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.

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!

a thanksgiving quiz

photo by annie spratt

How are you choosing to celebrate this year?

Novice: You decorate with nature (acorns, fruits & leaves) instead of plastic and synthetic materials.

Intermediate:  You also use your good dishes, glasses and cloth napkins instead of disposables. Make the day special!

Pro: All of the above + you shop local and organic. In the kitchen you use reusable leftover containers and borrow extra dishes, platters and special pots ‘n pans instead of buying disposables.

Extra credit: You stay close to home. It’s a special year, so if you’re not going anywhere feel better knowing that you’re keeping the air cleaner!

spray away

photo by anna hecker

‘Tis the season for pumpkin pie, hot chocolate and all kinds of treats topped with whipped cream. And unless you make your own, all good cans must come to an end. But wait. Before you toss it and other spray cans (like cooking spray) check your county’s recycling guidelines. The cans (empty, no cap) are recyclable in some areas. Aerosol cans are made of either aluminum or steel, high-value metals that can be reused again and again, so it’s worth checking into!

a snuggly water heater

same idea, but much cuter

The only time I think about my hot water heater is when it’s not working. I’m not even 100% sure where it is (just checked- under the house). If it’s not instantaneous, your water heater is sitting there 24 hours a day, every day, keeping water warm. As a test, touch the outside of your appliance. If it’s warm, it’s radiating heat. Wrap it in a water heater blanket and lower your water heating costs by 10-15%. FYI, newer water heaters are better insulated and usually don’t need to cozy up.

do sumthin’ with the pumpkin

photo by jocelyn fletcher

Decorating for Fall? Take a green step and buy your pumpkins from a local farm or farmers’ market. (Go greener and save the seeds to grow your own next year.) If you carve a jack-o-lantern, toast the seeds for snack or on a salad. You can also make pie or muffins with the fruit you scoop out. Compost the rest when you’re done…or the pumpkin is. And let me know if those dried corn arrangements are edible!