Making house work easy for yourself

6 February 2013
You start thinking about making changes to your life, you decide that now is the time, you get all fired up to do something new, like recycling, composting, growing vegetables, baking bread, saving, paying off debt, or whatever. It's fine while that spark continues, but when it dies down a bit, how do you make yourself continue?

When you start new things, set your new systems up so that it's as easy as possible to do it, do it well and continue doing it. Here are a few of the things I do.

Composting/worm farming: keep a covered container on the bench top for vegetable and fruit scraps. Citrus and onion peels need to go in a separate container because worms don't like them.

Feeding kitchen scraps to the chickens: after dinner in the evening, get a bowl and put all the table scraps in it. You can also add stale bread. Leave it in the fridge overnight, take it out in the morning, add leftover cereal and porridge and then take it out to the girls who will love you for it. You can add stale bread to the worm farm food as well.

Growing vegetables: if you've never done this before, start of with a few herbs or tomatoes in containers. That will get you used to looking after plants and watering them, before you're faced with a garden full of vegetables.

You could go from the above to below in a few short years.

Harvesting water: install water tanks or rain barrels, or put out buckets under drain pipes when it rains to catch every precious drop.

Making your own laundry products: write down the ingredients to make what you want and buy them when you do your shopping. If you have it on hand, you're more likely to make it. This does work well, it's easy to make, it will save you a lot of money and reduce the number of chemicals in your home.

Keeping the bathroom and shower clean: do a thorough clean. There is no way out of this, if you want a clean bathroom, you have to start with a clean room. So clean it up, either using Lauren's Karcher methods :- ) or by conventional scrubbing. When it's clean, keep a spray bottle of citrus or lavender vinegar in the shower and give the shower a quick spray and wipe after your shower every day. When you get up in the morning, use the same spray to do a quick spray and wipe of the bathroom sink and bench.

Keeping the toilet clean: like the bathroom, you have to start with a clean toilet. you can clean your toilet in an environmentally sound way, even if it is stained, by flushing the toilet and pouring in half a cup of citric acid. This is natural acid found in lemons, in powder form. You can buy it at the supermarket near the baking goods or buy it in bulk from some bulk food distributors. Do this last thing at night so it will sit undisturbed in the toilet for quite a few hours. The next morning, give the toilet a good scrub. I use a toilet brush with a good edge on it so I can get into all the angles, not a round brush which are usually hopeless. I get my cleaning brushes, including the one above, from my sponsor Biome. When the toilet is clean, you can easily keep it clean by spraying that vinegar spray over the toilet every day if you feel inclined, or a couple of times a week if you don't. Every time you spray and wipe with the vinegar, pour a small amount in the toilet bowl and give it a good scrub with your brush as well.

Saving: find a jar with a lid and start putting your change in it. A change jar will add up to quite a good amount after six months or so and you don't really notice the change going out of your purse or pocket. If you do save a good amount, make an extra mortgage payment or put it aside for birthday gifts.

Reducing what you pay for groceries: If you need to cut $50 off your grocery budget to help pay the mortgage, car loan or school fees, or if you want to pay extra an extra mortgage payment every month or two, don't just take the fifty dollars out. It will be a big shock and you'll end up feeling deprived and resentful.  Cut back on your budget by $10 a week, then $20, then $30 till you reach your target. It will take you just over a month to reach your required cut back but you won't notice it as much. Once you've gone through a few weeks increasing the money taken out, you'll be better prepared to deal with a $50 reduction each week.

Recycling: save suitable jars and bottles to be refilled later and used for ginger beer, cordial and jams. If you have the containers ready to use, it's easy to make something from your excess and store it in the cupboard.

Mending: look at your clothes and household lines as they go into the washing machine and see what needs to be mended, have a button sewn back on or a hem re-stitched. When they're clean and dry again, put everything that has to be mended, in a special basket with a sewing kit, near where you sit at night. It will remind you to mend while you sit.

Cutting down on the ironing: when you hang out the washing, make sure you shake everything before you hang it on the line then smooth out hems and edges when they're hanging. That will get rid of many creases. Don't leave the washing in the basket too long before you hang it out and fold carefully as soon as you take the washing of the line.

I'm sure you have several ways of making your household tasks easier. Please share your favourite tip. It could be just the thing that makes a real difference to someone.