Posts tagged ‘tips’

Our Online and Electronic Footprint- Part Two


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 But what happens to all of those “outdated” models?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

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October 9, 2014 at 8:56 am Leave a comment

April Showers Bring… Spring Cleaning!

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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

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/20-diy-green-cleaning-recipes-141129

http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/household-hints-tips/cleaning-organizing/10-green-home-cleaning-tips.htm#page=0

May 1, 2014 at 1:27 pm Leave a comment

Update from re-nest – The Best Green Home Blogs of 2011

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.

Live Well,

Matt

February 7, 2011 at 3:20 pm 1 comment

Going Green by Giving 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,

Matt

December 6, 2010 at 9:51 am 1 comment

Do-It-Myself Projects

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).

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,

Melissa

February 18, 2010 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment

Environmental Health Report Card gives mixed grades

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:

Water

  • 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.

Waste

  • 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.

Maria

December 1, 2009 at 10:08 am 1 comment

Bus Riding Instructions

I didn’t get my license until I was 22-years-old, and proceeded to total my first car two weeks after acquiring my license. Before that happy incident, I rode and relied on buses in New York, Minneapolis, Madison, Hong Kong, even Costa Rica! If Costa Rican buses got me where I needed to go, then Madison’s system is a sinch. And honestly, for a small city, Madison has a great system.

Still, I’ve heard time and again that riding the city bus is intimidating, difficult, or just too much work. I’m here to assure you that it is not, and that if you pick up a bus map today, you may be surprised to find a route that takes you directly to work!

Here we go, a step by step on how to take the bus, and tips on how to avoid uncomfortable situations.

How to Ride (in Madison)

1. Find Your Route. Look at the system map, locate where you are, where you want to go, and see if a bus line runs in that direction. Be sure to distinguish between the Week-Day Maps and the Week-End Maps. They may change!

2. Check Your Schedule. Once you’ve determined the Route Number (Ex: Bus #2), then you can check the Online Ride Guide (click on the bus number). Find when you wish to arrive at your destination, and trace back to your starting location to see when you’ll have to catch the bus. If you’re confused about how to read the guide, Madison’s Metro Transit provides helpful details. Just click the link above (“Check Your Schedule”). Make sure you’re heading the right direction! *HINT: The guide reads from left to right.*

3. Prepare Your Fare. If you’re paying with cash, it is $2.00 for Adults, $1.25 for Youth 5-17, $1.00 for Disabled/Seniors, and free for children 4 and under. Otherwise, buy a transit card at a slight discount. Campus buses are free, courtesy of student segregated fees.

4. Catch That Bus! Chances are that your bus stop is just a block away. Find the blue sign with bus numbers listed, or a bus shelter. Metro Transit also provides tips on where to wait.

Other FAQ

Q: How do I get off?
A: Pull the yellow cord above the windows. Pull one block away from your intended drop-off point. The loudspeaker/marquee at the front will prompt you; once you hear or see your intersection, you can pull. Otherwise, ask the bus driver to signal you if you are unfamiliar with the area. Leave out the back door. A green light will flash on, which signals that you can exit by pushing on the handles.

Q: What if I need a transfer?
A: Ask the bus driver! (S)he’ll print one out for you, then grab it and keep it safe. You can feed it into the same slot to use it on the next bus. It is good for a free ride within 2 hours.

Q: What if I have a bike? How do you use the bike rack?
A: First, stay calm. I had a friend once who couldn’t figure out how to use the bike rack attached to the front of the bus for 5 minutes, freaked out and ended up not taking the bus. The bus driver may not come off to help you, but there are 3 simple instructions written on the equipment, and it is actually quite easy! Metro Transit offers a step-by-step and a video(!) on how to place your bike on a rack, so you won’t end up like my friend.

Q: I’m a business-owner interested in my employees’ commuting options. Is there something for me?
A: Metro Transit is offering a new Commuter Card in 2010 for small businesses, non-profit groups and schools to provide your members with another commuting option at a discounted rate. It makes a great benefit!

Happy riding! Let us know if you have any other questions.
– Isabella

November 23, 2009 at 12:14 pm 1 comment

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