Friday, May 8, 2009


Green Holidays

There are plenty of ways to be green friendly and environmentally aware during the holiday season--ANY holiday season!

For starters, cutting down the amount of plastic you purchase is an excellent choice. Carving a real pumpkin is much better than the plastic versions sold in stores around Halloween, and recycling those scary decorations you already own is also an option.

For birthdays, a gift bag is a smaller use of paper than buying a roll of gift-wrap, and far easier to deal with. For winter holidays, fake trees may seem like a green alternative to a real tree, but plastic trees mean petroleum-based materials. Eventually, even the fake holiday trees will end up in a landfill somewhere. It's better to explore living tree options or even consider doing without the tree in favor of a special place in the home where gifts can be put on display before the great unwrapping.

When it comes to the unwrapping, most people consider it impractical to try and save the paper, but any ribbon used to wrap those gifts could definitely be used again. When dealing with the discarded wrapping paper, one alternative to throwing it all away is to save it for a do-it-yourself papermaking project, which can be great fun for kids and adults alike

Going Green With Cleaners

Many people fret over the amount of chemicals in their kitchens. Commercial kitchen cleaners often have caustic chemicals, fumes, and are generally unpleasant in spite of a lemon-fresh or "cool breeze" scent. The scents themselves are a source of irritation for many allergy sufferers who can't stand the perfumes. The solution?

Ordinary household vinegar mixed with varying degrees of water. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant, and cuts through caked on residues like ketchup, mustard and salad dressing. You can clean the entire fridge with vinegar, including the rubber seals.

There are some things to remember about cleaning with vinegar: Never mix it with ammonia or bleach-the fumes created by such a mixture are toxic. Do not mix vinegar with dish soap, which contains ammonia. Use white vinegar for your cleaning needs-including the bathroom, where vinegar is quite effective in cutting through bar soap residue and lime deposits.

Green living is not just better for the environment; it can also be quite cost effective. Compare a single bottle of vinegar with the cost of the same amount of cleaning solutions for both your bathroom and kitchen and see how the savings add up.

Getting Started On Greener Living

Your start down the green living path means reducing waste, reusing what you can, and recycling wherever possible. The first step could include a more mindful use of everyday objects we throw away without thinking, such as plastic shopping bags. Green-minded people will reuse these bags for diaper disposal, and as alternative trash bags.

The advantage to using a shopping bag for trash is twofold; it saves you money on garbage bag purchases, and it makes you much more aware of how much waste you are creating in a given week. You will also find yourself sorting out the recyclable materials from the trash--glass containers, plastic bottles and the like--because they become too much for the smaller bags. Your green living home recycling program just got a jump-start, all because you saved money on larger, more wasteful garbage bags

Green Alternatives In Entertainment

Many people want to reduce the amounts of paper, plastic, and related packaging waste found in everyday purchases. Not so many take a very hard look at the kinds of waste generated by everyday purchases.

How much plastic goes in to each and every compact disc sold at your local music store? Digital music download sites, while not advertised as such, are excellent green alternatives to CD purchases. The extra benefits of digital downloads include the elimination of the need for plastic CD cases as well as the plastic wrapper that goes around it. Another green alternative?

Canceling your newspaper subscription and getting your news online, and from the source. Most newspapers use Associated Press news wire reports for their national news, and your local issues can be found at the websites for your local TV stations. How much paper and ink goes into your Sunday supplement alone? Getting your news online saves trees and landfill space.

Yet another not-so-obvious green alternative related to entertainment? Beer on tap. Nobody thinks to market draft beer as an environmentally friendly commodity, but serving beer from the tap eliminates not only the need for glass bottles and wasteful cardboard packaging, it is often better tasting and less expensive depending on the time of day and the brand you buy. By switching to "draft-only" you vote with your dollar, and enjoy a much better brew

Using Homemade Remedies

There are many problems and tasks that can be solved by using home remedies or other natural solutions. Avoid environmental issues by skipping harsh chemicals in detergent and other cleaners, and make your yard a safer place by using natural pest remedies. Make your own cleaners. Rather than buying cleaners, detergents, and other products with harsh chemicals, make your own with simple ingredients you have lying around the house.

For example, combine baking soda and vinegar, and flush with boiling water, for an effective drain cleaner; use lemon juice to remove mildew; and use corn starch to deodorize carpet. Get rid of outdoor pests naturally. You don't have to use harsh pesticides in your garden to get rid of outdoor pests.

Try companion planting, which combines plants that attract pests (like roses) with plants that pests avoid (like chives). Or, hand-pick pests off your plants – it's time consuming, but definitely a good way to get rid of aphids and Japanese beetles. You can also apply garlic juice or blended hot peppers to your plants to deter pests. Rid your home of unwanted visitors naturally, too. You don't have to spray, buy ant traps, or apply other chemicals to get rid of indoor bugs, either. To get rid of ants naturally, squeeze a lemon at their point of entry and leave the peel. Use flypaper if you are plagued with flies, or even make your own with honey and yellow paper. And don't kill spiders at all (unless your house is infested), as they will help get rid of other pests.

Green Workout

1. Use your muscles en route. Instead of driving to the gym, walk (or jog or bike) there. If it’s too far, drive just part of the way and complete the journey under your own power. Improve your fitness by parking farther and farther away each time.

2. Bring your own bottle and fill it at the tap.

3. Share your soles. Recycle your used athletic shoes, or donate them to a clothing drive. Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program turns old shoes into new courts.

4. Take short showers. Just because it’s not your water bill doesn’t mean it’s not our water.

5. Speak up. Encourage your gym’s management to take measures to reduce waste, such as turning off lights in vacant rooms, shutting off the sauna/steam room/hot tub at night, minimizing use of the heater and air conditioner, and installing recycling bins

Green Office Tips

1. Turn off unnecessary lights, especially in unused offices and conference rooms. Turn down other lighting levels wherever possible.

2. Use a desk caddy to save envelopes, rubber bands, and paper clips for reuse.

3. Not only recycle the paper from your printer, but recycle your newspapers and boxes too.

4. Be more eco-efficient. Use a mug or glass instead of styrofoam or paper cups.

5. Write with refillable pens made from recycled plastic.

6. For fax machines and printers, use refillable ink cartridges and recycle old ones.

7. Save paper by printing and copying on both sides. And only print what you really need.

8. Carpool or use public transportation. If you own a business, encourage carpooling or allow telecommuting to reduce carbon emissions.

9. Take your lunch to work in a reusable container.

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