What happens to the plastic produce bags you bring home from the supermarket? You can reuse them (they’re great for covering half a melon, for example). Even better- go naked and don’t use a bag at all for single items, cucumbers, bananas, etc. Throw trickier veggies like green beans or tomatoes into a reusable nylon bag. They last forever!
Try to take a couple of bags with you each week- or go naked- and save hundreds of plastic bags a year!
The dog days of summer are here, and all we want at my house is a tall glass of something cold. Usually that means iced tea, flavored water or lemonade by the gallon- but we avoid plastic bottles by making our own (it’s easier than you may think). You can even find new “unsweetened natural flavor essence” for bubbly water machines. Mix your own flavors- I’m thinking lime mango. Home brew tea means you can control the sweetness, make it decaf, or add flavors (my favorite is peach). Or use a packet of drink mix- you can add them to your water bottle no matter where you are!
You lather up with sunscreen before you play in the waves, right? And so do hundreds of people around you. All that lotion can cause trouble in the ocean. Common ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, nano titanium dioxide, and nano zinc oxide can harm coral reefs and sea life.
When you buy your next bottle, keep these tips in mind:
-Sunscreens labeled “reef safe” aren’t regulated, so take that designation with a grain of (sea) salt.
-Some popular brands don’t contain oxybenzone or octinoxate, two of the most harmful chemicals.
-If you cover up with a swim shirt you’ll use a lot less sunscreen!
It’s been really steamy already this summer, and the last thing you might want is to heat the house cooking. Our thermostat goe up when I turn on the oven, which is great in the winter, but not in July.
On these blazing days, try to either cook early and reheat, grill out, or use the crock pot or microwave- they don’t create nearly as much heat. Salads are good too. We use our toaster oven a lot, so it’s on the screened-in porch until the weather cools down!
It’s National Pollinators Week! Unfortunately, honey bees aren’t doing so well– their habitat is shrinking, parasites and disease are rampant, and they’re exposed to harmful pesticides. Two things you can do:
1. Find native, bee-friendly plants for your garden (or a pot). “Old-fashioned” varieties are best–some modern blooms have lost their fragrance and/or the nectar/pollen that attracts and feeds pollinators.
2. Pesticides that are really harmful to bees have special labels on them, so follow the instructions if you have to use them. Or don’t use them at all!
Hearing more about carbon offsets these days and need some background info?
Basically, it means if you create carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas- one way (say you fly a lot), you make up for it another way (you might plant a bunch of trees. A bunch.). Some popular offset projects include:
carbon capture: equipment that captures gases before they’re released at places with high emissions, like landfills and mines
forestry: planting trees or protecting old ones (I forgot about the oldies!)
using more efficient stoves: mostly a focus in developing countries
renewable energy: wind turbines and hydroelectric dams, but also individuals’ solar panels and biogas digesters (do you have yours yet?)
Did you know that today is National Arbor Day? (Apparently States choose their own days depending on the best planting time- our is in September.)
According to a Chinese proverb, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Trees are great windbreaks and soil conservers, air purifiers, wildlife habitats (both dead and alive), and shade providers (aka the foes of urban heat islands). Oh, and the ones in your yard can increase property values and decrease your AC bills.
Evergreen, fruit, nut or just a regular ole tree, the choice is yours. And yes, a miniature lemon tree on your balcony counts!
Most people walk by trash on streets, athletic fields, in the woods- if they even notice it. Swedish folks actually have a word for jogging while collecting trash, called plogging (plocka upp means “to pick up” in Swedish, apparently).
Invite friends and family to join you on a trash walk today (or any day- we’re going this weekend). If you gross out at the thought of scooping up disposable masks and food wrappers, start with plastic bottles and aluminum cans, which are also easy to recycle.
It’s easy, and makes an instant difference. Happy Earth Day!
April 16 is National High-five Day, so give yourself some skin for all the green steps you’ve taken in the past year. I know someone who is so environmentally conscious that every move she makes is carefully weighed. Her eco-amazingness makes me feel kind of… pathetic. Ever feel like that?
Stop comparing yourself to others (I’m telling myself this too). It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the many environmental choices we’re faced with every day. No one is perfect, so focus on progress instead.
Celebrate your accomplishments, both big and small, and remember that you’re not alone in trying to do your best, one step at a time! High five!
Are you tired of lugging (and storing) huge plastic bottles of laundry detergent? And then tossing that chunk of plastic when it’s empty? You have options. Pods are smaller, but still contain plastic and can be pricey. We use concentrated detergent- you get the same number of washes from a much smaller bottle. (hint: measure so you don’t use more than you need.) But a friend just introduced me to detergent sheets (where have I been?). They dissolve in the wash and you’re left with a slim cardboard envelope. A quick search shows I can’t buy them locally but they’re available online. I look forward to the extra space in my cabinet!