TCM Earth Month: The 7-Day Homelife Challenge

We’re officially three weeks into Earth Month and feeling eco-chicer by the day! For this week’s set of challenges, Ashlee Piper of The Little Foxes is offering tips for green-living that hit close to home. Like, very close.

We’ve revamped our kitchens and closets to suit our earth friendly ambitions, now we’re taking a deeper look at our habitat habits with seven challenges to save energy, spare waste, and elevate lighting. Try one challenge a day, every day, and let us know how it goes in the comments…

Monday, April 18th: Mitigate Home Disposables
Our reliance on disposables around the home is easily reduced with a few easy, pain-free steps. Chic, washable dishtowels and reusable cloth napkins are a sacrifice-free way to avoid paper towels and napkins. Standard toilet tissue can be replaced with recycled versions. Use real plates, cutlery and cups (which are a nicer way to enjoy a meal anyway) instead of disposable. And ditch the wasteful Keurig machine and coffee makers for an attractive and zero-waste French Press or Moka Pot, which make delicious, robust coffee with no paper or plastic refuse. Swap plastic baggies and containers for reusable cloth and glass versions, which are also healthier for you (no chemicals leaching out).

What did you swap out in your home routine?

Tuesday, April 19th: Curate a Minimalist Abode
Spring is the perfect time to make your home a minimalist, eco-friendly space. Just as you did with your closet last week, pare down clutter using the following criteria: 1) is it useful (and do I use it often)?; 2) is it beautiful?; 3) does it make me money? Anything that doesn’t meet one or more of the criteria gets donated or sold (use Craigslist and Freecycle). And if there are items you need, buy them second-hand via resale shops and Craigslist (which is a treasure trove of beautiful mid-century furnishings). For items you only occasionally need, like pasta makers, power tools, yard and camping equipment, set up a share among your friends and neighbors. Believe it or not, a home that’s clutter-free is by nature more eco-friendly because you’re more likely to shop less to keep it that way.

What are you loving about your simplified home?

Wednesday, April 20th: Strip Down
Did you know that 8% of your electricity bill is due to not-in-use items that are plugged in? Avoid this energy suck by using a power strip, which allows you to disconnect peripheral items from the power source completely. A power strip reduces carbon consumption and can save you up to $100 annually. I like Eco Strip (ow ow!), which donates a portion of sales to planting trees.

Did you try out a power strip?

Thursday, April 21st: Do a Mail Cull
Love letters, checks, cards from Grandma – some mail is just freaking awesome. Junk mail, however, well, nobody digs it and the average American receives about 41 pounds (!!!) per year. Luckily, junk mail is an easily avoidable landfill pariah. Take 20 minutes today to ensure all of your accounts are set to paperless billing and follow these easy steps to get yourself on “do not mail” lists. If you have extra time, do the same for an elderly or non-tech savvy relative or friend. The elderly are often the largest population to get bombarded with junk mail, receiving an average of 25 pieces a week, compared to the 15 pieces other folks receive.

Did you cull your mail? Did you help someone else get rid of junk mail?

Friday, April 22nd: Plants, Not Flowers
Have something to celebrate or want to brighten someone’s day? Opt for a plant in lieu of cut flowers. Not only will a plant endure through the years, providing fresh air in the recipient’s home, but cut flowers are pesticide laden, contribute to deforestation, waste (often grown far away and transported thousands of miles) and, in many cases, worker exploitation. Hit up the local farmer’s market for organically- and/or locally-grown, pesticide-free plants that are functional, like fresh herbs or require little water, like succulents.

Which plants will you gift in place of flowers?

Saturday, April 23rd: Let There Be (Better) Light
Good lighting works wonders everywhere and eco-friendly lighting can save you beaucoup money. If you’re in a space where you can change-up the wiring, opt for dimmer switches wherever possible (and save around $40 per year). Switch out traditional bulbs for Energy Star-rated compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs, those swirly, soft-serve ice cream cone-looking bulbs use 75% less energy and burn for 10,000 hours, compared to the 1,000 hours of a traditional incandescent bulb), light-emitting diodes (LEDs, the more expensive, but also most energy-efficient choice boasting up to 50,000 hours of use) and smart bulbs (which allow you to alter brightness and output from your phone). Explore solar options, which harness sunlight to power fixtures and, above all, utilize natural light whenever possible, with sheer curtains, skylights and mirrors.

Did you discover any ingenious ways to utilize better light at home?

Sunday, April 24th: Go Digital
Take some time this weekend to eschew paper-based practices in your home and office. U.S. offices use 12.1 trillion sheets of paper per year (which comes from precious trees and requires 10 gallons of water per sheet). Bananas. Check out apps that allow you to create useful to-do and grocery-shopping lists, sign documents digitally (like HelloSign), make payments and purchase tickets electronically. While paper can be recycled, it breaks down once recycled and thus, can only be recycled into paper once. If you must use paper, reuse all sides of what you already have and be sure to only purchase “100% post-consumer waste recycled” paper.

Did you discover any cool apps that help you reduce your paper reliance? Share with us!

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