Clean the air with indoor greenery
In wintertime, the only green plants you see are often indoors. In addition to adding texture and color to interiors, houseplants also help filter the air we breathe. Take time to groom and expand your indoor garden this winter.
You don’t even need to leave the house to “garden” – if you have a few houseplantsalready, there’s plenty you can do to make them look nicer and keep them healthy. Trim and compost brown leaves and stems, repot houseplants in larger or more decorative containers, or stake larger plants to a bamboo stake or stick so they don’t flop over.
If you’re feeling crafty, you can sew tiny felt plant pockets and create a miniature garden hanging from hooks or tacks. Follow our tutorial here to make your own. If sewing is not your thing, gather the materials to make a terrarium in a glass dish or jar by following our tutorial here.
Give old furniture new life
The greenest furniture is the piece that already exists. Spruce up an existing boring or shabby piece of furniture without the environmental impact of purchasing newly manufactured products.
There are many fun DIY makeovers for furniture, but here are just a few ideas you can easily complete on a snowy afternoon: Try gluing wallpaper or fabric onto the back of a bookshelf – check out this tutorial for an example. Sand and painta dingy coffee table to make it bright and colorful – or decoupage itwith prints and art from an old book or calendar. Decoupage a wooden mirror or photo frame with scraps of old maps, art prints, or wallpaper.
Clear out your closet
Reduce clutter and give old items new life at the same time. Winter is a great time to clear out your home and create a sense of space and ease. It’s also a great time to pass on those Christmas gifts you’ve been holding on to for a year because you felt guilty, but just haven’t used. Do you have clothes that have been sitting in your closet since last January? You probably won’t miss them when they’re gone.
Donating and re-selling clothes, shoes, books, and household decor is a great way to keep items out of landfills and to reduce use of new resources. Recycling and reusing can even net you some cash – try listing clothes, bags, sports gear, and shoes on sites like eBay, Craigslist, or yerdle. If you don’t think you can sell an item, Goodwill, your local independent thrift shop, shelters, community centers and Yahoo Freecycle are all great places to donate used items.
Create your own low-energy lighting
Every time you read about how to green your home, changing up your light bulbs is on the list, and for good reason. Not only is it an easy, low-cost switch that will lower your energy costs and carbon footprint (compared to upgrading your insulation or planting a green roof, for example), it’s also an opportunity to create more intimate lighting.
There are lots of fun new CFL and LED light bulb options that have come onto the market recently, which can add fun shapes or colors to your space. If you’re up for a bit more of a challenge, dig through your recycling bin, grab a yogurt container and craft this gorgeous DIY lampshade for your new low-energy LED bulb.
Make cozy upcycled sweater pillows
If you couldn’t give up your beloved old sweater to Goodwill, but no longer wear it, consider turning it into cuddly home decor instead. Follow our simple tutorial here to learn how you can create cozy, soft couch pillow covers from old sweaters.
Have more sweaters than you know what to do with? Create a soft throw blanket from squares of old knitted items like sweaters and vests by following this tutorial.
Cook up an all natural air freshener
If you haven’t tried stovetop potpourri yet, winter is the ideal time to start. Simply simmer a large pot on the stove filled with naturally scented ingredients, and fill your home with chemical-free fragrance. What’s even better is that the simmering potpourri will also add much-needed humidity to dry and dusty heated indoor air.
Choose a large, heavy bottomed pot and fill it with approximately 1 1/2 liters of water. Add your selected ingredients and place the pot over extremely low heat. You’ll need to check it occasionally to ensure the water hasn’t boiled away – and, of course, make sure you turn off the stove before you leave home.
We have three deliciously scented recipes to share with you here; simply add the ingredients to the water in your pot. Fresh Scent – add a few drops of peppermint oil, two sprigs of rosemary, and a sliced whole lemon. Warm Citrus Scent – add one whole sliced orange and a tablespoon of cloves. Bright Cinnamon Scent- add one whole sliced orange, one whole sliced lemon, and three cinnamon sticks.
Lead image via Shutterstock; Photos 4 and 5 by the author.