All You Need Is Less, Eco-Friendly Living, Natural Living

Green House Week 5: The Living Room

Green House Week 5: The Living Room

How are you guys doing so far? Are your nether regions getting accustomed to recycled toilet paper? Are your lunch boxes ziploc-free? Have you gone down the rabbit hole of eco-friendly sex toys (pun sort of intended)? I’d love to hear how things are going  – leave me a note in the comments!

And here we are, into week five – the living room! That place that used to be classy and calm, and now maaaybe looks like it rained kids toys, socks, and eight plates hidden under the couch! Huzzah!

Let’s get down to business, suckas.

What to Phase Out: Okay, first of all, let’s ditch the disposable sweepers. This is another one of those areas where we can interrupt the cycle of buying things just to throw them out – it creates so much waste! Instead, pick up a micro-fibre cloth or two and cut it down to fit into your floor sweeper. The cloths work really well on dirt, debris and dog hair, and can be tossed in the laundry after you’re done with them, instead of being thrown in the garbage!

Also, I know I covered this in the bathroom post, but air fresheners. This is one time I might advocate just tossing them before using them up. Just get rid of them entirely! It’s OK for your house to smell like a house, instead of a Spring Breeze. I mean, it’s spring! Open a window!

What to Bring In: Plants! Plaaaants! Not a crazy-plant-person amount of plants, with spider plants draped over every available surface, but at least two or three. Plants make a room feel alive and filled with growth, and they also do a great job of cleaning the air for you. I provided a list of the best air-purifying plants in my book, but I recently found this awesome chart put out by none other than NASA, detailing exactly which toxins are removed from the air by which plants. Fascinating! I have a big ole peace lily on my mantle, and a few ferns around too, and I love them. It’s Olive’s job to water them, which she really enjoys.

Recipes: If you are an obedient sort and you diligently tossed all your air fresheners, but you still miss that little scent of something, put a few drops of essential oil in your vacuum bag/canister before you get going. It’s a great way to gently scent your space without overpowering fragrance or creepy chemical compounds.

Hardwood Floor Cleaner: 

This is one of the best ways I have found to clean real hardwood floors – especially the really worn, battered kind like I have now. If you have newer floors and you find that this recipe leaves streaks or residue, decrease the amount of tea.

In a saucepan, boil 4-6 cups of water. Remove from heat and add 4 black teabags, allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a spray bottle or use in a mop bucket. The slight acidity of the tea lifts dirt and the tea’s natural tannins help heal any nicks or scratches in the wood. Plus if you use something like Earl Grey (my favourite tea!) your house smells amazingly cozy afterward.

Extra Credit: Get rid of the TV. I know. This is a big one. And, you say, how the hell is this Eco-friendly? Hear me out!

Try something for me. Take a week and catalogue how much time you spend watching TV. Literally chart it. Then sit down and look at that number and think about all the things you say you don’t have time for. Gardening, hanging laundry, making your own lotion,  calling old friends, writing letters, watching free lecture series, reading books. There is so much life out there! There is whole world waiting to be explored and discovered and absorbed! It all sounds so cheesy, but there’s something to be said for the time you gain by letting go. Not to mention the advertising you lose.

Every single ad out there is trying to make you feel bad about yourself so that you buy something to fill that hole. They create a problem, and then they sell you a solution. Fear and desire, my friends. Fear and desire. If you shut that out – literally turn it off- you free yourself from that voice, that insistent nagging voice telling you your teeth aren’t white enough, your car isn’t new enough, your kids aren’t stimulated enough, your house isn’t clean enough.

You are enough. And by getting rid of your TV, or even just drastically cutting down the amount of TV you watch, or finding some sort of happy medium where you watch Netflix or an online series with no commercials…however you choose to do it, ignoring that insidious voice asking you to feel empty and then fill that hole with crap will have a marked impact on the richness of your life.

Previous Weeks:

Week 1: Intro
Week 2: The Bathroom
Week 3: The Bedroom
Week 4: The Kitchen


Look at this book!  . Most people say it’s pretty funny, one guy politely disagreed.

Three stars, Louie? Still pretty generous, I think.  



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  • Reply Andrea June 3, 2015 at 9:27 PM

    Love the tea idea- must try. I’m the worst at mopping my floors. One bathroom item I’m, um, struggling with : ) is with the 7th Gen recycled toilet paper (I really gave it another try bc of this blog series). I feel like I use 10x as much because it’s so thin and fragile. Does this negate the environmental friendliness? Maybe it’s “family cloth” time? In a house full of dudes, this will just translate into “mom’s gross practice that we never ever tell anyone about.”

    • Reply Leah July 23, 2015 at 12:42 PM

      We use Trader Joe’s recycled TP. It’s pretty durable. I use a tiny bit more than I’d otherwise use of really cushy stuff but not a lot.

      We use cloth wipes for our daughter on pee-only dipes. Works pretty well. I’ve also debated using cloth wipes. I think my husband will be grossed out . . . but maybe I will when we have more space. We live in a really small apartment with only one bathroom. I think I’d prefer to only use it if we have a bathroom guests don’t use so I don’t have to answer awkward questions.

  • Reply Lindsay Narain June 3, 2015 at 9:31 PM

    I love the idea of adding plants too… I was at Fig & Olive in NYC a few months ago and there were rosemary bushes everywhere. They were gorgeous and smelled beautiful.

    Fingers crossed I can keep them alive…

  • Reply ELBL June 3, 2015 at 10:43 PM

    I’ve started phasing out ziptop bags in my lunch and although I’m using my plastic containers, I am planning on phasing those out in the next year. I’m also looking at transiting to reusable paper towels, but gotta go slow for hubby! One thing I’m not sure how to accomplish… I do a ton of freezer meals and prep everything into gallon or quart size ziptop bags… I can’t picture doing that with glass containers. I do ten meals out do at a time. I can picture how to freeze my soups in muffin tins, done that before, but where to store them after as I store them in a large ziptop bag too. The freezer is where we use a lot of plastic bags. They are more compact and very forgiving. Plus ready to label… Ideas?

  • Reply James June 4, 2015 at 12:26 AM

    Being English I was slightly shocked when I read the advice to ‘decrease the amount of tea’! However on reflection I dislike tea so all is well! Great article!

  • Reply Mary Ellen June 8, 2015 at 1:54 PM

    Thank you so much for this fantastic series! Am loving this. One reflection I wanted to share is that for me personally, it’s easier to integrate new, good habits than to get rid of bad ones, so the “what to get rid of” sections are more like the extra credits for me. Also a composting trick for some city dwellers–you can compost without composting by saving your veggie scraps in yogurt containers in the freezer and dropping them off at the nearby community garden or farmers’ market! (Keeping stuff in the freezer prevents fruit flies.)

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