Every day, I pen a syndicated column called “Do Just OneThing” 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
#1 THIS IDEA SUCKS
When dust collects underneath a refrigerator, it can force it to work harder to keep things cold or frozen. You can vacuum away the dust, but often the extension hose on a vacuum isn’t long or narrow enough at the opening to slip underneath. To remedy this, simply take a paper towel cardboard tube and attach it with a rubber band to the end of the vacuum hose. Then, flatten it so it slides under the fridge. Turn the vacuum on to suck up all those dust bunnies.
#2 DON’T STRAY
If you see a cat and wonder if it’s a stray or feral, check out its ears. Often, when a cat is neutered, a painless procedure is done to its right ear that gives it a small notch or tip. It’s designed to inform anyone that this cat has in fact been neutered, is usually not feral, and likely has a home. If a cat does not have the notch, chances are high that it’s a stray.
#3 BE NATIVE
Here’s another reason to consider growing native flowers in your own backyard: They are very easy to grow. Usually when planting a new garden, you have to take the time to weed, till, and amend the soil with organic fertilizer to make it rich and loamy. But the reality is that native flowers—plants that are indigenous to your growing region—are adapted to the untreated soil. If you try to plant native flowers in earth thetis too rich and fluffy, it actually can cause tall flowers to flop over.
#4 SOFT SCRUB
If you use softener sheets in your dryer, listen up—it’s time to wash your lint trap. Over time, dryer sheets leave an invisible film over the fine mesh on your lint trap. This prevents your dryer from properly collecting lint, which can affect the efficiency of the dryer—and create a potential fire hazard. To prevent this, remove the lint trap, discard the trapped lint, and use a toothbrush to scrub it with hot, soapy water. Allow it to dry before you slide it back into its slot. It’ll help extend the life of your appliance, and you’ll be amazed at how well your dryer works.
#5 PET PROJECT
The quality of dry pet food can quickly deteriorate if not properly stored. Look for tough plastic, glass, or metal bins with lids to keep pet food fresh. You’ll also keep out rodents and insects. But do not transfer the food from the bag into the bin; keep the food in the original bag inside the bin. The reason? Pet food bags are designed to keep out moisture and light, so they can add a layer of protection for the food. As a general rule of thumb, after you’ve opened the bag (and placed it in a bin), pet food should be used within six weeks.