Smart Idea


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 to live a little bit greener each day, but are also smart ways to cut waste and save money. 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

    It’s inevitable—and often a real mystery—that you lose a sock. So what do you do with the stray single sock? Don’t toss it when you can reuse it around the house. One simple solution is to fill a sock with cedar shavings and tie a knot at the end to prevent them from spilling out. Since socks are porous, the cedar scent will permeate the air inside a closet and keep moths at bay. Or, to keep your car windows from fogging up, fill a sock with kitty litter and tie a knot at the end. Place it by the window where it’ll absorb excess moisture, keeping your car windshield crystal clear.
    Tea lovers know that tea leaves are so absorbent that you should never store them in the spice cabinet. The reason? Strong spices like cinnamon can actually be absorbed into tea leaves, which can change their flavor profile. But since tea leaves are absorbent, they can also be used to deodorize around the house. Sprinkle dry tea leaves all over a rug or carpet and press them into the carpet. Let them sit for as long as possible (at least 15 minutes) and vacuum them up. The leaves will absorb odors and leave your carpet smelling like absolutely nothing at all.
    The strong artificial fragrances used on dryer sheets may not be a healthy choice to use in your laundry, but a few sheets can actually deter mice from entering your home. By simply laying a few sheets around areas where you’ve seen a mouse, the strong scent will turn them off—and turn them around. You can also use them to plug up cracks where mice might squeeze in; they block the cracks and the strong scent keeps mice far, far away.
    When storing leftovers in the refrigerator, it’s imperative to cover the food to keep it fresh. But did you know covering your food also helps you save energy? A refrigerator has something called a compressor, and its job is to keep the air inside the fridge cool. Moist air in the refrigerator is harder to keep cool, so the compressor has to work harder. Uncovered food emits moisture and, over time, it uses more energy. Investing in reusable silicone covers or foil to cover food is a simple and easy way to improve its efficiency.
    The refrigerator is one of the biggest energy hogs in the house, so make sure it runs efficiently and you’ll save electricity and money. If you don’t use your automatic icemaker often, consider turning it off. A study by Time magazine found that the average icemaker increases energy usage by 12 to 20 percent. By simply turning it off, you’ll significantly improve efficiency. Want ice? Consider filling silicone ice cube trays with water and using them instead of an automatic icemaker.