Wood ash, mixed with some natural oils and minerals, has been used for cleaning by cultures all over the world. When wood ash in its dry form comes in contact with water, it becomes lye. Of course, lye is at the heart of soapmaking, candlemaking, as well as several other products. This essentially makes it a cleaner that can be useful for homemade soap. You’ll likely see many people make soap and sell it on places like Etsy among others. However, several major supermarkets and stores actually sell “ash soap” that you can buy.
Most will be made with various biodegradable materials, thereby making ash soap a truly good environmentally friendly product. Obviously, with this being a green hacks article, we’d recommend making some on your own. The best thing to do would be to first get your ash but then find flowers that smell great to you. Mixing this with something like olive oil or vinegar only strengthens the product, but be sure to use gloves for all of this. Seeing as lye can irritate skin and affect Ph levels. Oh and try to avoid putting any of this soap into aluminum cans.
You might be surprised to know that the U.S. alone wastes, on average, 108 billion pounds of food per year. This rounds out to around 130 billion meals and $408 billion in wasted food. Entire cities could live on that amount of food for a long period of time comfortably. All of this equals 40% of America’s food supply going to waste annually. Think about how many people go hungry that could use food that we’re just wasting like it’s nothing.
A lot of us waste food by forgetting about having something or do not see it due to the addition of more food being added. This is why it would be good to implement an “eat first” bin in your fridge. What this will do is tell you about things like leftovers or nearly expired food that you need to eat first before it all goes bad. You can even do this with dry or perishable foods in your pantry by putting all newly bought food behind the current, thereby not missing the old before you open the new.
We know what you’re thinking, this seems like a bad idea. The last thing you want to do is make toothpaste that will make your teeth worse. However, all toothpaste comes in little plastic tubes. This isn’t good obviously. What you might find to be crazy too is that some of the newest toothpaste have shown to have harmful chemicals that hurt your teeth rather than help them. They might even affect the coloring of your teeth, shockingly.
This crazy concept makes us feel like we need to buy more toothpaste to further help our teeth’s coloring, which makes these companies more money. Yet natural toothpaste does not do this, and it comes in glass jars. The all-natural toothpaste can be purchased or you can make your own. One of the best ways to make some is by using coconut oil, peppermint oil, water, and baking soda. Yet fluoride, the stuff that often helps prevent tooth decay, is actually natural too. You find it in rocks, but it is not exactly easy to extract. Thus, you can buy zero-waste fluoride online and then add some of it to your all-natural toothpaste.
Storing Potatoes With Apples To Keep Them Fresher For Longer
Most people will use the term “Apples and Oranges” to compare different things, but what about the term of “apples and potatoes?” One is a fruit and the other is a vegetable. Yes, potatoes are a starchy vegetable but part of the veggies list nonetheless. The funny thing is that while apples and potatoes are very different, they actually help each other. When apples are stored with potatoes, the apples are able to stop potatoes from sprouting or going bad.
This is due to something within the apples known as ethylene gas. This gas stops the sprouting issue and keeps the potatoes fresher for a longer period of time. One interesting thing is that onions actually do the opposite to potatoes and they have often been stored together. Potatoes are best stored within some loosely packed paper, in a dry place, with at least one apple alongside them. It could be good to also simply use potatoes within the first two weeks that you buy them too.
Give Clothes A Second Life Rather Than Throw Them Out
Many 1990’s kids might have had parents that cut their jeans into shorts for the summer. Kids will always grow out of clothes, so it is best to get as much use out of their clothing as you can. However, you can do more with clothing rather than make shorts out of them. Therefore, one of the best green hacks is to make something out of those older clothing items around your home. Many have found that using old shirts for, perhaps, washing the car or cleaning up places with oil and much more can give that shirt a second life.
Now a cleaning cloth of sorts, it does not matter how much you stain it. While it might be hard to use jeans as a cloth around your home, you might find another use for them. For example, underwear you’re no longer wearing could be made into something else. Such as material for a quilt, rag rug, and even hair ties. They can also be used as plant holders, dust rags, wash rags, and much more. There’s always something to use old clothes for, but if you simply do not want to do so, donate them to a shelter.
It makes sense that so many companies have chosen to use plastic for their products. It is cheap to buy and even easier to shape into literally anything you could ever want. However, plastic is terrible for the environment. In fact, there is something in the ocean referred to as the Great Garbage Patch. It is essentially a floating island of trash found in the Pacific Ocean, often close to the Western United States and Mexico. This patch contains roughly 80,000 metric tons of trash, mostly made up of plastic from a variety of products.
These plastics get into our oceans and affect sea life all the time, they also affect birds among other animals too. Therefore, rather than using a product that takes 450 years to biodegrade like plastic, use glass jars. These jars can be washed and then reused over and over again for a variety of things. You can use them to add liquids to or stack them with candy even. Some even grow plants with these jars inside their home. Green hacks like this can help us clean up our oceans, so why not try using glass jars more?
Most of the all-purpose cleaners you see on the market will come in plastic containers that are not meant for multiple uses. However, you can actually use these plastic containers and simply fill them with your own cleaner. Most of the ingredients inside these containers can be found around your home anyway, or you can find them in a local forest. For example, you can utilize things like baking soda and white vinegar, which both help to break down grime and sterilize multiple areas around your home.
You can also make your own bleach if you’re willing to do some work. Bleach is basically sodium hypochlorite that is formed due to the use of chlorine. However, hydrogen peroxide is a non-chlorine-based bleach that does all the same things as the other. If you use it for clothing purposes, it might stain some fabrics. Yet if you use it just for cleaning, hydrogen peroxide is quite good. Even the CDC has claimed it is a good cleaning product. Plus, it does not stink up a room like sodium hypochlorite.
You might be wondering: didn’t you weirdos just tell us about putting an apple with potatoes? While we did mention doing that, it was only to extend the shelf-life of the potatoes. Most of the time, it is actually not a good thing to put any fruits and vegetables together that you’re planning on eating over a period of time rather than all at once. The reason for this is that fruits actually expel gases that can make vegetables ripen faster than they normally should. Therefore, fast-ripening veggies will be at high risk and go to waste very quickly.
This type of thing is not really an issue when it comes to apples and potatoes because the gas apples emit is helpful to potatoes. Yet that does not mean it is helpful to other vegetables. On top of this, the vegetables are not actually helping those fruits either. They are absorbing a lot of the freshness due to this gas process and that makes both fruits and vegetables worse off. However, if you separate them, they will not only last longer but they’ll also taste better too. Green hacks like this will help us prevent food waste.
Use Biodegradable Sponges Over Traditional Sponges
One issue when it comes to kitchen-use products is that they are usually made with bad materials. Sadly, most are not even meant for long-term use. Perhaps there is no better example of this than your average sponge. Most of the time, sponges usually will come in a pack of four or more, and many might wonder why that is. Some would claim that this is done because it offers a better deal on the items over one small sponge.
The real reason one sponge is not worth a few dollars is that it will not be good to use after a month or so. By that point, it has become useless. However, they are made with materials that won’t biodegrade for up to 100 years. The best option would be to use hemp sponges. Not only are they often made to be in use longer most of the time, but they biodegrade after using them for a few months too. Green hacks like this will keep sponges out of your random landfill.
We tend to waste a lot of water in the developed world. People make the mistake of thinking that since showers use less water, they can just take longer showers. However, while the standard bath could take 50 to 70 gallons of water to fill, you will use this and more if you take a shower for just 15 to 25 minutes. That said, we often use more water to shower than we do to fill our bathtubs up with water.
It likely boils down to a misunderstanding of how much water is actually coming out of your shower head. Tubs don’t fill when you shower, and some water that hits you won’t just drain off of your body since it’s absorbed by your body. Other water will bounce off of you and onto your shower curtain/door as well as the shower wall. Thus, we use far more than we need. Due to this, it would make sense to cut our showers shorter to conserve water.
Make Herbs Into Ice, And Store Them In A Freezer For Later Use
Have you ever heard of the term “herb ice?” To be fair, most people haven’t. What is it, exactly? One adds herbs to their standard ice tray, then the little sections where you’d normally add water will now be home to olive oil. Technically, in this case, you’re making iced olive oil rather than herb ice. Green hacks like this can serve a pretty good purpose though. This is an old culinary trick used to keep herbs fresh for a longer period of time between uses.
In this case, you might be hosting a dinner party with a group of friends. You want to keep everything fresh for as long as possible, so using this technique will do just that. These little herb ice cubes can be pulled out whenever you’d like over the next few weeks to use them. It is important that the olive oil you’re using is as new as possible. Also, try to only add herbs that go together well if you’re wanting to mix them.
Perhaps one of the best green hacks of this era in our technological world is paying attention to labels. They’ll alert you to the most energy-efficient products. Take laptops for instance. It’s true that one can charge a laptop battery, but these batteries were not very good initially. You might get 2 to 3 hours of use out of the best on the market at the time. This meant you needed to charge it repeatedly with some never bothering to take the charging cord out of their laptops at all.
Along came the “Energy Star” which was invented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA wanted products to use less energy, and any product with this “energy star” was known for this. To compete properly with competitors, computer companies had to do a better job. Today, those with energy star labels use 35 to 65% less energy than those without one. Batteries last 4 to 5 hours on average today.
Wrap Your Greens In A Tea Towel To Keep Them From Going Bad As Quickly
Most of us are well aware by now that leafy greens can go bad pretty fast. You’ll often need to cook or use the greens within a day, which is not really convenient most of the time. You do not need us to tell you that, but you might want to keep reading for one of the best green hacks people often do not know about. Many people will bring greens home and set them out along with the other veggies until they plan to use them.
Others might do what they assume the smartest thing might be too, putting them in the fridge. The fridge is the best option, but you shouldn’t just put them in there alone. Rather, your best bet is to put them in a damp tea towel (many towels can work too) before putting them inside your fridge. This has been proven to keep them fresh twice as long, giving you more time to use them. The cool thing is that this trick works for all types of “greens” people might use.
One of the biggest green hacks in our book is one that people likely realize but don’t seem to consider very often. Paper Towels are meant to be for one use only and then thrown away just as quickly as they were used. These disposable towels of paper aren’t efficient at all. Washcloths in this case work far better. That is especially true if you’re wanting to clean up messes.
All you’d do is find a clean washcloth and use it to clean up the mess easily. Not only are they more absorbent than most paper towels, but they can be used repeatedly for years to come. You’d merely wash the cloth itself and/or ring it out. There might be times when you would want to use a disposable paper towel for things, such as checking your oil or getting dog crap off your shoe. For everything else, pretty much, the washcloth can handle it.
If you’re flossing on the regular, then you’re going to be making your dentist very happy. However, while dental floss is relatively cheap, most of us tend to use the regular plastic version. That might be due to the version given to us by our dentist or due to the ease of finding plastic versions. The problem is the plastic side of it all though. Many feel that is hard to avoid when it comes to flossing as there aren’t many options outside of plastic floss versions.
This is where we hit you with one of our favorite green hacks. You’d be surprised to learn that there are many options for floss. The two biggest are silk and bamboo floss, which you can usually find at a drug store. If you cannot find them there, you’ll easily find them on Amazon another web marketplace. Both silk and bamboo are biodegradable materials and are therefore better for the environment.
If you have a dryer in your home, generally many will use it as it can be useful to have. However, the trade-off when you use these dryers is the use of unnecessary energy. It can even raise your power bill too. This means using something like a clothesline to hang out clothes can be great for the environment and your wallet. This is best during the spring and summer period, of course. Although, there are some important things to consider for this.
First, always use fabric softener when washing them. The second thing is to keep a check on darker clothes as they will absorb the sun a lot easier than whites will. This means they’ll dry quicker and something dry and a target for the sun could actually catch on fire or have a burn of some kind. Third is to consider your location, and do not hang something like underwear or formalwear out unless you’re in a secure area or one with very few homes, if any around.
People often complain about their heater or air conditioner is not working properly. Yet the reason it might not be working as well as you’d like to is due to insulation. There are usually two issues to consider. First, the lack of proper insulation can cause heat or cold to get into your home much easier. Thereby making it seem like the system is not doing its job. The second thing is that due to those things referenced, a system has to work much harder to cool or heat your home.
This, in turn, can cause a system to start failing far sooner than it normally should. In both contexts, your home is often needing to use more energy to cool or heat itself. Therefore, one of the most logical green hacks to consider is to look into improving your home insulation. This does not mean just inside the walls, insulation also has to do with the cracks in your door or around your windows too. If you fix this issue, you’ll be surprised to see how much energy you no longer use as a result.
We know that if everyone could bike everywhere they need to go, we’d save a lot of energy as well as cut down on a lot of carbon emissions. Yet we know the ability to ride your bike to places can be strictly based on your location as well as where you’re biking. Some would also rightly point out that if there is nowhere to park and secure your bike, it would be bad to ride your relatively expensive bike there. We understand all of those potential issues, so we want to be sure you’re aware of this.
However, that does not mean riding your bike is not a better option when possible. Obviously, people who live in cities likely could do this much easier and to more locations. Yet many people in the southern United States have started to do this more often and it has gone well. Not only are they saving the environment a little bit, but they are also getting in their exercise for the day too. Two birds with one stone, if you will.
One of the best green hacks we can discuss for car use is to simply drive one efficiently. When you drive, your car is going to use up more fuel with some actions versus others. For example, the faster you go and the more acceleration you maintain in the process, the more energy you’ll use. When one drives like this, they are often going to need to stop at a fast rate. Then they’ll go right back to speeding again.
This actually uses up more fuel, around 33% more on the highway alone in fact. Thus, by driving gently you’ll use less energy and you won’t need to buy gas as often. On top of that, you won’t expel as many emissions into the air either. Don’t idle your car either, especially with the heat or air conditioner going. Both of these will efficiently begin to work when you’re driving. Finally, try to fix any problems you might have with your car when possible as this will use less energy as well.
When you buy a regular toothbrush or get one from your local dentist, you’ll get a normal plastic toothbrush. While the bristles on this toothbrush will be perfectly fine when it’s new, they will quickly begin to become pretty bad. This means your toothbrush will not work as properly, thus the need for a new one. However, many of us will use one toothbrush for a year or longer. The CDC actually recommends changing your toothbrush out every three to four months though.
While this is good for your teeth, it’s not so great for the environment obviously. You’re throwing out an average of 3 to 4 toothbrushes per year, only putting more plastic into the environment. Therefore, using a bamboo toothbrush would be best. Not only are they just as good as regular toothbrushes, but they also will biodegrade after a few months upon throwing them out. This is one of the green hacks that meets every need, honestly.
As kids, TV dinners were awesome. These microwavable bad boys were the hallmark of homes with two working parents. Funny enough, microwaves have always been easy to use and they also use less energy than a regular oven. On average, you use 1200 watts of electricity per hour of microwave use. Most things will be microwaved for about 1 to 5 minutes on average, with some occasionally surpassing that. Yet for every hour of regular oven use, you’re using 3000 watts of electricity.
On average, most things one cooks in the oven per use will take 20 to 40 minutes on average. If you used an oven even for evening meals only, you’ll use up more power than a microwave uses for three meals per day when used at an average rate. This is one of those green hacks that seem to tell you the obvious thing to do, right? You could use a microwave more in a given month and use less power, saving you a bit on your energy bill. Everyone wins here!
One of the biggest issues in our environment is food waste. This is a huge problem when it comes to things one cannot throw out for animals to eat or give their pet. The best thing you can do is compost various food products. This means stuff you will not eat like the shells from nuts and eggs, along with coffee grounds and filters. However, you can also compost any fruits and vegetables along with shredding newspaper, cardboard, and paper.
Some do not realize that you can also compost things like grass or yard trimmings/clippings on top of wood chips and sawdust. Even hair and fur can be composted. Green hacks we recommended so far are going to be practical, but composting isn’t easy for many. Sure, it is great for the environment. However, it is tough to do for some, so check out the EPA’s guide on home composting.
Recycling is great, but did you know you can essentially get creative yourself and “upcycle” various products people do not use? This pretty much means you will make something new out of something old. You’ll see this more often with clothing items, but it’s regularly done with numerous things. The goal of upcycling is to create not just something new out of discarded objects or materials. Rather, they want to make something of higher quality or higher value than the original.
While impossible, imagine if something threw out their PS4 and a person was able to upcycle it into a PS5. Again, not really possible to do with ease. Yet something like this is the real ideology here. Sure, it is not always possible to buy and then repurpose an item into something worth more than the original item itself. However, you have still given an old item new life and kept it from polluting the planet. Which makes this one of our favorite green hacks.
You’d be surprised how much energy the normal incandescent bulb uses in your home. Not only do they use up more energy but they also die off quickly too. Of course, companies want to make money, so selling off lightbulbs that are made to die after a specific period of time is a good way to do just that. However, LED lightbulbs eventually hit the market and changed the game. These lightbulbs are much brighter than regular lightbulbs of the same size.
Around 6 times more luminosity is present with these bulbs, in fact. They also use much less energy to a shocking degree. The average 250-lumen incandescent bulb uses 25 to 30 watts of electricity while the LED lightbulb of the same size uses just 3 to 5 watts. If you go all the way up to 2600 lumens, an incandescent bulb will use 150 watts of electricity while the LED bulb producing the same lumen rate will only use up to 30 watts. This isn’t just one of our green hacks, we’re literally saving you tons of money by informing you of a much better product.
You’d assume that if you’re going somewhere faster, you’d use less fuel. Yet Air Travel is one of the biggest contributors to climate change issues. A trip from New York to San Franciso can expel between 2 to 3 tons of carbon dioxide per passenger. This is compared to the 19 total tons per person on average in America per year, as of this current writing. While it makes sense to assume a trip from one coast to another in the U.S. will use up a lot of fuel.
However, simply traveling between 1 to 4 states away can use up far more than driving there. On average, an airplane expels up to 53 pounds of carbon dioxide per air mile. Compare that to your average car, which emits an average of 404 grams per mile. You can see how one of the obvious green hacks pops up in the world of travel knowing this. Drive rather than take a plane, whenever possible. The environment will thank you for it.
While many farmers will grow and sell what they have, they’ll often need to sell their fruits or vegetables at a higher cost simply due to the work and money it took to grow them. Yet farmers are often growing a large supply of crops meant to sell. However, you can buy some seeds or plant trees that will produce your own fruits and vegetables at 10% of the cost it takes to continue buying them from a store or farmer.
You might rightly point out that some of the fruits and veggies you love cannot be planted outside the entire year. This is very true and well worth consideration when it comes to growing your own food. In cases like this, you’ll need to purchase a greenhouse. Yet you do not need to break the bank, there are many ways to make one or buy materials that won’t cost nearly as much to form a greenhouse. Once you have this, you can temperature control things to grow what you need.
We should make sure to point out that collecting rainwater can be very helpful. However, this will truly depend on your location. Places near China or Russia will often have acidic rain that will actually make rain and even snow turn orange from pollutants in the environment. If you are not near a plant of some kind or in a badly polluted environment, you can collect rainwater to use for a variety of things.
The obvious thing to use it for is to hydrate yourself, plants, and even animals. The water can be used for showering, laundry, and much more too. We’d still recommend boiling the water, and not letting it sit out in an open place. Those who collect rainwater will usually have it in a large barrel or can that will be completely closed. This helps in two ways. First, it keeps animals from contaminating it and it’ll keep the water from evaporating in hotter environments.
When electric vehicles were first brought out a little over a decade ago, they weren’t fairly priced and the mileage was terrible. Hybrids seemed to sell better, as they allowed the driver to switch between using gas and electricity. The electric and hybrid vehicles of today are far different. Not only are they priced around the same as any other gas-powered vehicle, but the mileage is tremendous. The average for an electric car today is roughly 200 miles per charge.
However, the best can reach around 400 miles per charge. On top of that, many major brands like Ford decided to make some of their major car lines into hybrid or full electric options. The Ford F-150, for example, also utilizes gas far better. Enough for a person to go around 600 to 800 miles on both its electric and gas usage. It is also priced at the exact same as the normal gas version. Clearly, we know CO2 emissions aren’t good so using hybrid and electric options is the best thing one can do.
Speaking of electric vehicles, every single one of them will have a rechargeable battery. However, you should also know that you can buy several rechargeable batteries for numerous other products. That includes smaller battery versions like AAA and AA batteries. You’d think that, since batteries sell so easy for companies, they’d never want to make a battery that can be recharged numerous times.
However, many of the top battery companies have done just that. This includes the likes of Energizer, likely the king of the battery world along with the likes of Duracell. Companies like Rayovac and even Westinghouse along with Amazon sell rechargeable battery models that can be used in your everyday products. Of course, this is good because it means you pollute less when you do not throw out as many batteries. It’s much more efficient these days.
Continuing the trend of green hacks surrounding electric products, this type of thing is perfect for lawn equipment. Did you know that the average push mower or riding lawnmower emits more carbon dioxide than your average vehicle? The U.S. EPA looked into it and found that hour-for-hour, lawnmowers emit up to 11 times more CO2 than cars do. That means that this is one of the most important areas to improve. Like electric cars, electric lawn equipment has improved dramatically.
Weedeaters, lawnmowers, and much more can be all-electric today. Some people in the world of lawn maintenance will tell you the batteries do not last long. However, most companies even allow you to buy batteries separately so you can charge one while you’re using another. Then switch them out with ease. On top of that, they last as long or longer than a tank of gas, making many puzzled about what the gripe is. It just really depends on how much you use them and what they are used for.
One of the biggest problems people have, seemingly, is impulse control. We’re going to be honest in this part of the green hacks list to tell you, quite simply, to stop buying crap you do not need. We know, it looks cool or could be useful. However, unless you plan to use this item a lot, do you really need to buy it? We bring this up because so many people buy things they don’t use much, only to throw them out and further pollute the environment.
It makes sense to some, at the time, to buy something they want. We get it, and we’re all guilty of this fact clearly. In fact, this writer as well as everyone on staff here is guilty of buying things they wanted at the time, only to throw them out soon after the buy. That said, try to always think about the “purpose of the purchase.” Does this item offer something useful long-term? Is it something you “could” use again and again? If not, perhaps you shouldn’t be buying it.
While we referenced you should try to grow your own food at home, if possible, we know this is not always possible. That said, if you’re going to buy something like fruits and vegetables, always buy them from someone local. This goes for any food product, as there are plenty of local farms that sell eggs and even entire chickens to stores to sell to you. Yet you can go directly to the local places too, or go to the sellers that you know utilize local produce and meat.
You can also buy other items locally too, but we know this is not always possible to do for things like clothing. You might also not be a fan of buying stuff from places like Etsy. However, the more localized something is, the better. This means it took fewer emissions to get that product to the stores, therefore to you. The more local a product is, the better in this case.
Rather Than Buying New Eco-Products, Use What You Have Until You Cannot
An interesting issue has come to pass in this area. People want to use eco-friendly products, which is awesome. Take something like a nice electric car, for example. It is good that a person would want to use this over a gas-powered car. However, it takes a lot of power and energy to make it. This power was provided by things like coal through the local power company. This is okay if you’re buying to go from gas to electric, but not when you’re going from electric to electric.
Buying a new electric car when your current electric car is fine is dumb because it uses extra emissions to do so. It is best to wait until the current electric car is no longer useful to you or isn’t working as it should. The same you’d do when switching from a gas-powered car to another gas-powered car. The same goes for lawn equipment and everything else. Never buy new eco-friendly products when there isn’t a true need to do so. This is one of the most important green hacks we have.
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