5 Tips For Hosting A Memorable Overnight Stay For Your Guests

5 Tips For Hosting A Memorable Overnight Stay For Your Guests

Inviting guests into your home involves more than providing a comfortable place to sleep, you have to make their stay memorable. You have to make them feel welcome. Here are a few tips on how, but be prepared, your guests might not want to leave… especially, if Lenor is your cohost.


Decorate Sparingly
Comfort, space and scents are more soothing in a new environment than unfamiliar ’junk’ (what is valuable to you might be junk for others). Place a single flower bloom in a simple glass, add a nice clock, and a selection of books, or music suited to your guests’ tastes. Also put in some nice scented candles, and make sure everything is freshly washed with a long lasting crispy scent from Lenor. Also, make sure that you place spring water and a few snacks in the room for your guests.

Room, Closets and Drawers
Choose the guest room carefully, and make sure there is adequate closet and drawer space. Supply a variety of hangers, and make certain there is a full-length mirror. A desk is always nice with papers and pen on it.

The Right Pillows and Sheets
Use cotton or linen sheets, ironed. Provide both light and heavy blankets. With Lenor, you can give the sheets a long-lasting and comforting scent. Careful, they might be late for breakfast, because they don’t want to leave their lovely smelling new bed for a while.

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Add Warmth
For visitors during the coldest months, think of putting out extra blankets, soft and wonderfully smelling thanks to Lenor.

Bathroom
If the bathroom is shared, clear space in it for guests’ toiletries, supply clean and wonderfully smelling soft cotton towels. Lenor, here as well, can do the magic for you by combining luxury treatment with coziness and warmth.

Do you know why scented sheets and towels are so important? Because whenever your guests will smell that scent or a nice perfume close to it, even years later, it will remind them of the great times at your place. Your hospitality will become a happy memory that will stay with them forever.

 

5 Tips to Easily Clean Out Your Home to Bring In a Festival

5 Tips to Easily Clean Out Your Home to Bring In a Festival

During the festive season, guests or relatives show up at your home unexpectedly. Which is why, it is all the more important to keep your home clean and festival-ready.


Let’s face it, in India, every cause for celebration includes relatives and friends, especially when it comes to festivals. And another very characteristic Indian trait is to show up with little or no notice. While you can’t change the way your guests are, you can certainly be prepared for their arrival by keeping your home festival ready. These 5 house cleaning tips will get your home in shape for any and every Indian festival possible:

1. Get Rid of Clutter

Festivals are a time of celebration and renewed hope. Which is why, in the spirit of the festivities, clutter needs to go. Starting with clothes, you can donate good clothes that you haven’t worn in a while and you can use clothes in bad condition as wipe cloths. Next, clean your kitchen. Check cabinets for ancient jars, expired stuff as well as ingredients that you hoarded and never used. Throw out the useless items and donate the good yet unused ones. Voila, you have successfully uncluttered your home.

2. Lists Are Good

It is important to list all that you think needs to be done to get your home festival-ready. Then start striking those tasks off your list first. This has two real advantages; one is, even if you run out of time, for whatever reason, you will take care of all the essential cleaning. Secondly, by being organized you will get things done faster, leaving you with more time for secondary cleaning tasks. This is one of the most useful home cleaning tips around.

3. Try Using Cleaning Products 

 

Whether it is cleaning dirty floors with the latest floor cleaning agent or a high-tech vacuum that can help you clean cabinets and shelves better, it is always a good idea to invest in products that can simplify the cleaning process.

4. Divide and Rule

Target one area of your home at a time; that’s how to clean home sweet home the right way. This will make the cleaning process more effective because you will clean each area thoroughly instead of rushing through the process. What’s more, it will make you more productive because you won’t be as drained. To illustrate, focus on the kitchen on one day, then move on to bathrooms the next day, do the bedrooms the next day and leave the windows and fans for the day after.

5. Embellish and Decorate

Make a mental note to purchase items like lanterns, new bed sheets and curtains during end-of-season sales. This will ensure that you have everything you need when the festival is nigh. Last minute purchases during festivals are an expensive affair; do so only if urgent.

Now that you know how to clean your home in no time, you can do it in time for any festival.

30 minute home improvement

30 minute home improvement

Home renovation made easy with these quick but effective ideas.


You don’t have to move house to get the wow factor in your home, just use bold interior design ideas and tackle rooms one at a time rather than putting off what might seem like a bigger, impossible task.

Lounge
Change the focus of your home interiors – move the sofa and the TV to different positions in the lounge. You’ll be amazed how this changes your perspective of a room you use all the time.

Kitchen
If you have room for a table in your kitchen, make a virtue of this space as a ‘dining room’. Using lighting (a low-hanging ceiling light or a well-positioned freestanding lamp next to your table and chairs) to create a ‘restaurant’ feel and to make this space feel different from the rest of the kitchen.

 

Bathroom
If your tiles are looking rather old and tired, simply re-grout them. Carefully dig out the old grout with a grout rake (these cost less than £5 at any big DIY store), making sure you don’t chip your tiles. Then mix up some new grout (go for a waterproof grout, again very cheap), apply it between your tiles and easily wipe off the excess. Even if you didn’t put up your original tiles, this is an easy job and will make your bathroom sparkle.

Bedroom
Rethink your lighting design. Many of us have a main light and bedside lamps, but by adding an extra freestanding lamp or safe, wallmounted candle holders, you can make your bedroom feel more relaxing and ‘loungey’ in the evenings.

Liven up kids bedroom furniture with just a few stencil patterns you can paint on together. Buy a huge poster map of the world and pin it up, or if you have solid plaster walls, clean one of them down and paint it with blackboard paint, then encourage the kids to get creative with chalks.

Savvy tip
Switch your living room curtains for full-length drapes and create an immediate dramatic effect. You don’t have to spend a fortune on home décor – even if you’re not great at making curtains yourself, places like IKEA do long curtains very affordably because they aren’t lined, so all you have to do is buy two pairs and layer them. Easy and cheaper than regular full-length curtains.

 

Make Your Closet Clutter-Free With These 10 Closet Organization Ideas

Make Your Closet Clutter-Free With These 10 Closet Organization Ideas

 

Your closet is much bigger than you think. No seriously, if you relook the way you store things, and with a little bit of closet cleaning and creativity, you’ll be surprised at how much more you can store! These 10 simple storage solutions will show you.

 

10 Space-Saving Ideas For A Clutter-Free Closet

  1. Make the door useful: Nail a few hooks into the closet door and it doubles up as a bag or belt hanger. You could even string your necklaces and other accessories. Having things in front of your eyesnot only makes it easier to pick out matching stuff, but also saves you the trouble of hunting for them in all the wrong places.
  2. Prioritize: Store your everyday items at eye level and within reach. The less-used ones can be designated to the bottom and the least used ones, such as out-of-season clothes,on the top shelves. This is one of the most practical closet organization ideas that puts the things you need the most within your reach. So now you needn’t mess up your cupboard looking for things.
  3. Adjustable shelves: Shelves which can be shifted around help you accommodate clothes piles as well as hangers and can be shuffled according to the increase or decrease of items in your cupboard. Hanging shelves are an equally good idea as they can also be moved out and hung somewhere else if you need more closet space.
  4. Box it up: Use boxes to store knick knacks and accessories and hanging shelves to store towels, shoes and other heavier items. Transparent boxes make life easier.
  5. Coordinated hangers: Single colour hangers give the appearance of a neat, clean wardrobe. Colour coordinating your clothes also makes them easier to find.
  6. Add a mirror: One of the simplest closet ideas, this makes trying on clothes so much easier as you are more likely to put them right back inside if it’s not the chosen one.
  7. Shower rings as scarf holders: Slip on some shower rings onto a hanger and voila! You’ve got a scarf holder that keeps your scarves crease- free.
  8. Double decker hangers: Take the looped clip of a soda can and slip it around a hanger hook. Now slip a second hanger through the lower loop. You can use this to hang paired or matching items. Organizing wardrobe has never been easier!
  9. Label: Designating and labelling space to specific items gives them their slots and helps keep them there.It also makes things easier to find.
  10. Innovate: Use an upright bin or unused umbrella stand to hold umbrellas, yoga mats, sports racquets or other unused items.

De-Clutter & Organise Your Homes With These 5 Tips

De-Clutter & Organise Your Homes With These 5 Tips

Get 5 of the biggest clutter hotspots organized quickly with our room-by-room tips and tricks.


Ring. Ring.

It’s unexpected guests calling. They’ll just be popping over to drop something off and chat in about an hour or so.

Perfect.

Everyone’s shoes are piled up at the front door, the heap of holiday mail is all over the dining room table, your three teenagers’ stuff is crammed in the half bath upstairs, a science project is strewn around the kitchen and you’re apparently coaching a professional sports team in the garage.

Don’t worry. If you’ve got a few minutes before people arrive, you can get all of that looking decluttered in no time.

1. The Entrance Area
The front door or entrance area can be a major clutter spot. When everyone comes in from a long day the first thing they do is plop down bags, coats, shoes and other junk right there.

Stow Away Shoes and Boots: Put a basket, bin or low shelf near the doorway for everyone’s shoes, bags, coats, mittens and hats. Just go ahead and dump them all in. Then fold up a winter blanket and place it on top, covering the clutter.

If you don’t have any bins or baskets sitting around, take two minutes to pair up shoes (instead of just lumping them in a pile) and line them against the wall. Good enough.

2_5-Easy-Ways-to-Cut-Clutter-Quickly-pge

Tip: On rainy days, avoid muddy or wet footprints by using a boot storage system you can make yourself! Take a large, high-edged cookie tray and place it by the front door. Attach some pebble sheeting you can get at any home improvement store inside the tray and have the kids put their wet rain boots right on top.

 

2. Mail
Grab some manila folders from the office and quickly make a pass at organizing the mail. Stick letters in one folder, magazines in another, etc. Then, throw all the sorted folders in a cabinet or drawer. You can go through them after the guests leave – and you may have the beginnings of a long-term solution.

3. The Bathroom
Most bathrooms are quite small, yet we keep a lot of important things in there. Make the most of the space with our de-cluttering ideas.

Take a Makeup Inventory: There’s probably a ton of makeup cluttering the bathroom sink and vanity. Quickly assign a drawer to each family member and stuff their items in there. Who cares if it’s wrong – you can sort it all out later.

Organize Items Based on Frequency of Use: Keep things you use daily – like toothpaste, makeup, lotion and razors – and move them to the easy-to-reach spots on the shelves and cabinets.

4. The Kitchen
They say the kitchen is the heart of the home. That usually means it’s the most cluttered too.

Those Darn Dishes: If you’re going to tackle one thing, make it the dishes. Just corralling them all from the various countertops and getting them into the sink (or in the oven, assuming you’re not baking) should be enough. Wipe the counters and the stove, push in the chairs and you’re good to go.

5. The Living Room
A stack of magazines looks better than having them all strewn about. Put stray dishes in the sink. Put smaller toys in bins or drawers, but bigger ones you can get away with just putting in a corner. If there’s a stray cheese puff on the carpet, go ahead and throw it away. But you can get away with not vacuuming. Run a Swiffer Duster along the TV, shelves and decorations and call it good.

How to Make Laundry Day a Little More Eco-Friendly

How to Make Laundry Day a Little More Eco-Friendly

No more pesky (wasteful!) plastic bags.

Here’s a wonderful promise: You never have to bring home, dispose of, and feel guilty about using another plastic dry cleaning bag again. Nope, we aren’t suggesting you start hand-washing everything from your favorite cocktail dress to your husband’s dress pants—instead, use the Green Garmento three-in-one dry cleaning bag.

This reusable lightweight bag does triple duty as a roomy hamper (with its own snap-together frame), a totable duffel (cinch the top, throw it over your shoulder, and haul it to the cleaners), and a sturdy garment bag for your cleaned and pressed clothes. (See? No need for those landfill-clogging plastic bags.) With clever pockets to stash things like accessories and even your frequent-customer card, the Green Garmento makes dry cleaning easier, more organized, and gentler on the environment. It’s an all-around win.

How—and Why—One Woman Lives in 150 Square Feet

How—and Why—One Woman Lives in 150 Square Feet

What do you do when you’re a reluctant city dweller craving nature? If you’re ecologist Jenny Carney, you build yourself a tiny remote getaway (with a little help from Pa).

jenny-carney-tree

Photo by Rob Howard

Jenny Carney was almost struck by lightning once. A field ecologist, she was using a metal tank of compressed nitrogen to measure the moisture content in a tree. “It started to drizzle,” she says. “Then out of nowhere, a bolt of lightning hit the tank.” Fortunately, the tank didn’t explode. But the simultaneous light-sound experience—“near death by natural disaster,” she jokes—was a pretty exciting moment in her (outdoor) working life.

About 10 years ago, Jenny, now 37, took her scientific-inquiry skills indoors, where she felt they could make more of an impact. She runs a sustainability consulting firm in Chicago called YR&G that advises companies on all aspects of green building and energy-efficiency. It’s rewarding work, for sure. But sitting in front of a computer all day made Jenny, who had grown up in rural Wisconsin and had traversed forests in her previous gig, ache for nature. It’s a familiar feeling, even for those of us with urban roots and desk-centric careers.

Hatching a Plan

Raised by parents who had let their kids wander free with an ethos of “benign neglect,” Jenny had fond memories of slipping past barbed-wire fences to say hello to the neighbors’ cows. She dreamed of a similar vibe for adulthood, but she didn’t have the budget for a traditional country house.

Then she read a book that galvanized her. It was by journalist Richard Louv and titled Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. Suddenly Jenny had a name for the malaise many of us feel from being cooped up too much—nature-deficit disorder—and confirmation that, as she explains it, “a compulsion toward nature is a health imperative.” If she couldn’t buy a place, she decided, she would build one herself. Something tiny. Did she have the construction chops? Not yet. But she was a good learner, and she had a secret weapon: her dad, Paul, who, she notes, “could build just about anything.” She started combing online listings for affordable property relatively close to Chicago, in a part of her home state that she considered particularly beautiful.

Discovering Xanadu

In early 2009, Jenny purchased six acres of raw land in the Driftless region of southwestern Wisconsin, near the bluffs of the Mississippi River. She taught herself the 3-D modeling software SketchUp and spent that spring designing a small structure. Jenny had never designed anything before, but the software is perfect for beginners. “I was shooting for something more like a studio,” she says. In her head, she downplayed the fact that she would actually need to sleep there overnight. (The land was a good four hours from Chicago.) This “made the project seem attainable despite my lack of experience,” she adds with a laugh.

The structure that she drew and later built is not big and not fancy. Says Jenny: “It’s very intentionally not a house—it’s at best a shelter. I actually call it a shed. Sometimes I sleep in a tent or outside on the porch if the bugs and weather are tolerable. Sometimes I sleep inside.” Jenny’s friend Cayce nicknamed the retreat Xanadu, after the enchanted landscape in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan.” It’s an apt moniker. The area features rolling hills, small farms, and country roads dotted with Amish buggies. And at 150 square feet, the shed is all about what surrounds it. “The default state at Xanadu is to be outside in nature,” says Jenny. “You have to make the active decision to go inside.”

It’s in the Genes

Jenny grew up watching both her parents make things with their hands. Her mother, Jane, is an artist who teaches reupholstering (just one of her many skills) at the local tech school. Jane taught Jenny and her sister how to cane chairs, a skill that came in handy when they needed pocket money during graduate school. Jenny’s father, a retired construction foreman who worked on bridges, built the family’s current home and several outbuildings with help from his kids and his brothers. Jenny says, “Lots of people from Wisconsin are like this. They’re industrious—they just do things.”

Raising a Shed

By most accounts, Jenny’s shed went up smoothly one extended October weekend in 2009, in large part because Jenny and Paul made a great team. She’s a planner; he’s a figure-it-out-as-you-go-er. “I enlisted his help right away to look at my drawings and tell me whether it was going to work,” she says. “But he didn’t fully engage in the project until we were actually building it.” Then there was no problem he could not solve.

They started by choosing a location for the structure. Jenny wanted to build deep in the woods, on a level road that followed an old farmer’s fence line. Her city self sought privacy. Paul convinced her to move the site closer to the field where she would park her car, in part so they wouldn’t have to lug building materials as far. (She thanked him later.) They created what’s known as a floating foundation by laying a small bed of gravel for each footing and arranging 12 concrete deck blocks (they look like cinder blocks). Working hard with Jenny and Paul all weekend were Paul’s brother Bob and Jenny’s mom, Jane, who also kept the team well fed. At one point, a couple of friends stopped by to lend extra hands.

Says newbie-builder Jenny, “When you focus on the constituent parts, [a project like this] seems manageable: Build a floor, add some walls, top it with a roof.” And that’s what they did. After the foundation was in place, they framed the floor, dropping supports of different lengths to create a level surface on the hill. Since they were building on an incline, the supports at the top of the hill are shorter than those at the bottom—and the floor appears to stick straight out of the hillside.

Days at Xanadu are spent lounging on the porch and enjoying the company of friends while waiting the 20 minutes it takes for water to boil.

Next they put down plywood floor decking. Then they framed the walls, leaving room for windows, and the roof, which would be metal, to facilitate rainwater collection.

After the skeleton of the shed was in place, they hung exterior walls made of plywood and added a layer of environmentally friendly siding (made of cement, sand, and wood fiber). “Fiber-cement siding,” Jenny explains, “is durable and low-maintenance, yet it’s far more environmentally preferred than vinyl siding. For one thing, it’s inert and noncombustible, so you don’t have to worry about off-gassing or the release of toxic compounds in the event of a fire.” Paul and Jenny finished up by installing energy-efficient windows and a sliding-glass door that opens onto a porch, sheltered by an overhanging roof.

Three and a half days after the project began, the exterior shell was complete. Jenny’s mom rewarded the team with a huge pan of lasagna made on a camp stove.

Filling in the Blanks

The remaining construction took place in stages over the course of the following year. Jenny came back by herself to build the interior walls. She used Energy Star–qualified foam insulation between the studs and finished the inside walls and the ceiling with formaldehyde-free plywood.

That fall, Paul returned, and together they fitted the space with a woodstove and a chimney so it could be used in winter. He and Jenny also built a simple, space-saving Murphy-type bed: It’s a basic platform bed whose head is attached to the wall with hinges. They added hooks to the far legs and chains to the wall so that the bed could be hinged and lifted to hang vertically, flush against the wall, when not in use. Bed linens are kept in two storage bins that, like most everything in the shed, serve a dual purpose—they’re sofa seating.

Something To Eat, Nothing To Do

Jenny researched vegetables that could thrive without care. Since she’s not around to water regularly, they needed to be OK with what nature provides. In raised beds in a nearby field, she grows onions, fingerling potatoes, and beans, which she leaves to dry on the vine, then harvests for dinner.

Days at Xanadu are spent lounging on the porch, blazing trails, hunting for wild morel mushrooms, and enjoying the company of friends and loved ones while waiting the 20 minutes it takes for water to boil on the woodstove.

The Unfinished Product

There’s still no plumbing or electricity installed on the property, and for now Jenny prefers it this way. She collects rainwater in a barrel to wash dishes, cooks on a campfire propane grill or the woodstove, uses a solar-charged battery to power a few lights, and turns to sawdust and a bucket for a loo. As long as you’re prepared to rough it, she says, staying at Xanadu feels like cushy camping.

In an effort to return the land to its original state. Jenny cultivates prairie plants, such as milkweed. (Monarch-butterfly larvae require it, and sadly it’s disappearing.) Last year, she planted heirloom apple trees, which the deer keep picking at. In a field near the garden are tree-swallow houses made by Paul from a design that Jenny found online. Birds make their home there during mating season; field mice take residence the rest of the year. Even the swallows have a second purpose, says Jenny: “They’re insectivores, gobbling mosquitoes to make lounging in the field more appealing for humans.”

Jenny dreams of a high-speed rail link between Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin, which would allow her to make the most of the trek. Until then, she does the four-hour drive whenever she can get away, staying as long as her schedule permits.

At the end of each visit, before she heads back to her city life, she has a ritual. She sits on the porch, drinking a beer and reading a poem.

Paul Carney understands Jenny’s pull toward this rustic project. During his retirement, he figures that he spends 90 percent of his waking time outside, gardening, fishing, and working on his house. “In the summer, I just come in to eat and sleep,” he reports.

6 Eco-Friendly Home Décor Finds

6 Eco-Friendly Home Décor Finds

Going green can also be glamorous with the help of these environmentally-friendly accents.

1

Recycled Glass Jug

recycled-glass-jug

The touch of twine on the neck gives this recycled glass jug a pretty, earthy flair. Use it as a doorstop in an entryway or as décor on a screened-in porch.

 

2

Woven Chindi Metal Bench

woven-chindi-metal-bench

Made in India with repurposed fabric scraps, this one-of-a-kind bench offers a great way to add some eclectic flair into your space.

3

Recycled Rope Doormat

recycled-rope-doormat

Leave dirt and debris at the door with this durable mat at the ready. The recycled polyester is resistant to mildew, so it can withstand the springtime mudroom mess.



4

Common Good Dish Soap

common-good-dish-soap

A concentrated, plant-based formula enhanced with natural extracts is stored within a sleek glass bottle to tackle a multitude of kitchen messes.

5

Reclaimed Teak Garden Stool

reclaimed-teak-garden-stool

Whether adorning your indoor workspace or your exterior potting shed, this reclaimed teak stool will be a—ahem—natural fit wherever it’s placed.

Farmstead Stoneware Striped Serving Bowl

stoneware-striped-serving-bowl

Crafted in Portugal with lead-free glazes and scrap materials, this handmade bowl may have had minor environmental impact, but its bright colors are sure to offer major wow-factor.

How to Reduce Food Waste

How to Reduce Food Waste

Every year, the United States chucks nearly 40 percent of its food. Dana Gunders, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the author of The Waste-free Kitchen Handbook, offers money- and planet-saving tips.

shopping-food-waste

Photo by Peter Oumanski

Your book says the United States wastes 50 percent more food now than it did in the 1970s. Why is that?
Portion sizes have grown tremendously since then. Plus, it’s become normal for restaurants and caterers to produce excessive menus and buffets and for consumers to buy more than they need.

We’ve come to expect large amounts of food.
Yes. Research NRDC has done found that people are not comfortable with empty white space on plates or in fridges or grocery carts. There’s an urge to fill those spaces with food. And in our culture, throwing food out is acceptable. In fact, leaving something on your plate is considered posh.

What else contributes to food waste?
A lot of produce won’t get picked for market because it’s not pretty enough to be sold. It gets tossed or turned into the soil.

What’s the environmental impact?
About 70 percent of our water and 50 percent of our land is devoted to agriculture. So when we’re not eating that food, it’s a huge unnecessary use of resources. About 33 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gases are produced to grow food that never gets eaten.

What types of food get wasted most?
Fruits and vegetables. Tied for second are dairy products and bread. Meat is third, but it has the biggest impact. If you throw out a hamburger, that’s the equivalent of taking a 90-minute shower, in terms of the water it took to produce it.

How can we waste less produce?
If you need small amounts of specific fruits or veggies for a recipe, buy them from the salad bar so the excess won’t rot in your fridge. Or buy frozen versions, which have almost the same nutritional value with none of the pressure.

What else can we do?
Be realistic. What tends to happen is you buy all these groceries on the weekend because you’re feeling aspirational about how much you’re going to cook. But by Wednesday, life has happened and you’re ordering takeout. And then the broccoli goes bad. Instead, plan for that. If you can, shop often and buy less.

How else can we be conscientious shoppers?
Use a shopping list or an app. And take a last look in your cart before checking out. Think about when in the near future you’re going to eat each item. If you don’t have a clear answer, don’t buy it.

You also talk about conducting a “waste audit.”
For two weeks, jot down what you throw out to pinpoint what you are wasting and why. Did dinner plans change? Did you get wooed by a sale and buy too much? Write down the cost so you feel the financial pain.

How closely should we follow expiration dates?
Take them with a grain of salt, as they’re not federally regulated. A “use by” or “best by” date typically says when the product will be at its best quality. There may be a change in taste, color, or texture.

So we may be throwing out food that’s still OK?
Yes. A big misunderstanding is that when food is old, it will make you sick. The main reason for illness is pathogens like salmonella and E. coli that contaminate food at the farm or processing plants.

What do we need to be careful of?
Mold, green potatoes, and rancid meat, oil, or nuts.

What are some ideas to use up food?
Toss a mishmash of items into a tortilla or in fried rice or pasta salad. You can also sauté wilted lettuce with butter and garlic. Even if you waste a little bit less, it’s still an accomplishment.

5 Unexpected Causes of Pollution

5 Unexpected Causes of Pollution

Five surprising ways you’re hurting the environment—and the surprisingly easy changes you can make to be greener.

1

Using Body Wash All the Time

flowers-wrapped-plastic

Photo by Aaron Dyer, Prop Styling by JoJo Li

Liquid soaps require five times more energy for raw-material production and nearly 20 times more energy for packaging production than bar soaps do. “And higher energy consumption usually correlates with a higher carbon footprint,” says David Tyler, a professor of chemistry at the University of Oregon, in Eugene.

Greener Habit
Stick with bars when you wash up. Not only do they have a considerably lower impact on the environment but also you’ll use less. A study from Zurich’s Institute of Environmental Engineering found that consumers use almost seven times more liquid soap than bar soap when hand washing, so it’s quite likely that we’re overdoing it in the shower as well.

 

2

Being Oblivious to Your Electronics Settings

The average home contains about 24 energy-sucking electronic devices, with TVs, desktop computers, cable boxes, and game consoles among the worst. Combined, they consumed about $20 billion worth of electricity in 2013, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in New York.

Greener Habit
It’s easy to tweak a TV, so start there. Select “home” mode in the setup instead of “retail,” which is meant for a bright in-store display. If there is an automatic brightness control, turn it on. “This feature measures the amount of light in a room and adjusts the screen. This can cut energy use by up to 50 percent,” says Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist for the NRDC. On smart TVs, disable the quick-start function, which eats up extra power.

3

Running the Dishwasher and the Clothes Dryer During the Day

These machines produce heat and humidity, which means your air conditioner has to work harder, says Jennifer Amann, the buildings program director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, in Washington, D.C. Besides, many utility companies charge higher rates during peak hours.

Greener Habit
Use your dishwasher and dryer during off-peak hours, which typically start between 8 P.M. and midnight and end around sunrise. (Check with your provider.) For maximum efficiency, use a low dryer setting, and line-dry thick items, like jeans and towels, whenever possible.



4

Tossing Used Coffee Pods

Around 9.8 billion K-cup pods were sold in 2014. (They account for a reported 85 to 90 percent of the coffee-pod market.) The number 7 plastic most contain isn’t accepted at many recycling plants (also, plants won’t accept pods if they are filled with coffee), so a majority end up in landfills, says Elizabeth Glazner, the editorial director of the nonprofit organization Plastic Pollution Coalition.

Greener Habit
Find a nearby recycling facility that will take them by searching for “number 7 plastic” at search.earth911.com. Then separate the plastic cup from the lid, the filter, and the grounds. The Recycle A Cup gadget ($13, recycleacup.com) will do this in seconds. Or mail pod plastic to Recycle A Cup for free recycling. Easier yet, use a refillable pod (My K-Cup, $15, keurig.com).

5

Overdoing It With Aluminum Foil

Americans discarded about 2.8 million tons of aluminum—including containers, cans, and foil—in 2013, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Whereas soiled containers can be recycled, dirty foil can’t. And it can take centuries for aluminum to biodegrade.

Greener Habit
Use unbleached parchment paper for baking and roasting as well as for wrapping sandwiches and snacks. It’s biodegradeable, compostable, and often reusable.