Here are some fun ideas to get spring in your step before Mother Nature turns the corner. Warmer weather is around the corner, so let’s get in the swing of spring.
There’s nothing we love more than great weather, sunlight and the perfect excuse to get back to nature.
We won’t bore you with those expected metaphors of spring and new beginnings. Instead, we’ve made a detailed of list of simple changes you can make this month that not only reduce your impact, but can also actually save you money.
Spring hasn’t sprung yet, but you can get a jumpstart with these 8 great eco ideas!
#1 Plant Seeds
It’s too cold to plant outside yet, but get in the green groove by sprouting some seeds inside.
Try growing your own food. Simply plant a few seeds in a corner of your yard or in a container on your porch or windowsill. You don’t need acres; a few square feet on a patio, along the driveway, or in a window box can provide enough space to grow edible herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Try out Back to the Roots Garden in a Can!
Growing bulbs indoors lets you enjoy the colors and fragrance of spring when it's still months away. The key to success with indoor bulbs is to plan ahead.
Many people don't realize that there are two types of bulbs for indoor growing: those you need to chill and those you don't. Here's how to tell the difference:
Bulbs That Don't Need Chilling
These bulbs are native to warm climates, so they don't require a cooling period to trigger blooms. Amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus both belong in this category.
You can grow these bulbs in a pot filled with soil, or just place them in a shallow bowl and use pebbles to hold the bulbs in place. Add water, and they'll usually bloom just four weeks after "planting".
#2 Have a Waste-Free Cookout
Yep, we’re telling you to throw a party. Spring is all about getting outside and dusting off the grill and having a good ol' fashioned cookout. Make it zero waste and plastic-free with reusable ECOlunchbox plates, cutlery and napkins.
Did you know that according to a recent study by the Environmental Impact Assessment Review that fuel-powered BBQs, such as liquefied petroleum gas, are more eco-friendly than regular charcoal.
For more tips and tricks on how to get outside and eat in zero-waste style, check out our blog How To Throw A Zero Waste BBQ.
Most people associate BBQs with warm weather, cool drinks and a beautiful sunny afternoon by the pool, but that doesn’t mean that the only time you can host an awesome BBQ party is when it’s warm. There are a lot of ways you can alter a summer party to make it suitable for the colder weather and everyone can still have a great time.
Have Extra Layers Available
People can’t have a good time if they’re freezing, so have blankets and extra sweaters available for your guests. It’s also a great idea to make sure you put in your invitation that your guests should come prepared for the weather. Also, make sure the person who is in charge of the BBQ is wearing clothes that are not flammable or anything that dangles or has tassels so that it won’t catch fire.
Purchase an Outdoor Heater
Even those who wear layers might still find it kind of chilly so having an outdoor heater might help take away the chill. Outdoor heaters are not going to provide an environment that is an extension of your home, but they can help to make an outdoor environment more comfortable when the weather is cooler.
There are wall-mounted and free standing ones, gas fuelled and electric ones too. There’s a variety of options, so there’s one that can work for the outdoor space you have. By installing an outdoor heater, or two, you can ensure your party keeps going and your guests enjoy their time at your home.
Warm It Up
When a BBQ is hosted in the summer usually cool drinks are provided, so for your cold weather BBQ why not provide your guests with hot drinks? You could still have cold options such as beer and wine, but drinks like hot cider or hot chocolate will warm hands and help keep everyone cozy while you prepare the food.
Further, by keeping the drinks in travel mugs the drinks will stay hot for longer and your guests will enjoy the drinks while socializing and keeping cozy. And if you enjoy alcohol at your BBQ parties, consider spiking hot drinks with Irish cream or brandy.
#3 Eat Locally
You’re craving peaches but you’re still seeing winter squash in the market.
A powerful way to live more sustainably is to eat locally. The convenience of supermarkets has changed how people think about food. You can stroll through aisles stocked with fruits, vegetables, and other products from all over the world any time of year. But these products consume huge amounts of fossil fuel energy to get from those global locations to your corner supermarket.
For ideas on fun and games you can plan for the farmer’s market, check out our blog here: Making Food Fun For Kids at the Farmers Market.
Find out where your local farmer’s markets will be opening up soon! Whet your appetite for local and seasonal produce.
#4 Go for an Energy Upgrade - Personally and Domestically
Not time to don your swimsuit, but how about shaking off the blues & let the sunshine in?
Start by opening your blinds during the day instead of using artificial light. Lack of sunlight is a leading contributor to the fatigue, irritability and mood changes associated with seasonal depression. In fact, one of the treatments most frequently used for seasonal affective disorder (a less common, more severe form of the winter doldrums) is light therapy – but for milder funks, take advantage of the real deal when you can.
Natural light is so good for us. I love that our new house has plenty of windows that allow for an abundance of natural light. This cuts down on energy waste–and your energy bill! Go for walks or jogs on bright sunny days, and dress warmly so the cold won't discourage you.
For most of us, going off the grid may not be in the budget (unless you got a huge tax refund that is). But if you’re looking for mucho savings on your electric bill, here are three super-easy changes you can make:
#5 Rely Less on Your Car
Get in shape for outdoor fun that’s coming with the warmer weather and do Mother Nature a good turn at the same time. Using fossil fuels to support one person in each car on the road is clearly no longer sustainable. Investigate mass transit options in your town or city, such as a bus system, a light rail train system, or carpool and vanpool services for commuters. When traveling close to home, walk or ride your bike. Want the freshest, most affordable, organic vegetables possible with absolutely no food miles? Make like the Obamas and grow your own.
It may seem like a lot of work, but the outcome will yield more than just fresh produce. You can reduce environmental damage caused by traditional farming methods that use large tractors and toxic pesticides. Having a backyard garden also reduces fuel usage associated with transport.
#6 Clean your House
Now when I say this, I don’t mean just dust. Take the time to deep clean, and when you finish, it will look like a brand new home and hopefully smell like it too!
Spring Clean the Natural Way.
Now that you’ve cleared the clutter and can actually see those counter tops and hardwood floors, you still have to scrub off the grit and grime from the winter (ick!).
But harsh fumes from some traditional cleaners may do more harm than good: They can be responsible for around 10 percent of toxic exposures reported to poison control centers and are difficult to dispose of properly.
You can most likely find “green” or “natural” cleaning products at your grocery store. But you can save some money and make your own cleaning product from supplies you already have.
For spray cleaner: Combine and store in a spray bottle 2 cups water; 1/4 cup white vinegar; 1/4 tsp. tea tree oil; 1/4 tsp. lavender oil
For deodorizing cleaning: Mix one part vinegar and one part water in a spray bottle to clean countertops, floors, stovetops and other appliances. Scrub dishes, surfaces and stains with a lemon that has been cut in half and sprinkled with baking soda on the flat side
Keep in mind that homemade cleaners may not completely eliminate all bacteria, such as the H1N1 virus. Be sure you read your product’s label and follow the instructions as directed.
#7 Wash your Dirty Car
While you may think you’re doing your car (and your wallet) a favor by hand-washing it at home, it’s actually the opposite.
According to the International Car Wash Association, automatic car washes use less than half the water used when washing your car at home. The average home wash uses 80-140 gallons of water while the commercial average is 45 gallons.
Commercial car washes often reuse water and send the runoff to treatment centers instead of nearby lakes and streams. They also use high-pressure nozzles that require less water usage.
But if you’re dead-set on washing your car at home with the kids, here’s how to keep the impact at a minimum:
- Park on gravel or grass so soapy water soaks into the ground, becomes filtered and recharges groundwater.
- Avoid soaps with labels that say “harmful, danger or poison.”
- Turn off the hose when you’re not using the water. During a 15-minute car wash, you could use 150 gallons of water if there isn’t an automatic shut-off nozzle.
Old with the old - in with spring!
#8 Clean Out those Closets
It’s time for a change, and that means whether it’s a shoe closet, coat closet, or your main closet, some of it needs to go! So get in there and if you can’t remember the last time you wore it or can’t see yourself wearing it, get rid of it!
Add to the fun by arranging your clothes and the color of the rainbow. Pretty soon spring will be sprung and there will be beautiful flowers everywhere. Why not bring that colorful vibe into your own wardrobe?
Give to People in Need!
Now this part is important! Just because you have no need for it anymore, if it’s still in good shape, someone else can more than likely use it! So take it to your local shelter or give it to family as hand me downs. It will bring you joy to see someone else get the use out of it that you may not have.
Resell and Donate Items
Items that you no longer need can get an extended life through resale and donation. By extending the life of any product, you help reduce dependence on disposable or cheaply made single-use products that end up in landfills.
Try reselling clothing and children’s things through a secondhand or consignment retailer or consider donating them to a nonprofit resale organization (such as Goodwill) or charity organization (such as the Salvation Army or American Cancer Society) that will redistribute them to those in need.