One of the reasons we choose Second Harvest, a food bank in Northwest North Carolina, is that North Carolina is among the five worst states for hunger levels among both adults and children and is where my partner and I live. It is also part of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization which supports more than 200 regional food banks.
Learn more about Second Harvest and the community it serves below.
Second Harvest’s impact in the community:
“In fiscal year 2013-2014, Second Harvest Food Bank distributed more than 25 million pounds of donated, purchased and prepared foods, the equivalent of more than 20 million meals. Together with our network of more than 400 partner programs – community food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens and youth and senior feeding programs serving local communities in 18 counties – we provide critical food assistance to more than 300,000 neighbors in need each year, including 100,000 children.”
The households that Second Harvest serves have had to make difficult choices and trade-offs to keep food on the table this year:
- 73 percent had to choose between paying for food or paying for medical care or medicine.
- 75 percent had to choose between paying for food or paying for utilities.
- 71 percent had to choose between paying for food or paying for transportation.
- 61 percent had to choose between paying for food or paying for housing.
Second Harvest’s food bank network helps the communities most vulnerable residents:
- 32 percent of those who receive food assistance through Second Harvest Food Bank’s network of partner food assistance programs are children under the age of 18; 10 percent are seniors age 65 or older. (30 percent are age 50 and older.)
Making your own cleaning products is not only good for the earth, it’s also better for your health and your wallet. You will see that there are many ingredients you can buy in bulk since many products use the same ingredients including water-softening citric acid, stain-removing washing soda, and bacteria-fighting white vinegar. Read on to find some of our favorite eco-friendly and health friendly products from various blogs that are easy and cost-effective to make yourself.
Wash your clothes with a simple detergent made from this recipe found on the Thank Your Body blog.
1 5-ounce bar of castile soap, grated
1 cup of washing soda
½ cup of baking soda
½ cup of citric acid
¼ cup of coarse sea salt
Mix all ingredients together and add 1-2 tablespoons to each wash. Store your product in an airtight container to prevent moisture from getting in and causing clumping.
We thank Pop Sugar for this find. If you want to rid your wardrobe of static and keep fabrics soft, mix 16 ounces of distilled white vinegar with 10-12 drops of essential oil. Enhance the scent by adding a sprig of rosemary, mint, or another fresh, fragrant herb.
According to allyou.com, you can make 16.5 ounces of liquid dish soap for just under $2.50. Just mix the following ingredients together. This mixture also doubles as a countertop cleaner.
2/3 cup liquid castile soap
3 teaspoons vegetable glycerin
5 drops tea-tree essential oil
20 drops lemon essential oil
1 1/3 cups water
If you own a dishwasher, you can also make your own dishwashing tablets with this recipe from Easy-Home-Made. Keep in mind that, while many companies agree that borax is non-toxic, there is still some debate on this product.
1 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda
½ cup citric acid
½ cup kosher salt
Mix all ingredients together.
Gently squirt your mixture with water so it will clump together. Do not drench the mixture.
Pack your mixture into an ice cube tray.
Allow mixture to dry and set, approximately half an hour.
Remove from ice tray and lay pieces on wax paper to dry completely.
Store tabs in jar or other container. Recipe yields about 36 tabs.
Making your own window cleaner will save you cash at the register. Mix together the following ingredients for a streak-free clean.
¼ cup rubbing alcohol
¼ cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cups warm water
Clean your leather and break up dirt by combining vinegar and olive oil in this recipe from Pop Sugar. Add some fresh scent with essential oils. Use paper towel to apply to cleaner and make sure to test a small spot before using it all over your furniture. Save a bundle by mixing the following ingredients together.
¼ cup vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
10 drops essential oil
When it comes to the bathroom, waste is not something we want to think about, but it is something that needs to be addressed. Because the waste we’re talking about is filling up landfills and going down the drain. Between disposable products, long showers, and multiple flushes, the bathroom is one room where a few small changes can impact the environment in a big way. Here, we list five different areas in the bathroom that are the perfect places to start on the road to making your bathroom greener.
If you’re planning on getting a whole new sink, think about saving room in the landfills by going with recycled or salvaged sinks. You can buy sinks made from recycled glass, bronze, aluminum, or even have one made from old tires. If you’re a traditionalist when it comes to material, you can also head over to a salvage store to find reclaimed porcelain. If you want something truly unique, try using another salvaged item as a sink, for example old troughs, buckets, even wooden barrels. As long as the object is bowl shaped and you can drill a hole in it for a drain, it can work as a sink.
If your bathroom project doesn’t include a whole new sink, focus on conserving water with just one change. So much water is wasted when we leave the faucet on while soaping up our hands or brushing our teeth in between rinses. You can prevent perfectly good water from going down the drain by investing in a motion sensor faucet. You’ll still be able to wet and rewet your toothbrush without having to keep turning on the faucet and you won’t have to worry about getting suds on the handles or more germs on your hands after washing them by having to turn the faucet off.
Showers are notorious for wasting water. According to the EPA, standard shower heads pump out 2.5 gallons per minute. While taking shorter showers will cut back on the water that is used, you can also install water efficient shower heads, which could save the average family about 2,900 gallons of water per year. This also means saving on your water bill. You can get water efficient shower heads for as low as $8 and you can find them online or at home repair centers like Home Depot and Lowes.
We can’t talk about water conservation without talking about the toilet. A bathroom staple, the toilet uses about 27% of the water that is consumed in the home, according to Duke University’s Center for Sustainability and Commerce. The EPA also reports that toilets manufactured before 1992 can use up to 3.5 gallons of water with each flush. Use a low-flow toilet to reduce gallons per flush by more than half. In fact, low-flow toilets use about 1.6 gallons. Dual-flush systems use a reduced flush of around one gallon per flush for liquid waste and about 1.6 gallons per flush for solid waste.
With all of the different activities (showering, hairstyling, makeup application, etc.) that go on in the bathroom, storage is a must. Natural Wood Decor’s Teak Spa Shelf holds towels, knick knacks, and shower products without taking up much space. Meanwhile, their Teak Storage and Shelving Unit provides ample room for makeup, hair styling equipment, and other beauty items, or books to read while doing other bathroom activities. The hinged top provides a spot to store more private items and the flat top surface makes a perfect manicure station. The best part of these storage units is that they are handcrafted from teak wood that has been sustainably harvested, which lasts for years. Purchasing one of these durable units also helps support local Thai artisans along with their farms and communities.
When it comes to making your bathroom more eco-friendly changing what we put into those storage areas is just as important. We’re talking about the products you use in your bathroom.
Toilet Paper: While the tissue in toilet paper is made to break down in septic tanks, the cardboard roll and the tissue that is thrown away still takes up space in landfills. On top of that, the production of toilet paper requires the destruction of trees. According to the EPA, one tree makes about 100 pounds of toilet paper. The average American alone uses an estimated 50 pounds of tissue per year alone. That’s one tree for every two Americans per year. The EPA has also estimated that if each US resident replaced one single-ply roll of toilet paper with a recycled roll, Americans alone could save about 470,000 trees. And that’s just switching out one traditional single roll. Imagine how many trees you could save switching out those soft, double- or triple-ply rolls for a single-ply recycled roll. Along with recycled rolls, you can also buy rolls without the cardboard center.
Towels: While those new, one-time-use towels for the home allow guests to have a nice, clean towel every time they wash and keep germs at bay, they are only allowing convenience to trump the environment. Stick to re-useable, washable towels. In fact, you can go one step further by purchasing organic cotton or bamboo towels. The manufacturing of these products uses far less chemicals and other harmful substances that can greatly impact the environment.
Feminine Products: We’ll preface the next few sentences by saying this: men, you can stop reading here. It is a known fact that feminine products cause waste. In fact, the book “Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation” states that in her lifetime, the average woman throws out 250 to 300 pounds of pads, plugs, and applicators. Along with taking up landfill space, many of those products are made from harmful chemicals including rayon, viscose, and wood fluff pulp – a tree derived material. Choose organic cotton pads and tampons, which are free of the aforementioned materials. Meaning, you’ll save trees and keep harmful chemicals from being absorbed into your body. Not only that, but certified organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides nor are they whitened with chlorine. The products cost more money, but the benefits for you and the environment are worth it. If you don’t want to pay the extra price for organic tampons, you can help reduce feminine product waste by trying tampons without applicators, which cuts back on waste.
While spring is associated with birds chirping, trees blooming, and flower bulbs opening, fall is known for chilly weather, the beginning of hibernation, and leaves falling off the trees. Needless to say, when it comes to gardening, the fall season often gets a bad rap. But cooler weather doesn’t mean its time to hang up your shovel and trade your gardening boots in for snow boots just yet.
Many gardening pros consider fall a great time to plant seeds since the devastating heat waves from summer are long gone, but the soil is still warm, which promotes root growth before the ground freezes. The cooler weather is also easier on the gardener, who won’t have to take time out of planting to chug a cold glass of water or wipe the sweat from their brow. And you know what else is easier on the gardener? The good deals you’ll get at gardening stores since its pretty much the off season. So with that, here are a few flowers that you can enjoy planting now to be ready for next spring.
TO PLANT IN PREPARATION FOR SPRING
Popular during the cool season, pansies can be planted in the fall and are known to continue growing and blooming well into the winter and spring. When planted in September, they have the ability to last into April or May.
Plant perennials early in the fall when the cool weather puts lets stress on the top of the flowers. Perennials are flowers that live more than two years. Make sure to plant larger size perennials at this time since smaller ones may not survive freeze-thaw cycles. Examples of perennials to plant this fall are Salvia, Geranium, and Peruvian Lily.
With an optimal germination temperature between 55 and 60 degrees, Larkspur is a great flower to plant in the fall. The flower double blooms on durable stems and is an ideal flower for drying. Plant it now for flowering in June, July, or August.
Good soil conditions for planting tulips are when the ground is at least 60 degrees, but you want to make sure you don’t plant the seeds too early. Fall is a good time to plant them before the ground freezes, where they can get accustomed to their surroundings during the winter before coming up in the spring.
TO PLANT FOR INSTANT FALL BEAUTY
When you don’t want to wait for flowers to bloom next spring, purchase these fall-blooming flowers to get a pretty fall garden instantly.
The orchid-like flowers that bloom from the toad lily are both beautiful and intriguing. The speckled design blossoms from this Asian native in the fall and attract ready-to-migrate butterflies and hummingbirds in search of energy to store.
The lavender and blue flowers from the Russian Sage add the perfect pop of color among fall reds and oranges. The plant is drought tolerant and actually has a rough time in hot, humid summers.
Colchicum, AKA Naked Lady
It’s like this flower comes out of hiding in the fall, when its flowers bloom well after its leaves have receded. Native to the United Kingdom, Colchicum can be poisonous if ingested.
The Latin word for “star,” Asters thrive in cooler weather. Its flower heads are star shaped and come in blue, white, or pink colors that attract butterflies.
There are so many great organizing tips on Pinterest! I find the lists of 50+ tips overwhelming so here’s just a few of my favorite simple but smart tips.
Kitchen Wrap and Bag Organization Made Easy
Magazine holders work great in the kitchen as well for vertical storage of boxes of plastic wrap, foil, plastic bags and more.
The Awesome Folding System
See your clothes more easily by arranging folded piles of clothes horizontally.
Use shower curtain rings on a hanger for wrinkle free scarf storage.
Bobby Pins Corralled
Brilliant idea! No more searching the bottom of your drawer or purse for bobby pins, just use an empty Tic Tac case for keeping them in one place.
Eager for more? Check out our organization board on Pinterest for more ideas.
Planning a last hooray for the summer with family and friends? Check out our tips below for outdoor entertaining.
1. Instead of debating between paper and plastic plates, use your everyday ware or if you’re still hesitant to bring breakables outside try these compostable plates made from fallen leaves.
2. Plan a simple menu. Choosing dishes that serve well at room temperature, such as noodle or bean dishes, we will help simplify.
3. Have outdoor lights ready to go before guests arrive. Whether its soy candles (soy burns slower and cooler), tekkie torches, or these cool solar mosaic table top lanterns your options are endless.
4. Save yourself trips to the kitchen by having a mini staging area near by. Stock it with extra water, linens and anything else you might need.
5. If you have room for a centerpiece, keep it simple and low. Could even serve double duty as a serving dish such as the root wood salad bowl below.
Save $15 when you spend $150 or more on Natural Wood Decor’s root wood products!
Carved from Chinese Fir stumps left by logging operations, Natural Wood Decor’s root wood collection brings a touch of the outdoors to your table. Finished with a food-sale lacquer, this collection is great for casual dining indoors or out. Learn more about our root wood collection.
Available only through Labor Day. Use coupon code “laborday” at checkout.
Whether you’re traveling to a nearby city or gallivanting somewhere across the globe, there are tons of opportunities to stay green. Our personal adventures have taken us to beautiful coastal towns, steep mountain trails, some of the best restaurants you can imagine and many other unique experiences. Part of the fun is looking for ways to be eco-conscious while getting in a bit of a workout (to burn off calories from those delicious meals) and even saving a bit of cash along our journey. Below is our top 3 ways to stay green during your next trip…
1. Transportation Alternatives: For your next wild animal safari, try biking instead of riding in a jeep with a guide. It will add to the adventure and you can test your top speed while being chased down by lions! Okay, that might be a bit of an extreme case, but think of all the other activities you do on vacation that could easily be traveled by walking, hiking, biking or even hopping on a train instead of renting a car or relying on cabs. You’ll save money, minimize your carbon footprint and get more exercise by finding fast alternate routes and picking up public transportation when you need a break.
2. Pack Light: When we traveled to Europe a few years ago, we bought a small selection of quick-dry clothes from shirts down to undies. When you’re out of town for a week or more and have to carry around most of your stuff for a good portion of the time, light packing and easy-to-clean clothes can be life savers. It will help you get places faster and cut down on both energy usage and cleaning supplies you would normally use more often.
3. Visit The Local Farmer’s Market: Fresh local produce can often be better than the stuff they’re serving at the best-rated food joint in town and it’s probably a lot cheaper too! This is also a great place to pick up best-kept secrets from the locals. Bring some cash and chat up the farmers and other passers by to discover cool places to visit or local eateries that aren’t as touristy.