A Happy and Green New Year… from A to Z!

hppy nw yr 2010Welcome 2010!

A New Year, and a new beginning.  A chance to make a difference that matters!

If you’ve been “putting off your greening”, I’m going to give you the A to Z list to get the ball rolling.

Hold onto your party hats, and let’s go!…

A – Appliances, Animals – Buy energy efficient appliances when you need to make a replacement.  If you’re looking for a ‘cause’ that needs your assistance, donate to help save an endangered species.CFL_bulb_mercury
B – Bamboo, Biodegradable – Buy sustainable bamboo products (everything from towels to furniture).  Think biodegradable for all product choices (detergents, bath products, cleaners, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.).
C – CFLs, Cleaners, Compost – Replace your lights with compact fluorescents.  Skip the chemicals in traditional, commercial cleaners and opt for eco-friendly choices. Start composing food scraps and other biodegradable materials.
D – Donate, DisposableDonate your usable but no longer needed clothing, books, toys, household items and furniture to organizations that support the less fortunate, so they can be reused.  Eliminate anything intentionally disposable from your purchases.
E – Energy, EnvironmentTurn off electronics, computers, lights and all household appliances that aren’t in use.  Consider the effect on the environment in everything you do.
F – Food – Make healthy choices of organic and natural foods instead of those filled with preservatives, artificial ingredients and chemicals.
G – Global warming, Glass – Accept that global warming is real and we’re the only creatures on the planet that can do something about it. Recycle all glass (it can be recycled indefinitely!).
H – Heating, HomeTurn down the thermostat.  Excess energy equals an excess of pollution. Make your home safe and clean, and simultaneously non-toxic, by cutting out all chemicals.nature kid
I – Ideas Share what you know and learn with others.  It can have a fabulous snowball effect!
J – Journey – Give yourself credit for the things you are doing and accept that going green is truly a journey!
K – KidsGet your kids involved.  When they learn to respect the environment early in life, that lesson will stay with them forever.
L – Landfills – Remember that everything you toss in the trash winds up in a landfill, polluting the soil and water.
M – Mattresses, Meat, Milk – When you replace a mattress, consider organic.  Traditional mattresses are filled with harsh and harmful chemicals.  Choose organic meat and milk to avoid antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones.
N – Newspapers – When you need to keeps something hot or cold in transport, newspaper is an amazing insulator.  When you’re done, recycle them, always!
O – Organics, Outdoors, Oceans – Buy as many organics as you can… simple as that.  Getting outdoors will remind you of this beautiful world we are trying to preserve, and even if you can’t see an ocean from where you live, never forget how crucial they are, and remember that allowing them to be polluted (the Great Pacific Garbage Patch) must be prevented.
P – Plastic, Paper – Avoid the excessive use of plastics or at least make sure the plastics are truly recyclable.  Same goes for paper.  Be conscious not to be wasteful and recycle every unneeded piece of paper that comes your way.
Q – Quit procrastinating and take the next step!payless bag
R – Recycle, Reusable Bags – NOT recycling is inexcusable.  Recyclables should never be thrown in the trash.  Invest in reusable shopping bags and stop contributing to the ‘one trillion plastic bags used annually, worldwide’ statistic.
S – Schools, Shopping – Get involved at your children’s schools and put together programs to help them embrace recycling and the environment. Realize that every purchase you make has a greener option… it’s up to you to know the difference and choose wisely.
T – Trash, Trees – Make a conscious effort to reduce your weekly trash by not buying over-packaged products or buy only products in recyclable packaging.  Don’t cut down healthy trees… they are more valuable than just their visual beauty (think air quality, soil preservation, wildlife habitat… the list goes on and on).
U – Un-green – When you see a “wrong”, you can make it “right”.  Speak up, help others and make a change that can make a difference.
V – Vinegar, Volunteer – The uses for distilled white vinegar are endless.  Buy some for cleaning, cosmetic uses, deodorizing, and pest and weed control.  Volunteer your time for an environmental cause.
W – Water, Water Bottles, WildlifeConserve water… contrary to belief, the supply is not endless.  Buy a stainless steel, reusable water bottle to avoid BPA and stop contributing plastic bottles to landfills. Contribute to causes thattree protect the habitats of wildlife and consider what you are doing to their “home” in your every action.
X – Xenagogue – The definition of this word is “guide”, so simply guide others and become a steward of both your home and the earth, and make informed choices.  If you want my “fun” answer (you know you were waiting for the X!) then learn how to play a xylophone!… just be sure it’s made of bamboo!
Y You – (YOU knew that one was coming too, right?) but sincerely, the changes you make in your daily life are all up to you.  Take what you know and put it to good use.
Z – Zoos, Zero-Waste – Support zoos that dedicate themselves to conservation and education.  Buy kits and containers that can be reused for lunchtime (or anytime) so that you don’t contribute to the approximate ’67 pounds of annual trash created by a child’s lunch’.

recycle logoThere it is: A to Z (and I feel like I only scratched the surface!) But the main mission is to simply get started.  Don’t wait for tomorrow, and don’t expect you have to do it all at once, but do admit that we can all make little changes that amount to one enormous difference!

HaPPy NeW YeaR and cheers to making it (and keeping it) green!

Mom Goes Green’s 250th post… a holiday review!

ornament recycleWhat a whirlwind this holiday has been! It’s hard to refocus after all of the craziness… and to top it off, this is my 250th post!  Ironically, last year’s post on the same date was my 100th post… 150 posts in one year!  I knew I could be a chatterbox at times but never imagined I would chatter that much!

The holidays didn’t start in a pleasant way with both kids getting horribly sick… vomiting and other intestinal problems that shall remain without description!  Our poor son’s bout arrived on Christmas Eve and continued into the wee hours of the morning, but luckily he rallied like a trooper and made it through Christmas Day.  And somehow Santa managed to sneak in between the “episodes”.  The way both of them were able to recover so quickly has made me an even bigger proponent of breastfeeding (yes, without getting too personal, I exclusively breastfed both of them).  There is truly something to be said for the way nature “built us”… it certainly gives us a healthy, strong start that obviously continues through life. This is also a likely testament to good eating and healthy food choices!

This year all gifts were given in recycled gift bags.  Not a single supply was purchased, including gift tags that were made from last year’s Christmas cards.  Every recyclable ounce of paper and packaging was most definitely recycled and our recycling can “runneth over”!xmas place set

I’m happy to say, during all of our gatherings, everyone pulled out the real dishes, silverware and glassware.  No disposables to add to landfills… and that definitely made me happy!  I don’t know if it’s my influence or our families simply didn’t want to deal with my complaining, but either way… I was happy with the outcome!

I am grateful for the generosity of our families but simultaneously cringing at the way the corner of our dining room looks like a toy store due to all of the yet-to-be-unpackaged gifts!  The upside is that both of our kids have agreed that it is beyond due time to clear out all of the toys they’ve outgrown and give them to children who aren’t nearly as fortunate as they are.  I think the entire family will be taking an inventory and making some generous donations (and I hope you will too).

We also gave only gifts that were on wish-lists.  Those without wish-lists received gift cards or good ‘ole cashola!  And who can complain about that?  I just don’t think it makes sense to buy something for someone just because we think we’re supposed to give them something.  It just seems wasteful to give someone something that will clutter a house… that’s certainly no gift!

Last year we were gifted with unseasonably warm weather in late December (upper 60s in Ohio!?!).  This year we were gifted with a snow storm.  Our kids are ready for lots of snow time, but this simultaneously means I’ll have to contend with the naysayers “Global warming my a$$!” comments.  My response to this goes without saying.

chpstx basktOne of my favorite gifts this year came from my mother-in-law:  a basket made from recycled chopsticks!  I think she was as excited to give it to me as I was to receive it, but it’s apparent that our family is definitely catching on to Mom Goes Green’s way of thinking!

Soon we will also re-gift last year’s Kiva donation.  The money we loaned to a farmer in Tajikistan to purchase seeds for farming has been repaid, and we will donate the repaid money to another “working poor” recipient so the cycle can continue.  I’m also considering making an extra donation so one more family can receive much needed financial aid. Take a look at Kiva to learn more about this amazing organization.

Overall, despite the challenge of the “pukies”, we’ve had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed all of our celebrations.  Isn’t that really what the holidays are all about?  I hope you created amazing memories with your family as well.

Sadly, I also know of a few families who lost loved ones, unexpectedly, during the holiday.  This, unfortunately, put life into perspective.

Here’s to love, happiness, family and friends that make life worthwhile… and cheers (and fears) about the NEXT 250 posts… I’m sure there will be plenty to say!

Happy Holidays 2009!!!

Mom Goes Green would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas,

Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa!

Whatever you celebrate, I wish for it to be wonderful!

fam xmas09

May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love.
~Author Unknown

Here’s to an amazing, love-filled holiday with our families!

Celebrate, enjoy and feel grateful… life is good!

— Mom Goes Green —

Wrappin’ reminder: keepin’ it green!

fabric wrapBy now, the gifts should be purchased and the wrapping is underway!  So, while you’ve certainly paid special attention to what you’ve selected, how you “present the present” also needs special attention too.

The average household output of trash actually increases by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, due in part to wrapping paper, packaging, boxes and all of the waste that results from the holidays. Gasp! I fully intend NOT to be one of those households and will recycle everything in sight, but while you can manage what happens with the waste from the gifts you receive, you can’t guarantee what the recipients of your gifts will do…

So before you unroll yards and yards of wrapping paper, ribbons and massive bows… halt!… and consider these better ways!:

  • Buy recycled wrapping paper if you absolutely MUST wrap with paper (yea, I understand that kids love to unwrap!)gift fab bag
  • Use, save, reuse, reuse and reuse gift bags.  They can have an amazingly long life.  Try to choose uncoated paper though… it simply recycles better when it finally comes to the end of its use.
  • Put the gift in a reusable bag.  You can often score a reusable bag for less than the cost of a gift bag, and then it becomes a gift in and of itself!
  • Use part of the gift as the wrap.  Scarf? Towel? Basket? Bowl? Wrap it around or put it inside.
  • Wrap with fabric scraps and biodegradable raffia.  Simple as that!
  • Skip bows and opt for berries, pinecones, evergreen clipping, twigs or a real flower instead. These natural embellishments can even make brown craft paper look festive!
  • Before you toss out this year’s wall calendar, use the images for wrapping smaller packages.
  • Use old holiday card photos or images to create your gift tag.  You have ‘em, so use ‘em!
  • Reuse, reduce, recycle.  Save the materials you receive to be reused (gift bags, bows, ribbon). Reduce the amount of materials you use for your gift giving.  Recycle all of the paper and packaging from your gifts angift w conesd make sure they go in the bin, not the trash can.
  • (You can also choose not to wrap anything it all! My mom told me “in her day” her Christmas gifts from Santa weren’t wrapped!  They appeared under the tree “au naturale!” Hmmm… makes you wonder how and when Santa changed his policies!)

This will all be over before you know it!  Take a deep breath, grab your green supplies and see if you can join me in avoiding that 25%!

“It’s my party and ‘I’ll go green’ if I want to!”

christmas partyThe next few weeks will be high time for parties! (I love parties! And I mean for any and all occasions!)

And of course, who DOESN’T love a party!?! BUT, they can also become occasions for an abundance of waste and trash making.  Whether you already have a party planned, are helping to host a party or might just throw together an impromptu soiree(!)… here, once again this year, is my standard list for keeping it turned toward the green end of the dial:

  • Try evites or create your own electronic invitations instead of mailing the paper store-bought version.  Sure, you might have a few guests who aren’t email users, but where you can minimize… minimize! (Be careful if you mention your party on Facebook… your guests list may grow exponentially!) For guests requiring mailed invitations consider using last year’s holiday cards and turn the front of the card into a postcard.
  • Decorate using live plants and maybe even give them to guests at the end of the night.  Toss pine cones or evergreen clippings from your yard (or your neighbors!) into a bunch of beautiful bowls or vases you already own.
  • Turn off an excess of lights.  Blaze up the soy candles. It creates great ambiance too!
  • Turn down the thermostat. Bodies = heat, so set it to the cooler side!
  • Use your real plates, serveware and glassware. Or, if you don’t have enough, consider buying biodegradable and/or compostable tableware.  Eco Products offers a variety of tableware made from corn, sugarcane and 42-17177953paper.  Or check out Verterra for tableware with some real character – made of leaves!  Orrrr, if it’s in your budget, rent real tableware and utensils… not in my budget, but maybe someday!
  • Hit a dollar store for linens.  (I bought four-packs of cloth napkins for a dollar last year!)  Skip the poinsettia print.  Pick flat colors so they can be used for many other occasions.
  • Consider local beers and wines (if you have local choices) or locate organic choices… not always easy to find, but they are certainly out there!
  • Buy organic fruits, veggies and meat-products.  I know that is an expensive proposition, but as many as you can afford is better than none at all (consider the “dirty dozen” and the “clean 15” if you need help in making the choices too!).
  • Set up a receptacle for recycling. Clearly mark it and ask everyone to jump on board.
  • If you feel comfortable with the group of guests, ask them to remove their shoes.  Shoes track in some really nasty and unhealthy things, believe me! (Read more here).
  • Set up a numbering system where only “every fourth guest” who uses the bathroom flushes.  Haahaa!  Obviously, this one is a joke!  I’m not that crazy!

But sincerely, just do your best! Many of the choices aren’t expensive and can actually be less expensive in the long run when you weigh all of the factors.  And if your prep and set-up has all of the best choices in place, you will be able to “eat, drink and be merry”… and content that your party is a little greener.

And seriously… for the second time!… STOP considering that numbering system… it was a joke…(yea, kinda gross!)