Posts tagged green

Get Warm and Save Money

It’s hard for me to imagine it, here in Florida where we are all still sweltering in a solar sauna, but it is winter already in many parts of the country. I saw yesterday that it was snowing somewhere already! Wow. I would love a single day below 85 degrees! But even so, it got me thinking about how expensive winter is and how it is hard to stay warm in a tough economy. I have family up there, facing the blast on less money this year, worrying about the heating bills. So it gave me the motivation to look around for some solutions.

I wrote a few posts last year on insulating the home and how to winterize the home cheaply and easily. I thought it was time for an update, with some new ideas thrown in. So if you’re starting to shiver and find yourself shopping on ebay for sweaters, then maybe you can use some of these tips. I promise I will only focus on ideas that cost very little but will work. And, of course, I will stick to the natural side of things and not go suggesting you add abestos! (lol). So, if you’re getting chilly and want to cut back on the green stuff you spend, then give my list a read. It will only take a minute.

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DIY: A More Natural Halloween

Oh, I know it seems kinda early to be talking about Halloween but when it comes to DIY projects it sometimes takes awhile to get it all together and no one wants to be rushed at the last minute. So I thought I’d throw out some good ideas for a natural, crafty type of Halloween so you’d have time to work on it if you wanted to. Some of these ideas are really scary so be careful how you use them; if you have religious friends who are easily offended, keep that in mind. If you have kids who are easily frightened, keep that in mind as well. There are ideas that are not scary at all and will be enjoyed by everyone. I also have ideas if you want to throw a party, so those of you are up for that will find something as well.

I tried to find ideas that required few ingredients or steps so that people with skinny wallets or rushed schedules could work in a project or two. So here we go, from the sweetest to the scariest, in that order:

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Are All Plastics Dangerous?

With all the grim news about plastics and plastic products, with much of this information already presented in my posts here on this blog, it brings to mind the question of whether there are safe plastics or not. Are all plastics poison? Or are there some that we can handle without fear? This question interested me so I thought I’d investigate.

Looking around on the web, I found quite a few articles about the dangerous chemicals in plastic and why plastic is dangerous to the human body. It took a little more digging and research to pull together a list of plastics and plastic products that are more benign. Here is what I discovered about both, in a handy, easy to reference, list:

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Herbal Papermaking Part 2

I know it’s been a long time but I thought I’d finish up on my herbal papermaking series. For those of you who thought you might learn how to make your own paper out of herbs I apologize. Now you can finally go out and get the few items you need to finish the process. In this post, I will tackle the methods for preparing the plant pulp, decorating the paper and adding scents to the finished product as well as discussing how to use recycled paper pulps and finishing off with a recipe for making paper for the first time.

The next post I will publish on this art will be recipes for making your own herbal inks so you can not only make herbal papers, scent and decorate them yourself but you can make herbal inks to use on the paper. This makes a lovely end product and it’s a really fun, productive project for crafters. Pretty soon you will be saving a few trees in the process as you learn to make paper pulp, recycle paper pulp and make your own paper products out of foraged herbs. Nothing could be cheaper.. or more green!

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Save Money and Live Better

I have been living below the poverty line for years. I haven’t worked a day job in a very long time. I do work on the internet and make money there but the amount is far less (at this time) than one would make at a 9-5 job. However, I do not live in a tent, I actually live in a nice townhouse with my sister and elderly father. But I must admit that we don’t buy new stuff all the time, we recycle everything, we are not consumed with having the “next big thing” and use “cheezy old stuff” as much as possible, stuff everyone else throws out but works fine.

There is a sanity in what most Americans consider crazy. The idea that we must have shiny, new and expensive is a really bad idea that has driven our culture to the edge of sustainability. And why are you driving yourself to an early grave chasing more and more money when what you already have can save you lots of money and, better yet, what your foolish neighbor tosses out can benefit your life for free! In fact, I know several people who make their entire living on what other folks throw out. And, no, I don’t spend hours every day refinishing, reburshing or repairing… I am not any more handy than you.

So how do we live in a nice home and manage to feed ourselves every month? For one thing, there are a huge number of things you can do every day to save money and retain a pleasant lifestyle that allows for free time and fun. You have to learn how to stretch your money and make it work for you every day. This does not only entail budgeting and controlling expenses, it requires a change of mindset. You cannot continue to look at used items, refurbished items, things you can get for free, etc… as junk. All of it is just as useful as new stuff if it works fine. We are a consume and toss society and that is simply not working for us, it’s driving us into the poor house and wrecking the planet, to boot. So perhaps it’s time to reign it in.

If you are ready to give it a try and make the big leap to changing your way of thinking, then here are some suggestions I would like to make. These are some things that you can slowly integrate into your lifestyle to start loosening that stranglehold that material consumption has got you into. So take a deep breath and relax. It’s time to live for more than just money.

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Green Cigarettes

Not only are cigarettes bad for you but they are also hard on the planet. Tobacco as a crop is prone to disease and insects love to eat it so it is constantly sprayed with various chemicals and pesticides. These end up in the environment, as well as your body, and pollute soil and water. Common pesticides that are used in Tobacco insect control include DDT, Aldrin and Dieldrin, which are not allowed on food crops but can be used on the stuff you smoke. Nice to know your lungs are full of DDT, no? But these horrible chemicals also contribute significantly to ozone depletion. As I already noted, they seep into the local water supply, not good for those living on these tobacco plantations or in neighboring villages.

The production of tobacco crops uses more than six kilometers of paper per hour, which equals about 600 million trees a year. Consider that fact the next time you are signing a petition on rainforest destruction while having a smoke. And did you know that even the filters are bad for the environment? They are not biodegradable and they end up in the landfill and in garbage piles everywhere for decades. Since butts are the single most littered item in the U.S. and worldwide, cigarettes may be, in fact, the least environmentally friendly item out there.

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Summer Craft Project: Sunflower Wreath

Summer Wreath Project: Sunflower

This is a design of my own that I came up with a few years back and have made every other year or so since. It is a really pretty wreath when finished and it brightens up any room. It doesn’t involve a lot of expensive ingredients and all of it is easy to find in craft stores and even Wal-Mart. Cheer up the sunroom this year with this lovely wreath.

What you will need:

Large Eucalyptus Leaves
Lemon Leaves
Floral Wire
Wire Wreath Base (the larger the better!)
Cattails or Bottlebrush Anthers
Spanish Moss
Floral Picks
Floral Glue

Simple Instructions:

Using floral glue or hot glue gun, grab handfuls of the Spanish Moss and attach it to the wire frame with the glue. Bunch it so that it does not stick out of the sides or straggle. Also pad it down (taking out extra if need be) to make it lay flat and not be “bumpy”. Wire it in if need be to make it lay flat. But also make sure it is thick and covers the wire frame completely. I have found that wrapping the bunches of moss and the wire frame over with the floral wire helps to make it even and tight.

Next, sort out the large Eucalyptus Leaves and bunch them together in a group of 4 of 5. Wire them together and then tack them to the wire frame. Tack bunches closely together all around the frame so that it covers the frame. Allow the leaves to point in different directions to give the wreath a full and fluffy look.

Group together the anthers in bunches of 5 and wire together as a group. Tie in two groups of 5 anthers on each side of the wreath, measuring on average 1/4 length from the top and the bottom of the wreath sides. Make them even to the eye. You should have two bunches of anthers on each side. See photo for clarity.

Plug in the large Yarrow heads at the very top and very bottom of the wreath. Make sure they are balanced and then wire them in. Push Lemon leaves in behind the Yarrow all the way around to make them look like Sunflowers. Glue them in with the glue gun or floral glue or use the floral picks.

The finished wreath smells fantastic and looks gorgeous when fresh. It dries gracefully as well, I have one that is several years old that is still hanging. This wreath loses its smell about every 2 years so it’s a good idea to make a new one every so often. Have fun!

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Wash Your Clothes in Green Soap

I have done a lot of posts in the past that have covered the area of cleaning the home and doing it in an environmentally safe and non toxic fashion. But there is always more to discuss, as the concept of cleaning goes beyond just scrubbing the tub and scraping the stove. You also clean your clothes, your body and the outside area of your residence. In truth, all of this cleaning requires chemicals of various kinds and even the stuff you are sudsing up with in the shower can be toxic both to the planet and to you.

Consider first the washing of clothes. Did you know that only the toilet wastes more water than the washing machine in the average household? It’s that wasteful… and expensive! And as that water drains out, it takes with it the chemicals from your laundry detergent. This means they end up in the drinking water supply and how do they clean drinking water? With chlorine and other chemicals, all of which amplify the toxicity of the detergents you use. While popular, name brand detergents do a great job cleaning your clothes, they also do major damage in the environment. They also have an effect on you and your family, either on the front end where they contact your flesh through the wearing of the washed clothing… or on the other end where they end up in your glass.

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A Tough Non Toxic Cleaning Solution

It is always a dilemma for those of us who want our world to be clean and really clean when faced with choices of what to use while considering both our own health and our environment. I have found, over the years, that many cleaning products sold in retail stores are sensitizing at the least, generally toxic and often downright dangerous. As a young woman, I made my living cleaning other people’s houses and made quite a good living at it. It was hard work, of course, but not bad for your health in that regard. Yet I was exposed to some of the most dangerous solutions made by man; germicidal algae destroyers, scum strippers, wax removers, wood stains, aluminum greasers and shiners, as well as the regular old poisons, bleach and ammonia. I remember smoking my cigarette through bleached white fingers. And, over time, I would get dizzy, nauseous, light headed, breathless and downright stupid, just out of the blue and often after scrubbing down a couple of houses. In time, even our customers began to complain. Being clean, I learned over time, did not necessarily mean sandblasting the world with chemicals.

Of course, smoking didn’t help, either. Thank God I was able to quit.. and no longer do it. So no comments about that, please! And look for my future post, coming up shortly, on the toxic chemicals in cigarettes and some natural, non toxic and herbal recipes for your own safer, cheaper, homemade cigarette. But it wasn’t until cleaning chemicals became a real problem for my health that I began to make different choices. It is just too easy to snatch up the bottle of ammonia to clean the windows and the bleach to clean up the countertops. Commerical products are cheap and accessible, ready to use and easy to store. Just push a button or pull a trigger and wipe! Wow. Everything is clean… and possibly dangerous. If you are curious about what I am talking about here, then read my posts on detergents , air fresheners and dangerous chemicals and how they affect you and your family. And when you are ready to consider a simple, easy, inexpensive and non toxic solution that will tackle just about every cleaning problem you have, then read on. I even have a recipe for you to try today.

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Fluffy and Fido Go Green

A lot of the stuff you use on your pet, from food to flea dips, are toxic and bad not only for the furry friends but for the planet too. Here are some quick suggestions for changes you can make that will be good for you, the kids, the pets and the planet.

Natural First Aid

For smaller accidents like cuts, scrapes, minor burns, you do not need to use OTC meds. For most of these, a simple application of fresh Aloe Vera will take care of the problem. Instead of meds for vomiting, try using Activated Charcoal. For hairballs or constipation, give organic vegetable oil. For fleas, try washing the animal with the following rinse: Pour 2 packed cups of fresh Peppermint, Rosemary or Pennyroyal into a large pot. Pour over with 1 cup of boiling water. Allow to steep like tea. As the water cools and the tea steeps, it will start to smell very strongly. Once it is dark and strong smelling, strain out the herbs. Then mix the remaining liquid with 4 full quarts of lukewarm water. Make sure this is tepid in temperature, safe to use on your pet. And then wash and rinse and do this once a week if necessary to keep the bugs off. Another flea and tick shampoo idea: Pour 2 ounces of natural liquid soap into a squeeze bottle. This can be any natural castile or glycerin soap that is non toxic and chemical free. Blend the soap with 5 drops of oil of citronella (buy the pure organic kind, not the stuff they sell in bargain bins), 5 drops of Organic Rose Geranium Essential Oil and 5 drops of Organic Lavender Essential Oil. Shake it up really good and then wash the pup or kitty with it. Dry off well and repeat every week.

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