Don’t forget about recycling over the holidays

Obviously recycling has been heavy on my mind since learning of my city’s proposal to eliminate our curbside recycling service as a cost-cutting measure. (Yes, my blood is still boiling!)

This is just a reminder about one simple fact:  the average household output of trash actually increases by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  There are a lot of opportunities to misstep this time of year…

Make sure to make wise choices as you go about preparing for the holidays:

  1. Think about the gifts you’re purchasing and what will happen to all of the packaging.  Some things can actually be UN-packaged so YOU can do the recycling of boxes and materials.
  2. Reuse all of the wrapping materials you already have before you buy something new… take inventory! We often already have plenty if we made smart choices last year!
  3. Even when you purchase food for all of your holiday events, think about how they’re packaged. Choose recyclable materials and, well… recycle them!
  4. When you mail a gift, newspaper is a great cushioning material over bubble wrap and packing peanuts. Hopefully your recipient will toss the newspaper in the recycling bin after the box is opened.

Truly, this list could go on and on but, if you’re “here”, I think you already “know”… just don’t forget!  Try to make “your 25%” a whole lot less. 

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!

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!

10 things you overlooked to “go green” in your bathroom

bth room 2Everyone knows the standard list of ways to go green in the bathroom (and I’m not talking about all of those green beers you’re planning to drink next week for St. Patrick’s Day!).  I’m talking about turning off the water while you brush your teeth, low-flow shower heads, water efficient toilets, chemical-free cleaners, short showers and low-volume baths… okay, you’ve heard them all, but what about those little things you overlook?

Think there aren’t any?  Well, think again… here are some things you may have missed:

  • Soap – choose bar soaps over liquid shower gels and avoid excess plastic packaging. Although many of the bottles are recyclable, the caps often aren’t.
  • Cosmetic foundations & eyeliners – choose foundation sold in glass bottles or jars over those in plastic tubes and containers so they can be recycled. Choose wooden pencil eyeliners over plastic tubes too.grn soap
  • Shampoos – (if you must use a conditioner) choose a 2-in-1 product where the shampoo and conditioner are combined.  You will use one less container but also shorten your shower by skipping an extra step.
  • Razors – choose a refillable razor versus disposables.  Plastic razors simply become needless trash.
  • Toilet paper – choose recycled content toilet paper… a simple choice.
  • Q-tips – choose those with a paper spindle instead of plastic… plain and simple also.
  • Towels – choose bamboo options.  They’re soft, snuggly and (most important) sustainable!  Organic cotton towels are another great choice.
  • Greywater – Add a bucket in the shower with you and capture it!  Showers actually account for over a quarter of a home’s typical water usage, and there are plenty of uses for this greywater.
  • Shower curtins – avoid the additional plastic liner.  Instead choose a curtain that is waterproofed on the inside without the plastic.

Now, what you consume on St. Patrick’s Day is all your own business, but with these tips you can “go green” in the bathroom the more natural way!