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Living Green for Earth Day

Earth Day is Sunday, April 22, and to help bring awareness, we’re going to discuss two things you can implement in your home to help the environment.

Composting

Compost consists of organic matter that has been decomposed down into a rich, fertilized soil. Because of its nutrients, it serves great use in organic farming and gardening. There are several benefits to composting at home, including the reduction of wasted space at landfills and its use in your own lawn and garden.

Compost BinComposting, the process of creating compost, requires four things to effectively decompose the organic matter: carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and water. An easy way to keep your compost healthy is to provide a 50/50 mix of dry, brown material and wet, green material. The process will require you to mix the pile often to provide oxygen. You should also make sure it gets enough moisture, otherwise the decomposition process will take longer.

There are several options to get started with composting at home. You could get a large wooden like the one pictured (Exaco ECO Composter), a taller, black bin like this GeoBin which is easy to setup and affordable, or a solar heated cone system that comes with a kitchen caddy as well. Explore these and other composters on our site.

What Can I Compost?

Here are some examples of thing you can compost. Remember to try and feed your compost with a good 50/50 mix of dry, brown and wet, green materials. Really, almost everything that was living at some point can be composted, but some things may take longer to decompose.

FruitDry/Brown (Carbon-rich material)

- Fall leaves
- Small twigs and branches
- Paper coffee filters
- Shredded paper (newspaper, office paper, etc.)
- Paper towels
- Wood chips

Wet/Green (Nitrogen-rich material)

- Fruit and vegetable peels (or whole ones that have gone bad)
- Coffee grounds
- Tea bags
- Egg shells
- Plant trimmings and fresh leaves
- Cooked plain rice or pasta

Depending on the size of your compost, you could have rich soil ready to go in 3-4 months, or 5-6 months for larger piles.

Rain Water Collection

Rain BarrelAnother way to help the environment and save you money is to implement a rain water collection system (also called rain harvesting). The concept is that you collect excess rainwater from your home gutters during times of heavy rainfall and store it for use in your lawn and garden, especially through times of drought and water restrictions. Environmentally, you help lessen the amount of flooding that occurs on streets and lessen the amount of pollution that reaches our oceans through rainwater run-off. The run-off carries pesticides, oil and harmful, inorganic materials. Another added benefit is the use of rain water in your garden, where you’re feeding your plants soft water that doesn’t contain added minerals. Your plants will be happier!

The most common solution is a barrel that sits below your drainage gutters of your home. The barrel comes with a faucet where you can easily hook up your hose. They come in different colors and sizes to blend into its environment. For extra storage, you have the ability to connect multiple barrels together as well. Browse our selection of rain barrels on our site.

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For more ways to go green this year for Earth Day, check out our Pinterest board, Living Green!

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21 Ways to Clean with Vinegar

Vinegar

Most cleaning products fall into one of two categories: toxic or expensive. While both types will clean almost anything, or at least what they are designated to clean, there’s a third option. It’s inexpensive and not at all poisonous to humans. It’s multi-purpose as well–one container will take care of laundry, kitchen cleaning, even bugs and weeds. You don’t have to look farther than your kitchen cabinet for this “miracle cleaner” – Vinegar.

Vinegar is a weak form of acetic acid that forms through the fermentation of sugars or starches. It is completely edible, and cannot harm your stomach and is safe to use around children. And luckily for us, many things can be cleaned using it.  The uses of vinegar are nearly endless. In addition to cleaning, it is an excellent item for cooking and even home science experiments.

For most uses you can fill a spray bottle with a vinegar and water mixture, which will make it much easier to use.  Here are 21 popular uses for cleaning with vinegar:

Uses around the House:

  • Removing stickers and sticky things that have been stuck around the house on walls and furniture.
  • A bowl of vinegar in room overnight gets rid of constant unpleasant odors.
  • If something is spilt on the carpet soak up as much liquid as possible with towels or sponges and spray with a mixture of half vinegar, half water. Wait 2 minutes and then blot with towel.
  • Wood paneling can be cleaned with 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup vinegar and 2 cups warm water.
  • With persistent stains, you can mix 1 teaspoon vinegar, 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap and 1 cup warm water. Follow the procedure above and then dry with a hairdryer.
  • To clean windows, spray with half vinegar, half water. Wipe clean with either newspapers or cloth.
  • 1 teaspoon of salt in one cup vinegar and 1/4 cup of flour can be used to create a polishing paste for silver, pewter, copper or brass. Apply to item, let stand for 15 minutes, rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.

Bathroom Uses:

  • Soak showerheads in vinegar overnight to remove deterioration or chemical build-up.
  • When cleaning the toilet bowl, spray vinegar to get rid of rings and spots.
  • To prevent mildew, spray shower walls and shower curtain with vinegar.

Kitchen Uses:

  • Spraying  vinegar along doorways, windowsills, countertops, cabinets, etc. will get rid of ants.
  • Wash your sink out with vinegar and pour some down the drain to remove unwanted odors.
  • For a clogged drain,  pour in 1/2 cup baking soda and ½ cup vinegar. Rinse with warm water after bubbling occurs.
  • Vinegar is great for removing odors and bacteria  from a chopping board after use, as well as your hands after handing smelly foods like onions and garlic, etc.
  • Use it for any counter tops or surfaces.
  • For microwave cleaning purposes, put a bowl of 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 cup water inside and cook until it boils. This will get rid of odor and unstick food stains from the walls of the microwave.
  • Vinegar and salt together can be used to remove stains from china.

Who would have thought you could get so much out of such a common product!

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