Photo by Evie Sears
By: Gabby Hayes
Wearing makeup is a simple way to build confidence. A dash of concealer and a swipe of mascara are common accessories in today’s society. However, makeup has been around since the beginning of time; from using natural resources to concoctions of all sorts of chemicals, the world of cosmetics has endured many advancements. It’s easy to think of makeup palettes and bronzer as a modern-day invention; on the contrary, it all began in Ancient Egypt.
Makeup was so commonly found in Ancient Egypt that even statues of Gods and structures with human motif decorations were adorned with cosmetic paints. These cosmetics were not only used to enhance physical appearance, but they also had practical uses, ritual functions and symbolic meanings.
The Egyptians thickly lined their eyes with kohl, a black powdery substance made from galena ore, and used different colored mineral powders as eyeshadow. The look was completed with red ochre mixed with fat or gum resin to color the cheeks and lips.
The Egyptians utilized chalk paints and white lead pigment to paint all over the body. These full-body paintings were used by nobles who expressed their power and status through the pale color on their skin.
Black and green paints were commonly found on the eyes of the Ancient Egyptians. Heavy application of kohl around the eyes would have helped to reduce glare from the desert sun, while malachite powder was used to make green paint which was applied to make the eyes appear larger.
The Egyptians set the stage for makeup and cosmetic use; so much so that many of their practices became staples for centuries. Rosy lips can be seen throughout history and pale skin has been viewed as a high beauty standard for many periods.
Queen Victoria reigned in Britain from 1819-1901, leading the cosmetic world down a dangerous path.Whereas the Ancient Egyptians utilized makeup for practical reasons, the Victorians valued physical appearance so highly that women often resorted to harming themselves in pursuit of aesthetics.
For a look called “The Painted Lady,” women would aim for paper white skin, rosy cheeks and doe eyes. Tuberculosis was rampant in this era, which led to the Victorians romanticizing the effects of a disease that left a path of devastation and death. Ghostly skin with apparent veins, unnatural thinness, bright red cheeks and watery eyes were the beauty standard; and symptoms of tuberculosis.
To exude their status and youthfulness, women would dust their faces with zinc oxide, a white mineral compound. Their skincare routine was one of chemicals and danger ; an opium face mask was to be applied at night, followed by a chemical ammonia rinse the next day. Although some women dropped citrus juice or perfume into their eyes to achieve a watery look, it was common to use belladonna drops made from the poisonous belladonna plant.
Like the Egyptians, the Victorian era put emphasis and value on its beauty standards. While some practices of this time sound like death in a bottle, the backbone of cosmetics stayed the same; showcase class and power while appealing to the male gaze. This goal of cosmetics can be seen throughout decades.
Following the end of WWII, the 50s were a time of vibrancy and versatility. Rationing and devastation came to an end and the economy prospered. Along with bright-colored kitchen appliances, funky couches and poodle skirts came colorful makeup looks.
The end of the war allowed for the luxury cosmetics industry to take off when people had more spending money.The doe-eyed look from the Victorian era was trendy throughout history but the 50s put a new spin on it: cat-winged eyeliner. Women experimented with the cat-eye look, sporting variations from striking and flared to muted and chic.
A strong eyebrow arch with a decent thickness that tapered at the end was also ideal for women during this time.The iconic Marylin Monroe set the stage for a sultry look by making bright red lips a staple of the 50s.
A time of experimentation, the 50s allowed the luxury cosmetic industry to flourish. Not only were these looks popping for the time, but they impacted the world of makeup forever. From the cat-eye shape to arched brows, many of the 1950s makeup trends are replicated in the modern-day.
For decades makeup has been used as a way to express power and live up to a beauty standard for both men and women. While it still acts as a crutch for beauty ideals to stand on,the world of cosmetics has evolved into a melting pot of self-expression. With an endless number of styles and aesthetics, there’s never a dull moment when it comes to a glamorous look. Today, makeup is an art form, which is a perspective that the people of the past couldn’t dream of.
Makeup trends often resemble looks from previous times; Marylin Monroe set the stage for cosmetic empowerment, showing women to own their bodies and express themselves however they see fit. The Egyptians created eyeliner and the Victorians gave us rosy red cheeks. Despite the drastic advancements that have already been made, the evolution of makeup is far from over.
Image from Google
By: Jordan Schmitt, Editor in Chief
As society grows more representational of minoritized groups, genders, sexual orientations, and backgrounds, so does its governmental system. The U.S. is currently witnessing an increased amount of people from marginalized communities transitioning to positions of power.
According to the Pew Research Center, the 117th Congress is the most diverse so far, with about 23% of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate members composed of racial and ethnic minorities. Non-white lawmakers are increasing, but there is still a need for more diverse voices in government. It is essential for officials to look, think, talk and act like the citizens that they represent in order for a democracy to truly be “for the people.”
The lack of political representation seeps into systemic inequality, which is unfortunately built into every corner of American society. Systemic inequality describes the structured biases that permeate all societal systems, institutions and governments that cause marginalized groups to face unfair disadvantages.
Due to the United States’ history of slavery and oppression, systemic
inequality is still embedded in modern-day culture, and as a result, disproportionately affects Black Americans.
As more instances of brutality and oppression toward the Black community are documented, racial issues in America are becoming increasingly recognized. Although this has been the reality for African Americans for much of history, advancements in technology and social media allow for such events to be recorded, and therefore, gain awareness in seconds. In the summer of 2020, protests in response to the murders of Black Americans, such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor flooded the nation’s smallest towns and largest cities.
Through advanced rhetoric surrounding structural oppression in U.S. institutions, more attention has been placed on the elected officials who acknowledge systemic inequality.
Political-heavy issues such as health care, education, minimum wage, immigration, police violence, and criminal justice reform all contribute to further oppression of minorities. By electing more individuals who have firsthand experience of how these issues disproportionately affect specific communities, progress is more often made toward reform.
Jamaal Bowman, a Black middle-school principal from New York, was recently elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for New York’s 16th Congressional District. His district covers much of the Bronx and Westchester County.
In response to his Nov. 3, 2020 victory over long-term Republican incumbent Patrick McManus, Bowman tweeted: “I’m a Black man raised by a single mother in a housing project. That story doesn’t usually end in Congress.” Bowman was also recently appointed to Vice Chair of the House Committee of Education and Labor.
There is also an increased need for the opinions of Hispanic individuals in legislature. For example, the Latino population makes up 10% of Nebraska’s population, yet, there is not a single Hispanic lawmaker in the Nebraskan legislature. From a national perspective, about 19% of the U.S. population is Hispanic, but only 9% of the House of Representatives’ population represents Hispanic members.
Linda Trautman is an associate professor of political science at Ohio University. Teaching at the university since 2005, Trautman specializes in state and national legislative politics, electoral participation and voting behavior, and urban governance and American public policy.
“Efforts to increase minority representation is of paramount importance in order to fulfill the vision of an inclusive democracy and to reduce inequities in society. A lack of minority representation impedes the advocacy of “policy interests” of underrepresented groups. Diverse perspectives are essential to enrich political, social and cultural dialogues that often ignore the realities of minorities,” Trautman said.
Gender also comes into play for lack of equal representation and intersects with race in politics. It is no surprise that U.S. politics has been a “boy’s club,” specifically white males, since the country’s founding. America has recently witnessed the historic election of Kamala Harris, as the highest-ranking female official in U.S. history and the first African American and Asian American vice president.
However, disparity remains when it comes to women in politics, but this is a significant step for women of color. It was not until 1993, that a Black woman was elected to Senate, Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois. Vice President Harris was only second to Moseley Braun as an African American woman in the Senate.
“I’ve always maintained that Black people and women suffer from a presumption of incompetence. The burdens of proof are different. It just gets so tiresome,” Moseley Braun said.
It has been shown that the two-party system highly favorites incumbents, which are typically positions held by men. Therefore, women are generally more likely to be elected to Congress in open-seat elections. American women have also voted higher on average than men for the past four decades – which debunks the myth that men are more politically aware than their female counterparts.
Things are gradually improving. In 2019, the Nevada legislature was constituted by a majority of women, which was the first time in U.S. history that women held the majority of any state legislature. The continued election of women is necessary to improve political equality among other minoritized populations.
There is also an increased need for political figures outside of heteronormative representation among gender identities and sexual orientations. The gender binary involves the system in which all people are classified within two opposing genders, and it is reinforced throughout society. Individuals with identities outside of the gender binary have frequently been neglected from the political landscape.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund is a political action committee that aims to increase the amount of openly LGBTQ individuals in U.S. politics. It is imperative for such organizations to support minorities who have received historical discrimination to join in representative positions. Sarah McBride won the Delaware State Senate race last November, and in doing so became the country’s highest-ranking transgender official and first openly transgender senator. On the night McBride was elected, she stated:
“It is my hope that a young LGBTQ kids here in Delaware or really anywhere in this country can look at the results and know that our democracy is big enough for them, too.”
Although these instances of hope for our representative system are growing more comprehensive, there is still much work to be done. It is crucial that all individuals continue to become aware of the disparities within our government, and support minoritized individuals. We must continue holding policy-makers accountable for supporting the lives of of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, disabled persons, and other segments of the population who are the recipients of structural oppression. In doing so, the room for more representation within the political system can only expand.
Photo by Julie Graham
By: Ellie Roberto, Executive Editor
What’s the first brand that comes to mind when you think of “luxury?” Louis Vuitton? Chanel? Fendi? If you answered with one of these brands, you’d be correct. However, can a subjective concept such as luxury really be defined?
Before the end of the 20th century, luxury fashion houses dictated what consumers wore and the trends they followed. If a woman could afford Chanel in the 1950s, she would most likely wear head-to-toe Chanel almost daily. It’s rare today to see someone walk down the street wearing entirely one brand. Instead, people tend to express themselves through a variety of brands and often become major influencers for large fashion houses.
For years, luxury has been considered to be at the height of fashion, worn by members of high society and seen on the runways in Paris and Milan, but much like the word wealth, luxury can mean many things to different people. Over time, high-end fashion, or luxury fashion, has grown to include Off White hoodies, Yeezy t-shirts and Nike sneakers, which in previous years, would not have fit into the exclusive definition of luxury.
Over forty years ago, a group of European luxury brands created the luxury strategy; a marketing strategy designed to expand luxury brands’ consumer base beyond their few exclusive clientele while maintaining their places in the luxury sector. The luxury strategy contains 24 anti-laws of marketing that cement an exclusive definition of luxury in the eyes of the consumer. The anti-laws include, “Make it difficult for clients to buy,” “Luxury sets the price; price does not set luxury” and “Keep raising the average price of the product range.”
In tandem with the messages expressed in these anti-laws, some high-end brands have gone as far as burning their excess inventory to maintain their products’ exclusivity and avoid being sold in outlet stores. One of the luxury brands most known for destroying their products is Burberry; however, in 2018, the company announced it would stop destroying unsold stock.
Luxury products are associated with durability, high-prices, craftsmanship, heritage and rarity. Some see luxury as only attainable by the happy few. In a 2011 blog, Vogue Italian editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani echoed some of these attributes in her definition of luxury: “Craftsmanship is luxury. A product is lux when it is handmade, tailored for few. Luxury meaning exclusiveness.”
Brands with a deep-rooted history, such as Chanel and Hermès, reside in this common definition of luxury; however, those definitions of luxury reflect old world, elitist principles. They lack reference to the bottom-up influence we see in the fashion world today and the representation of variety in human experience, This is why the definition of luxury is shifting; it’s a threat to high-end retailers and brands.
The key idea of luxury is exclusivity, but it’s being diversified with mass production as more and more brands offer the quality experience of other high-end items, often at lower prices. To maintain relevance to the modern consumer, traditional luxury brands must find a way to merge streetwear with their already defined historical image that will appeal to the new generation of luxury fashion buyers.
Social media and technology have changed the speed at which consumers find and purchase fashionable items. In the digital world, it’s easy to view collections from multiple designers simultaneously, allowing one to pick and choose who they shop from.
On Instagram, Tik Tok and Snapchat, users can watch haute couture runway shows virtually and then mimic what they see on the runway in their own ways using other luxury or non-luxury items. This creates diversity in individualized, luxury-like styles that are fresh, rebellious or fun. The old luxury was material things, while the new luxury is more abstract and includes how clothes make people feel.
Luxury is a pleasure. With this new inclusive definition in mind, can it be said that eating an extra slice of cheese pizza at midnight is luxe? Or hitting play on another Netflix series episode? Aren’t these considered exclusive experiences too? What can be luxury? Louis Vuitton menswear artistic director and CEO of Off-White, Virgil Abloh, has an answer to this question. He says, “If you covet it, it’s luxurious to you. For a 17-year old kid, that Supreme t-shirt is their Louis Vuitton. It doesn’t matter if it’s $30.”
The modern definition of luxury is desire, and it’s not exclusive.
By Madison Salyer, Editor-in-Chief
As another year of Variant comes to a close, so does my time at the
magazine. Being a member of Variant for four years has made my OU experience truly amazing, and as I say goodbye to my position, I think about the generation before me and the generations to come after.
Variant was created to acknowledge and celebrate our differences as individuals, and I am proud to say we continue to commit to these values.
When Variant first started, it focused primarily on fashion. Now, four years later, we’ve expanded to also touch on cultural and social issues, our experiences as college students and more.
In “Power of Representation,” (pg. 11) Jordan Schmitt, educates readers on issues that minorities face as they relate to the U.S. political system as well as the positive changes that are currently being made in our nation.
In this issue, Variant also shines a light on the individual experiences that impact one’s sense of power. Sophia Daugherty Muñoz, shares her story of finding hope while battling an eating disorder in “Consumed,” (pg. 5). As Variant continues to grow even after I graduate, we won’t forget where it all began.
Variant would not be here without the creative community within Athens which inspires and supports us constantly. It is because of people like Phil Berry, mentioned in “The Heart of Small Towns” (pg. 15) by Jorja Butt, that we feel at home.
Overall, this was a difficult year that caused many changes and obstacles, but Variant has come out stronger as a team, and I am pleased to be a part of this diversified group of talented young people. As the world progresses, I am confident that Variant will continue to learn, grow and produce content to empower all people. As our copy chief Ellie Roberto says, “The modern definition of luxury is desire, and it’s not exclusive (pg. 1).
By: Ellie Roberto, Executive Editor
Picture from @friskmegood on Instagram
Cierra Boyd spoke with Variant Magazine members about her experiences as a founder of Variant and her journey to becoming a fashion designer. This story provides a glimpse into our inspirational meeting with her and zooms out to show her impact in the sustainable fashion industry.
Regency-era corsets have made a recent runway revival, and now designer Cierra Boyd is adding recycled materials to the mix. Cleveland-based fashion label FRISKMEGOOD™ turns your dad’s old Skechers into covetable masterpieces by reworking them into bold, upcycled corsets, bodysuits and bags.
Designs by Cierra Boyd, self-taught designer and founder of FRISKMEGOOD, have been featured in Nylon magazine, HYPEBAE, The Verge and most recently, a full-page spread in Vogue Mexico: a model, posing horizontal wearing leggings, a blue blazer, white Nike trainers with matching socks, and Boyd’s own New Balance sneaker bodysuit. Her reaction, “Bitch I’m in Vogue,” was complete with five crying emojis, and her Instagram feed was filled with congratulations from friends and fans who have watched her brand grow from the start.
Magazine features like this have not always been a part of FRISKMEGOOD’s story. In fact, Boyd feels that she’s just now getting everything she’s wanted: living in her studio and being able to design full-time.
Boyd started FRISKMEGOOD after she graduated from Ohio University in 2017 with a degree in Retail and Fashion Merchandising. Before that, her first experience with fashion design was for herself. Boyd made her own outfit for her 21st birthday party because she couldn’t figure out what to wear. It was a red dress, “not put together well at all,” she says, but from that point on she was dedicated to improving her sewing skills by watching YouTube videos.
Out of college, even with her degree Boyd couldn’t keep a job or make over $13 an hour. “Like dang. Should I have been a doctor or something? What should I have done?” she laughs. She says she had to learn to stick with what she loves, even if it meant living in her mom’s house for three years after graduation. “For me, I took that as a sign that I should be focusing on my business,” she says.
It wasn’t until she entered a fashion competition that she got the idea for her signature sneaker corsets. Watching an episode of VICE about a guy who made gas masks out of shoes, she was inspired to do something similar. With old shoes, Boyd made her first corset and won second place in the competition. Her small collection from the show sold on Depop, giving her the confidence to continue making upcycled garments.
On Depop, FRISKMEGOOD has been featured on the explore page, which gave the designer more exposure and increased her sales on the app. Now, her corsets sell for over $600.
“I really have to give a lot of credit to Depop for my success because they really gave me a platform,” Boyd says. “It gave me like a sense of belonging and understanding and acceptance.”
Clearly, Boyd has a “can do” attitude. She talks with energy and excitement like she’s constantly on the verge of dropping big news. However, she had to learn to maintain this positivity even in difficult situations, like people trying to steal her designs or claiming her ideas weren’t original.
“I’ve had to learn that, you know, when you’re a small business, people will try to take advantage of you even from things like, from influencers trying to get like free stuff, which that’s not what being an influencer is about,” Boyd says.
Even if it was unconscious at first, Boyd says that she’s always been a “thrifty” girl, shopping at Value World in high school and local thrift stores in Athens, Ohio during college. Since starting her business, she has given up fast fashion, including Zara, which was her favorite, but for obvious reasons, she still buys new shoes occasionally. “I don’t even buy shoes for myself,” she says. “I always cut them up.”
Boyd’s studio is littered with piles of shoes, blankets, t-shirts. It’s in these piles of what some might call trash that Boyd finds her inspiration. Her process, like her materials, is untraditional.
She explains that she doesn’t sketch her pieces like “regular designers.” “I really just let the materials pick me when it’s time,” she says. “It’s very random and spontaneous and I like to keep it organic. I like to just make what makes me feel happy at the moment and what inspires me.”
Boyd sees the future of her business being circular, meaning “not throwing away any materials at all whatsoever and always finding a way to utilize the pieces that will get thrown away and preventing things from getting in the landfill,” she says.
Fast-changing style trends feed fast fashion, which feeds landfills. According to the EPA, 70% of clothing and footwear ended up in landfills in 2018. Only 13% of clothing and footwear were recycled. Clothes with cheap price tags are attractive to those not wanting to break the bank every season but still participate in the latest trends. Of course, there are other wallet-friendly alternatives to buying new clothes, such as thrifting or buying used clothes off Poshmark or Depop, which is how Boyd does business.
Zara, Boyd’s ex-favorite label, is a flagship brand of Inditex Group, one of the world’s largest fast fashion companies. The store sells inexpensive versions of the season’s biggest styles that appear high-end.
In 2019, CEO of Inditex Pablo Isla announced that by 2025, “100% of the cotton, linen and polyester used by all eight of its brands will be organic, sustainable or recycled.” Zara’s Join Life environmental label is tagged on 30% of its garments, which are either made from ecologically grown cotton, Tencel, or recycled polyester, according to Zara’s website.
Despite the change in attitude towards commitment to sustainability, many are still skeptical of Zara’s ability to shed its fast-fashion label. In an NPR interview, Elizabeth L. Cline, author of “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion,” says styles with a fast turnover, like those sold at Zara, “still swallows a lot of energy, regardless of whether it’s using organic cotton or selling products in more eco-efficient stores.”
Zara received a score of 4.4 on the Fashion Transparency Index 2020 conducted by Fashion Revolution, which ranks brands “according to how much they disclose about their social and environmental policies, practices, and impacts.”
Not everyone can afford to invest in well-made pieces from transparent brands, whose prices are often high but reflect the quality of materials used and fair wages paid to workers. Therefore thrifting or upcycling clothes appeals to some fashion lovers’ wallets and eco-friendly values.
Boyd is used to this clever, thrifty lifestyle that has allowed many to live sustainably without the high price tags. She makes a living off it. With little money and student loans to pay, Boyd grew her business from nothing by utilizing the resources she had available. Her goal is to become one of the first well-known sustainable fashion houses. Boyd wants to represent hardworking, sustainable fashion designers and “show people that you can do it and you don’t need to be wealthy just to have a successful clothing line. All you need is talent and passion and you can keep going,” she says. As Boyd looks back on the past three years growing her business, she reminds herself to never take things for granted or act like she’s better than others, “I just really tried to stay true to myself, and I want to continue to do that no matter how big or the level that my clothing line will ever be on. I just always want to stay true to myself and my mission and who I am.”
By Maya Meade, Blogger
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, it is time to start thinking of the perfect gift to give your mother or important parental figure in your life. Aside from the typical gifts like accessories, flowers and breakfast in bed, there are many unique ways to show your loved ones you care. You can get creative and make your own, or buy from local businesses.
Here is some inspiration for you to start the search for the perfect Mother’s Day gift:
This gift is fun for anyone that loves to look at old memories. The reel viewer provides the perfect opportunity for you to find your favorite photos with the family and put them all in one place for your mom.
The smartphone vase is a great place to put the flowers that your mom might be receiving on this special day. It allows her to wake up to the view of fresh flowers that hold her phone at the same time.
Perfect for moms that love the smell of “freshly trimmed flowers on the kitchen table” and their name on a candle. The brand, Homesick, has candles for any gift-giving occasion and you can choose which scent and name would be best for your parent.
A favorite pastime of many, puzzles provide a challenge and a fun activity to do alone, with family, or with friends. Galison makes beautifully flawless puzzles depicting a variety of scenes to choose from for giving gifts.
Finding time to relax can be a challenge so you might as well be comfortable when you’re doing it. A Comfy provides warmth all over and can be used for reading, watching shows and movies, or walking around the house. Weighted blankets provide additional comfort for people that suffer from anxiety and enjoy the feeling of being hugged.
Buying Lush products are a great way to show your love for the planet, and for your moms. Lush sells a variety of beauty and bath products that will rejuvenate your mother’s skin or make her baths scented, colorful and extra bubbly.
If your mom loves jewelry, this is a way to get her something special that she can make herself or that can be made by you. Madewell has a variety of make-your-own bracelets so you can match with your mom or let her make it herself.
A Massage or Mani-Pedi
Many moms deserve a chance to feel good so giving her a day at the spa can’t hurt. Treating her to a massage or buying her a new set of nails will make her feel relaxed and beautiful.
If your mom loves wine and candy, she’ll love these wine gummies. These all-natural, bite-sized treats come with merlot, chardonnay, and rosé wine flavors for all the wine-loving moms in your life.
Breakfast in Bed
This gift is a classic for anyone that loves to cook. Breakfast in bed shows your mom that her food was baked with love and gives her a freshly cooked meal. If you don’t like to cook, support your local bakeries or brunch restaurants and bring the food to her or take her out to eat.
Illustration by Ashleigh Bublinec
By Madison Kopp, Blogger
If you and your friends are bored this summer in Athens, here is a list of places you may have never been to before!
Kennedy Museum of Art
This museum is located in Lin Hall, which was once the administrative building for the Athens Lunatic Asylum, now known as The Ridges. The Kennedy Museum of Art is the only part of The Ridges that is open to the public. The museum showcases exhibits such as jewelry, weavings and a contemporary print collection as well as a mix of smaller displays including paintings, sculptures, ceramics and African masks and artifacts. Visit its website for hours and current exhibitions.
Southeast Ohio History Center
The Southeast Ohio History Center houses items relating to the history of Southeast Ohio. Some important items include artifacts from the Athens Lunatic Asylum such as nursing uniforms from the early 1900s, the tool doctor Walter Freeman used to perform over 200 frontal lobotomies between 1953 and 1957 and a painting by Billy Milligan, the most well-known patient in the facility. Milligan was the first person to raise a defense of insanity due to multiple personalities. The major motion picture “Split” was based on Milligan and a new series starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Billy Milligan has just been confirmed as well. The museum also has a genealogy department where visitors can research their family heritage.
Strouds Run State Park
Located outside of Athens, Strouds Run surrounds Dow Lake. There are miles of hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding that provide scenic views. The lake offers boating, fishing, hunting, swimming and kayaking. The area also has cabins available for rent and there are many other state parks surrounding the Athens area.
O’Betty’s Hot Dog Museum
We all know O’Betty’s for the amazing hotdogs, but did you know it also displays a hot dog museum inside? O’Betty’s houses the only hotdog museum in the world. The museum has hotdog-shaped buildings, candy, cooking utensils, hot dog cookers, toys, games, children’s books and more!
These are only the start of the unique places that Athens and the surrounding area have to offer. For a full visitor’s guide visit the Athens County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Illustration by Olivia Dutkewych
By Grace Dearing, Web Editor
Unplug appliances when not in use
Or, plug larger appliances into a power strip. Electric items left plugged in but not turned on still suck up a TON of energy. Unplugging these items when you’re not actively using them reduces the amount of energy your house is using. That is even easier with the use of a powerstrip which can be switched off to quickly “unplug” multiple appliances at once!
Let clothes air dry instead of running the dryer
Another way to reduce the amount of energy your house is using is to let your clothes air dry after washing them. Not only will that be good for the environment, but it can have lasting benefits for your clothes too. Air drying specific items of clothing prevents the shrinking, stretching or deteriorating of fabric.
Incorporate meatless Mondays into your week
The meat production industry is an incredibly large contributor to pollution and climate change. Although many people may be opposed to going complete vegan or vegetarian, we can all make a bit of a difference by choosing one day a week to not consume any meat. That will reduce the amount of meat you’re buying at the grocery store. You know what they say, big change starts with small steps!
Stop buying bottled water
It’s no secret that cutting down on plastic is one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint. That is made even easier by refusing to buy packages of bottled water at the grocery store. Just one package of bottled water contributes between 12 and 24 plastic bottles to landfills. Buying one refillable water bottle is a better alternative and lasts much longer than a pack of bottled water does.
Switch to reusable tupperware for leftovers
In the same way that buying a reusable water bottle decreases the amount of plastic you throw out, switching to reusable food storage does too. Reusable and resealable tupperware and bags keep your leftovers fresh and last for years!
By Emily Squance, Blogger
Spring cleaning is a tradition that partially originated in the 1800s when cleaning was a necessity due to homes being covered in soot from the sources of heat homeowners used during the winter. However, as time passed, the tradition became deeply rooted in society. Today, many people use the beginning of spring as an excuse to declutter their homes in an effort to start the season off with clean and organized spaces. Some experts have even said that a clean home can potentially strengthen your immune system and help you avoid illnesses.
Make a Plan
Even though spring cleaning obviously has benefits, it can also be overwhelming depending on how dirty your home is. If you feel yourself starting to become overwhelmed with clutter, make a plan or list for yourself. Section off each individual room you want to focus on, taking note of how much effort and time each room will require. You can even try to use the “time blocking” system to try to section off how you’re going to be spending your day and time. Sometimes when you write out everything you want to get done, you are able to create more of a mental image of how long each cleaning activity will take. If you really want to bump your spring cleaning up to a new level, search online for printable cleaning checklists!
Decluttering your space can mean many things depending on your current living situation. It can mean just simply organizing your room, cleaning out your closet or it can mean doing a full-on deep clean that involves getting out with the old and in with the new. Decluttering your space can not only alleviate anxiety and depression but potentially help you sleep better as well.
Don’t Forget About the Walls & Windows
I am very guilty of forgetting to clean more than just my room. I often forget that windows and walls are sometimes the dirtiest things in a house. Cleaning your windows in the spring is very important due to all the bugs and dust that might have built up on the outside screen. The beginning of spring also means summer is slowly approaching. Getting a head start on cleaning your windows before summer may prove very beneficial for you and your family. Starting to clean your windows before summer also gives you a chance to check the security of your window screens, examining for any potential holes bugs can get through.
Get Your Household Involved
Whether you live at home with your parents or in an apartment/house with roommates, it’s important to remember that you’re not in this alone. The other members of the house should be just as responsible for cleaning. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help. You can even make a fun game/activity out of cleaning by giving your roommates points or incentives for doing certain jobs/tasks. Be clever! Even though cleaning isn’t the most fun activity, you can make the day interesting by offering rewards or prizes for whoever is the most productive.
Dust, Dust, Dust
For me, dusting is the most important element of cleaning. I suffer from really bad allergies and they only get worse as summer approaches. Make sure you keep up with dusting your house while focusing on very problematic areas such as fans, blinds, floorboards, ceilings, and even lamps. If too much dust starts to build up in your house, it can affect your lungs and breathing ability. Dust particles and dust-containing macrophages can collect in the lung tissues, causing injury to the lungs. If you only do one thing this spring, make sure it involves dusting; you’ll thank me later.
Don’t Forget About The Air
This next tip may seem a little odd but it can be a lot more important than many people realize. Oftentimes a clean home involves a home that smells good and fresh. When spring cleaning, many people focus so much on the physical appearance of their house and forget about what it might smell like. Granted, if you’re cleaning with special disinfectants, your house probably smells somewhat clean. However, maintaining a house with a clean and fresh smell can be hard. I would recommend using candles, oil diffusers, and even wax melts to your advantage. The smell of your house may not be important to your guests but it could potentially affect your mood and overall tone. Try to find very simple yet fresh scents for your home like lemon, mint, or vanilla. You can even use aromatherapy by incorporating scents into your house that improve the health of your body, mind, and spirit, while overall enhancing your physical and emotional health. Spring cleaning isn’t just about cleaning your home, it can also be about treating yourself and making yourself feel relaxed and comfortable in your own home!
Save the Wall Scuffs for Last
Typically when we think about spring cleaning, it isn’t common to think about the little things like wall scuffs. However, there are many small spring cleaning tasks that require minimum effort, being perfect to save for last. One tip for dealing specifically with wall scuffs is to make a light mixture of soap and water on a sponge. If that doesn’t work, I highly recommend trying a magic eraser.
As you can see, there are many ways you can take advantage of the spring season by starting off with a clean slate for yourself and your home. Keep in mind while cleaning that anything you’re thinking of getting rid of may be of use to someone else. Try to donate as much as you can; giving back to another person during the spring season is the perfect way to show your gratitude to your community.