The holidays are fast approaching… (as if any of us needed a reminder!). With only two weeks to go, I thought it was long overdue to write my list of favorite green gifts… the tangible stuff, when you want to give something that won’t make you feel too guilty and stay true to being green…
So, without further ado, here is what I love to give:
- Live plants – they add life to any home and help cleanse the air by consuming CO2 and giving off some nice oxygen.
- Starter Kit for Change – it’s packed full of green goodies (including a fabulous one-of-a-kind reusable fabric tote) to get someone set on the road to thinking green.
- Threadless Tees – they have great nature- and eco-themed tees for absolutely everyone, so you can help someone spread an earth-friendly message (and they are having an amazing sale right now too!).
- Reusable bottles, bags & lunch kits – they all keep trash from landfills and the bottles also assure that we avoid harmful BPA.
- Green movies – consider movies like An Inconvenient Truth, Wall-e, Planet Earth or The 11th Hour… they all send an impactful message.
- Bamboo & organic cotton – so many things to choose, including cutting boards, cutlery, bowls, wine racks, towels, clothing… bamboo and organic cotton is amazingly sustainable and a lot less harsh on the environment.
- CFLs & rechargeable batteries – they save energy and keep battery trash from landfills (and they save the recipient some money too!).
- Electronics solar charger – free energy from the sun… what could be simpler?
- Homemade gifts – whether it’s a batch of homemade cookies, or something creative made from materials you have at home, you and your kids can create perfect gifts (think candle holders made from jars, pencil holders made from cans, or a framed work of art from your children).
- Organic treats – everything from organic fruits to chocolates, to beers and wines or coffees and teas, organic is always a fabulous choice… and it supports the choice for organics.
- Natural, biodegradable bath products – something that’s not harsh on our skin and bodies, plus something that doesn’t harm the environment is a great choice.
- Upcycled products – “all that is old can be new again”… you can find totes, baskets, jewelry, clothing, rugs and even furniture.
- Local gifts – (again) those beers and wines, produce, art or just any locally-made products simply supports those local merchants and artists and avoids the emissions created from transporting products from remote regions of the world.
- Think of others – if you can find it in your heart, give to a charity. Whether it’s a new gift for a child or family in need, or the donation of things you no longer want (clothing, toys, books, household items, etc.), there is always someone less fortunate than we are and reusing anything that still has usefulness is both environmental and a true gift for those that need our help. Find the time and make a difference for someone who needs our love and assistance. It doesn’t need to cost a dime and I assure you… it will help your heart feel full!
This list could truly go on and on, but the main objective should be to give something that YOU can feel good about, but also something you know can (and will) be used too. A needless, useless gift will only become house-clutter and then eventually cast off to a landfill.
The clock is ticking but hopefully you found a new idea to help… Happy Green Shopping!
To 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. (Now didn’t that sounds like a Hallmark card!!!)
In all seriousness, everything from the decorations, to the food, to the clean-up can be exceptionally green.
Here are the things to keep in mind:
- Invitations – forgo the paper invitations and send Evites instead. If you need to mail invitations, look for those made of recycled paper.
- 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.
- 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). Start now… call around… see who has what you need, reserve it and buy it.
- Drinks – serve organic wine or consider a local brew… or, if you’re lucky (like me!) and surrounded by local wineries, a local wine!
- 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 at any dollar store.
- Consider the temperature – ovens heat a house fairly 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.
- Recycle – that should go without saying, but just remember to make it happen. Cans, jars, containers, bottles, anything and everything possible.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 is 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!
Vinegar is always on my grocery list… and I buy it by the gallon. Today, in fact, I will be using it to help clear our extremely slow-draining bathroom sink. I’ve also talked about ways to put vinegar to work in household cleaning and laundry, but there are even more ways to substitute vinegar for other remedies and, in some cases, it helps you stay green and avoid chemicals.
Think about this list:
- Acne remedy and skin conditioner – dilute 50/50 with water to use as a toner or dab, full strength, on the problem areas.
- Clean lime deposits and calcium – we’ve all had build-up in our coffee makers and washing machines. Fill the coffee maker with vinegar and brew it, or add a cup to your washing machine and run a cycle without clothes to give it a good cleaning.
- Condition dry hair – shampoo your hair then rinse it with a mix of one cup of apple cider vinegar and two cups of water. (Feel free to wash the vinegar out after that initial rinse!)
- Deodorize a smelly lunchbox – soak a cloth in vinegar and close it up in the lunchbox overnight to eliminate nasty odors.
- Get rid of unwanted weeds – pour in the cracks or crevices or spray directly on the culprits!
- Heal a bruise – apply white vinegar for an hour and it will reduce the discoloration and aid healing (time consuming, but it works!).
- Prevent cracked hard boiled eggs – add two tablespoons per quart of water before boiling the eggs.
- Remove skunk smells – (let’s hope this has happened to your pet and not YOU!) but apply, full strength to your pet’s fur, rinse with cold water, and it will reduce the smell dramatically.
- Repel pesky ants – mix equal parts vinegar and water and spray in the problem areas.
- Stop bug bite itching – dab on the area of the bite and it will relieve the itch.
Undoubtedly vinegar isn’t always the most aromatic and pleasant smell on the planet but given the choice of vinegar over harsh chemicals, I’ll pick the vinegar any time!
Do you have more uses? Share them!
We all have our standards for grocery shopping… that list of do’s and don’ts for what we choose. Maybe it’s a choice of organic produce and/or ingredients. Maybe it’s a matter of avoiding certain contents, like artificial ingredients. Maybe it’s just looking for the overall healthiest choices.
But above and beyond the food we select, there are many ways we can make our grocery store trip “greener”. Consider these 10 simple ways:
- Buy the most minimal packaging. Consider things like fresh breads. They often come in paper bags that can be recycled – a far better choice than plastic wrappers (sometimes double-wrappers!) of mass-produced bread. This holds true for many products. Select those with minimal or the most recyclable packaging.
- Buy a chunk or a brick of sliced cheese over the individually-wrapped version. A package of 24-slices will include 24 sheets of plastic otherwise.
- Buy the big can instead of multiple smaller cans – less packaging and less to recycle. If it’s more than you need, put a reusable container to work and store it in your freezer until you do need it!
- Buy local, every time you can! Did you know that produce in the US travels between 1,500 to 2,500 miles before it even reaches your grocery store? … lots of emissions are created to make that happen!
- Choose fresh over frozen or canned. They use a lot less energy… from the energy used to process and manufacture them, to the energy needed for storage… choose fresh!
- Choose sustainable wild fish over farm-raised – they actually contain less metals and create less contaminates since the concentration of farm-raised fish creates high levels of contaminating waste that will eventually reach our water sources.
- Buy a gallon of milk or juices versus multiple 2-quarts, and buy in boxes versus individual packages. This often means one recyclable container versus two non-recyclable cartons, and one recyclable box over a dozen plastic wrappers. It’s obvious and fairly easy to break down single-servings into reusable containers.
- Embrace the soybean! They’re a fabulous source of protein and cost a lot less than cattle farming! If you replaced one beef meal per month with a soybean product, it would save TWENTY THOUSAND GALLONS of water per year!
- Shop the counter. Buy meats at a counter where you can select the exact amount you need. Prepackaging ends up in excessive waste and often the needless disposal of foods when you “have too much”.
- No paper, no plastic, no arguments! Reusable bags are the only option.
It’s Friday. Now get to shopping… but just remember to think “green-ER” before you buy!
This IS the most fundamental of questions. We each have our own idea of what “going green” means, and perhaps, a variety of reasons for doing so. But it’s a question worth answering.
If you ever asked yourself this question, or if someone ever asks you “why”, think about the big picture and the reasons we “do what we do”. I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a cause worth fighting for.
- In a nutshell, I believe the “go green” movement is all about the concerns for the depletion and contamination of the earth’s greatest, and most important, natural resources… think about clean water, clean air, clean soil… (not to mention a clean and healthy body). They are directly linked to our well-being and they are in jeopardy.
- When we choose not to recycle, our trash (that reaches landfills) contains harmful chemicals and ingredients that affect the soil, leach into the ground and surface water, and contaminate everything… from the soil that grows our food to the water we drink. This contamination also creates harmful conditions for wildlife and eco-systems.
- When we DO recycle, we save the resources needed to create new products and the energy needed for their production, which prevents excessive CO2 emissions caused by the production process.
- Reducing energy consumption reduces your demand on polluting power plants that create excessive emissions and seriously contribute to global warming.
- Water is essential to our survival and it is NOT renewable. Being conscious of our use (and preventing overuse) of water and seeing that we do all we can to prevent contamination of our fresh water supply simply protects this invaluable resource.
- Buying organic locally-grown foods means avoiding harsh chemicals, supporting agriculture that does not contaminate the soil and food (with pesticides/herbicides and harmful chemicals), and avoiding the emissions created by shipping produce from somewhere across the country or (potentially) another hemisphere entirely. This, in turn, slows deforestation by reducing the demand for producing news crops… therefore saving delicate eco-systems, valuable trees (that hold CO2) and precious wildlife.
- Choosing products that are biodegradable and contain natural ingredients prevents absorption of chemicals into our own bodies and the contamination of resources when they reach landfills and water sources. This includes everything from body products and cosmetics to household cleaners and lawn care chemicals.
- Choosing products made from recycled or sustainable resources does everything from protecting resources, habitats and forests, to preventing more landfill waste, to the reduction of production energy.
- When we choose NOT to use resources, it SAVES resources. Is there really any reason NOT to want to do that?
- People, plants, animals and the environment/eco-systems are all interconnected. We cannot change one without affecting the other and, the way I see it, we are the only “element” in that equation that has the true ability to make a positive change.
Why go green? For me, it’s to do my part in preserving this planet and its resources through each and every choice I make. And to see that I make the healthiest choices possible. I have young children… they’re counting on me.
Why do YOU go green?