If you want to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, start by ditching habits that generate a lot of pollution. Here are eight things you might be doing that needlessly harm the environment.
1. Flushing or throwing out medication. Prescription drugs can contaminate the water supply and poison wildlife. Always bring unused and expired medication to your local pharmacy for safe disposal.
2. Drinking bottled water. In most places, tap water is just as safe as bottled water and creates substantially less pollution. If necessary, equip your home with a filtration system.
3. Putting old electronics in the garbage. Since these devices contain toxic substances, bring them to a drop-off location in your region to be safely recycled or refurbished.
4. Tossing cigarette butts on the ground. These are a major source of plastic pollution. Before you light up, locate a nearby outdoor receptacle or make sure you have a pocket ashtray on hand.
5. Opting for single-use plastic straws. Refuse them at restaurants and coffee shops. There are plenty of reusable options on the market made of metal, silicone, and bamboo.
6. Removing makeup with single-use products. Since these wipes take years to decompose in landfills, many beauty brands offer alternatives that can be washed and reused.
7. Driving erratically. Rapidly accelerating and slamming on the brakes will cause your car to produce more emissions. Pushing on the pedals gently and driving with smoother transitions will save gas and money.
8. Using harsh chemical cleaners. These corrosive products are a health and environmental hazard. Opt for biodegradable options or discover the cleaning properties of vinegar, lemon, and baking soda.
From taking shorter showers to buying food grown and produced locally, there are countless small lifestyle changes that can make a huge difference.
3 ways to enjoy a winter getaway
If you have a few days off this winter, be sure to make the most of it. Whether you prefer to vacation alone or with your spouse, family or friends, you can have a wonderful time without going far. Here are some suggestions for a memorable holiday close to home.
There are a number of ways to recharge your batteries while you’re on vacation. Many winter resorts offer amenities such as hot springs, massages, steam rooms, hot tubs and day spas. When you aren’t being doted on by attentive staff, you can lounge in your ultra-comfortable room and enjoy your view of the local landscape.
• Snow tubing
• Ice canyoning
• Nordic walking
With so many fun options, you won’t have time to get bored. To try it all, rent a cottage that’s close to the action.
Do you want to venture into the wilderness to see trees, meadows, and mountains blanketed in snow? You can discover the charms of a winter landscape by navigating backcountry trails on a snowmobile or ATV. If you’d rather burn some calories while exploring, you can head out on cross-country skis, snowshoes, or a fat bike. See if there are rental outfits in your area that can set you up with the equipment and instructions you need.
No matter how you plan to spend your winter vacation, make sure to schedule your getaway ahead of time. The best winter resorts, hotels, and cottages tend to get booked weeks in advance.
You don’t have to go far for great holiday purchases
It’s hard to enjoy the magic of the season if you’re trying to navigate crowded stores or worried that your online purchases won’t arrive in time. If holiday shopping has become a dreaded chore, consider buying everything you need from the stores in your region. Here are a few reasons why.
Local entrepreneurs need your support
For years there’s been a growing interest in buying local goods, particularly during the holiday season. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, supporting local entrepreneurs is more important than ever. Small businesses rely on a loyal customer base to thrive, and your patronage during the holiday season is crucial to their recovery from the current economic crisis.
Local shopping benefits everyone
What’s more, when you opt for locally made products, you’re helping to protect the environment because fewer greenhouse gases are emitted when transporting the merchandise. You also spend less time on the road when you shop locally. This further reduces your carbon footprint and allows you to check numerous items off your holiday shopping list in just a few hours.
Local shops offer quality goods
From unique gifts and chic outfits to fresh ingredients and handcrafted decorations, local stores are stocked with everything you need for a memorable holiday season. And since small business owners prioritize well-made products, you’ll be sure to get your money’s worth. Plus, you’ll benefit from the friendly, personal service offered by knowledgeable employees.
From gift recommendations to easy in-person returns, shopping at stores in your region can lighten your load during the holiday season. This year, make it a point to buy local.
7 ways to make the most of your basement
Are you thinking about finishing your basement? While this can be an expensive project, you’ll increase both your living space and property value. Plus, you can easily adapt to this versatile space to suit your family’s needs over time. Here are seven types of basement conversions.
1. Workshop. Whether you enjoy sewing, woodworking, scrapbooking, or winemaking, you’ll have the space you need to store all your supplies and tools.
2. Home office. You’ll probably find it easier to concentrate in a room that’s cut off from the rest of the house. Plus, you’re less likely to be disturbed during conference calls.
3. Guest bedroom. This is an ideal way to offer your visitors more privacy. And if there’s enough room to fit in a bathroom, all the better.
4. Cellar. Whether you want to store wine, root vegetables, or canned goods, make sure space is well ventilated and the humidity level is controlled.
5. Personal gym. For this to be a practical option, the ceiling should be high enough to accommodate stretching and jumping jacks.
6. Playroom. Give your kids plenty of space to run around and store their toys without cluttering the main living areas of the house.
7. Laundry room. In addition to freeing up space in the bathroom, you’ll finally have the room you need to fold and iron clothes.
Keep in mind that natural light is limited in a basement. Therefore, you’ll want to opt for an open-concept design or glass doors and partitions if possible.
5 fun Thanksgiving games
If you’re looking for a festive way to spend time with your family over Thanksgiving, here are five fun games that will get everyone moving.
1. Turkey tag
Transform clothespins into turkeys using feathers, googly eyes, and other craft supplies, then clip them on to the back of each player’s shirt. When the game begins, try to unpin other players’ turkeys without losing your own. The last person with a pin on their back wins.
2. Sweet potato race
3. Thanksgiving charades
On individual pieces of paper, write down holiday-themed phrases such as marching in a parade, carving the turkey, setting the table, baking pumpkin pie, and playing football. Take turns picking a phrase and silently acting it out while other players try to guess.
4. Gratitude pick-up sticks
Use a multi-color set or make your own by painting wooden skewers. Assign a category (person, place, food, thing) to each color. When a player picks up that color stick, they have to say something they’re thankful for in that category.
5. Turkey waddle
This is a great game to play outdoors. Each player holds a balloon between their legs, and the first person to waddle across the finish line with their balloon still in place wins. For larger groups, create teams and make it a relay race.
Additionally, you can search online for Thanksgiving trivia, riddles, and jokes to liven up your dinner table discussions.
Tips for buying energy-efficient appliances
In addition to being eco-friendly, energy-efficient appliances can save you money on your utility bills. Here are some tips for choosing the best energy-efficient appliances for your home.
Look at the labels
Most large appliances sold in the United States are required to have a bright yellow EnergyGuide label. This sticker displays the appliance’s annual energy consumption and indicates how it performs relative to other models in its class. Always consult the EnergyGuide label to learn more about the appliance before you buy it.
You should also look for the Energy Star logo, which indicates that the product meets strict standards for energy efficiency.
Consider the size
It’s often important to determine what size you need your appliances to be, especially when it comes to HVAC systems. If your unit is too small for your house, it will operate at peak capacity for long periods of time, which isn’t energy efficient. An oversized appliance isn’t ideal either, as it costs more upfront and is more expensive to operate.
Size is also an important factor when buying refrigerators, washers, dryers, furnaces, and boilers.
Make a “smart” purchase
Smart appliances are products you can sync up with a smartphone or home energy management system. This provides you with greater control over the way the appliance operates as well as real-time data about its energy usage.
In addition, many smart appliances, such as refrigerators, laundry machines, and HVAC systems, can be programmed to operate when electricity rates are lowest, saving you money.
Finally, once you’ve selected your new appliance, make sure to get it installed by the right professional. A faulty installation can impede your appliance’s energy efficiency and even cause it to break down.
5 weeks before Christmas: The countdown begins
With several weeks to go until Christmas, now’s the time to sit down and create your game plan for the holidays. Here are a few tasks to get you started.
• Determine your budget for the holidays including for gifts, food, and drinks, new outfits and decorations
• Write a list of the people you want to buy gifts for, and start to jot down ideas
• Begin to plan your holiday menu, taking into account any of your guests’ allergies or diet restrictions
• Sort through and test out your decorations, and set aside any broken or defective items
• Decide whether you want to host a themed event such as a tropical Christmas party
• Create and send out save-the-date invitations, with more details to follow in the coming weeks
• Organize a gift exchange among friends, family members, or co-workers (set a price limit and pick names)
• Schedule appointments with your hairdresser, manicurist, and other beauticians