Use whatever natural materials are at hand—plants, moss, twigs, cones, and more for this magical experience. Tuck the houses into surprising places like tree roots, branches—anything goes. The size can be super tiny or as large as you want. See some inspiring examples here.
A common mistake seen in gardens is compartmentalization. Kitchen gardens are often hidden away, thought of as an area separate from recreation and play. A better idea is to make a holistic design. Read more here.
Photo by Susan O'Donnell
Keeping a pitcher of tap water in the fridge saves energy on cooling and provides cold drinking water during the summer months.
The refrigerator works more efficiently when it is fuller. Because water holds its temperature well, storing a container of water in the refrigerator helps it regulate its temperature. This also provides you with a regular source of cold, refreshing water throughout the summer, eliminating the need to run water from the tap while waiting for it to run cold. In addition, leaving the water container uncovered in the fridge allows the chlorine to evaporate out and will taste fresher.
See more information at the Department of Energy.
To reduce the need for plastic bags, don’t bother bagging produce with thick skins, such as lemons, bananas, and avocados.
Rethink bagging produce with thick skins before placing them in your grocery cart. The thick, inedible skins of produce such as citrus fruits, bananas, and avocados make plastic produce bags unnecessary when selecting them at the grocery store. Reduce your use of plastic bags by placing these items directly into your shopping cart or into a reusable bag.
When using a machine to wash dishes or laundry, wash full loads for maximum energy and water efficiency
Washing machines use a certain amount of energy to run each load. For example, running two loads half full uses more energy than one full load (1). Therefore, running a full load is a more efficient use of the energy needed just for operating the machine (2). According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “a single large load saves you about 25% to 50% of the energy of two small loads.”(1)
To further increase the efficiency of your dish washer, pack the dishes strategically without overfilling (3) to maximize the use of space while ensuring that the water spray reaches each dish (4).
See other energy saving hints for dish and clothes washers:
(1) Trent Hamm, January 25, 2012. “Only run full loads of dishes and clothes,” The Christian Science Monitor (csmonitor.com/Business)
(2) Scott Minos, Feb. 14, 2018, “16 Ways to Save Money in the Laundry Room,” Energy.gov.
(3) Sarah Aguirre, February 8, 2021, “10 Dishwasher mistakes and how to avoid them,” The Spruce (thespruce.com)
(4) Ada Tseng, May 20, 2022, “To pre-reinse or not to pre-rinse? How to use your dishwasher during the drought,” Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)