To buy or not to buy (a leaf blower)… THAT is the question!

leef blowrVery rarely does my husband ask to buy anything.  (Ask him about the ever decreasing clarity of our “getting-old-TV” that he regularly tolerates and I’m sure he would agree.)

This Fall his wish list has one item… a leaf blower, and he’s hoping for my blessing.  I’ll preface this with saying that our yard has a lot of trees.  In fact, our entire neighborhood has a lot of trees and since we’re on a treed ravine, the leaves are endless.

My obvious concern is the “green factor” and what the usage of a leaf blower would negatively contribute.  We’ve always tried to keep up with them by raking and raking and raking, but it sometimes seems like the Fall gets consumed with the task, and honestly, a blower would make it more efficient and much less time consuming.

So, in usual Mom Goes Green fashion, I set out to find the answer and here is what I discovered:

The combined emissions of ALL leaf blowers, residential AND commercial, used for one whole year are only EQUAL to the emissions created by all the cars driven on U.S. roads in only 11 hours of one singular day.

Now I know someone will say “Use a rake!” and yes, we will still use a rake.  They are noisy (but we are not early morning people anyhow and will limit our use!) and we don’t put leaves in plastic bags, we push them into the ravine… but, truly, this puts it into perspective.  If using that leaf leevesblower creates such an extraordinarily minuscule amount of emissions, if it saves us time that could be spent on other things, if one less trip to drive and run errands offsets its usage AND it makes my husband happy(!) (and all those answers are “yes!”, by the way) then, guess what….

…Honey, you’re getting a leaf blower! (…and you can use yours without guilt too!)

Simple tip: Choose low- or no-VOC paint… always!

The easiespain't cnst way to visually freshen-up the inside of a house is paint.  Add a new color and, instantly, the place looks lively again.  In fact, every year approximately 630 MILLION gallons of paint are sold in the U.S. alone.

After recently having new windows installed in our home, I found myself in this exact situation and needed to purchase paint to cover all of the new trim.  While some of us might get caught up in the color palette, I found myself laboring over the SAFEST paint.

The concern?  VOCs – volatile organic compounds.  These off-gassing, toxic chemical emissions contribute to ozone and smog formation and are linked to respiratory illnesses and memory impairment, so they put both our health and our environment at risk. In fact, the concentration of indoor VOCs is often higher than outdoors (by about four-to-six times as much) as a result of paints, stains, and varnishes used in our home, and these emissions can continue for multiple years after the finish is applied.pain't roll

You can avoid this health and environmental hazard by choosing low- or no-VOC finishes… always.  Simple as that.

If you think a little bit of paint can’t possibly matter, consider this:

The amount of VOC toxic emissions saved by purchasing just a few gallons of low-VOC paint each year is equivalent to the VOC that would be saved if you didn’t drive your car for an entire year.

So, pick your palette, go crazy with the colors but just remember to say “hold the VOCs, please!”

Magazines and magazines and magazines… oh my!

nwsstndRecently I approached a few local drugstores and asked them what they do with their outdated magazines. (I was hoping to set up a program where I could pick-up those magazines or have them delivered to the paper recycling dumpster behind my kids’ school so they could earn money from the recycling company.)  Unfortunately I was told that they remove the covers, return them to the publisher for credit and are told they MUST discard them in the trash dumpster….OUCH!  TRASH dumpster, not recycling dumpster.

Sadly, this is the fate of many magazines.  In fact, about 60% of magazines remain unsold and are destine for this same misfortune!

I’ve also recently taken inventory of how many magazines make their way into my own household and, let me tell you… it’s time to make a change! We not only receive magazine subscriptions, but also print publications for every local organization we’ve joined… from the Zoo, to the Natural History Museum, to the Science Center!iPd mag2

There are definitely better options.  More and more magazines are becoming available in e-formats, digitally delivered right to your computer, iPhone or iPad.  Check Zinio.com or emagazines.com to see if your “favorite reads” are available.  For all those other publications, a quick glance inside (typically around the publisher’s information) will often turn up an option to actually receive the publication digitally… all you need to do is digitally subscribe!  And if you don’t want it, UNsubscribe or opt out!

I assure you, once you take a look at all those un-read magazines piling up, you’ll realize you can make a change too!

Green clean: one fab multi-purpose cleaner recipe!

bth roomI used to have a cleaning product cupboard that was loaded with a cleaner for every purpose.  That’s changed quite a bit since I learned the magic of distilled white vinegar and baking soda, however homemade cleaners have been getting a bad rap lately for some concerns over their anti-bacterial abilities.

Well, not long ago I discovered a recipe for a fantastic multi-purpose, homemade green cleaner that eliminates that concern.  I honestly don’t recall where I found it (if I owe someone credit, please let me know!) but it’s another one of those things worth sharing!  So here goes…

INGREDIENTS:

  • water
  • distilled white vinegar
  • eco-friendly dishwashing liquid
  • lemongrass essential oil or tea tree oil

The trick with this cleaner is the use of the lemongrass essential oil or the tea tree oil.  Lemongrass happens to be a natural anti-bacterial (yes, natural… not harsh like commercial anti-bacterials) and the tea tree oil has properties that are both anti-viral and anti-fungal.

DIRECTIONS:spry bttl

  • Fill a 28-32 ounce sprayer bottle about half full with water (you probably have one at home that you’ve salvaged from another product!)
  • Fill almost the rest of the bottle with distilled white vinegar
  • Add 15-20 drops of essential lemongrass oil OR tea tree oil (depending on where you want to use it… or mix a batch of each)
  • Add 3 drops of eco-friendly dishwashing liquid
  • Shake to mix and you’re ready to go!

You’ll want to give it a good shake before every use and, I assure you, with the number of places it can be used, you’ll be doing lots of shakin’ in your kitchens and bathrooms… stainless steel, chrome, countertops, sinks, toilets, tubs, showers, mirrors, windows, floors, doors, ovens, microwaves… the list goes on and on.

The worst part?… well, now it’s time to clean!