Friday, November 9, 2012

Day 26: Gift Wrapping

Christmas is coming, I'm sure you are all at least starting to think about what to get your loved ones. But have you ever stopped to think about how much excess waste is generated around Christmas time? Especially for wrapping! Just to keep everyone from seeing their present before it's time. Every year I get a little more discouraged about that. It seems like Marilyn, from 4 You With Love, was on the same wavelength as me! She's here today to share with you some green ideas for your holiday wrapping.



Howdy everyone. I'm Marilyn, from 4 You With Love, and Gen has given me the opportunity to be a part of her wonderful Greener Sustainable series. Her series has been chock full of so many wonderful posts and ideas. I am just blown away by all the information that's been shared with everyone.

The holidays are right around the corner. Are you ready? If you've been planning, it's probably about the actual gifts you'll be creating for those special people in your life. Do you give much thought about how you will be wrapping your gifts? I give it some thought but not a lot. However, every year, after all our Christmas gifts have been opened, I am always shocked at how much gift wrap waste we have generated. Gen's series got me to thinking about how I could be "greener" with my gift wrapping this year.

I think a beautiful bow can really make your present something special. Here are some ways to create a bow from newspapers and magazines.

(source)



(source)


(source)


Look at these package adornments. Can you tell what they are made from? Look closely. Yup, these are strips of produce mesh bags that add a splash of color to these packages.

(source)


Have you ever made your own gift bags? How about this tutorial that shows how to make bags from newspapers!

(source)


I know I have rushed out the day after Christmas to get that great deal on wrapping paper for the next year. Well, how about this great idea of decorating grocery sacks with date stamps to create your own gift wrap? I know what I will be doing with some of the grocery sacks in my closet!

(source)

Here is a fun way to use those cans that have a flip top to "wrap" gifts. What a clever idea!

(source)

For those people who sew, how about making gift totes that can be used year after year. Talk about reducing trash!

(source)

Finally, how about decorating an ice cream tub and turning it into a great gift basket?

(source)

Okay, I'm ready to reduce my holiday trash this year. How about you? Gen, thanks for your great series. It has really inspired me to take a closer look at how I can reduce my environmental impact!



Thanks so much Marilyn for sharing your finds with us! Now I have an idea of what I will do with that brown paper that is leftover from packing boxes I've received!

This reminded me of the toilet paper roll favors I did last year.


I want to add just a few other options for you to make and reuse year after year.

How about some reusable drawstring bags? You could make some of different sizes to fit all types of gifts. I know I'll be snooping the fabric store after Christmas for some cheap Christmassy fabric to make some for next year. Though I might also get some super cheap fabric (like dropcloths maybe?) and stencil them with Christmas patterns. Would be better (read: cheaper) for big boxes.

from Brown Thumb Mama

If you don't want to hassle of making it yourself, there are some Etsy stores and online websites that sells them.

EllaWrap has some really gorgeous bags, I'm really in love with this one! If I'd get anything in this bag, I might just like the bag better! What can I say, I like cute bags and boxes!

(35$ at ecowrap.com)

But that's still a bit too pricey for my taste. So here are a few I found on Etsy that are more reasonably priced. (Or go here for even more)


(SUZUYA on Etsy)

(debupcycles on Etsy)

(VZWraps on Etsy)

So how about it? Are you going to give the gift of green this year?! You could even give reusable bags or a gift made from repurposed items! This way you can introduce more people to green alternatives!

To find more ideas on ways to go green, check out the other posts in the series:




I party at these parties.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day 25: Cleaning Products

I'm sure I'm not the only one who likes a clean house (or apartment in my case), right?! But sometimes it's so hard to choose which product, and if you want to be green about it, it's even harder because you can't always trust the companies to tell you the truth. So it's best to just bypass them, and make your own.



The truth IS that they don't have to list what is in the cleaning product, there is absolutely no regulation regarding that. They can SAY it's natural but it might not actually BE true.

Case and point: Vim PowerPro Naturals Bathroom spray

It says on the bottle that it's 98% natural ingredients, but tests show once you remove water content, 24% is petroleum based, and petroleum is really bad for your skin and can lead to cancer. This is just one example of many where the label says one thing, but the truth is something completely different!

If you want to know more, check out this video of The Marketplace which debunks some "natural" house products, like the one mentioned above. (It's a Canadian show, but I've checked that even people in the US can view it! Seriously worth your time!!)

I'm not saying all green cleaning products are bogus, just be careful. They can also be pricey, so making your own will most probably save you some cash.

Alright, so off my soap-box I get, but I hope I showed you that the best way to be green when it comes to this stuff, is to just make it yourself! That way you really know what goes into the product. I want to open your eyes to a few simple, really natural and non-toxic cleaning solutions that you can make with common household items. We're talking baking soda, vinegar, lemons and oranges, essential oils, alcohol (isopropanol or ethyl alcool), hydrogen peroxide, nail polish remover (aka acetone). All these have very natural or non-toxic cleaning properties.

We'll start in the laundry room. There are so many DIY recipes for homemade laundry detergent, both powder and liquid, as well as stain removers, it's kinda hard to decide which ones to share with you! So at any time, if you want to see even more of these type of recipes, head on over to my Cleaning board on Pinterest, I pin some a lot!

Here's a great, simple, and cheap powder laundry detergent recipe at DIY Natural.

All you need is Washing Soda, Borax and a bar of laundry soap (Fels-Naptha or other, like Ivory here). As soon as I can find these ingredients, I'm trying this one out. And it's good for HE washers! No more buying that super expensive special soap ;)

Liquid laundry detergent recipes usually make a really big batch, so you need more space to store it. It uses the same ingredients, but because you dissolve it, it makes more in mass. Your choice! I would probably do this one if I could store it, would have to make some less often, too.

from Why Not Sew

I also saw this post from Whole New Mom not too long ago about Soap Nuts and thought it was interesting. It's natural and you don't have to make your own laundry detergent. It's an other option!


How about stain removers? I've been meaning to try this armpit stain remover (that also works for other stains) for a while now. I don't wear a lot of white because of this problem...

One Good Thing by Jillee
Jillee is really awesome when it comes to DIY recipes, you should really check out her site if you've never ran accross it!!

You can also make your own Oxi Clean to help fight those other tough stains.

from Creatively Domestic

Using vinegar for laundry can help with softness, keep bright colored clothes, really soiled clothes and linens, static and lint, and much much more!!

image source


Moving onto other household cleaners, we'll start with this Shower and Tub Magic cleaner. I've been using this for 6 months. It works just as well as what I had before (Vim cream for bathrooms), but the vinegar does smell strong. I need to try adding some lemon juice or essential oil to kill the vinegar smell. I chose this one because I had everything on hand to make it, and I was looking for a spray. It's got really awesome reviews, but I think I'm not the best person to ask how good it is because I'm not entirely sure how to evaluate it...

recipe for Shower and Tub Magic

Also, remember when we talked about the not-paper towels? Well, this is as good a time to use them! I have some old clothes rags and some cheap microfiber rags that I use for cleaning.

How about using your reusable rags for cleaning windows with this homemade window cleaner?! Microfibers seem like the best option, though, for getting a streak free shine. You'll need vinegar and essential oil, and of course water.

recipe at Money Saving Mom

You'll also want an all-purpose cleaner, which is again super simple to make yourself! Though there are a few different recipes, ranging in complexity, I like the simple and effective type, which I think this one from Natural Nesters is.


I also really like the idea of this degreaser! So simple to make, though it does take 2 weeks of incubation time to get the full effect. My kitchen is covered in a film of oil from stir-frying, so I really need to try this!!

fromTried and True

Here's a simple recipe for homemade furniture polish. All you need is oil and lemon juice!

from Our Homemade Happiness

Finally, once you've made all those recipes, you probably want to label your containers, so here are a few cute labels around the webs.

at Design Finch (bottom of post)

Some of my favorite blogs for DIY Homemade recipes like the ones shared here are:


Now this gets me excited to clean! What? I'm the only one?! :P Do you make your own cleaners? If there's a recipe you'd like to share, link it in the comments please!!

Check out all the posts in the series (must be on blog to see):







I party at these parties.
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