Avoid Wasteful Packaging

Today the Fed-Ex guy came and brought a very large package, but when I picked up the package it was super light, so I was interested to see what was inside. I just kept thinking that certainly they wouldn’t put something small in a large box, would they? After opening the package, we found out that yes they would package something small into a very large box.

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Ecohearth.com has an article on Unwrapping Wasteful Packaging. Also you should check out the Sustainable Packaging Coalition for the Indicators and Metrics Framework that they released recently.

Can we do something about this? Yes we can! Many companies have already begun to recycle old boxes and package their items in boxes that fit their products, not everyone is as thoughtless as this company above but we should be aware of the companies we do work with and their eco friendly or non-eco friendly practices. Ask questions, see if packages can be picked up or specifically ask them to send your products in appropriately sized boxes.

Divide and Conquer – Cleaning after Christmas

522620_35507155An easy way to start your holiday clean up is to divide your holiday debris into three piles; reusables, recyclables and trash.

Reusables – Bows, ribbon, wrapping paper, boxes, gift bags, tissue paper, Christmas cards, all can be reused in its former state or repurposed into an ornament or new Christmas card. There are so many possibilities.

Recyclables – Wrapping paper, gift bags, Christmas cards and boxes that are ripped or crumpled can be recycled with your regular household recyclables. You dont have to remove the tape from the paper either. Cardboard boxes, styrofoam, tins are all recyclable. Also your holiday food scraps can be put in a composter for your garden.

Trash -Ribbons, bows and tissue paper, if not reusable, go into the trash bin. Foil wrapping paper, cardboard contaminated with food, paint or glitter, plastic toys all go in the trash bin.

How to Have a Recycled Christmas

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It seems that we tend to get a bit overly excited and throw a lot of stuff away when we could be saving or recycling. Christmas doesn’t have to be a wasteful time of year, lets keep the recycling going all year round. Teach your kids how to recycle too. Here are some tips to make this Christmas a recycled one.

Zero waste wrapping paper – Why not take a deep breath and open your gifts nicely so you can save your wrapping paper for next year? Fold your bags, tissue and paper so you can have an assortment to use all year long.

Save or Recycle – When a gift is open, either recycle the box it came in and wrapping paper(if your not saving it) or save the box for a few months in case you need to return the item and then recycle.

Christmas Cards – You can always keep save your Christmas cards for crafts/cards  next year or put into your recycle bin right away.

Christmas Dinner – You can even recycle your Christmas dinner. Don’t waste your leftovers, save up your turkey for curry or stew, treat your pets to a Christmas meal or compost your vegetable trimmings and left over vegetables.

Reduce Waste this Holiday Season

693364_97735298U.S. residents throw away more waste per person than those in any other nation. Between Thanksgiving and New years Day alone, Americans produce an extra one million tons of trash per week compared to any other time of the year.

  1. Be creative when it comes to sending out Christmas cards. Emailing is much more Eco-friendly but giving a card is so much more festive to . If you are going to send out card, try reusing old cards and cutting them apart to make your own. You can make your own envelopes out of old paper, maps and the like. Have fun and let the kids join in.
  2. When wrapping gifts, use left over wrapping paper from last year (I save wrapping paper from holidays and birthdays if they are in good shape so I can reuse it). You can make your own bows from newspaper or magazines, also you can use cut up old clothes to wrap gifts also.
  3. As far as gifts go – stop generating waste by giving concert tickets, museum tickets, movie tickets or gift cards for things you need like grocery stores. The gift of time is a great one too. Offer to babysit for families with kids or offer to help with yard work for the older recipients.
  4. Forget about using disposable party-ware. If you are having a potluck and don’t have enough dishes for each person then have each family bring their own along with their own silverware.
  5. Ornaments and Decorations. If you need new ornaments, try your hand at making your own, the Internet is full of easy-to-make, DIY ideas. Using what you already have is the best way to generate less waste. If you must buy more, check your local thrift stores, they usually have a bunch of Christmas decor and ornaments that people have just got rid of.

10 Tips for Preventing Stormwater Pollution

318454_9151Last week on Dirty Jobs, Mike Rowe helped clean storm drains, which made me a bit sick to watch, I guess that’s why they call it “Dirty Jobs”. It made me think about how important it is that we put our trash in the proper place and keep our drains free of pollution as much as we can. Below are 10 tips to preventing stormwater pollution. We don’t want this pollution going to our rivers and streams, harming fish and wildlife along the way. Did you know that a single cigarette butt can take 25 years to break down? So please don’t litter, it doesn’t take much to look for a trash can and dispose of trash properly.

  1. Never dump anything down storm drains or into streams and report anyone who does.
  2. Replant bare spots in your yard and preserve streamside vegetation.
  3. Direct rooftop downspouts away from paved surfaces.
  4. Take your car to a car wash or wash it on an unpaved area.
  5. Check your car for leaks and recycle your motor oil and antifreeze.
  6. Pick up your pet waste; it can carry harmful bacteria and parasites.
  7. Have your septic tank pumped and system inspected regularly.
  8. Choose low-maintenance, native plants that require fewer chemicals and less watering and sweep up debris from driveways and sidewalks.
  9. Consider alternatives to impervious surfaces such as pervious pavement, paving blocks, gravel cobbles, brick and natural stone.
  10. Get a rain barrel to collect stormwater and install an approved rain garden or green roof.

Start From Scratch

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Stay away from the frozen food aisle!

So many of us grab the easy to pop in the oven, pre-made food for dinners and when baking desserts, but with a bit of planning on your part and food prep ahead of time you can have wonderful made from scratch meals all through the Holidays. This time of year is my favorite time. I love homemade cookies, desserts and savory goodies. Start planning now and you will be glad you did. And with a smile on your face you can say “I made this!”

First you have to have knowledge of what freezes well and what doesn’t.

Food that can freeze:

  • Breads & Baked Goods
  • Butter & Margarine
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Potatoes – Cook before freezing.
  • Fruits & Veggies – Will soften when frozen and should only be used for cooking after being frozen.

Food that can’t freeze:

  • Veggies – Such as lettuce, celery, radishes, cabbage and cucumbers.
  • Melons – They become very soft and lose much of their juice.
  • Mayo – Seperates
  • Fried Foods – Lose their crispness.

Favorite Freezer Foods has a plethora of information to help you if you are wanting to cook once a month, once a week or even batch cooking.

Pulling a meal out of the freezer is faster than the drive through, delivery or your favorite eat in restaurant.

Homemade meals are cheaper than eating out and since you control all the ingredients you can rest assured that your family is eating healthy food.

So drive past the line at the drive through, put down the phone, step away from the boxed entrees in the grocery store and get a healthy homemade dinner on the table.

Favorite Freezer Foods will teach you how to freeze each type of food, they have recipes available for freezer foods, and instructions on how to defrost the freezer foods.

So take on the challenge and start from scratch and enjoy the holidays and your savings.

Save Money on Heating

672782_62368245Reading through an article from Divine Caroline, I found 7 tips to help save money on heating this winter. Who doesn’t want to save money, especially during the holiday months.

1. Replace all your filters. In addition to not being as effective at filtering the air you breathe, dirty filters cause several problems for the furnace. They make the blower work harder getting enough air into the heat-exchange chamber so that you have enough warm air in the house. 

2. Clean the area around the furnace and inside the filter box. While you are replacing the air filters, vacuum around the furnace unit. Most furnaces are stuck in an out-of-the-way spot and get minimal cleaning during the year.

3. Check your fan belts. Fan belts that are too loose or too tight can cause problems with the blower and the fan motor. The tension in the belts should be set so there is about 1” of deflection at the center of the span.

4. Lubricate the blower (fan) motor shaft. Most electrical motor shafts have lubrication ports at one or both ends of the shaft that runs through the motor. Use a good quality, lightweight motor oil to fill these lubrication ports.

5. Check to be sure the blower (fan) cage spins easily. Check your blower (fan) cage by spinning it. As long as it spins easily, everything is fine. If it seems to rub or bind while it spins, you could have something stuck in the fan or you could have a worn out fan.

6. Turn on the pilot light. Most gas furnaces require a pilot light to function properly (some of the more modern furnaces have electronic flame starters). Make sure your pilot light is lit.

7. Check your thermostat. After you have done the mechanical maintenance on the furnace and made sure the pilot light is lit and working, check the thermostat to make sure that it is working. Set your thermostat control to ‘Heat’ and the furnace temperature control to higher than your current room temperature. Make sure the burner lights and the fan starts blowing. As soon as you have done this you can turn the furnace thermostat control back to a cooler setting and the status control back to either cool or neutral.

For the complete article click here.

Fun Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

Are you tired of the same old boring carved pumpkins that you see on every door step? Well here are some new ideas and fun ways you can display your pumpkins.

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Better Homes and Gardens has a great display of ways you can decorate, paint or carve your pumpkin for a new look.

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Martha Stewart has some great Jack-o’-Lanter ideas.

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Sunset has some great no carve pumpkin arrangements.

Another couple sites that have some great pumpkin decorating ideas is Country Living, Good Housekeeping and Hallmark Magazine.

5 Ways to be Green and Save Money

909780_59550139Sometimes I feel being green is a bit more expensive than being careless and not caring about this environment. Buying organic food, buying green, biodegradable cleaning products, organic beauty products all have high price tags but they are good for the environment and not to mention our bodies, but how do you get around this? Below are some helpful ways you can be green and save money.

  1. Give up paper towels, plastic wrap and ziplock bags: Don’t spend your money on things to wrap your food in or paper towels to clean with. Start using your tupperware or save butter containers to store your food in. For cleaning windows use newspaper and for wiping hands use cloth napkins – not only is it green but it makes your table look nicer. You can also use old rags for cleaning with.
  2. Stop buying bottled water: The water from your faucet is just as good, and bottled water produces garbage because most people (over 80%) throw the bottles away instead of recycle them. Check out the facts on the lighterfootstep.com.
  3. Shop at thrift stores: Whatever items you are comfortable buying at thrift stores/second hand keeps that item from going to the garbage dump.
  4. Cut your grocery bill: Use coupons on items you use only, just cause you have a coupon or its a good deal doesn’t mean you need to buy it. Shop for groceries once every two weeks, shopping more than that and you will end up with stuff that you don’t need which in turn will cause you to waste food.
  5. Conserve water: Think about the water you use, take quicker showers, use a timer if you need help, turn off the water when you are brushing your teeth and use less hot water.

There are many more ways to be green while saving money or not spending so keep your eyes peeled for helpful hints and when you come across ways that you have saved please share them.

No Waste Lunch – A Green, Healthy and Money-Saving Alternative

1101409_80042520Reading through the Happy Hippie I found an article on the No Waste Lunch – a green, healthy and money-saving alternative. Having kids in school I find it difficult sometimes to get them out the door on time with a no waste lunch. I tend to grab the quick and easy plastic baggies that you throw away. I want to be more intentional about what I send my kids to school with, keeping in mind the amount of trash that schools throw out daily and not wanting to add to it.

The basic steps as mentioned in the article are:

  • Reduce the amount of disposable waste you pack
  • Pack reusable products
  • Recycle anything you have left over

They sound easy enough – don’t they? And yes by each of us doing our part we CAN make a difference.

They have Easy tips for a no waste lunch. To read the full article click here.