15 Eco-Friendly Tricks We’ve Learned in the Last Year

We’ve come through a year that changed our lives more than any of us could’ve imagined: When a pandemic impacted millions of lives, unemployment soared, small businesses struggled, and our lives retreated to the four walls of our homes.

And what of th…

We’ve come through a year that changed our lives more than any of us could've imagined: When a pandemic impacted millions of lives, unemployment soared, small businesses struggled, and our lives retreated to the four walls of our homes.

And what of the impact on the earth? A year when black-footed penguins took over the empty streets of Cape Town, South Africa, and people in India saw the Himalayas from their roofs for the first time from over 100 miles away, and birdsong was louder (and prettier) than ever was also a year of food shortages, natural disasters, and increased plastic pollution.

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This Cutting Board Is Made From Single-Use Utensils

In one corner of my cutlery drawer sits an unlikely candidate: my guilt. It sits atop a bunch of forks and spoons, paper napkins, and chopsticks—my cumulative takeout “extras.” For years I have tried to address this via the number of times we order in …

In one corner of my cutlery drawer sits an unlikely candidate: my guilt. It sits atop a bunch of forks and spoons, paper napkins, and chopsticks—my cumulative takeout "extras." For years I have tried to address this via the number of times we order in (which is at odds with wanting to support our local restaurants), what we order, and repeatedly writing “NO CUTLERY AND NAPKINS, PLEASE!!!” in the special requests section. Yet... the single-use cutlery keeps finding its way in.

Each year, after just one use, millions of units of restaurant cutlery are thrown out, and end up in landfills and in our waterways. Plastic cups, plates, utensils, and straws are obviously a big source of pollution (a smart and successful campaign made straws the villain of the piece), but as I’ve learned, wooden (bamboo and others) chopsticks are culpable, too. The common assumption that chopsticks are produced with scrap wood products just isn’t true: millions of trees are logged each year to make chopsticks that are shipped around the world, used once, and discarded. And because they’re treated with chemicals, and soiled after use, they often can’t be recycled.

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My Favorite Way to Fake a Freshly Cleaned Home

A clean house is visibly easy to spot: everything is in place; there are no dusty corners, splatter-stained stovetops, or crumb-strewn floors. But our noses can often detect clean and dirty spaces, too. Much like the immediate comfort derived from the …

A clean house is visibly easy to spot: everything is in place; there are no dusty corners, splatter-stained stovetops, or crumb-strewn floors. But our noses can often detect clean and dirty spaces, too. Much like the immediate comfort derived from the smells of short ribs braising or bread baking, the gratifying smell of freshly laundered linens or your favorite household floor cleaner after a morning of cleaning, is hard to overstate. Conversely, pet funk, mustiness, and unwashed linen are dead giveaways of a space that needs attention.

Luckily, there is a quick way to de-stink your home and mask odors—aka, fake a clean home—in a pinch. A DIY room spray! The best part? It’s so easy to make. All you need is a dark-colored glass spritzer bottle (darker bottles protect the oils better) and three simple ingredients—water, alcohol, and essential oils. And sure, you can buy an air freshener, but who needs another reason to bring a single-use bottle, not to mention chemicals, into the home.

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The $0 Trick to Always-Clean Kitchen Shelves

Welcome to Your No-Sweat Guide to Spring Cleaning a month-long series that puts the fun (yep, for real!) back into cleaning. We’re talking spruce-ups that take less than five minutes, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that hacks, and hands-off cleaning tasks that …

Welcome to Your No-Sweat Guide to Spring Cleaning a month-long series that puts the fun (yep, for real!) back into cleaning. We’re talking spruce-ups that take less than five minutes, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that hacks, and hands-off cleaning tasks that basically…do themselves—plus our trustiest tools and helpers. The goal: clean less, go outside more.


Kitchen cabinets are actually some of the messiest spots in the home: where spills, stains, and drips go to turn into unrecognizable gunk. This can be particularly upsetting if, like me, you have recently updated cabinets that you want to try to keep shiny and new for as long as humanly possible. (All this time spent indoors has made that window real short!) A couple months after moving into our home early last year, I was forced to clean a nasty mess of cooking oils, turmeric, and sugar off an otherwise pristine surface, and that was when I decided there had to be a better way.

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The Fridge Organizing Tool You’re Not Using (But Should)

Welcome to Storage Wars, a new series about the best ways to store, well, everything. From how to keep produce orderly in the fridge (or not), to ways to get your oddball nooks and crannies shipshape; and yes, how to organize all those unwieldy contain…

Welcome to Storage Wars, a new series about the best ways to store, well, everything. From how to keep produce orderly in the fridge (or not), to ways to get your oddball nooks and crannies shipshape; and yes, how to organize all those unwieldy containers once and for all—we've got you covered.


This past year, my fridge has been through tumultuous times, swinging between desert island-empty and world-is-ending-full. I’ve used the lean times to clean it out: wiping down shelves, removing expired foods, and airing it out (an open packet of baking soda really does wonders for odors!). But then, in the blink of a blizzard, it’d be full again.

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The Popular Bookshelf Trend That’s Gone Too Far

I don’t know how I got there, but one minute I was looking for a seagrass laundry basket, and the next minute I was staring at color-coded book sets wrapped in jute twine. Cool cool, I thought… until I looked again, and realized that this was no book…

I don’t know how I got there, but one minute I was looking for a seagrass laundry basket, and the next minute I was staring at color-coded book sets wrapped in jute twine. Cool cool, I thought... until I looked again, and realized that this was no bookstore, and these were less about the books, more about... bundles of "cohesive decor." There was something for every kind of decor, too: Spanish moss (cottagecore!), inky black (moody vibes?), driftwood (midcentury)... even “paper and string”, aka, exposed with spines missing (aimed at the antique lover?).

Books as color-coded decor? Wait, when did that...become a thing?

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The Best Things We Bought for Our Homes This Year

A few weeks into the lockdown in Spring—after the initial feeling of it being an involuntary staycation wore off—everything began to feel wrong about my home. That is to say, little felt right. Not the color of the walls, the material of the countertop…

A few weeks into the lockdown in Spring—after the initial feeling of it being an involuntary staycation wore off—everything began to feel wrong about my home. That is to say, little felt right. Not the color of the walls, the material of the countertops, the firmness of the mattress, or the style of the cabinet pulls. As our indoors became our entire worlds, these worlds (like the one on the outside) were showing cracks.

I rushed to buy new hallway ceiling lights (too small). I spent days torn between a cold-press and centrifugal juicer (bought a second blender, instead). Found five different pasta rollers I "most definitely needed" (I didn’t). Bought doormats and pillows and an antique mirror that fell and shattered a week later. I ended up with a drawer-full of cabinet pull samples and a paper folder exploding with wallpaper swatches.

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South Indian Filter Coffee Is Like No Coffee You’ve Had Before

In April, my stainless steel coffee filter ran dry. Which is to say, I ran out of my favorite coffee—in the midst of a lockdown, no access to my Indian grocery store, and broken supply chains (both retail and by way of visiting aunties loaded with gift…

In April, my stainless steel coffee filter ran dry. Which is to say, I ran out of my favorite coffee—in the midst of a lockdown, no access to my Indian grocery store, and broken supply chains (both retail and by way of visiting aunties loaded with gifts). Anyone whose day begins with the certainty of that one precisely made cup would understand when I say: I was sad.

In the end I substituted, managed, survived. (Okay, I may have begged a friend across town to mail me the dregs of her stash.) There were certainly far bigger worries to wade through, but its absence was felt. In a shaky world, it was the reassurance of that morning routine that I craved.

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What Does Your Mug Type Say About You?

Ever wondered why every mug on the BYO-mug shelf at your office (remember that place?) looked so different from the others? Why your pink collapsible carry-as-you-go sat next to an enamel camping mug, which in turn rubbed rims with a hand-painted asymm…

Ever wondered why every mug on the BYO-mug shelf at your office (remember that place?) looked so different from the others? Why your pink collapsible carry-as-you-go sat next to an enamel camping mug, which in turn rubbed rims with a hand-painted asymmetrical one... and so on.

Turns out it isn’t just what’s in our mugs (a very boozy hot chocolate for me at the moment, if I'm being honest) that speaks volumes of our tastes and preferences, it’s also what holds them that’s revealing. Because, no matter where you’re from or what you sip, it’s likely you have a favorite mug type. I know I have mine—chubby (but not too chubby that I can’t cradle it between my palms), a bold handle shape, often textured, always handmade.

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This Is IKEA’s Most Versatile Item. No, It’s Not the Billy Bookcase.

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I’m obsessed with cleaning and organizing. Show me a home product that ticks both boxes at the same time, and I can barely keep it together with excitement. So, it’s no wonder that I’m about to gush a little…

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I’m obsessed with cleaning and organizing. Show me a home product that ticks both boxes at the same time, and I can barely keep it together with excitement. So, it’s no wonder that I’m about to gush a little about my new favorite household helper: the IKEA Råskog utility cart.

I know what you’re thinking: a rolling cart is a rolling cart is a…, but no, even as first glances go, this one’s a looker. (Those curves. That gray-green!) I use mine to hold all my cleaning supplies (of which I have many) that used to previously overflow under the kitchen sink. The bottom shelves offer additional storage, so I can organize them according to priority. My most regularly used cleaners are up top; the second shelf is for gloves, cloths and brushes; and the third I keep for specialized cleaners (Brasso, Magic Erasers, you get it). It makes me feel very efficient to roll it around with me on cleaning day, and when I'm done, I just tuck it neatly into my entryway closet.

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