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
- GOOD DEAL: Bales of straw are a desirable ground cover, mulch, or soil amendment for many gardeners, but they can be expensive. But if you wait until the first of November, you can get a much better price. The reason? Bales are often sold as Halloween décor, so after the holiday stores mark them down for quick sale. Grab ‘em then and use them around your yard and garden, and to amend your compost as well.
- WAND-ERFUL IDEA: Did you know your old mascara wands can be recycled and used to help wildlife in need? The non-profit Appalachian Wildlife Rescue organization uses the wands to remove fly eggs and larvae from the fur of wild animals they rescue. The tightly knit bristles on the beauty tool are perfect for getting the job done. To help, just send washed and cleaned wands to them. The charity insists on not buying new wands since they also want to encourage recycling. Learn more at appalachianwild.org.
- GOOD HABIT: Every time you deposit a load of freshly washed clothing into the dryer, make it a habit to empty the lint trap. This one simple act actually improves the efficiency of your dryer by .5%. While this may not seem like a lot, it does help you save both a little money and time. A clean lint trap means it takes less time to get your clothes dry. Plus it makes your appliance safer—full lint traps can be a fire hazard. And remember, the lint can be tossed right into the compost bin.
- WOOD YOU?: Wooden plates and small serving boards are a popular way to serve food. They’re durable and made from all-natural materials, which also makes them a sustainable choice. But the scratches and small cracks can harbor germs over time. To clean them, never put them in the dishwasher or soak them in water; this can expand the wood and make the cracks worse. Instead, briefly soak them (five minutes max) in warm soapy water and gently scrub them with a little hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar to sanitize. Then, rinse them and dry by hand.
- WINE NOT?: When you accidentally spill a glass of red wine on upholstery or rugs, there’s no reason to toss them out or call in a professional cleaner. Instead, pull a 007 and grab a martini. Red wine has something called anthocyanins, which basically gives it the deep scarlet hue. By dousing red wine with something with a much higher alcohol percentage— vodka in this case—the anthocyanins dissolve in the vodka and vanish, along with the stain.