Many of us are now working from home. We’re starting to notice things around our houses that we weren’t paying much attention to earlier this year:
“Geeze, my radiator is so dusty!”
“My plants don’t look too happy.”
“When’s the last time I showered?”
With that in mind, we wanted to share our staff’s favorite eco-friendly practices for our homes and ourselves!
Melissa Malott, Executive Director
Homemade Plant Fertilizer
“You can easily turn your food waste into fertilizer for your house plants or garden. Leftover food products like banana peels, coffee grounds, and eggshells contain important nutrients like potassium, nitrogen, and calcium that plants need. Not only are you saving a trip to your local nursery or garden store, you’re also saving our waters from washing off into Commencement Bay and Puget Sound! These leftover food scraps can go straight from your breakfast table to your garden with this recipe for DIY plant fertilizer.”
1. 1-2 crushed eggshells
2. 2-3 banana peels, cut into 1-inch chunks
3. Spent coffee grounds from your morning pot
Place all three ingredients in a jar or bowl and cover with water. Let sit for three days at room temperature. Drain the liquid into a watering can, and add about two quarts of water. You can compost the food scraps or add them into the soil of your garden or the bottom of potted plants.
Erin Dilworth, Policy and Technical Program Manager
Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner
“Make your own DIY surface cleaner using common household ingredients! It’s incredibly cheap and easy, and it’s a great way to use leftover lemon peels. To make the cleaner, all you need is leftover lemon peels, white vinegar, and an empty spray bottle. This cleaner is free of harsh chemicals and safe for your family and the environment.”
Erin’s Surface Cleaner How To:
Place leftover lemon peels in a jar and cover with white vinegar. Place the lid on the jar and tuck away in a cabinet for about two weeks. Strain the vinegar and discard the lemon peels. Dilute the vinegar with water so it is about half-water, half-vinegar. Pour into a spray bottle and use it to clean any household surface.
*Please note: This cleaner is not effective against coronavirus.
Marquis Mason, Community Engagement Coordinator
Think Before You Flush
“Despite the packaging telling you otherwise, you can’t flush flushable wipes (confusing advertising, I know). Cleansing and diaper wipes that are labeled as “flushable” do not break down in sewers and septic systems. Instead, they cause sewer blockages that cost cities thousands of dollars to remove and damage equipment at wastewater treatment centers that prevents these centers from properly cleaning our water. This tip is especially important for older homes as products can clog your sewage pipes, back up your plumbing, and potentially flood your bathrooms. These clogged sewer lines can also end up spilling into our oceans, rivers, and lakes, and seriously harm our environment. It’s recommended that disposable wipes always be thrown away, if not avoided all together!”
Jeremy Taitano, Clean Water Educator
Take Bucket Showers
“One practice that I do to save water at home is taking a “bucket shower” instead of showering using the showerhead. The way it works, is that I take a five-gallon pail and a water dipper (similar to a ladle) into the shower with me and fill the five-gallon pail with warm water. Then, I use the water dipper to pour water over myself and emulate the function of the shower head. The Alliance for Water Efficiency states on their home-water-works website that the average shower in the United States lasts 8.2 minutes and uses 17.2 gallons of water. With this pail and dipper method, I end up only using five gallons while taking a shower, which is a big drop from the 17.2 gallons that I would use if I took an average 8.2-minute shower.”
Alex Teppert, Communications & Development Director
Embrace the Cold
“The way I like to minimize my environmental impact at home is also (in my opinion) the easiest. All it takes is the turn of a dial on your washing machine! One of the biggest ways to reduce your energy consumption is to use cold water when washing your clothes instead of hot water. Up to 90% of all the energy used for washing clothes is used to heat up the water; in fact, if all US households used only cold water for washing clothes, it would save 34 million tons of CO2 emissions – that’s 8% of U.S. target for the Kyoto protocol!
Since most of our clothes are pretty lightly worn and used, hot water really isn’t necessary to freshen them up. Of course, there are certainly times when using warm water with your suds is necessary to solve stubborn stains and stinky socks, but for the most part, using cold water is all you need to properly clean your everyday clothes!”