• Glass bottles, glass jars and wine glasses may all be made from glass, but that doesn't mean that they are all recyclable. While glass jars and bottles that once held food items like pasta sauce, ketchup and applesauce are recyclable in some curbside recycling, glass used for bakeware and for table settings is not. The reason is this type of glass has a different melting point than other glass, which means tossing a chipped wine glass into your recycling bin actually can contaminate a load of recyclables. If you have glassware to get rid of, donate and don't recycle.
• Over time, throw pillows need to be cleaned to keep them smelling fresh. But many pillowcases or covers aren't machine-washable. And even if they are, you risk the cases shrinking or losing their "new" look if they go through a wash and dry. To deodorize your pillows, try this simple hack instead: Spray them with white vinegar and water. Just fill a spray bottle with a mixture of half white vinegar and half water (tap water is fine if you plan on using it right away, otherwise use distilled). Then spray all over the pillow. As the slightly damp pillow dries, the white vinegar will kill odor-causing bacteria.
• There are myriad uses for orange peels around the house and in your cooking, but the most nutritious is also the easiest: Make tea. Steeping orange peels in hot water and sipping the tasty tea is a smart way to harness the nutrition in citrus fruit. Most of the high vitamin C content oranges are known for is actually in the peel. The peel has three times more vitamin C than the fruit inside. Just place your orange peels in a cup and pour boiling water over them, then steep for a few minutes and enjoy!
• Did you know close to 40% of holiday gifts are returned to the stores by the recipients? Another 18% of gifts are donated to charity, 15% are regifted, and a whopping 11% of gifts are simply tossed into the trash. That means only about 15% of gifts received this holiday season are actually kept and enjoyed. To help cut the waste, consider giving experiential items like excursions to restaurants, a delicious bottle of organic wine or a donation in the recipient's name to a charity they support. We can cut the waste and give gifts that are a joy to give and a real joy to receive.
• If you have potted plants outdoors, it's a good idea to start planning to bring them inside, before the first frost hits your neck of the woods. Check the weather; if the overnight forecast calls for chilly temps, give your plants a good drink of water that morning. Well-watered plants do better in fighting against frost damage. Add some mulch to the top layer or wrap the plants in Bubble Wrap to help insulate them, then move them into a garage or outbuilding to allow them to slowly acclimate to warmer temps. After a few days, you can bring them inside.
• Solid wood cooking utensils are both an eco-friendly and healthy choice to use in the kitchen. Wood is naturally antibacterial, and the properties of wood actually repel bacteria and mold better than any man-made material. But over time, it's a good idea to disinfect your wooden utensils, especially if they have small nicks or scratches that come in contact with food. One way to disinfect them is to hand-scrub them in hot, soapy water and then microwave them on high for 1 minute. This will radiate any bacteria without overdrying the wood. Just be sure there are no metal or plastic parts on the spoon before microwaving.
• Fall is a great time to plant trees, shrubs and even some types of perennials outdoors, especially since garden centers usually have great deals on their outdoor plants. The usual problems with insect infestations on new plants in the spring are virtually nonexistent in the fall, and the weather is more predictable for planting. And there is no need to fertilize your newly planted plants, since fertilizer encourages new growth and the goal is for the plant to go dormant.
Danny Seo is an environmental lifestyle expert. His creative ideas have made him America’s leading authority on modern, eco-friendly living.