DIY natural cleaners for every household chore

August 13, 2019 by  
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Your home is your castle. It’s where you live, play, relax and sometimes even work or attend school. A clean castle pleases the royal family, but harsh chemicals are unwelcome guests in the kingdom. With the amount of time you spend in your surroundings, considering your air and water quality seems like a good investment. These DIY cleaners are safe for your home, your family and the planet. There seems to be a debate surrounding what products are safe, with every major manufacturer slapping sustainability verbiage on products to promote all-natural, chemical-free and organic assumptions. For the most part, it’s marketing, plain and simple. In truth, most commercial cleaners contain damaging chemicals, even when the label disguises them as healthy options. The only way to really know what you’re cleaning with is to make your own cleaning products, and fortunately there are many truly natural cleaners that will leave the sparkle without the chemical aftermath. Related: Get ready to use soapnuts for everything from cleaning to self care Ingredients Vinegar Vinegar is nature’s cleaner. It can be used outright on nearly every surface. It is great as a versatile cleaner for everything from countertops to windows. Although not touting antibacterial qualities, it is biodegradable . Lemon Lemon juice has natural antibacterial qualities. Although many store-bought products have a lemon scent to sell this message, including fresh lemon in your own cleaners gives you assurance that it’s the real thing. Baking soda Another ingredient found in many cleaning recipes, baking soda offers superior odor neutralization and has impressive stain-fighting capabilities.  Liquid castile soap Castile soap is a plant-based product that has been used for generations in different forms. Dr. Brommer’s is a commonly used brand that you might recognize. It is naturally sourced from vegetable fat, so it is non-toxic and biodegradable, meaning that it’s good for the environment, too. Hydrogen peroxide Inexpensive and readily available, hydrogen peroxide makes a great non-toxic disinfectant for your household surfaces. Simply spray and leave to bubble for a minute or two before wiping clean. Make sure to store hydrogen peroxide in an opaque or darker bottle, because light will break down its effectiveness. Note that hydrogen peroxide is not a safe choice for granite surfaces. Borax Borax is a naturally occurring substance that has earned a name in the cleaning industry. However, there is some dispute as to its safety in cleaning products. Although typically only required in small amounts for most recipes, borax can cause skin and breathing problems, so it doesn’t rank high as a healthy cleaner for some. Moreover, it’s toxic to children and pets, so it’s not a good choice for cleaners that touch every surface in your home. DIY natural cleaner recipes Now that we’ve covered the ingredients, let’s get to the recipes, so you can get to cleaning. Multipurpose cleaner This DIY cleaner is good for all floors and most other surfaces. The basic recipe calls for just a few simple ingredients: 1 cup white vinegar, 1 gallon water and essential oils if you wish to disguise the vinegar scent. When cleaning any wood surface, use minimal water and other ingredients. Do not saturate the wood. Apply a light layer with a mop and dry immediately. All-purpose cleaner This is the stuff you can use in the toilet, on the counter or on the floors. Here are a couple of options that will work well: Castile soap all-purpose cleaner 2 cups distilled or boiled water 2-4 tablespoons castile soap 15 drops of your favorite essential oil (we recommend peppermint) Vinegar all-purpose cleaner 1 cup distilled or boiled water 1 cup white distilled vinegar 1/2 lemon, juiced (optional, but store cleaner in the fridge if you do add lemon) 15 drops of your favorite essential oil (we recommend orange) Alcohol all-purpose cleaner 1/4 cup alcohol (rubbing alcohol or cheap vodka) A few drops of essential oil A few drops of eco-friendly liquid soap 13 ounces of water Drain cleaner Set the teapot on to boil and grab the baking soda. Spoon about one cup of baking soda down the drain. Let it slip down as far into the drainpipe as it will go. Then add one cup of lemon juice or one cup of white vinegar. Either will cause a chemical reaction, so pour slowly. The reaction helps eat away at whatever is clogging your drain. After 10-15 minutes, chase it down the drain with several cups of boiling water (use caution). Repeat if necessary. Stain remover When it comes to tackling those deodorant armpit stains on your T-shirts or the unidentified marks on the carpet, look no further than the mixture below. 1/2 cup baking soda 1 tablespoon salt 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide Create a paste and apply to the stain. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. Remove with water and clean rags, or wash the item in the washing machine. Make sure to dab carpets, and don’t oversaturate. Related: Cora Ball emulates natural filtering of coral to remove toxic microfibers from your washing machine Glass and window cleaner Vinegar and water in a one-to-one ratio will tackle the windows pretty well. If you have a lot of dirt, clean the windows with an eco-friendly dish soap and water solution first. Use coffee filters or recycled newspapers to wipe down the glass . Alternate recipe 1/2 cup vinegar 1 cup rubbing alcohol 2 cups water Combine and use as a spray cleaner for mirrors and windows. Liquid fabric softener Avoid the fabric sheets headed to the landfill . Instead, make your own easy and eco-friendly fabric softener. Although not technically a cleaner, we couldn’t skip putting this one on the list. 1/8 cup food-grade glycerine 2 cups water 2 cups white vinegar Combine and pour 1/3 to 1/2 cup of this mixture into the liquid fabric softener dispenser in the washing machine for fresh, soft sheets and clothes. Images via Conger Design , Monfocus ( 1 , 2 ) and Daiga Ellaby

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DIY natural cleaners for every household chore

Geothermal-powered bus station will use anti-smog blocks to fight pollution

August 13, 2019 by  
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The Polish city of Lublin will soon be home to an environmentally friendly bus station that not only offers a new and attractive public space, but also combats urban air pollution. Designed by Polish architectural firm Tremend , the Integrated Intermodal Metropolitan Station in Lublin will be built near the train station and aims to revitalize the area around the railway station. The contemporary design, combined with its environmental focus and green features, earned the project a spot on World Architecture Festival’s World Building of the Year shortlist.  Located close to Folk Park, the Integrated Intermodal Metropolitan Station was designed as a visual extension of the neighboring green space with a lush roof garden and large green wall that wraps the northern facade. Greenery is also referenced in the series of sculptural tree-like pillars that support a massive flat roof with large overhanging eaves. Walls of glass create an inviting and safe atmosphere, while the administration rooms will be provided with tinted windows for privacy.  To reduce energy demands, the building will be heated with geothermal energy and outfitted with energy-efficient LEDs . Meanwhile, motion detectors will be used to activate the lighting to ensure energy savings. A rainwater collection and treatment system will also be used to irrigate the plants that create a cooling microclimate and improved air quality. Air quality is further improved with the use of “anti-smog blocks,” a modern photocatalytic material containing titanium dioxide that breaks down toxic fumes.  Related: Cepezed completes the first self-sufficient bus station in the Netherlands “Architecture of public places is evolving in my opinion in a very good direction,” says Magdalena Federowicz-Boule, President of the Tremend Board. “Combining different spaces, open shared zones favors establishing contacts. The communication center, which is to be built in Lublin, is to revive it for revitalization district and become a meeting place where people will be able to meet and spend together time in an attractive environment with green areas. The project is also a response to problems, related to environmental protection and city life, such as smog , water and energy consumption, noise. It is an image of how we perceive the role of ecology in architecture.” + Tremend

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Geothermal-powered bus station will use anti-smog blocks to fight pollution

A sustainable meal plan filled with recipes for Earth Day

April 19, 2019 by  
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Not all food is created equal, and not all foods are healthy for the planet. You’ve seen the headlines. Manufacturing plants suck up water, pollute with chemicals and damage the surrounding landscape. Raising cattle and other livestock is also associated with earth-damaging consequences. Most environmentalists agree that plant-based products offer the best balance of nutrition and sustainability. Earth Day is right around the corner, so it’s the perfect time to focus on foods that show our love for the planet. If you’d like to curate a meal plan incorporating plant-based ingredients, seasonal goods and limited waste, here are some recipes to inspire you. Breakfast Spring offerings make for a delightfully fresh breakfast. Eggs with asparagus and spinach 1. Broil a thick slice of rustic or sourdough bread on both sides. 2. Create an indent in the center of the bread. If applicable to your diet, add prosciutto around the edges of the bread. Fill the indent with a layer of cheese (your choice) and a generous layer of spinach . Arrange small, tender pieces of asparagus around the center. Then, gently break an egg into the spinach nest. 3. Cook at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes until the eggs are set and the vegetables are tender. Add a side of sliced apricot or avocado . Related: 12 delicious and crowd-pleasing vegan brunch ideas Lunch Vegetable-waste bowl Well that doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it? Maybe we should call it, “Keep from Wasting Vegetables Bowl” instead. The goal here is to use up whatever is in the fridge , so dig deep. 1. Roast whatever veggies you have. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, peppers, turnip, parsnip, asparagus, beans … all of them! Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake in the oven until tender. 2. In the meantime, make a cup of your favorite grain. Quinoa, brown rice, white rice, buckwheat, barley, farrow or amaranth are great options. 3. Mix it all together, and stir in your choice of beans : pinto, kidney, garbanzo, black, etc. Top with cheese, a squirt of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil or your preferred dressing. Dinner Salad starter Spring is a great time to enjoy young greens and cool-weather lettuce along with other seasonal fruits and vegetables. There are so many combinations to try, so feel free to mix it up any way you like! 1. Start with a base of arugula, green and red lettuce, romaine and/or spinach. 2. With your leafy greens in place, choose your veggies. Many of your favorites are likely in season right now. Consider beets (shredded), carrots of all colors (shredded or sliced), radishes (thinly sliced), peas (snow, snap and garden) and broccoli florets. 3. Add some fruit. Many people forget to consider fruit when putting together a salad , but early-season strawberries and spring apricots add the perfect zing to the mix. 4. For dressing, go with a vinaigrette. They are plant-based and easy to whip up, plus there are many flavor options to create. For example, a soy/mustard combination includes: 1/4 cup tamari 1/4 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar 2 tsp Dijon mustard While a traditional berry vinaigrette is made up of: 4 large strawberries or 1/3 cup raspberries or other berry of choice 1 tbsp red wine vinegar 2 tbsp agave syrup Pinch of freshly ground black pepper 5. Top with nuts. The options are endless here too. Shaved almonds, cashews, roasted filberts, pine nuts and sunflower seeds are all excellent choices. Related: How to make a meal out of leftover veggies Easy homemade dinner pizza If you are avoiding grains, create a cauliflower-crust instead of the one here. Choose any toppings that make you happy, but this recipe focuses on light spring eats. Note: The dough performs better if made the day before. Crust: 2 tbsp agave 3 cups warm water 2 packages dry active yeast 7 cups of flour 1/4 cup olive oil 3 tbsp kosher salt 1. Combine agave, yeast and water in a bowl, and allow it to sit until it becomes foamy, about five to 10 minutes. 2. Stir in the flour, olive oil and salt. 3. Knead the mixture until smooth. 4. Coat the dough with oil, place in a bowl and cover, allowing it to rise until it doubles, about one hour. 5. Divide the dough into four balls and lay these on a sheet with space between them. Cover and refrigerate overnight. You can still use the dough without this rest period with pretty good results. 6. Warm your grill. You will be using indirect heat, so heat it up and then turn off half the flames on a gas grill or move coals to one side for charcoal. 7. Roll out one ball of dough and transfer it to the grill. Make sure your toppings are prepared and nearby. Stay close to your pizza while it cooks. Transfer the stretched-out dough to the grill. Don’t worry if it is not perfectly rounded; the handmade look adds a rustic appeal. Cook the dough for one or two minutes, then flip. Move it to indirect heat for an additional one to two minutes. Continue moving it back and forth, flipping frequently until it is bubbled and cooked through. 8. Add your favorite cheese and other toppings, and continue to cook the pizza until the cheese melts, keeping it off of direct high heat. The options for toppings are endless, but our favorite combination is toasted pine nuts, spinach, fresh basil, garlic and olives. Fresh spring flavors include arugula, fennel bulbs, peas, artichoke hearts and asparagus. Dessert Vegan strawberry ice cream No meal is complete without dessert, especially when you’re honoring the Earth. We’ll give credit to our friends over at Loving it Vegan for this sweet, plant-based option. Enjoy! 1 14oz (400ml) can coconut cream 1 14oz (400ml) can coconut milk 1/2 cup (100g) white granulated sugar 1/4 cup (60ml) maple syrup 1 cup (232g) strawberry puree 1 tbsp strawberry extract 1/2 tsp salt 1. Add a can of coconut milk , a can of coconut cream, sugar and maple syrup to a pot. 2. Bring that to a simmer, stirring constantly. 3. As soon as it simmers, remove the pot from the heat and add in strawberries puree, salt and strawberry extract. 4. Blend everything until smooth. 5. Next, put the mixture into a storage container and place into the fridge to chill overnight. If you are in a hurry, place the mixture in the freezer for an hour or so. 6. Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker until it reaches your desired consistency. This can take about 20 minutes to 45 minutes. The best way to celebrate the planet is through your stomach. With the right ingredients, that’s a win-win! Images via Shutterstock

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A sustainable meal plan filled with recipes for Earth Day

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