WHY go green?… a fundamental (but fair) question.

earth in handsThis 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Reducing energy consumption reduces your demand on polluting power plants that create excessive emissions and seriously contribute to global warming.
  5. 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.go green
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. When we choose NOT to use resources, it SAVES resources. Is there really any reason NOT to want to do that?
  10. 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?

Things you should know about recycling paper.

paper stckNot long ago I wrote a post about whether or not pizza boxes can be recycled.  I quickly realized that this is only scratching the surface of a topic that often leaves us scratching our heads.

So while we all likely understand the fundamentals of a paper recycling, there is also some uncertainty about the details.  Here are a few things you (may not, but) SHOULD know!

  • DO NOT let the paper get wet.  Since recyclers purchase paper by weight, the entire lot may get rejected if they see wet paper.  Check your weather before it goes to the curb unless you are certain the rain won’t get in!
  • No food! Dirty paper plates, napkins, paper towels, etc. are, unfortunately, trash… or should go to compost.  But please, not in the recycle bin – they will quickly cross contaminate the other contents.
  • Do not worry about little things like small paper clips, plastic envelope windows, staples, labels, metal envelope latches or even notebook spirals.  Unlike food matter, they separate easily in processing and can be removed from the batch.paper recyc
  • Watch the adhesives! Heavily glued (sticky) items can ruin batches of recycled paper.  Don’t toss in those “complimentary” address labels and other stickers.  Post-It Notes are fine but if an envelope has a heavy self-stick flap, tear it off first.
  • Allow tape in moderation. Some tape here and there won’t hurt, but if a box is wrapped in yards of shipping tape, remove it as best you can.  Paper tape is A-OK!
  • Don’t shred paper unless you must – most recyclers don’t like accepting shredded paper because it’s a challenge to sort.  If you are a “shredder”, contain it in a paper bag first (or it can be composed!).
  • Skip the heavy-dye, saturated papers with deep, dark colors or fluorescents.  It’s difficult to bleach them back to a usable form.
  • No plastic or wax coated papers (like paper cups), but glossy papers (like magazines) are acceptable.
  • Consider dropping your paper at a local paper retriever site (at schools, churches or other non-profits…like this service in my area). You can be assured that your paper is being recycled AND it can benefit an organization by helping them earn money.

Remember, the EPA estimates that 40% of solid waste in the U.S. is paper products… shameful!  But paper can actually be recycled up to seven times, and it is easier and cheaper to make pulp from recycled fibers than from wood… awesome!  And one more tidbit to share:

Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees… and those 17 saved trees can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year!

I hope you never look at paper the same way again… paper recycling rules!

Could YOU be a No Impact Man (or Woman)???

no-impactno-impact1Imagine life with no electricity, no cars or public transportation, no “new” products, no plastic, no computer, no elevators, no TV, no cosmetics, no take-out or processed foods, no coffee (what?!?!)  Think about taking those things away for just one day… now imagine you’ve just given them up for an ENTIRE YEAR!!! (I think I just stopped breathing!)

Well, that is exactly the experiment that was undertaken by the Beavan family in New York City… for one… whole… year! And this wild, yet amazingly environmental, journey was all documented in the film “No Impact Man”.

The dad was actually the initiator of this “whacko” idea, as his wife calls it.  He dragged them, nearly kicking and screaming, to join him in his quest. His wife was admittedly a “TV addicted, high fructose corn syrup & caffeine lover” and had her fair share of concerns (wouldn’t we all!?).

I really don’t think there is a possibility that my family and I could even begin to scratch the surface of what they were able to accomplish, but I am so excited to see the movie because I know it will give me amazing ideas of how to give up some things I had never considered before.  Colin Beaven even gives his top 10 eco-lifestyle changes on his blog… smart stuff!

If you’re in NYC or LA, the movie premieres today, with other openings soon to follow. But if you prefer to read about their experience, there is also a book, No Impact Man.

While they discovered that this project was undoubtedly environmental, they also rediscovered “life”… and each other.  Isn’t that an experiment we could all benefit from?!

Mom Goes Green takes a bite out of the Big (Green?) Apple!

I just returned from some grown-up fun in NYC… the Big Apple!  This time it was me and my husband only!  Amazing how simple life can be without kids in tow.nycity While neither of us like to leave our kids behind, it’s great to reconnect with your beloved!

We had a fantastic time and were conscious to keep the towels hung in the hotel (so they didn’t get a daily laundering), turn off lights and all that other good stuff, but it’s hard to feel like trekking around the city isn’t making a huge environmental impact.

We walked A LOT but I’m sure we took far too many cabs because (despite our many, many trips) we have never mastered their subway system.  So this led me to wonder, just how green in NYC?

I was surprised to learn that some recent research actually lists the Big Apple as #2 for the least wasteful cities in the US.  Problem is, this nyc-recyclesresearch was based on residents which total about 8.5 million.  But how many tourists visit the city each year?… 47 million.  Mind boggling!  That’s a lot of extra people creating trash.

While I did see some recycling receptacles around the city (one for cans & bottles and one for newspapers & magazines), they were still somewhat few and far between.  Even staying at the Hilton in Midtown didn’t provide much help (but I give them credit for all the CFLs!).  This time I didn’t cart a million things home because we ate in restaurants and didn’t make our own food, nor did we buy from street vendors and have a lot of disposable items, so aside from our addiction to cabs, we kept it fairly green.

Where did the othei-luv-nyr big cities rank?  As usual San Francisco stands proudly at #1.  But I still feel like most tourist cities aren’t doing all they can to see that their visitors have the proper resources to continue their green ways while contributing to local economies.

Aside from using public transportation or walking, keeping it green in your hotel room, and foregoing lots of disposables, what’s a traveler to do? Don’t get me wrong… I (still) love NY, but unless I get elected Mayor in each of these cities, I have absolutely no idea!

Living green… one choice at a time.

Being “green”, “envtogether-greenironmental”, “eco-friendly” (call it what you will) does not happen overnight.  Despite this blog, I know I still have a long way to go and plenty to learn.

One resource that I’ve found to help me along the way is too great to keep a secret:  Together Green.  This site has thought of everything, condensed into one great resource.  Whether you want to green your home, work, travel or your community, they’ve covered it.

And if you have one area that you feel most passionate about (whether it’s land, water, air, energy or wildlife), again… covered!

I’ve never felt it was about installing solar panels on your roof top – and not to say that isn’t an amazing way to green your home – but it’s about little daily actions that all add up to a great big difference.  Check them out for some great ideas.

And while I’m at it, I want to share a great resource for my fellow Ohioans! (O-H!  I-O!… you may only get that if you’re an Ohioan!) 🙂 A reader asked me about an eco-friendly boutique for body products that she ec-ohiohad heard about on the news.  While I had no idea what particular store it may have been, I was able to send her to Ec-Ohio.  This state based directory lists everything from food to pet supplies to building materials to funerals (maybe you don’t want to think about THAT just yet), but they’re a great resource as well.

If you know of a great state directory to share with readers, please comment and help spread the green!

While I do think that I’m a great blog (to visit frequently, by the way!) I know that I don’t have all the answers.  These sites are great resources… just remember who sent you!