Spring Sustainability Tips

silverWe’re hoping for an early–and mild–spring here in New Mexico. January was cold and snowy, and we’ve had hints of warmer weather, but there’s still a frost at night. It’s not yet planting weather. But we’re still looking to do more this summer with chickens and gardens, and more tips on sustainability.

One of them is that you can now buy effective and affordable “green” cleaners in any supermarket. These products are better to use because they minimize exposure to both asthma and allergy triggers. Also, fragrances in cleaners are often synthetic that are known to disrupt normal human hormone function.

We’ve gone away from any microwaves (it’s just as fast to heat up coffee with a burner), but if you use a microwave, try to use glass containers rather than plastic ones. When a plastic container is labeled “microwave safe” all that means is that the plastic melts at a higher temperature than other plastics. Microwaving plastic releases the chemical Bishenol, which is a dangerous chemical that is known to disrupt human hormone function.

Spring is also a great time to look for better insulation (for the summer heat and next winter). At Lowes, you can buy Johns Manville certified Formaldehyde-free™ fiber glass insulation. It is naturally white and helps improve indoor air quality and achieve a healthier and safe environment in your house for both summer and winter. Don’t forget to check your weather stripping, too. It’s vital in winter, but it can also help keep you cook in summer. Look into thermal drapes or shades to replace old, worn ones—and you can shop Ebay for great prices. These simple steps can reduce your heating/cooling costs up to 20%!

Consider leaving your shoes or boots outdoors and having a set of slippers just inside. That can save the electrical and bag replacement costs of running a vacuum to clean up the mud you normally track in. (A mud room or porch is a great help with that.)

Rather than throw away your old clothes and appliances donate them to those who are less fortunate—or sell them online. Sites like Yerdle.com, Thredup.com and Ebay let you make a little cash. You’ll have more space and you won’t be paying to heat and cool those unused items.

Aluminum pots and pans with “non-stick lining” are actually rather toxic. Look at some of the old ones you have. Notice the lining is mostly missing? Guess where it went? Yes, in your stomach. Plus, aluminum oxide is known to be dangerous. Your best bet is always cast iron. The next best bet is to buy enameled cast iron, and last is stainless steel. Not only are they safer, they last much longer and therefore are actually a much better value.

Do you have old egg cartons around? They make perfect starters for your spring garden. Just put one seed into each space where an egg was, add dirt or mulch and water. Keep them in a sunny spot inside until the last frost has gone and it’s time to plant your garden.

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