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!

10 simple steps for a green Thanksgiving…

thanksgvg tblTo me, Thanksgiving has always felt like the holiday with the greatest “green potential”. There are no gifts, costumes, candy or extra, elaborate frills.  It’s simply about family gatherings, feasting on the bounty of the season and giving thanks for everything we have.  There are so many ways to avoid over-abundance… (well, with the exception of over-eating!)

Everything from the decorations, to the food, to the clean-up can be exceptionally green.

Here are the things to keep in mind:

  1. Invitations – forgo the paper invitations and send Evites instead.  You’ve probably already handled this task, but this rule goes for any gathering!  And if you do need to mail invitations, look for those made of recycled paper.
  2. Decorations – in many cases, you need only walk into your own backyard: leaves, acorns and twigs can be turned into amazing arrangements. Combine them with colorful gourds, Indian corn, squash and apples and you’ve just captured the season!  Afterward, compost or add them back to nature.
  3. Food – visit your local farmer’s market for all of the most amazing produce.  Go organic.  Think acorn squash, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, apple and pumpkin pie! And seek out an organic, hormone-free, steroid-free turkey (if it will be a part of your feast).
  4. Drinks – serve organic drinks or consider a local brew… or, if you’re lucky (like me!) and surrounded by local wineries, a local wine!
  5. Tableware and serveware – stop saving “the good dishes” and silverware!  Use them!  Glasses, cups and stemware?  Get them out! Forget the disposable “anything”.  You can even score inexpensive cloth napkins and table coverings at any dollar store.crncopia
  6. Consider the temperature – ovens heat a house quite quickly… and so do lots of people… so turn down the thermostat or, in warmer climates, keep ceiling fans circulating or windows open to keep the indoors comfortable.
  7. Recycle – that should go without saying, but just remember to make it happen.  Cans, jars, containers, bottles, anything and everything possible.
  8. Don’t waste leftovers – keep only what you know your family will eat.  Send the rest home with your guests.  Start thinking about containers now (no styrofoam plates or plastic-wrap, please!).  You can even ask guests to bring their own glass or ceramic dishware… why not?! And if you compost, toss in those food scraps.
  9. Clean-up – use your dishwasher, but make sure you fill it first.  For the big jobs, you’ll need to use some elbow-grease, but be sure not to leave the tap running endlessly.  And get out your green cleaners.  You can get back to “shiny & clean” without harsh chemicals.
  10. Although it has nothing to do with being green… give thanks. Ask everyone at your table to share a thought. It will certainly put happiness in the air, and that’s absolutely free!

Now, if you need some of those ‘leaf, acorn and twig’ decorations I mentioned, email me… and then back up a truck… I have enough in my own backyard to supply your whole neighborhood!

Air conditioning vs. fresh air: 10 ways to “keep our cool”

therm risingAt the start of every summer, as the temperature rises, my husband and I seem to have the same discussion… when to turn on the air conditioning!

This is never an easy discussion (okay! read: argument!) as this is the man who wears shorts and t-shirts around the house when it’s 19 degrees outside in the dead of winter.

I prefer the open windows and doors, and want to breathe the fresh air.  To this my husband responds “Babe, it ceases to be fresh as soon as it’s 85 degrees with 70% humidity!”  Well, it’s still fresh but I guess it does cease to be RE-freshing!

Just like heating your house in the winter and whether you do or don’t choose to crank the AC, there are ways to keep your house cooler, stop some of the cool air loss and use less energy in the process:

  • Close blinds or curtains in various windows throughout the day to prevent the sun shining in.  If it’s coming in, so is the heat.
  • Use ceiling fans. They circulate the cool air and don’t use a lot of energy.
  • Program your thermostat.  No need to keep it blasting in the evening or when you aren’t even home.
  • When it’s cool outside at night, shut off the air, open the windows and take advantage.
  • 74 degrees is all you need.  This is a bearable temperature, and if you can tolerate it higher, do it!  Each degree saves 3-4% on your cooling/energy expenses.
  • Don’t worry about unused rooms.  Close the windows, doors and vents in these rooms, and block the bottom of the door if they aren’t frequently occupied.ceil fan
  • Run appliances at night.  This includes dryers & dishwashers that give off heat. Avoid using your oven… give it a rest and grill instead!  And if you do use the stovetop, be sure to use the exhaust fan to take away the heat.
  • Turn off unneeded lights, TVs, computers, etc. when you aren’t using them.  They all generate heat too.
  • Keep heat generating appliances away from the thermostat (TVs, lamps, etc.).  They’ll make the thermostat think it’s hotter than it really is.
  • Don’t chop down trees that shade your house.  They simply keep a house cooler.  And even plant strategically.  Shaded AC units run more efficiently, but just be sure not to block the airflow.

I do try to take my own advice.  It’s not always easy (living with my husband who compensates by turning up the ceiling fans to “jet speed”) but it’s a compromise we always seem to manage when it all “boils down”!

10 things you overlooked to “go green” in your bathroom

bth room 2Everyone knows the standard list of ways to go green in the bathroom (and I’m not talking about all of those green beers you’re planning to drink next week for St. Patrick’s Day!).  I’m talking about turning off the water while you brush your teeth, low-flow shower heads, water efficient toilets, chemical-free cleaners, short showers and low-volume baths… okay, you’ve heard them all, but what about those little things you overlook?

Think there aren’t any?  Well, think again… here are some things you may have missed:

  • Soap – choose bar soaps over liquid shower gels and avoid excess plastic packaging. Although many of the bottles are recyclable, the caps often aren’t.
  • Cosmetic foundations & eyeliners – choose foundation sold in glass bottles or jars over those in plastic tubes and containers so they can be recycled. Choose wooden pencil eyeliners over plastic tubes too.grn soap
  • Shampoos – (if you must use a conditioner) choose a 2-in-1 product where the shampoo and conditioner are combined.  You will use one less container but also shorten your shower by skipping an extra step.
  • Razors – choose a refillable razor versus disposables.  Plastic razors simply become needless trash.
  • Toilet paper – choose recycled content toilet paper… a simple choice.
  • Q-tips – choose those with a paper spindle instead of plastic… plain and simple also.
  • Towels – choose bamboo options.  They’re soft, snuggly and (most important) sustainable!  Organic cotton towels are another great choice.
  • Greywater – Add a bucket in the shower with you and capture it!  Showers actually account for over a quarter of a home’s typical water usage, and there are plenty of uses for this greywater.
  • Shower curtins – avoid the additional plastic liner.  Instead choose a curtain that is waterproofed on the inside without the plastic.

Now, what you consume on St. Patrick’s Day is all your own business, but with these tips you can “go green” in the bathroom the more natural way!

Going green in the bathroom: 10 things you overlooked…

bth room 2Everyone knows the standard list of ways to go green in the bathroom – turning off the water while you brush your teeth, low-flow shower heads, water efficient toilets, chemical-free cleaners, short showers and low-volume baths… okay, you’ve heard them all, but what about those little things you overlook?

Think there aren’t any?  Well, think again… here are some things you may have missed:

  • Soap – choose bar soaps over liquid shower gels and avoid excess plastic packaging. Although many of the bottles are recyclable, the caps often aren’t.
  • Cosmetic foundations & eyeliners – choose foundation sold in glass bottles or jars over those in plastic tubes and containers so they can be recycled. Choose wooden pencil eyeliners over plastic tubes too.grn soap
  • Shampoos – (if you must use a conditioner) choose a 2-in-1 product where the shampoo and conditioner are combined.  You will use one less container but also shorten your shower by skipping an extra step.
  • Razors – choose a refillable razor versus disposables.  Plastic razors simply become needless trash.
  • Q-tips – choose those with a paper spindle instead of plastic… plain and simple.bamb towels
  • Towels – choose bamboo options.  They’re soft, snuggly and (most important) sustainable!  Organic cotton towels are another great choice.
  • Greywater – Add a bucket in the shower with you and capture it!  Showers actually account for over a quarter of a home’s typical water usage, and there are plenty of uses for this greywater.
  • Speaking of showers… shower with someone special…. (Ooo, Mom Goes Green just got naughty!)