Condo Blues: living




Showing posts with label living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label living. Show all posts

Friday, April 30, 2021

Friday Favorites Week 579

Time to link up your favorite projects, recipes, and posts! 

  

Please support and follow our lovely blog party hostesses:

Jerri at Simply Sweet Home - Twitter | FB | G+ | Pin | Inst

Lisa at Condo Blues - Twitter | FB | G+ | Pin | Inst

Amy at A Day of Small Things - Pin

Penny at Penny's Passion - Twitter | FB | G+ | Pin | Inst

Jennifer at Busy Being Jennifer - Twitter | FB | Pin | Inst

If you are featured this week, be sure and grab a featured button for your blog!

You can show your love for this week's favorites by going over and commenting on the posts and by pinning or sharing!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Celebrate Earth Day with the Rule of Half and Friday Favorites Week 578

Today is Earth Day, although honestly we try to make every day Earth Day around here by refusing, reducing, reusing household items with the goal of running a low waste home.  One useful and FREE way to do that is to follow The Rule of Half whenever possible. The Rule of Half is to try using half (or at least less) of the amount of stuff  you would normally use to get the job done. 

how to save money for FREE with the Rule of Half

A good example of this is toothpaste. Instead of loading up the length of your toothbrush with toothpaste like the toothpaste companies show you, put the dentist recommended pea size to half a length of toothpaste on your toothbrush. You create a little less trash because a tube of toothpaste lasts a little longer. One tube of toothpaste might not seem like such a big deal but if you do the same (or at least measure items instead of just chucking it in) with the majority of items you use on a daily basis it can make a difference in the amount of household trash you put by the curb every week and all for the affordable price of FREE. No fancy eco products required! (Unless you want to.)


Time to link up your favorite projects, recipes, and posts! 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Why and How to Sift Compost

I recently upgraded our single tumbling compost bin to this exact double tumbling compost bin hoping to correct some mistakes we made when we started our first compost pile. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links for your convenience.)

The mistakes we made weren’t horrible and we did create usable compost that turned our practically all clay tan colored garden beds to earthworm rich dark black soil. But the compost coming out of the bin has always been soggy. It was also full of plastic bits we thought would compost but didn’t break down.

How did this happen? Well for one, since we don’t have access to grass clippings or leaves we used shredded paper and cardboard for brown matter (and any sawdust I made in the garage) and we simply didn’t add enough. The fix for wet or smelly compost is to always have more dry brown matter in your compost pile than green matter (vegetable and fruit peels, coffee grounds, etc.) As for the plastic bits, we’d just empty the entire contents of our home office paper shredder into the compost bin and all of those window envelopes I shredded thinking they would break down because they are made from cellulose where actually some sort of plastic.

There was finished compost  in the bottom of the single compost bin but because it stopped turning and we couldn’t mix it very well with one of those compost turner things that look like this. Our compost was a big wet clump full of unwanted bits that I could easily save by sifting the almost finished compost and chucking a ton of this exact wood chip pet bedding into one side of the new compost bin and let it break down. Adding more shredded paper and cardboard boxes would also do the trick but I didn’t have enough of either in the quantity I needed at the time.

how to fix wet smelly compost

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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

12 Real World Ways I Went Zero Waste This Week

Some of the things they don’t tell you about trying to reduce your household trash with zero waste living is that it depends a lot on where and how you want to live. Most of the year’s worth of garbage in jar folks have access to big fill your own container stores, year round farm markets, or huge gardens where they can grow almost everything  they need. Not all of us are that lucky,  would rather not drive all over the place, or crunched the numbers and found some the prices in those shops sky high. *raises hand*


But’s not to say that zero waste is impossible!  Instead try the more realistic goal of concentrating on reducing your household waste than making it absolute zero. By focusing on reusing, the Rule of Half, recycling, reducing, and composting (when the bin isn’t frozen shut) my family has reduced our weekly household waste to approximately one grocery store size shopping bag (ish. We reuse any packaging, dog food, etc.  bags for garbage which means the size varies) a week. We average a 3/4 full recycling bin every two weeks. We also give ourselves a break if our output is more than that because we have seasons and that can determine what we can do and how we do it.


To give you some realistic ways to reduce your household waste (and possibly save some money doing it) I made a list of the zero waste practices, tips, and tricks I do in a normal week to give you some ideas and jump start your thinking machines to find a zero waste solution that works for you!

 

12 real world zero waste tips
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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Creative Sustainable Living Solutions for Landlords and Renters

Mediaplanet interviewed me for their America at Work  campaign and  asked me for sustainable property ideas for home owners, rental properties, and landlords facing the unique challenges COVID-19 has created in 2020. 

Which is pretty darn exciting and flattering because USA Today is using my name with the words "expert" and "leader" to promote the series. 

I can't tell you how many people have been trying to convenience me to dye my hair green to match the image in my article.

You can read can read my interview in print in USA Today or read my interview on line here


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Monday, March 2, 2020

Zero Waste on a Budget: How to Grocery Shop without a Bulk Bin Store

After seeing the explosion of zero waste ideas online (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing,) I get a little worried that people may not try or quit because they aren’t meeting the strict one year’s full of trash in a jar “standard” they see shown on social media.

Which is a bummer because Zero Waste living isn’t black and white or should be so restrictive it is a struggle.

Or at least it shouldn’t’ be.

In reality, shifting your mindset to a lower waste living is much more sustainable because it takes into consideration what you have available locally, what you can’t, or don’t want to give up. Are you seriously going to deny grandma life saving medication because it comes in a plastic bottle?!

zero waste living on a budget at a conventional grocery store
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Often how zero waste you can go depends upon what is available where you live. Fill your own container bulk bin sections and stores are fairly anemic around here because local code enforcement strongly reminded everyone that shoppers have to use store provided containers. Winter means nothing grows here for 6 months out of the year.  Sadly zero waste utopia doesn’t mention that. So what do you do?

You do it by concentrate on reducing and stop focusing on the zero - without guilt.

Guilt is not productive. Trying is.

How to Live Zero Waste When You Shop a Regular Grocery Store

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

DIY Poo Pourri Air Freshener Spray

I’m sure you are aware of those times when the air in a bathroom needs a little immediate help to clear the room of…uh…um…odor.

Even though I wasn’t thrilled with the synthetic ingredients (although now Scent Fill  makes natural essential oil refills for Glade and other brand plug ins, ) I had scented oil plug thingies in each bathroom for that purpose. Once they became available, I upgraded to pluggable wax melt warmers similar to these and use a locally made vegetable wax and essential oil wax melts for my bathrooms. They work just as well, and I like that I easily scrap the last bit of wax from a dead candle into the smaller wax warmers to keep enjoying the scent. I am the only one who buys a candle and can never seem to find the same scent when I need to replace it? (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links for your convenience.)

Unfortunately, there are still times when your bathroom needs a little more immediate or preventative air quality attention.  Does a room freshener exist without the synthetic ingredients? 

Yep, it sure does and it is the perfect thing for zero waste, natural living, and budget minded folks.

Or you just want something prettier than a can in your bathroom, that’s cool too. *raises hand* 

how to make zero waste non toxic air freshener bathroom spray
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DIY Natural  Air Freshener

Sunday, December 15, 2019

How to Go Zero Waste on a Budget: Use the Rule of Half

When someone brings up trying to reduce their household waste with zero waste living and one of the first things they ask is me is why does it have to be so strict, expensive, and hard?

I understand how you can get that impression seeing photos online of DIY everything, people using plastic free as a synonym for zero waste (plastic free living is a noble goal but is not the same thing, ) and mason jars full of one year’s trash, but those are the rare, edited for the Internet exceptions, and not the reality.


zero waste ideas that dont cost money

Save this list of ideas to your Pinterest Boards for later! Share it with your friends!

I get it. I truly do. Local laws prohibit me from using my own containers at bulk bins, my farm markets are only open during the summer, and frankly both of those options are more expensive than Aldi where I can do a monthly grocery shop in under an hour.  However, over time I was able to reduce my household weekly trash to a small grocery store size bag a week.

How do we do it?

Friday, June 7, 2019

10 Quick and Easy Outdoor DIY Projects that Save Money

One of my favorite ways to spend a beautiful weekend day is to work on an outdoor project. I get a healthy dose of Vitamin D, and more often than not, end up with a project that not only quickly pays for itself but saves us a bunch of money on some of those household bills and necessitates.
Bonus points if it includes using tools. Projects involving hammers is cheaper than therapy I always say!

10 Home Improvement Projects that Save a Ton of Money


10 outdoor projects you aren't doing to save money
Save these ideas to your Pinterest boards for later! Share them with your friends! 

Think of these as options, not absolutes. Have a different money saving idea? Share it with us in the comments below!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

6 Ways Plastic Helps Me Live Zero Waste

Almost every blog post I read that offers tips and tricks how to live Zero Waste they almost always use plastic free as a synonym. They say something like, “We got rid of all of our plastic stuff and bought the same exact thing in wood/bamboo/natural fiber to replace it and wow how cool we are living zero waste now!”

It. Drives. Me. Crazy.

Throwing away usable items to buy a cool looking replacement is the exact opposite of zero waste living folks!

Zero waste living means giving up using disposable single use plastic and items as much as possible, not no plastic at all.

Plastic free is great but that is a different goal.


6 Easy Ways to Live Zero Waste (ish) and Save Money Doing It!

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Photo used with permission  by Sophia Marston on Unsplash


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

8 Zero Waste Lies

If you are trying to be a Zero Waste or Trash Fee home you try to reduce the need to use the landfill by refusing, reducing, reusing, repairing, recycling, and donating your household waste to get your output to as close to zero as you can.

There are some in Internet Land who show you how they do it with Pinterest perfect photos of bamboo toothbrushes like these, stylishly minimalist rooms (you can learn about the minimalism movement here), and  haughtily looking down their nose at people who  – gasp! – follow low waste practices because their primary goal is to pay off bills, live within their means, or save money, with environmental concerns coming in a close second or even lower down the list.

Disclosure: I am including some affiliate links in this post for your convenience.

8 Truths of Trash Free and Zero Waste Living

In my over 10 years of blogging about green living and doing it in one form or another for even longer, I know there are some truths to Zero Waste Living and I also know that the reality is not always what you see in those Pinterest perfect Zero Waste Kitchens either.


8 Truths of Trash Free and Zero Waste Living
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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

6 Ways to Use Less Plastic without Going Crazy

Many folks in the United Kingdom are looking for ways to live plastic free or with less single use plastic for the 40 days of Lent. This is as part of a national Plastic Free (Less) Lent Challenge influenced by the BBC TV program Blue Planet 2: Seas of Life (this show has such gorgeous nature photography and information that I have no problem recommending it to you and using my affiliate links to do it!)

So far, the folks I’m working with are excited when they find a plastic free bamboo toothbrush (read more about it here) or their grocery store allows them to use reusable cloth produce bags and that's fantastic! 

But as they have been living awhile with the low plastic challenge, there are many people who are becoming overwhelmed, or are too time poor to DIY plastic free everything, or worse, being shamed when they admit that they can’t afford the perfect plastic free option. That’s not cool.


6 Ways to Go Plastic Free without Going Broke or Crazy
Pin this list of ideas for later and share it with your friends!


I feel for ya, because I think I am the only person in the world who lives in an area where my farmer’s market, bulk food bins, and fresh vegetable summer CSA subscriptions are typically more expensive than a conventional grocery store. I want to do my bit but I don’t always have the time to regularly grocery shop at three or more markets every other week when one conventional grocery store has everything I need.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

How to Clean an Essential Oil Nebulizing Aromatherapy Diffuser

 I’ve been poking around at upgrading my candle essential oil diffuser. I didn’t realize how many types and choices are available since I bought my ceramic diffuser ages ago:
1. Candle Essential Oil Diffuser – Good for a start but it’s too easy for the candle to boil the essential oil and water dry. Not to mention the whole never leave a burning candle unattended thing.

2. Reed diffuser – Swing and a miss. Slow acting and only good for small rooms like a bathroom. You need new reeds every time you want to use a different essential oil in it.

3. Ultrasonic essential oil diffuser – Uses water and heat to produce a mist of essential oil in the air. They are often made out of a ugly hunks of plastic. The last thing I need (per my allergist) is to add humidity to the air in my home due to my (rather annoying) seasonal allergies which makes it a no go.

4. Nebulizing essential oil diffuser -  Uses an air pump to release the essential oil from the diffuser as waterless mist. Many people feel a nebulizer is a better option because it doesn’t change the makeup of the essential oil with heat or weaken the aroma with water – which makes it the perfect type for me!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

12 Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Hot Water Heating Bill

Tens years ago, in 2008 my family started a year long product to reduce how much energy we use and our bill in our new home because a ton of Greenzillas said I couldn’t until I trashed all of my conventional and came new with the house major appliances and systems and replaced them with new super duper high efficiency (and expensive) everything.

I blogged about our new habits and inexpensive energy efficient DIY projects right here on Condo Blues in the very first year of this blog. Long story short, we reduced our use by 32% and kept it that way while staying toasty warm, clean, and well fed.

And using less energy than comparable families and homes in our area – including the Energy Star rated homes of which we are not.

Until recently when natural gas bill started to creep higher. Not break the bank,  we’rel going to starve high, but high enough to knock our house from constantly rating Very Good to smack dab in the middle of  Good. 

I wanted to figure out what’s going on because I had bragging rights on the line!

Turns out we were wasting too much energy heating water and after addressing  Tips One through Three we lowered our energy and hot water heating bill. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The 15 Best DIY and Green Living Ideas You Need to Try Right Now!

We’re celebrating the New Year by taking a look back at some of our favorite Condo Blues DIY projects for 2017.

From the looks of it, there are a bunch of you who like to garden but hating watering plant and  like to decorate and make things with recycled materials and add green home improvements to our homes, myself included!


Pin this post for later and to share with your friends!



Monday, September 11, 2017

20 New Ways to Use and Repurpose Old Towels

I swear the amount of towels in my linen closet magically doubles or triples on its own. I bet it is some relic from a science fiction universe (or that I live in a small house with a small linen closet but I’m still blaming aliens because it is more fun.)

If I don’t clean it out my linen regularly the towel population grows to the point it is so large I can’t close the closet door. Which given the size of the linen closet, it doesn’t take a huge towel population to achieve this.

But it also means that I regularly have old towels with a worn spot or edge but overall fairly usable and as such, something I don’t want to send to landfill hell if I can get another reuse out of it.

Luckily, old and worn towels are one of the easiest things to reuse and upcycle to save a little money, the environment, or better yet – time.

Pin these creative reuse ideas for later!

20 Genius Ideas to Reuse Old Towels You Have to Try!



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

9 Ways to Replace Plastic Wrap in the Kitchen


I have a like – hate relationship with plastic cling wrap. I like on those rare occasions that it actually and fully sticks to a container to keep food fresh. I also hate it most of the time because, no matter what type or brand, it never sticks, food dries out or gets freezer burn, and I end up tossing the spoiled food and the plastic wrap in the trash.

So it was no great stretch for me to find a way to keep food fresh without plastic wrap. Once I started using my Swiss Army knife of easy alternatives,  I noticed we also reduced the amount of weekly household trash by quite a bit. Yay!


Pin me for later!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

What’s in Your Trash and How Do You Reduce it (or Not?)

I’ve been thinking a lot about trash lately. The stuff in the bin outside your house, not about tawdry things. Lacey is a genteel lady who not tolerate dirty things in her home (unless it is something muddy or smelly to roll in.)

 I love mud!

I’ve been mulling over ideas to share how to reduce your household trash since the New Year.  I’m coming up short because every draft I write sounds like some big green guru sitting on a mountain top looking down  her nose at the world thinking that my Swiss Army knife of low waste options are the Pinnacle of One Size Fits All Solution to reducing household waste.

Or at least it feels that way and that is not my intent at all.

I want to offer options not absolutes because, honestly, there aren’t any one size fits all eco friendly low waste living solutions. It all depends on where you live, how you like to live, family size, etc.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Tiny Mall Micro Loft House Tour

Tiny houses are all the rage, so it should be no surprise that city dwellers can live cute and with a ridiculously small carbon footprint in tiny micro apartments – in a converted historic shopping mall!



 Pin this tiny house tour and share it with your friends!

You don’t have to be a shopaholic to live here. In fact, given that the average size of each tiny apartment is 220 square feet it is probably best if you aren’t.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The 10 Best DIY Projects of 2016

We’re celebrating the New Year by taking a look back at some of our favorite Condo Blues DIY projects for 2016.
From the looks of it, we all like to decorate and make things with recycled materials and add green home improvements to our homes, myself included!
 

Our Top 10 DIY Projects and Posts on Condo Blues in 2016


How to Cut Wine Corks for Crafts the Easy Way!