Eco Friendly

Eco Friendly Rules to Live By

Eco Friendly Rule sot Live by

There is so much focus this day in age on the environment and becoming Eco friendly. But how exactly does one do that? While still learning about how to become more Eco friendly, my husband and I created our rules to live by to make our lives and home more Eco friendly.

All Products Must be Cruelty-Free

So this first one doesn’t have a direct correlation to more sustainable living but it is very important. Any product that comes into our home must be cruelty-free. There are so many reasons that cruelty-free is important. I could definitely go on a long rant, but I won’t at this time. But let’s list the top reason – no animals were made to suffer in the production of any of the products.

There is an indirect correlation to green living when purchasing cruelty-free products. Many of these products tend to be more Eco friendly just because they tend to use better natural ingredients.

I want to take a moment to note that it is really hard to find medications that are cruelty-free, but I wont stop looking. If we really need something for our health and well being we will use it, but we try to find a cruelty-free option if possible.

Thrift Or Garage Sale First

People are constantly cleaning out their homes and trying to find new homes for all of their stuff. I find the best deals at garage sales and thrift stores. I often search there first before I would consider purchasing something at a store. Reuse is a main principle of sustainable living because it isn’t contributing to the demand for new product.

Try DIY First

Try to make what you need before purchasing it ready made. This could be really complex like a piece of furniture to something simple like that pan of lasagna instead of the freezer section one. You develop skills as a craftsmen, as well as have a sense of pride in your creation!

Purchase Things That You Need

There is so much advertising out there trying to get you to purchase their products. It is really easy to just start buying random items. However, it is important to stop and think “Do I really need this?” In most cases, you don’t. While this is an Eco friendly rule it is also good for your budget.

Purchase Quality Over Quantity

When making a purchase, I often spend a little more on something I know is going to last over something that I will have to replace soon. So many things are designed cheap just to toss out later on. I try really hard to find things with long lifespans in order to reduce buying new again.

All Clothing Must be at Least 80% Cotton Or Other Natural Material

Have you ever heard of micro plastics? They are tiny pieces of plastic that have completely invaded our environment on every level. One of the main ways they enter our environment is from washing our plastic-based clothing, i.e. polyester. During the washing cycle, these materials shed tiny pieces of themselves and work their way into the air and water. By wearing clothing that is made from natural fibers, you will not be adding to the micro plastics via laundry.

Purchase The Plastic Free Alternative

There are so many plastic products out there, but there are a growing number of alternatives being put on the market. Instead of grabbing that plastic jar of pasta sauce, reach for the glass one. Instead of getting the plastic laundry bin, grab a wicker one. You might be surprised how many plastic alternatives there are out there. Try to reduce plastic when ever possible. Make simple swaps for things made with natural materials. That includes things made of wood, grasses, wicker, glass, and paper.

Grow It If You Can

While having a big garden is a dream of mine, it’s not a reality right now. But even growing my own herbs in the window sill can have a positive effect. A small action like this can reduce your plastic waste by not having to buy the fresh herbs from the grocery store or the dried herbs in the spice section. There is also all the energy that it takes to move the products to the store. By having it right at home you cut out all the transportation needed to get the product to its (usually far flung) destination.

Eco Friendly Rules to Live by
Walk/Bike Whenever You Can Instead Of Taking The Car

To cut down on emissions from the car, walk or bike whenever it’s possible. Public transportation is also a better option. Something that just breaks my heart every day is having to drive to work. I work just a couple of miles from my home and could easily bike, but I need my car for work so I have to bring it with. I wish I this wasn’t so. My husband drives 30 miles to work and we recently purchased him a new car that has a much higher MPG, so every little bit helps no matter your mode of transportation.

Say No To Single Use Items

Straws, plastic silverware, cling wrap, plastic bottles, produce bags, chip bags, the list goes on and on. It’s simple – say no to things that are used once and then thrown away!

VOTE

You have power in your vote! Make it known to your representatives that the environment is a priority. Support people who believe the same thing as you. Get out there and vote and encourage everyone you know to vote, too! There are many people who go out for the big elections (2020, for example) but voting on your more local positions are just as important. A perfect example of this is voting for city council members who would support and encourage green buildings and businesses in your town.

Hang Dry Clothes

Why turn on the dryer and use unneeded electricity or gas when you can hang dry clothing? Whether it’s outside or on a clothes line or racks inside, it is easy to air dry clothes. Now that we have our own home it is easy to have drying racks right there in the laundry room. Honestly, I have flashbacks to my college dorm room when my roommate and I shared a drying rack. It seemed like we always had it set up in a corner of our small shared room, but it worked well!

Use Renewable Energy Resources

Whenever possible, use renewable energy. An obvious way to do this is to have solar panels on or near your home. While great, they may not be feasible for every family. There are other ways to use solar, though. Try solar lights or investing in a solar garden through the electric company. Check out your community – you may be surprised what resources are out there.

Eco Friendly Rules to Live by
Reuse, Refuse, Recycle, Rot and Reduce

Know and use the five R’s. Reuse products, refuse single use items/plastics, recycle whatever you can, compost (rot) what you can (see my post about composting here), and reduce waste in whatever part of your lifestyle you can.

Make Your Own Cleaners

Instead of purchasing bottle after bottle of toxic cleaners, try making our own. They often work just as well, if not better, than the store bought products. They are also way cheaper.

So those are my Eco friendly rules to live by. My family and I are not perfect, but by following these guidelines it has helped us drastically reduce our waste and become more Eco conscious consumers and people.

What do you think of these Eco friendly rules to live by? Do have anything to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Eco Friendly Rules to Live By

Cloth Diaper Routine

Cloth Diaper Routine

There are so many questions when it comes to cloth diapering and a cloth diaper routine. Having cloth diapered for over a year now, I think my husband and I have worked out a pretty good system. So for the new parents out there, I thought I would share it for any of you thinking about setting up your cloth diapering station.

I included links for all the products that I love down below.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interest at heart.

The Set Up

So first things first: the set up. We currently have 32 cloth diapers. I have a combination of Alva Baby, Nora Nursery, Anma Baby, Bumgenius, and Mama Koala brands. We also use bamboo and charcoal bamboo inserts.

I have a diaper changing pad of the top of Little One’s dresser, which is secured. On the right side of the dresser I keep a laundry hamper. On the left side I keep a diaper bin with a lid, lined with a large wet bag. Next to that I have a normal lidded trash can and an extra plastic container to hold dirty diapers that need rinsing. On the top drawer of the dresser I keep the diapers, cloth wipes, and creams/lotions. We also keep a spray bottle containing water handy for the cloth wipes when the situation gets…poopy.

The Routine

When Little One was brand new we went through at least 12 diapers a day. Now that he is bigger we go through anywhere between 6-10 diapers in a day. Even though we go through less diapers now we still wash every two to three days.

We keep all diapers ready to go with the inserts in them and folded in half. Once the diaper is used we take out the insert and place both the insert and diaper in the pail with the wet bag.

Once we have reached two days and roughly half the diapers used we will wash them.

To wash the diaper, we first put the diapers in the machine by dumping the wet bag (including the wet bag itself) into the washer. So need to touch any diapers! We first put the diapers through a rinse cycle with no detergent . After the rinse cycle, we do a regular cycle with soap (we use the unscented soap from Costco). I want to mention here that I have tried a couple plant-based laundry soaps, but they didn’t clean effectively and left the diapers with a smell. Also of note, we do an extra hot rinse every 4-6 weeks after the normal cycles just to give the diapers a more thorough cleaning.

After washing, we separate the laundry and the inserts and wipes go into the dryer on medium heat. The covers move to a drying rack in Little One’s room. We found it was easier to dry the diapers in his room – just in case we ran out we could make a new one quickly.

Once everything is dry we assemble the diapers and put them back into the drawer. We often assemble diapers when Little One is playing on the floor, and often he tries to “help” by taking and throwing them on the floor!

Cloth Diaper Routine
The Poop

So the poop…we have to deal with the poop. When we find we have a messy diaper to deal with, the first thing we do is wet 2-4 wipes. Clean up your Little One, grab a fresh diaper, and toss the dirty diaper into the plastic bin next to the diaper pail. Remove the insert and place in the diaper bin. Place the lid back on and finish changing the diaper.

To clean the diaper, we dunk the diaper in the toilet to clean it off. Many people who cloth diaper use a sprayer to clean off the diapers, but I find that this method works for us well enough. Much of the time the #2 is solid and it just pops off. No biggie!

I will note that until little ones reach the age that they start solid food, the diapers don’t need to be cleaned in the toilet. They can go straight into the diaper pail.

My Special Cleaner

Naturally, sometimes the diapers will stain after so much exposure to poop. I have a special cleaner that I use for just this purpose. I have been wanting to do a post on it, but honestly we haven’t had a really stained diaper in quite a while…knock on wood!

My cleaner is simple – just a spray bottle with water and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Spray this on the diaper and lay it in the sun for a couple of hours and, like magic, the stain disappears!

Cloth Diaper Routine

So that is our cloth diaper routine! To me it seems pretty easy and now second nature. At this point, it’s been ingrained into our system just like any other errand we do around the house.

Let me know what you think of the cloth diaper routine, and if you have any tips or questions. I would love to know if you cloth diaper and what your routine is! If you haven’t already, check out my reasons to try cloth diapering here.

Pact Apparel Review

Pact Apparel Review

It’s time for another product review! I have recently learned about Pact and have ordered my first clothing items from them. So in this post I thought I”d review Pact apparel in general, what I purchased, and the process.

I wanted to try Pact because they use 100% organic cotton and are fair trade factory certified. My husband and I have been making the switch to strictly purchasing things that are made with natural fibers and supporting companies that share in similar goals.

Read on and learn about my experience and observations!

Disclaimer: This blog post contains links to Pact. I am not currently an affiliate of Pact. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interest at heart

Variety

Pact has a great variety! It has clothing for not only women, but men and children, as well. Their style tends to be a bit more simple, classic, and minimalist, which is the type of clothes I prefer. I like to keep it simple. Pact also has tops, bottoms, and undergarments available. Considering all this, there is really something for everyone.

Pact also has linens, although I haven’t checked them out yet. I am excited to in the future when/if the need arises!

Cost

While I could probably find some better deals on cheaper clothes somewhere else, quality matters, and that is why I shop at Pact. They have a great quality product and their prices are not outrageous. I recently purchased a 2-pack of leggings for $40, which is decent (then again, it helped they were on sale!)

Pact also frequently has promo codes available in addition to sales.

Shipping

When I was checking out with my first purchase, there was an Eco shipping option available. It was so neat to see this, and of course I selected it. My order arrived within two weeks and it came in a 100% recyclable paper package. This was great, but the products inside the bag were still wrapped in plastic.

pact review
Comfort

I ordered leggings and they are so comfy! They have been great for both lounging around the house and for walking. The leggings are a bit long for me…but I am short so that was to be expected.

I would definitely recommend checking out Pact because they make a comfortable and affordable product in a sustainable way. You can click this link to check out their awesome selection. I hope you enjoyed my Pact apparel review and please let me know if you have gotten anything from this great company and what you thought of it!

What To Compost

We love composting, but it has definitely taken some trial and error to figure it out. One of the biggest challenges was learning what to compost.

You would be surprised how many non food related items can and should be composted. Check out our master list of composting items below.

Produce Products

Food scraps are what most people think of when the topic of composting comes up. Food scraps are referred to as the greens which are nitrogen-rich materials. They decompose quicker when cut up into small pieces.

  • Rinds of fruit
  • Pits and seeds (small)
  • Produce scraps
  • Peals
  • Green clippings (example tops of carrots)
what to compost
Animal Products
  • Egg shells
what to compost
Food Products
  • Ground coffee
  • Tea bags
  • Nuts
Household Products
  • Coffee filters
  • Paper
Yard Waste

The browns are carbon-rich materials that consist mainly of dried yard waste, such as leaves and grass clippings. In general there should be a ratio of 25-30 browns to 1 of the greens.

  • Grass clippings
  • Dried leaves
  • Dried weeds
  • Sawdust
  • Excess dirt
  • Dried pine needles
  • Natural fibers
  • Dried flowers
What to compost
Things to Avoid
  • Dairy products
  • Meat and bones
  • Fruit stickers
  • Hard pits (avocado pits, for example)
  • Personal hygiene products
  • Animal excrement
  • Oils

I hope that helps with what to compost in your bin! Let me know how your composting adventures go or if you have any questions.

Check out my post on how to make the most of composting.

Reasons To Try Cloth Diapering

Reasons why to cloth diaper

I absolutely love cloth diapering! As soon as I learned more about it, I never questioned if I would use cloth diapers or not. My husband was on board early on because all of the fantastic benefits. Below you will find my top reasons for choosing cloth diapers.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.

The Environment

Babies on average go through 2500 diapers in their first year and each diaper can take hundreds of years to decompose in a land fill. I did not want to add to that, so I started looking for alternatives. Enter the cloth diaper. They are more modern now with all in ones, flip, and pocket diapers. It makes it much easier, although the old version of flats are pretty user friendly, too.

While it does take more water to wash cloth diapers it doesn’t create anywhere near the amount of waste. The conscientious user can offset this added water usage with modifications to other water-using habits, like showers and washing dishes.

The Money

Depending on what cloth diapers you use this can be very inexpensive. I personally like Alvababy and Anmababy but I have a few others I use for specific purposes, like Mama Koala. On average, they cost $5 per diaper (some of the high end ones can be $20-30 per diaper). I would recommend 28-32 diapers, bringing it to a total of only $160 for all of the diapers! These diapers can last years, all the way through potty training years and on to multiple kiddos. Here’s the rough math: 1 year of disposable diapers can cost $850, and after 3 years of diapering it would cost $ 2550 for each kid!

We actually didn’t end up paying anything for our cloth diapers. I added them to my Amazon registry, and had loving friends and family members purchase them for Little One. I ended up receiving all that I needed through baby showers, so my diapering costs went down to $0!

We did end up purchasing more bamboo and charcoal inserts, which I would highly recommend over the micro fiber inserts. Not only are bamboo and charcoal natural products, they are able to absorb a little more pee than the micro fiber.

The Bum

Cloth diapers are so much better for Little One’s bum. They drastically reduce the risk of diaper rash. Many disposable diapers have chemicals in them that are bad for babies’ bums, though there are some brands that are addressing the issue. They also dramatically reduce the risk of blow outs (meaning poop goes all over the place if you aren’t familiar with the term). We have been cloth diapering for over a year and have only had 3, and really they weren’t too bad. I remember my sister-in-law, who used disposables, sending me a pic of my nephew and it was all the way up to his neck!

The Cuteness

Cloth diapers are so cute! I don’t really need to elaborate…check them out for yourself.

Reasons why to cloth diaper
Reasons why to cloth diaper

Have you thought about trying out cloth diapers, but not quite convinced? I hope this post on the reasons to try cloth diapering helped. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments blow!

Next, check out my Harry Potter Nursery post.

Reasons why to cloth diaper

Zero Waste Switch to Felted Soap

Zero waste switch to felted soap

We recently made the zero waste switch to felted soap. I personally loved the Shea Moisture brand but disliked having to toss away the plastic bottle when it was done. One of the things I loved about using body wash was that I could use a loofah to get a nice foaming lather to wash up. But as a plastic-based product, it was another thing that needed to be thrown away quite often.

So we made the switch to felted wool soap. I found this soap at my local farmer’s market. It is a wonderful white tea and ginger homemade soap wrapped in sheep’s wool.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an  associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.

The Benefits

One of the benefits of switching to felted soap is the anti-microbial aspects of the wool. Meaning that you can keep using it time after time without worrying about those little bacteria growing. Unlike the loofah, you don’t have to worry about throwing it away after so many uses.

Another benefit of using felted soap is that generally (depending on where you get it) the soap is created with all natural wholesome ingredients. Obviously these are super healthy for your skin and your overall heath.

As for cost, I bought my bar of soap for $7. My husband showers probably as much as the average person and his first felted bar of soap, which was smaller than the ones we use now, lasted several months. The cost effectiveness is pretty incredible when compared to the other methods of cleaning.

Using The Soap

Switching to felted soap is very easy: just place it in the shower and run it under the stream of water. Use your hands to lather the wool and then use it like regular soap. I loved the lather the loofah gave me and the wool is able to give a similar effect. It does take a couple of showers with a new bar to get a really good lather going.

Store it in the shower but keep it raised and out of standing water. We use a soap tray like this one.

Zero Waste

This soap is a great zero waste option because the whole soap can be used and it does not come in plastic packaging. In addition, the remaining wool can be repurposed. You can reuse it as face wash scrubbers, kitchen scrubbers, or a million other uses you can come up with. If you are unable find a new purpose for the wool, it can be composted. Check out my post here about making the most of your composting. The wool and the soap being made of natural materials is what makes it compostable – talk about zero waste!

Where To Find It

The first spot I recommend you check is your local farmer’s markets or specialty shops. Try to buy local when you can to support small businesses. I bought mine from a farmer’s market. Luckily there is one vendor at mine that makes them and I love all the scents that she uses. I requested her business card so I can order more during the farmer’s market’s off season.

If felted soap is not available locally for you, there are two places online that I’d recommend. You can find them on Etsy and you can find them on Amazon here or here.

I hope this post inspired you to make the zero waste switch to felted soap. Let me know how it went, or if you have discovered any other fantastic brands of felted soap in the comments below!

How To Make A Produce Bag

How to make a reusable produce bag.

One major but easy switch in helping us reduce our plastic use was switching to reusable produce bags. I found some great ones here on Amazon. What I liked about these ones are that they are 100% organic cotton. But, of course, instead of ordering them I thought to myself “I can make that!” So join me in this post on how to make a DIY produce bag.

This is a simple bag design with a draw string. I used some mesh that I had left over from a curtain panel that I got from IKEA. If you are an IKEA fan you have most likely seen these panels for about $4. I purchased these panels to decorate for my wedding and have been storing them for 5 years so I am happy to put them to good use now. While these bags that I made are not organic cotton, I feel better using something that I already had instead of ordering something new.

Any material could be used to make these bags, but a mesh like this or a sturdy cotton would be best. I used left over ribbon, shoe string, and cording for the draw strings. My goal was to reuse what I had, so although none of the bags match each other, that’s okay with me.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Step One

Step one for making a DIY produce bag is to gather the following materials and supplies:

  • Fabric
  • Draw string
  • Rotary cutter or scissors
  • Straight edge
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Safety Pin
Step Two

The second step is to decide how big the bag needs to be. I did a variety of sizes for different types of fruits and vegges. A large size would be 12 inches by 17 inches, medium would be 10 inches by 14 inches, and a small bag is equal to 8 inches by 12 inches. These are great sizes to start with but what’s great about making these yourself is that the bags can be customized to meet your needs.

Measure out the size needed for the bag. The width of the bag should double the size that the bag needs to be. So if making a 12 inch by 17 inch bag, cut a piece of fabric 24 inches by 17 inches.

Cut out the bag using the straight edge and a cutting tool.

Step Two, cutting DIY produce bag.
Step Three

Next, fold the top edge of the fabric down and pin it. Fold enough fabric over to contain the chosen draw string.

Then stitch down the folded fabric using a straight or small zig zag stitch, back-stitching at the beginning and end. When stitching mesh, go slow and try to keep the fabric from stretching.

Step Three sewing casing on DIY produce bag.
Step Four

Fold the fabric in half and pin along the open sides. Do not pin or sew over the area stitched for the draw string. Sew along the edge, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance and back-stitching at the beginning and end.

Step Five

Using the safety pin, pin it to the tip of the draw string. Feed the draw string through the pocket at the top of the bag. When the draw string is through, remove the safety pin. Tie the ends of the draw string together in a secure knot.

Step Five inserting draw string in to produce bag.

That’s it! You now have a draw string bag. This took me less then 10 minutes to make. I have now made 5 of these and take them to the grocery store every time we go. Our grocery store has a great foods section where I can get most of my produce without using plastic packaging! My next goal is to make a couple of bags that are solid fabric that I can utilize for the bulk food bins. We routinely get beans, rice, and seeds from the bulk bins and using jars can be challenging, so bags might be our perfect solution.

Check out my tips for zero waste shopping here.

Have you tried this how to make a DIY produce bag tutorial? How did it go? Let me know in the comments below!

Finish DIY produce bag.

How To make the Most of Composting

how to make the most of composting

Yay, making dirt! Composting is awesome because it turns our food waste into nutritious dirt for our garden. It also helps our waste become productive for our family instead of being sent off to the landfill. Here are some tips on how to make the most of our composting bin.

I have been composting for most of my life, first at my family home and now in my own home. It’s been relatively recently that, with the help and determination from my husband, I’ve really begun to understand the process of composting.

We have been composting for about 3 years now, and for the first time this summer we had dirt suitable enough to put in our flower pots!

Below are my tips to make the most of your compost bin and make it work for you.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers’ best interests at heart.

Types of Compost Bins

There are many types of compost bins. The first one I had experience with was the type at my childhood home. We had a bit more land, and our compost was a big open heap at the end of our garden. I wasn’t too involved in the process, other than dumping the organics on the pile. It seems this method would work best if done in small piles so the dirt is easy to rotate. I have heard anecdotes about people encountering critters/pests in their open compost pile so keep that possibility in mind if you go with the open style.

Right now we have a cylindrical outdoor bin that is open to the ground (see the picture below), the reason being that we live in town and don’t have a lot of extra space. I like this one because it can contain the compost, it doesn’t attract critters, and it is open to the ground so the worms and insects can help break down the organic material. We got our compost bin from a free program that our city put on, but a similar one can be found here. Additionally, I know there are also many DIY methods out there to create your own bin.

There are also tumbler-style systems, like this one. These seem to appeal to a lot of people presumably because they’re transportable, easy to stir (you simply rotate the bin), and they work great for smaller places. They are great for apartments and condos since they don’t take up much space and they look good.

Types of Materials

There a two main types of materials that need to go in to the compost bin: greens and browns. The browns are carbon-rich materials that consist mainly of dried yard waste, such as leaves and grass clippings. The greens are nitrogen-rich materials and consist of food scraps. It is important to have a balanced compost bin to help decompose the organic material and make a balanced soil. The ratio should be around 25-30 of the browns to 1 of the greens. While it is best for the compost to have more browns then greens, it is okay if the balance isn’t exact. It will just take longer for the greens to decompose.

We utilize grass clippings, dried weeds/plants, leaves, and pine needles in the spring, summer and fall. However, being northern Minnesota, we have 5-6 months of winter each year. During this time we don’t have as much brown material to add to our compost bin. We still keep adding to our compost bin with our food waste throughout the winter. When the snow melts and the ground thaws we make sure to add a bunch of browns and turn/rotate the compost bin.

Also keep in mind that your organics need a certain level of moisture. It shouldn’t be bone dry but not sopping wet, either. It’s all about finding that happy medium. This is not an exact science – simply leave it alone if it’s too wet and add water if it looks too dry. If you can’t see any moisture on the surface, that’s a good indication it’s too dry.

For those of you with warm temps and sunshine, your compost will benefit from brown materials year-round.

Small Pieces

This next tip can sometimes be a pain but can also be very useful. Cutting up food waste into smaller pieces and tearing up leaves and grass before adding it to the compost bin can accelerate the composting process. This is especially relevant to materials that take longer to break down, a perfect example being egg shells like in the picture below. When I am chopping veggies for meals I also chop up the waste bits before putting them in the bin. I try to aim for quarter size for my pieces but some are larger and some are smaller.

In all honesty, sometimes I get busy and don’t have time to chop up the scraps. During those times I put everything in a waste bowl and leave them to deal with later. In these cases my husband normally takes care of them when cleaning up after dinner.

how to make the most of composting
Inside The Compost Bin

When I was a kid, we used an ice cream pail as our indoor compost bin. This was great because it meant periodically we would get a new pail of ice cream to eat. Because my mom went though a lot of food scraps, she had to empty the pail frequently, which helped control the smell.

In my own kitchen I started using an ice cream pail but with only the two of us producing food waste, the pail didn’t get emptied enough. This caused a bit of a smell which I was not cool with so we started to change our habits. There are lots of metal compost bins on the market that are very cute, like this one. However, I opted for a large glass jar, like this one. I like glass because it is a natural product and I can see in it (is that weird?). It might be strange, but the food scraps can actually be fun to watch decompose considering they do start decomposing in the jar.

Knowing What to Compost

There are so many great charts out there that beautifully illustrate what to compost. A general rule of thumb is vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, grain products, egg shells and carbonaceous materials such as grasses, leaves and dried plants. Things to avoid include meat and bones, oils, metal scraps, animal waste, and diseased plants/chemically treated products.

Rotating The Compost

The more the organic materials are rotated, the quicker it will break down. Some places say to rotate it once a week. That might be a bit excessive for a ground compost bin in my book. We try to rotate it once a month while we are free of snow and cold temperatures. Sometimes it can only be a couple times a season.

It’s up to you how often you decide to rotate your organics. The beauty of composting is that it produces such a good product with such minimal effort because you just let the microorganisms do their work. However, rotating with a pitchfork or shovel (unless you have a tumbler) is still necessary because the microorganisms need oxygen in order to properly break everything down.

We love our composting routine and producing dirt for our garden. It gives us satisfaction to put our scraps to good use and reduce our trash output. We also have a great place to put our yard waste products. If we didn’t compost we would have to hall all of our yard waste to the public land fill. It is definitely easier to just put it into the compost bin and reap the rewards!

Check out my guide and getting started on an eco friendly lifestyle.

Have these tips helped you on your composting journey? Let me know in the comments below!

How to make the most of composting

Tricycle Makeover

Tricycle Makeover

At Little Family on the Big Lake, we are all about reducing, reusing, repurposing, refusing and recycling. That is at the center of this tricycle makeover. It all started with my husband and I trying to figure out what to get Little One for his birthday. We were throwing lots of ideas around but one that seemed to land was a tricycle. We were considering buying a new one, but we had two old ones in the garage Therefore,. I couldn’t justify buying new when we had perfectly good ones. However, we both agreed that they looked faded and dirty. So it was time for a tricycle makeover!

Let me begin with a little history on these tricycles before we get into the makeover. They were given to us by my mother when she retired from her in-home day care. The tricycles are solid metal bikes with a plastic seat. They have been well loved over the years and it shows, but they’re still in good shape overall. My mother got them from a garage sale, so not only have these trikes been used by many kids over the years, they are now starting their third life with us. Talk about reusing!

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Step One

The first step of this makeover was to assess the bikes for damage. For example, one of the plastic pieces over the wheels was chipped. A little sanding with some low grit sand paper (we used 80 grit) removed the sharp edges on this piece. Then it was time for a good washing. Using soap, water and a rag, I washed the dirt off the bikes. This made them look better, so progress already!

Step Two

The second step was to decide on the color for the bikes. At first I was thinking that a little red tricycle would be very cute. My mother advised against it because red fades to pink. While I don’t really care about gender colors, I was looking at the trike and realized the red did look worse than the other colors.

So the colors we chose were blue and green. In the store I held up a couple of blue options and a couple of green options and let Little One pick his favorite. I purchased one can each of Rust-Oleum blue, green, and black. I purchased them from Home Depot but you can find them at most hardware stores or here on Amazon.

Step Three

The third and final step of the tricycle makeover is to prep and paint the tricycles. I taped off the areas that I didn’t want painted, such as the straps that hold Little One in. They are a rope-like material that bends easily and probably wouldn’t do well with spray paint. Before starting, I read the directions on the can of paint and laid down drop cloths on my garage floor. Using light layers I started painting the trikes. This process took me a couple of days because I would do a couple of light layers and turn the tricycles to get at different angles. Remember to allow for drying time between layers.

The Finished Product!

I am so happy with how these turned out! I am sure Little One will have fun with these for years to come. Instead of purchasing a new tricycle we spent $15 on paint and have breathed new life into these well-loved tricycles.

In general, instead of running to the store for new toys or bikes, among other things, I encourage you to look around to see if there is anything that can be repurposed or just fixed up. Garage sales are great ways to find kid’s items. With a little tender love and care, sad old toys can feel new again!

Have you tried any tricycle makeovers? Let me know in the comments below!

Check out my next DIY children’s projects, a toddler hammock swing and felt vegetable garden.

Tricycle Makeover

Getting Started With An Eco Friendly Lifestyle

Getting started with an Eco friendly lifestyle
Getting Started with an Eco Friendly Lifestyle

Yay! I am so excited that you’ve found your way to this post and are thinking about changing your lifestyle to be more Eco friendly. Hopefully this post can help you get started on your journey! Below I have some steps for you to consider when getting started with an Eco friendly lifestyle.

Here’s a little background on me – my husband and I have been trying to be more eco conscious for a while now. We’ve incrementally put changes in our lifestyle to be more eco friendly, such as using reusable produce bags and buying in bulk, among others. While we are not like the star zero wasters who only produce 1 mason jar of trash a year (yet), we have definitely cut back substantially.

First Step

The first step when switching to a more eco friendly lifestyle is to identify why you want to be more eco friendly. Is it the plastics floating around in the ocean, maybe climate change, your personal health, or energy conservation? Is it all of the above? Maybe other reasons? For example, we are focused on reducing our overall, not just plastic, waste and only using natural and ethical, cruelty free products. We are also focused on composting our organic materials. Related to all this we have some grand plans for gardening and solar panels, but you know how it is with time and money. It’s a journey, right?

Identifying your motivation will go a long way to helping you sustain this lifestyle. If you are jumping on the zero waste band wagon just because it is getting buzz, this is not sustainable behavior for you. Find your motivation – why do you want this? Why does it matter to you? Your motivations can change as you learn more but always having a clear picture will help you meet your goals.

Second Step

Get connected with resources. Find information that will help you on your journey. Find blogs like this one that can help you reach your goals. Also, be informed about your motivations. If it is plastic waste that is motivating you, research it. It will help you make more responsible choices in the future that may eventually satisfy your thirst for change.

Third Step

The third step is to take stock of what you have and what you are working with. I have seen so many blog posts about zero waste bathrooms, many featuring a beautiful wooden hair brush with natural fiber bristles. As much as I would like to have a brush like that I already have one. I have had it since high school and it works perfectly fine. I take care of it, and I’ll keep using it. If I throw it out to get a wooden one instead I would just be contributing to plastic waste.

Being eco friendly doesn’t mean that you have to throw out everything you own. Just be intentional about the things that you bring into your home from now on. Replace things once they wear out with more eco friendly versions. For example, I switched to bar shampoo several months ago. But I used up all the liquid shampoo I had left before using the bars, therefore not creating unnecessary waste.

Fourth Step

The final step is to remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. When making a lifestyle change such as this, it takes time. They say it takes 21 days for a habit to become second nature. The same goes with changing to eco friendly consumer habits. I am constantly learning about new products, clothing lines, new DIY projects and methods – it’s a journey. Set some goals that you would like to work on and keep making progress towards them. Every little bit helps so keep at it!

I wish you luck on your journey and am extremely happy that you are considering changing your lifestyle for the sake of your health and the health of our environment. Let me know if you have any questions or interesting lifestyle changes that you’ve come up with in the comments below!

Check out my tips for Zero Waste Shopping in a Small Town.