Every day, I pen a syndicated column called “Do Just One Thing” that appears in newspapers across the country. Over the past several years, I’ve accumulated thousands of tips that not only help people live a little bit greener each day, but are smart ways to cut waste and save money as well. In each issue of this magazine, I’ll round up my all-time favorite tips. They’re clever, fun, and simple enough that I think you’ll Naturally love to try them. –DANNY SEO
Do your kitchen or bathroom drains have an unpleasant scent? Instead of dumping chlorine bleach down the drain to neutralize it, pour in regular salt as a non-toxic solution. Sometimes the stink comes from decomposing organic matter, like food scraps, that’s stuck on the sides of pipes. The salt helps dislodge the stuck-on waste and acts like a mini scrubber for your pipes. Just pour about 1⁄2 to 1 cup of salt down the drain and turn on the hot water tap.
#2 How Crafty
When it comes to crafting supplies such as crayons, markers, and paint, it’s key to look for materials that have as little toxicity as possible. The Art and Creative Materials Institute has a mark called AP-certified that goes onto products that meet stringent safety standards. Products go through a program that tests them extensively for toxins before the product can bear the AP-certified mark. Using these products when crafting with small kids is especially important if they tend to put paint-covered fingers in their mouths.
#3 Free Will
Do you want to bring house-plants into your house to help beautify your home and purify the air—and get them for free? The website Freecycle is like Craigslist without any money ever changing hands for goods. When someone has something to give away, it connects her with people who will take it. A common item is houseplants, because when people are moving away, they don’t want to deal with the hassle of packing up plants and would prefer they go to a good home. Search for plants (and other freebies) at freecycle.org.
#4 Stubborn Stains
Sure, it’s a superfood, but turmeric is also a super-stainer. But don’t worry: you can get he deep orange color out. First, don’t try to rinse it out with hot water as this will only set the stain and make it nearly impossible to remove. Instead, mix a combination of equal parts dish soap and white vinegar and dilute it with water. Then dip a clean cloth into the solution and dab it onto the stain. Keep dabbing until the turmeric lifts up and is gone for good.
# 5 (Don’t) Light My Fire
If you burn firewood, you know it’s important not to incinerate things like pressure-treated wood, cardboard, and plywood since they can release a significant amount of toxins into the air when burned. But did you know that it’s also imperative to avoid burning driftwood? Even though it came from a tree and simply tumbled in the ocean, driftwood also acts like a sponge. So when you burn it, all those absorbed chemicals it collected in ocean water get released when added to your backyard fire pit.