Were there any resolutions from 2013 that you didn’t make good on? “Reduce, reuse, recycle” is a perennially popular one that also touches other popular resolutions. And like other resolutions, it’s easier to achieve long-term success by making small changes that have an impact over time. With our health and home in mind, we asked a few experts to give us their tips for a happy, healthy — and green — home in the year ahead.
Certified professional organizer and eco-organizing expert Eileen Koff says that building a “reduce, reuse, recycle” consciousness will set you up for real change. Here’s how:
Ask yourself, why do you want to recycle? Make your intention clear. The likelihood of you maintaining a systemic change is ramped up when you know why you are doing something.
Make it fun. Be sure that your recycling activity isn’t in some out-of-the-way dungeon area of the home. Make it convenient for you and your family to recycle by setting bins in the kitchen or close to the garage. Make the receptacles big enough to hold the recyclables, and make them attractive.
Understand your city’s recycling processes, and set up your recycling to reflect that system.
Andrea Paul, MD, chief medical officer of Boardvitals.com, advocates using eco-friendly products in all areas of your home, for your own health and the health of the environment:
Make your own non-toxic all-purpose home cleaning solution by buying these ingredients in bulk and refilling reusable sprayers: Mix 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 2 liters of water. This can be stored at room temperature anywhere.
Make your own makeup remover: A dab of olive oil or safflower oil on a facecloth or cotton pad can be used to remove makeup. Rinse with water and dry. Naturally paraben- and phthalate-free!
Be a vegetarian once a week. It’ll reduce the impact of the meat industry on the environment, and remove saturated fat from your diet.
Jen from BeautyAllThat.com suggests reducing cosmetic waste by using what’s on hand — items already in your makeup bag, or pantry items for homemade cosmetics:
Use coconut oil (organic if possible) to remove eye makeup. It will leave your skin feeling moisturized afterwards. Use olive oil and brown sugar to make a moisturizing exfoliant; wash with warm water if your skin is feeling too oily afterward, or wipe gently with a muslin cloth.
Instead of cotton balls, use cotton muslin or terrycloth towels. Instead of Q-tips, use eyeliner brushes — they’re thinner and more precise, and you can wash and reuse them.
Neutral color makeup has multipurpose uses — a brown loose eye shadow can also be used to fill in eyebrows, or if you mix it with a loose powder foundation, can be used for contouring.
Mix colors to achieve the color you want. If you've found a lipstick to be too bright or not the right shade, lighten it by mixing lip balm, or adding other colors to find the right shade. Instead of buying eyeliner, dip a wet eyeliner brush into your favorite eye shadow and apply.
Find multipurpose uses for your makeup brushes. Use a fluffy powder brush for face powder, blush, and contouring. A rounded fluffy brush can easily sweep powder foundation for an even finish. For blush, tap one side of the brush on the blush compact and use a sweeping motion. The other side (without blush) can be used for blending.
Reuse makeup containers, jars, and bottles. They can be used for travel or storing extra product in your purse. Or for homemade scrubs.
Samin Nosrat, Berkeley-based chef and instructor to Michael Pollan, has the perfect way to make the most of your meal trimmings and reuse containers:
“Small changes in kitchen habits can lead to big changes in health. Homemade stock is more nutritious and delicious — and less wasteful — than its store-bought equivalent. Save onion butts, the last bit of celery, carrot ends, and parsley stems in the freezer. After a roast chicken dinner, throw the carcass in there, too. Once you've stock-piled enough bones, pull everything out of the freezer, stick it in a pot, and cover with water. Add a few peppercorns and a bay leaf and bring to a boil. Then, simmer for 6 hours and strain. Pour cooled stock into yogurt containers or mason jars and freeze so it's measured out and ready to use.”