watching paint dry

photo by david waschbuesch

DYK over half the stuff brought to household hazardous waste events could just stay at home? We’re talking latex paint. Dry it out and it can go in your regular trash. (Stir cat litter into the paint until it thickens and won’t pour.) If you have just a little left, open the can and let the paint air dry.

Other options: give the paint to a community center, charity, or school. (Would they take my rotten melon and school bus yellow colors?). Or save it for later. Properly sealed and stored, latex paint can last up to 10 years.  

FYI: Oil-based or spray paint don’t harden and should be taken to that hazardous waste event.

receipt deceit

photo by andrew ilus

DYK that store, hotel & library receipts, airline & movie tickets are technically recyclable? But you might want to think twice. Most are a thermal paper that prints using heat and chemicals (which is why they discolor in a hot car). The paper is currently coated in bisphenol A  (BPA), which is potentially harmful to kids and pregnant women. To test for BPA, scratch the receipt with a fingernail or coin to see if it discolors. The BPA could end up in our recycled paper products. So throw them away and choose an electronic receipt (or none at all) when you can.

if you love it…

…why set it free? Try a little TLC first. Have you whipped out needle and thread, shoe polish, or a can of paint to make something last longer? What about salvaging broken china, makeup, outdoor furniture or Christmas tree lights? While some things are beyond fixing, you might be surprised at how many things you can repair if you check online. I just saved my favorite elephant lamp with what turned out to be a simple fix (yay!). NOTE: If you think this applies to your significant other, you’re reading too much into it. Maybe.

a fuzzy fridge

Do you dream of a longer-lasting, more energy efficient fridge? Never? It’s actually quite simple- clean your refrigerator coils twice a year. One night while you’re waiting for your takeout delivery, find the coils at the bottom front (behind a panel) or on the back. Unplug it to turn off the power. Brush lightly around the coils and then vacuum with a hose. Voila- you’re done and your fridge can breathe again! FYI: check your owner’s manual first, as some refrigerators have special instructions or need professional cleaning.

you want what?

you want what? photo by luke hodde

About to do a load of laundry and want to reduce static cling? Forget dryer sheets- they’re one-use, polyester (ie plastic) and can emit potentially harmful chemicals. Try a wool dryer ball instead. They’re biodegradable, nontoxic, can be re-used for up to 1000 loads (no kidding) and are surprisingly easy to find. A wool sock doesn’t do the trick, by the way- I checked. Other options: toss a washcloth with white vinegar or some crumpled aluminum foil into the dryer- or line dry your laundry.

when you wish…

Do you ever throw a questionable item in the recycling and hope for the best? Yeah…me too. This behavior is called “wish-cycling.” As much as I love a little magic in the world, there is no recycling fairy godmother. The wrong materials can clog up machines and contaminate whole batches of materials. Take a quick minute to check your local rules. When in doubt, throw it out!

greener pizza

photo by kristina bratko

Sometimes there’s nothing better on a lazy evening than a hot pizza. #DYK that cardboard pizza boxes can be recycled in some communities, but not all? Even if they are accepted, greasy goo is not. Cut out the oily parts and recycle the rest. Also toss the plastic center thingy and rip any stickers off the box. Option 2: the boxes are easy to compost!

save your ash

photo by maarten van den heuvel

Have you been getting cozy in front of a wood burning fireplace or woodstove this winter? Don’t toss those ashes. You can mix them into your compost heap or directly into the soil. Wood ash is a good source of potassium, calcium, and magnesium– free vitamins for your plants. Make sure it has cooled off first!

looking back

Last year was a doozy. But before you step into the bright future, think about 2020 another time. How many greener steps did you take? For example:

 You replaced incandescent light bulbs with LEDs as they burn out.

You recycled as much as possible.

You turned the thermostat down at night and when you’re away.

 You used fewer plastic bags (if any).

You planned your outings to do multiple chores at once.

You only purchased things you need and know you’ll use.

Add any other green steps you’ve done and pat yourself on the back. Well done! Cheers to 2021!

happy greener holidays

photo by debby hudson

This time of year, I’m usually running around buying last-minute silly presents. Although the snowman that giggles while it toots is a keeper, no one wants a lot of unnecessary stuff. This year we plan on doing less opening (although I can’t wait for everyone to try their new bamboo toothbrushes) and more making memories. How do you plan to have fun? Board games? Watching a favorite holiday movie? Taking a walk or mixing a special beverage? Whatever you choose to do, have a happy greener holiday!