How to Store Vegetables Without Plastic

This post was originally published on this site

Bringing a reusable canvas bag to the grocery store is a fantastic way to avoid sending plastic to the landfill on a regular basis. But what happens when you get all that delicious produce home? How do you keep it from going bad without using plastic wrap, plastic baggies or other types of packaging?

That’s right, we’re talking about zero waste food storage!

Stored in plastic, fruits and vegetables stay fresh for weeks. But the environmental footprint that comes with using plastics—wildlife-destroying pollution, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, adding debris to landfills—makes using plastic bags and wrappers far from eco-friendly.

Ready to kick your plastic habit? Here’s how to store every type of vegetable in your fridge without a single piece of plastic. Stored like this, your produce should last for up to 2 full weeks!

Veggies by Type

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are known for their tendency to wilt or brown quickly. To keep your greens from spoiling too soon, first remove any tight bands or ties, then rinse and dry fully (these should not stay wet!) before wrapping loosely in a dry tea towel and placing uncrowded in the fridge. Kale, a hardier green, will stay crisp and full when placed in a cup of water like a bouquet in the fridge.

Bulb Vegetables

Bulb vegetables should always be stored in a cool, dark, dry place with good air circulation (a.k.a. a cellar or cool pantry). You can also store them together with tubers in a thick paper bag, then place them in a cool area. A dark corner of the kitchen pantry should work too!

Tubers

Store your tubers just like your bulb vegetables (see above), in a cool, dark location that has good air flow. What you’re trying to avoid is your potatoes getting too much sun and greening or growing eyes.

How to Store Vegetables Without Plastic

Fruit Vegetables

Fruit vegetables like bell peppers, cucumber and zucchini have a tendency to mold, thanks to their high moisture content. Only wash these vegetables right before you’re ready to eat them, as wetness will decrease your storage time. Place your vegetables loose in the crisper if it’ll be a while before you use them, or leave them on the counter for up to a week.

Inflorescents & Mushrooms

Inflorescent vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower should be put in an open container or wrapped with a damp towel then placed in the fridge. However, they will likely have the best flavor if used the day of! Mushrooms, on the other hand, should be stored in a paper bag in the fridge. Bonus tip: if they dry out before you use them, you can reconstitute with water!

Root Vegetables

Beets, carrots and the like, tend to wilt before they mold. No one wants a soggy carrot! To store properly, cut the tops off (leaving any top on root vegetables draws moisture away from the root, making them lose firmness) and then place in an open container with a moist towel on top, or dunk in cold water every few days to rehydrate.

How do you keep your vegetables fresh without using disposables?

Related:
Tips to Reduce Vitamin and Mineral Loss When Preparing Food
8 Tips for Keeping Vegetables Fresh Longer
Make Your Own Vegetable Broth

{ 0 comments }

Do I Need A Sump Pump? Homeowner FAQs

This post was originally published on this site

“Do I need a sump pump?” homeowners often ask. “I’m hoping I’ll never need one.” Look at it this way – installing a sump pump is like taking out an insurance policy. In the best case scenario, you won’t ever need to use it but in case of emergency, you’ll be awfully glad it’s there. These 6 FAQs and their answers will help you decide whether you need a sump pump in your home,

Q. What is a sump pump?

A. A sump pump is a small pump designed to remove water and excess moisture from your basement. Installed at the lowest point of your basement floor, often in a dedicated sump pit (AKA a sump “tank” or “basin”), your sump pump draws in water through a filter trap. It then directs water outside and away from the foundation via a discharge pipe.
There are 2 basic types: 1) the pedestal pump whose motor is raised above the sump pit and 2) the more expensive but more powerful submersible pump, which is totally submerged. The sump pump runs on electricity; although connected to your home power supply, it should always have battery backup in case of a power outage.

Q. Do I need a sump pump?

A. A new sump pump installation is especially important in these cases:

1. Past water problems. Has your basement flooded before? Then, unless you’ve made major modifications such as replacing your old foundation, you’ll be wise to install a sump pump.

2. Location. Groundwater (from rains or melted snow) is more likely to rise to the level of your basement floor if your house is located:

  • on a very flat plot of land with little drainage
  • on a low-lying plot below the local water table
  • on poorly draining soil
  • in a region with strong rains or heavy snowfalls that melt rapidly.

3. Finished basement or storage. Protect your investment if you’ve had your basement finished or you use it as a storage center. A sump pump is an affordable form of “insurance” against serious water damage.

4. Aging pump. Once you already have a sump pump in place, you can expect a submersible pump to last for about 10 years; a pedestal type has a lifespan of 25-30 years. After that, it will need to be replaced.

Q. When is the best time to install a sump pump?

A. The answer to this question depends on your local weather. In northern states, fall is an excellent time for installation, before the winter snow season. In rainy areas such as Florida, have a sump pump installed prior to the summer rains.

Q. Can I install a sump pump myself?

A. Yes, sump pump installation is a potential DIY project, as long as you are a very savvy home handyperson with good demo and concrete skills, as well as plumbing knowledge. If you’d prefer to leave the task to an expert, hire a reliable plumber who has experience working with sump pumps.

Q. How do I maintain my sump pump?

A. Sump pump maintenance is really quite simple. Clean the filter trap every 3-4 months. In addition, test your system several times a year by pouring water into the pump to ensure that it activates. Oil the pump parts annually, if required as per the owner’s manual.

Q. I’m looking to buy a house. Is a sump pump installation in the basement a sign of potential trouble?

A. You may be dismayed by the idea of buying a home with a sump pump installation already in place, wondering whether it’s a red flag which signals trouble with flooding. However, the pros generally agree that this is actually a sign of a well-maintained house. In fact, a sump pump installation is required by law for new home construction in certain areas. If you’re buying a resale, look to the seller’s disclosure and your home inspection for more information about past (or potential future) problems.

By Laura Firszt, Networx.

{ 0 comments }

How To Clean A Chimney

This post was originally published on this site

Even as a serious home improvement do-it-yourselfer, there’s one area that you may never have thought of tackling by yourself … your chimney. But regular chimney cleaning should – no, make that must — be included on your “honey-do” list of household chores. (If it is already, pat yourself on the back; you are helping to protect your home from a dangerous and destructive chimney fire.) Should you take care of chimney maintenance yourself or hire a pro? Find out the facts so you can make an informed decision.

Why Regular Chimney Cleaning Is Essential

When you use your fireplace, a carbon-based chemical product called creosote is formed. Unless it is removed through regular chimney cleaning, this creosote residue will build up inside your fireplace and chimney. Creosote buildup is harmful in several ways:

  • Creosote gives off acrid-smelling, toxic fumes even when your fireplace is not in use.
  • Buildup restricts the circulation of air through your chimney.
  • By insulating the chimney, it slows the rise — and exit — of hazardous exhaust gases.
  • Highly flammable, creosote deposits can cause a chimney fire.

How Often Should a Chimney be Cleaned

At least once annually, in the fall or spring (the start or end of burning season). Clean more frequently if you use your fireplace a great deal.

Other signs that you need chimney cleaning are heavy smoke while you’re trying to enjoy a blaze in the fireplace or a strong odor of soot and ashes even when the fireplace is not in use.

DIY Chimney Cleaning Equipment

  • Respirator to prevent breathing in creosote dust
  • Goggles for vision protection
  • Work gloves
  • Shoes with non-skid soles
  • Drop cloth or tarp to keep the hearth and surrounding floor clean
  • Sheets or other coverings for furniture and carpets
  • Powerful flashlight, as well as lamps placed so that you can see the area where you are working
  • Chimney brush, sized to fit your flue (chimney lining)
  • Chimney brush extension pipes
  • Small wire brush
  • Sturdy bag to hold your tools
  • Reliable ladder that reaches the height of your roof

Start With A Chimney Inspection

Outside, inspect the chimney exterior. Look for cracked or otherwise damaged bricks, as well as crumbling mortar. These will need to be repaired or replaced.

Inside, shine your flashlight up the flue from the fireplace opening. Check for mammals, birds, and/or their nests which may be hidden inside. Remove these before you proceed with the cleaning; for help, call on an expert in humane pest control.

How to Clean a Chimney: DIY Method 

  1. Prep your living room with the tarp and coverings.
  2. Remove the damper from the chimney and set it aside.
  3. Set up your ladder and place the chimney brush and extension pipes in the bag.
  4. Put on your protective gear.
  5. Climb to the level of your chimney opening.
  6. Scrub the inside of the flue with the chimney brush as far down as it will reach.
  7. Add successive extension pipes to brush all the way to the bottom of the chimney.
  8. From the house interior, clean inside the bottom of your flue with the wire brush.
  9. Remove all creosote and soot you have dislodged and dispose of it as required by local law. As a flammable substance, creosote cannot simply be discarded with your household garbage.
  10. Remember to replace the damper.

Professional Chimney Cleaning

Cleaning the chimney yourself is a tough, dirty, time-consuming, and possibly hazardous job. It takes a high level of physical fitness and balance. A thick tarry layer of stage-three creosote demands specialized equipment and training to remove safely.

If you are not up to the task, or simply want to give yourself a break, hire a professional chimney sweep. At the same time, you can ask for expert suggestions that will keep your chimney in top shape (such as installation of a chimney cap) and minimize future creosote buildup.

By Laura Firszt, Networx.

{ 0 comments }

3 Natural Bleach Alternatives and How to Use Them

This post was originally published on this site

I’ve always been a huge fan of clean, white linens – towels, sheets, you name it! But keeping them bright white is an entirely different story.

When I first became a wife and started managing some of the household duties like washing our linens, I usually turned to chlorine bleach to whiten and sanitize. However, even when I diluted the substance properly and took precautions to protect myself against the fumes, I still felt a bit woozy after using it.

Truth is, bleach is actually pretty toxic stuff, and the health risks associated with using it are no joke. So, I turned to natural solutions. Looking for a natural way to whiten your laundry? Look no further. I’ve rounded up the best natural natural bleach alternatives out there, so you can phase out bleach for good!

3 Natural Bleach Alternatives and How to Use Them-2

3 Natural Bleach Alternatives and How to Use Them

1. Hydrogen Peroxide & Lemon Juice Recipe

Hydrogen peroxide is a fantastic sanitizer and disinfectant that you can find at most drugstores. It’s non-toxic and whitens without any harsh chemicals (there’s a reason it’s safe to use on your body), so you don’t have to worry about the same dangers you might find with bleach.

The other part of this recipe, lemon juice, is naturally acidic and has whitening properties as well; plus, it smells absolutely delightful!

Here’s what you’ll need for this DIY natural bleach alternative:

  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide (3% solution)
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice

Simply mix together in a quart-sized jar or container. Toss 1 cup of the solution in with your laundry to brighten it, and wash with cold water. You can also add another 1/2 cup or so of hydrogen peroxide to the mix to use as a cleaner for your bathroom or kitchen surfaces.

700_cornstarch-and-vinegar

2. White Distilled Vinegar

Vinegar works an absolute charm in the home! Just overlook the smell and you’ll find that you have a cure-all liquid on your hands.

The acetic properties of white distilled vinegar will help brighten your clothes and remove any mold residue that may be stuck in your towels. Simply add 1 cup of vinegar to a pot of boiling water and let it cool for a few minutes. Soak your whites overnight, then wash like normal. Easy!

3. Baking Soda & Vinegar

Baking soda is about as cheap and effective as it gets. And it’s not just great for laundry! Baking soda does a great job of disinfecting and removing stains from the toilet, shining stainless steel, and even remedying acne.

To clean the toilet:

Pour 1/2 cup of white vinegar into the toilet bowl, and let sit for 30 minutes. Once your thirty minutes is up, sprinkle baking soda onto your toilet brush and scrub, then flush. That’s it!

To whiten laundry:

Toss 1/2 cup of baking soda with powdered laundry detergent and use normally. The baking soda will cut down greasy stains and residue, ensuring your clothes come out cleaner than ever!


How do you avoid toxic bleach in your home? Any alternatives to share?

Related at Care2

{ 0 comments }

5 Reasons Cats Make You Feel Better

This post was originally published on this site

They help cheer you up when you’re down and they help calm you down when you’re agitated. What is it about cats that makes you feel so good? Maybe it’s their purr or the way they settle in your lap when we read a book. Maybe it’s their soft fur or gorgeous eyes or the way they poke you in the head to wake us from sleep. However they do it, studies show that cats are beneficial to your health and well-being.

5 Reasons Cats Make You Feel Better

1. Cats can reduce stress and anxiety

“Cat owners experience many benefits to their mental health,” said Sandi Laird, animal care director at North Texas no-kill shelter Operation Kindness. “Caring for your cat and having a cat to cuddle with can reduce stress levels. Purring that a cat does when it is content also had a soothing effect on the owner as well.”

Marriage and family therapist Michelle Tapia told Care2, “The presence of a cat can reduce emotions such as anxiety, loneliness, depression, or even frustration. As a result, some therapists have emotional support animals as a part of their practice.”

Lisa Bahar is a marriage and family therapist who works with clients on self-calming. “Having a cat can self-calm an individual due to the petting of the cat and how it can calm the mind, which decreases emotional intensity. It is s form of distraction and soothing of self and the cat (most do) enjoys it too.”

2. Cats provide low-maintenance companionship

According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, pets can provide social and emotional support for just about anyone.

“The low-maintenance feline lifestyle can ease your stress-filled life, and provide you with companionship even if you live in an apartment complex where dogs are prohibited,” said Kelly Meister-Yetter. “Cats are also perfect companions for those who live in big cities where dog-friendly spaces are few and far between.” The author and animal activist believes adopting a cat from a shelter can provide a “feel good” buzz for saving an animal in need.

“Unlike dogs,” said Laird, “most cats are low maintenance and make great pets for people who don’t have time to walk a dog. If hours at work are longer, the cat will be fine in the home and still be happy to greet his owners when they arrive. For the couch potatoes, it is easy to play with a cat while sitting if you have a pull toy or piece of twine to let the cat chase.”

Photo: boy with cat

3. Cats can ease loneliness and provide a sense of purpose

“My cats have given me love and saved my life by distracting me from depressed thoughts and dark thoughts so many times. (So have the dogs),” cat owner Pauline Ferguson told Care2. “Without my cats I wouldn’t be here.”

According to Bahar, “there is also a sense of connection that is unconditional (generally) with the cat and the owner, many times, the cat is an attachment and provides a purpose for someone who may be feeling depressed and even suicidal; ‘who will take care of my cat?’ is a question many ask before they do or act on something that could be fatal. Cats are little healers.”

4. Cats are easy entertainment

Cats rule the Internet. It’s almost impossible to spend any amount of time online without bumping into a cat video. Cats riding Roombas…cats hiding in boxes or bags…cats purring, jumping, climbing, chasing things… It’s hard to watch without cracking a smile or bursting out laughing. And cats are even better in person. Without even trying, they manage to perk you up on your worst days.

5. Cats are good for your heart

A University of Minnesota study found that the relative risk of death from a heart attack was 40 higher for people who never owned a cat. During the study, 5.8 percent of non cat owners died of a heart attack versus 3.4 percent of cat owners. The researchers also looked at a large national database designed to identify risk factors for cardiovascular disease. That study indicated a lower risk of heart attack for cat owners or people who had ever owned a cat.

Related:
How Pets Raise Spirits and Improve Health
Babies with Pets Less Likely to Have Allergies
5 Simple Ways to Make Your Cat Happier

{ 0 comments }

108 queries in 0.427079 seconds.