8 THINGS you should do after the holidays!

Finally… we’ve stopping scurrying around in preparation for the holidays, but now 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.
  • 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 store them.  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!
  • E-cycle electronics – if you got something new, take your old electronics to your local Best Buy so they can be properly e-cycled, repaired or repurposed (or donate them, if they still work!).
  • Christmas cards – save them and cut them up to become gift tags for next year.
  • Christmas cards alternative – 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 attach 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.)

 

 

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.)

Palm oil: How (and why) to make responsible choices

palm oil burnAbout eight months ago I wrote a post about palm oil, the destruction of crucial rainforests to make way for these plantations and the devastating effect on wildlife (Palm oil is commonly being used as an ingredient in everyday products including margarine, shortening, baked foods, cookies, candies and even soaps, candles and personal care products. Its main purpose, aside from its “binding properties”, is to replace trans fat that we’re all trying to avoid.) Before that post, I truly didn’t know a lot about palm oil, but now my eyes are wide open.

If you’d like to read the original post, click here, but in a nutshell, this is the concern:

  • Rainforests are being cleared at alarming rates to make way for palm plantations and to keep up with the demand for the product.
  • Malaysia and Indonesia account for 83% of the production and 89% of the export of palm oil.  Within these countries the threat is enormous for endangered species including orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinoceroses.orang mombaby
  • The threat is the greatest for the orangutans, as they live ONLY in these areas that are being cleared to make way for the palm oil plantations.  The occurrence of hunting and poaching these poor animals has dramatically increased as well, and it is estimated that 50 orangutan are being killed each week.  At this rate, their existence is limited.
  • When this deforestation occurs and the rainforests are burned, they release decades of stored carbon back into the atmosphere, contributing to the tragedy of global warming.
  • All this considered, the demand for palm oil is expected to double in the next 10 years.

During a recent trip to our beloved Cleveland Metroparks Zoo I noticed a sign on one of their food carts.  It read:  “We use only sustainable palm oil products.”  I respected the fact that they’re taking responsibility and using only palm oil from plantations established on land that was not recently deforested and has been well-managed with good environmental, social and economic standards.

plmI also found their online resource for understanding the use, and misuse, of palm oil.  And as we “label readers” find more and more products containing palm oil, they’ve also assembled a fabulous list of responsible companies (that have committed to using only sustainable palm oil in their products) to help us make wise choices.

Hopefully, if you haven’t noticed it before, you’ll notice it now and decide that unless you see “Made from Sustainable Palm Oil” on the label, you’ll set it back down and walk away.

To buy or not to buy (a leaf blower)… THAT is the question!

leef blowrVery rarely does my husband ask to buy anything.  (Ask him about the ever decreasing clarity of our “getting-old-TV” that he regularly tolerates and I’m sure he would agree.)

This Fall his wish list has one item… a leaf blower, and he’s hoping for my blessing.  I’ll preface this with saying that our yard has a lot of trees.  In fact, our entire neighborhood has a lot of trees and since we’re on a treed ravine, the leaves are endless.

My obvious concern is the “green factor” and what the usage of a leaf blower would negatively contribute.  We’ve always tried to keep up with them by raking and raking and raking, but it sometimes seems like the Fall gets consumed with the task, and honestly, a blower would make it more efficient and much less time consuming.

So, in usual Mom Goes Green fashion, I set out to find the answer and here is what I discovered:

The combined emissions of ALL leaf blowers, residential AND commercial, used for one whole year are only EQUAL to the emissions created by all the cars driven on U.S. roads in only 11 hours of one singular day.

Now I know someone will say “Use a rake!” and yes, we will still use a rake.  They are noisy (but we are not early morning people anyhow and will limit our use!) and we don’t put leaves in plastic bags, we push them into the ravine… but, truly, this puts it into perspective.  If using that leaf leevesblower creates such an extraordinarily minuscule amount of emissions, if it saves us time that could be spent on other things, if one less trip to drive and run errands offsets its usage AND it makes my husband happy(!) (and all those answers are “yes!”, by the way) then, guess what….

…Honey, you’re getting a leaf blower! (…and you can use yours without guilt too!)

Simple gardening tip: “plant native” for a truly green garden

Every spring my family and I spend a weekend cleaning the yard (an activity that can be made fun if you just try!) and planting flowers to make everything nice and cheery.

xeriscapeI’ve never given much thought to what I plant other than selecting what I think is “cute” and my “color choice” for the season, but I’ve also made some poor selections when they’ve required a lot of water to keep them bright, cheery… and alive!

Whether you’re planting flowers, trees, shrubbery or an entire lawn, make sure that your choices are native to your area. Despite having favorites that you’d like to see in your own yard, it’s wiser to choose something that will naturally thrive without watering and excess water use, and will eliminate your need for nasty fertilizers and pesticides.

This concept even has its own term, known as xeriscaping… (make sure you throw that one into a sentence today, to impress your family and friends! And oooh… I need to make an addition to my A to Z list, don’t I?).  Check out PlantNative.org for lists of native plantflowrs by state, local nurseries and organizations too!  All of them can help you make the smartest choices.  Eartheasy also has great tricks, tips and ideas that get as green as they come.

Remember that vinegar and water is a great natural weed killer too.  Just be sure to have good aim and a quality sprayer because vinegar is NOT selective and will destroy whatever it comes in contact with.

You may not think you have a green thumb, but with a little effort you CAN have the “greenest” garden on the block!