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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