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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Guest Post from Demi Giles: Q&A about Going Green

Last week I received a guest post request from Demi Giles of Clean Start Cleaning Services, which is a UK cleaning company that uses natural cleaning products. I was more than happy to support another small business. Demi is a big advocate of going green. She truly believes that this is the right thing to do so we can take care of the environment and she is trying her best to spread the word. She believes that using non-toxic products is an important step for achieving this. Here is her article answering some basic questions on how to go green. Thanks for reaching out Demi!

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Questions and answers about how to go green

More and more people consider going green. Some are driven by healthy benefits and other just want to be part of this modern tendency. Living an eco-friendly lifestyle, however, can significantly improve your physical and mental well-being. There is so much information about going green that it has already become a global push. We are constantly encouraged to buy luxurious “green” and food products. The lack of knowledge allows companies to misuse this term and increase the amount of their customers. In its genuine content, going green is pretty simple and doesn’t require any extraordinary knowledge or efforts. 

Top Q&A about going green 
What does going green means?
Before turning this practice into a lifestyle, one should be fully aware of its meaning. In this diverse world, going green has numerous definitions. Personally, I accept it as pursuing new knowledge and implementing ecologically responsible practices in your household, which will improve your well-being and the one of the people around you, as well as contribute to the preservation of the environment. Yet, everyone has their own definition of going green and what works for one person may not work for other people. By making your own research, you will find the necessary information and form your own opinion about going green.  
How can I be green at home?
Very often people think they need to implement a lot of changes and this makes going green seem overwhelming. Yet, when we break the things down, it turns out that creating an eco-friendly household is not so tough. It takes some small changes to make a significant difference. We will go beyond saving electricity or recycling and highlight the replacement of professional cleaning materials with green ones. In their haste to ensure a healthy living environment, people store a wide selection of commercial detergents, full of harmful chemicals. The refusal to buy such products is a great way to go green. 
Are green cleaning products efficient? 
You may be surprised but every area of your home can be cleaned completely only by the means of green cleaning products. Baking soda, vinegar and lemon, for example, are excellent natural disinfectants and can help you eliminate every tricky stain. You can create numerous green receipts to clean the kitchen, floors, windows, furniture, etc. The best part is that they actually work and won’t expose your health to risk. 
Is going green cheap?
Creating your own cleansers is really convenient. All the necessary ingredients are already in your cabinets and you don’t need to purchase any additional things. As long as there is salt, vinegar, baking soda and olive oil in your home, you always will be supplied with the necessary cleaning materials. Swapping the commercial cleansers with natural will significantly decrease your cleaning expenses. 
What are my benefits from going green? 
This environmentally responsible practice has numerous merits. To begin with, cleaning your home with non-toxic cleaning materials means a healthy living environment for your family. You don’t need to worry that the used cleaning products may trigger allergies or other health issues. Then, we come to efficiency. Professional cleaning products are not always as useful as the TV commercials promise, while the natural are always a reliable solution. 

Your personal contribution to preserving the environment is indisputably the biggest benefit of going green. By applying non-toxic cleaning practices you encourage other people to do the same. 
As you see going green doesn’t require any special preparations or products. In fact, it will make your life easier. Plus, it gives a wonderful feeling to take care of the environment.

~Demi Giles

Monday, September 25, 2017

Podcast: Episode 005

The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading needs and the cost of building this business at no additional cost to you! Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting.




In this episode we'll cover: a definition of what a share economy is, why one would use a share economy, who can use a share economy, when to share, and where one can use a share economy. Read How to Start Share Epically! for the written version.




Check out all of the Little Urban Greenie's Small Steps For Earth podcast episodes here!

Please Subscribe/Follow, Rate, and Review on your favorite podcasting platform. 
Whether that's I-TunesSoundcloudGoogle Play Music, or Stitcher Radio, make sure you don't miss a thing and that more people can find us too! Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Getting Smart With Worm Bin Composting

The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading needs and the cost of building this business at no additional cost to you! We try to support small business owners on Etsy and Ebay sellers first, and then bigger companies that offer the most zero waste products. Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting. 


Picture this: A composting system that you can use indoors or outside, requires no turning, and composts in a few weeks rather than a year. If this sounds like a dream come true, then say buh-bye to stinky garbage and hello to vermicomposting!

Vermicomposting goes by different names. It is also referred to as a worm farm and worm bin composting. Worm bin composting is the magic of Nature's recycling program. By feeding your little quiet colony the food scraps you would normally haul to the trash can: you create compost, you save money on trash bags you don't have to buy anymore, and you save your time hauling stinky trash. No more veggie scraps means no more vegetable scrap smells in your trash cans.

The best part about worm bin systems is they can go indoors or outdoors, so they can be in apartments, under a desk at work, in houses, closets, basements, garages, or outdoors (with proper temperature variations). You can set a worm bin close to your kitchen, so you can drop in your food scraps as you make them.

Now that you know how awesome worm bins are, let's go learn how to start & use a worm bin-

1. First you need to figure out how many composting worms your family needs to keep your food scraps in check. Next, make/buy and assemble a worm bin. The video below shows how to set up the worm bin our family is currently using made from 100% recycled plastic. It's what we can afford and works well. The only differences between our assembly and the video below are: we keep the drainage cloth in, we put the extra trays aside for easier worm feeding and management, and we put the bottom in a container so that any leaks are caught.



2. Purchase the composting worms, not regular earthworms. Composting worms are better at breaking down food scraps and earthworms are better at breaking down things that are already decomposting. Composting worms are called red wigglers or redworms. We bought from this colony and love their little efforts.

3. Fill the bottom feeding tray of your worm bin with 2-4 sheets of dry paper or a piece of cardboard. (non-glossy junk mail works great for this).

4. When your worms arrive, spread damp (just wet enough to have water come out with squeezing, no more or less) shredded paper, decayed leaves or grasses  (not green), or compost for worm bedding on top of the paper.

5. Check moisture levels and adjust accordingly. Gently empty bag of worms on top of the bedding. Cover with a piece of damp paper and let worms adjust by maintaining the dampness with water for the first week or so. (They eat the paper scraps, so you aren't starving them.)


6. Once the worms are adjusted and starting to break down the bedding, add one handful of (preferably chopped small) food scraps in the corner of the worm bed. Acceptable food scraps are: vegetable scraps, low-acid fruits, egg shells, coffee grounds and filters, grains, and starches. You can also add shredded paper, natural fabric, sawdust, cardboard, hair, and decayed leaves/grasses. Mix the food scraps with the bedding. Cover the bedding and food with the damp paper again.

7.  Watch your worms acclimate to their environment and adjust accordingly. Add more food scraps when they have eaten about half of the scraps and bedding. You don't want anything to rot, smell, and attract pests.

8. Add another tray when the first tray is 2/3 full. If you have any issues, here are some articles for troubleshooting issues. We've had our bin for over a year and a half, and the only problem we had was gnats once. We checked out the manual that came with our bin and were able to solve the gnat problem quickly. These are the easiest "livestock"/pets we've ever had and they make "trash" into compost!

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How do you compost? Let us know in the comments below!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Podcast: Episode 004

The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading needs and the cost of building this business at no additional cost to you! Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting.


In this episode we'll cover: Which is better, liquid hand soap or bar soap? How to recycle your bar soap scraps, make liquid soap from bar soap, and make foaming soap from bar soap. Read How to Pick the Best Kind of Soap for the full written version.



Check out all of the Little Urban Greenie's Small Steps For Earth podcast episodes here!

Please Subscribe/Follow, Rate, and Review on your favorite podcasting platform. 
Whether that's I-TunesSoundcloudGoogle Play Music, or Stitcher Radio, make sure you don't miss a thing and that more people can find us too! Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How to Start Sharing Epically!

The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading needs and the cost of building this business at no additional cost to you! We try to support small business owners on Etsy and Ebay sellers first, and then bigger companies that offer the most zero waste products. Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting. 



Today's post is an introduction to sharing economies and how they can be used to make extra cash, save space, save money, support local economies, and grow closer communities.

What is a sharing economy?
This term is apparently highly debated, but the basic concept is that people borrow or give away from each other directly. What people decide to share is usually expensive or rarely used enough to make you pause before you just buy it. It can include loaning money, digital products, or physical products. It is similar to trading or bartering, but can also include giving things away for free.

Not all sharing economy businesses rely on regular workers to sustain ...

Why use a sharing economy?
A sharing economy is great for saving money on buying new. It is also great for not wasting space and money on buying things you aren't using frequently. It can be a great way to support individuals rather than corporations. It's great to build community by getting to know people outside your normal circle.  It can be a great way to make a little income from things you aren't using all of the time. It can also be a great way to get things for free if you use certain sharing economies.


Who can participate in a sharing economy?
The answer is simple- You! Yes, anyone with internet access can be part of a sharing economy. Most online sharing economies require login information, such as an email address, name, and password. If you are part of sharing economies that buy and sell anything, you will also be required to enter payment information.


When do you share what you have and when do you use what someone else has?
You share when you have something you use infrequently. You use what someone else is sharing when you need to use something short-term. For example, our little family is blessed with free produce frequently. We can't eat it all at once though. I felt like we needed a dehydrator, since it preserves food in a way that preserves the most vitamins (including vitamin C) and minerals. When I looked up the prices of dehydrators though, it wasn't in the budget. This included used on our local classifieds too.

So I asked my local Buy Nothing Project group if anyone had a dehydrator. One of my neighbors said she had one that she wasn't using and brought it over! She only asked that if someone needed to borrow it, that I would lend it out. I agreed, and now we can eat our produce at a reasonable pace, and dehydrate the rest for later. We waste less food now, because we preserve any excess for Fall and Winter. Our dehydrator can dry fruits, vegetables, herbs, meats, and craft projects. If we ever get any extra meat, we can dehydrate it and save on freezer space and energy.


Where do you share?
You share online and anywhere in the world! If someone is traveling and needs a bike to get around while they're in your city, you can lend the one that is just sitting in your garage. They have a bike for the short while they're in town and your bike gets more use. If you need a ladder occasionally, and your neighbor has one, you can borrow it from your neighbor and not have to store it or pay for one you don't need all of the time.

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What are sharing economies you've used and what were your experiences? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Podcast: Episode 003

The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading needs and the cost of building this business at no additional cost to you! Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting.


In this episode we'll cover: How to get rid of junk mail from your inbox. How to make money from your mailbox and inbox. How to make useful products from junk mail.  How the Zero Waste Week Campaign works for our family this year. Read Never Worry About Junk Mail Again! for the step by step process in written form. 




Check out all of the Little Urban Greenie's Small Steps For Earth podcast episodes here!

Please Subscribe/Follow, Rate, and Review on your favorite podcasting platform. 
Whether that's I-TunesSoundcloudGoogle Play Music, or Stitcher Radio, make sure you don't miss a thing and that more people can find us too! Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

How to Pick the Best Kind of Soap!

The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading needs and the cost of building this business at no additional cost to you! We try to support small business owners on Etsy and Ebay sellers first, and then bigger companies that offer the most zero waste products. Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting. 



"Oh, I wish I was a little ______ of soap; oh I wish I was a little ______ of soap! For I'd slippy and I'd slidy, over everybody's hidey; oh I wish I were a little ______ of soap!

Today we're talking about soap and how to choose the most affordable and eco-friendly option for your family. So, ultimately the question is:
Which is better, bar soap or liquid soap? 

Short Answer: It depends on what you mean by better. 
Homemade bar from scraps
Homemade liquid hand soap from scraps





















Which kind of soap lasts longer? 
According to this article, we use about 7 times more soap when we use liquid soap vs bar soap. Score? Bar soap, 1-0. If you want to get the most use out of your bar soap, then try these 8 ways to make soap last longer.

Which kind of soap is cheaper?
Bar soap is cheaper than liquid soap per oz and don't forget how much more we use liquid soap. This effect is multiplied several times when you offer foaming soap vs bar soap, particularly to small children. A 4 oz bar of soap can be as cheap as as $.50. A 7.5 oz bottle of liquid soap usually costs around $3. That's over 3 times more expensive!

Story-time to show the foaming soap appeal: For the market research portion of this post, I decided to make my own foaming hand soap. We still have about half of a bottle of foaming soap from the previous owners of our house. I decided to use it up and reuse the container for the homemade foaming soap once it's empty. I move the bars of soap around and collect the small soap scraps for later. I place the foaming soap in the main bathroom. 

UG1 notices the change and asks why (She's 4, enough said.) I say that we're going to use this soap in the main bathroom until it's gone. She tells me she has to use the bathroom now. I obviously let nature dictate this scenario. Once she's finished she says she has to go again. Now I intervene and tell her only to go when she actually needs to. I then let her know the big secret that drinking more water makes you need to visit the restroom more frequently. She's now perfectly hydrated throughout the day and uses the main bathroom as much as possible. Oh, and her hands are ALWAYS clean. Foaming soap wins the appeal, but bar soap wins the score for cheapness. Score? Bar soap, 2-1.

Which kind of soap produces more waste?


Liquid soap requires manufacturing and shipping a new plastic bottle every time you buy, then requires resources to have it recycled, and finally gets thrown "away" where it degrades very slowly but never fully breaks down. Bar soap and DIY liquid soap (from bar soap) need less packaging, either paper, a sticker, or nothing at all, especially if you buy it locally. If it has a paper wrapper, it can be recycled several times before being composted. If it has a sticker, than the non-recyclable sticker is still less wasteful than an entire bottle for liquid soap. Bar soap scraps can also be made into another bar of soap, liquid soap just clings to the bottle. Bar soap wins the score for less waste. Score: Bar soap, 3-1

Which soap saves you more time?
Interesting thought, right? If you make your own liquid hand soap and use the homemade liquid as concentrate for foaming liquid hand soap, then you will save money. One batch of liquid soap refill is enough to make 64 bottles of foaming hand soap. (Which is over 5 years of foaming hand soap for as little as .50.) 

If you buy liquid hand soap, you spend time driving to the store, shopping for, and unloading a liquid soap refill every month at home. After refilling your soap bottle, you also have put the refill bottle in the recycling bin and take all of your recycling to the curb (which takes up more space and thus requires more frequent recycling hauling too). 

If you make one batch of soap concentrate for foaming hand soap, you spend time driving, buying the bar, unloading it, and making it every 5 years (maybe 2 years with small children who get kicks out of using the foaming soap), recycle either one piece of paper/sticker every five years or get your bar unpackaged. Much less driving, shopping, unloading, recycling and hauling time. Bar soap/DIY liquid soap win the score for time savings Score: Bar soap, 4-1

Keeping that in mind, here's how to recycle your bar soap scraps, make liquid soap from bar soap, and make foaming soap from bar soap: 


How to remake bar soap from scraps




















    Soap scraps

    a little bit of water
    a mold
    a cheese grater
    a cutting tool
    a pan for melting

    Grate your scraps of soap and cut up the remaining scraps into chunks.
    On the stove, melt your grated soap by adding a small amount of water.
    The soap will start to clump and become sticky as it melts.
    Scoop the melted, gummy soap into your molds.
    Let cool and remove from molds. Set the molds aside and let them cure for three days or until the soap is no longer tacky.

    How to make liquid soap-

    A 4 oz bar of soap

    A knife, cheese grater or food processer

    Four cups of Water (1 cup for every oz of bar soap)

    A pot

    Empty foaming soap dispensers or other liquid soap dispensers



    Grate or finely chop a bar of soap into flakes. 
    Bring water to a boil on the stove.
    Then, turn off the heat, and add your soap flakes. Stir to melt the soap. Continue stirring until the mixture is fully combined. At this point the mixture will be very liquidy.
    Allow the mixture to cool for at least 15 minutes. Then, stir it again. The soap should be slightly thicker now.
    Allow the soap to cool for another several hours or overnight.
    Stir to check the consistency. If it seems too liquidy, reheat it and add more soap flakes. If it seems too thick, reheat it and add more water. The moisture content varies from one brand of bar soap to the next, so you'll probably have to do a bit of tweaking to get your recipe just right.  Label the container you store your liquid soap in.
    If you don't have foaming soap dispensers, then pour your soap into your soap dispensers, and enjoy. 

    If you have the foaming soap dispenser, keep reading:



    Fill the empty dispenser about three-quarters of the way full with clean, warm water. Warm water helps to get the soap mixed in.
    Pour one tablespoon of liquid hand soap into the container.
    Screw on the lid/pump and shake vigorously to mix the soap and water together.
    Pump the dispenser a few times to get the foaming started and enjoy your cheaper, plastic-free and less wasteful soap! 

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    How do you waste less soap in your family? Share your tips in the comments below!

    Monday, September 4, 2017

    Podcast: Episode 002

    The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading needs and the cost of building this business at no additional cost to you! Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting.


    In this episode we'll cover: How to find out what single use products you are spending money on. Find out if you are throwing away things are still usable. Read How to Do a Waste Audit for the step by step process in written form. Looking for reusables to replace disposables? Check out the Zero Waste Marketplace for all of your natural, plastic-free, and zero waste needs.




    Check out all of the Little Urban Greenie's Small Steps For Earth podcast episodes here!

    Please Subscribe/Follow, Rate, and Review on your favorite podcasting platform. 
    Whether that's I-TunesSoundcloudGoogle Play Music, or Stitcher Radio, make sure you don't miss a thing and that more people can find us too! Thanks for listening.

    Podcast: Episode 001

    The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading needs and the cost of building this business at no additional cost to you! Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting.




    This podcast answers the questions: What is zero waste? What are the eco-friendly steps to reduce your waste down to zero waste? Check out free tips for going zero waste by signing up for the newsletter at the top of the post or "Subscribe by Email" in the right hand sidebar. Click here for how to compost sanitary napkins. Click here for how to compost with black soldier flies. Click here for how to pre-compost anything, even cat poop, with a bokashi bin. 



    Check out all of the Little Urban Greenie's Small Steps For Earth podcast episodes here!

    Please Subscribe/Follow, Rate, and Review on your favorite podcasting platform. 
    Whether that's I-TunesSoundcloudGoogle Play Music, or Stitcher Radio, make sure you don't miss a thing and that more people can find us too! Thanks for listening.

    Podcast: Episode 000

    The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading needs and the cost of building this business at no additional cost to you! Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting.


    This podcast answers the questions: Who is the Little Urban Greenie? What is her background? What is the purpose of the podcast? How often will new episodes be posted? How long is the podcast? Check out free tips for going zero waste by signing up for the newsletter at the top of the post or "Subscribe by Email" in the right hand sidebar.




    Check out all of the Little Urban Greenie's Small Steps For Earth podcast episodes here!

    Please Subscribe/Follow, Rate, and Review on your favorite podcasting platform. 
    Whether that's I-TunesSoundcloudGoogle Play Music, or Stitcher Radio, make sure you don't miss a thing and that more people can find us too! Thanks for listening.


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