Green Tips for the Minimalist Home

green minimalist: our fabric placemats drying by the open laundry room window

Is being green important? Everyone has an opinion on the state of our planet and whether global warming is real.  No matter where you stand on this issue, I’m sure you aren’t looking to intentionally harm God’s creation.

Our family all but stopped using paper plates, napkins, and plastic utensils for the most part in our home, making the switch to fabric napkins about 6 months ago.  I was motivated to do this for convenience’s sake, as it’s as easy to toss in the casual napkins with laundry than it is to fill up our small trash bin with paper plates and napkins and take it to our larger bin and take that to the curb every week.  While I own one set of nice fabric napkins, our family uses some that are like bar keepers’ wash cloths most days.  (And, yes, the next time we host a party we might have paper napkins. Remember – minimalism isn’t working if it turns into legalism.)

Here are some other ideas we’ve tried over the past 6 years:

  • I keep a set of light-colored microfiber cloths in the laundry room with my cleaning items and dark-colored microfiber cloths in kitchen drawers for drying dishes and managing spills.  These are generally used in place of paper towels. Note: microfiber cloths are quite absorbent and great for scrubbing, but they lose their ability to do this well if you use fabric softener or dryer sheets to launder them.
  • Hang as many laundry items as you can to dry.  We bought a folding drying rack for about $4.99 at Ikea, and it does the trick well.  (Added bonus: The smell of clean clothes drying in the breeze on our back patio reminds me of running in-between rows of clean, wet sheets hanging on my mother’s clothesline as a kid!)
  • Keep a squeegee hanging in showers with glass doors.  Taking 10 seconds to wipe them down after a shower saves you the elbow grease that soap scum can leave behind over time.
  • Remember: Not all of your items need to be washed after each wear.  Want your jeans to last longer? Toss them in the dryer with wet clothing for a touch-up or let them sway in the breeze outside over night.
  • Vinegar and water are your friends.  After using up the last of the store-bought cleaners our family had last Fall, I mixed up my first batch of vinegar and water (equal parts) in a spray bottle.  Suddenly the visual memory of seeing a vinegar spray bottle with my mom’s handwriting on the label under our kitchen sink when I was a little girl popped into my mind.  All those years ago my mom was a green cleaner but I’d opted (and paid for) products that promised more when I grew up.  To my great surprise, my stove top, bathroom counter, and mirrors look as good as new with our simple cleaners.
  • When we lived in our tiny beloved home in London, I felt I could never get our stainless sink clean.  Once I began adding a lemon to the weekly grocery list to slice in half and rub over the stained sink, it began sparkling like new!
  • Baking soda is a good addition to your cleaning team when you need something a bit more abrasive.
  • If you have dryer sheets on hand they are good for loosening dry, cooked-on bits from a baking dish when hot water is added.  Let it sit an hour or overnight and the food wipes away easily when you return to the sink.

What are simple ways you clean or manage your home without adding chemicals or extra waste into the mix?


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