Why We Take Off Our Shoes

remove your shoes

Do you take off your shoes before entering your home?  Do you ask others to?  Do you ever feel awkward asking them?

We take our shoes off before entering our home.  In our old home, we took them off in the garage and left them there.  In our new home, we have a mudroom that serves the same purpose, but is a tad more organized and warmer in the cooler months.

Why it might be a good idea to not bring your shoes in the house

So, what do you think?

 

 

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Day 28: Ditch The Dryer Sheets

I get a lot of kickback when I ask people to part with their dryer sheets.  “I don’t want static.”  “I love the smell.”  “I don’t care what is in them.”  “My mom always used them.”  “I just bought an economy sized box.”  “Pinterest has a bunch of alternative uses for them.”  Really?  Why the attachment?  Before you start thinking I am judging, I am not.  I once had a lot of those same sediments come out of my mouth about my dryer sheets, BUT then I had my first daughter and I started researching and what I found wasn’t worth it anymore.  It is the single, most impactful, and easy thing I can ask you to do that can really improve your health in the long run (in my opinion).  So, for Day 28 of the Small Changes, BIG Impact Challenge, I would like you to look up your dryer sheets on ewg.org and review the ingredients.  If you are inclined to ditch them (can I encourage you to!?!!?!?!), here are a few alternatives:

  • Dryer Balls
  • Shorter Drying Time
  • Vinegar
  • Line Drying
  • Adding an Essential Oil

Here are a few links to get you started:

A man wearing an NBC Suite (Nuclear - Biological - Chemical)
A man wearing an NBC Suite (Nuclear – Biological – Chemical)

Day 27: Curb Consumption and Accumulation

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.  What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.”  – Annie Dillard

I have jumped on the decluttering bandwagon.  Have you?  While I find tips and tricks in each book I pick up on the topic, I find the easiest way to declutter is to simply not buy things.  I have been getting progressively better at this within the last 6 months of so.  I did the Marie Kondo Life Changing Magic, ClutterFree With Kids (very practical), and just read tons of other books on the subject.  I find the easiest way to keep on top of the clutter (and save money too) is to just not cart it.  Leave it on the shelf.  Leave it in your online cart a few days and see if you still need (want) it.  Give it to the checkout gal or guy and they will restock it for you.  (Please don’t leave it on a random shelf.  I used to work retail.)  Not only does not buying unnecessary stuff help you to keep your home and life decluttered, it also saves precious resources (all the stuff it took to make it, pollution from the production process, packaging materials, pollution from the shipping from factory to store, etc.).  Day 27 Small Changes, BIG Impact Challenge is to simply curb your consumption and accumulation by:

  • not buying
  • borrowing from a friend
  • repurposing something else to fill your need
  • buy used
  • Any other ideas?

Use this criteria to see if the item comes into your home:

  • Is it only in my cart because it is a bargain or on sale?
  • Do I have the room to store it?
  • How much of my time is it going to require?  (To set up, maintain, store, learn about, etc.)
  • Do I really love it?
  • Do I need it?
  • Can something else serve the same purpose?
  • Will my spouse give me the how much did you spend speech?  (hahahaha….we have all been there!)

What do you think?  Can you practice curbing your consumption?  It gets easier as you go along.  I have given up Target for a year in the name of curbing consumption, saving resources, spending my time more intentionally (you know you have walked mindlessly around Target throwing stuff in your cart you didn’t know you needed (wanted), and just seeing if I could do it.  Guess what, for the most part I have done a bang up job the last 10 months.  Not only have I saved our family a bunch of money, but I also curbed our consumption, saved resources, and tackled our clutter.  You can do it!  Where are you curbing?

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Day 24: Green Up Your Dishwashing

Welcome to Day 24!  I am pretty much super jumping up and down excited about my newest find!  I can’t wait to share it with you!!  Life changing here!  Okay, so not too life changing, but a change in the greener department for us.  The Small Changes, BIG Impact Challenge for Day 24 is to green up your dishwashing by using one of the suggestions below or take a peek at the ingredients on your current dish detergent.  (EWG.org is a great source to help you decipher your cleaning ingredient labels.)

Dishwasher Recipes For You To Try

  • The easiest one and one that we always have on hand is straight up Castile Soap!  Yup, just put a Tbsp. or so into your main washer slot and push your buttons.  I like it because I smell goodness and not chemical smells now from our dishwasher.  I use Castile Soap for a few other things around the house, so it is an easy switch for us.  No more buying Dishwasher Detergent.  Now, I can multipurpose and put my girls to work running the dishwasher.
  • This one uses Castile Soap too, but has a few other ingredients
  • Here are a few more to try and this article even includes some hand washing recipes.  I just use my trusty Norwex Cloths  (we have the dishes scrubbed out, so really just giving a quick wipe over to get the germs and bacteria out) for the few dishes we hand wash.  (The shell spoon all the girls want to use.)

 

Which one do you think you will try?  I am excited to hear your results!  Happy Day 24!

 

Day 18: How To Get Rid Of My Stuff With The Earth In Mind

Day 18 of the Small Changes, BIG Impact Challenge has me thinking of the big Marie Kondo book out now.  (Have you read it?  It is good, but with 4 kids, not super practical for a lot of it.  My girls do the laundry folding, and I am happy they help.  I am not about to train them how to “correctly” fold.  I do like the Joy based criterion for keeping stuff or purging it though.  I do love a lot about the book.)  I have been decluttering and reorganizing for years.  I highly enjoy it!  I don’t always know the best way to get stuff out of my house.  Do I throw it in the trash?  Do I recycle it?  Do I donate it to the local thrift store?  Am I ever going to sell stuff at the Moms of Multiples Sale?  What about the impact I am making on the Earth?  Am I being a responsible consumer?  Questions!  Questions!  Questions!  Today is all about a few answers and resources.  So, the challenge for today is simply to either use one of the resources I give you, or to find a local solution that is environmentally responsible to take or give your extra or unwanted stuff to.

Ready?  And go…

  •  Want to exchange, drop off, or donate your agricultural supplies, household hazardous waste, or business stuff.  Locally, you can take some of these things to Clean Sweep of Dane County.  Look on their site for further information.  If you are not local, no worries, many counties have programs you can take these items to.
  • Best Buy has a great recycling program for all things electronic.  They even give you 15% off of an HP Printer if you bring in a printer for recycling.  I think that is a win-win, and something I wish I would have known last week when I purchased a new printer.  At least I know where to take the old printer for recycling!
  • RecycleNation is a fantastic resource for you to learn what you can recycle and where.  I want to recycle (fill in the blank) in (fill in zip code) and then click search.  Too cool for school!!!
  • Recycle your reusable bags!  You can mail them to:  ChicoBag Company c/o Zero Waste Program, 13434 Browns Valley Drive, Chico, CA 95973.  You can send any and all reusable bags there!
  • Have crayon nubs laying around?  Miscellaneous crayons from party favor bags?  Did you know that you can recycle crayons of any size, regardless of their condition?  I did not know this!  When I completed my graduate studies, I headed a program to send our gently, as well as, not so gently used school supplies (nubby crayons and all) to a small village in Africa.  I wish I could recall the organization.  Check that out too.  I am sure there are many places that will accept things we totally take for granted.  (Right!)  For now, go to CrazyCrayons.com to see how you can recycle the crayons for now.
  • What do you do with your old tires?  There are actually 5 places within 20 miles of my home that will accept old tires.  Check out the RecycleNation site listed above and I bet you will find similar results to help you get those tires disposed of with the Earth in mind.
  • American Flags can be recycled through organizations, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars post (VFW), the Boy or Girl Scouts of America, and The American Legion.  So, when you have a tattered and torn flag, give it a proper last home.
  • Do you have a pool?  Lucky, lucky, lucky!  Okay, so I would love to have a pool to dip my toes in during the hot summer days, but one thing I don’t want around here are pool chemicals.  Luckily, there are salt pool options these days and my girls can gladly dip their toes in those.  If you do have a pool that uses the conventional pool chemicals, you can contact a pool-supply company to inquire if they accept them for disposal or you can sometimes donate them to your community pool.
  • Do you bowl?  Do you own your own bowling ball?  Do you have one from the 80s that you no longer use?  You can often give your unwanted bowling balls to a local bowling alley.  Sometimes farmers put them in with pigs to entertain the piggies.  I bet there may even be a local artist that would take it off of your hands.  Other ideas?
  • I wish I practiced yoga more.  My type of yoga these days is the yoga I do trying to wrangle 2 year olds.  Needless to say, I do not have a yoga mat.  If you have yoga in your life enough to own your own mat, then you are super awesome in my book.  I strive to be centered (someday).  I hear that worn out yoga mats make great kneeling pads for gardening.  Who knew?  Super cool!  Are there other repurposing uses for them?
  • The American Birding Association will gladly take your used backpacks off your hands.  I know I have went through my fair share of backpacks over the years.  I am guessing you or your family has too.  You can contact them at 800.850.2473
  • How about all that junk mail in your inbox?  Even your email needs a purge from time to time.  You can unsubscribe with one click from all of those email newsletters you receive.  Go to Unroll.me to start.  Super cool!  (I had 93 subscriptions.  I was thinking 30 tops.)
  • Host a Swap Night!  Invite your friends, set a theme, drink wine (or not), and swap away!

Any Earth Friendly Tips you want to share to declutter your home and get rid of your someday I will deal with pile?

Day 12: Clean Your Indoor Air

I am known to kill plants.  I recently decided that I was going to change that though.  I have added a few air cleansing plants to our home in the last 4 months, and I really am enjoying them!  Our oldest daughter said, “Mom, it feels more like home with plants.”  Our 4 daughters also took it upon themselves to name the plants.  (Maybe they think I will remember to water them if the plants have names?)  Your challenge for Day 12 is to find a few plant options to add to your home.  Bonus points for going out and purchasing a few!

Why clean my indoor air?

Our homes are so tightly sealed up these days.  Think lots of insulation and other energy efficient building materials.  A lot of these building materials and even our furniture is made with pressed wood.  Pressed wood is full of chemicals like formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde is no good to breathe in guys.  On top of that, you are very likely breathing in a host of other toxic chemicals…flame retardants, phthalates, and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) coming from your flooring, furniture, electronics, and most everything else your home is built with or contains.  Let’s clean up our indoor air!

What plants can help purify my indoor air?

Great question!  NASA has published a list of some top air purifying plants as part of its’ Clean Air Study.  Here is a site that has some great pictures of 10 air purifying plants.  You can figure out which ones you want to add to your décor.  Each plant will help purify a portion of square footage of your home.  If you have a large home, you will need a lot more plants than a small apartment would.  I am in the mindset that some is better than none, and so I don’t stress about not having enough.  I know that the plants I have are taking care of some of the indoor air pollution.  I will slowly add more plants as time goes on, and I will continue to be a stickler for what comes into my home.  (I am pretty fussy about furniture, electronics, shoes, etc.  I research a lot before buying.  It shouldn’t be this tough!)

Added benefits to having plants indoors

  • They beautify your space and make it feel more homey (as our oldest tells us)
  • Great responsibility builder for your children by assigning them a plant to water
  • If you are like me, they just make you happy
  • What other benefits can you think of?

See you tomorrow!!!

Day 6: Ditch the Air Fresheners

Welcome back to the Small Changes, BIG Impact Challenge!!!  We are starting Day 6, and this challenge may be a tough one for you.  If you have air fresheners in your home, my experience tells me that you are pretty attached to them.  My experience also tells me that you likely do not notice the overpowering smell they give off to someone entering your home.  I am very sensitive to them and will get an instant headache, my throat will tighten, and I will almost definitely have a sore throat the next day.  I really wish I wasn’t so sensitive to air fresheners, but I am so now I just shower upon returning home and throw my clothes in the wash as soon as I can.  Your challenge for the day is to count the number of air fresheners, candles, and warming scents you have in your home.  (We will focus on air fresheners, but candles and warming scents often have the same health hazards in them as air fresheners.)  Can you part with one of the categories?  If so, I will tell you how to properly dispose of them in a bit, as well as give you some healthier alternatives.

Why?  Why do you want me to part with these?   I love the fragrances!  Here are a few reasons for giving them the boot for good.

  • They are widely unregulated
  • Some can produce toxic pollutants when mixed with ozone (a form of oxygen)
  • According to the EPA, the four basic ingredients of air fresheners are formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, aerosol propellants, and p-diclorobenzene (the active ingredient in moth balls).  Go here to see some of the health effects of each of those 4 basic ingredients.  Keep in mind that these are the building blocks of air fresheners.  There are many more chemicals that go into making each of them.  Here are some other common ingredients in air fresheners.
  • They contain VOCs

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How To Dispose Of Them

  • Air Fresheners are generally disposed of as Hazardous Waste (Do you still want to be spraying it around and plugging it in everywhere?)
  • You can find your specific air freshener on this list and dispose of accordingly.
  • The Clean Sweep Program in Madison, WI accepts Hazardous Waste.  If you are local, contact them for further clarification.

Healthy Alternatives

  • Essential Oils are a great addition to any home for a bunch of reasons, but can definitely help you take care of odors or give your home a desired smell.  I prefer Young Living Oils, but there are lots of options available to you on the market.  I have a few Young Living Consultants that would gladly help you with all of your oily needs.  I love the Purification Oil for eliminating odors!
  • Open the windows!  I love to crack the windows and let in all that fresh air.  To improve your indoor air quality, it is recommended to open your windows for at least 5 minutes a day (even during the Winter…my hubby does not need to be privy to that information).
  • Make your own Natural Room Spray in less than 5 minutes!
  • Bake something!  Cookies anyone?
  • Absorb odors with baking soda
  • Use a charcoal based air freshener bag that naturally absorbs odors in the stinkest of places!

So, how many air fresheners, candles, and warming scents do you have in your home?  Are you able to part with any?  I am here to cheer you on!  See you tomorrow!