Posts tagged ‘going green’
It’s that time of year again. Holiday season is upon us! But while you’re looking for the perfect gift for your loved ones, are you considering where your money is going?
According to UC-San Diego, buying from locally owned stores not only reduces carbon emissions but can benefit the local economy as well. When you spend $100 at a chain store, only $43 goes back into the local community. However, if you spend the same amount at a local store, $68 stays in the community. This means more money is going to people in your neighborhood rather than chains across the country. Other studies have shown that the money spent at local stores is more likely to be spent at other local businesses, which helps to strengthen the economic base of the community. Local businesses are also more likely to hire local residents and support other local businesses as well.
Buying local is also more sustainable and can lower your carbon footprint. Many local stores have products that were made or grown locally, meaning that less fuel was used to bring that product to the store. Many chain stores ship their inventory from large warehouses across the country, which can use large amounts of fuel and release many harmful emissions. Products found in chain stores are typically made in bulk and the creation process can produce a lot of excess material and waste. In addition, typically local stores are more centrally located in a community than chain stores since they usually require less space. This makes it easier to walk or ride your bike to the store, further cutting down your carbon footprint.
Supporting local businesses also keeps the community unique. Where we shop, eat, and spend our free time helps to make our community our home. Frequenting a local business allows you to meet and establish a relationship with the owner and employees. This can lead to better service and assurance of quality products since we are more likely to help those we have relationships with. Local businesses also help create a distinct character in the community and can attract tourists that will help strengthen the local economy as well.
Local businesses are important for keeping our community unique and economically strong. Support your community this holiday season by buying local. Instead of participating in Black Friday shopping this year, participate in Small Business Saturday! For a list of local Madison businesses, go here.
Keeping Electronics Out of Landfills
In our modern society, we are surrounded by technology. When things break, our first thought is to throw them out. However, all of these electronics fill up our landfills and can be harmful to both humans and the environment through run-off. According to the StEP (Solving the E-waste Problem) Initiative, 48.9 million tons of gadgets and electronics were thrown out worldwide in 2012. Most of these electronics could have been repurposed or harvested for parts, which reduces our resource consumption and keeps electronics out of landfills. Many electronics stores are now offering recycling programs where you can bring in your old TV’s, computers, and other electronics for repurposing. Some places even offer store rewards for bringing in materials, such as gift cards or discounts. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a great list of places that accept mobile devices, TV’s, and computers.
Other stores and organizations will accept unwanted parts such as ink cartridges, digital cameras, and MP3 players. Headphones can often be hard to find places to recycle them, but ThinkSound provides discounts on new purchases for every pair of headphones turned in. Office Max also offers rewards for turning in old ink cartridges. A quick search on the internet for the item you are looking to recycle will bring up plenty of options other than simply throwing it away. E-cycling Central also has a great list of companies and organizations by state that recycle a variety of electronic devices and materials.
Before You Buy That New Smartphone…
We are always being bombarded with the latest version or new model of cell phone and many times millions of people are running to their phone carrier to get what ever that might be. But what happens to all of those “outdated” models? Instead of throwing your phone in the trash, consider donating it to a charity that will repurpose them for those in need. There are many local and national organizations that will take donations, such as Cell Phones For Soldiers. This non-profit takes old cell phones, refurbishes them, and sends them to troops overseas so they can call home. Other organizations include National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Hyla. Some of these organizations will even buy your old phone from you.
Many wireless providers also have trade-in plans where you can turn in your old phone and receive a discount or money towards your new phone. This includes AT&T, Verizon, U.S. Cellular, and other major providers. Check your provider’s website or ask an employee what your options are before you buy something new.
Reducing our electronic and online footprint is easier than you think. By reducing the amount of time you spend online and recycling any old, unwanted, and broken technology, you can lower your carbon footprint, be more engaged in your life, and even help those in need. While we can’t solve climate change in one day, every little actions makes a big impact. So unplug those devices, turn in those old electronics, and help make a difference!
image credit: www.torontosun.com
Collectively, Americans spend about $40 billion annually on lawn care including grass seed, sod, and synthetic chemicals. Much of the money we spend on our lawn cares goes towards products that “help” grass only in the most superficial ways and that actually degrade the soil underneath, pollute our drinking water and lakes through contaminated runoff, and can pose serious health threats to pets and wildlife in the area, including birds.*
However, maintaining a pristine lawn doesn’t have to be harsh on our wallets or on the environment. There are other options for caring for our yards that can be more cost-effective and help our communities avoid many of the negative environmental impacts of overspreading synthetic chemicals, for example.
Chemical fertilizers typically contain high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other elements that can help grow strong grass and grass roots, but too much of a good thing can be bad. In fact, when we overspread fertilizer on our yards, 40-60% of this fertilizer can ultimately leach away and pollute our ground water and have the potential to eventually reach and pollute our precious lakes. This spring, consider spreading less fertilizer than in previous years and less than might be recommended by the lawn care product company. If necessary, add water-insoluble organic fertilizers and do not fertilize your lawn when there is heavy rain in the forecast, in order to prevent extra runoff.
Additionally, leaving grass clippings on your lawn after mowing can add nitrogen back into the ground through the natural breaking-down of the clippings. Similarly, allowing plants like clover to grow in your yard in addition to grass can help prevent erosion, smother weeds, and clover also naturally fixes nitrogen in the soil, reducing the need for fertilizer application.
image credit: http://pureella.com/green-spring-cleaning-tips/
It’s that time of year again; time to get started on your annual spring cleaning. No matter what your spring cleaning project may be, here are some tips to get you started on not simply spring cleaning, but green, spring cleaning that is good for you, your home, and the planet.
Most importantly, when cleaning-up or cleaning-out, we should keep in mind the after effects of our actions. For example, scrubbing the counters with harsh chemicals and massive amounts of paper towels will leave our kitchen full of toxic chemical fumes and a ton of waste. Instead consider wiping down the counters with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda using a reusable cloth. Similarly, if cleaning-out and getting rid of things is your priority this spring, don’t just throw items in the trash. Instead consider making something out of that “junk” or putting those old clothes and toys together as a donation to your local Resale Shop or host a garage sale to find your used items a new home. One person’s trash can be another person’s treasure.
Ultimately, neither spring cleaning-out nor spring cleaning-up need adversely affect the environment or your family by adding waste to landfills or toxins to the air. Instead, consider how the spring cleaning choices you make in your own home actually have the potential to be Earth-friendly.
Check out these sites for more information: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1073
Spring is almost here, and that has many of us thinking about ways to make our homes greener when the weather takes a turn for the better!
These days, one of the best ways to keep up on the latest in green home ideas is to keep tabs on the myriad of blogs on the subject. If you are like me and have no idea where to even begin sometimes, check out this blog from re-nest, a green design blog, entitled, “The Homies: Best Green Home Blog of 2011.” Re-nest polled its readers to determine the best of a strong group of blogs that included A Way To Garden, Baby Green, Frugal Kiwi, Pretty Little Things, and The Design Confidential, with A Way To Garden coming out on top.
A Way to Garden is pretty cool. Author Margaret Roach has a ton of advice for current or aspiring gardeners trying to make their homes (and in turn, their lives) more sustainable. This includes posts about tools, techniques, and strategies for getting the most out of your organic garden, as well as recipes for what to do with the food you grow. It’s a great resource for trying to Live Green.
Check out some of the other blogs as well! You never know when you will see something that inspires you to make the most of the coming spring and turn your home green.
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,