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Friday, October 15, 2010

Getting away from paper towel!

I just read a fantastic article here on PlanetGreen.com on '3 Ways to Ditch Paper Towels'.  It reminded me that I need to get working on some more rags for use around here!  Paper towels are not only a complete waste in our landfills, but they are also a huge waste on our wallets!  The article listed that one of the things that you can do is to have a rag bucket or drawer, and I think that is a great idea, we have our rags in a basket (purchased at a local thrift store) right on our counter so they are always easy to get to- with a mechanic husband, young son, baby, and carpenter in the house, we have to have a ton of them!

On thing that I have done to keep our rag supply stocked is to check with my favorite local thrift store for clothing items (or sheets, ect) that they can't/won't sell, and buy them at a discounted cost.  Our local thrift store is a non-profit that contributes to the local community, so I can't help feel a sense of pride that I have not only kept some hand 'rags' out of the dump, but I am also helping out my community!  I bet if you check, you'll find you can do the same thing!

Making rags, napkins and kitchen towels is a pretty easy thing to do!  In the next week or so I am going to be making napkins out of some old bedsheets that I found, they have a small stain on them- so the thrift store wasn't going to be able to sell them, but I can simply cut around them to have some fantastic napkins!

If you have a serger (like I am so blessed to have) then making rags is a snap- just serge around the edges and secure, wash, use, repeat- just that simple! 

If you have a sewing machine, then all you need to do is create a nice finished seam around the edge, sew, wash, use and repeat- a slight bit more effort, but well worth it when you see how much money you'll be saving!
If you don't have either a sewing machine, or serger, then you can use a product call Fray Check around the edges.  This is a bit of a time consuming process- so you may want to consider finding yourself a sewing machine, they have them on CraigsList.com all of the time- but think of it this way; time is money, and that is exactly what you'll be saving here!

If making your own doesn't sound like something you want to invest in, then be sure to check out web-sites like Etsy.com.  Just do a search for "paper towel" and you will be amazed at the number of products that you can find.  There are plenty of artisans out there that want to help you be green!

Also keep in mind that these rags will have plenty of other helpful uses, one of my favorite things to do now is served my fresh baked rolls in a basket with one of my favorite new kitchen towels keeping them warm- a super simple touch that means a lot!  You can see in the picture that there is a stain in the middle of this kitchen towel- which is why I got this used-to-be-shirt so cheap, but no one is ever going to see it!  And it doesn't affect how well it works at all!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How to Modify your Swiffer Wet Jet Bottle TUTORIAL

This tutorial is designed to help you modify your Swiffer Wet Jet bottle so that you can refill it with your own cleaning solution!  Between modifying my own bottle, and making my own 'wet jet pad refills', I have saved a TON of money!

Step one:  The list of 'ingredients' you will need;
  1. An empty Swiffer Wet Jet bottle
  2. HOT water
  3. A coffee mug
  4. A kitchen towel
  5. A set of snips (small scissors or nail clippers may work too)
  6. A strong arm (getting the cap off can be quite a workout)
  7. Your favorite mopping solution!

Step two:  Fill the coffee mug with the HOT water.
Be careful not to fill to the top, you just need enough water in the mug to cover the cap of the Swiffer bottle- to much and you'll make a mess (maybe even burn yourself) and the bottle will float right out of the mug!

Step 3:  Place the bottle, cap side down, in the hot water.  Set a timer for 5 minutes.
Step 4:  After the bottle has been sitting for 5 minutes, take it out, and with the kitchen towel muscle the top off- it helps to squeeze while you twist, but this step does take some muscle and patience.

This is what the cap looks like once you get it off- it has all sorts of nasty little teeth to help keep it from coming off... for now (insert a little evil laugh here, lol).

Step 5:  Now we are going to be using our snips (or tiny scissors, or nail clippers, small electrical pliers or whatever else you can find) to remove as much of those little teeth as we can, once you get them out you will be able to very easily remove the cap to the bottle to refill it any time you want!

Step 5:  TA-DA!  Now that you have pulled out all of those little teeth, you are ready to refill the bottle! I use 1/4 cup of my favorite mopping solution (whatever happens to be on sale, or at the dollar store!) and hot water, or you could use 1/2 - 1 cup of vinegar and water.  Screw on your now very easy to remove cap, and off you go!  DON'T FORGET- you can very easily make your own Swiffer Wet Jet Refill Pads (tutorial to follow at a later date) or visit me HERE to purchase some of my fantastic Zorb Swiffer Wet Jet Pads!

Can't get the bottle modified yourself, but still want to go green and use a modified bottle?  Get a hold of me at RenewReuseRefresh@yahoo.com and we'll work something out!

Thank you so much for using my tutorial!  'We all make a difference on way or the other!'

If there is anything I can do to help you be greener, something you think others should know, something I can help you with regarding this tutorial, or any other comments, please feel free to leave them below!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A brief introduction...

I am not sure it is even necessary to have an introduction post... but somehow I feel like I would be leaving something out if I didn't have one- so here it is, for all of you readers of the future (for something tells me that this blog will be something like fine wine- crappy to start out with, but as time goes on, and I get more practice- it will get better and better, and maybe I'll get a few readers! lol) a little bit about me, on this day, in beautiful October.

I am currently a stay-at-home-mom to two wonderful kids, my son Kam, who is almost 6 and JJ, my little princess who is one.  I love this job, I love that it has been my job to shape the lives of these two wonderful little people, but while I love this job, it has come with it's own set of challenges.  With one (not-so-large) income we have had to re-evaluate our priorities, and figure out way to cut corners, and in the process I have found that we can make some big impacts on our carbon foot-prints along the way.

While we were both working two jobs (yes, each), it seemed impossible to sit down to dinner, let alone think about the impact that we were having on this planet.  It seemed that there was no time to worry about being "green" when we had to spend all of our "green" just trying to survive.  But while I was pregnant with our daughter we had some big decisions to make- was it worth it to work all the time, and barely scrape by after paying for daycare, or could we find a way to make it work on one income?

This journey started by thinking of ways we could save on baby items- yes hand me downs were a given, and buying 2nd hand was another great option- but if we were going to make this work, we had to do more.  And then I started considering the things I had stuck my nose up to at one point in time- CLOTH DIAPERS... that's when I started to see the horrible impact disposables were having on the environment... and it started a snowball effect... I started opening my eyes to all the ways we could save money, which seemed to go hand-in-hand with being more green.

And so we made the leap- and it's working out great!  In the last year I have learned how to sew, knit, make soap, grocery shop frugally (and once a month), and all kinds of other great things, and I want to be able to help all those other people out there who are trying to save money and be green, even if all I do is get one person to make one small change, I will feel I have accomplished something fantastic!

So sit back, read, learn, and enjoy!  If there is anything I can help with, something you think I should look into or learn more about, have things that you are doing that are not listed in this blog- please feel free to leave a comment!

Oh, and for anyone interested- this is the cloth diaper pattern that we use- I love Amazon.com, and yes, I will make a little bit if you decide to click-on this link, but I would NEVER suggest something that I don't myself use now, or have used in the past, or that I didn't/ don't believe in!  So if you're interested, check it out and let me know what you think!  This pattern was by far the trimmest fitting that I have found-