Which is more environmentally friendly- aluminum foil or parchment paper?
Parchment paper is bleached or unbleached paper coated with silicone. Tin foil is actually a thin layer of aluminium. Mining and processing aluminium takes a lot of energy and resources. And although clean foil can be recycled, once you pull it off something like a lasagna, you have to trash it. Parchment can’t be recycled, but is created from a renewable resource. It also has nonstick properties that most tin foil doesn’t. So parchment wins in the big picture. I’ve started using parchment paper when I bake cookies, roast vegetables, or broil fish.
Go one step further using silicone baking mats, which serve the same purpose and last for a long time. They’re on my shopping list to try out!
I’ve been walking around my house feeling for cold drafts from windows and doors. I actually found one window that was slightly open (oops!). If you can feel cold air or see daylight when your exterior doors and windows are closed, it might mean the seal around them (called weatherstripping) is cracked or just plain gone. Weatherstripping comes in all sizes and price ranges at the hardware store, and usually just stick right on. Not only will your house feel more comfortable and your heating bills will benefit, but fewer insects can get in. That seals the deal for me!
It takes my family a long time to unwrap presents, especially big ones, because everyone knows they’re supposed to try and save the wrapping paper. We keep a brown paper bag nearby to recapture gift bags, ribbons and bows too. Americans spend over $7 billion on wrapping paper a year, but why use beautiful or fun paper just one time? We even have a joke of regifting the same green and white polka-dot gift bags back and forth each year. They’re older than my kids now!
What can you reuse this holiday season? You can also recycle wrapping paper and holiday cards as long as they’re not metallic or glittery.
I’m eating out a lot this holiday season, and tossing the one-use containers I bring home doesn’t feel very festive. So I’m emulating my Aunt Betty, a grand lady who loved good restaurants, but who never left food on the table. I think the waste of good food, the effort that went into making it, and the fact that she wasn’t big on cooking played into the rumor that she always kept a bag for leftovers in her designer purse. I tucked a reusable container in my bag this week- no one even noticed when I scooped up the rest of my meals. It doesn’t make for a pretty photo, but this was the best of the lot!
A tried and true way to save energy and money is to turn the thermostat down, especially at night. Ours drops to 62, which makes for great sleeping- even for the kids! (Our automatic thermostat has the house warm by the time we get up.) But slipping in and out of bed can be a chilly experience. Invest in flannel sheets to keep cozy. Stay enviro-friendly by choosing products certified by GOTS, which limits chemical use and includes social & environmental responsibility criteria, or OEKO-TEX, which certifies textiles are free from harmful chemicals and has similar social & environmental guarantees.
I love having lots of presents to open for the holidays. But this year, I’m trying not to buy useless stuff. So Dad gets a subscription he’d never get himself. Mother-in-law gets a jar of homemade thoughts-a-day for the year. One nephew gets video game $$$ (of course), a niece gets a gift certificate to her favorite salon, my kids will get movie ticket vouchers, and my goddaughter in Europe gets a YouTube video of me reading Christmas stories. Throw in a little recycled or recyclable gift wrap (except for the video), and I’m good to go!
If you’re walking away from the kitchen or bathroom faucet or shower while the water is running, think again. For example, leaving the tap on while brushing your teeth uses around 8 gallons of water a day. In a year, that adds up to over 36 bathtubs of water down the drain. Remember, tap water is cleaned and purified, which also uses resources and energy. Make a bigger impact by installing low-flow shower and faucet heads. It’s easier than you think!