A Starch Situation

Danny Seo’s favorite Earth-happy, money-saving ideas.

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 cut waste and save money too. In each issue of Naturally, I’ll round up my all-time favorite tips. They’re clever, fun and simple enough that I think you’ll love to try them. –Danny Seo


Using coupons is an obvious way to save money when you shop for organic, all-natural, gluten-free or healthier products at the store. But searching through circulars and websites can be a huge waste of time. That’s where the website comes in. They curate coupons targeted for health-conscious consumers with items sold at stores like Whole Foods Market and Sprouts. It’s free to use and you can download tons of free printable coupons.


Spray starch is one way to get a crisp shirt, but it also turns your clothing into a tasty treat for insects like silverfish. In reality spray starch is just that—a food source. So when you use the stuff on fabrics, it will attract bugs. Over time, these insects will nibble away at your garments and leave tears, holes and other damage. If you must use starch, keep your clothing in airtight containers. Or just give it up altogether: modern irons can freshen, remove wrinkles and create crisp lines using only water and heat.


When you see ants raiding your kitchen, the natural instinct is to squash them on the spot. But if you want to naturally and totally eradicate ants, the best strategy is to sprinkle around a mix of sugar and borax, a mineral that is lethal to the pests. Let the ants live and enjoy your bait. The ants will be attracted to the sugar and bring the entire granular mix back to their colony, where it will wipe out the colony completely. Borax is an effective natural insecticide; within 24-48 hours, the ants should be gone.

#4 POP!

Ever buy something online and it arrives surrounded by those plastic “pillows” to protect it during shipping? There are two ways to deal with them. One, you can reuse them when you need to ship something. Second, you can simply pop the pillows to remove the air and recycle them. The bins at the grocery store that take plastic shopping bags for recycling will take deflated plastic air pillows, too, since they are made of the same type of resin. They will then be recycled into new plastic products.


The next time you go for an exhausting workout at the gym, consider not washing—or tossing—the sweat-soaked workout clothes and smelly socks that are all worn out. The reason? They can be used to help discourage a wild animal from nesting under your home. Wild animals, such as foxes, like to create den sites under porches, decks or in sheds. They have a natural fear of humans, so leaving garments that reek of the human scent can often be enough to deter them from turning your home into their home.