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!

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!

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!

beige gold

photo by karolina grabowska

Ordering a lot of packages these days? Do you open them up and then cast an annoyed look at the shipping box? Corrugated cardboard is the most recycled paper product, with a 95% recovery rate. It also has the highest value, earning it the nickname “beige gold,” because its long paper fibers make it durable. Over half of collected cardboard is used to make new cardboard boxes (to send you more packages), but it’s also used for things like cereal and shoe boxes. Recycling one ton of virgin cardboard saves 17 trees and valuable landfill space.

eat your enemies

photo by wai siew

Plant and animal species are called invasive when they’re not native to an ecosystem and cause harm. DYK that one invasive species can destroy an entire coral reef, forest, or body of water? The newcomers unbalance the interactions between the native plants and animals. One intriguing way to get rid of these invaders is by eating them. Ever tried garlic mustard greens, lionfish filet, or green crabs? They’re all invasive… and edible. Next time I see a jar of kudzu jelly, a scourge of the South, I’ll definitely buy some. I think I’ll pass on the Burmese python, but let me know if it tastes like chicken.

cleaner than you found it

DYK that water and wind can carry trash hundreds of miles? Plastic bags and other garbage can easily¬†travel along streams, rivers, and other waterways to their ultimate resting place in the oceans. So take your waste when you leave recreational areas. Go one step greener by leaving nature cleaner than you found it. Those of us who come after you give you a big thank you in advance- and we’ll try to do the same thing!