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!
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!
I’m going to celebrate by eating some honey.
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?)
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!
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!
For a quick upgrade replace the bulbs in your 3-way light fixtures with LEDs to reduce energy use by up to 90%. Check out the label to make sure the “brightness” and “light appearance” are what you want. Also- speaking from experience- make sure the bulb fits in your lamp before you buy it. Then sit back and forget about it: LEDs last up to 50,000 hours. Easy peasy!
Does your energy bill compare your total use to other homes nearby? Energy companies are correcting for a behavior called the “false consensus effect.” Basically, it’s when you think your behavior must be what everyone else does, so that makes it ok. An example is keeping the house so warm in the winter that you wear shorts. By showing people that their energy use is higher than others, energy companies have significantly reduced energy consumption.
This effect applies to other issues too, like water use, poaching, dumping, and even picking up dog poop. So by letting people know about your environmentally friendly behaviors, you can fight false consensus too!
Is your linen closet full of textiles you don’t use? We have lots of threadbare towels and ripped sheets, and we’re going to pass them on– to help keep critters warm and dry.
Most animal rescue organizations take blankets, all kinds of towels, sheets, pillows & cases, bathroom rugs and tshirts. They’re used for pet cages & bedding, cleaning up, drying off, etc. Before I plan to run errands on that side of town, I’ll call the shelter and ask when and where to drop it all off.
For an even bigger green step, take up a old linens collection from your friends before you go!
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.
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.