Five Simple Ways to Help Your Children Live a More Sustainable Life

This post is in partnership with IKEA, all opinions are my own.

I believe most parents want their kids to inherit a cleaner, greener world. As an adult I try to live a greener life, and I want to be an example to my kids as well.

Today, there are so many opportunities for kids and adults to live sustainably, many of which are things our grandparents probably did without thinking. As a society we’ve been accustom to convenience, but sometimes that means more waste and it isn’t always best for the world we live in.

5 simple ways

I find that the easiest way to get my children involved is to make greener choices the most convenient option in our home.

IKEA has some great inexpensive items you can use in your home to help your children learn how to live a more sustainable life. In fact some of these items are so popular you probably already have them in your house.

Use less paper products in the kitchen. 

If you know me, you know I love my paper towels, but I also try to use dish cloths and rags whenever possible.

To make this happen I have a drawer of dish towels in my kitchen. We use them for drying dishes and hands and cleaning up spills.

IKEA dish towels

We use two to three towels a day and I throw them into whatever load is in the wash at the end of the day.

Every few months the dish towels get moved to the rag bin and we replace them with fresh towels. Not only are we creating less waste, we are saving money by not using a roll of paper towels every single day.

ikea towels 2

Having the towels close to the sink and easily accessible encourages my kids to grab a cloth towel instead of a paper towel when they need it.

Smaller bowls = less food waste.

 Most of my children have eyes bigger than their stomachs and tend to take huge helpings if I’m not watching. Usually they can’t finish their food because they filled their grown-up sized plate with a grown-up sized portion.

I solved this problem years ago by using the dishwasher safe, unbreakable IKEA plates and bowls. They are cute, colorful and small!

Kids can’t help but take smaller servings on these kid sized dishes and if they are still hungry they are always welcome to get seconds, or even thirds.

IKEA bowls

Ever since I started using smaller dishes for the kids we throw away significantly less food every week.

I also use these plates and bowls for myself! They are great when you want to track how much you are eating and make sure your portions stay in check.

Reusing bath and pool towels to save water and money.

With six kids at home, we do a lot of laundry. One way to live a little greener is to encourage the kids hang up their towels after their showers instead of getting a new one every time. (There are even hotel chains who are rewarding guests with extra points for doing the same thing!)

However, it can be hard for younger children to reach the towel bar in most bathrooms.

We install a lower towel rack in our bathrooms so the kids can easily hang up their towels after they swim or take a shower. If the towel is hung up immediately after they use it, it can be used for several days without smelling gross.

When we rented our house we used the over the door towel racks so the kids always had a place to hang their towel. We also use them for pool towels and guest towels. This rack from IKEA has pads on the hanger so you don’t damage your doors when you use it.

Make it easy to recycle.

We have two recycle bins outside, but I don’t always want my younger children going out at night by themselves to throw something in the bin.

Keeping a small bin inside the house encourages kids of all ages to recycle and makes it easy for them to put boxes and cans in the bin throughout the day.

Ikea Recycles

A small lightweight container like the IKEA DIMPA fits anywhere in your home and has handles so it is easy to carry out to the recycling bin several times a week. It folds up when not in use so you can put it away if necessary.

I’ve come to realize that if I make it easy for my kids to do something, there’s a significantly greater chance that it will get done when I’m not around to remind them to do it.

Encourage outside free play.

One of the best things we’ve done as a family is live close to green spaces (or have a large yard for the kids to play).  Our kids love being outside, and finding fun activities that don’t require a ton of resources or electricity.   outdoor play

Not only does outside free play give them the opportunity to appreciate the world around them (and hopefully help keep it cleaner) it limits their screen time.

I hope as they grow older they will continue to appreciate the environment around them and be good stewards of their resources.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Samsung Addwash

“This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of hhgregg. All opinions are 100% mine.”

When we purchased our home in Maryland it came with a washer and dryer. The excitement of finally owning a front loading washer quickly waned after using it for a few weeks.

The clothes didn’t seem to get as clean as they did in my top load washer and I was surprised to find out that in order to add something to the already in progress load the washer would have to completely empty itself of water and then restart.

I sold that pair and went back to my trusty top load washing machine a few years ago. This spring I was contacted by hhgregg to see if I was interested in reviewing the new Samsung Addwash Front-Load Steam Washer and Steam Electric Dryer. Given my history with front loading machines I was initially hesitant, but after I read a little more about the Samsung Addwash I decided to give it a try.

Upon arrival the hhgregg delivery team worked quickly to install my new Samsung washer and dryer. They managed to get them into a tight space without damaging my freshly painted house. Before they left, the had the washer and dryer hooked up and working which was great. My husband would rather install six ceiling fans over one washing machine, so we really appreciated their white glove delivery service.

samsung addwash review

The Pros

I’ve been using the Samsung Addwash for a few weeks and am impressed with how well the clothes get cleaned. With three teenage boys (who play sports, skateboard, ride bikes, and generally ruin all their clothes with dirt and stink) I knew I could put this machine to the test.

With my previous machine, I often had to run two rinse cycles or run everything on heavy duty to make sure the clothes looked and smelled clean and fresh after washing. So far I’ve tried several cycles and have seen great results.

It has a quick wash feature. I’m sure this has never happened to you, but my kids will often tell me they need a jersey or pair of shorts on the day of the game. The requested jersey is usually sitting at the bottom of the hamper covered in grass stains and smelling horrible. The quick wash feature on the Samsung Addwash takes about 30 minutes and still gets the clothes clean.

samsung addwash

The Samsung Addwash is 5.0 cu. ft., which makes it one of the largest front load washers on the market. I’d rather do one or two huge loads during the day than multiple small loads. Large loads save me time and money, both of which I would like more of on a regular basis. 🙂

The delicate cycle gets delicates clean without ruining them. I don’t want to spend a ton of money on dry cleaning and I’ve found that many of my hand wash/ dry clean clothes can be successfully washed on the delicate cycle. I usually do one load of delicates a week and then hang them on a rack in the living room to dry. I figure this cycle has saved me hundreds of dollars a year on dry cleaning (between me and my husband) so I love that this Samsung washer has a delicate cycle that is truly easy on your hand wash clothes.

The dryer can keep up with the washer. Having lived in numerous houses (thanks to the Navy) I’ve had the opportunity to try many different brands of washer and dryers. One of my biggest bet peeves is that many dryers aren’t able to keep up with large capacity washers. I find myself running the dryer two times to get a single wash load dry.

The Samsung steam electric dryer does a great job of getting clothes dry and is energy star rated so you spend less on each load.

The steam feature on the Samsung dryer allows you to steam the wrinkles out of clothes, which means less ironing. Let me repeat…. less ironing.

samsung dryer

All these features make this Samsung washer and dryer great appliances, however my absolute favorite feature is the AddWash™ door. If you are like me, laundry goes something like this.

Me: “Everyone bring me your uniforms.”

Kids: Arrive in the laundry room with most of their uniforms.

Me: Starts load of laundry.

Teenage boy: 10 minutes later… “Wait mom, I need this shirt washed for tonight!”

With my other front load washer I would have to stop the load, wait for all the water to drain out (a huge waste), then add the shirt and the load would restart from the beginning. With Samsung AddWash™ technology, simply pause the load, open the AddWash™ door, close the door and restart the wash.

The AddWash™ technology is a game changer for me and I find myself using it with almost every load of laundry.

The Cons

The washer and dryer are both very deep. The dryer is 32 inches deep with an additional 5 inches required for the vent tube. In my long and narrow laundry room this makes for a bit of a tight squeeze. Make sure you measure your laundry space before purchasing any washer or dryer set to make sure it fits.

The pedestal is optional. My last front load machine was stackable, so it wasn’t an issue, but I think the pedestal is really a must have for this set. The pedestal is an additional cost, which is why I’ve listed it as a drawback. I think the set is much better if you don’t have to crouch down to get the laundry in and out.

Overall, I’ve been very pleased with the Samsung AddWash Front-Load Steam Washer and Steam Electric Dryer from hhgregg. This set is energy efficient, has all the cycles I need for my family, and does a great job getting our clothes clean. If you are looking to purchase a new washer and dryer that uses less energy and water while still doing a great job on your clothes visit hhgregg to learn more.

samsung addwash laundry pair

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Items you throw away every day that you can reuse or recycle

This year I have partnered with IKEA to share fun ideas on how you can live a more sustainable life. All opinions are my own. 

Have you wanted to reduce the amount of waste you create every week, but don’t have a lot of time or space to manage the excess?

As someone who loves a clutter-free home, I’m often tempted to throw away anything that I can to keep my house in order. However, I want to be conscious of the environment and repurpose and recycle whenever possible.

How to reuse everyday items in your home.

The key for me is to find systems to help you stay organized while being resourceful. Over the years I’ve come up with several ways to recycle and reuse without filling my house with empty toilet paper rolls and cereal boxes.

IKEA is my favorite place for finding inexpensive items to help keep my home organized. They are stylish, easy to assemble, and are great space savers in the home. Their flat packaging makes them easy to transport home and usually I have my purchases assembled and in use by the end of the day.

In this post you’ll find some of my helpful tips when it comes to reducing waste. These are five items you are probably throwing away, that you could be reusing in your home.


Have you ever tried making your own compost bin? You can make a basic one out of a large plastic trash can with a lid. Before the items make it to the compost bin outside, this cute miniature KNODD can works perfect under the sink in the kitchen to hold items for composting.

How to compost in small spaces

Line the can with a paper bag (recycled from the grocery store) to make clean up easier and instead of scraping food off the plate into the garbage or disposal you can scrape it right into the can under your sink. Once the can is full dump it into the larger compost bin in the yard. Remember to never compost meat or fats.

Dryer sheets

I love they way dryer sheets make my clothes feel, but it seems very wasteful to use them once and throw away. Dryer sheets have a long life after they’ve made your clothes less static-y so save them to use around the home.

My favorite use is to place the used dryer sheet in a pan that has baked-on food. Fill the pan with water and add a used dryer sheet. Let it soak over night and the next morning the baked on food will come right off.

You can also use dryer sheets to dust blinds, keep drawers smelling fresh, and de-stinkify smelly tennis shoes.

how to reuse and recycle old dryer sheets

Store used dryer sheets in a cute container like the FRYCKEN basket in the laundry room or kitchen.


In our house towels go from pristine “guest bathroom condition” to “clean up the dog’s mess condition” in a less than a year. Instead of throwing away our frayed towels I reuse them as cleaning rags around the house.

how to reuse towels around the house to reduce paper waste

I cut large towels in half or thirds for smaller rags and store in OBSERVATÖR bins in the laundry room or kitchen for easy access. Instead of grabbing a paper towel to clean (or clean up a mess) I use a rag which can be easily washed and reused. I keep a bin next to the washer for dirty rags and throw them into the laundry every few days.

How to reduce and reuse every day items in your home.

Glass jars

Instead of throwing away empty glass jars (think spaghetti sauce or pickles) you can repurpose them all around the house. Glass jars are so trendy right now and there are so many ways you can reuse them. Here are some of my favorite ways to reuse glass jars.

ideas for reusing mason jars

• Vase
• Catch all for the laundry room
• Leftovers
• Dry goods
• Drinking glasses
• Craft projects
• Bathroom storage

Store glass jars in a rustic pine KNAGGLIG box on an open shelf or in a cabinet for easy access.

How to compost in small spaces


Paper is easy to recycle with your community program, but it’s also something you can reuse in your home.

Did you know that you can use shredded paper as bedding for your plants? Place a layer of shredded paper in your flower beds and cover with a thin layer of mulch. You’ll save money on mulch and the paper will decompose and fertilize your garden.

how to recycle shredded paper

I keep paper trash in a separate KNODD bin in my office so it doesn’t get contaminated with other garbage. Once a month I shred it and reuse it.

how to reuse shredded paper

The next time you are tempted to throw something away, think about how it can be reused instead. Many times reusing a household item is not only the most sustainable option, it’s a money saving option too!

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

9 Organizing Ideas for a Happy Home

These organizing ideas from a mom of 7 will help you bring order to various areas of your home as well as keep your sanity and have a happy home.

With seven kids, my home has had its share of stuff that needs to be organized. The well known organization motto is, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” But sometimes we need ideas to help us figure out what or where that place should be or how things should go in their place.

These organizing ideas will help you bring order to various areas of your home as well as keep your sanity and have a happy home.

9 Organizing Ideas - Kitchen Towels

1. Organizing Kitchen Towels – Sometimes it is simple tips like this one that make a big difference in keeping  a drawer neat and orderly.

2. Refrigerator Organization – Everyone’s fridge gets cluttered and messy at times. Here are tips to help you get that fridge organized.

9 Organizing Ideas - Using Binders

3. Organizing with Binders – Many things are digital these days, but there are still paper records that need to be organized. Try this idea for using binders to keep financial, health, insurance, and other records in order.

4. Garage Organization – See how we took our garage from a complete wreck to being organized.

9 Organizing Ideas - Toy Storage

5. Toy Organization – This tip is especially good for your young kids.

6. Game Organization – If you are a family who enjoys playing games together, here are some tips for organizing those games.

9 Organizing Ideas - Kids Clothes

7. Organizing Kids Clothes – Children go through clothing sizes quickly sometimes and then there are the different seasons. Here are my tips for organizing kids clothes.

8. Simple Winter Gear Organization – Hats, gloves, scarves, and other winter accessories can quickly get scattered all over the house. This simple idea corrals that winter gear so it’s easy to find when needed.

9 Organizing Ideas - Kids Bedrooms

9. Helping Kids Keep Their Rooms Clean – Set your children up for success by putting systems in place that help them keep their domains under control.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.