Giveaway: National Geographic Kids “Human Footprint”

plastic bottleIt’s sometimes a difficult task to get kids to grasp the concept of what their daily life essentially means for our planet.

While you can try to explain what their “footprint” means, it can get lost in translation… and the impact of their impact fails to make an impression at all.

Well, what if they heard (and SAW) things like this:

  • You’ll drink 13,056 pints of milk in your lifetimeHuman Ftprnt
  • You’ll eat 14,518 candy bars in your lifetime
  • You’ll spend $52,972 on clothes in your lifetime
  • You and your fellow American throw away 694 plastic bottles each second!

Thanks to National Geographic Kids, you can now tell and SHOW them these facts. Human Footprint puts into perspective everything they will eat, use, wear, buy and THROW OUT in their lifetime, with astonishing photos to make it real.  It also shares great tips to help them lessen their impact on the planet.

I happen to have TWO copies I would love to share with you and your kids.  Interested in a fun lesson?  YES? Then just leave a comment here saying you’d like to win, or send a Twitter message that includes a reply to @momgoesgreen and a link to this blog. Facebook friends can also leave a comment to be entered. The winners will be randomly selected on March 22! (U.S. entries only… sorry!)

I’ve shared my own list of ways to raise eco-friendly kids and getting a copy of this book was just added to that list!

Simple tips for cutting your electric bill (and emissions!)

(This article originally ran on Money Minded Moms, Suze Orman’s online community, where I’m a featured writer.  I wanted to  post it here also since the underlying theme of my articles are not only money-oriented but always address issues that relate to the environment.  We know that the environment gets the brunt of the greenhouse gas emissions created by excessive energy usage, so I hope you can take these tips to not only save money but also do something good for our planet while you’re at it!)…

powerstrip 2Have you ever received an electric bill that caused you to gasp? Or does your bill seem extraordinarily high every month? You might find yourself wondering what you did to create such an expense.

The problem may not be what you’re doing, but what you aren’t doing.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 20-25% of the energy used in our home is actually consumed by electronics in stand-by mode or even “turned off”. They still consume energy as long as they’re plugged into an outlet. They also estimate that this collectively costs us $7 billion per year.

Here are a few simple tips to cut those costs:

  • Use power strips – plug-in computers, printers, scanners, monitors, TVs, DVD players, TiVos/DVRs and game systems. (Up to 75% of the energy they pull is actually consumed when they aren’t being used!) With the flip of one power strip switchcphone chrgr you can nearly eliminate this “phantom” power. To cut consumption completely, unplug the power strip once you’ve flipped the switch.
  • Keep it unplugged – this includes microwaves, radios, clocks, lamps, etc. that you don’t often use. Consider even unplugging your washer and dryer. When you need them, just plug them back in.
  • Computers – your monitor consumes substantially more energy than your hard drive. Instead of letting it sit idle while you temporarily move on to another task, turn off your monitor or put it in rest mode.
  • The little things – constantly leaving your cellphone charger and infrequently used appliances plugged laptp compinto an outlet consumes energy, even when they’re not in use.

Survey your home. Use power strips or simply pull the plug from the outlet to reduce excessive energy usage. By not doing this, you could be allowing your electric bill to skyrocket (and remember, the environment pays the price right along with you!).

‘Tis the season to remember your reusables!

no plastic bagsAs I’ve spent the last week doing some major shopping for the holidays, I’ve armed myself with my own reusable bags at every stop and in every store.

But one thing has certainly gotten my attention… where are all of my “reusable bag comrades”?!?! I’m shocked that I sometimes look around and can’t find a single other soul toting their totes, yet I DO see a sea of plastic! It’s so disheartening. It’s no wonder statistics place the worldwide usage of plastic bags somewhere around one TRILLION annually!

Please, please… if you haven’t already done it, make a small investment in reusable bags and make them a part of every shopping trip you make, no matter how big or small.  I could go on and on about the disastrous effects of plastic bags, including the heartbreak of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but I think we all “know”… they’re simply bad news. And once you have them, REMEMBER THEM! That is the other half of the equation.  Buying them is not enough. They need to be USED! Come’on… you can do it!

Plastic bags are a serious topic, but sometimes serious topics also deserve a little levity too… are YOU stuck in a “Plastic State of Mind”???

It’s time to change the habit! Ban single-use bags made of plastic!

The ultimate guide to keeping your holidays “green”!

christmas bulbThe holidays seem to be moving toward us at warp speed! We’re nearing that two week deadline and, if you’re anything like me, you still have plenty 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 now!

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.

FACT: the average household output of trash actually increase by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  There are a lot of opportunities to misstep this time of year…gift w cones

Hopefully, this ultimate guide will help see to it that your household isn’t one of them and the 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 wise choices.

Happy green holidays, my friends!

Keeping it green for Halloween!

j-o-lanternHalloween is just around the corner… and it’s the ideal time to let the creativity flow.  But it’s also an opportunity to make some fantastic green choices.

While that creativity is in action, remember to give these green tips a try!:

  • Crafts & games – this is a great chance to upcycle materials, from jars & cans, to toilet paper and paper towel tubes… crafts don’t require a trip to a craft store!  And choose games that don’t require major purchases, like “Rotten Pumpkin” with a miniature pumpkin (played like “Hot Potato”) or create a large jack-o-lantern from paper and play “Pin the Nose”.  All of the paper can be recycled afterward.
  • Costumesyour own closets and drawers are a great resource!  Visit your local thrift store.  Or organize a costume swap with your friends.  Avoid face paints, unless you make them yourself… they often contain some harsh chemicals that you truly don’t want on your children’s face!
  • Decorationsnature provides plenty of resources, from pumpkins and gourds, to mums and leaves, to cornstalks and Indian corn.  After the season, they’re all completely compostable.fall decrtions
  • Partiesavoid disposable anything.  Use real serveware, cups, silverware, fabric table coverings and napkins.  If you MUST purchase disposables, at the very least, choose paper over plastic.  Try to help carry these rules over to classroom parties too.
  • Treats & candy – organic candies would be fabulous, but not easily found, so just be conscious to avoid some treats that are over-wrapped and over-packaged and, truly, treats don’t need to be candy.  Consider recycled-content pencils or mini-notepads.  Avoid plastic trinkets.
  • Treat bags – cellophane bags are the easiest to find but, with a little extra effort, you can find Halloween-themed paper bags instead.  Reusable bags are also ideal for collecting the loot!
  • Over-abundance of treats? – Consider pilfering some of your kids’ haul and drop it off at a homeless shelter!

Happy planning, Happy Halloween and be sure to keep it green and “EEK”-o-friendly!