The Post-Holiday Green Guide…

christmas storageNow that we’ve stopping scurrying around in preparation for the holidays, we’re all liking looking around and seeing plenty yet to be done in the wake of a hectic season.

The tree, the lights, the presents, the boxes, the bags and bows, the piles of Christmas cards!… WHAT to do now? Well, let me help…

Here is a very simple list of things you can do to curb the waste, make the most of the season and keep it green!:

  • The Christmas tree – if you had a live-cut Christmas tree, check out Earth911 to find a drop-off so it can be turned into mulch or composted (if your community doesn’t offer the service).  If you have a wooded area near your house, give it back to nature for a wonderful winter habitat for animals.  If your tree is artificial and you’ve considered a replacement, donate your old tree.  Many organizations and needy families would love them for next year.christmas tree artificial 3
  • Packaging and boxes – everything from gift packaging to the shipping boxes the gifts arrived in… either recycle them (if they aren’t usable again) or save them (along with the reusable packing materials) for when you need to ship something.  If you have more than you can handle, list and sell them through Box Cycle.
  • Gift bags, ribbons, bows and tissue – simply fold, flatten and/or store.  They can all likely be used again (and again!).
  • Lights – if you have strands that have permanently gone out, take advantage of clearance sales and stock up on new LEDs for next year’s energy-efficient decorating.  You can also check out HolidayLEDs.com… they’ll accept old incandescents and give you a 25% discount on a new LED purchase.
  • Clear it out! – make way for new gifts by cleaning out what is no longer needed and donate them to charity.  Clothes, toys, books, household items… everything is useful for someone, or an entire family, in need!
  • Christmas cards – ever heard of St. Jude’s Ranch for Children?  Well, they’d love to receive your Christmas cards!  This non-profit organization cares for abused, abandoned and/or neglected children.  They accept used greeting cards (including Christmas, birthday and even “Thank You” cards), the children remove the fronts and attacchristmas cardsh them to a recycled paper backing.  They turn them into new greeting cards… and then sell them!  Bundle them up and mail them to:

St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
Card Recycling Program
100 St. Jude’s Street
Boulder City, NV 89005

As you get your post-holiday life back in order there is some work to be done but, rest assured, there are plenty of wise, green choices that can be made as we bid the year farewell…

(Tree photo: Christmas Lights Etc.)

Where, O where, should the Christmas remnants go?

xmas strgeThe post-holiday wrap-up is being wrapped up! So sad to see it all come to an end, but alas… it’s back to the less dreamy and festive real world!

Hopefully we’ve all made wise choices about bidding a fond farewell to everything that’s come our way throughout the season and even thought ahead to preparing for next year (… yes, next year!).

Make sure all of these activities made your “to do” list, including:

  • Recycling your cut Christmas tree.  Check out Earth911 to make sure it gets recycled into mulch or composted, or if you have woods or a ravine near your house, add the tree back to nature and animals will surely turn it into a wonderful winter habitat.christmas tree_live closeup
  • Recycling materials from gift packaging, boxes from shipments and everything that gets a thumbs-up from your recycling can. If you have a lot of boxes, list them with BoxCycle or save them, along with any reusable packing materials, for when you need to ship something.
  • Folding and storing all gift bags to be put back into circulation next year. Even ribbons, bows and tissue paper can get more than a single use.
  • Taking advantage of those clearance sales and purchase LED lighting for next season’s energy-efficient decorating. Check out HolidayLEDs.com… they’ll accept your old incandescent lights and give you a 15% discount on a new LED purchase (now, until February 28, 2010)!
  • Making way for new gifts… but simultaneously continue to gather items around home (clothes, toys, books, household items) that will now be cast aside and donate them to charity for the ultimate in reuse.
  • Recycling all of the Christmas cards you received with St. Jude’s Ranch for Children.  (This non-profit organization cares for abused, abandoned and/or neglected children.)  They accept used greeting cards and the children remove the fronts, attach them to a recycled paper back, and turn them into new greeting cards… and then sell them! This is a great option to traditional paper recycling and a great cause to support.  Your cards will christmas cardsbe accepted until February 28, 2010.  Just bundle them up and mail them off to:

St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
Card Recycling Program
100 St. Jude’s Street
Boulder City, NV 89005

I’m certainly anxious to get my life back in order after some fantastically crazy holiday madness… and if you love to organize and clean, I’ll send you my address.  Be here in an hour.  I’ll leave on the lights and one massive pot of (organic) coffee!

The light goes out on incandescents… hello CFLs & LEDs!

incand bulbThe lights ARE going out on incandescents… would Thomas Edison be sad?  Maybe, because lightbulbs haven’t changed much since he invented them(!) but now his invention is being banned in the European Union as of September 1.  The US will follow, with a phase out beginning in 2012 and complete elimination by 2014.

Can you imagine the energy savings and the reduction in carbon emissions?  Good news for the environment!

CFLs are currently the best option available for those who want to make the switch.  And surely you’ve heard about the mercury they contain and this makes some consumers a little uneasy.  But did you also know that today they actually contain 20% less than mercury than those manufactured two years ago?  Yep, it’s true!  The amount contained would actually fit on half the head of a pin!  (Old mercury thermometers contained 150-500 percent more!) And since most of it becomes bound to the inside of the bulb as it’s used, the dangers aren’t as great as it appears.  Just don’t break it!

I, in fact, just had my first CFL burnout.  It certainly didn’t last six years, but I’m sure it reached its “hour” maximum!  It’s now sealed in a container and awaiting drop off at Home Depot.  You might remember that they accept CFLs for proper disposal and that is key.  Landfills are the last place CFLs belong because of the mercury, so please, please be sure they are properly disposed.

Now might also be a good time to remind you what to do if they (gasp!) DO break.  It sounds frightening, but there are some simple guidelines to follow:CFL blb

  • Open a window, and walk away for 15 minutes.
  • Put on disposable gloves.
  • Sweep up the remnants with an old rag or a stiff paper and put everything in a sealable container, preferably glass.
  • Wipe down and thoroughly clean the entire area.
  • Drop all of these materials (in the sealed container) at a Home Depot or hazardous waste site.

Yes, it sounds like a bit much, but better to err on the side of caution… or better yet, just take precautions so it doesn’t get broken!  (This makes me think back to an incident in elementary school, when my friend dropped an old mercury thermometer. We didn’t touch it and I really don’t remember the teacher having a major freak-out, but maybe she should have!  I certainly don’t remember a hazmat team on site either… boy, have times changed! And maybe that’s why I’m a “half-bubble off level”!)

CFLs aren’t the permanent solution either. On the horizon?  LEDs… light emitting diodes, if you didn’t know!  They’re already being introduced in Japan and are even more energy efficient, so eventually the “mercury-factor“ won’t be a factor at all.

In the meanwhile, switch a bulb… take precautions and care… dispose of them properly… and thank Mr. Edison, but it’s time to move on…

To the rescue: a blackout in the restroom…

My recent posts have been pretty serious… toxic mattresses, plastics overload, rainforests, genetically modified food, polluted oceans… today I’m just going to make a confession…

superheroI am The Great Public Lights Caper!

Yes, you heard it correctly…. I take a crazy and unusual pleasure in turning out public lights!  I absolutely can’t stand walking into a public restroom and realizing they are illuminated for absolutely no one.  You know exactly what I’m talking about.  Whether it’s a single restroom or a restroom with a dozen stalls, we’ve all walked in to see extraordinary amounts of lights blazing… and the room empty.

So what do I do?  When I leave, I turn them off.   I’ve “hit” libraries, museums, movie theaters, restaurants, small retailers and mega-stores.  I’ve even been known to shut down an entire Target restroom if I find a switch handy near the door.  Although, chances are someone in these heavily trafficked restrooms will walk-in meager minutes after I leave and turn them on again, I always feel compelled to shut them off.public-restrooms

I suppose I’m hoping it will have a trickle down effect.  Maybe the person that walks in after me will think they’re supposed to turn them off after THEY leave and a chain reaction will occur.  It reminds me of that old Faberge Shampoo commercial “… and they told two friends… and so on, and so on, and so on…”.

Maybe I’m just a bit crazy (yes, that’s likely!), but can you imagine the energy that would be saved if these lights were on only when they were needed.  I do, however, love walking into restrooms that have motion sensors so the lights only come on when someone enters.  Now THAT’S thinkin’!

But for now, I will continue to be The Great Public Lights Caper and hope that a little bit of my insanity catches on!  (What will YOU do the next time you leave a public restroom?… hmm, maybe you’ll think about this post, won’t you?!?) 🙂

The coolest gift on the planet… FOR the planet!

I’ve never been shy about telling you when I love (or despise) something and I recently learned about one of the coolest things on the planet… and considering the season of giving, I absolutely have to share this one and give it some MomGoesGreen love!

It’s called the “Starter Kit for Change” and it contains some of the most thoughtful, eco-friendly items to get anyone and everyone started on the road to “green thinking”.

Two moms/musicians/friends/eco-girls developed a company called rocklovepeace and put together an amazing kit that contains:

  • a reusable tote bag (“reuse”)
  • an arbor day tree seedling (“plant”)
  • fair trade hot chocolate (“be fair”)
  • a treeless journal (“write”)
  • a Sudoku booklet with a recycled pencil (“think”)
  • a compact fluorescent light bulb (“switch”)
  • gratitude cards (“be grateful”)
  • an envelope to help end hunger (“give”)

They thought of everything and I’m not exaggerating when I say that.  The gift box and paper they come in are recycled, the ribbon and bag are biodegradable, the tags are embedded with flower seeds (they  can actually be planted!) and an enclosed booklet explains the importance and impact of every element included.

The reusable bags are even made from fabric remnants and no two are alike (and they’re SO much more stylish than the cheap-o bags!).  Plus, every bag is inscribed with Mahatma Gandhi’s inspirational quote:  “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Doesn’t that describe the mission we all wish to accomplish?  Del and Melanie are on this mission too… to educate, motivate and activate CHANGE!  Plus they are donating a portion of the proceeds to Action Against Hunger.

This is truly the coolest thing I have yet to see…The “Starter Kit for Change” is the gift of going green!  And if I got this from someone, I would be thrilled… actually, I got this gift for myself and now I think I’m one pretty cool gift-giver too!