• The Feeder

Green Around the House

Updated: Jul 1

By Contributor Heidi Sarna


A self-professed tree hugger, I do what I can to use less—especially plastic. There’s so much that’s nearly impossible to avoid—the various plastic containers and bags from milk, veggies, dish detergent and take-out sushi—but, I’m determined to stop using what is possible to avoid.


DIY citronella diffuser (left). In Singapore, where I live, mosquitos have been particularly bad. I find mosquito coils too smoky and insect spray too harsh to use very often. Wanting to switch to something natural and gentle, like citronella oil, but not wanting to buy expensive plastic diffusers, I created a low-tech hack with stuff from around the house. Add a few drops of citronella oil to a few tablespoons of water in a small stainless-steel bowl; break an old wooden take-out chopstick in half (we avoid getting these, but invariably have a collection in some drawer) and stick them both in the liquid. Voila—a DIY citronella diffuser. We use them on our balconies and indoors.


Line kitchen bin with newspaper (right). Since I rarely take a plastic bag from the grocery store and I don’t want to rely on bio garbage bags, we line our kitchen bin with newspaper. Use several layers, and fan them out like flower petals; at the end of the day, fold the “petals” down on one another. Then toss the bundle like a football down the garbage shoot or into your outside bin. And yes, this green hack assumes you still read old school newspapers.


Doggie poo bags (right). Why buy special “dog poo” bags, even the supposedly biodegradable ones (and are they really 100% biodegradable, I’m skeptical), when we all have so many unavoidable bags in our lives. We save and use bread, vegetable, flour and magazine bags for our doggie’s poo.


Hair shampoo soap. I was skeptical when a fellow tree hugger friend gifted me a little round pink bar of shampoo soap. But I tried it and I’m a convert. It lasts a long time, lathers pretty well and smells good. What’s not to love? It comes in a small paper bag. No plastic bottles involved.


Cloth bags (right). Many people have them, but I’m really committed to using them for almost everything I shop for. I take three or four to the grocery store, and use them for everything, including meats and fresh unwrapped fruits and vegetables. They wash easily in the sink and dry quickly in the sun. I also take them when shopping for fresh bread, cakes, wine, gifts, clothing…you name it.


Reusable cups. I have two or three that have lasted several years. I use them not only for coffee, but also for my weekly fix of kopi peng (an iced version of local Singapore coffee) and for fountain sodas at fast food joints and convenience stores.


It’s really easy to do a few small things to go green and help heal planet Earth.

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