Sometimes we make New Year’s resolutions that are hard to keep, but making a commitment to live a greener lifestyle is easy because there are so many ways to start living a little more eco-friendly. Below is a list of ideas for living green in 2013. Even if you just get into the habit of doing of few of the things suggested below, you’ll be making a positive impact for future generations while protecting our environment.
- Switch to using natural cleaners at home like baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice instead of harsh chemicals. They are better for the environment and your health.
- Turn the thermostat down 5-8 degrees when you are not home and while you’re sleeping during the winter months to save energy and money on your heating bill. In the summertime, do the opposite. Set the thermostat a few degrees higher when you are not home so the air conditioner doesn’t run so much. Also, open the windows when the outdoor temperature is comfortable instead of using the air conditioner.
- Make the most of natural lighting by arranging furniture such as a desk or reading chair near a window and do homework or read by natural light instead of turning on the lamp whenever possible. Open up the blinds during the daylight hours instead of switching on the lights.
- Turn the water off. Whether you are washing your hair or brushing your teeth, turning the shower or faucet off while your scrub and brush will save a precious natural resource – water.
- When doing laundry, only wash a full load of clothes.
- Clean the lint out of the dryer after every load. This makes the dryer more efficient and eliminates a fire hazard.
- Use reusable shopping bags for every shopping trip whether you are headed to the grocery store, shoe store or the mall. This eliminates waste.
- Don’t waste unwanted holiday gifts. Re-gift them or donate to charity.
- Grow your own vegetable garden. You’ll save on your grocery bill, reduce trips to the grocery store and be eating something healthy that you know wasn’t sprayed with harmful pesticides.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle. Set up a recycling station in your home or garage and teach the kids what things can be recycled from aluminum cans and newspapers to glass jars and plastic packaging. Additionally have a yard sale to get rid of any items in your home that you don’t need but are still usable, or donate them to charity.
- Walk or bike to work and other activities whenever possible. Or car pool with friends. This saves you money, while reducing wear and tear on your car and reducing emissions.
- Shop online to reduce fuel emissions.
- Purchase appliances with Energy STAR ratings ensuring the energy efficiency in the kitchen and laundry room.
- Turn off lights and appliances when not in use.
- Connect your kids with nature – appreciation now leads to preservation for future generations. Plan a monthly outing such as a hike at a state park or an afternoon of fishing at a nearby lake.
These are not the only things you can do to live greener in 2013. Maybe our ideas will inspire some of your own.
After the winter holidays have passed you’ll face the enormous task of packing and storing all of your holiday decorations for next year. Below are eight tips that will make the task go more smoothly than before and make it easier to decorate your home next Christmas.
- Christmas tree – The box your artificial tree came in seems like the most logical storage box, but repacking your tree in that box will seem like an impossible task. You’ll have to smash and bend all the branches in order to squeeze the tree back inside it. Also, the cardboard box can deteriorate if subjected to moisture and could also be prone to insect infestation. Instead of using the Christmas tree box, try a Christmas tree bag or a commercially available plastic Christmas tree storage box.
- Christmas lights – Get rid of the tangled mess of light strands you deal with every year. Dispose of any strands of lights that no longer work properly. Then, roll each good strand of lights into a ball and place each ball in a separate plastic bag or empty coffee can. Another option is to wrap each strand of lights around an empty wrapping paper roll or a sturdy piece of cardboard. Then place all of the bags, cans or wrapping paper rolls together in a plastic storage container to prevent moisture damage.
- Decorations that you’ll have to reassemble next year – Before taking down decorations that you had to assemble, take pictures of them the way you set them up so you can remember how to do it next year. Then take everything down in the reverse order of the way you set it all up.
- Christmas candles – Wrap each candle in an old sock, tissue paper or a plastic shopping bag to prevent scratching. Be sure to store away from heat sources such as an attic where heat could melt the candles.
- Holiday wreaths – Most department and home stores sell Christmas wreath storage boxes of various sizes. However, boot boxes often work well for small and medium-sized wreaths. Just remember, whatever you use to store your wreaths must be able to maintain the shape of the wreath until next year.
- Christmas ornaments – Many ornaments come in individual boxes that work well for repacking and storage until next year. Try using other small boxes for homemade ornaments or wrap them in tissue paper and store in a larger box. For small ornaments, use an egg carton.
- Holiday linens – Store each Christmas linen in an individual Zip Lock bag if possible, and then put all of them in a plastic storage container together to prevent moisture damage. Or you might consider dedicating the top shelf of your linen closet to holiday linens, towels, blankets, pillows etc. Place a few dryer sheets in between your items to keep them smelling fresh until next year.
- Label the storage boxes – Tape a detailed list of what is inside each box to the outside of the box so you can quickly determine what is inside when it is time to decorate next year. Clearly number the boxes so you know how many you have (for example, Box 2 of 9). Use the number order to identify which boxes should be unpacked first next winter. Box 1 should be prominently labeled and contain all the things you’ll need at the beginning of the holiday season like your advent calendar and the holiday greeting cards that you’ll be sending to family and friends if you bought them on clearance this year.
With a little planning and effort, you can organize and store your holiday decorations in an efficient manner that will be easy to find and display next year.
The fall and winter holiday season is quickly approaching. It is a time when homes are filled with neatly decorated trees, twinkling lights, tasty meals and treats, festive decorations and family members and friends. All of us expect this combination to yield happy memories and good times for all, but it also poses a huge risk. For instance, the US Fire Administration reports structure fires increase during the winter holidays and the dollar loss per fire is 34% greater than normal. There are numerous safety tips and informational articles available to help keep your family and home safe throughout the fall and winter holidays. Take some time to review this helpful information, so your Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are enjoyable and memorable for all.
Now that the holidays have come and gone, it is time to start packing up those holiday decorations and get them ready to store for next year. Below are a few simple ideas to help you store holiday lights so you don’t find a tangled mess of light strands next holiday season.
- Cardboard Square – Cut a square of heavy duty cardboard. Cut a slit in one side of the square. Then, secure the end of a light strand by threading it through the slit. Wrap the strand of lights around the cardboard and thread the other end of the strand back through the slit.
- Plastic bags – Wrap each strand of lights in a ball and place each ball in an individual plastic bag (any type will do.) Then store all the bags together in a clearly labeled box.
- Empty Wrapping Paper Tube – Simply cut a slit in both ends of a wrapping paper tube. Secure one end of the strand of lights by threading it through the slit. Then wrap the lights along the tube. Thread the other end of the light strand through the slit at the opposite end of the tube.
For more holiday ideas, check out our entire collection of holiday blogs.
While the holidays can be fun, they can also be a time of sickness and poor health. The House Plan Shop encourages you to review the following tips for a healthy holiday season.
- Keep Warm – For most parts of North America, the holidays come with the changing temperatures and cold weather. Cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially for the elderly and infants. Dress warm using several layers of clothing and stay dry. Don’t forget to cover your head and hands.
- Wash your Hands – Keeping your hands clean is one of the easiest and most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and prevent spreading germs to others. Airports, shopping malls, grocery stores and restaurants are filled with germs, and they are all places we seem to spend more time than normal during the holidays. Wash your hands often with soap and warm, clean running water Scrub for at least 20 seconds. If clean water and soap are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Remember Food Safety – When preparing holiday meals, cookies and other edibles keep you and your family safe from food-related illnesses. Wash your hands and food-prep surfaces often. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping meat, seafood, poultry and eggs (and their juices) away from ready to eat foods. Thoroughly clean cooking utensils, pots, pans and dishes in between uses. Cook foods to their proper temperatures. Refrigerate leftovers immediately. Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.
- Manage Stress – The holidays are a time of fun and cheer so don’t let them take a toll on your body and health. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook on all holiday activities. Avoid over commitment and manage your time between home, work and fun. Also, manage your holiday budget and do not overspend. In addition, get plenty of rest.
- Eat Healthy, Be Active – Moderation is the key to following a healthy diet during the holidays. Substitute your favorite piece of fruit for candy. Eat small portions so you can enjoy a small taste of all of your favorite holiday meals. When it comes to dessert, choose one or two of your favorites from the plethora of sweets and treats at holiday parties. Make an effort to schedule a half hour of exercise every day. Also, encourage your family to participate in fun, healthy activities…and a little fresh air will do everyone some good. Take a walk through the neighborhood with the kids after dinner to look at holiday light displays. Go sled riding. Organize a family game of football or kickball before dinner.
- Medication Management – It is easy to get off track, change your schedule and skip your daily routines during the holidays due to so many different special activities and gatherings. If you take daily medications, it is important to stick to your medication schedule. Take medications on time as prescribe. Do not make changes in how you take medication. If you always take your medications with breakfast, make sure you continue taking them with breakfast. If you are traveling out of town for the holidays, don’t forget to pack your medications. It is important that you do not skip doses.
Keep these health tips in mind to ensure you have a happy and healthy holiday season.