Green & Thrifty Living - updated June 15, 2012

The Owl Report

From the "Waste Not" files: When you think those markers are too dried out to use you can make watercolor paint. In this example small jars were used and water added to the jars just below the area for the screw top.

It's best to leave the markers for at least 8 hours, and the consistency of your watercolors will depend on the amount of water, the amount of ink in the markers, and how long you let them drain.

Once their ready, just cap the jars and give a good shake before use. Not really artist level watercolors but great for those rainy day projects.


June 12, 2012

One of the best investments I have made is buying a refrigerator brush, to brush under my refrigerator, where the coils are.( Stupid place for them, they are there because it looks neater, even though it is less efficient.) The first time I used it, there was an immediate noticeable decrease in the amount of time the refrig runs, using less energy, saving money, less wear and tear on the motor, so it should last longer.


April 13, 2012
Making a Mosquito Trap

Because mosquitoes are attracted to the CO2 we breathe out, I started looking for ideas that used CO2 as the bait for the mosquito trap. I did think of dry ice but it does dissipate fairly quickly.

I found a cached link on Google here. It seems to be active again now. I've rewritten the instructions some and hopefully it will work as well.

Thanks to the students for their hard work on this project. I've used some of their photos for illustration.

1 2 liter soda bottle
a sharp knife
black paper
candy thermometer

Take a 2 liter soda bottle. Cut off the top right below where it starts to narrow for the top, invert and place inside the lower half.

Make a simple sugar syrup.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups cool water
1 tsp. active dry yeast


Bring 1 cup of the water to a boil.

Dissolve the sugar into the boiling water.

Once the sugar is dissolved completely, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in 2 cups cool water, stir well.

Check the temperature of the syrup to make sure it is no hotter than 90 degrees F, if hotter, let cool to 90 degrees F, add 1 tsp. active dry yeast, no need to mix. Put syrup in the bottom part of the bottle, using the cut off neck piece, leave in place.

Be sure to seal the two parts of the bottle with the tape. The fermenting yeast will release carbon dioxide. Put black paper around the bottle since mosquitoes like dark places and carbon dioxide. This mosquito trap will then start working.

TIPS: Put the trap in a dark and humid place for 2 weeks, you'll see the effect. You'll have to replace the sugar water + yeast solution every 2 weeks.

Many commenters have noted that this DIY mosquito trap doesn't work in all areas (or on all species of Mosquitos). Check out Mega-Catch mosquito traps for a commercial solution with a wider effectiveness.

Mar. 20, 2012
How to reuse silica gel packets

Feb. 11, 2011

Putting a sturdy space blanket, such as you can get at REI, under your bottom sheet, helps warm your bed much faster in the winter. Putting one on top also helps, but if you have a bunch of blankets below it, like I do, it takes awhile to make a difference, after all those blankets have warmed up! One of my cats likes to lie under the top space blanket. She has found it is a nice warm place.

Oct. 26, 2011

The following link has a lot of good ideas, in addition to the ones I have included here.

The Most Important Things You Can Do To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
by sarah forman

Reducing your carbon footprint is do-able; it’s about making changes in how you live your day-to-day life. Even small changes, like reducing the amount of driving you do, can make a huge impact in the environment.

Yogi Times polled experts of all ages in the field of green living and sustainability to bring you some tips for how to make your life and the planet a little greener.

Live in Los Angeles? You can meet all of these experts and hear them speak at the Green Festival, the largest sustainability event in the nation, taking in place in Los Angeles, California, October 29th and 30th, 2011.

Lois Arkin

Among the three largest sources of greenhouse gases are: vehicle emissions, factory farming, buildings.
To reduce your carbon footprint: reduce driving, reduce meat consumption, and take in a housemate.

Jerry James Stone

While recycling gets all the press, don't forget to reduce and reuse also. Reusing alone can have a huge impact on your carbon footprint. Have you seen how many awesome things you can use an Altoids tin for?
Sharing really is caring! By lending out your household items to neighbors and friends, you really cut down on waste and expended energy. Did you know, the average power drill is only used for 15 minutes in its lifetime? Let's start a Sharing Economy, it will be like Zipcar for your stuff!


Oct. 20, 2011

You can get 100 bags of Global Brands green tea for less than $2 at CVS.
It's in the bargain aisle, not with the regular tea.
The bags have strings & tags, but not wrapped.
So they are cheap & green.

At the health food store, Prince of Peace has organic & non-organic, white or green, wrapped in paper, not plastic or foil.

Save plastic mesh bags from produce to clean grimy and/or greasy dishes & pans.


Dec. 29, 2010

A good source of info for green living is at


July 26, 2010

I have found my spaghetti cooks fine with much less water than specified on the box.
I use enough to cover the spaghetti about by at least 1/2 inch, and turn it to simmer after adding it and letting it return to a boil.
This saves a little water, and the energy used to purify and transport it.
It also saves energy because less is needed to heat the smaller amount of water.

Also, it will take less time for the smaller amount of water to come to a boil, so you can eat sooner, too :)


May 12, 2010

When you are using a wash cloth, don't leave the water running while you're cleaning up. And turn off the water before you wring it out.

It may seem hard to believe to some of you, but many people don't know that wasting water is an environmental problem. A few years ago, a co-worker was surprised by the information. She was a college graduate, in IT; she thought "you turn on the faucet, and the water comes out."

For one thing, there is the energy required simply to get the water from its source to the places where it is used. There is a lot of water moved, and if you've ever carried a bucket of water, you know it's heavy.

Another thing is that most of our water requires treatment to be safe to drink,. This requires chemicals. The production and use of these chemicals cause pollution, and requires energy.

After the water is used, it requires treatment to be safe to discharge into the environment, requiring more chemicals and energy.


If you are rinsing out a cloth, turn off the water before you wring it out. We can develop new habits, and doing so helps keep our brain strong.

In the winter, wear a bunch of layers of clothes so you can keep the thermostat lower.
I know for many of you, that may seem pretty elementary. But it's surprising how many people who are tight for money, and/or express concern for the environment, wear light clothes and turn up the heat in the winter.