Earth Day tips for your home

Photo: istockphoto.com/Chad Anderson
Here are some of our favourite, easy suggestions from our Green Tips Guide to help your home get greener and healthier. KITCHEN After our cars, the biggest environmental footprint we leave is in the kitchen. Here are some easy ways to make important changes:
  • Pump up the recycling. Only 30% of consumer packaging is actually being recycled. So start adding all those bottles, plastics, cans, jars, packaging and junk mail.
  • Scrap your scraps by composting. If you're not composting your schlepping roughly 2/3 of a ton of waste each year to the curb that you could be composting instead! Grains, egg shells, baked goods, tea bags, coffee grounds, cardboard, paper towels, perennial weeds, grass clippings, leaves and lint from the dryer can all be composted. Read more on composting: Composting 101 or Five composting myths.
  • Plug-in kettles use less energy than stovetop ones.
  • Use cloth dishtowels and napkins instead of paper ones.
  • Pick up a cheap set of lightweight, washable dishes—great for picnics instead of disposable plates.
  • Replace the plastic with glass or ceramics for the microwave. Even plastics labelled microwavable should be avoided since all plastics leach chemicals like phthalates when they are heated.
  • Gas stoves use less energy than electric ones.
  • LAUNDRY Are you using toxic stain removers or throwing away clothes because you can't get rid of that pesky stain? Try some old-fashioned remedies instead:
  • The secret with any stain is to act quickly: the more recent the spill, the more likely you can get it out. But don't rush in with chemical-based commercial stain removers.
  • Fruit/red wine: immediately cover stain with salt or soda water, and then soak in milk before washing.
  • Grease on cotton: spread fabric over a bowl or other opening to allow water to pass through it, not soak in. Then pour boiling water through it, followed by baking soda.
  • Grease on fabrics other than cotton: blot with a clean towel, dampen stain with water and rub with soap and baking soda. Wash in hot water as per the item's washing instructions.
  • Blood: think In Cold Blood. Soak in cold water immediately. If stain persists, mix cornstarch with either talcum powder or cornmeal in water and apply mixture directly to stain. Allow to dry and brush away.
  • Coffee/chocolate: mix egg yolk with lukewarm water and rub on stain.
  • Lipstick: rub with cold cream or shortening and wash with washing soda (sodium carbonate).
  • Ink: soak stain in milk or remove with hydrogen peroxide.
  • Rust: saturate with sour milk (adding 2 tsp of vinegar to a cup of milk makes it sour) or lemon juice and rub with salt. Place in direct sunlight until dry, then wash.
  • Gum: rub with ice. Gum will flake off.
  • BATHROOM Start saving water and money:
  • A five-minute shower uses 40 litres of water, a bath 75 litres. Save money by switching to a low-flow showerhead and improve your water pressure!
  • Invest in the new six-litre (1.6 gallon) tank or adjust your older toilet. Displace some of the water in the tank with a capped, plastic litre bottle filled with water. Check to make sure your toilet isn't leaking water by adding some food colouring to the tank water. If you see colour in the toilet bowl after 20 minutes you need to fix your leaking tank!
  • Turn off the tap to brush your teeth or to shave. Faucets spout seven to 11 litres of water per minute, so if you don't actually need the water, shut it off.
  • Make your own body wash by grating up one third of your favourite bar of soap, adding some boiling water, stirring it and filling a hand-pump bottle. It will cost you a fraction of what you are paying for pre-made body wash.
  • Happy Earth Day!