which is pretty near perfect. This means I can use it with my girls with no fear of cancer or extra boobies growing! Fantastic.

Sooo, what are you doing to live simply?


  1. I love my rags. We use white face cloths that I bought in bulk from target and walmart. I usually just change them out once a day and add them to the laundry.

    I am also trying to hang dry our clothes more often. We have huge clothes lines in our basement right next to the washer and I am trying hard to make better use of them!!

    OH...AND if you really want to know...hubby and I conserve water by showering together whenever we can *grin* that TMI?

  2. I love my clothesline! Champ and Bear got it for me last year and it's a pulley type one, so I can clip and zip all my clothes super fast.

    Yay for Vermont Salvage!!! We have visited White River Junction many a time in search of a "find".

  3. You have inspired me to use my clothesline this year. I think it will be good too because it causes less wear on the kiddo's clothes! I just did a huge purging of Natey's clothes and put a lot of work in to consign them. I used part of the money to buy clothes from the consignment slae. Doing my part to reuse that way. As for papertowels, this is my ultimate weakness. I love them. I think I should try to break that habit trying a week without them. :o)

  4. kudos!

    I love this, and I really love that you've inspired others to be greener!

    And Dr.B's is truly a wonder. If more people would just see how much it can do around the house just think how much more room people would have in their cabinets and how much less they would buy down the poison aisles in the stores.