If you have a backyard compost pile, it's obvious to many people that items like bones, meat and used cooking oil should never be tossed in, because they attract pests and can ruin a compost's moisture balance. But there are other never-add items that you may not know about: Sawdust, for example, comes from trees and seems compostable, but unless you know how the lumber was treated, you should not add it, since there may be chemical residue. Dead houseplants should also be avoided, because you could be adding disease to the compost. And finally, walnuts: They have a natural chemical called juglone that is toxic to plants. So adding walnuts to compost used in a garden could act like a herbicide over time.
Do you have a closet full of unwanted clothes and a charitable cause you care about deeply? The website fashionproject.com helps take out all the work and fuss of setting up an online site to sell these items. In just a few simple steps, the website helps you design and build your own personal fundraising campaign. It helps you tell your story, personalize it with your own photos and set up a shop where people can buy your items. You can also just fill up a donation bag and send it to the site free of charge. It will photograph, upload, sell and ship your unwanted clothes and give the money to the charitable cause of your choice. Learn more at fashionproject.com.
Want to know if your home is using too much energy compared to homes that are similar in size in your part of the country? You can hire an auditor to come and analyze it for a fee, or you can do it yourself for free with help from the Environmental Protection Agency's Home Energy Yardstick. All you need to know is your ZIP code, square footage of your house, number of occupants, types of energy sources (electricity, gas, etc.) and have the last 12 months of utility bills for the house (which you can also get from your utility companies). The online tutorial will take you through the process, and it'll give you an audit score. It will also give you information on how much energy you use for heating and cooling, cooking, lighting and hot water. Plus, it provides tips to lower your bills, improve comfort and increase your home's score. Do it at energystar.gov.