Posts tagged ‘reuse’
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I hope you all had a good one! Of course, this means that for those of you celebrating or helping your friends celebrate the holiday season, there are only a few hectic weeks left to find, make, or buy meaningful gifts for the people you care about. Time sure does fly this time of year…
One of the dilemmas I always face during the holiday season is: How do I make my friends and family feel special without giving into the wastefulness and consumerism that, unfortunately, is all too prevalent? Or in other words, how do I give green gifts?
If you are anything like me, you find yourself wishing for a compilation of green gift resources. Luckily, some people have already given thought to this issue! For example, TreeHugger published this online 2010 Gift Guide, and The Daily Green has this guide, which has gift ideas separated out into useful categories. You might find similar guides, like this one from National Resources Defense Council, at other popular green websites.
Another great option for green gift giving is to make the gifts yourself. If you are crafty, handmade arts, crafts, and clothing are sure to make someone very happy. The website Not Made of Money put together a list of homemade gift possibilities that has some really good ideas. Homemade fleece scarves and blankets, for example, are cheap and easy to make and are sure to leave a lucky recipient warm and cozy as the weather gets cold. If you have culinary skills, homemade breads and cookies or home-canned jams, sauces, and salsas are other great ideas. I used several pints of raspberries, strawberries, and cherries I picked during the summer to make jars of gift jam for friends and family, which, apart from some minor mishaps with the giant canning pot, turned out really well. Gifts that are made from scratch or cleverly pieced together from older items not only make recipients feel good–they also might be even greener than store-bought green gifts.
Winter may just be getting started, but the gardeners in your life are already planning for next season. Drs. Sonya and Astrid Newenhouse put together this handy list of green garden gift ideas, which also appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio (listen to the Garden Talk show here). They break out gifts by price, which is really helpful to cash-starved graduate students like me!
Whatever gift ideas you choose this year, if they are both environmentally friendly and thoughtful, it’s a win-win for you AND your friends and family.
Stay Warm and Be Green,
Speaking of love, ever since I discovered Re-Nest I have been obsessed with it. It’s a wonderful blog that offers fun, creative How-To’s and tips on how to live a chic, eco-friendly lifestyle (and do really fun projects). I hereby declare 2010 to be the year I try to make new things, fix items in my apartment when they are broken, and (*eek*) maybe even try a new recipe (cooking is not exactly my cup o’ tea). Here are things I plan on doing thus far; I think you would have fun doing them, too:
- Let’s make vases and cute containers out of glass bottles and tin cans. This Re-Nest article explains how easy it is to transform recyclables into art (and potentially gifts!). This would be very fun to do with children (as long as the paint is kid-friendly).
- What do you get when you mix water, a picture frame, and an old blender? Handmade paper, of course! I have always wanted to do this; even though my current kitchen is about the size of Harry Potter’s under-the-stairs closet, I think this is still possible.
- I may have to have my adept cooking friends help me with this one: pickling. This article gives detailed instructions on how to pickle anything you want. Bring on the cucumbers!
- Maybe it’s partially because I don’t want to drag my garbage all the way down 5 floors to the dumpster and consequently freeze, but I would genuinely like to live a more packaging-free life. We all already have glass and plastic sandwich and lunch containers, but if you need some more ideas, check out this Re-Nest article (see? I’m obsessed).
- Using natural cleaners is an essential part of a healthy home and body. Here are some great concoctions for homemade house cleaners.
If you don’t have the time, desire, or ability to do these sorts of things, no need to fear! Here are some great Madison-area shops that offer recycled goods:
- Re-Thread has just come to Madison offering handmade clothing out of pre-owned (and cleaned) clothes. They also have a buy-trade-sell system, so check it out on their website.
- Featured on Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Eco-Friendly Flooring is a Madison, WI supplier and installation contractor of eco-friendly flooring products. I will be a renter for some time into the future, but I can’t wait to use this service for my home someday!
- Last but definitely not least, is Anthology, a locally-owned boutique that offers locally-made art and products to make beautiful creations. I am proud to say I bought a handmade ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ coaster there before its popularity resurfaced.
Go forth people and have fun in your kitchens with your kids and friends. Feel free to send us your ideas; we love hearing them!
Wishing you the best,
This university town is probably full of “A” students. But we’ve learned that we still have a ways to go to get a better GPA on our environmental health in Dane County.
Every two years the Madison and Dane County Environmental Health Report Card is issued, telling us where we’ve improved and where we have regressed in terms of our air and water quality, recycling, alternative energy, and vehicle travel.
The bad news first: water quality and water conservation have both declined. That means more phosphorus in our lovely lakes and more beach closures, and lower groundwater levels. FYI: Groundwater provides 70% of Wisconsin residents with water.
The bad news second: And, while there was a small increase in recycled material, there was also an increase in the amount of waste produced and sent to the landfill.
The great news: Don’t despair! There is a LOT we can do to make this better.
The also great news: EnAct offers loads of tips that people can use to reduce their water use and their waste production. Our “EnAct: Steps to Greener Living” book offers chapters on saving water and wasting less that you can download here to take action in your own home. Or start an EnAct team with your neighbors or friends and talk about why this stuff matters right here in our backyard!
Want to do something right now? Here are a few ideas:
- Only run full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher, and use them in off-peak times (middle of the day or after 7 p.m.)
- Don’t flush medicines or over-the-counter drugs down your drain OR throw them in your garbage. Check with your doctor’s office or pharmacy about medical waste drop-off days.
- Try using non-toxic alternatives to household chemical cleaners. Commit to trying one new natural product this month. And a second one next month. And so on…
- Install a faucet aerator in your kitchen; they cost about $1 and can save 3 gallons of water per day per faucet.
- Keep your leaves out of the gutters and out of the lakes. Use them as mulch on your flowerbeds.
- If you are not curbside recycling everything you can, start now! Here’s a list of what is recyclable in Madison.
- Remove your name from junkmail lists at DirectMail.com
- Donate or sell items rather than throwing them away. Try Goodwill, St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Stores, Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, or Freecycle.
- Buy at least one post-consumer recycled-content product that you use on a regular basis, like office paper, or that’s a one-time purchase, like fleece clothing made from recycled soda bottles and other plastics.
- Buy and manage the food in your house to reduce spoilage and waste and to save money. Try not to buy more food than you are certain you family can eat before it goes bad.
- Try composting. It’s a lot easier than it sounds.
- When eating out, bring a reusable container for your leftovers rather. Trust me, no one minds if you do this (even my husband realized it was silly to be embarrassed when I whip my trusty Tupperware out of my purse)!
So we got a few Bs and Cs. That’s okay. We can still make the next report card something we’d be proud to show to our grandchildren.
Be green. Have fun.