Humane Animal Control-Remembering Mr. Mole

mole_3aA year ago today I wrote a post about humanely hunting Mr. Mole. As fall nears and you’ve finally gotten your garden and lawn looking just the way you want it, you may have already dealt with rodents and pests. But as the weather turns, more and more animals are trying to come inside to your nice, warm living rooms. Spiders and bugs are migrating into our house and my wife is not pleased. I am also keeping an eye out for mice and rats in our garage, just in case the turning whether drives them into seek shelter. But should we destroy these animals for seeking shelter? I would suggest not. Schools and large buildings can often experience bigger issues with animals indoors than homes do. Here are some recommendations on how to humanely handle animals in schools:

Effective, humane methods of rodent control do not target the animals themselves but instead target the conditions that attract the animals to certain areas. Taking away their sources of food and shelter is the only sure way to deter these animals. Killing them will only cause others to move into the newly formed “vacancy.” The problem of rodent intrusion is largely preventable by maintaining clean, sanitary conditions and plugging holes or cracks where mice or rats might enter a building. Here are a few simple tips that your school’s staff can follow to prevent rodent infestations:

  • Deter rodents from places that can’t be mouse- or rat-proofed with a mixture of salad oil, garlic, horseradish, and cayenne pepper. Let this sit for four days, then strain it into a spray bottle and spray it on the desired area. Cotton balls soaked with peppermint oil work well, as do moth balls.
  • Keep counter surfaces, floors, and cabinets free of crumbs or food droppings.
  • Keep piles of wood, bushes, and other plants about 1.5 feet away from the school in order to allow a clearing between them and the building.
  • Restrict rodents’ access to other sources of food, such as birdfeeders, pet food, garden seed, and fertilizers.
  • Seal holes larger than 0.25 inch in diameter, cracks in the walls and floors, and spaces around doors, windows, and plumbing fixtures.
  • Store all food and garbage in well-sealed containers made of materials that can’t be gnawed through, such as metal, ceramic, or glass.

If traps are needed to remove mice or rats, humane box-type traps are available from humane societies and hardware stores and at

10 Ways to Save More and Waste Less

994012_25815042Spending wisely on everyday living is the key to save more in this economy. It doesn’t hurt to be a little environmentally friendly while saving money too. Below are some easy ways to stretch your dollars, save time and conserve nature’s resources.

  1. Cut Down on Paper Towel Purchases. Keep washcloths on hand in the kitchen to mop up spills, wipe faces, etc. It not only saves you money, its very green too.
  2. Dine at Home. Be creative with recipes and table settings, and you won’t feel like you’re missing a thing.
  3. Use Smart Products. Arm & Hammer Essentials Detergent cleans with plant-based soaps and baking soda and costs up to 50% less per load than the leading detergent.
  4. Bulk Up. Larger sizes mean lower unit costs. Divide into smaller portions, freezing perishable items as necessary.
  5. Thirsty? Make water your drink of choice.  A very green option is to carry a stainless steel water bottle for refills.
  6. Before Grocery Shopping. Search online for printable coupons. Spend time with the store’s website or circular, and plan meals around sale items.
  7. Transfer Shampoo and Conditioner into Pump Bottles. Use just one squirt per application, its all you really need anyway.
  8. Choose Products that Multi-Task. Try Arm & Hammer Total 2-in-1 Moist Dryer Cloths to get the best of a fabric softener and a dryer sheet in one money saving moist cloth.
  9. Spend Less on Skin Care. Look for tinted moisturizers and body lotion with built-in sunscreen.
  10. Whiten Teeth for Less. Buying toothpaste with whitener in it or add whitening booster to your toothpaste, works just as good as whitening strips but much cheaper.

Adapted from Family Circle Magazine.

Keeping Your Summer Water Bill Low

watering-lawn-or-gardenAs the heat of summer turns up, trying to keep the grass green and the plants growing can consume tons of water and send your monthly bill through the roof. Here are some tips to help you keep the summer water bill at a reasonable level.

1. Try to take showers instead of baths.

2. Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth.

3.Collect rain water and recycle it to water the plants.

4.Make sure your faucets aren’t dripping.

5.Use a bowl full of water when doing the dishes instead of leaving the tap running.

In general, turf grasses need about 3/4″ — 1″ of water per week to maintain green color and active growth. However, during certain times during the summer when high temperatures are the norm, you should allow lawns to naturally slow down in growth during those extreme conditions. You may let the lawn go almost completely dormant in hot weather. Many factors such as the soil and weather all have a role in the lawn’s water needs.

Check out American Lawns for more info on how to water your grass efficiently.

Summer Water Saving Tips

ims00130The sun is beginning to pokes its head out more frequently as May moves along, and as Memorial Day nears, full-blown summer is just around the corner. So while we are rejoicing in our household because it means our electricity bill will decrease (longer sunlight and no heating needed) we are now looking at how we can keep our water costs down as we strive to keep our plants pretty and are grass green.

Potable water consumption in the U.S. is about 340 billion gallons daily – accounting for about one-fourth of the US’s total renewable fresh water supply, according to an article in When water usage is reduced through maintenance and conservation measures, thousands of dollars a year can be saved not only in lowered utility bills but also in maintenance and life-cycle costs.

Here are some helpful hints for you to reduce water consumption in your household and save money on water bills this summer:

* Install a water meter to increase awareness of water usage.
* Energy Saving Trust advises families to install efficient dual flush toilets or to put a brick in the cistern to flush less water away.
* Take a shower as water usage is far lower than when taking a bath.
* Water the garden less and never use a sprinkler system without a timer. estimates that the cost of watering the garden is £1.03.
* Collect rain in a barrel and use this to water the garden.
* Water plants in the evening and not during the hottest part of the day so that the water has time to absorb properly.
* Never leave the tap running whilst brushing teeth. 10 litres of water a minute will be lost.
* Wait until there is a full load before using the washing machine or dish washer.
* Don’t clean the car with a hose pipe, use a bucket and sponge instead.
* Repair any dripping taps to prevent unintentional water usage.

Check out Personal Budgeting for more info…

Have any other tips for us here at HackALife? Let us know in the comments section.

7 Green Tips for Organizing your Home

Recycle Button1. Keep, Donate or Discard – When looking through long-term belongings, ask yourself this question: Is this item used very often? If this item were gone, would it be missed?

2. Sort Items -When sorting, have a box for items to keep and a box for items to toss, a box for items to be donated and a separate box for items to be recycled.  For the items you are unsure about, mark the box with the days date and if no one uses anything out of it for a period of time, then donate those items.

3. Electronics – To save money and energy ensure that all of your electrical items are plugged into a power strip with the power in the off position when not in use. Also thrift stores will take any appliances or electronics that are still in good working condition.

4. Reduce Spending -Don’t shop for shopping’s sake. Keep a shopping list handy so you get only what you intended to buy. On any larger purchases, “sleep on it”, instead of “leap on it”, which can save you money.

5. Reduce & Recycle -Reduce a personal waste stream by purchasing items with minimal packaging: use the bulk food section and bring re-usable bags and containers. For a great assortment of reusable bags click here.

6. Keep/Buy Items with Multiple Uses -Emphasis on all purchases should rely on durability and multiuse. For long term items, look for ones that have multiple uses, such as an all-in-one fax/copier/printer/scanner, or a Versatile jacket, which can replace multiple jackets.

7. Repurpose – Repurposing various items saves money and helps the planet. An old pillowcase can serve as a delicate wash bag, a bottle that held wine can make a beautiful vase, and old door can be used as a desk. Try to think of new ways to use those items you no longer have use for.

Tutorial: How to Cut a Beer Bottle in Half

Have you ever wanted to know how to cut a beer bottle in half? Have you seen drinking glasses made from beer bottles? Well today is your lucky day. Here is a video that will show you how to cut a beer bottle in half with items you most likely have already in your house. There are a few different ways to do this but this video seemed to have the best results.

Supplies Needed:

  • Acetone
  • String
  • Lighter
  • Beer Bottle

EMBED-How To Cut A Glass Bottle Using A String – Watch more free videos

What you do is tie a piece of string around the beer bottle where you want to slice it in half, then take it off and soak it in acetone or nail polish remover. Put it back around the bottle, light it on fire, then drop it in cold water. It’s that simple.

I can think of some amazing ways to use beer bottles or pop bottles around the house.  I have seen drinking glasses for sale on Etsy along with some artsy necklaces with cut beer bottle tops. Try coming up with your own ideas and try this at home.

25 Budget Christmas Gifts-#1 Recycled Lovelies

This past weekend I had my first experience at the Goodwill outlet in our local area. The Goodwill store, affectionately termed “crap by the pound” by my colleague, was something that I have always heard of but never personally experienced. But my wife and I have decided to try and save money and do a lot of budget Christmas gifts this Christmas. During the upcoming months, I will lay out 25 budget ideas to give as gifts for Christmas.

The first is an idea that Deanna, another author on this blog, had the idea of doing; buying clothes and fabric at Goodwill and reusing/recycling those clothes to create other types of clothes that can then be given as Christmas gifts. My wife caught on to this idea and is getting lessons from Deanna on making aprons, purses, and even sandals. You can read more about Deanna’s craft at Recycled Lovelies.

Our experience at Goodwill was a little traumatic at first, there were so many people and the bins were lined with clothes that had neither been washed or processed. But as we dove in (quite literally) with our arms and hands we began to find all kinds of jewels that my wife will be able to use for fabric in making her Christmas creations.

When it was all said and done, we walked away with 16 pounds of clothes for $20! She will be able to make tons of aprons, skirts, purses and other things to give as gifts for such a cheap price, and it will be a great hobby for her during the winter months!

“25 Budget Christmas Gifts” will be a tool you can use as you prepare for the joy of giving gifts of Christmas. If you have ideas or projects that others might benefit from, feel free to leave comments and post your ideas below!

5 Everyday Tricks and Tips for Everyday Life

So many of the items we toss in the garbage bin everyday could be used in ways in which they were not intended. Check out these tips and tricks to using household items in new way.

1. When you are done with a tube of mascara, wash the wand with some soap and warm water and it turns into a cleaning tool. Spray it with a little all-purpose cleaner, unplug your keyboard and run the wand between the keys. It lifts dirt and crumbs easily.

2. Did you know that newspaper is an odor eater? Use newspaper to absorb odors as well as germs. Hang a page of newspaper in your closet, refrigerator, and under your stinky shoes and everything will smell fresher.

3. When you cant seem to find the match to a sock, don’t toss it, use those lonesome socks to protect furniture legs when moving furniture.

4. Don’t throw out a perfectly good shirt because it has ring-around-the-collar, mark ring-around-the-collar stains heavily with chalk before washing. The dust helps absorb the oils, making the stain easier to clean.

5. When the soap gets down to a small sliver, you usually throw it away, but try this, put it in your toolbox and use the slivers to lubricate screws or drawers that are sticking.

Check out Lifehack for a bunch more Tips and Tricks on cleaning.

How to Make Your Office Recycle-Friendly

“Recycling – Why? What little I do wont help”, but Oh Yes it will! Waste has become an increasingly difficult environmental and economic problem, one which affects us all and to which we all contribute. Individuals, at home or at work, have a vital role to play in the endeavor to reduce waste.

I have been looking at the items that go in the waste bin daily and I notice how many items are recyclable and I have been wondering what our office would have to do to become recycle-friendly. Here is a plan that can work for your office.

Gather the Facts: Conduct an audit to determine the amount and types of materials that are recoverable or recyclable. Identify all materials that are potentially recyclable. And talk to your recycler and ask if they can provide information about the types of materials they accept for recycling.

Organize collection procedures: Determine the size and number of containers needed and post signs on bins indicating what materials are acceptable.

Engage Employees: Educate employees, talk about the recycling program and get the word out, with a memo or email. Motivate employees with contests or rewards for achieving recycling goals. A weekly email reminder helps reinforce employee recycling behaviors.

Keep Track: Track the amount of recyclables collected for each material and track the amount of additional costs or cost savings to the business. Make sure and spread the word, when employees see progress, momentum for the recycling will take off.

Keep it Up: Keep up the communication, keep the reward motivation going, and make adjustments when necessary. Its never a bad idea to get the employees input about how the program is going.

Some helpful sites for your recycle-friendly office=

Shred Nations

The Recycling Center

Green Office Store

Scooters – Are they really Scooterific?

I never really saw a scooter, except on movies usually taking place in Europe but now they are everywhere. With gas prices rising almost daily, people are looking at scooters as a big way to save money on gas. I started checking out scooters, trying to figure out what all the hype is. Being a family of four I have a hard time with a scooter, only two people can fit on one, so why would I buy one? Can it really save that much money over time?

Here are some of the pro’s and con’s to owning a scooter.

Pro’s ~ 80-100 miles per gallon, they can fit anywhere, you wont be left searching for a parking space, they are fairly inexpensive compared to buying a new car and they are fun.

Con’s ~ You cant take your family on a scooter, if you have cold, wet winters you will need to drive your car or get some really nice waterproof gear, only the large 250cc can be driven on the freeway, they are dangerous and sorry to say they make you look a tad dorky.

Check out this article at ,MSN Is a Scooter the answer?. It has a calculator on the side that can tell you how much money you could save over a year. Another calculator that will tell you how many miles you would need to ride a scooter in order for it to pay for itself is: Scooter Money Saver Calculator. I would have to ride a scooter 11,613 miles for it to pay for itself. That’s a lot of miles!

Here is another article that piqued my interest, Scooters – 11 Reasons not to Buy One. This is from the point of view of a man who owns a scooter.

If you want an alternative to the normal scooter and a greener ride, check out the Vectrix. Its a bit pricey at over $11,000 but doesn’t need gas. It has a 20-kilowatt (26.8 horsepower) direct-current motor. Its top speed is 62 miles an hour but the drawback is that it cant be taken on very long trips without needing a charge.

What do you think about Scooters?