Spring Cleaning with Homemade Products

Spring Cleaning Products.jpg

Try these DIY cleaning products to get your home sparkling clean this spring.

As spring approaches, our thoughts are turned to…spring cleaning!  We’ve been cooped up in our houses all winter and we’re ready to see the shine of clean walls, windows, and floors!  But with the plethora of products available, it is difficult to decide on which ones to choose and which ones we can afford!  So the answer is…homemade cleaning solutions. Now is a great time to revive an article written by Carolyn Washburn, a USU professor from Washington County.  Thanks to her list of homemade cleaning products, we can have products that are less expensive, less toxic, and are safe and effective.

Some of the basic supplies needed include baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, borax, cornstarch and salt.  Here are a few of her recipes:

Four recipes for general cleaning:

  • 1 tablespoon ammonia, 1 tablespoon liquid detergent, 2 cups water.
  • 1 cup vinegar, 1 gallon water.
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon borax, hot water.
  • ½ cup ammonia, ¼ cup vinegar, ¼ cup baking soda, 1 gallon water

Five recipes for cleaning windows:

  • ½ cup vinegar and 1 gallon water (2 tablespoons to 1 quart).
  • ½ cup ammonia and 1 gallon water.
  • 1 tablespoon ammonia, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 quart water.
  • 3 tablespoons denatured alcohol, 1 quart water.
  • 3 tablespoons dish detergent and 1 tablespoon “Jet Dry” in ½ pail of water for outdoor windows.

Other cleaning solutions she suggests include:

Baking Soda

Baking soda neutralizes acid-based odors in water and absorbs odors from the air. Sprinkled on a damp sponge or cloth, baking soda can be used as a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser for kitchen countertops, sinks, bathtubs, ovens and fiberglass. For laundry, add up to a cup per load to eliminate perspiration odors and neutralize the smell of chemicals. It is also a useful air freshener and carpet deodorizer.

Vinegar and Lemon Juice

White vinegar and lemon juice are acidic and neutralize alkaline substances such as scale from hard water. They are natural cleaning products as well as disinfectants and deodorizers. Acids dissolve gummy buildup, eat away tarnish and remove dirt from wood surfaces. Vinegar can be used as a softener in laundry cleaning. Lemon juice can be mixed with vinegar and baking soda to make a cleaning paste.


Borax is a natural cleaner and bleach. It can boost other cleaning products, but be cautious when using it since it can cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation. Don’t use borax around food, keep it out of the reach of children and pets and be sure to rinse it out of clothes and off surfaces.


Cornstarch can be used to clean windows, polish furniture and clean carpets. As a window cleaner, use it with water, vinegar and ammonia. To use on stains and to polish, use a mixture of water and cornstarch. Sprinkle on carpets to remove stains and odors.


Salt as a cleaner is one way to be a little “greener” at home. It is inexpensive, does not harm the environment and is readily available. Salt mixtures can remove yellowing, clean tarnish, remove lipstick, get rid of mold and can work as a drain cleaner.

Soap vs. Detergent

Liquid dish soaps and detergents are necessary for cutting grease, but they are not the same thing. Soap is made from fats and lye. Detergents are synthetic materials. Unlike soap, detergents are designed specifically so they don’t react with hard water minerals and cause soap scum. If you have hard water, buy a biodegradable detergent without perfumes. If you have soft water, you can use liquid soap.

Ammonia and Denatured Alcohol

Additional cleaning products are ammonia and denatured alcohol. Be careful not to mix ammonia with a bleach product, as it can produce a harmful gas. These toxic products need to be stored carefully and used in well-ventilated areas. Be sure to keep all homemade formulas labeled and out of the reach of children.

Happy Cleaning!


GaeLynn.jpgThis article was written by GaeLynn Peterson. Gaelynn is a long-time resident of Wayne County where she serves the residents as Utah State University faculty with an emphasis in FCS and 4-H. She has an M.S. in Psychology and has worked with at-risk students before joining the USU family. As a mother of seven and grandmother of 28, she has had a lot of experience working with youth, and she loves it! She enjoys traveling, camping, Lake Powell, and any beach.


Learn more about homemade cleaning products: https://extension.usu.edu/admin/files/uploads/mpp-2009-04-01-s-004.pdf


Transportation, Health and Happiness

Transportation Health.jpgYour commute may be contributing to your well-being. Read on to learn how to turn it into a source of happiness.

Is how you get to work or school serving as a source of stress in your life? According to a study by Portland State University, single-driver commuters were among the least happy in an assessment of commuter well-being (taking into account stress, boredom, congestion, travel time, among other factors) (Smith, 2017). The happiest? Bicycle commuters.

Over 75 percent of U.S. workers drive alone to work, take an average of 25 minutes to get there, and spend much of their time stopped in traffic (McKenzie & Rapino, 2011). Depending on the distance of your commute, in traveling via bicycle, you could save time and money by combining commuting and exercise, finding non-congested routes via bike lanes or trails, and in not having to search and pay for parking.

Worried about affording a bike? Let’s look at the numbers: A bicycle costs $50-200 to maintain annually if ridden 2,000 annual miles, averaging 5-15¢ per mile (VTPI, 2011). In driving a vehicle, however, we accrue operating costs (gas, maintenance and tires) of approximately 19.64 cents per mile (AAA, 2012). With an average total daily driving distance in the U.S. of 29 miles, or just over 50 minutes behind the wheel, this works out to $2,078.89 to operate a vehicle each year; more than 40 times more expensive than operating a bicycle. This estimate doesn’t even include the cost of the vehicle itself or insurance.

Is the environment your top priority? Transportation accounts for 36 percent  of our nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and the largest sector of that is passenger cars (EPA, 2018). Transportation is the highest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the nation (EPA, 2018). Riding a bike as your form of transit directly decreases emissions and helps improve our air quality.

Perhaps you are most worried about your health. Did you know that the health benefits of active transportation can outweigh any risks associated with these activities by as much as 77 to 1? They also add more years to our lives than are lost from inhaled air pollution and traffic injuries (Rojas-Rueda et al., 2011; Jacobsen and Rutter, 2012) Riding a bike is associated with increased:

  • life expectancy
  • cardiovascular fitness
  • strength
  • balance and flexibility
  • endurance and stamina
  • calories burned
  • cognition
  • energy

With improved happiness and health, what is there to lose?

For more information, including how to overcome common bike commuter barriers, see USU Extension’s Biking as an Alternative Mode of Transportation fact sheet, here https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2550&context=extension_curall

This article was written by Roslynn Brain, Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist with USU Extension, Moab


AAA Association Communication. (2012). Your driving costs. Retrieved from: http://exchange.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Your-Driving-Costs-20122.pdf

Alliance for Biking and Walking. (2014). Bicycling and walking in the United States: 2014 benchmarking report. Retrieved from: https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/livable-communities/documents-2014/2014-Bike-Walk-Benchmarking-Report.pdf

Jacobsen, P. & Rutter, H. (2012). Cycling Safety. In Pucher, J., Buehler, R. (Eds.), City Cycling (141-156). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

McKenzie, B., & Rapino, M. (2011, September). Commuting in the United States: 2009. Retrieved from the U.S. Census Bureau:https://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/acs-15.pdf

Rojas-Rueda, D., Nazelle, A.,Tainio, M., & Nieuwenhuijsen, M. (2011, August 4). The health risks and benefits of cycling in urban environments compared with car use: Health impact assessment study. British Medical Journal, 343:d4521.

Smith, O. (2017). Commute well-being differences by mode: Evidence from Portland, Oregon, USA. Journal of Transport & Health, 4, 246-254. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214140516302407#

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2018). Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2016. Retrieved from: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks

Victoria Transport Policy Institute (VTPI). (2011). Transportation cost and benefit analysis II – Vehicle Costs. Retrieved from:http://www.vtpi.org/tca/tca0501.pdf


When to Plant? That is the Question

When to Plant.jpg

Even if it is too early to plant, it’s never too early to start planning your garden. Learn from USU Extension gardening expert Taun Beddes when you can safely plant your vegetable garden.

One day it is sunny and warm, and the next day it is raining and cold. Or in northern Utah, it could even be snowing.

Determining when to plant a garden can be especially confusing in Utah’s unpredictable, varied climate where last-frost dates can vary by many days within just a few miles. Many experienced gardeners have planted and later lost their plants to frost.

As you determine when you should plant, consider the geographic characteristics of where you live. When a yard is located in a populated area or on a mountain bench, it usually has a longer growing season. Other areas located at slightly lower elevations where cold air drains and cannot escape have a shorter season. This is why local commercial orchards are generally located on benches. Additionally, urban and suburban areas are slightly warmer than surrounding areas due to the urban heat effect. Heat from buildings and warmth generated by sunlight reflected from roads and other surfaces increases temperatures and delays frost. It can be helpful to chat with a local farmer or experienced gardener in your area to determine what works for him or her regarding when to plant.

In addition to frost information, it is important to take into account the needs of the plants. Vegetables planted locally fall into four basic categories: hardy, semi-hardy, tender and very tender. Depending on which category a plant belongs to, planting dates vary from early spring until early summer. Consider the following:

  • Hardy vegetables, including asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, onions, peas and spinach, can be planted as soon as the soil is workable in early spring. This usually ranges between 45 and 60 days before the average last frost. These same vegetables can be safely planted until the average last frost date.
  • Semi-hardy plants, such as beets, carrots, lettuce and potatoes, can be planted one to two weeks after the hardy group. These can be planted until the average last-frost date.
  • Tender vegetables, such as celery, cucumbers, corn and most beans, should be planted on the average last-frost date.
  • Very tender plants, such as squash, beans, melons, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, should not be planted until at least a week after the average last frost. Even if frost does not occur before this time, these plants will not grow well and are more susceptible to disease until warmer weather.

If you have lost plants to frost, you are not alone, and all you can do is try again.

Average Frost Dates for Various Utah Locations (Note that these dates are averages and can vary from year to year.)
        Frost Dates
City Last First Frost-Free Days
Alpine May 20 September 30 136
Blanding May 13 October 12 153
Cedar City May 10 October 5 148
Delta May 17 September 28 134
Farmington May 5 October 10 158
Fillmore May 16 October 4 140
Huntsville June 11 September 9  89
Kanab May 7 October 20 166
Lake Town June 15 September 10  87
Logan May 14 September 25 135
Morgan June 6 September 11 98
Moroni June 1 September 18 109
Ogden May 1 October 24 176
Park City June 9 September 1  92
Price May 12 October 7 148
Roosevelt May 18 September 25 130
Spanish Fork May 1 October 13 165
St. George April 6 October 28 205
Tooele May 7 October 14 159
Tremonton May 3 October 10 160

This article was written by Taun Beddes, Utah State University Extension horticulturist, 801-851-8460, taun.beddes@usu.edu

Three Tips for Tree Planting

Tree Planting Tips.jpgTrees are an integral part of landscaping, and it’s important to know the basics of starting them out right so they will flourish for many years to come. Here are answers to three frequently asked questions about tree planting.

When is the best time of year to plant?

Trees are best planted when they are still dormant with tight, unopened buds in the early to mid-spring after the soil has thawed. Cool temperatures and good soil moisture in the spring help trees get established. Fall planting also works well for many species, though watering is critical if the fall is dry. Summer planting of balled-and-burlapped and container plants can be successful, though hot temperatures, dry conditions and non-dormant trees make good care especially important and survival less sure. Bare-root trees should only be planted in spring while still dormant.

Which type of tree is best?

Landscape trees and shrubs can be obtained in four basic types: balled and burlapped, container/potted, bare root and tree spaded. Each type has advantages and disadvantages, and none is ideal for all situations. Bare-root trees have the most naturally formed root system and are less expensive, but they are not commonly available from nurseries. Balled and burlapped trees work well because they have been grown for several years in soil and are more likely to have a well-distributed root ball than potted trees. Potted or containerized trees are most likely to develop root system problems such as girdling roots and buried root collars. Spaded trees grow well but are not always available.

How large does the root ball need to be?

All four types need to have an adequate root system. A good rule of thumb is that the root system, root ball or container diameter or spread should be 10 to 12 inches for every inch of stem caliper (diameter at ground-line just above any basal swell). Therefore, a 3-inch caliper tree should have a 30 to 36-inch-wide root ball as a minimum. Root ball depth is not as critical as width, but should be deeper for larger trees.

For further information on planting trees and general tree information, visit forestry.usu.edu.

This article was written by Mike Kuhns, Utah State University Extension forestry specialist, 435-797-4056, mike.kuhns@usu.edu

Ask an Expert // Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables



Storing FruitHave you been to a farmers market yet this year? Whether it’s from a farmers market or a grocery store, don’t let that fresh produce spoil on your counter. Here are some tips on how to store fruits and vegetables so they last longer. 

One of the benefits of shopping at farmers markets is the fruits and vegetables are often fresher than those at most grocery stores. Much of the produce was picked within a couple of days, or even hours of the market. Fresher fruits and vegetables will last a little longer before they begin to spoil. But, there are also some additional things you can do at home to help your produce last even longer. Follow these fruit and vegetable storage recommendations to reduce the amount of produce that spoils before you can use it.  Use this chart to identify fruits and vegetables that spoil the quickest and be sure to use those first.

Storing Fruits and Veggies

This article was written by Heidi LeBlanc, Food $ense State Director, and Casey Coombs, RD, CD; Policy, Systems, and Environments Coordinator, Utah State University Food $ense


Menu Planning Around Farmers Market Selection

Menu Planning Farmers MarketHow do you plan your weekly menu and shop at your local farmers market, without knowing what exactly you might find there? Follow these tips to help you plan a more flexible menu, and and take advantage of the fresh local produce at the farmers market.

Farmers markets are known for offering an ever-changing variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Although variety is a benefit of shopping at local farmers markets, it can be difficult and overwhelming to come up with a menu for the week without knowing beforehand what will be available. Yet, being flexible allows you to choose the produce that looks the best and is offered at a good price.  Below are some tips for planning meals around the unpredictable availability at the farmers market.

  1. Reverse your menu planning schedule. Shop at the market first, then build a menu for the week based on what you purchased. This will also help ensure that you use what you bought, reducing food waste.
  2. Plan the non-vegetable portion of the meal, and then add the vegetables after seeing what looks best at the market.
  3. Have a general sense of when different fruits and vegetables are usually in season and  available. Plan your menu with at least two different options and then buy the one that is offered at the best price.
  4. Bring your menu to the market. If there is something that looks great, but isn’t in your plan revise your menu on the spot to incorporate it.
  5. Include some meals that use a wide variety of produce in like stir-fry, soup, or omelets.
  6. Be open to making last minute substitutions to your favorite recipe. Here are some ideas of fruits and vegetables that are good substitutions for each other.
Recipe calls for Try this instead
Apples Pears, grapes, cherries
Beets Radishes, turnips, rutabaga, potatoes
Blueberries Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, pitted cherries
Broccoli Cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts
Cucumbers Zucchini, celery
Zucchini Yellow squash, patty pan squash, eggplant
Potatoes Carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, rutabaga, turnips
Spinach Kale, Swiss chard, bok choy
Onions Shallots, leeks, scallions
Peaches Nectarines, plums, pears

This article was written by Heidi LeBlanc, Food $ense State Director, and Casey CoombsRD, CD; Policy, Systems, and Environments Coordinator, Utah State University Food $ense, 

Mother’s Day // Honoring the Women in Your Life


Mother's DayMother’s Day is coming right up. Try some of these thoughtful ideas to celebrate mom, grandma, and all the influential women in your life. 

Mother’s Day has been a tradition since the 1860s when Ann Jarvis created a committee to establish a “Mother’s Friendship Day” and was nationally recognized in 1914 by a proclamation signed by Woodrow Wilson.  It is a great way to honor those who gave us life, nurtured us and helped us on our way through life. It is usually celebrated in May in the United States. So how can we let these wonderful women know of our love and appreciation?  Here are a few ideas you might try or adapt.

For Your Mom or Grandma- After You Have Left the Nest

When children grow up and leave home, it is very hard for their moms. They still worry about their children, and miss all the fun times and meaningful interactions they had together.

Creating an “All about Mom” questionnaire can be a way to remind your mom how much you love her, and of all the good she has done. Not only does this gift come from the heart, but it’s simple to do and can to involve everyone. Try one of these questionnaires:

All About Mom from One She Two She

All About Mom or Grandma from The Crafting Chicks

Try having all your siblings fill out the same questionnaire (be sure to send them the questionnaire in plenty of time before Mother’s Day). You can present the completed questionnaires to your mom or grandma on Mother’s Day along with her favorite treat or flowers. Another idea is to roll up all the questionnaires, tie a ribbon around them and attach a little bag of Hershey’s Hugs and Kisses.

From Mom, to the Kids

Sometimes on Mother’s Day we leave the rest of the family out of the celebration.  Recognizing and sharing with your family why you love being a mother to them can strengthen your parent-child relationships, build lasting bonds, and remind you why you are glad to be a mother. You can use this form to write to each of your children, young or old, telling them why you love being their mom or grandma. Roll it up and tie it with a ribbon, then attach a treat such as Sweetrts. Here’s a printable tag you can attach as well. Mother's Day 2

Download Happy Mother’s Day.. From Me! Form Mother's Day TagsDownload Printable Tags

For Other Women who have Influenced You 

For many women, motherhood may not be a role they have had. They may not have become mothers for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they may have never married or not been able to bear children. They may be a neighbor, close friend, aunt, teacher, etc.  Mother’s Day can be a painful reminder of not being a mother. These women often play a vital role in the nurturing and “mothering” of other’s children.

Create a similar questionnaire and fill it out or have your children fill it out for the person who is special to you.  You could also take a picture of them with your children, frame it and have your children write a special note to them.  Write a letter telling them how they have impacted your life, and let them know of your love for them.  You could top it off by inviting them over for a meal or special party to honor them.

For After Your Mother is Gone

After my mother died, it was hard to celebrate Mother’s Day without her, so I decided to reach out to some wonderful aunts of mine who I had interacted with during my growing up years. I purchased Mother’s Day Cards, and wrote a note telling them of my love for them.  I was surprised at how many of them responded back about how much my thoughts had touched them.  Some other ideas you might consider:

  •    Send a note of remembrance to a someone who has lost their mother.  This might help the child be reminded of the fine person their mother was, lessons she taught them or what wonderful characteristics they have inherited from her.
  •    Send Mother’s Day notes or cards to neighbors who you love but are not your own mother. You may want to recount a fond memory and thank them for their influence on your life.

Mother’s Day Brunch Fruit Dip

Melted white chocolate is blended into cream cheese and lightened up with fresh whipped cream in this effortless, delicious fruit dip! Perfect for serving at Mother’s Day brunch.


  •    ¼ cup milk
  •    4 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
  •    8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (very important!)
  •    ¼ cup sugar
  •    ½ cup heavy cream
  •    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •    Fresh fruit (berries, apple slices, pineapple wedges, kiwi fruit, etc.)


  1.     Heat milk until hot but not boiling. Whisk in white chocolate until melted and totally smooth. Set aside to cool.
  2.     In a large bowl, beat sugar into cream cheese. Mix the white chocolate mixture into the cream cheese mixture.
  3.     In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream and vanilla until soft (not stiff) peaks form. Gently fold this whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.
  4.     Cover and chill for at least 4 hours (to overnight). Serve with fresh fruit dippers, and/or vanilla wafers, graham crackers, etc.


If the cream cheese is not completely at room temperature, the melted white chocolate will re-solidify into little chunks once you mix the two together.

Pretzel Flowers

These tasty little flowers would make a cheery gift, and this recipe would be a great one to make with children.


  • Pretzel twists or squares
  • White chocolate pieces or candy melts
  • M&M candies


Heat oven to 200 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange pretzels on parchment, and place one candy melt on top of each pretzel. Warm in oven for 2 minutes, or until candy melt is soft, but not melted through the pretzel. Place M&Ms on top of the candy melt in a circle to make a flower shape Let cool for an hour or two before storing in an airtight container.

Microwave Instructions: 

Place pretzels topped with candy melts on a paper plate and melt in microwave at 50 percent power for 30-50 seconds.  Arrange M&M candies on top in a flower shape. Let cool for an hour or two before storing in an airtight container.


This article was written by Marilyn Albertson – Extension Associate Professor – Family & Consumer Sciences, Salt Lake County

Fruit dip recipe from http://oneshetwoshe.com/2014/04/white-chocolate-cheesecake-fruit-dip.html

Giveaway // Baby Animal Days at the USU Botanical Center

Baby Animal Days Blog ImageBring your family to see the adorable baby animals at the USU Botanical Center, Mother’s Day weekend, May 12 & 13. Read on for a coupon code, and enter to win a family pass to the event!

Spring is here, and so are Baby Animal Days at the USU Botanical Center in Kaysville! Individual tickets and family passes are available now, and include one FREE horse ride and one FREE miniature train ride, with additional rides available for purchase. There will be reptiles, sheep shearing demos and food vendors.

Proceeds from the event support 4-H programs and the botanical gardens. Events will happen rain or shine, and refunds will not be given due to inclement weather.

Kaysville Baby Animal Days Show Schedule

Friday, May 12
3:00PM – Sheep Shearing
3:30pm – Wild Wonders
4:00pm – Scales and Tails
5:00pm – Goat Milking
5:30pm – Sheep Shearing
6:30pm – Wild Wonders
7:00pm –  Scales and Tails

Saturday, May 13
11:00am – Sheep Shearing
12:00pm – Wild Wonders
1:00pm – Scales and Tails
2:00pm – Sheep Shearing
3:00pm – Wild Wonders
4:00pm – Scales and Tails
4:30pm – Goat Milking
5:00pm – Sheep Shearing

We’ve got a discount code especially for you Live Well Utah readers. Use code blog5 for $5 off your purchase, and enter to win a family pass good for Friday or Saturday. Giveaway ends May 9 at 12 midnight, and the winner will be notified Wednesday, May 10.

Enter Giveaway

Buy Tickets


For more information, visit babyanimaldays.org.

Celebrate Earth Day with Sustainable Change

Earth DayEarth day is this Saturday, April 22, and you may want to celebrate by making a sustainable change. Try these tips to help you continue sustainable behaviors and influence your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers to make sustainable changes as well.

As Earth Day approaches, many begin dreaming up ways to live and help others live more sustainably. But change— like vowing to start bringing your own bags to the store, biking to work, or visiting the farmers market more often— is hard. Adding to the complexity is the fact that the reason most people say they engage in environmental behaviors is actually quite different from reality. It turns out that norms (the influence of others) is generally the highest influence on our behavior. How shocking! None of us wants to admit we are influenced by others, but regardless of how passionate we feel about the environment, if others around us are engaging in similar behaviors, we are much more likely to do so. The good news is that you can use tools like this to your advantage!

Going back to biking to work as an example (you could also plug in taking the bus or train, walking, or carpooling), why is it so difficult to make the switch from driving your car? Well, let’s break this down into a barrier-benefit analysis. When driving your car, what barriers do you experience? For example: stress, feelings of anger and frustration sitting in traffic, loneliness, wasted money by idling in stopped traffic or while parked, vehicle maintenance costs, parking pass costs, etc. What are your perceived benefits? Possibly independence, freedom to make your own schedule, etc. Now let’s look at biking. What are your perceived barriers? They could be safety, understanding traffic laws for biking, bad weather, etc. What are your perceived benefits?  Examples could be combining physical activity and your commute into one, increased happiness, cardiovascular fitness, strength, balance and flexibility, cognition, energy, etc.

In helping influence sustainable change, you may be tempted to share the reality of how many drivers commute alone each day with your friends, family and colleagues. Unfortunately, given the power of norms, this will have an adverse impact, likely causing more people to engage in the behavior because everyone else is doing it. Instead, as a wise marketer, you should emphasize the barriers of the behavior you wish to discourage, and emphasize the benefits of the behavior you wish to encourage, all while removing as many of the barriers of the behavior you wish to encourage as possible. From here, you will test and then employ a set of marketing tools to increase your likelihood of success. These tools can include:

Prompts: Best for repetitive behaviors like bringing your own bags to the store or turning off lights. These should be as close to the behavior as possible, such as an air freshener designed by youth reminding parents “It’s your Turn, Turn it off” to cut down on idling in front of schools.

Commitment: Start small. Small commitments of a related nature can be followed up with bigger asks. For example, your kids might ask you to commit to turning off and unplugging electronics when not in use and place a “in our house, we power down” sticker on your car. Then, you are much more likely to seriously consider a larger related behavior in a future ask, like exploring solar panels.

Norms: These are the most influential of all tools. Be sure to focus on the norm you wish to create. You should both model the behavior you are advocating and try to make the behavior visible. Composting is generally kept to people’s backyards, but if you want to encourage your entire neighborhood to compost, you could talk to each of your neighbors about composting, the benefits, how you overcame barriers experienced, where to purchase needed materials, seek a commitment that they will begin composting, follow up with your neighbors, and administer stickers for everyone’s visible recycle bins that say “_[insert neighborhood name]__ Neighborhood Composter.” This creates a visible neighborhood norm where others will want to join in when they see their neighbors engaged in the behavior.

Convenience: Make engaging in your behavior as easy as possible. For example, do not place the recycle bin far away from the trash unless you wish for contamination in both. Place the bins side-by-side ideally with different colors (blue for recycling), clear labels, and for an added bonus, call the trash “landfill” for a more accurate visual of the end-state result.

Communication: Catchy phrases and tapping into popular culture can do wonders for your change efforts. If you want your young kids to remember to turn off the lights, you could place a “smiley” sticker next to the “off” position, a “sad” sticker next to the on position, and positively reinforce them when they turn the lights when leaving a room.

Incentives: These can extend beyond financial— get creative! Just be sure not to take the incentive away too soon once introduced or the behavior may not remain changed. Some grocery stores offer five cents off for each reusable bag used by customers— this is a good incentive. Another example of an incentive is a bike rack located right next to building entryways. Front row parking may entice more people to ride their bike to work or school, especially when combined with limited or expensive parking.

Interested in learning more? Check out this Primer in Community-Based Social Marketing that you can use to help foster change in your own household, neighborhood, community, and even state. This is based off of Doug McKenzie-Mohr’s great work of Fostering Sustainable Behaviors (2013).

Want to further explore biking as an alternative mode of transportation? Check out this view the fact sheet. Looking forward to seeing you on the bike path!

This article was written by Roslynn Brain, Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist with USU Extension, Moab

Less is More: 3 Tips to Spring Clean Your Life


Spring Clean Your LifeDo you find yourself surrounded with clutter? Try these three tips to spring clean your life and clear away some of the clutter.

Ahhh…Spring!  A time of re-birth, baby animals, green grass, flowers and budding trees; basically a season for renewal all around. Historically, spring was the time homemakers cleaned the winter coal soot off the wall coverings and fixtures of their homes. A deep clean on the inside of the home, no doubt, reflected the freshness of the season outside. Here’s my deep thought for you today: What kind of “coal soot” is covering your “insides?” Don’t worry—this isn’t about colon cleanses or detoxifying your diet. It’s bigger than that. I’m talking about clutter.

Clutter is all around us; our lives are cluttered with words, images, data, sounds and STUFF. Big stuff, little stuff, stuff we don’t even remember we have because it is buried under other stuff or stuffed into boxes of stuff. Clutter is our generation’s “coal soot.”  We bring it into our lives to fill a need, be it emotional or physical. But for some reason we let it stay long after the need has been filled. My challenge to you is to clear the clutter and spring clean your life.  Here’s how:

  1. Create a baseline.  Just like in budgeting or weight loss or any habit change, it’s difficult to make changes unless you have a good idea of what’s happening to begin with.  For example, assess your clutter. Is it mostly clothes, toys, papers, tools or books?  Start by bringing all of the same type of item together in one place.  Start small, say, with shirts.  Get all your shirts in one pile.
  1. Assess the value.  Now that you have all your shirts (or whatever item you’ve chosen to start with) go through the pile one by one.  Evaluate whether each item brings you joy.
  1. Keep, trash, donate, or sell.  Your number one goal is to only keep the items that are bringing you the most joy and the rest you can send on its way.  And it’s okay! There will be lots of items that have good use left in them. But if you’re not using them, do what you can to get the items into the hands of someone who will.

Less truly is more.  The tiny house movement really might be onto something!  When we own less, we have less to clean and less to trip over in the dark – just think of the health benefits!  Not to mention the potential to lift moods and bring harmony into a home; can you imagine a weekend without nagging your kids to clean their bedrooms? Fewer items to put away paired with habits of giving every item a “home” creates an opportunity for neatness.

Now, I’ll share a few cautions:

  1. Beware of the temptation of storage bins.  While the storage industry has made leaps and bounds in developing items that are fashionable and attractive, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need them.  After you’ve decreased the number of belongings, you might just realize you don’t need so many bins and pockets and cubbies to hide things in so your home has the appearance of tidiness. Tidiness is a natural result of owning less.
  2. Evaluate your buying habits and motivations.  As you are letting go of things you no longer need, think about why you purchased/acquired the items to begin with. If there are habits you need to change, apply those habits to future purchases and learn from the experience.
  1. Be kind to yourself. You’ll no doubt have some misgivings about the items you’re letting go of. The money spent on those items is gone, and guilt over making a purchase you didn’t necessarily use responsibly or no longer need isn’t worth it.

The feeling of a lifted burden is invigorating and refreshing. Kind of like spring… and cleaning the coal soot out.

This article was written by Rebecca Mills, Extension assistant professor in family consumer sciences and 4-H youth development


Kondo, M. (2014). The life-changing magic of tidying up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. New York: Ten Speed Press.