Category Archives: Environmental hacks

Life hack: How to make everyone happy for Easter – happy wallet, happy child, happy Earth

One of the issues I have with holidays is not just the impact on my wallet, but the waste they create.  At Easter, one of the worst things you can buy is that fake grass.  It gets everywhere, you just throw it away after the one use and it goes right into the landfill.  So today’s post will help you avoid the “need” to buy that, as well as a few other items.

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Save money, save Earth and make the kids happy!

Easter Baskets

Easter Baskets are a waste of money.  They usually get damaged and thrown out.  Years ago I purchased plastic bins that we still use.  Buy a sturdy, reusable container.  A bucket, pail, whatever.  Something that can be reused.  This will save you money by avoiding repurchasing wicker baskets every year and is better for Earth.

Plastic Grass

So everyone seems to think they need this stuff to have a proper Easter basket.  But what you really need is some type of filler.  I buy my girls a new outfit instead.  That fills up the bottom of the bin I use and creates a colorful background for what is on top of the outfit.  This also helps the budget as I’m buying them something they need.  You could also opt for new sheets or whatever else can fill the bottom of a bin with some fluff.

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Easter baskets that save the earth

Candy

Most Easter candy is unnecessary.  Do they really need that much?  I’ve opted for one signature item, like a chocolate bunny.  Keep it simple.

Plastic Eggs

If you fill these and hide them, fill them with coins.  Kids love money and it’s useful for them.  Unlike more candy or more tiny toys.  Again, this helps with the wallet and landfill space.  Kids really just love the thrill of finding the eggs and second to that, finding a surprise inside.  Beyond that, it doesn’t matter what is inside.

Gifts

So far I’ve given my kids an outfit and a bunny.  So where are the gifts?  I do buy them usually a small toy and/or something else they may need, like summer shoes (flip flops, Crocs) or books.  Basically, my bunny is practical.  He always has been, so my kids are trained.  But even if your kids are used to more, you can downgrade.  Step by step.  And gifts of things they “need” and what they want often overlap.  If they love Frozen, buy them Frozen flip flops.  It fits both categories.

This year, I’m buying my girls a hollow, chocolate bunny, one clothing item they each requested, one necessity (undergarments for one and an alarm clock for the other) and a book they each wanted (and yes, my 7-year-old wanted a book with vegetarian recipes – there will be a whole other post on that development).

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Easter baskets that save the earth and save money. Budget friendly Easter baskets

By avoiding all the disposable parts of Easter and by limiting the gifting, you can keep the cost of Easter to a minimum while still making your kid happy.  And you can do all this while being more conscientious of our planet.

 

 

 

 

Understanding Standing Rock and How to Help (with any political issue)

Standing Rock has been a huge issue in the news for so many reasons.  In the most general sense, it should teach us what our rights are, how we can enforce them and how we can support a cause, even if we can’t be there in person.

If you haven’t heard the latest update, there has been a temporary reprieve for Standing Rock but the fight isn’t over.  The Army Corps of Engineers denied the easement they were granting to the project.  I believe they chose to do so now, so that the Sioux Tribe would not be forced to continue their mission in the freezing temperatures.  Once Spring arrives, things may change.

This article is to briefly explain the issues behind Standing Rock, how you can support the Sioux Tribe and also how you can support any other political issue that may arise in the future.

Standing Rock Issues (simplified)

So there is the environmental issue – putting an oil pipeline in that could contaminate drinking water, should it fail, is a risk.

At one point President-elect Trump had a financial interest in it creating a political conflict of interest.  He has now sold all (or most) of his interest in it.

There is the Native American sovereignty rights issues – the U.S. Government is disrespecting the rights of the Native American territory and the water that flows through it as well as sacred sites.

Freedom of speech issues – they were threatening reporter Amy Goodman with jail time for simply reporting on the protests.  She was facing criminal charges of rioting and trespassing – for reporting.  The charges were thrown out.  Amy Goodman hosts Democracy Now, an independent news source.  https://www.democracynow.org/

There is the freedom to assemble issue – the “protectors” are being treated more like criminals.  One went into cardiac arrest.  A horse was killed.  They are being attacked with rubber bullets, pepper spray, water cannons (in subfreezing weather), and other “weapons”.  Attack dogs have bitten many “protectors”.  The county sheriff is now being sued for using/authorizing excessive force.  The Sioux call themselves protectors (of the environment) rather than protestors.

Action you can take

In a general sense, you should always talk to your local congressional representative about anything you want to influence politically.  That is their job.  They are supposed to listen to their constituents and do what they can to represent the interests of their constituents.  If appropriate, talk to your local city council or take it higher, to your senators.

To find your congressperson, go to: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/.

To find your senators, go to: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?OrderBy=state.

With respect to Standing Rock, there has been a call to action floating around the internet.  Specifically, interested persons are requested to contact the following offices:


701-328-2200 ND Office of Governor Dalrymple
701-328-8118 & 701-667-3330 Morton County Sheriff’s Department
701-333-2000 ND National Guard
202 224.2043 Senator of North Dakota
202-456-1111 President Obama

The difficulty in this plan, is that citizens from outside the state, technically have no influence on these state offices.  However, showing our support is always a step in the right direction. 

Contacting the President is usually of minimal help as their office is so busy with the issues of the world, that an individual complaint doesn’t go as far as it would when complaining to a local representative.  However, that being said, when you care enough about an issue and cannot actually get out there and do anything to support your issue, calling the President is something that can easily be done.

You can also stop doing business with businesses that support what you are protesting.  So in this case, there are many companies that are invested in this pipeline.  You can withdraw your business.  If enough people do this, it will have an impact.  However, you also need to make it known that you are moving your business because of this reason.  If you simply close an account, a huge conglomerate won’t know why.  They will think it’s part of everyday business.  Attached are a few links that discuss the businesses involved in this pipeline.

http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/news/who%27s-banking-dakota-access-pipeline#.WDvTs8pL5MI.facebook

https://www.democracynow.org/2016/9/6/whos_investing_in_the_dakota_access

There are also many petitions circulating around the internet.  Change.org has many petitions already circulating about issues people care about.  If you don’t find one on your topic, they will let you make one.

With any issue you care about, don’t wait until the last minute to gather troops.  Generate concern and circulate information early.

How to Help Endangered Bees

bee-1575236_1920.jpgAccording to a recent article by CNN, 7 species of bees are now, officially, endangered.  This is serious.  But what does it mean and what can we do?  Below is just a quick bit about what is going on and what you can do.

The CNN article covers a little of the latest bee news and why it’s important.  http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/01/us/hawaii-bee-species-endangered/

Essentially, “Native pollinators (bees and such) in the US provide essential pollination services to agriculture which are valued at more than $9 billion annually”.  Meaning, if our native pollinators don’t exist, our government is going to be spending a lot of money trying to reproduce that same effect.

But why would they spend so much of our limited funds to recreate pollination?  “During pollination, insects, birds and bats transfer pollen between plants, which allows them to make seeds and reproduce.”  As in, without pollination, plants will not reproduce.  No new plants.  Or at least a severe reduction.  This means less food.  Not just for us, for wildlife too.  What will hummingbirds do if they have no food? There are many living beings that live off flower nectar or other plant parts that will become scarce when the planet is no longer being pollinated.  Our entire circle of life will be disrupted.

Vanishing of the Bees, a 2007 documentary, shows how beekeepers first noticed the decline of the bees, the collapse of colonies and what they think it’s from.

The questions we need to ask are: If 1/3 of our food source dries up, how will we eat?  If the bees are being poisoned from pesticides, why do we continue to support those foods?  Why doesn’t our government do more to stop this?  But what it really comes down to, is how important are the bees to you?  Personally, I am willing to pay more for organic food.  And not just because it’s better for me.  But it’s better for the planet.  It’s better for the animals around those crops.  It’s better for those field workers.  There is a way to support those people, animals and insects.  Buy organic.  Even if you buy less so it fits into your budget, even if you have to stop buying so much junk food; buy organic.

You can also help the bees by purchasing this shirt.  No, I am not affiliated with this company.  I’m just passing along a tip to help our world in whatever way possible.  Please note, these shirts are made with organic cotton.  Did you know that conventional cotton hurts bees (inadvertently)????  Know what you’re buying!  http://www.honeycolony.com/shop/bee-the-change-teeshirt/.

If you are aware of any bee-supporting legislation or other activities that need support, let us all know!  Share in the comments below!  And share this article.  The more people know, the better!

Life hacks: 5 ways to reduce your landfill impact: Party time

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Our society is so wasteful.  And our parties are at the height of this.  We buy disposable products for every aspect of the event.  Decorations.  Plates.  Cups.  Gift bags.  Pinatas.  Invitations.

There are many ways to reduce the impact a party normally places upon our landfill space.

Decorations

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For my daughter’s Frozen themed birthday party a few years ago, I used a Frozen shower screen as a backdrop, instead of purchasing a bunch of disposable decorations.  The screen could be reused and it created a great backdrop for pictures.

Flowers or using outside space can be a great way to decorate naturally.  A friend of mine used potted succulents as her wedding centerpieces to avoid the waste involved in killing so many flowers.  They were beautiful.

I also use the food as my decorations.  The cake, a watermelon in the shape of a ladybug, cake pops or sugar sticks or any other candy (which could also double as a part of the ultimate gift bag gift).  They can all make a setting really cute and fun.  Without a lot of waste product.

There are many natural ways to decorate, without creating so much waste.

Pinatas

OK so you don’t want to give that up?  How about making your own?  At least you would be using recycled materials, for the most part.  And a homemade one probably will not have quite so many ribbons and so forth that further pollute our world.

Here’s a short Youtube video on how to make one.

Reusable Serving Ware

If you are having a party at home, is it at all possible to use your plates?  Sometimes this simply isn’t possible.  But the more items you can use from your home, the better.  Even if it’s just the serving spoons, every little bit helps.  I’ve noticed that depending on the party, I can sometimes use a lot of my personal supplies.  If that’s not possible, perhaps purchasing cups as part of the party gift is one way to cut down on landfill space.

Party Activities & Gifts

girl-358294.jpgIn the past I’ve been able to find activities for the kids which also double for their party gift.  I try to give them something that can be used for a while, rather than stickers or things that will be thrown out soon.  For example, I supplied paints for a jar and soil and succulents for the jar, once dry.  So they had an in-party activity and a party gift to go.  Something that was easy to care for and may last for a while.  A mason jar could serve a similar purpose.  Drink holder and perhaps could be decorated as well.

Invitations & Thank You’s

This is essentially addressed in one of my prior blogs, which can be viewed at: https://lifehackquicktips.wordpress.com/2016/05/16/life-hack-super-easy-ways-to-reduce-your-landfill-impact-paper/

If you have additional ways to reduce our impact on our landfills, please let me know!  I’d love to hear them.

Life hack: 3 Random Ways to Save Water (you never would have thought of)


In California, we are in a long term drought.  And even when we get out of our drought (which we do from time to time), it’s always a good idea to conserve water.  I’m not going to discuss shutting off water when brushing teeth, taking shorter showers and that kind of stuff.  You’ve heard it before.  These are just some random ideas to save you some extra money and save water too.

Reuse the remaining water in your glass

So you have a glass of water that you don’t finish.  Whatever causes you to have a little extra water in a glass that you will not drink, start a collection of “undrinkable” water.  Maybe your dog’s water is gross, add that in too.  When you have a glass-full or perhaps a tupperware-full, use it to water potted plants.  While this may sound so minor,considering I rarely need to water my plants with “new” water, it overall, saves me tons for money over the year and gallons of water. 

Reuse bath water

I reuse bath water to water my plants.

The first step here is to use as little water in the first place.  If the bath is for a baby, putting the kid in the sink or in a “baby tub” that fits inside your own bath tub will save lots of water and be much safer for your kid as the kid will fit in it better than an adult size tub. Also, depending on the baby tub, you may be able to simply pick it up and carry it outside to the plants.

Most of the time, little kids don’t get that dirty and I either don’t use soap on them or use biodegradable shampoo and soap.

If the bath is for an adult, such as myself, I again try to use all biodegradable soaps and try to monitor just how much water I really need in the tub.  For a full bath, I fill up large pots with the bath water and just take them outside to water the plants.

The task can be tedious, but when water bills skyrocket (which they do in Southern California), my plants appreciate the extra watering and I appreciate the ability to water them for free.  Just make sure you aren’t using toxic chemicals (found in most bath products) to water your garden!

Don’t scrub your dirty dishes

One way in which people waste a lot of water is in trying to scrub dirty dishes.  There is no need to scrub dirty dishes (and certainly no need to run water over them while cleaning them).  If you have a pile of dishes, some with caked on food, just put the hard to clean dishes in the sink.  Turn your faucet (while off) so that it is pointed over those dishes.  Take your other dishes (those that you need to simply rinse or those that you must hand wash-such as china), and clean those over the difficult to clean dishes.  As you use water for those hand-wash only dishes, the excess water will fall on to the dishes with the caked on food.  That food will soften as the water hits.  But you will not be using any water specifically for that purpose.  

Most of the time, by the time I have rinsed a few dishes, I can easily wipe off the previously difficult-to-remove food.  Then I put the next difficult dish under the next few dishes I’m rinsing and repeat.

An alternative to this, especially if you have many difficult to clean dishes, is to let a little water be poured on to each difficult dish and then put them aside.  If you come back in a few minutes (sometimes 1 minute, sometimes 10) you can usually wipe off the food without a fight.  Again, this avoids the need for pouring lots of water on the dishes while you scrub.  It also avoids the annoying task of scrubbing. 

The key is to not waste water specifically trying to scrub food off dishes.  You will just waste water, waste time scrubbing and waste money, when using one of the above ideas would save you all three.

If I get a chance to pile up some dishes, I’ll create a video to demonstrate.  

 

 

Life hack: Super easy ways to reduce your landfill impact: paper

There are so many ways to reduce your impact on the environment.  This is a list of a few ways to reduce paper usage.  Paper usage has a huge impact on our environment and our landfill space.

Electronic Invitations

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You’ve probably already used a company such as Evite at some point.  These types of invitations were once considered informal or cheap.  Well they are free!  But they are no longer considered rude or inappropriate for even formal events.  And by paying a fee, you can get “upgraded” invite options.  Evite has even been used for weddings.  So use a company such as Evite.com and save some trees!

Electronic Thank You’s

http://www.redstamp.com

While you can use a company such as Evite to also send out Thank You “cards”, I prefer Red Stamp.  With Red Stamp, you can take a photo, write words on top of it and text or email it to whomever you intend the “thank you”.  So, for example, you can take a picture of you and your new gift, write “Thank you so much.  I love it!” on the photo and text it to your friend.  Or take a picture of you and your guest and later send it to that guest with a message such as, “So glad you could come”.

There are other companies out there as well and other ways to do this.  But Red Stamp is very easy to use.  The best part about this type of “Thank you card” is that you’ll actually do it!

Electronic Lists

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I keep a running grocery list in the Notes section of my phone.  While a grocery list does not use a lot of paper, perhaps an idea like this will lead to using “Notes” more often for you.  I know it has for me.  If I hear something on the radio, or if someone recommends a book to me, I put it into the Notes.  I also never lose my “notes” anymore.

Another way to avoid a paper grocery list (let’s face it, you leave it at home every time anyway), is to keep a running list on on a dry erase board in the kitchen.  Take a photo of it before you go to the store (again, if you can remember).  Delete it when done.

Electronic Calendar

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This is a hard one for people to adjust to.  They fight this a lot.  But once you get used to it, it really is convenient.  First, you won’t forget your book at home.  Your phone is always with you.  Second, depending on how involved your life is, you can sync your calendar with work, other people of your family, etc.  So you can use the calendar on your phone.  If you want something else, there are sooo many options out there that I will leave that research to you.  But I will mention just a few, both of which require a Google account and have good reviews: Google calendar and Sunrise calendar.

The key is to give this a try.  You will get used to it and most likely, will eventually prefer the electronic options.  And, of course, you’ll be saving the environment as well.

Life Hack: Learn how to do ANYTHING!

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People are always trying to save money, save time, save energy but they don’t know how.  They hire professionals for every aspect of their lives.  So how can this be avoided?  The internet is one of the most obvious ways.  That will be the focus for today – a few websites that are the most helpful for learning how to do anything.

There are so many other helpful sites out there.  But if you don’t know where to find them or what they may be called, I find that a quick search on one of the following 3 sites usually will lead me to what I need, whether it’s a website for a life event, saving money or fixing things.

Youtube.com

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As most people know, You Tube is a site with videos.  But before you ever hire another professional, type in what you need into You Tube.  You may be able to handle it yourself.  The search can be a full sentence of just a few keywords.  Just a few random searches to help you get the idea:

How to harvest rainwater

How to live off the grid

How to add more hair to a wig

How to fix rattling sound in car (insert your car info)

How to knit

Pinterest.com

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So Pinterest is like reading a magazine.  Just type in your topic that you want to learn about/see.  For this search you just type in the keywords.  So for example:

Repair doll hair

Kid camp ideas (this will pull up ideas, places, games, etc)

Ab exercises

Cheap travel (for tips on where to go, what to do, how to do it, etc)

Car maintenance (for how to change every fluid, replace tires, anything!)

For any of these searches on Pinterest, if you find an article that you like, it usually comes from a blog and you can then dig through that blog.  Depending on the focus of that blog, you may want to follow that blog and really get more thorough information on your topic.

Google.com

Yahoo.com 

or any search engine

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An internet search engine can assist with any search.  What can be helpful with a more general search like this is that it can lead you to several blogs or websites that discuss your topic.  You can then look further into each blog/website to see if one focuses on the type of information you really want.  For example, you may be looking for an article on how to make a vegan friendly meal.  But in general, you want a blog that posts all kinds of food, not just vegan.  If you type in vegan meals you will find the article you need.  But you will then find sites completely dedicated to vegan meals, and other sites related to health issues while others may be all food.  So a general search engine can give you a broader result.  And again, you can type in keywords or a full sentence.  For example:

Vegan meals

How to increase lung capacity

Pros and cons to homeschooling

How do I take a screenshot

How to fix a leaky faucet

If you can’t find what you need on one of these 3 sites, I’m not sure it’s out there!  If you have a preferred way to find/learn things on the internet, leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear it!

 

 

 

Quick tips: Super easy ways to reduce your impact on landfills – baby products

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Reduce your impact on landfills – baby products

Babies can be extremely detrimental to the environment.  Hence the super cute photo.  These days there are so many products that are good quality and better for the environment than the standard baby products.  The following is a list of items that now come in recyclable or reusable form.  I’ve also listed a few of the companies for your convenience.  This list is certainly not exhaustive but meant to be an introductory guide.

Baby wipes

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Reducing your impact on landfills – baby products

http://www.Naty.com – biodegradable

http://www.honest.com – biodegradable

There are many other brands that are not biodegradable but are made with recycled materials and produce less waste.

Diapers

 

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Reducing your impact on landfills – baby products

 

 

http://www.Naty.com – as close to biodegradable as possible

http://www.dy-dee.com is one company that offers doorstep drop off and pick up for cloth diapers.

http://www.gdiapers.com – reusable cloth diapers with disposable inserts

Shampoo/soap

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Reducing your impact on landfills – baby products

http://www.Naty.com – biodegradable

http://www.honest.com – biodegradable

This is one of the easiest products to find.  There is no need to use a baby shampoo on a baby.  Use a biodegradable one.  If it can’t harm the earth, how will hurt your baby ?  Shampoo/conditioner/body washes like often have much healthier ingredients than the typical baby products.

Laundry detergent

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Reducing your impact on landfills – baby products

http://www.seventhgeneration.com/ – biodegradable.  Although here is an article comparing several brands: http://grist.org/article/its-a-wash/

http://www.ecos.com – biodegradable

There are lots of brands that are biodegradable.  Again, no need to buy a “baby detergent”.  All they are claiming is to be gentle.  What could be more gentle than a biodegradable product?

Baby products

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Reduce your impact on landfills – baby products

Keep in mind that car seats, strollers, swings, etc. can all be reused.  If your friend already had a kid, use their old gear.  There is no need to buy everything new.  If the items have not been damaged, it’s just wasteful for everyone to buy them.  And, of course, don’t forget to recycle your baby gear when you are done with it.  Left over diapers (unused of course), clothes, etc.  Give it to a friend or Goodwill.