The A to Z Guide for a Green 2012!

Well, Hello 2012! For some of us, you couldn’t have come soon enough!

It’s a new year with a new chance to make a new beginning… our chance to make a real difference!

If you’ve been “putting off your greening”, I’m going to give you the A to Z list to get the ball rolling. (I think I’ve put together quite the extraordinary list, if I do say so myself!  Be sure to click on the orange links to learn more!)

Hold onto your “green” party hats, and let’s go!…

AAppliances, Animals – Buy energy efficient appliances when you need to make a replacement.  If you’re looking for a ‘cause’ that needs your assistance, donate to help save an endangered species.
B – Bamboo, Biodegradable, Baking Soda – Buy sustainable bamboo products (everything from towels to furniture).  Think biodegradable for all product choices (detergents, bath products, cleaners, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.).  Use eco-friendly baking soda for everything from health & beauty to cleaning your home.
C – CFLs, Cleaners, Compost, CSAs – Replace your lights with compact fluorescents.  Skip the chemicals in traditional, commercial cleaners and opt for eco-friendly choices. Start composing food scraps and other biodegradable materials.  Consider buying into a CSA for the freshest, organic produce.
D – Donate, Disposable, Dry cleaningDonate your usable but no longer needed clothing, books, toys, household items and furniture to organizations that support the less fortunate, so they can be reused.  Eliminate anything intentionally disposable from your purchases. Look for an eco-friendly dry cleaner to avoid toxic chemicals.
E – Energy, EnvironmentTurn off electronics, computers, lights and all household appliances that aren’t in use.  Consider the effect on the environment in everything you do.
F – Food – Make healthy choices of organic and natural foods instead of those filled with preservatives, artificial ingredients and chemicals.  Help your kids learn to make great choices too!
G – Global warming, Glass, Greywater – Accept that global warming is real and we’re the only creature on the planet that can do something about it.  Recycle all glass (it can be recycled indefinitely!). Learn all the ways to put your greywater to work.
H – Heating, HomeTurn down the thermostat.  Excess energy equals an excess of pollution. Make your home safe and clean, and simultaneously non-toxic, by cutting out all chemicals.
I – Ideas Share what you know and learn with others.  It can have a fabulous snowball effect!  The ideas from our grandparents are excellent principals to follow as well.
J – Journey – Give yourself credit for the things you are doing and accept that going green is truly a journey!
K – KidsGet your kids involved.  When they learn to respect the environment early in life, that lesson will stay with them forever.
L – Landfills, Local – Remember that everything you toss in the trash winds up in a landfill, polluting the soil and water.  Buy local at every opportunity and, especially for produce, get the most out of your food.
M – Mattresses, Meat, Milk – When you replace a mattress, consider organic.  Traditional mattresses are filled with harsh and harmful chemicals.  Choose organic meat and milk to avoid antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones.
N – Newspapers – When you need to keeps something hot or cold in transport, newspaper is an amazing insulator.  When you’re done, recycle them, always!
O – Organics, Outdoors, Oceans – Buy as many organics as you can… simple as that.  Getting outdoors will remind you of this beautiful world we are trying to preserve, and even if you can’t see an ocean from where you live, never forget how crucial they are.  Remember that allowing them to be polluted (the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and the Gulf Disaster) must be prevented.
P – Plastic, Paper, Palm oil – Avoid the excessive use of plastics or at least make sure the plastics are truly recyclable.  Same goes for paper.  Be conscious not to be wasteful and recycle every unneeded piece of paper that comes your way.  Learn about palm oil and purchase only products that use the sustainable variety.
Q – Quit procrastinating and take the next step!
R – Recycle, Reusable Bags, Rain barrels – NOT recycling is inexcusable.  Recyclables should never be thrown in the trash.  Invest in reusable shopping bags and stop contributing to the ‘one trillion plastic bags used annually, worldwide’ statistic.  Set-up at rain barrel to capture water for use around your yard.
S – Schools, Shopping, “Shoes off – Get  involved at your children’s schools and put together programs to help them embrace recycling and the environment. Realize that every purchase you make has a greener option… it’s up to you to know the difference and choose wisely.  Adopt the “shoes off” rule and avoid tracking toxins and chemicals through your home.
T – Trash, Trees, Travel – Make a conscious effort to reduce your weekly trash by not buying over-packaged products or buy only products in recyclable packaging.  Don’t cut down healthy trees… they are more valuable than just their visual beauty (think air quality, soil preservation, wildlife habitat… the list goes on and on). Don’t leave your green principals at home when you travel, take them with you!
U – Un-green, Upcycle – When you see a “wrong”, you can make it “right”.  Speak up, help others and make a change that can make a difference.  Before you throw anything away, consider if it has a secondary use and upcycle.
V – Vinegar, Volunteer – The uses for distilled white vinegar are endless.  Buy some for cleaning, cosmetic uses, deodorizing, and pest and weed control.  Volunteer your time for an environmental cause.
W – Water, Water Bottles, WildlifeConserve water… contrary to belief, the supply is not endless.  Buy a stainless steel, reusable water bottle to avoid BPA and stop contributing plastic bottles to landfills. Contribute to causes that protect the habitats of wildlife and consider what you are doing to their “home” in your every action.
X – Xenagogue, Xeriscape – The definition of xenogogue is “guide”, so simply guide others and become a steward of both your home and the earth, and make informed choices.  Xeriscape in your yard by planting only native trees, shrubbery and flowers to prevent the need for excessive watering.
Y – You – (YOU knew that one was coming too, right?) but sincerely, the changes you make in your daily life are all up to you.  Take what you know and put it to good use.
Z – Zoos, Zero-Waste – Support zoos that dedicate themselves to conservation and education.  Buy kits and containers that can be reused for lunchtime (or anytime) so that you don’t contribute to the approximate ‘67 pounds of annual trash created by a child’s lunch’.

There it is: A to Z (and I feel like I only scratched the surface!) But the main mission is to simply get started.  Don’t wait for tomorrow, and don’t expect you have to do it all at once, but do admit that we can all make little changes that amount to one enormous difference!

HaPPy NeW YeaR and cheers to making it (and keeping it) green!

 

 

Vacation and a “green bravo” to the OBX!

HJ OBX DunesI’m FINALLY back… Mom Goes Green just returned from a summer hiatus and a nice, long vacation at the OBX with my amazing family! We already miss the fresh ocean air every morning, noon and night.  We experienced it all again this year… from dunes to surf, and sun to moon…

You probably already know that I didn’t leave my green principals behind. We conserved, we recycled and we simply enjoyed the purity of a beautiful environment.

Once again, after evaluating our trip, I feel no guilt.  We were honestly conscious not to be wasteful. We made sure not to waste energy or over-consume — from turning off lights to waiting for a full dishwasher — and even purchased all of our usual organic food and earth-friendly products.OBX JBeach

We recycled absolutely everything too. I am proud to say that, over the course of the entire vacation, we created only one small bag of trash… but the amount of recycling was certainly more substantial.  Unlike last year (when my husband delivered our recyclables to the local recycling center!) we were fortunate enough to discover some recycling cans right outside of our condo.  Yes, this was a relief for my husband and quite different than our Myrtle Beach vacation a number of years ago!

I also need to offer some green applause to a community that is wise enough to not only protect the natural sand dunes on the beach but also provide cans for recyclables.  This is a view from our condo deck.  See those two cans with the OBX cansyellow lids? … yes, recycling cans.  And the one small blue can? … yep, that’s for trash.  But I think it’s very telling that there is more than twice as much capacity for recyclables than there is for trash. They acknowledge that there’s PLENTY that can be recycled and DOESN’T need to become trash.

The point is, no matter where we are, we CAN “tread lightly”.  At home, on vacation, in everyday life, everywhere. There’s always an option, there’s always a choice.  Make the right choice.

Prep your home for “away” before vacation “play”!

lampSometimes it’s easy to get so consumed with planning and preparing for a vacation that we forget about the home we’re leaving behind.

Before you leave, your house needs some special attention so it doesn’t continue to over-consume in your absence. When you think about everything that’s drawing energy on a daily basis (and the things that an empty house doesn’t need), it’s time for a checklist.

Here are a few simple (and possibly overlooked) ideas to keep your home green while you vacation:

  • Turn off your air conditioning or, in the winter months, turn the heat to 55 degrees.
  • Make sure ceiling fans are turned off.fridge
  • Unplug nearly everything… computers, TVs, appliances, microwaves, lamps, coffee makers, all of it!  Look at every outlet in your house and most things can be unplugged in your absence.  They WILL still consume “phantom power” even when not in use!
  • Install timers on a few lights so your home still appears lived-in but they won’t glow 24-hours-a-day.
  • Dial down the temperature or switch off the breaker on your water heater.
  • If you clear out an overload of perishables in your refrigerator make sure it’s not too empty… you actually need some content to make it efficient.  If it’s looking a bit empty, just fill and cover a few large pitchers of water.

That’s all it takes.  A checklist and a little extra time and you can keep it green while you play away!

Keep your lawn green while the summer turns red hot!

grassSpring was unbelievably rainy here in Cleveland.  It certainly provided us with some beautifully lush green lawns… but now it’s summer and, oh, how the tides do change…

There hasn’t been much rain lately and now I’m cringing as our neighbors run their sprinklers for hours on end in the middle of the day!  Sheesh… what are they thinking?

There are some very simple and very green ways to keep your yard looking green too.  Here are five of the simplest of simple tips to help you:

  • Watering – ummm, yea.  Middle of the day… not so wise!  Much of the water evaporates before it ever reaches the roots.  Lawns only need an inch of water per week so this means about ONCE a week without the help of Mother Nature’s rain.  If Mother Nature is helping, don’t turn on that sprinkler! Plus, too many shallow waterings will bring roots to the surface and burn out the lawn even faster.  If you must water, early morning or evening is best.  Don’t forget that you can put your greywater to work too!
  • Mowing – don’t mow in the heat of the day either.  Cut grass loses moisture rapidly and (again!) can cause the lawn to burn out even faster, so yes… early morning or evening again!grss mow
  • No “low mow” – the optimal length is 3”, so don’t over-mow or mow too short.  Taller grass grows a deeper root system, grows slower, requires less water and helps prevent weeds.
  • Mulch it – mulching mowers actually cut grass and chop it so it can act as mulch to hold moisture (but if you don’t have a mulching mower, consider composting the clippings).
  • Water wisely – it won’t make your lawn greener but again, if you must water, actually water the lawn, NOT sidewalks and drives! Just pay close attention not to water wildly and prevent waste.

See… simple!  The mercury may rise, the rain may stay away, but the grass can be greener on your side of the fence too!

Do I have animal magnetism?

dr fawnnTruly, I’m thinking the answer has to be “yes”.  And I’m not tooting my own horn… I’m literally talking about REAL wild animals…

I’ve written before about how we seem to have an unusually large population of animals in our yard and (I’m not kidding), it has gotten even more outrageous.  While I can sit on my back patio and gaze at downtown Cleveland, I also seem to be harboring a suburban animal sanctuary.r'coon babies

Want to know what’s been hanging out in our yard lately? Lemme give you the list … deer (including babies!), squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, opossum, snakes, rabbits, hawks, a wild turkey, birds in general (galore!) and a red fox, for pete’s sake.

No one else seems to find these animals lingering in their yard… except me.  Want to know my theory?… as'nake natural, organic yard. No chemicals, no toxins, no poison polluting up our little sanctuary.

Do you think these animals know that? They have a keen sense of… oh… just about everything.  Hmmm, do you think they’re telling us something…?