Category Archives: Eco Friendly Home

10 Obnoxious Disposable Products You Don’t Need

10 Obnoxious Disposable Products You Don't Need

Using disposable products for cleaning around the home has become commonplace. It’s as though the fear of germs not only extends to using antibacterials in just about all soaps, but to using all cleaning materials just once to ensure that the germs don’t stick around at all. But frankly, a lot of these disposable products are obnoxious and wasteful.

I’ve written before about ways to avoid plastic, but there are many more disposable products you should consider whether or not you need to continue using them.

Paper Towels

Paper towels have been used in the kitchen for a while now. It’s hard for many people to picture their kitchen without them – they’re probably one of the most popular disposable products around. But you really and truly can live without them.

Get a few more kitchen towels. Microfiber ones work great for cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. If you aren’t concerned with appearances, you can also tear up old bathroom towels for cleaning rags.

Paper towels are easy. I’ll give them that. But so are kitchen towels once you get used to reaching for them rather than paper. Toss them in the laundry when they get dirty and they’ll be ready for use again the next time you do laundry.

Paper Napkins

Sure, it’s easy to toss some paper napkins on the table so that the kids have some way to handle the inevitable mess. Know what? They do that pretty darn well with cloth napkins too. And cloth napkins can handle bigger messes.

I don’t know about your kids, but with mine that can be a huge plus. They’d use a huge wad of paper napkins to clean a mess that one cloth napkin or hand towel could handle.

Facial Tissues

You can go through a ton of facial tissues such as Kleenex when you’re sick. On those days you may not care much about disposable products or waste, but there are better options out there.

A good handkerchief is a great option. They’re much easier on your nose than facial tissue in my experience. We have some old burp cloths that are super soft and work well when someone has a cold.


Whatever happened to a plain old broom? Are a broom and dustpan really that hard to use?

And when it comes to mopping, I love my steam mop. No cleaning chemicals required, and the microfiber pads are washable and reusable. It’s so easy my kids do the mopping for me. Until I made it a regular chore they’d even argue over whose turn it was to mop.

If you own a Swiffer already, just stop using the disposable cloths you have to buy for it and attach a washcloth or microfiber cloth to it for your cleaning routine. It will do the job well enough and you can just toss them in the laundry when you’re done. No need to replace it just because you’re trying to be more eco friendly. You can spray your floor with vinegar rather than use their cleaning liquid.

Disposable Diapers

Okay, I’ll grant that in some situations you’re going to need to use disposable diapers unless you’re the most determined cloth diaper parent around. Lots of people who use cloth diapers don’t like to deal with them for travel, where carrying them around and washing them is a bit more effort.

And I’ll grant that most daycares won’t deal with cloth diapers either. So I understand that some people do indeed need disposable diapers.

But if you can fit them into your lifestyle, cloth diapers are so much nicer to use than disposables. Just an extra load of laundry washed with a little extra care. In return, you get reduced odds of diaper rash and improved odds that your child will potty train at a younger age. Plus all the money saved.

To make this more energy efficient, line dry the diapers when possible. The sun will help bleach out many of the stains, which is an added bonus.

Don’t forget the cloth wipes. You’ll be washing the diapers anyhow!

Plastic Grocery Bags

This is one of the most challenging items in my experience. It’s not always easy to remember to grab your reusable bags when you’re heading out to the store. Plus you’re using something you had to buy, while plastic grocery bags are currently free.

Have you ever noticed how fast the damn things add up in your kitchen? It’s ridiculous.

While many grocery stores have recycle bins for plastic grocery bags, the simple truth about any plastic is that it’s not all that recyclable at this time. Plus rather few plastic grocery bags actually get recycled.

In California and some other places now, stores don’t give free plastic grocery bags anymore. You have to bring your own or pay for a reusable one. It’s amazing how fast the habit to bring your bag improves when you have to buy a bag if you don’t bring one. It only costs a dime, but most don’t want to have to pay that for every bag they use.

You can buy some very nice reusable shopping bags that will be much better than the reusable plastic ones the store will sell so cheaply. They often hold more, which is both good and bad. You don’t have to carry so many bags, but sometimes they get too heavy for comfort.

Plastic Water Bottles

Plastic water bottles are everywhere these days! When you consider what you’re paying for bottled water, it’s pretty absurd in comparison to what tap water costs.

Stainless steel water bottles are so much nicer. I’ve used mine for years. I prefer the insulated models so that I don’t need to worry about condensation. It also means I can leave it in the car and come back to a drink that is still cold. They come out cheaper than plastic water bottles over time.

They’re also great for kids in their school lunches. I’ve tried so many drink bottles for my kids, and the stainless steel ones are the only ones that survive. Kids tend to throw lunch boxes and drink bottles around when they’re done with them for the school day. I’ll see dents in their drink bottles, but no breaks.

Disposable Dishes

Paper plates, plastic cups, and plastic silverware are incredibly useful when you have company over, but also incredibly wasteful.

You have alternatives. You can borrow dishes from family for special events where you need more dishes, or you can get inexpensive reusable dishes. If you absolutely must use plastic cups, have a Sharpie pen out so people can mark their cups. This way they don’t have to get a new cup when they aren’t certain which is theirs.

Dryer Sheets

I have to admit, I have never understood dryer sheets. I’ve never even used them. It has never seemed to me that they would make a significant difference in my laundry.

If you need to use something, try wool dryer balls or simply put a drop or two of an essential oil on a cloth and throw it into your dryer. The effect should be much the same.

Single Serve Coffee Pods

I am not a coffee drinker, so it’s easy for me to look down on single serve coffee pods, although I do understand the convenience. It can be nice making just a single cup of coffee in the morning when that’s all you really want. The waste from the pods, however, is awful.

If you love your Keurig or whatever brand you have, check out reusable coffee pods as an alternative. That way you can keep using your machines, have your convenient single serve coffee and reduce waste at the same time.

There are plenty more disposable products that people use that they don’t really need. While you don’t need to make all these changes to be more eco friendly, it may not hurt to make a few changes. Which disposable products drive you nuts?

Create A Sleep Friendly Bedroom For Your Child

Create A Sleep Friendly Bedroom For Your Child

Sleep is important for everyone, but as any parent knows, if your kids don’t sleep, you don’t sleep. They will get you up. While you can’t keep away all the sleepless nights by creating a sleep friendly bedroom for your child, you can make it as easy as possible for sleep to come.

A Sleep Friendly Bedroom Is Dark

If your child’s bedroom isn’t dark, they probably won’t sleep as well as they should. Blackout curtains will help if light comes in their window from other sources. This is especially important during the summer when the sun sets late and rises early.

Some kids need a night light for a time, but try to minimize that. If a night light is required, try to use something with an orange or red hue – blue lights are disruptive to sleep. When my nephew came to visit and needed a night light, we would turn on my salt lamp, as it has a lovely orange glow that reassured him, but all my other kids found less disruptive to their sleep.

Keep Electronics Out

Keep the electronic gadgets out of the bedroom as much as possible. They often emit quite a bit of blue light, unless they have settings that change in the evening. Electronics use is also just not a good way to wind down for the evening, no matter how many kids (and parents!) enjoy using them. Encourage everyone to read a book before bed instead.

Unclutter The Child’s Bedroom

A cluttered bedroom is hard to sleep in. It can be difficult to get some kids to keep their toys picked up and to not have an excessive number of stuffed animals in bed with them. It is a help, however, if you can build their habits so that they pick things up before bed, and only have a special lovey in bed with them.

Paint The Walls A Soothing Color

While the color of the walls can’t be seen in a dark room, a soothing color will help make a more sleep friendly bedroom for your child. Light colors are best, especially blues and greens, which most people find more relaxing.

My youngest daughter’s room, for example, is light blue, and each wall is (at her request) themed to a particular season. Snowflakes on one wall, flowers and butterflies for spring and summer, and autumn leaves for fall.

Air Out The Room

A room that hasn’t had an open window for a time doesn’t smell as nice as one that gets aired out regularly. When the weather permits, open the windows and let that fresh air in.

Keep It Cool

Much as a warm room feels nice during the day, people get better sleep in cooler temperatures. 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.  Blankets and pajamas can be used to keep your child cozy.

Use Soothing Music

Soothing music, quietly played, can help kids sleep. White noise is another option. Keep the volume high enough to be heard, but low enough to not disturb your child’s sleep.

This is especially helpful if there’s a lot of background noise in your house or neighborhood when your kids are trying to sleep.

Bring In Nature

A little nature goes a long ways in making a sleep friendly bedroom for a child. A plant or two is a great choice. Keep them out of reach of younger kids, but as they get older, it’s something they can help take care of.

A fish tank is another good option. My youngest has a fish tank, currently occupied by goldfish purchased to handle a snail problem in our big tank. She fell in love with them, and I wanted different fish in the big tank once the snails were gone, so now they’re hers. Goldfish can live quite a while if well cared for, but are cheaper than most other fish if you get them small.

You could combine plants and fish with an aquaponic tank. It grows plants at the top, with fish below. The small ones are about three gallons, and only suitable for fish such as bettas.

Make sure the fish tank light is turned off when the kids need to sleep.

Get A Good Mattress

Kids may not complain much about an uncomfortable mattress, but a poor quality mattress can make it harder for them to sleep. Combine the mattress with comfortable bedding to help your kids sleep well.

It’s such a help when your kids sleep well. It means you can sleep better too.

51 Money Saving Ideas For Eco Friendly Living

51 Money Saving Ideas For Eco Friendly Living

One of the wonderful things about being eco friendly is that it often saves you money too. It’s really not the time consuming, expensive challenge many think it is. There are lots of simple, money saving things you can do to be a little kinder to the planet.

In the Home

1. Change your lightbulbs

As your lightbulbs burn out, switch them for CFLs or even LEDs. These may cost more, but should make it up nicely in savings. CFLs and LEDs can use 25%-80% less energy than incandescent bulbs and may last 3-25 times longer.

programmable thermostat

2. Use a programmable thermostat and watch your settings

A programmable thermostat can help you save money by changing its settings on a schedule. Your house doesn’t need to be kept at the same temperature when you’re away for hours or when you’re sleeping. It saves the trouble of turning the thermostat up or down yourself throughout the day.

Also try keeping your home a little warmer in summer and cooler in winter. For my family, a slightly warmer house means the kids are a little more willing to go outside during the summer. A house that rarely runs the air conditioner isn’t as much fun to stay in as one that is kept cooler. I like that little benefit too. My air conditioner doesn’t turn on until 84 degrees, which is comfortable when you’re used to it and use fans.

3. Shield windows that let in a lot of heat

If you know which windows let in too much summer heat, block them during the day. This can be as simple (and ugly) as putting large pieces of cardboard in the window. A mylar film can also help – the cheap way is to cut up a mylar emergency blanket. If you want things to look better, consider insulating window coverings.

4. Use fans instead of air conditioners

As I said above, I use my air conditioner very little. Ceiling fans, stand fans, box fans, whatever you have available, it’s cheaper to use than your air conditioner, and it’s amazing how much cooler air feels when it’s moving around the room.

ceiling fan

5. Dress warmer in winter

Rather than heat the entire house in winter, dress a little warmer. It’s much cheaper to put on that sweater you already own than to pay for the energy to run the heater.

6. Check your furnace and air conditioner filters

The filters for your furnace and air conditioner gather dust as they’re used – that’s kind of the point. But over time the dust makes them less efficient and make your units work harder. Consider whether you want a filter than can be cleaned and put back in rather than disposable filters – the reusable ones cost more upfront but will save you money over time.

7. Check your weatherstripping

Weatherstripping around your doors and windows works best when it’s in good condition. It will make heating or cooling your home more efficient by limiting how much air escapes from your home.

8. Use the dishwasher

Generally speaking, the dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. Modern dishwasher detergents even work better if you don’t do an excessive amount of rinsing, as they react with the food particles left on there. Don’t leave chunks of food, of course.

9. Wash clothes in cold water

Most modern detergents don’t need warm water to work – cold is just fine for them. Sometimes hot water is worse for stains, as it can set them rather than remove them. Save warm or hot water washes for when they’re needed, such as for family members with allergies who need to be sure that dust mites don’t survive in the laundry.


10. Line dry your clothes in warm weather

If the weather is warm enough line dry your clothes when possible. If the weather is really hot, this can be about as fast as using your dryer, but doesn’t cost anything beyond the costs of the clothesline and clothespins.

Some homeowner’s associations don’t allow clotheslines, which is really a pity. Yes, clothes out drying are unattractive, but they shouldn’t be out all the time. Oh, and put your underwear and such in the middle row, between other things you’re drying, if you don’t want the neighbors to see them.

11. Install low flow faucets aerators

Low flow faucets aerators will help you use less water for many purposes. It won’t make a difference if you’re filling up a pot, but will help when you’re washing your hands.

12. Install low flow showerheads

If you don’t already have a low flow showerhead, you probably use more water than you need during your shower. If you want to go even a little better, choose one that allows you to decrease or increase the water flow during your shower – mine has an extra control that allows the water to be turned way down when I don’t need a lot, such as when lathering up.

13. Install low flow toilets

Low flow toilets can use quite a bit less water than conventional toilets. Most do a good job handling solid wastes. If you’re concerned, or want to try saving still more water, look into a dual flush toilet, which uses still less water for liquid waste, but has a high volume flush that is still efficient for solids.

14. Fix water leaks

Water leaks don’t seem like much more than a minor annoyance, but they can waste gallons of water a day. Most are easy to fix on your own – just make sure you turn off the water first. There are plenty of videos and instructions online to help you do the work… or call the plumber if that’s too much outside your comfort zone.

15. Charge your devices on a power strip

Many people have a regular place where they charge their cell phones, tablets and laptops. If you put the chargers on a power strip, you can turn it off when you aren’t charging anything, which saves electricity. You might not unplug your chargers between uses, but the chargers still use electricity even without the device plugged in. Using a power strip takes care of that phantom load, provided you turn it off when you’re done charging.

16. Turn off computers overnight

It’s not too uncommon to leave your computer on overnight, but turning it off can save money. At the very least, make sure that your power settings save as much energy as possible once you’ve left it alone for 10-15 minutes.

17. Pay bills online and go to paperless billing

Paying bills online is easy and cheaper than buying stamps to mail your payments in. Many companies even let you schedule your payments to go in automatically, so you don’t have to think about them so long as you have enough money to pay in your account.

18. Rent tools you rarely need

If you need a tool for a project and aren’t likely to need it again for some time, look into renting it rather than buying one new. Home Depot rents a wide range of tools for various projects, for example. You could also try borrowing from a neighbor so long as you’re sure to return it promptly and in good condition.

19. Make your water heater more efficient

Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees. That’s hot enough for most purposes. You can also buy an insulating blanket for your water heater so that it doesn’t have to heat the water as often. Remember you can turn the water heater down when you go on vacation – not like you need hot water when you aren’t home.

20. Make your own cleaning supplies

Many cleaners are cheap and easy to make at home. MY favorite ingredient to use is vinegar. Watered down and put in a squirt bottle, it replaces many other cleaners. Baking soda is good when you need an abrasive, and there’s a helpful reaction if you spray vinegar on top of it. Best of all, such ingredients are much safer around kids and pets.

21. Replace old appliances with Energy Star models

As the time comes to replace your old appliances, make sure you choose Energy Star models to replace them. This rating is available for many appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, TVs, computers and more.


22. Eat out less

From bringing lunch to school or work to just eating more meals at home, eating out less can save a lot of money. It’s also a good way to know what’s going into your food. There’s also less food waste when you eat out less.

chayote squash soup

23. Cook from scratch

There are times when using prepared foods in your kitchen is a real help. However, these foods are usually less healthy, cost more and have more packaging to throw into the trash than foods you make from scratch. Meals you make yourself usually taste better too.

24. Eat less meat

Meat is usually one of the most expensive ingredients in meals. Meat production creates a lot of greenhouse gases, so eating less of it is good for the environment as well as your wallet. It takes time to learn how to cook more meatless meals, but there are plenty of resources out there:

25. Eat your leftovers

Most Americans waste a lot of food, especially when it comes to leftovers. You can pack up leftovers for easy lunches, or even freeze meals that reheat well so you don’t have to eat the same thing over again right away.

26. Use a pressure cooker

A pressure cooker can be used to greatly decrease cook times, up to 70%. That means they use less energy to cook your meals. You can cook roasts, chicken, soup, chili, desserts and more. I like to pressure cook artichokes.

27. Quit using paper towels

Paper towels are convenient yet wasteful. Cloth towels are generally better at cleaning up spills and cheaper to use.

28. Don’t use disposable dishes

Do your best to avoid using disposable dishes. While this is difficult when you go on a picnic or have a lot of guests over, it’s not impossible.

29. Use cloth napkins

Rather than use paper napkins, make the switch to cloth. They cost more initially, but will save money in the long run. Keep a nice set for company, and don’t stress too much about stains on the ones you use daily. Cloth napkins don’t add that much to your laundry – mine would be a very small load if washed alone, but they aren’t. They get washed with other things.

30. Use reusable drink bottles

From your daily coffee to drinking water, providing your own reusable container is better than getting something that has to be thrown out. Some coffee shops will give you a small discount if you provide your own cup.

I adore my stainless steel water bottle. Not only will it last just about forever, but I can go anywhere and carry it, rather than look for a drinking fountain or buy bottled water. Mine is insulated, so even if I leave it in the car for a time on a hot day, my water is still cool.

31. Plan your meals

Another source of food waste is forgetting to use ingredients you’ve already bought. Plan your meals before you hit the grocery store, not after, so that you have the ingredients you want when you want them. It’s so wasteful to think you’re going to use that broccoli in a meal, only to realize that it went bad before you got to it. Much better to buy it, knowing what day you’ll use it and what you’ll use it with.

32. Buy in bulk when reasonable

If it’s reasonable, buy things in bulk. Obviously, if it’s something that will go bad before you can use it, bulk is a bad idea. It’s also bad if you don’t have storage for it. But when storage and spoilage aren’t a problem, bulk saves money and product packaging as a general rule. It also means you don’t have to buy that item at the store as often.

For You & Your Family


33. Borrow books from the library

Borrowing books from the library is a great way to keep up on your reading without spending a fortune. Many even allow you to borrow ebooks on your Kindle or other device. Some also rent movies on DVD.

34. Check out resale and thrift stores before buying new

Resale and thrift stores can have great finds at great prices for clothes and other items. It may take some time to find the right shops for your tastes, but that can be part of the fun.

35. Make your own skin care products

Many store bought skin care products aren’t as kind to your skin as they should be, and may contain chemicals that do more harm than good. It’s easy to make certain kinds of skin care products in your own home, and they’re often wonderful for your skin.

36. Make your own shampoo

Homemade shampoo is easy to make. Some go as simple as using baking soda to wash their hair and use an apple cider vinegar rinse. It works well for some people, but others say it can be damaging. There are recipes for pH balanced homemade shampoos out there as well.

Outdoors/In the Garden

37. Plant trees

Trees in your yard can help save money by shading your home in summer. Plant them where they’ll help keep the worst of the sun away during the summer. Trees also make the house look better, and if you plant fruit trees you even get some fresh food out of the deal. That said, fruit trees may not grow tall enough to be great shade trees. Still, there’s nothing like fresh picked fruit from your own tree.

38. Grow your own vegetables

I admit it, our luck at this one has been horrible lately – chalk it up to poor soil and a cinderblock fence that tends to overheat the plants in our garden area. But when it works, you get delicious vegetables you’ve grown yourself, and it can save you money.

The key here is to not overspend on setting up your garden. Don’t spend a fortune setting things up, especially if you’re a beginner. Start simple and build it up over time.

Tomatoes are generally easy to grow, as are some salad greens. We’ve had some luck with some volunteer strawberries which appeared in our garden a few years ago – seriously, we didn’t plant them, but they grow really well for us.

39. Compost

Composting is especially good if you’re already growing your own garden. You end up with wonderful fertilizer for your garden, all from things you were throwing out anyhow. Be aware of what you put in – meats and such may attract rodents, but yard waste and uncooked vegetable scraps are generally okay. You can also compost cardboard and many other things. provide links

If you don’t have a garden, many communities now have yard waste or composting bins. They may be very limited or very generous in what they accept – check first.

40. Xeriscape and use native plants

Xeriscaping can cut down your outdoor watering costs tremendously. Changing your landscaping can have significant initial costs but can pay back when you rarely have to water. If you live in an area where droughts are a problem, check with your city or water district for incentives to xeriscape. Incentives can take a nice chunk out of the expense.


41. Mulch

Using mulch around your plants cuts down on weeds and cuts down on how much water they need by trapping moisture in the soil.

42. Get a rain barrel

A rain barrel can help keep the cost of watering your yard down. This can be great if you’re in a drought prone area. It’s not a lot of water unless you get really serious about your rain barrels – 50 or so gallons go quickly, but it’s a help. Please check the laws in your area – you aren’t allowed to capture rainwater in some areas.

43. Mow your lawn with a reel mower

Using a reel mower rather than an electric one or gas powered one can save a lot of money, and current reel mowers aren’t that hard to use. They’re also much quieter than powered mowers.


44. Carpool

Carpooling to and from work is best if you have coworkers who live nearby and are on the same schedule. It isn’t for everyone. However, when it works you get to split the gas bill, have a little company on the way to work, and pollute less. When you can make carpooling work, it’s a really great deal all around.

45. Bike to work

This only works if your work is close enough and if you can handle being a little sweaty after your ride. Still, it can be a good money saver plus you won’t need to spend so much time in the gym.

46. Use public transportation

If you live in a region with good public transportation, this is one of the best ways to get to work and possibly to run errands. Take a look at the options in your area and decide if it will work for you.

47. Choose a more fuel efficient car when you replace your current one

When the time comes that you need to replace your current vehicle, be sure that fuel efficiency is one of the factors you consider. Over the life of the car, this can be a huge savings and it will pollute less.

48. Drive sensibly

If you keep to the speed limit, and don’t accelerate or brake aggressively, you will probably save on gas. Some cars now tell you what your average mileage is, which can be a great motivator to do better.

49. Check your tires

If your tires are properly inflated, you will get better gas mileage in your car. Check your tire pressure monthly.

Getting Rid of Stuff

50. Recycle your old electronics for money

Old electronics don’t belong in the trash. There are companies that will recycle them properly, and some will even pay you. It’s easy to find places that will take in your old cell phone – other electronics may be more difficult.

Amazon Trade-In
Cash For Electronic Scrap USA
Mail in Mobile

There are many other places you can recycle or resell your old electronics – just make sure that you have securely deleted your old personal information before you send old phones, tablets, computers and such in.

51. Have a yard sale

When you have things to get rid of, have a yard sale so that others can use the things you don’t want anymore. Call up a thrift store for things that don’t sell or if yard sales just aren’t your thing.

Coping With the California Drought

Coping With the California Drought

You may know that California is in a particularly intense drought right now. If you live in California, you had better know that, as things are bad enough that watering incorrectly can cause you to be fined. I’m fortunate enough to be in an area where it isn’t as bad as it is elsewhere, as we rely less on imported water and more on wells that apparently aren’t in bad shape yet, but we’re still being strongly encouraged to conserve. Given that no one knows when this particular California drought will end, it’s important that everyone do their part.

Watering outdoors less is a big part of it. Most areas are restricting watering days and times, and homeowner’s associations aren’t currently allowed to enforce rules against brown lawns. It’s a temporary rule, of course, and I can’t help but wonder how fast HOAs will be putting out fines once it expires, regardless of whether or not the drought has continued.

One big thing to do is to check for broken sprinkler heads and pipes. I found out that in addition to a couple broken sprinkler heads, a tree root has broken one of our sprinkler pipes. We’re having a guy out soon to fix it, though it may be partially under the sidewalk and a bit of a pain to fix. I check the sprinklers a few times a year, and this is the worst round I’ve ever had to deal with. To keep our water use under control, it’s necessary to keep up with the problems.

You should also mow your lawn higher, and that’s something I’m going to catch the yard guy about, because he mows us really low. I think a slightly taller lawn is prettier, and it’s also more water efficient.

We do a cycle and soak watering for our lawns. This takes advantage of the sprinkler system’s multiple start times, so each section gets just a couple of minutes of watering before it goes to the next, then the system starts over again. This allows the soil to absorb more of the water and reduces runoff.

Can’t We Just Cut Out the Lawns?

If we weren’t renting, we’d be doing things a lot different, drought or no. I’d much rather have the front yard xeriscaped than deal with a lawn. I like a bit of lawn in the back as a place for the kids to run and play. It’s a big part of why I really don’t want to live in a HOA controlled area – I want more flexibility in how my property will look when I own it.

I would love to see would be a big push for more xeriscaping, especially in new developments. Make it harder for homeowner’s associations in new neighborhoods to require a lawn. Well done xeriscaping takes very little water or maintenance, yet looks very nice.

Artificial turf is another idea, although some HOAs have rules against it. I believe ours does, as the house across the street had some artificial grass for a few months, then real stuff was put back in. I’m generally more in favor of real plants – they’re better in pretty much every way so far as I’m concerned, save water use – but if you must display a green lawn, that artificial stuff starts to look pretty promising. Personally, I’d rather not have it, but there are times when I understand why one might choose it.

Indoor Water Use

There are ways to save water indoors as well, of course. Shorter showers, don’t let the water run while handwashing dishes,only wash full loads of dishes or clothes,make sure your water-using appliances are efficient, things like that. There are a lot of good tips at Most changes you make indoors will only save a small amount per use, but it can really add up.

A lot of these changes we’ve long since made in our family or just never done any other way. I don’t think I’ve ever just let the water run while brushing my teeth, for example – that never made sense to me.

What About Big Agriculture?

I know a lot of people want agriculture to do their part, as California agriculture uses way, way more water than goes to residential use, but that’s a harder change to make. That’s changes over huge areas of land, I would imagine with significant equipment and personnel costs. Farmers can’t just water less and expect their crops to still grow. Certainly I believe they could water more efficiently, but not quickly. It’s much simpler for residents to change their own watering habits quickly, which I believe is a part of why there has been so much focus on residential use.

Organic Eggs? Free Range Eggs? Cage Free? Which Should You Choose?

Organic Eggs? Free Range Eggs? Cage Free? Which Should You Choose?

If you’ve become interested in improving the kinds of foods you eat, eggs are probably one of the foods you’ve taken a good look at. There are options out there for those who want better eggs. The hard part is figuring out what “better” really is.

Now my personal favorite eggs are the ones I get from my sister once in a while. She doesn’t live close enough that we get them often, but she has backyard chickens. They roam the yard during the day, eating what they find, plus the scraps the family gives them and the chicken feed my sister uses. I don’t know all the details. I do know the shells are much stronger than the shells on grocery store eggs, and there is a visible color difference in the yolks.

But not everyone has access to backyard chicken eggs even part of the time. It’s worth looking at your options and really knowing what all the terminology really means, because it’s not necessarily what you think.

Note that the color of the eggshell really doesn’t matter. My sister’s chickens product brown or green eggs, depending on the breed, but there’s no difference in the quality of the eggs due to their coloration.

Cage Free Eggs

Cage free chickens have things just a little better than your standard caged chicken. They’re usually in a building full of chickens, crowded, but they can at least walk and stretch their wings. They probably don’t go outside, however. They probably do get treated with antibiotics. It’s an improvement but not much of one.

Free Range Eggs

This one doesn’t usually mean what you think it means. Take your cage free chickens and give them a little access to the outdoors. This does not mean they have access to pasture where they can eat grass and bugs. There are no rules about how long each chicken gets outside.

Organic Eggs

Organic chickens can usually go outside some, and they cannot be treated with antibiotics. They are also give organic feed. The facilities are inspected annually by an agency with USDA accreditation.

Pasture Raised Eggs

Pasture raised chickens lead the kind of life you’d think free range means. They have free access to come and go from their coop, and can eat grass and bugs as they find them. They are usually given organic feed and not treated with antibiotics. This is as close as you can get to raising your own chickens in the backyard.