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How to make an eco-friendly home without breaking the bank

Trying to live an eco-friendly life when you are strapped to a strict budget can be difficult. Many green incentives require you to spend more money up front on expensive health food stores and energy saving products. Trying to save the world and not go bankrupt at the same time takes careful planning — but is possible.

Look for the Gaps

Heat escapes the home through various gaps, especially in aged homes. Blocking unnecessary gaps will help keep heat in the home in the winter and cold air in your living space during the summer. You can use caulking glue to seal open gaps that you find in open areas in the house and if you have an attic, pay extra attention to gaps on the top floor. Also seal gaps in the basement by looking carefully between the foundation and the wall closest to the floor. Also install weather-stripping around the doors and windows, which will keep drafts from coming into the house. You can find weather-stripping for under $10 and it will last more than 10 years, well worth the cost-savings you can get to keep heat or cool in the home.

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Be a smart shopper when it comes to fruit & vegetables

Buying completely organic is a tall order when you have a limited budget. Instead, try to prioritize the most important fruits and vegetables to buy organic, also known as the ‘dirty dozen’. The dirtiest vegetables and fruits have the highest levels of pesticides on them and buying organic will help you stay healthy. Examples of vegetables and fruits on the ‘dirty dozen’ are apples, grape, cucumbers, bell peppers, strawberries, and cherry tomatoes. On the other hand, the ‘clean fifteen’ list are the fruits and vegetables that are the safest to buy without going organic. Some of the cleanest produce includes onions, avocados, mangoes, and cabbage.

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Keep the heat down

Simply keeping the heat down and wearing sweaters and slippers around the house will help save money, especially with Ontario increasing recent hydroelectricity costs. Installing a manual thermostat allows you to set the temperature instead of letting it run automatically throughout the day and wasting unnecessary heat. When you are at work during the day, remember to lower the thermostat prior to leaving the house if no one will be home for the day. Using a heater in particular rooms that you often use instead of warming the entire house will also waste less energy.

Re-usable containers and mugs for lunches

Taking the plunge and buying a good quality coffee mug and reusable water bottle will save you money in the long-run and will also keep you feeling eco-friendly. Many coffee places will charge you less when you present your fun travel mug, and buying bottled water is a huge waste of money. Packing a lunch in re-usable containers instead of purchasing plastic baggies every month saves money and helps you to avoid contributing to ‘Plastic Island’.

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Choose Second-Hand

Instead of buying a spanking new sweater or buying the tool you need to fix the kitchen table from a big conglomerate, go to a second hand store or the tool library. Buying used items is one of the best ways to re-use and recycle, and also saves money. I have a list of thrift stores I visit regularly and love community trade groups like Bunz. Trading items online, Bunz is a great way to trade one un-needed item for something you do need without spending more money. More and more opportunities to borrow, trade or buy second hand are popping up because buying new is getting old. Embrace the trend, and get shopping! You will be shocked on the items you find.

What is your favourite eco-friendly habit on a budget? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

 

How to host an eco-friendly BBQ

There is nothing better than a delicious BBQ. The smell of the smoke, eating barefoot in the grass, drinking wine out of plastic cups — plus, everything tastes better when cooked with fire! But, as a vegan and strict environmentalist, my planning typically includes a lot of eco-friendly adaptations.

You may be asking: what do you mean by an eco-friendly barbecue? Is that even possible? Well my fellow readers, I am here to tell you that it is. To help you out, here are a few tips:

Fresh organic farmers market fruit and vegetable on display
Fresh organic farmers market fruit and vegetable on display
  1. Use in-season vegetables and fruits

Hit up your local farmer’s market and grab organic cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon and any other refreshing options to include as inexpensive and healthy side dishes at your BBQ. I always fry zucchini drizzled in chilli powder and olive oil. It is quite the with party guests.

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  1. Keep it simple

Planning and attempting complex recipes hours before guests arrive is a fast-track way to give yourself a heart attack. No need for unnecessary stress! Keep things simple with fresh foods that can be easily chopped or thrown on the BBQ. Provide kettle-cooked chips or sweet potato fries as an easy appetizer. Keeping it simple can also be said of decorations. Grab a vase or a floating dish with flowers from the garden and use homemade candles at night instead of outdoor lightings.

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  1. Use your own dishes

Paper plates and plastic utensils are my mortal enemy. They are wasteful and often difficult to recycle. Instead use your own dishes and convince your lovely party guests to help with dishes once the drinks are flowing and their bellies are full. I always enjoyed doing dishes after a great meal with my cousins while sipping a beer.

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  1. Potluck style

Another option instead of hosting a BBQ solo is to challenge guests to bring a healthy side dish along with them. Something small such as a light dessert or wine also helps. This creates and fosters a sense of shared community and makes meals versatile and fun for trying new foods.

By Michael Salazar
By Michael Salazar
  1. Make your own BBQ sauce

BBQ sauce is often full of sugar and preservatives. Instead, making a personalized sauce adds individualized taste to the meal. Try this: add one can of chopped tomatoes, 75 ml unsweetened apple juice, 2 tbps brown sugar, 1 tbps apple cider vinegar and ¼ tsp tabasco sauce to a pan and heat until boiling. This also makes your BBQ vegan for your animal-loving friends!

Remember to enjoy yourself. Planning a BBQ shouldn’t be a stressful affair. ALSO, don’t forget to have a vegetarian hot dog in the fridge just in case you get a surprise vegan guest! Bon Appetit!

Cooling down this summer with homemade popsicles

A hot summer day with kids is excruciating, especially when everyone is hot and crabby. But there is a solution for moms and dads everywhere — homemade popsicles!

I ventured to the store with my daughter and grabbed a popsicle mould. We made it back home despite the intense heat wave and started making our delicious cool treat. Mix all the ingredients together with a blender by adding an avocado, a can of coconut milk, half a cup of coconut flakes, and 3-6 tbsp sugar depending on your preference for sweetness. Once the ingredients are smooth, pour them into the popsicle mould and freeze until solid. Affordable popsicle moulds can be purchased at the dollar store. These popsicles are full of fibre, protein and iron, and are delicious!

[Other options for homemade popsicles include] AWK TRANSITION. REMEMBER ARTICLES AREN’T LISTS.

If you are looking for something a little less traditional, try this gourmet twist on a strawberry popsicle by adding basil, or oranges for a citrus treat. If you are craving a pina colada on the beach, pineapple chunks blended with coconut milk and flakes makes a delicious popsicle. Most fruits and vegetables will taste delectable if blended with coconut milk and sugar once blended, though it is generally recommended to stay away from peaches because they don’t freeze well.

Acai berry coconut popsicle by Santopop. Photo provided by Nathalie Hernandez.
Acai berry coconut popsicle by Santopop. Photo provided by Nathalie Hernandez.

Nathalie Hernandez, owner of an artisan vegan ice pop company called Santopop, has a few tips. “Use fresh ingredients, the best raw materials means best pops. Also, get local fruits and respect the seasonality, it always tastes better,” Hernandez says. She also supports local farmers, and also handpick the ripest fruits, which helps you to use less sugar when blending the ingredients together.

Mango yangmei berry popsicle by Santopop. Photo provided by Nathalie Hernandez.
Mango yangmei berry popsicle by Santopop. Photo provided by Nathalie Hernandez.

I plan on making homemade popsicles weekly throughout the summer will be trying different handpicked fruits and vegetables from the farmers market. This will help my daughter get excited about picking out healthy foods, and she can help me blend all the ingredients together. By having healthy popsicles in the freezer, my daughter can avoid sugary ice pops and get a nutrition kick from a refreshing treat instead.

Give it a try and let Women’s Post know in the comments below know which fruits and vegetables are your favourite for homemade popsicles!