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!

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!