MGGs last minute guide to keeping your holidays “green”!

The holidays seem to be moving toward us at warp speed! We’re nearing deadlines and, if you’re anything like me, you still have things to do.  (Okay, so maybe I am one of the few dragging dreadfully behind but, humor me for a moment, and let me feel like I’m not alone!)

There are plenty of ways to avoid the excess and waste of the season, as well as making gifts selections that are fabulously green and giving.  So that we (okay, so that I) don’t waste any more time getting to it, let’s just throw it on the table and get it all out of the way!

Here are my four must-read posts that will help you through (click below and read on!):

  • My favorite gifts guide – a list of all the tangible gifts that I enjoy giving, because they happen to be great gifts and they are also fabulously green ideas too.
  • My favorite gifts that “give back”: – a list of gifts that give to a worthwhile cause:  wildlife, nature or the environment.  Sometimes we don’t need to give those tangible gifts that clutter the recipient’s home… giving to a cause in the recipient’s honor may be the biggest present of all!
  • Green party planning – a list of all the ways you can keep your holiday soiree goin’ green.  From decorations, to your menu choices, to your clean-up… there are simple ways to keep from abandoning all of your green principals!
  • Wrap it up in a big “green” bow – a list of all the ways those tangible gifts can be given without creating mountains of trash.

Hopefully, this guide will help you along the way, and gifts that you give will be useful, practical and, sometimes, just simply serve a cause.

The clock may be ticking, but there is always time to make great choices.

Happy green holidays, my friends!

10 simple steps for a green Thanksgiving…

thanksgvg tblTo 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.  There are so many ways to avoid over-abundance… (well, with the exception of over-eating!)

Everything from the decorations, to the food, to the clean-up can be exceptionally green.

Here are the things to keep in mind:

  1. Invitations – forgo the paper invitations and send Evites instead.  You’ve probably already handled this task, but this rule goes for any gathering!  And if you do need to mail invitations, look for those made of recycled paper.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. Drinks – serve organic drinks or consider a local brew… or, if you’re lucky (like me!) and surrounded by local wineries, a local wine!
  5. 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 and table coverings at any dollar store.crncopia
  6. Consider the temperature – ovens heat a house quite 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.
  7. Recycle – that should go without saying, but just remember to make it happen.  Cans, jars, containers, bottles, anything and everything possible.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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’s 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!

Simple choice: disposable or reusable?

solo br cupsOkay my friends… it’s as simple as this.  We had a choice.

Many people were going to visit our house.  The keg was calling out for a party.  Do you buy disposable cups or reusables? Quick! Make your choice.

It sounds crazy, I know, but I found myself facing this ridiculous question.  What… do… you … do?

I went to the dollar store. I bought cups. I bought reusable cups. I walked away from the disposables… and guess what?  We were just fine.  Everyone followed the rules.  They used the cups. They deposited them back into the kitchen.  They found their way into a (full) dishwasher. They were washed. They were stored for the next gathering. We threw NOTHING away. We won’t need to spend more money next time either. The next time, “we already have cups”.

Success. Yes. No trash. That’s all you need to do.  Wise choices, my friends.  Wise choices.

The red, white, blue and GREEN for the 4th of July!

grn fireworks 2

This weekend is the mother of all “picnic times!” The 4th of July picnics, parties, cookouts and celebrations will go on all weekend!  (I know they will for us!)

But it can also be a time of excess, waste and lots and lots of traditions that aren’t green at all and it can leave you feeling a little blue!

So here is my list of things to keep in mind as you celebrate:

  • Cookouts – skip the charcoal & lighter fluid and go for propane grilling.  Even if you’re headed to a picnic area, you can prepare the grill items at home and bring them along.  Did you know that newspaper is a great insulator for any containers and will keep your hot foods incredibly hot!  (But remember to bring the newspaper home for recycling afterward!)
  • Food – choose fresh, locally-grown, organic produce and meats.  Whatever you can buy local, choose it!
  • Coolers – no cheapo Styrofoam coolers… they may be convenient but they don’t last long, and after buying a few Styrofoam versions you could have actually owned a “real one” that you can use again and again and again!
  • Dinnerware, flatware and serveware – if you’re at home (or even away), choose the reusables… just avoid4th ckout throwaway plastics and paper at all costs.  And if you are away from home scrape off the food scraps, bring home the reusables and wash ‘em!  You can even go crazy and choose some compostables!
  • Table covering – three words:  CLOTH, not plastic!
  • Containers – three more words: REUSABLES, not throwaways!
  • Beverages – whenever possible, mix up big batches of beverages (lemonade, iced tea) and have a large container of water, and use (or bring) the reusable glasses or tumblers (again, no Stryrofoam or plastic, pleeeeze!).  For those refreshing “adult beverages”, choose an organic and/or local brew and remember to…
  • RECYCLE! – it goes without saying… bottles, cans, cardboard & paperboard… have a recycling can or container ready to receive it all!

Happy 4th of July! Celebrate your freedom and exercise your right to choose “green”… and add it to the red, white and blue!

A green birthday party favor that leaves the plastic behind!

DSC01077Both of my kids just celebrated another birthday and we’re on the cusp of yet another big birthday party.

Along with the pressure of creating the greatest birthday celebration (EVER!) comes the pressure of letting your little party-goers walking away with a little something special of their own.

Now I (truly) don’t intent to guilt anyone if they’ve ever fallen into the trap of the treat bag tradition (because I HAVE!), but all too often the treat bags we create include what I deem “trinkets ‘n trash”…  a loot bag filled with candy and plastic “stuff” that’s eventually destine for a landfill (and to live on, endlessly!).

In years past I have given the kids canvas tote bags and nylon sport bags so they can be used again and again.  This year I figured I’d better switch it up, if I don’t want to hear “ANOTHER bag?!?” from our guests.

This year I found these fantastic stainless steel water bottles.  They’re BPA Free and (would you believe) made in the USA! Cost each: $3! All it took was a trip to a local discount store and there they were!  I’ve easily spent $3 on those other treat bags, filling them with plastic toys, so the cost didn’t sway me.

My kids love them and can’t wait to give one to each of their friends. Their friends also seem excited to get a party favor that is a “big” gift too!

Whether it’s a tote, a sport bag or a water bottle, shop around and you’ll likely find a party favor that the kids and parents will appreciate, and the environment will thank you too!