Monday, December 22, 2008

Get your kids involved in recycling

I'm lucky that my city has a great recycling program. They pick up recyclables at the curb each week, and I don't even have to sort them.
Despite this terrific program, I told my kids that if they sort and bag the recyclables that have redemption values, we'll take those recyclables to the local collection point, and they can keep the money.
This has turned my kids into great recyclers. If we're out and they have sodas, they bring the cans home to recycle rather than just throwing them away in the trash at the park.
I'm a firm believer that habits formed in childhood will last a lifetime. Now I'm trying to help my kids develop greener habits.
How are you developing greener habits in your kids? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Say no to paper Christmas cards

You can save time, money, and the planet by saying no to paper Christmas cards. Each year, 2.65 Billion holiday cards are sold in the United States.** The majority of these cards quickly find their way to our landfill. In addition to the waste involved in manufacturing these cards, there's also the added resource costs of delivering them all over the world.

You can still send holiday wishes to your friends and loved ones and be environmentally conscientious. I recommend sending e-cards. E-cards are often less expensive than paper cards (some are free!), and you can incorporate pictures and music if you want to. Plus, they're fast. No stamps, no addressing envelopes. Just select a design, paste in your pictures, enter your email addresses and you're done!! They're also perfect for procrastinators as they're next to instantaneous.

Here are some services to try out: Smilebox, Hallmark, Blue Mountain, and eGreetings. Compare prices.

Be aware that if you send the free cards, they usually appear with advertisements next to them. You might want to try sending a free card to your self from each of the services to see if you like what you see.

Creating your family's holiday ecard is even a fun activity to do with your children.

Show your creativity. Avoid waste. Wish your friends and family well. You can have it all!


** Medical University of South Carolina’s Green Holiday Tips and Recycling

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Your guide to green products

Not sure which laundry detergent, sunscreen, shampoo, or tampon is best for the environment? Want to make sure that the products work as well as being environmentally friendly?

I just found GoodGuide, a website that rates over 60,000 household and personal products based on impact on health, safety, the environment, and societal factors. Every product has a rating between 1 and 10 and you can sort by rating within each category.

In addition, this site provides user ratings for products, so you can make sure that the products are actually effective before you buy.

Happy shopping.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Environmentally-friendly gift wrap

I like beautifully wrapped packages as much as the next person, but it seems to me that wrapping-paper is an outmoded tradition in this age of protecting the environment and conserving resources.

I spent one evening this week turning 2 yards of holiday fabric into a dozen re-usable fabric gift bags to use this Christmas. Total cost for fabric and ribbon, about $6.00, or about 50 cents a bag. I figure if I make a bunch of bags this year, I'll be set for years.

The eartheasy site has good instructions for making fabric gift bags. I chose opaque fabric and didn't bother with the lining. You can buy fabric gift bags on the web, but they're a little pricey.

If you have old fabric or even old sheets around the house, you can even make fabric gift bags without purchasing new fabric.

Not only are these wrapping paper alternatives good for the environment, they're faster and easier than using wrapping paper. Perfect for when kids need to wrap presents. You just pop the item in the bag and tie the ribbon. No scissors, no tape.

Other ideas for gift wrapping without waste:
  • re-use old cookie and candy tins
  • give a gift wrapped in a re-usable cloth shopping bag (Ikea has some great ones)
  • save and re-use the gift-bags and boxes you receive
Anyone else out there have ideas for gift wrap alternatives?

Holiday craft fair

My kids and I are getting ready to head out to the Sonora Holiday Craft Fair with some friends. I'm not going to be buying much in the way of gifts this holiday, and I'm hoping to buy more home-made items for the gifts I do buy.

If you're looking to buy gifts that don't come with lots of packaging, don't need to be shipped, aren't manufactured with a lot of petroleum products, etc., consider hitting your local craft fair. This is a great way to support local artisans. The gifts you do find will be unique, and it's a lot more fun than going to the mall. Invite a friend or two and make a day of it. Be sure to carpool!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

De-clutter your Life

If your house, garage, closet, office, etc. is full of items that you no longer need but that might be uesful to someone else, you can help these items find new homes on Freecycle and keep the items out of the landfill.
The only catch is that you have to give the item away for free - no strings attached. You post the items based on where you live, and someone who wants it comes and picks it up.
You can also post a notice indicating that you're looking for a particular item and then get that item for free.
Check it out. This is a win - win - win situation.

*Photo courtesy of Nerdymom.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stopping the catalog junk mail

I used to receive lots of catalogs. One day I saw the stack of catalogs I'd received that week, and realized the huge amount of waste created by this practice. Some of the retailers were sending me a catalog a week, and I was tossing them straight into the recycle bin.

Think of all the negative steps involved in printing and mailing a catalog: chopping down the tree, the chemicals and power used in creating the paper, the chemicals and power used in printing, and the fuel used to transport the catalog from the printing house to my mailbox. is a FREE service that lets you select which catalogs you want to stop receiving. If you love the Pottery Barn catalog but want to stop receiving the Golf catalog, you can do that.

It takes about 10 weeks for a retailer to stop sending you catalogs. You need to enter the customer code and customer name from the back of each catalog for best results. Also, if you receive multiple copies of a catalog with different versions of your name (or your name and your spouses name), you'll want to enter multiple stop requests.

This is a free and easy way to reduce waste. You can still shop at all these merchants, just do so online.

My journey so far...

Over the last few years, I've been taking baby steps towards a greener approach to life. First recycling, then the hybrid car, then giving up paper plates, then taking my cloth bags each time I go shopping. Each step has been small and easy, but over time it's made a big difference in my use of the earth's resources.

As my family heads into the holiday season, I'm finding lots of ways to be a little greener. Check out this cool slideshow full of tips for being a little greener this holiday season. Whether you follow just one of these tips or a dozen, it's worthwhile to check this out.
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