Simple gift-giving tip: One gift for one whole year…

Wouldn’t that be nice… purchase ONE gift and you’re done for the whole year??? Well, that’s not exactly what I meant but we can all dream, can’t we?!?!

gift fab bagSincerely, I feel like I’m constantly purchasing gifts for some sort of occasion.  The problem is that we often feel pressured to fulfill someone’s wish list, but there is nothing wrong with fulfilling some of our own wishes too, so how about using gift-giving occasions as an opportunity for spreading a little green cheer.

Here’s is what I have in mind… right now, choose one green, environmental and/or eco-friendly item… and choose to buy it EVERY time you have a gift giving occasion. Sound impossible? Well, it’s really not. I’ll give you a couple of ideas to get you started:

  • Reusable water bottles – it’s impossible to shop and NOT run into reusable water bottles, in every color and style possible, for everyone, of every age.watr bttles
  • Reusable bags/ totes – anything from shopping bags to fabric totes,  to sport packs and kids’ carry-alls (extra points for organic cottons, upcycled and reclaimed fabrics!).
  • Books – every bookstore has a diverse supply of eco-themed books, regardless of interest or age.
  • Movies – a quick search will turn up everything from Wall-e, to Planet Earth, to An Inconvenient Truth… there is something for everyone.
  • Clothing – who doesn’t love a comfy tee?  Buy organic cotton with an earth-friendly message and the message will be spread even further than the recipient!

If your recipient has the technology to accommodate, you can also go another step greener and buy e-books or iTune gifts!

So, do you think you could do it? I bet’cha you could. Will I? You bet’cha, I will!

Simple buying tip: Choose natural fabrics…(and WHY!)

grn teeSooo many green rules… and (for me, especially!)… only so much “brain space”!  Honestly.  Remembering and retaining all of the rules can be mind boggling.

Sometimes we may even waiver on a choice simply because it seems like it can’t possibly make that much of a difference.

Fabric choice is one of those, but think about this the next time you have a choice of clothing and fabrics:

  • Conventionally grown cotton involves fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, genetically modified seeds and approximately 25%(!) of the insecticides used on ALL crops WORLDWIDE! (yes… you heard it right… 25%!).  This should be especially disturbing when you consider that (because of the vastness of these crops) most of these chemicals are applied aerially (so no… don’t take any deep breaths if you’re in the vicinity either.)
  • Bamboo and hemp fabrics are a great alternative too.  They are sustainable and grow rapidly.
  • Organic wool means that the sheep have been raised by organic standards…. a plus for animal lovers too!
  • Dyes contain harsh chemicals so look for fabrics that have been colored with non-toxic vegetable dyes instead of those chemically tinted.

Maybe your “color chart” says that green “isn’t for you”, but when it comes to fabric choices, green is for everyone!

Recycle old t-shirts into new treasures!

This weekend my husband and I have made a pledge to one another… a serious vow and promise that will not be broken.  That promise?…

Clean our clothes closets and drawers! Ohhh, sounds romantic, yes?

teecycleWell, okay, not so romantic, but a necessity?… oh, yes!  It is a promise we have made innumerable times in the past year (and never followed through), but this time we really (REALLY!) mean it!

I have no doubt that one of the most popular items that need to go will be an abnormally huge amount of t-shirts.  Some will be destine for the “rag bag”, others will be donated, but did you also know that there are tons of ways to recycle t-shirts?

I discovered a site that has it all. Andy from hideyourarms.com has done all the legwork for us and has nearly EVERY way – most with tutorials and instructions!  Old t-shirts can be turned into amazing new products with real usefulness:teecycle scarf

Think new shirts, reusable bags, yoga pants, throw pillows, camis, scarves, carrying cases, blankets, skirts… the list goes on and on.

While you may not be looking to make a ninja hood (although Halloween is around the corner!) or decide to fashion a bikini (those days are looong gone!), there are some great ideas to “get your ‘reuse’ on”!

Take a look, grab an old tee and give it new life!

10 ways to green your laundry… (without a random sock!)

landry bsktLaundry… oh, laundry.  Just the thought makes me sigh.  It is probably one of my least favorite of all the home “duties”, but it’s also unavoidable.  Unless I want to send my husband and kids (and myself!) off with stinky, wrinkled clothes, it’s gotta happen!

There are plenty of habits that can make laundry time very eco-UNfriendly, so here are 10 simple ways to make laundry day a little greener:

  1. Make sure the laundry actually NEEDS to be done.  Stop the habit of putting on something for a few hours and then tossing it in the laundry basket.  If it can be reworn before a washing, hang it up or put it away immediately… and teach everyone else in the house the same good habit. (By the way, a great “wrinkle remover” is a simple spray bottle of water.  Mist the wrinkles, smooth by hand and hang to dry… it works!)
  2. Load to capacity.  Forget those mini-loads… wash only when you can fill the machine to capacity.  Also be sure to dry similar fabrics together so they dry in similar amounts of time.  (Towels and tees don’t dry at the same rate, so this will needlessly run the dryer extra long!)
  3. Choose eco-friendly detergents.  Skip the harsh ingredients in the most popular brands of detergents and, instead, choose those with biodegradable content made of plant or vegetable based ingredients (I’m a Method girl, by the way!).wshr & dryer
  4. Wash on warm/cold cycles.  Forget that the hot setting even exists (since 90% of the washer’s energy consumption comes from heating the water!).  In fact, if all U.S. households switched from hot/hot cycles to warm/cold, we could save energy comparable to 100,000 barrels of oil a day!
  5. Choose appropriate settings.  No need to put every load on an extended, hour-long wash.  If what’s inside isn’t heavily soiled, choose a shorter wash cycle.
  6. Skip the dryer sheets or use only those with natural ingredients and biodegradable fibers.  Better yet, use dryer balls… I recommend Wool Dryer Balls, to soften the fabric and speed the drying time.  Even white vinegar added during the washer’s rinse cycle can soften fabric.
  7. Use your auto-dry button! If your dryer has this setting, use it!  It will shut off when the contents are dry and you won’t continue to tumble already dry clothes for an extra 15 minutes!
  8. When weather or circumstance permits, consider hanging your laundry to dry.  It may sound very 1950s, but it’s actually very environment to skip all of that energy usage.  But when you are using the dryer, make sure the lint traps and vents are clean so the air properly circulates and you are drying most efficiently.
  9. When it comes time to replace a washer, choose a front-loading version.  They use 50-60% less water, 50% less energy to heat the water and have a greater capacity than top-loading versions.  Plus, because they spin faster, they extract more water from the laundry and this, in turn, reduces your dryer time.
  10. Batch your laundry.  Take advantage of the heat that’s already been generated and do a couple loads in a row.

You may or may not dread laundry as much as I do, but if you follow these simple tips, it’s will not only keep your laundry green and clean, it will keep your conscious free and clear!

Earn a “green” star for back to school!

Am I obsessed and saddened that the summer is ending?  Yes, (obviously) because I am mentioning it constantly.  Is the end of summer inevitable?schoolbus Well, yes it is!

So, as we prepare for sending our children back to school it’s easy to become a little “spend happy” since every corner we turn seems to remind us to buy, buy, BUY!  Don’t fall victim to feeling like you have to go overboard.

This year, when we received our daughter’s supply list, the first thing I did was check what we already had.  I was surprised to find that we already had over half of the list… notebooks, pencils, glue, scissors, erasers, ruler, CHECK!  I actually kept a box of what was left over from last year, and I assure you, that bottle of Elmer’s glue that was still 2/3 full is perfect to get her started.  If you do need to buy, buy recycled:  pencils, paper, and even backpacks of recycled materials exist if you just look.

I’m happy to say that we also have a green lunchtime covered.  By using her waste-free lunch kit, I can rest easy that our daughter creates almost zero trash. Lunchboxes and reusable containers are both earth-friendly and economical because all of the single-serving foods are expensive in comparison.  (Still looking for a waste-free lunch kit?  There are still a few days to win one in my giveaway!)

The hardest part of preparing for school is outfitting your kids with a new wardrobe.  Little ones grow so quickly, but the older they get the slower star-greenthey grow.  Before you charge out to charge a new wardrobe, find out what still fits.  Don’t replace clothing before it’s been outgrown.  If it has, you can still be green by putting “reuse” into action.  Gather up the unneeded clothes, shoes, jackets and coats and donate them to an organization so those less fortunate have the opportunity to use them.  Even consignment shops or swaps with friends are an option and simply give more life to items that haven’t worn out their usefulness.

Whether you get teary-eyed at the idea of sending your kids back to school, or the first day couldn’t come soon enough (I will be a teary-eyed one!) be sure to earn a green star for your efforts before they go!