Friday, October 31, 2008

Green Your Halloween

Halloween can be scary with all the toxic face paint, huge amounts of candy, plastic masks, and more. This year try to green your Halloween.

1. Buy your organic pumpkin at a farmers market. Pumpkins are grown with a lot of pesticides and end up taking a lot of space in the landfill after the holiday. Try something different this year and paint your pumpkin with non-toxic paint so you can still use it for a pie after roasting the delicious seeds. If you do decide to carve your pumpkin be sure to compost it after Halloween.

2. When trick-or-treating walk in your neighborhood instead of driving.

3. Make your own costume and avoid using face paint (check your make up at

4. Light soy candles scented with essential oils rather than synthetic chemicals.

5. When choosing treats to give out avoid the artificial colors, flavors, and dyes found in traditional candy. Instead hand out fair trade chocolate from Equal Exchange or Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates, Yummy Earth Lollipops which are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, contain 100% natural colors, and are certified organic, or check out Clif bars new mini bar – Spooky S'Mores which have a Halloween wrapper. Or you could always hand out goodies like crayons, coloring books, stickers, or coins.

6. When out trick or treating be sure to use a reusable bag. The Reuse bag by 3G comes in a great orange color perfect for trick or treating. After Halloween put the bag back into it's handy purse size bag and toss it in your purse so you'll always have a bag handy - it's bright orange color will make it easy to find!

7. Give the houses you visit a treat - fair trade chocolate. Equal Exchange is sponsoring a Reverse-Trick-Or-Treating event where you hand out an informational card on fair trade chocolate with a yummy piece of chocolate attached. For more information check out

For more great information on greening your Halloween check out

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Be a mooch...

A Book Mooch that is - I found this great website recently and needed to share it. is a great site that allows you trade books with others. I listed books that I am willing to trade just 3 days ago and I already received my first book! The site is super easy to use - list the books you want to trade, receive requests for your books, mail the books and earn points so you can mooch books you want. What a great way to keep books out of landfills while keeping your bookshelves fresh.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Should you preheat your oven?

As the holiday season rolls around, many people increase the use of their home's oven. Most recipes will call for you to preheat the oven, but is this step really necessary? Preheating the oven uses a lot of energy to heat up a small amount of air which then escapes when you open the door to put your food in. When older recipes were developed, wood & coal ovens were slow to heat, therefore preheating made sense to our ancestors and early cookbook authors. With modern electrical or natural gas ovens, preheating may save some cook time but wastes a lot of energy in the process. When cooking remember these energy saving tips:

1. Don't preheat your oven.
2. While your food is cooking avoid opening the oven door to peek at your food.
3. Cover your pots when boiling water.
4. Consider turning off your oven a short time before the food is done. With the door closed, it will retain the heat.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Green Your Weekend

If you are like most people, your weekend is full of household projects and chores. This weekend tackle those chores with an earth friendly approach.

1. When you wash your car, avoid letting your dirty, soapy water head for the storm drains. The water that enters the storm drain is deposited directly into our lakes, rivers and streams, untreated. If you must wash your car at home, park it on the lawn so that the water can be cleaned by the grass. If your car just needs a light cleaning, a better alternative would be using a spray-on “waterless” car wash - you just spray the eco-friendly formula onto the car, and wipe off with no wasted water. For a really dirty car your best bet is a commericial car wash. Although it seems like they use a lot of water, they actually use less than you will at home and most of the water they use is recycled. Any runoff is sent to the sewage system for treatment, keeping the suds out of our waterways.

2. Laundry time! Remember wash only full loads in cold water with an eco-friendly detergent and hang your clothes to dry on the clothesline.

3. When working in the yard, be sure to use earth friendly methods - natural pest control, hand weedin instead of toxic sprays, and composting. To really minimize your impact on the enviroment consider a push reel mower - no gas needed and zero emissions.

4. Consider cooking meals in bulk for the upcoming week which will save you money.
Head to the nearby farmer’s market for the freshest ingredients available, reducing the distance your food travels cuts the energy used for shipping. If possible, buy organic, you will reducing the pesticides you ingest and will reduce your foods impact on the Earth. Go vegetarian or at least eat less meat, especially corn-fed beef, which takes a lot of water to produce. At the store, buy in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging. Once you've cooked up all your delicious food, remember to bring your lunch to school or work in an earth friendly container.

5. After all this hard work, be sure to relax in the hammock with a good book from the library - a great green & free resource!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Plastics - Know Your Numbers

While you should limit your plastic use, it is impractical to eliminate all plastics from your life. When given a choice at the grocery store - opt for items sold in glass containers versus plastic as glass can be recycled over and over. When you must choose plastic check the underside of the container for the number that tells what type of plastic is in that product.

Safe to use and recycle:

#1 - PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) thin clear plastic use for bottled water, cooking oil, etc. Safe for one use, but don't refill or heat.

#2 - HDPE (high density polyethylene) thicker opaque plastic used for milk jugs, juice bottles, and detergents. Safe to refill and reuse.

#4 LDPE (low-density polyethylene) found in soft plastics such as grocery bags and plastic wraps

#5 PP (polypropylene) hard but flexible plastic used in ice cream, yogurt, and take out containers

Use with caution:

#7 Other - this code is a mix of plastics - only use containers labeled as bio-based (corn, potato, or sugar cane)


#3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride) - many contain phthalates, which are suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals often used to wrap meats and cheeses

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Plastic - not fantastic

Most kitchens are full of plastic products - plastic baggies, plastic wrap, reusable containers, and plastic shopping bags. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics hurt the environment during their manufacturing, they can leach dangerous chemicals into food as the plastic degrades through heating or over time,and end up filling the landfills for years to come.

Making safer choices:

1. When microwaving foods, choose glass or ceramic containers instead of plastic.

2. Replace plastic wrap with wax paper for covering foods while microwaving.

3. Pack lunches using reusable sandwich wraps like Wrap-N-Mats or using the Laptop Lunch system.

4. Pack snacks in unbleached wax paper bags or reusable fabric bags.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

5 Minute Earth-Friendly Changes

There is so much info out there about going green, at times it can be a little overwhelming. Start small with some simple changes that will make a difference for the environment and your bank account.

1. Lower your thermostat in the winter and raise it in the summer.

2.Turn off lights when you leave the room.

3.Unplug appliances, cell phone chargers, DVD players and other "phantom loads" when you are not using them. Phantom loads are items that use energy while in the instant-on mode - if it has a clock or a glowing light it is using energy. It is estimated that, 75% of the electricity used to run home electronics is consumed while the products are off.

4. Switch your old incandescent bulbs to compact flourescent lamps (CFLs). CFLs last 10 times longer, use a quarter less energy, and give off 90% less heat.

5. Improve your indoor air quality - the EPA states that indoor air quality can be more polluted than outdoor air. Furniture, flooring, paints, and adhesives offgas VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Look for low or no VOC choices which are now widely available.

6. Weatherproof your home - attach rubber sweeps to the bottom of doors, apply low-VOC caulk to cracks in window and doorframes, insulate outlets and light switches with inexpensive foam gaskets.

7. Conserve water. Install a low-flow showerhead and shorten your shower time. Check toilets for leaks, only run the dishwasher and washing machine when they are full, install aerators on your faucets.

8. Replace your air conditioner or furnace filter monthly. Also look for reusable filters that can be cleaned which reduces waste.

9. Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees and insulate your hot-water storage tank.

10. Switch from using hot water in your washing machine to cold water and use half the energy.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Water Saving Tips

Looking for some ways to reduce your family's water usage? Here are some easy ways to save on your water bill and to reduce your family's environmental impact.

1. Reduce your current shower time by one minute. The average shower head has a flow rate of 5 to 8 gallons per minute. Time your shower for a few days, then subtract a minute to come up with your goal time. If you shower every day, you’ll easily save a thousand gallons a year by cutting the time you run the water by just 60 seconds.

2. Locate and repair silent toilet leaks. Worn hardware can easily leak several gallons per day. Put some dark food coloring in your tank, if you notice color in the bowl within 15 minutes, you have a leak.

3. Water lawns on demand, not on schedule. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 30 percent of all household water consumption is used outdoors. Of this, up to 50 percent is simply wasted due to wind, evaporation, broken irrigation systems — and overwatering. Check your lawn instead of automatically watering it. Here’s a quick test: step on a patch of grass. If it springs back, it doesn’t need watering. Planting with native grasses and plants will reduce your need to water.

4. Turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth. Running water while you brush, sends 5 to 8 gallons of fresh water straight down the drain.

5. When washing dishes use an Energy star rated machine and make sure you only run it when it is full. If you wash dishes by hand don't let the water run while rinsing.

Want more great water saving tips? Check out -