Archive for the ‘Green Planet’ Category
For most people, school has already started back up for the year. That means school supplies have been bought, and new clothes paid for. But, I just came across this article on Whole Living about how to make your school supplies more green. So, even if you have already sent your little one off for the first day of class, these ideas may come in handy as a mid-year replenishment for supplies, or even bookmark it for next year. Some of my favorites from the list include:
1. Chuck Taylors.
Always a classic, Chuck Taylors come in a wide array of colors. Plus, certain varieties now come boasting organic-cotton canvas and FSC-certified rubber soles. Earth-friendly, and cool? Yes, please! I mean, yes, please, for your kids, of course.
Trade in the plastic-y, cartoon character covered backpacks that rip, and get ruined by the end of the year. Try these 100% recycled canvas backpack from Baggu. Lightweight, durable, and cute. Who needs Tinkerbell to be cute? These bags are available in lots of colors that anyone would love. Plus, only $34.00 on baggu.com. This elephant one is my favorite.
These binders, from nakedbinder.com, are made from water-based glue and postconsumer waste. Also, crafted from 100% recycled board, and 100% cotton. Nice!
For the rest of the list, go to WholeLiving.com for the Green Your School Supplies article. There, you’ll find ideas for colored pencils, calculators, erasers, lunchboxes, paper, and alarm clocks.
I’ve been busy cleaning out my closet to make room for fall clothes (yay, fall!). I made a donate pile of things to get rid of, but some of my clothes just didn’t seem fit for donating. Some shirts had obvious tears, stains, or were just worn out. So, I put those clothes in their own pile. I didn’t want to just toss them because that seems wasteful, so I found a few cool ideas for upcycling old clothes (mainly t-shirts) that I want to share!
I found a couple different ways to make t-shirt rugs. These would be great for the kitchen, or bathroom. And they don’t seem ridiculously difficult to make.
Other great ideas can be found on Green Upgrader’s post about 10 Upcycled T-shirt projects. These projects include dog toys, scarves, reusable bags, and even links to a few other rug tutorials (here and here). Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make a few rugs (and maybe a dog toy).
Recently, I became curious about my household’s impact on the environment. I searched online for a Carbon Footprint Calculator, and found the Global Footprint Network’s carbon footprint calculator. This calculator seemed to take into account a lot more areas of my habits that lead to carbon emissions. Eating, driving, and household bills are all considered — along with flights, public transportation, and recycling/waste. The calculator gave me the carbon footprint for my household, compared it to others in the country, broke it down by category, and even gave an estimate of how many Earths it would take if everyone lived like me. According to this calculator, if everyone on Earth lived the same way — we would need 3.8 Earths to sustain that lifestyle. That is pretty startling, considering I try to live as eco-friendly as possible in an area with little access to public transportation (not to mention hot and humid weather).
Luckily, the Global Footprint Network also gives suggestions about things that can be done to offset your footprint. Buying Energy Star appliances, only buying recycled paper, purchasing produces with less packaging, and driving less per week are all ways I can reduce my carbon footprint. These are all things I should be doing, but many times it slips my mind. Plus, I only buy appliance when the old ones break, so I am using older appliances that may not be Energy Star rated. There is a lot of other information on the site that is pertinent to reducing your footprint, and educating yourself about carbon emissions.
What is your carbon footprint? What are ways that you are planning to reduce your footprint?
As I may have mentioned, summer is coming to a close and schools are starting back up. When thinking about the whole back to school dance, one thing that may be overlooked is your child’s lunch. For those of you who send your children back to school with their own lunches, making that process more eco-friendly may save you some money, and will definitely save a lot of trash from being thrown away.
First, there are the lunch boxes. Many kids carry lunch boxes these days in favor over paper sacks. That’s a good start, but some lunch boxes can be loaded with lead or PVC which can be bad for foods. Brands like L.L. Bean and Land’s End sell PVC and lead-free lunch boxes (some made from recycled materials) that are extremely durable and will last years. Plus, they are pretty generic-looking, so they could last your child’s entire school career (which can’t be said for that Angry Bird’s lunch box they might be carrying now). They may be a little more pricey than the plastic lunchboxes you find at big box stores, but the extra money is worth it given the extra safety, and long life of the lunch box.
Next, we have to look at what goes into the lunch box. Not the food. The food that goes into the lunchbox is entirely up to you. I’m talking about sandwich bags. Over a period of a year, if you child takes their lunch to school and uses a sandwich bag and a snack bag every day, that’s about 400 plastic bags (depending on your child’s schedule). That is a lot of wasted plastic that gets thrown away, and a lot of money, too! I can’t even do the math for how many bags that is over 13 years of schooling. I’ll just say, it’s a lot. Lunch Skins are a great reusable alternative to plastic sandwich bags, and come in different sizes. Plus, they are lead-, bpa-, and phthalate-free. Plus, you can wash them in the dishwasher, or hand wash after each use. I especially love the Red Apple design, but there are lots of designs to choose from. And you only buy them once, and they will last a long time. There are other manufacturers of this product, but before you buy just be sure they are food-safe!
Then there are all of the extras that might need to go in the lunch box: drinks, napkins, spoons and forks, etc. Obviously, the best choice for these extras is reusable. Aluminum bottles for water or juice. Cloth napkins, and reusable spoons and forks. Some schools do have restrictions on what kind of silverware can be included, so it’s important to know your school’s specific rules (regarding knives and forks).
It may take a bit more of an investment to get all of these high-quality and reusable goods for lunches, but the investment really is worth it. You will be sending your child to school with safe alternatives, lessen the amount you throw away, and use them for months and months (maybe years depending on wear). And once you have them, you don’t have to keep repurchasing them when you run out. Not only that, but it’s really a good way to instill eco-friendly practices in your children, as well.
People can spend hundreds of dollars on hair products that promise to lengthen, strengthen, add shine, or straighten hair. Sometimes these products work, sometimes they don’t. It can be very frustrating to spend $50 on a hair product, only to be disappointed in results. Luckily, there are some do it yourself methods using things you already have in your home that might do the trick for much less. Here are a few natural ways you can make Rapunzel jealous with your luscious locks.
1. Eating certain fruits that are high in biotin, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc (which are scalp and hair strengthening vitamins) like apricots bananas, berries, avocados and papaya can help your mane. But, you can also use some of these fruits on your hair as well. Instead of tossing out brown bananas (or making the go-to banana bread) try making a hair mask instead. Mash that baby up, and coat your hair. To help your hair absorb the vitamins, you can wrap hair into a steaming hot towel, and leave on for about 10 minutes. Then rinse, and wash as normal. This will also work with avocado that may be past the point of no return.
2. Adding healthy plant-based oil to your diet can also give your hair a boost. Just a tablespoon a day is all you need. Or, you can soak your hair in nourishing oil prior to washing. Great oils to add sheen to your locks are almond, castor, coconut, flaxseed, jojoba, olive, and sunflower oils. Proceed in the same manner as the banana or avocado hair mask. Using two tablespoons of oil, you can even add to the fruit compote for an even better mask. Just wrap your hair in a hot towel, and let sit for 20 minutes.
3. The best vitamins for a healthy scalp are vitamins A and C. Squash are high in both of these essential vitamins. And, guess what? You can put these fall favorites straight onto your hair as well! Just grab a can of pumpkin puree from the pantry, and slap it on your hair for a quick split end remedy. Cover in a shower cap to be less messy, and then wait 10 minutes. And then, of course, wash as usual.
4. Last, but not least, are whole grains. Quinoa, oats, brown rice, and other whole grains help your scalp, hair, and even skin stay healthy. And to make a quick hair mask, just cook up some oats, add some almond oil, and massage into your hair. 10 minutes later, rinse, and revel in your healthy head of hair!
Each of these foods and masks do different things for you hair and scalp. But, now that you know there are natural ways to keep your hair looking fine, you can put down that fancy schmancy hair mask full of chemicals, and pick up some oats, oil, and bananas instead!
Being environmentally friendly means incorporating green practices into all aspects of your life. This means you can drive a hybrid car, use less water, and use a reusable shopping bag — but you also need to be aware of what you’re putting into your body as well. The following are some tips on how to eat a greener diet:
1. Eat local and organic foods as much as possible. Yes, organic foods are grown without the use of pesticides and other nasty chemicals, but many times that produce is transported thousands of miles to get on your plate. So, striving to eat foods that are organic and local can really make an impact.
2. Reusables are always better. Reusable bottles, bags, plates, napkins. You name it. Most of the time, if you are given the choice between disposable and reusable, you should reach for the reusable.
3. When eating seafood, try to ensure it is sustainable. Sadly, overfishing is causing many species of fish to be near extinction, and their habitats are being damaged. If you must eat fish, choose seafood that is caught with no damage to their habitat. To help you with that initiative, Blue Ocean Institute has a great guide to seafood, and can be found here.
4. Growing your own food is the best way to control what you eat. But, if you don’t have a lot of space, even growing herbs or planting a small tomato plant in your backyard are options.
5. When eating take out, remember rule number 2. Decline paper napkins, plastic packets of soy sauce, chopsticks, and plastic utensils. You’re going home anyway, why use wimpy plastic cutlery? If you, by chance, are not going home to eat, remember to pack reusables for your meal.
6. Eat less processed foods. Let’s face it, it’s hard to give up processed foods. Where would we be without frozen pizzas, canned ravioli, American cheese, and white bread? It’s convenient, easy, and cheap. But cutting back on processed foods can lead to a healthier you, and less energy wasted.
7. Eat less meat. I’ve already explained the ways that eating less meat helps the planet and your body. But I still need to throw it in, here. Meatless Monday is a great way to set aside one day to go without meat, and who knows — you might even realize you don’t miss it.
8. Just eat less. Eat smaller portions, and cook less food so food isn’t wasted. Again, it might help your waistline and the Earth’s waste line (yeah, I came up with that).
In order to keep track of which of these tips (courtesy of WholeLiving.com) you stick to each week, here is an Earth friendly calendar that you can refer to to try and keep up. It might be tough to get all of these in every week (or at all), but doing your best is better than not doing it at all!
If you’re in the US, chances are that this summer you’ve been dealing with day after day of dry, sweltering heat. Just because kids are going back to school doesn’t mean summer is over, and it doesn’t mean this nasty heat is going to ease up. Many places around the country have been seeing fewer days in the triple digits, but hot is hot. And while you may be tempted to turn that thermostat way down, there are other alternatives that aren’t so pricey. Today, I want to share a few ways to keep cool without the A/C.
1. Close windows and blinds.
During the day, keeping windows and blinds shut will keep out the heat of the sun. But if the temperatures at night are mild, opening them and letting some of that cool air in will certainly help.
2. Use a fan.
If you have a ceiling fan, use it when you are in the room. If you have a box of stand fan, put it near you and keep a spray bottle close. At night, if there is a cool breeze, position the fan next to an open window to maximize the natural breeze.
3. Eat (or drink) cold foods.
Try a chilled fruit salad, ice water, or just popping food in the microwave. Using appliances like the oven will heat your house even more. Using an outdoor grill is helpful too.
Light bulbs give off heat, as do other electronics. Keeping lights, televisions, and computers off when not in use will reduce the heat they give off.
5. Take a dip.
If you’re hot, try cooling your body temperature by going swimming or taking a cool shower. You can also us ice cubes to keep your wrists, neck, and arms cool.
6. Think in the long term.
There are many things you can do that will eventually help cool your house. Things such as installing better insulation, putting awnings above windows, and planting trees will all keep your house much cooler in the summer. It just may take a few summers to reap those rewards.
Hopefully, Fall will bring cooler temperatures across the country. But, it’s only the beginning of August. Summer still has some time to do some damage. So, instead of letting Summer take over your bills, try some of these simple tips and stay cool.
Today, I am going to give a few recommendations for green/eco-friendly blogs. Since there are billions of blogs out there, there is always something for everyone. So whether you are a bookworm, a mother, or a college student — I have a blog for you!
1. For the college student: Green Student
This blog tells you where to find green dorm furniture, apps, guide to eating green on campus, and lots of helpful info for the college kid trying to reduce his or her carbon footprint.
2. For the consumer: Leafy Green
Product reviews of eco-friendly lotions, teas, candy, household gadgets, etc. If it’s labeled environmentally friendly, Leafy Green has probably reviewed it.
3. For the reader: Ecochimp
Giving readers suggestions of green books to read is the sole purpose of this blog. I’m not entirely sure about the pictures of the day they post, but the reviews of the books are great.
4. For the traveler: Green Global Travel
This blog is all about how to travel more consciously. It’s fun, interesting, and it makes me want to travel more!
5. For the mom: Mindful Mom
Mindful Mom is here to help busy moms pick out products, make dinner, do some crafts — all while being eco-friendly.
6. For the diva: EcoDiva
Another blog dedicated to product reviews, advice, and information about going green — luxuriously.
7. For the gadget lover: Ecofriend
This blog shows all sorts of cool ways alternative energy, power, and thinking are being used throughout the world to make this planet a little cleaner.
8. For anyone else: The Greenists
This is one of the most informative blogs about going green I have found. This bunch gives you tips, how tos, and great recipes. It’s the sort of blog that everyone can enjoy.
These blogs will help you on your journey to being more environmentally friendly. Plus, they’re entertaining! For even more green blogs, see this list of the Top 50 Green Living Blogs.
There are a ton of reusable bags on the market, and I just so happen to have tried many of them. Some good, some not so good, but they are all better than getting plastic bags at the stores. Today, I am going to show you a few different kinds of reusable bags, and give you my review of the bags in terms of durability, size, and convenience.
1. Synthetic Fiber Grocery Store Bags
These are the kinds of bags sold at grocery store check out counters for one or two dollars. And while this bag would work in a pinch (which is why they are placed at the front, where you are checking out), they are probably my least favorite type of reusable bag. They are not incredibly durable, and tend to break after a few uses. The straps on a bag I had of this type broke after only one shopping trip. Another got a big hole in the bottom before I was even able to use it. When you take these to the grocery, you need to have a few if you are planning a large trip. And they really don’t hold much more than a regular plastic bag. I now stick to using these bags around the house, or taking things on trips than for grocery shopping.
2. Canvas Bags
I like canvas bags exceptionally better than the previous type of bag I discussed. They are extremely durable, larger, and you’ll only need to remember a few on a large shopping trip. A few complaints about these bags are that they aren’t easily folded down, so they can be bulky when shopping with them. And, they tend to tip over in the trunk of a car. The few I’ve used haven’t had flat bottoms so during the drive home they toppled over — spilling out my groceries. But if you can find a canvas bag with a flat, square bottom that wouldn’t be a problem. They are a bit more expensive than the cheap synthetic fiber bags, but they are worth the additional cost.
3. Nylon Bags
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There are a wide range of companies that make similar bags: fashionable and colorful nylon bags that roll up and fit into a carrier. While it’s great that these bags can be rolled up, and put into a small bag carrier, they are often not easy to fit back in. Think of opening up a new map, and then trying to refold it in the exact same way. It’s almost impossible. That isn’t a big deal, the small carrier just becomes a little more bulky. And these bags carry about the same as the first bags I mentioned. But, my problem with these bags lies in the handles and the bottoms. Once again the bottom of the bags aren’t completely flat, so they are probe to tipping. And the handles can make them hard to carry if they hold a lot of weight.
4. Thick Plastic Bags
These thick plastic bags are by far my favorite type of bag to use. And, surprisingly, I have gotten them all for free! From campus festivals in college, to street fairs, to online sign-ups, I have never paid for this kind of bag, and I have about six or seven. What’s great about these bags is that they are very durable. I’ve had one bag break a handle, but that was after at least twenty times being filled with heavy items. They have plenty of space, so I normally only need a couple for grocery trips. The handles are easy to hold, and the bottoms stay flat even in a bumpy car. I use these bags more than any of the others I’ve bought, and I recommend them to everyone. And, if you can find them free, even better!
Of course, there are a few rules about reusable bags that many people forget to mention. They can be great, but you need to take care of them. Some rules of thumb for reusable bags are:
- Between uses, clean or bleach the inside of the bags. I use Lysol wipes to clean out my bags after each use.
- When using reusable bags, be careful to separate raw foods from other food products.
- You should not use reusable bags for other purposes such as carrying books or gym clothes if you still plan to use them with food.
So, the next time you find yourself staring at a wall of reusable bags, you can consider my recommendations. And get some Lysol wipes while you’re out.
A few days ago, I was hanging up some clothes in my closet when I realized I had way too many clothes. The rod that all of my shirts hang on was sagging, and almost at capacity. When I started rummaging through everything, I had another realization: I don’t wear 1/3 of what was in my closet. And some of the clothes I remember buying years and years ago. So, I decided I would clean out my closet, and now I have a huge pile of clothes that either don’t fit or just don’t fit into my wardrobe anymore. Sometimes it’s good to just get rid of some things. But, I don’t want to just throw the clothes out, so I’ve been researching all of the different ways I can deal with the situation. And if you’re in the same predicament (or if this post makes you realize maybe you have the same overflowing closet problem), here are some of my suggestions.
1. Online sites like Craigslist and Freecycle are a good option, especially if you are just trying to get rid of clothes. Obviously, everything on Freecycle must be given away. But on Craigslist, you might be able to sell off any higher end clothing, or maybe offer everything for $20. I have a few pair of nice pants that have never been worn that no longer fit, so that would be something I would try to sell on Craigslist. Everything else I have no problem just giving away.
2. If you have a lot of nice, like-new clothing, an option may be a consignment shop. A true consignment store allows you to put your items in their shop, and will sell the items for you, taking a small percentage of the selling price. But there are other places like Plato’s C
loset that buy your clothes up front. The problem with places like Plato’s Closet is that they put a price on your clothes, and it’s usually a very small price. If you have a lot of name brand clothing, it might be worth a shot.
3. Have a clothing swap with your friends. Of course, this pretty much negates getting rid of clothes, but new (to you) clothes are more likely to be worn. And you don’t have to take as much as you give away.
4. If you have a lot of other stuff cluttering up your house, consider having a yard sale. Put 50 cents to a dollar on every piece of clothing, and watch people snag it up. Yard sales are a great way to get rid of items, and get a little extra money.
So, whatever method you choose for getting rid of your clothes, you’ll be doing much better than simply throwing them in the trash. If there is some clothing that you’ve found is too worn out or old to sell or donate, there are options like keeping them as rags, crafts, dog toys, quilts, etc. Old t-shirts can even be cut up into pieces and soaked in fabric softener, and used as a dryer sheet. There is no reason for you to toss out any of your old clothes (except maybe underwear, that’s acceptable). Everything can have a new life, it just might not be with you. Now go clean out those closets!