Home & How-To

Home and How-To Content

If you’ve noticed that all the products of your good intentions are creating clutter in your house, then it may be time to let it go and recycle those old magazines you just haven’t had time to read.  However, don’t be too quick to pitch these items that can be useful.  


We talk a lot about ways to re-purpose and reuse items on Earth Sense, but there are times when you should just let it go!  Magazines and newspapers are great for lining trash cans and bird cages, but if you have a huge pile of them because you can’t seem to get around to reading the articles, or using the recipes, then it’s time to just let it go!  


Wine Bottle Crafts

Nov 4, 2016

Whether you’re in the mood for decorating or just looking for a crafty hobby, using items you already have or finding items that might otherwise be trash is the best way to get your creative juices flowing and help Mother Earth. Wine bottles are fairly easy to come by, and you may have a few lying around waiting to be recycled.


DIY Furniture

Nov 3, 2016

Furniture can be an expensive investment, but if you have an eye for up-cycled materials and a little creativity, you could make your own tables rather than buying them brand new.  Some old sawhorse legs and a few wood pallets could make an industrial desk for your office.


Have you got some old dishes that just are just a little too old fashioned?  Or maybe you’re just ready for a change in the kitchen!  Here are some fun ideas for ways to re-invent that dinnerware with just a few basic supplies.


  As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, it can be so easy to drop into a seasonal depression, but you can combat the blues by simply brightening your indoor space.  If your ceilings aren’t already white, a fresh coat of paint can make a cave-like room much lighter.


Have you got a small space in your home where you’re just not sure how to maximize utility?  Whether it’s a bay window dining area or a small home office, there are a few design choices you can make so the space seems larger and serves its purpose.


Fire Safety is an important part of your family’s emergency plan, so take some time to prepare your family and your home for emergencies.  Build an emergency kit or update the one you have and make a family communications plan.


We’ve been talking about fire safety this week and while you may have a fire escape plan, there are some things you should keep in mind in the event of a fire.  When your smoke alarm sounds, get out fast!  You may have only a matter of minutes to make your escape.


Using safe practices to prevent home fires is a good start, but you need to have an emergency plan in case of a fire and every family member should be well familiar with that plan.  Sit down with your family to create and then practice a fire escape plan.


The best way to avoid a home fire is to take preventative measures.  Many home fires start in the kitchen, so stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food.  And put that grill a safe distance away from your eaves, deck railings, and overhanging branches.

Each year in the United States more than two thousand five hundred people die and twelve thousand six hundred people are injured in home fires.  And estimated annual property loss due to home fires is seven point three billion dollars!


Pumpkin Recipes

Oct 21, 2016

Pumpkins are everywhere this time of year!  And they’re such a versatile fall fruit.  When it comes time to carve those scary jack-o-lanterns, don’t throw out the meat and seeds!  Use all that pumpkin goodness for cooking and snacking.  Pumpkin is great for soups and pies, but have you ever considered pumpkin macaroni and cheese or pumpkin cheesecake?  And don’t forget about pumpkin pancakes and muffins! 


Are you looking for a way to whiten your teeth that doesn’t cost a fortune?  How about a method that is safe for you and your family?  Here’s an inexpensive and safe recipe for whitening your teeth at home.  Start with two teaspoons of baking soda.  Add two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide, two teaspoons of vegetable glycerin and a few drops of peppermint essential oil. 


Fall Leaves

Oct 19, 2016

Those fall leaves make this time of year special, but once all the leaves have fallen, what should you do with all the debris in your yard?  While leaves contain a large amount of nutrients, leaving them on your grass traps moisture, inhibits sunlight, and harbors insects, all of which could kill patches of your lawn.  So what should you do with those leaves and pine needles? 


Our pets are four legged family members, so it’s important to keep their health and safety in mind in cooler weather.  As rodents and pests start to seek warmer indoor temperatures, the use of pesticides increases, but these rodenticides and pesticides can be highly toxic to your pet.  If you’re going to use these products, do so with extreme caution and make sure you store them (and any other toxic chemicals like motor oil and coolant) in a place inaccessible to pets and children! 

Home Insulation

Oct 17, 2016

It’s the time of year when we start thinking about sealing any holes or leaks and adding insulation to our homes.  You’ll want to be sure to check the caulking on your windows and doors as these are the most common places houses lose energy.  But don’t forget the attic hatch, any recessed lighting features, plumbing vents, behind knee walls, and basement or crawl space rim joists. 

Urban Trees

Oct 14, 2016
Stock photo of a tree.
Stock

You’re aware that trees are essentially the lungs of the Earth, soaking up CO2 and turning out clean oxygen.  But have you considered all the benefits of urban trees and community forests?  Aside from cleaner air and their aesthetic value, trees create a sense of well-being, provide privacy in a city setting, and can help reduce energy consumption because they block the sun in the summer and serve as windbreaks in the winter. 

Bad Eggs Float

Oct 13, 2016

You only have to break a rotten egg once to be wary of those expiration dates!  But if you’re unsure of an egg’s freshness, you can always try this test to avoid bad eggs.  Bad eggs will float in a bowl of water.  So fill a bowl with enough water to submerge an egg, gently place eggs in the bowl and toss the floaters!  Why does this work?  Eggs have a small pocket of air in the large end. 

Where food labels are concerned, it’s generally a case of do your homework before you shop.  And when shopping for chicken, labels like “natural” and “farm raised” don’t really help to inform you about where or how the chicken was raised.  “Organic,” on the other hand, tells you that the hen was given USDA certified organic feed and by definition, these birds are free range and have been given no drugs, antibiotics or hormones. 

When it comes to feeding your family, not all food is equal and even within food groups, not all labels are treated equally.  For example, when we talk about chicken, there are abundant labels that mean different things.  “Natural” simply means that no artificial ingredients have been added, but it says nothing about where or how the chicken was raised. 

Fall Ideas

Oct 10, 2016

Fall is my favorite time of year, and this is a good time to try something new.  In South Carolina, this is the perfect time to plant fruit and nut trees as well as your spring bulbs – they’ll root through the winter and bloom next spring, but be sure you use pine straw or mulch to protect them through the cold months.  The crisp air makes this a great time to get outdoors and try orienteering- a sport in which participants use a compass and a detailed map to find secret locations. 

Pumpkin Pie Dip

Oct 7, 2016

Pumpkin recipes are everywhere this time of year and if you’ve got a holiday party on the calendar, this pumpkin pie dip recipe will really please a crowd!  You’ll need one package, or eight ounces, of cream cheese softened, two cups of confectioners’ sugar, one cup of canned pumpkin, half a cup of sour cream, one teaspoon ground cinnamon, one teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, and half a teaspoon ground ginger. 

Real or Fake Logs?

Oct 6, 2016

Whether you’re heating your home, or enjoying a fire pit s’mores party in the yard, what you burn can be as important as where you burn.  Indoors or outside, natural wood is considered carbon neutral since it only releases the amount of carbon dioxide that the tree required over its lifetime.  However, it’s not so much the wood, but the smoke that can be the problem with natural wood. 

Trying to de-clutter and live a simplified life sounds appealing for many, but if you’re getting overwhelmed with where to begin, fear not!  It doesn’t have to be stressful.  Start with 5 minutes and pick one spot- a shelf or even one counter- and clear the space.  Try giving away or recycling one item every day.  By taking it one day at a time, the task becomes much less daunting. 

If you’re looking for some extra room in your home and you’re lucky enough to have a garage, think about a total garage transformation!  Turn your garage into an at home gym with a window air conditioning unit, a few dumbbells, and a second hand treadmill. 


Is your garage full of clutter?  If you can’t even fit a car in your garage, let alone walk through it, it may be time to get in there and organize!  There are so many options for garage organization.  You can mount shelves and invest in some plastic bens.  You can even devise a sliding shelf on the ceiling for those plastic bens with a couple of two by for wood planks. 

Overnight Oatmeal

Sep 30, 2016

If you find your mornings are too hectic, save yourself a little stress by making this oatmeal the night before.  Combine ¾ cup of nonfat milk, or your favorite milk substitute, half a cup of old fashioned rolled oats. 1/3 cup of blueberries, one teaspoon of packed light brown sugar, one quarter teaspoon of lemon zest, 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 3 drops of almond extract, and a pinch of salt in a container with a lid.  Secure the lid and shake the ingredients together. 


Kitchen Sink Sins

Sep 29, 2016

Your kitchen sink might seem like a good place to dispose of household waste, but be sure to avoid these kitchen sink sins!  Never send used motor oil or any automotive fluids like antifreeze, or brake fluid down any drain- these should be disposed of at your hazardous waste recycling center.  But cooking oil should also never be poured down the sink.  It can harden in your pipes and cause some very expensive damage. 


As you know, there are many items that are now illegal to throw into the landfill either because they contain toxic chemicals, like oil, household cleaners, or paint and paint thinners, or because they contain heavy metals like batteries, cell phones, computers, and electronics.  The question, then, is how do I dispose of these common items?  Most of these items will go to a hazardous waste drop-off site near you. 


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