Feb 18th – Choose non-bleached, chlorine-free products (paper towels, napkins, coffee filters, facial tissue, bathroom tissue, diapers and tampons).

I have always known it is better to get non-bleached, but why it is so important?

Here is the why:  Chlorine bleach paper can contain dioxin and organochlorine residues that can be transferred to food and people in which it comes in contact.  As well, most paper products in the US are bleached with chlorine gas or chlorine derivatives, chemicals that are known to create dioxins as a by-product of the bleaching process.   If you want to learn more about dioxin, please do so.  In summation, it is one of the most toxic chemicals known to us and is associated to several health issues, including cancer and reproductive and developmental issues.

So, why expose yourself to it if you have an option to go without it?

Feb 17th – Figure out your monthly disposable spending, and see where your dollars are going.

We often spend our money without actually thinking where our dollars are really going and what makes up the products and services we buy… who is involved, what materials are being use, how they are affecting our environment, society and culture… meaning, what are the real costs of things and how is our money being used.  Our dollars speak for us in where our priorities lie.
  • Food – Organic and/or locally grown
  • Food – Non-organic/GMO (genetically modified organism)
  • Entertainment/ Eating out – local, chains, where are the food and services derived, does the organization support or oppose any of your interests/beliefs
  • Clothing – where was it made, what materials went into it
  • Gas – from where does that gas come, could you find a way to cut down?
  • Non-essentials – where they were made, how they were made, what materials and resources were required, and who made them
  • Hygene products – Natural, organic, chemicals
  • Utilities -Television, Internet, electricity, water, gas, phone – Are you spending the amount you want to spend?  Could you be more efficient?
  • Insurance
  • Charity

Determine the priorities to which you want to live by and spend accordingly.  Every one of your dollars is a vote.

Feb 16th – Use your microwave to heat up small portions.

I do a lot of cooking (not always by choice!), but I am not terribly fond of using the microwave, until now.  According to the federal government’s Energy Star program, you can reduce cooking energy by as much as 80 percent when using your microwave for small portions.

Also, keep the inside surfaces of the microwave clean to maximize the amount of energy reflected toward the food.

Never thought of that!

Feb 15th – Listen to your intuition and trust it.

Interestingly enough, my intuition is leading me to write this as today’s ‘change’… so, someone out there who is reading this must need it to make sure they are paying attention to their own intuition ;).

We are given clues and messages every day, that ‘gut feeling’, without know why or for what reason, but listen and interpret this as best as you are able, and trust what it is saying… you are getting that message for a reason.  It could be for a reason much larger than yourself and contains the answer that is necessary to contribute to the greater good.

And know, this could be for a simple decision as to which way to turn on the road, or knowing what direction you should be taking in life, perhaps, with a career or relationship, no matter what, it is amazing what you can find when you listen to your intuition.

Feb 14th – Share some love today and give a Valentine’s Day wish to at least 5 people.

Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, kids, pets, associates, or someone you just met in passing today, spread some heart felt happiness on this day of love and wish a Happy Valentine’s Day just because.  It can be via a card, email, a note as a secret admirer, spoken, signed ;), video, a drawn or painted picture, or a song, to name a few ideas.  Sharing a happy thought with someone is a feel-good for the giver and recipient, getting really creative and tapping into your right brain for a special delivery makes it even better.

Feb 13th – Leave your shoes at the door.

According to a study by the University of Arizona, 60% of household dust comes from outside, primarily brought into the home from the bottom of shoes, with these contaminants including arsenic, lead and DDT.

It is almost unbelievable all the things over which your shoe’s are trampling. Leaving them by the door helps your health (not to mention, your kid’s and pet’s health who may be on that floor) and the cleanliness of your home… AND it is easy to do.

Feb 12th – Go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep (generally 7-9 hours).

This is often a difficult one for me, so I am happy to write about this ‘change’ for today.  There is a lot of information out there concerning sleep, the amount, the cycles, routines, what may or may not be optimal, the benefits and the risks, but there are a few general guidelines that are commonly agreed upon to keep it simple.

Your body will wake up once it gets the amount it needs.  You may need to adjust your bedtime to see what your optimal time is if you need to be woken up by an alarm clock at present.  For adults, the average sleep needed is 7-9 hours, but that does not account for out-of-the-ordinary circumstances such as sleep deprivation, pregnancy or illness, and other environmental factors associated to sleep quality.  It is also worth noting that it seems that many of the same problems that come with long term lack of sleep (less than 7 hours), can also come with too much sleep long term (more than 9 hours), so finding the optimal amount is beneficial.

I know that I, for one, am a completely different person with a good night’s sleep, including my relationship with others as well as my productivity and my physical, mental and emotional state… and I do not need a study to prove that to me.

Below is a general guideline from the National Sleep Foundation of sleep needed for varying ages:

How Much Sleep Do You Really Need

I also found a fun little tool if you are one who subscribes to sticking with optimal sleep cycles.  It calculates the suggested times you need to go to bed in order to wake up at a given time:  http://sleepyti.me/

Feb 11th – Go paperless on any accounts that offer electronic statements verses mail.

Consider the following accounts you may have, and request the statements be sent electronically rather than in the mail:

  • Bank
  • Investments/401Ks, etc
  • Credit cards/Mortgages
  • Health/Medical related services
  • Insurance
  • Utilities (television, cable, water, gas, electric)
  • Memberships/Associations

Basically, if you are getting a bill in the mail, call the issuer up and ask if they can send you the statements on-line.  Also, if you have an online bill pay for your bank account, check out your list of vendors and there may be e-bills already set up that you can use.

…And congratulate yourself on saving trees, printer ink, and the energy necessary to produce the letter and transport it to your door!

Feb 10th – Have a Sunday family meal or simply spend quality time with them today.

One of the strongest memories I have as a child is being with my family on Sundays, often for brunch at my grandparents.  I admit that at the time, I did not always want to go, it seemed like it would be more fun elsewhere, but I hold on to those days now in my heart.  A “family” can be what you make of it, they do not have to be blood related… could be friends, relatives, pets, loved ones, possibly an affiliation to which you associate.  I looked up “family” in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definitions are below…  I am not sure that I recommend #8, but your family starts with you, spend some quality time with them today.

fam·i·ly  noun \ˈfam-lē, ˈfa-mə-\

plural fam·i·lies

Definition of FAMILY

1: a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head : household
 
2a : a group of persons of common ancestry : clan ;

b : a people or group of peoples regarded as deriving from a common stock race
 
3a : a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation : fellowship ; b : the staff of a high official (as the President)
 
4: a group of things related by common characteristics: as

a : a closely related series of elements or chemical compounds
b : a group of soils with similar chemical and physical properties (as texture, pH, and mineral content) that comprise a category ranking above the series and below the subgroup in soil classification
c : a group of related languages descended from a single ancestral language
5a : the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children; also : any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family <a single-parent family> ; b : spouse and children <want to spend more time with myfamily>
 
a : a group of related plants or animals forming a category ranking above a genus and below an order and usually comprising several to many genera ;         b: in livestock breeding (1) : the descendants or line of a particular individual especially of some outstanding female(2) : an identifiable strain within a breed
7: a set of curves or surfaces whose equations differ only in parameters
 
8: a unit of a crime syndicate (as the Mafia) operating within a geographical area
 

Feb 9th – Install a low-flow aerator in your kitchen and bathroom faucets if you do not already have them.

It is actually rather easy to do this.  At the tip of your facet, you have a piece that screws onto or into the end of it, this is the aerator.  Unscrew it and it should have it’s flow rate imprinted on the side.  A flow rate of 2.2 gpm (gallons per minute) is standard.  For low flow, go lower, such as 1.0 (or even 1.5) gpm or lower.  The below link can help you determine proper fitting (male or female and proper size): http://www.conservationwarehouse.com/faucet-aerator-faqs.html

You can find eco-friendly aerators at Home Depot, Lowes, most hardware stores, and on-line at Vine.com (my new favorite website!).

Screw your new eco-friendly aerator in, and you’re done!  Happy saving water, AND saving money.