slay your vampires

It’s fun to light up a lantern or pumpkin on Halloween night, but would you leave them on all year? Some devices (TVs, coffee makers, printers, computers, and electric clocks) are always active …and they’re quietly sucking up energy. Spooooooky! Unplug these energy vampires (that’s a real term) until you actually use them. You could see a lower electric bill as well!

bigger is better (in this case)

Do you try to recycle every single little piece of plastic in your house (like I was)? Small pieces- 3 inches or smaller- can clog the belts and gears of the recycling machinery. I’m talking things like bread bag clips, plastic beads, pill packaging, random parts of children’s toys, and single-use condiment pouches. FYI- they end up being thrown away…if not by you. I feel like I owe my local recycling center an apology (but we’re good now!).

imagine by vincent tan

summertime and the livin’ is…hot

anyone else do porch cooking?

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!

How do you avoid a hot house when you’re hungry?

earth day pick up

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!

high five, baby!

photo by viktor nikolaienko

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!

save the towels

photo by isabela kronemberger

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!

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.

when you wish…

Do you ever throw a questionable item in the recycling and hope for the best? Yeah…me too. This behavior is called “wish-cycling.” As much as I love a little magic in the world, there is no recycling fairy godmother. The wrong materials can clog up machines and contaminate whole batches of materials. Take a quick minute to check your local rules. When in doubt, throw it out!

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!