Earth Hour 2012: March 31 (can you spare the time?)

I hope you’ve circled the date on your calendar! This Saturday, March 31, 2012, from 8:30-9:30 pm is Earth Hour!

Earth Hour started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, with 2.2 million homes and businesses turning off their lights for one hour as a “vote” FOR the earth, and a “vote” AGAINST global warming.  By 2011, this movement had grown to hundreds of millions of people, and even darkened the Sydney Opera House, Rome’s Colosseum, The Eiffel Tower in Paris, The Parthenon in Greece, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the Las Vegas Strip, New York City’s Times Square and landmarks around the globe.

Last year people from all around the world switched off their lights in a unified vote because, regardless of where you live, we all depend on the same planet! This is the perfect time to turn off the lights, discuss global warming and the importance of “being green” as a family.  Consider taking actions to assure that we aren’t polluting our earth and overusing resources in our everyday lives.

For more information, go to www.earthhour.org and sign-up to be “officially” counted!

Need some inspiration?

Or want to know what we did last year?… click here

now…

Will you (please) “vote” with me this year?

It’s Spring… and time to “green clean”!

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. Everything feels new and there is something very refreshing about sitting back and seeing things literally spring to life.  One thing that does need our assistance, however, is our home. Unfortunately there is NOTHING refreshing about a house that has been closed for months on end.

The problem is, while we attempt to do our spring cleaning, we can be tempted to grab the commercial cleaners and create a lot of waste too.  Here are some tips on avoiding the pitfalls:

  • Open windowslet the fresh air come in. It does wonders!
  • Buy distilled white vinegar – and lots of it.  The uses are amazing… everything from cleaning and sanitizing to disinfecting and stain removal.  Check out vinegartips.com for ideas, but whatever you do, do NOT use commercial household cleaners… they are harsh, harmful and unnecessary.
  • Buy hydrogen peroxide – you may not have considered this as an option before, but it’s a great alternative to bleach.
  • Buy baking soda – fantastic for cleaning but also for removing odors from rugs and carpets.  Sprinkle some on, let it sit for 30 minutes and vacuum it up… nice and simple.
  • Make your own multi-purpose cleanerI have a recipe and I use my own cleaner daily.
  • Make your own furniture polish – I have another recipe for you!
  • Make your own soft scrub – I have yet another recipe!
  • Skip paper towels and sponges – gather old t-shirts and towels (not suitable for donation) and put them to work.  Skoy cloths are another favorite of mine, and they can all be washed and used again for later cleaning projects.
  • Recycle – magazines, mail, catalogs, any needless papers, packaging….the list goes on and on.  And don’t just put them in the garbage can.  Put them in the recycling can. All of these papers are recyclable!
  • Food cupboards – you thought you’d need it, use it, want it, but alas you did not.  Donate it to a food pantry if it hasn’t expired; otherwise make sure the packaging, cans and containers get recycled as well.
  • Donation boxes – inevitably you will find lots of things that no longer have usefulness for you but that doesn’t mean they’re not useful for someone else.  Clothing, shoes, household items, books, furniture, toys, anything and everything. Pack up these items and donate them to a charity, list them on Freecycle or Craig’s List.  But never throw away anything that still has “life” left in it.
  • Proper disposalmotor oil, paint cans, aerosols… check Earth911 to find out where these toxic products can be dropped off for proper disposal.  Same goes for electronics.  If they can’t be given away, check local resources (Best Buy has a fabulous program) or again Earth911.
  • Consider air freshening in a less harmful way – if you MUST put the scent of spring in the air, forgo the aerosol air fresheners and instead fill a spray bottle with a combination of water and essential oils, and “spray away!”
  • Buy a plant – some household plants will actually help to purify the air in your home!
  • Consider some “Spring Resolutions”no more antibacterial soaps (their harmful effects can be greater than their benefit), no more harsh cleaners and chemicals.  Vow to replace them with eco- and health-friendly products.  Put CFLs on your shopping list and use them for every bulb that needs replacing from here on out!  And when you buy these products, make sure they get placed in reusable bags!

Start stretching, limber up and let the “green cleaning” commence!

 

EVERYONE can “save green” while they “drive green”!

My dad is a fairly typical guy. And our conversations are fairly typical too … he loves to talk about the weather, complain about politics and, lately, gripe… (incessantly!)… about gas prices.

While he doesn’t “buy” all of my environmental beliefs and commitments, it gave me quite a bit of pleasure to let him know (following that on-going “gas price rant”) that I could provide him with some great tips to save green and BE green. (*insert “annoyed-Dad-grumble” here!*)

Here are the steps I shared with him.  Even for the biggest naysayer, there are little things we can all do to impact the environment less, AND save some cash on fuel. (Imagine, I got to tell my DAD how to drive, for a change!):

  1. Use the cruise – hitting that little button burns less fuel and can increase your mileage by 15%, simple as that.
  2. Maintain it – a well-maintained vehicle actually saves gas and creates less pollution because it runs more efficiently.
  3. Keep your tires properly inflated – this also affects fuel efficiency and emissions.
  4. Clean out your trunk – all that extra stuff you’re carting around in the back adds more weight and reduces your fuel efficiency.
  5. Avoid idling – did you know this consumes more fuel than when you’re actually driving, so don’t warm your car for 15 minutes and shut it off when you can.
  6. Skip drive-thrus – they’re also an “idle nightmare”, and (contrary to belief) restarting it does NOT use more gas.
  7. Keep your speed steady and stop flooring it – this is the reason cruise control is more efficient, and flooring it for just one second actually causes a burst of CO2 emissions equal to 30 minutes of normal driving.
  8. Stay the speed limit – for every 5 mph over 60 it’s like paying 20 cents more per gallon of gas because it burns faster (emissions!).
  9. Consider telecommuting for your job once a week – if it’s possible and you never asked your employer, consider it… they may say yes!  Other option, carpool with a local work pal.
  10. Park it – imagine that!  Use a little bit of foot power and walk, or get out your bike and pedal away! It’s free and there are absolutely zero emissions!

If you’re looking for a new car, the EPA offers a guide to the best car choices to meet your needs.

Now, I’m not suggesting you miff-off your dad and tell him how to drive, but he might just be impressed with your brilliance when you share some little tips to save some (green) gas money!