Marisa Belger has been writing and editing for more than 10 years. Her work has appeared in numerous media outlets, including Travel + Leisure Family, Natural Health, Prevention and on the TODAYShow.com (where she wrote "GreenDAY," a weekly column about sustainable living).
Michelle Carlton served as the editor of Kiwi magazine, a national publication focused on going green and living sustainably as a family, for more than two years. She has also contributed to a number of other publications and websites, including YourTango.com, NYCGo.com, Venus Zine and Bicycling.com.
Green Changes is proud to partner with greengoes simple as our combined mission is to deliver everyday solutions that are mindful of our impact on the earth and recognize that the future is a community effort and responsibility.
By Amy Levin-Epstein for Green Goes Simple
Ready to make some eco-friendly changes, but not sure where to begin? Start with the things you do each day: chores!
Yes, even small shifts in your daily cleaning routines can have positive effects on the planet -- no extra elbow grease required. “People have a sense that with green cleaning there is more scrubbing, or it is more expensive, or it doesn’t work. These are all myths,” says green-cleaning expert Annie B. Bond, author of Clean and Green and Better Basics for the Home.
Add these simple tips to your daily chore toolbox and you’ll be a green, clean, dirt-fighting machine in no time: “Going green takes some time to figure out, but once you get it, you’re set for life,” says Bond.
Go Green: Use a detergent designed for cold water. Choosing cold water for each load saves energy (good for the planet) and money (good for your wallet). Cold-friendly detergents are formulated to fight dirt and stains just as well as their warm-water counterparts.
Go Greener: Ditch your bleach for a better brightener, like sodium percarbonate, found in many common laundry products. While bleach pollutes our water systems and is a lung irritant, sodium percarbonate is a natural mineral that’s just as effective at getting out stains.
Go Green: Save water by using a dishwasher instead of sudsing your plates by hand. If washing by hand is the only option, look for foam-based soaps that use less water.
Go Greener: If you’re buying a new machine, go for one with the ENERGY STAR rating. Then, run it only when full and skip the pre-rinse cycle. For energy-free drying, simply open the door!
Go Green: Place a stylish and sturdy welcome mat at your door. You and your guests will track less dirt into the house, which means less vacuuming later. Taking your shoes off at the door also helps control dust and dirt.
Go Greener: Try a steam cleaner. Cleaning with steam kills bacteria and dust mites, and it makes your floors sparkle without the use of additional cleaning agents.
Go Green: Bring your own reusable totes to the store. There are many cute options these days, and most grocery stores also sell them near the register. Leave a few in your trunk and stash one in your purse for unexpected trips.
Go Greener: Buy in the bulk section of your favorite store. You’ll get the same great products without all that waste.
Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who’s been published in magazines like Glamour, Self and Prevention, on websites like AOL, Babble and Details.com and in newspapers like the New York Post and the Boston Globe. You can read more of her writing at AmyLevinEpstein.com. Her articles have previously appeared on Green Goes Simple.
By Emily Anderson for Green Goes Simple
Admit it: You need help! You may not be a hoarder, but you probably have parts of your home (basement? hall closet? under the bed?) that you’d rather keep hidden.
Don’t worry, though -- you’re not alone. Most of us don’t even know how much stuff we really have, let alone know how to get ourselves organized. Before hauling everything to the curb, try these planet-friendly steps (no landfills included!) to clear the clutter and breathe a sigh of relief.
1. Give Yourself an Audit
Pull all of your things out from hiding and begin to create three piles: “Donate,” “Repurpose” and “Needs Repairs.” You can donate items, sell items at swap meets, or trade items for things you do want. Electronic and computer companies like Dell and Apple have sophisticated programs for reusing equipment. You can also sell items online via eBay or Craigslist, or trade items on Freecycle.org. At the very least, you can donate items to a local Goodwill store.
2. Be a Pickup Artist
Find a set of small storage bins -- plastic or canvas -- and keep a couple in each room of your house to stash random items quickly and neatly. I keep a few canvas bins in each room for wayward items like toys, magazines and books, so I can easily clear the clutter and then put it in its proper place later. Keep a bin by the front door and make a habit of removing your shoes when you get home. (Bonus: This is an easy way to keep your home clean!) While you’re at it, use some of the storage bins to keep your recycling sorted -- mark one for glass, one for plastic and one for newspaper.
3. Stop the Junk Mail
Americans receive almost 4 million tons of junk mail every year -- that’s about 100 million trees, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And more than one precious resource is cut short by junk mail: The average American spends the equivalent of eight months of his or her life opening junk mail. Check out DoNotMail.org for information on what steps you can take to get your name removed from marketing lists. And don’t worry: Even if you don’t get coupons in the mail anymore, you can still find great deals on household goods online. Go straight to the websites of the brands you love, or check out Groupon and Living Social to take advantage of special deals.
4. Go Shopping
Keep everyday items intelligently organized -- and well stocked -- to avoid a frantic search or an unnecessary purchase. Extra batteries, paper products, cleaning supplies, even shampoo, soap and toothbrushes are wise to keep on hand. And consolidate shopping trips. You’ll save time, gas, energy and money by combining multiple errands into one trip. While you’re at it, consider doing more of your shopping online. Many sites will keep a record of your common purchases so you can consult your personal shopping list when you log on.
You don’t have to take on everything all at once. Do a little organizing whenever you can, and it will all eventually add up to a cleaner, greener home. Remember: The things that are good for us personally are often also good for the environment. This is especially true when it comes to our living spaces. Get your home a little more organized and you’ll be well on your way to living -- and saving -- green.
Emily Anderson is the author of Eco-chic Home, Eco-chic Weddings and When Changing a Lightbulb Just Isn’t Enough. Her work has appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies’ Home Journal, The New York Times and her blog, GoodWithStyle.com. Her articles have previously appeared on Green Goes Simple