Simple and inexpensive ways to make your home more sustainable and non-toxic.
I'm hosting a DIY Natural Home Cleaners Workshop this Saturday, and in keeping with that theme, thought I would share some other ways you can detoxify your home and make it more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Most of these practices we have adopted as a family, and are very doable with a busy schedule and a child! Once you change up some old habits, these practices just become the norm - and you can feel really good about lowering your households' waste and saving some money.
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1. MAKE YOUR OWN CLEANING SUPPLIES
Commercially produced "regular" cleaning products are full of chemicals, VOC's & harmful fragrances. That lightheaded feeling you get when you're using bleach, Lysol, Pinesol, etc in the bathroom is because of those harmful chemicals.
This is from the American Lung Association (www.lung.org) “Many cleaning supplies or household products can irritate the eyes or throat, or cause headaches and other health problems, including cancer. Some products release dangerous chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Other harmful ingredients include ammonia and bleach. VOCs and other chemicals released when using cleaning supplies contribute to chronic respiratory problems, allergic reactions and headaches."
These products are not regulated, do not have to meet any safety standards AND are not required to list the ingredients on their products! (www.ewg.org) Making your own at home, with simple but effective ingredients, is a great start to detoxifying your home AND saving some money on cleaning supplies!
Here's some links to great recipes and tips on making your own cleaning products:
- Clean Mama
- Hello Glow, Green Cleaning
- My "Natural Living" Pinterest Board has lots of great articles, recipes and information
2. COMPOST YOUR FOOD SCRAPS
The photo above is some of our homemade compost! Isn't it beautiful?!
We bought this compost bin off of Amazon and it's great! We usually fill it up every 2 or 3 days (sometimes every day if we cut up a watermelon or shuck corn). Then we give all of our scraps to our chickens and sheep, who love it and devour it!
If you don't have livestock or chickens, you can start a compost pile in your backyard! Just dig a little trench and start a pile- it should be taller than it is wider, so it can really heat up. You could make your own composting "bins." Just search DIY compost bins on Pinterest and you'll get tons of great ideas. Our chickens do most of our composting for us, but we also made the pallet compost bins you see in the photo below.
Compost is great to have when you want to plant new flowers, veggies, herbs, etc- or just to feed and nourish your established plants, trees and flowers. You'll also need to add grass clippings, leaves, tree prunings, etc to the pile. Keep it watered, turn it a few times, wait a few months, and you'll have beautiful rich compost!
This blog post gives some great advice and information on how to get started composting- simple and great for you & the environment!
3. STOP USING PAPER TOWELS & NAPKINS
We started doing this a little over a year ago, and I don't know why we didn't do it sooner! Instead of using paper towels and napkins for mealtimes, spills, wiping up, etc- just cut up old tea towels, t-shirts and other soft fabrics you're not using, and use those as your napkins! I cut a bunch of old dish towels and tea towels into little squares and we keep them in a drawer near the dining table, whenever we need a napkin, that's what we use. And if you're not too messy, you can use them for a few meals, then just wash and re-use!
4. HOUSEPLANTS...LOTS OF THEM!
Houseplants bring beauty to your home, but they also bring clean air (see this NASA study), reduce stress and lift your mood! Just like the trees and plants provide oxygen outside, they do the same inside. If you're trying to use plants for air purification, you'll want plants with larger leaves and a lot of them! Succulents and tiny plants here and there are still pretty & add relaxing vibes, but won't do much to cleanse the air.
Whether or not the science can 100% prove the benefits of houseplants cleansing the air, just knowing that I have some pieces of outside, inside our house, makes me a lot happier with our home. Visit this page to see a list of recommended houseplants for purifying the air.
5. GET A CLOTHESLINE
There's something so enjoyable and relaxing about going outside in the sunshine and hanging your clothes on the line, then watching them blow in the breeze, then going out at sunset to take them off the line, and then smelling their warm fresh scent when you put them on or lay in a bed of freshly hung sheets and linens!
I definitely do not use our clothesline everyday, or every time I do laundry- sometimes I just DON'T HAVE THE TIME to spend hanging up and pulling down. But, knowing it's there when I do have time to use, is wonderful! We got this T-post, a roll of clothesline wire, and had it set up within a couple days!
I always like to put my towels in the dryer because they tend to get too stiff out on the line, but t-shirts, blankets, yoga pants, kitchen towels, and other lighter fabrics dry beautifully outside AND they dry so much faster! Dryers take up A LOT of energy, so reducing your drying time on a regular basis could save you some serious moolah!
6. SWITCH OUT YOUR AIR FRESHENERS
Another easy thing to make, especially if you're already buying essential oils for other uses, is your own room sprays! Removing as many chemical fragrances from your house as possible will really be what's best for you and your family. I know since I've stopped using conventional beauty products, dryer sheets, air fresheners/sprays, scented candles, scented laundry detergents, and the likes - I hardly have any issues with my allergies (I used to have HORRIBLE allergies), and don't get many headaches (my headaches now are usually hormone related).
When people complain about asthma, allergies, headaches and rashes- the first thing I ask them is what kind of laundry detergent, soaps and fragranced products they're using. Honestly, just removing or switching these things to natural alternatives, can make a HUGE difference in your symptoms and how you feel!!
To make your own air fresheners, simply add 1 part water with 1 part alcohol (vodka works fine or witch hazel) in a spray bottle. Add 10-20 drops, depending how big the bottle is, of essential oils of your choice, shake and use! I love lavender + bergamot; lavender + lemon; rosemary + eucalyptus; sweet orange + basil- there's so many wonderful combinations. I keep one in each of our bathrooms and one under the kitchen sink to freshen up the air after cooking bacon, fish or other strong odors. If you'd like to purchase my Organic Room + Linen Spray, you can find that here!
7. START AN EDIBLE GARDEN
Whether it's a few pots of herbs on your back porch, some raised beds of veggies, growing fruit trees, or a full on vegetable, herb and flower garden - this practice is beneficial in SO MANY ways! Being able to pick fresh herbs to season your meals, pick fresh fruits and vegetables to eat, cook or preserve - is not only extremely good for your health, it is very rewarding! Working outside with your hands in the soil is known to reduce stress, uplift your mood and be great for your all around mental and physical health.
You don't have to start everything from seed, although that is very fun to do, just go pick up some small herb or veggie plants from your local nursery, give them some good soil, water and watch them grow! Mint, lemon balm, basil, sage, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and potatoes are some of the less fussy herbs and veggies that can be grown in containers or in the ground. Planting fruit trees is definitely delayed gratification, but pays off hundred-fold once those trees start producing! And if you're making your own compost, you can use it for your garden! So, grab your sun hat, a shovel and some compost and get to gardening! Check out our homestead garden in this blog post, full of pretty photos of our flowers, veggies and plant medicine.
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This is definitely not a comprehensive list of all the wonderful things you could do to lessen your footprint on this planet, but these are some of the easier ways to start transitioning your family and home to be more sustainable. I'm a big proponent of "getting back to our roots." To me that means living in ways that our grandparents (maybe parents) & ancestors lived and enjoying and finding the fun in simple, daily tasks - like hanging laundry, baking bread, feeding the animals, tending the garden, enjoying some tomatoes off the vine and a fresh glass of sun tea on the porch.
Do you already have some of these practices working in your home? What other tips would you offer for people to have a more sustainable household? I'd love to hear your ideas and thoughts in the comments below!
Until next time. xoxo