Oh my God, we lead a stressful existence, don’t we? Always on the run, hurrying up, struggling to keep up with everyone and everything, juggling through life and desperately trying to remain focused on the next task ahead while our minds and bodies scream at us to just stop.
So, we take shortcuts: we might have learnt some of them from our families, some others from magazines and maybe there are one or two which came out of our own imagination.
Either way, they are absolutely necessary and prevent us from crawling in a dark corner wishing the world would just stop spinning for a second.
Unfortunately, while trying to save ourselves from the madness out there, we sometimes forget about the environment, our pockets and above all, our personal health.
It’s easier to buy an unhealthy candy bar in the first supermarket available on our way to work than preparing something the night before, right?
Why lose those precious and vital 5 seconds picking up a tote bag for our groceries when they are going to give us one plastic bag at the store?
Let me tell you, our time is valuable and shouldn’t be wasted and yet instead of organizing and making the best out of something we might already have at disposal in our homes, we add another chore to our crazy routine.
Here are some hacks that are going to help you save time and money, be healthier and, of course, more ethical, all without transforming in an old wacky hippie still scratching Woodstock’s mud from his back.
1. Pantry Deodorant
A crazy amount of beauty products contain unpronounceable chemicals and hormone disruptors that can really mess with our health and enhance the chances of getting cancer.
Try reading the label on your deodorant: how many ingredients is it made of?
Dozens, I bet. But why? Are we really sooo nasty that we need an entire shipment of chemicals to cover our nauseating scent?
Next time you finish your deodorant, try making your own instead of running out at 6 in the morning to buy a new one and avoid smelling bad in that super important meeting with your boss: all you need is 3 minutes and 3 ingredients you already have in your pantry.
Take a bowl and mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda (a natural antibacterial), two tablespoons of cornflour (which can naturally thicken eeeeverything) and 3 tablespoons of coconut oil (antifungal, antimicrobial, anti-you-name-it, really).
Mix all the ingredients until you get a paste and store it a mason jar or an old container with a lid of some kind: if properly kept one batch will last you up to three months.
All you have to do is pick up some paste with your fingers and gently rub it on your skin: no stains on your clothes, no chemicals on your body, no pollution, no money given to big companies.
As a bonus, if you’re into aromatherapy, put some drops of one essential oil of your choosing in the mix: lavender armpits will soon be a trend, I’m sure.
2. The Hair Miracle of Baby Powder
All the ladies out there will definitely agree with me when I say that one of greatest inventions of the human mind is dry shampoo: it makes our hair smell great, feel clean and puffed up.
No water wastage, no time lost and eventually longer lasting clean hair.
Yet, I’m reading the label of an old bottle in front of me and let me quote some words: alcohol, dicocoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate and stearalkalonium hectorite (wow, that was a mouthful even to write).
Plus, it has a nice “DANGER” sign on it. Thank you, no thank you.
But, it’s already late in the morning, you have to get on that train and your hair is greasy as hell… clear omen for disaster.
Simply open your bathroom cabinet and grab that baby powder bottle: have no fear and distribute some of the product with your fingers on the greasy areas, gently rub it and then brush it away. Ta-daa!
Same effect, no muss no fuss.
If you are a brunette and are worried about some white powder on your luscious brown hair (and you really shouldn’t), try using cocoa powder: it serves the same purpose and will leave you smelling like chocolate all day.
I guess men won’t prefer blondes any longer.
3. Baking Soda is Your Carpet's BFF
It’s time to pull out that poor box of baking soda from under the sink and to give it a prominent position on your shelves because baking soda really is a miracle maker in all departments.
You can unclog your drain, refresh, clean and deodorize pretty much anything in the world but it is truly unbeatable when it comes to cleaning carpets.
Carpets are great and make our homes look comfier and well-decorated but if you have pets or young children running around the house you know that they can become breeding ground for bacteria, colonies of crumbs and God knows what else, the Germ Capital and other disgusting things.
Say your adorable offspring or your sweet dog have just decided to throw up on the rug or spill something… after having removed the (yuk!) solid parts, instead of wasting money, energy and time going to dry-cleaner, just distribute some baking soda on the interested area, let it work its magic for fifteen minutes and simply use your vacuum cleaner to remove it.
If you add an essential oil to the powder before sprinkling it on the carpet you’ll get an even better result.
4. Frozen Herbs for Great Meals
If you’re not already growing your herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil, sage…) you are probably forced to buy huge quantities that are not going to last very long, even when properly stored in the fridge.
We all know that fresh herbs can improve the flavour of any dish by a thousand, from a simple plate of pasta to an elaborate main course, consequently they should never be M.I.A. in our kitchens.
Next time you purchase those beautiful fresh herbs, chop them all into pieces, mix them, put them in an empty ice cube tray and fill each compartment with extra virgin olive oil which has the magical power of preserving them even better than your refrigerator.
Once the cubes are set, you can pop the right amount out of the fridge every time you need it, without rushing to the store and wasting money.
All you have to do is put the cubes in a pan and build up from there: for this particular reason, this hack works perfectly with sauteéd vegetables (who has the time to chop all of that stuff every time?) and even sauces.
No more excuses for ordering junk food!
5. The Magic Towel
First and foremost, bear with me… if you’re looking for a green, sustainable and eco-friendly way to dry your laundry I must urge you to use what Mother Nature is already giving us for free: sun and fresh air.
At least during spring and summer time, let the sun dry your clothes and help the planet save some energy.
Undeniably this process can take days come winter time, especially for those of us who live in rainy regions and for this reason we resort to the dryer, but not in the smarter way.
If you want to cut the time by several minutes and use less energy, all you have to do is to put a clean, dry towel in the machine when you load it with your wet laundry.
The towel will absorb the moisture letting each item dry out faster than usual and of course, if you’re dealing with a larger load of laundry you might want to throw in an extra towel.
To further cut time in the drying process and obtain even better results, take the towel out after fifteen or twenty minutes because by doing so you will be literally pulling out the moisture from the machine.
No energy wastage, faster results, and no, you don’t have to dry the towel in the dryer: just hang it near a source of heat, it will surely be ready for your next laundry-time.
6.The Magic Towel: Part 2
Sadly, plastic is everywhere and we can’t seem to get rid of it.
Every year over 300 million tons of plastic waste is produced (more than 70% of which is not currently being recycled) and 10-20 millions tons end up straight in the oceans, endangering marine life and subsequently our health.
It is practically impossible to lead a plastic-free existence but there are numerous things than can be done by each and every one of us to at least diminish the crazy wastage.
We can buy organic unique clothing, avoid processed food, make our own cleaning supplies and beauty products and, as I’m about to show you, cut the usage of plastic bags and food packaging film.
Our good friend Mr Towel comes to our aid once again, drastically reducing our usage of polluting plastic: rather than wrapping your freshly bought produce in plastic bags and disposable film, gently package cucumber, zucchini, carrots and so on in a damp towel or cloth to make them last longer in your fridge.
Be aware that when it comes to lettuce greens, the towel should be dry and tied at the ends, or the produce will go to waste.
Vegetables don’t need plastic, they only need our love for the planet.