Happy Earth Day!
Earth Day isn’t my absolute favorite holiday on the calendar, but I do get excited by its approach every April. My biggest hope is that, like Christmas, more and more people will keep the spirit of Earth Day by celebrating its principles all year long.
We all know how recycling water with rain barrels, reducing plastic use, taking reusable bags to the store, or planning driving routes to use less fuel are all great practices. In honor of Earth Day, I’m sharing some less common ways in which I try to be kind to both the planet and my wallet:
1. Most dentists say we should change our toothbrushes every three months. I’m not usually one who ignores the advice of my doctor or dentist, but I get away with stretching the life of my toothbrushes longer by alternating between two brushes, which extends the use of both. (And so far, my choppers are in good shape with no cavities in recent years!) When it comes time to switch, the old toothbrushes make great scrubbers for tile grout or for cleaning those tiny crevices in faucet fixtures. Preserve Products makes great toothbrushes, all from recycled #5 containers: https://www.preserveproducts.com.
2.Spring and fall brings lots of birthdays among my circle of family and friends. Instead of purchasing store-bought wrapping paper, I like to have fun with old maps, the Sunday funnies, scarves, and scrap fabric to wrap gifts. My local thrift shop usually has a good selection of used children’s books, and when I find one with colorful illustrations, I tear those pages out to wrap gifts for kids. I also collect spools and remnants of fabric craft ribbon to pretty up the packages, instead of using store-bought bows.
3. My house is occupied by coffee lovers. We often buy from a local roaster who works directly with growers’ co-ops, earning them a fair wage. But what about those darn filters? We’re aware of the bamboo and biodegradable filters available for most drip coffee makers, but we found a reusable mesh basket brew filter for just a few bucks. After brewing a pot of coffee, we empty the grounds and set them aside for the garden, rinse the filter, and that’s it. This jobbie has already lasted over a year and is still in great shape, even with all the coffee we brew. We also have a percolator with a permanent basket for small batches.
4. There are many well-known green cleaning methods. Is there anything the fun fizz of baking soda and vinegar can’t clean? But for extra scrubbing boost, I add a tablespoon or two of Borax to my vinegar and baking soda mix, along with essential oils or lemon juice. But those items have other great uses. A cut lemon or lime (after I squirted the juice to freshen my glass of water or to use in a recipe) can remove most odors and kill bacteria when rubbed on cutting boards and counters. Two to three tablespoons of baking soda added to a bowl of water makes a great fruit and veggie wash and removes dirt and residue. A half-cup of baking soda, when added to the usual cleaner in the washing machine, will add extra cleaning power.