What We Mean By "Lost Arts"
They're not called 'the greatest generation' for nothing. A fun fact about going green: Much of it isn't new. Many of the eco-tips people are 'discovering' are things our grandparents did every day. Here are our favorite 'lost arts' from our collective memory banks.
1. Line Dry Your Sheets and Towels
Indulge yourself by sleeping each night on pillowcases and sheets freshened by sun and breeze, both of which naturally disinfect and lift stains. You'll also save energy, since automatic dryers use 6% of household electricity.
For more modern green laundry tips, see Green and Gorgeous Remodeling Tips for the Laundry Room.
2. Get a Rain Barrel
Buy a fab-looking rain barrel from a garden store, such as a space-saving model that 'pops up,' or simply use something old. You'll reduce the amount of storm water that runs off your property and into overburdened sewers, causing erosion and spreading pesticides, oil and other toxins. Use the water for plants and save on your water bills.
Also see 5 Water $avers.
3. Reinvent the Root Cellar
You don't have to live with a dirt-floor cellar to take advantage of stocking up on fresh vegetables and fruits during harvest (when prices are cheap). All you need is a cool, dark place that won't freeze; it could be under a stairwell, or in a corner of a basement, garage or shed.
Pack clean, dry produce -- such as carrots, beets, potatoes and winter squash -- in boxes surrounded by sawdust, sand or straw. You want good air circulation and relatively high humidity (earthen floors work well, or put out trays of water or damp cloths). Remove spoiled items immediately and keep apples separate, since they promote ripening.
Also see Seasonal Winter Recipes.
4. Supplement Your Heat with a Wood Pellet Stove
Pellet stoves are vastly more efficient than traditional fireplaces or woodstoves, and produce very little smoke and ash. They are easy to install in many settings, and don't require a masonry chimney. They use a little electricity (to run fans and controls), and slowly burn wood pellets that are made out of recycled, compressed sawdust that would otherwise be thrown out by mills.
Also see 19 Home Winterization Tips.
5. Rediscover Borax and Baking Soda
People have been cleaning and bathing with mild, naturally occurring baking soda since ancient Egypt. It is great for scouring and deodorizing many surfaces, from tile to toys and hands. Borax is an element that forms crystals in arid regions. It makes a good cleaning agent, disinfectant, mold killer and stain remover, from the laundry room to the bathroom. Both substances are cheap and readily available.
See more DIY Green Cleaning Recipes.
6. Repel Moths with Aromatic Herbs
To protect your fabrics, use cedar shavings and blocks or cheesecloth bags filled with cloves, rosemary, eucalyptus, lavender, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves or other herbs. Your favorite sweaters, not to mention your drawers and closets, will smell fresh and clean. You'll avoid mothballs, which contain a pesticide the EPA links to cataracts, liver and neurological damage.
For more nontoxic pest repellent tips, The Daily Green recommends Beyond Pesticides.
7. Use Vintage Dish Towels
Avoid paper towels, and have fun finding and collecting vintage and funky dish towels from garage and estate sales, auctions and online. You can even get different sets for the seasons and holidays. You'll add a splash of color (and a conversation piece) to your kitchen and table.
For more modern green kitchen tips, see Green and Gorgeous Kitchen Remodeling Tips.