foil vs parchment

photo by sarah gualtieri

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!

seal it up

photo by juan pablo serrenas arenas

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!

sleep greener

photo by sylvie tittel

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.

water coming and going

photo by kirsten marie ebbesen

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!

knives, forks and spoons

photo by hue-12

The US uses about 40-100 billion plastic utensils a year. Instead of one-use, disposable cutlery, use your own utensils, whether at home or at work. Ditch the plastic forks with your take out as well. Yes, you will have to wash a fork or spoon, but it’s a lot less resource intensive than making and tossing a plastic one. It saves $$ for restaurants too, so share the love!

vampire loads

photo by clint patterson

Even when they’re off, energy vampires like computers, DVRs, cable boxes, chargers and even coffee makers slowly drain electricity. Vampire loads use about 5% of the energy consumed in the US, costing electric customers more than $3 billion each year. Tonight turn off your lights and look for standby lights. They’re a sign that something is draining power, even though it isn’t being used. Unplug them when they’re not in use, or use power strip to make powering on and off easier.

paper or plastic?

photo by david veksler

Take your pick, or preferably, bring your own bag. But some studies show that what you put in your shopping bag and how you travel is much more important. To make a bigger  difference, eat less meat, walk/combine trips, fly less and buy locally-made products. Bottom line: reuse whatever bags you have at home- until they fall apart.