Trick or Green?! How to Have an Eco Halloween

October 26th, 2011 · 11:57 pm  →  green living

The leaves are falling and piling up in the yards; the air is cool, sweet, and crisp; just like the tart, orchard apples and the fresh, homemade pumpkin pies. These are the simple pleasures of the autumn season; and we’re in luck, because fall is finally here! And that means Halloween is right up our alley! This year when you are preparing for your spooky festivities, consider making a few, easy tweaks that are kinder to the Earth.

Leaves, Leaves, and More Leaves!

It’s a given that the leaves are going to fall during the season of fall…and unfortunately we’re the not-so-lucky ones who have to clean it up. After raking all the leaves in pile, you can bag them up in leaf bags that you can buy at your local hardware store and set them out during garbage day, where they will be properly recycled. Or, you can toss those leaves into your personal compost which will guarantee rich soil by the time spring rolls around. You can also throw in the leftover pumpkin “guts” into your compost too. But don’t toss the seeds because you can coat them in olive oil and salt, then toast them in the oven for a tasty, fall snack.

Halloween Decorations!

Adding lights that shed an eerie glow to your front yard will give that extra “umph” to your Halloween spirit! But this year, consider swapping out your old lights with LED lights. Light Emitting Diode (LED) are better for the environment because they consume low amounts of energy, they have a long life service (up to 50,000 hours!), and they contain no mercury, inferred or UV radiation. These festive lights come in the black string style lights or the icicle lights; and they offer the colors: Pumpkin Orange, Hocus-Pocus Purple, and Frankenstein Green. For more information about on these eco-friendly lights, visit this link-http://www.holidayleds.com/halloween_lights

Costume Swap

It’s such a waste to purchase a new costume when you’re only going to wear the outfit once out of the whole year. So be friendly to mother Earth by reducing your consumption in a costume swap. Gather round your friends, family members, and neighbors and switch around through each others stuff. It saves money, plus it’s fun to mix-and-match several things. If you do decide to but a new Halloween costume, don’t feel to guilty, because you can always donate it to a local church, shelter, or Salvation Army. If you’re feeling crafty you can always whip up your own costume. visithttp://earth.com for some eco ideas on the perfect costume.

More Treats with No Tricks

Everyone has their favorite, classical candy bar; but if you’re feeling a little more adventurous this season, then consider trying organic sweet treats. Yummy Earth offers organic treats that have no chemical colors, artificial flavors, or corn syrup. You can find Yummy earth products at Toys ‘R’ Us and at Whole Foods. Trader Joe’s is a known place that sells sweet, “green” lollipops.

Endangered Species Chocolate Bars is a brand of chocolate that makes all natural chocolate that is ethically traded and naturally shade grown. Plus, 10% of their net profits are donated to fund organizations that help protect species and their natural habitats. Visit- www.chocolatebar.com for more information.

Don’t forget about your local farms, orchards, and cider mills! They sell fresh sweet (hopefully organic) apples, cider, pumpkins, and squash. And with all of these delicious goods, you can use them to make your very own soups, muffins, cakes, pies, and seeds. You can also use the pumpkins, squash, and apples as a natural source of autumn decoration! And you can always toss the remains in your personal compost after the season is over.

Faster Is Not Always Better – How Fast Food Effects the Environment

August 18th, 2011 · 5:25 pm  →  blog green living

Your tummy is rumbling and your cravings are kicking in. With people’s busy lives, they’re always on the go and they usually resort to fast-food restaurants for a quick meal. We’ve all heard about the unhealthy characteristics of french fries and double cheeseburgers from McDonald’s, Burger King, etc; but do you know why it’s so unhealthy? And have you ever wondered how devastating fast-food is, to not only your health and fitness, but the environment as well? Here are some facts about fast-food and what it does to the environment, so you can become more aware of this issue. And, perhaps, it will encourage you to pick the fruits and veggies instead. 

Fast-Food is not really Food

It’s obvious that high calorie french fries and fattening burgers are unhealthy and can lead to weight gain. But, it’s mostly about what the fast-food is made out of that makes all the difference. Any synthetic chemical that is added to food leads to weight gain and health issues. The body cannot physically process the chemicals, and it turns into fat. And guess what…fast-food is loaded with chemical additives, such as aspartame and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Making the food itself is unhealthy, because there is no way that this stuff is remotely organic! According to the FDA Total Diet Study, fast-food hamburgers across the board contained 113 different pesticide residues. Ew!

*It takes 51 days to digest fast-food chicken nuggets or french fries!! 

The Environment is Suffering from it too

So much packaging and waste comes from the fast-food joints. The bags, wrappers, napkins, boxes, Styrofoam containers, plastic-ware, etc; is the primary source of urban litter in the United States. While fast-food packaging counts for 20% of our litter, another 20% comes from packaging for chips, drinks, candy, and other snacks. Out of all the litter, Styrofoam is the most common food waste. Styrofoam is by far the worst litter around, since it takes at least 900 years for it to break down in a landfill!

According to the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, the amount of food transported by road doubled between 1974 and 2005. That’s a lot of fuel and energy! A recent Hong Kong study shows that a fast-food restaurant making 4 hamburgers emits the same amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as driving a car for 1,000 miles! Yikes.

With all of the nasty chemicals in the food, the heavy load of litter, and sickening amounts of pollution, hopefully this has inspired you to not eat fast-food regularly, but instead think of it as an occasional treat. Your health, fitness, and environment are on the line!

Add a Little Green to Your Wardrobe

August 3rd, 2011 · 11:11 pm  →  blog green living

Clothes are fun, and sometimes we buy them when we don’t really need them. But we (especially women) can’t give up this guilty pleasure! Clothes express our personality, and exploring the different styles at the mall is always an exciting adventure. But if you were to pull out all of the clothing you own and throw it in one huge pile, you would be amazed at how much material is actually there. Clothing leaves a huge carbon footprint in our environment. The amount of carbon emissions just from transportation is staggering- from the cotton fields to the factory, the factory to the store, you to the mall, and from the mall to back home again…phew!  Plus, new clothes are treated with formaldehyde and other nasty chemicals. Even the cotton is treated with chemicals and pesticides. You definitely can’t eliminate the clothing footprint, but you can definitely reduce it. Here are a few ways to shop “greener”, and there are also a few suggestions on how and where to properly donate or dispose of old and unwanted clothing.

Vintage and Resale Stores

The best (eco-friendly) way to shop is at vintage or resale stores. All of the clothes are used so you save the energy and toxicity of making more new clothes. Don’t worry about having frumpy, gross clothes, because they only accept the best stuff. They won’t take in anything that is “dirty” or “heavily used”. Purchasing clothing from vintage or resale stores has a smaller amount of chemicals because the clothing had time to air out and wash out any unwanted chemicals. Plato’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange (www.buffaloexchange.com) are excellent examples of vintage/resale stores that carry gently used brand named clothing that are also cheaper.

*You can use the websites -  www.resaleshopping.com or http://vintagewhere.com  - to find vintage and resale stores near you!

Share and Reuse

If you have several articles of clothing, shoes, or accessories that you don’t want anymore, consider trading with your friends! Pull out all of the things that you will never wear again and lay it out. Have your friends do the same, and take from each other’s pile. If you have things that are too ratty, stained, or too large for your friends, don’t throw them away. You can use those old clothes for pajamas or workout clothing! And those ratty gym shoes you have worn to death, don’t throw those out either! You can reuse them as outdoor, yard work shoes. You can also donate your unwanted shoes. Nike has a “Reuse-a-Shoe” program that will gladly take those old, hole-y athletic shoes off your hands! Just simply mail or drop off the shoes at a Nike location, so Nike can then proceed to process and recycle your old shoes into sport surfaces- basketball courts, tennis courts, running tracks, and playgrounds. So far 20 million pairs of shoes have been donated! Visit www.nikereuseashoe.com to find more information.  You can also donate your shoes to Soles 4 Souls, an organization that collects shoes for people in need. When donating your shoes to any organization, make sure there isn’t any mold, smell, or wetness, or the shoes will just end up in the trash.

Goodwill and Salvation Army – Plus Their Connections with Recycling

Salvation Army and Goodwill accept everything when you want to donate all of the old “junk” from your home. Although charities can’t sell everything, so most have connections to textile recyclers that take anything the charities don’t need. The textile recyclers turn old clothing into wiping rags which are sold to gas stations and paint shops. The shredded clothing can be turned into carpet padding or soundproofing insulation. While some fibers (especially wool) can be re-spun, re-dyed, and re-woven into brand new clothes. Unfortunately, not all charities have connections to the textile recyclers. If they don’t, then you can send the clothes directly to the recyclers through the 24-hour drop-off bins that are found in parking lots and central locations. Visit this link- http://earth911.com – to find these locations.

A Green School Year

July 29th, 2011 · 8:46 pm  →  blog green living

The sun is starting to set on the golden summer; the trees are slowly changing colors; and the air is getting slightly cooler. We all know that time of year, when you are suddenly awoken from a lazy, summer sleep with the sound of a school bell. Kids are heading back to school, and that means it’s time to get prepared and hunt down the best school supplies out there! This school year is going to stand out from all the rest because this year is going to kick off with positive excitement with new, eco-friendly school supplies! With these “green” school supplies you will learn in confidence, and mother Earth will give you an ‘A’ for achieving an environmentally healthy school lifestyle!

Pens and Pencils

We all know that pencils have a short-lived life during the school year. But have you ever thought about how many trees are cut down to supply all of those pencils? Instead of using old-fashioned pencils, try Paper Mate Earth Write Recycled Pencils that are made from 100% recycled materials (including the lead and eraser).  Smencils is another brand that make eco-friendly pencils. Their pencils are made from recycled newspapers, and if that’s not cool enough, they are also infused with fun scents! You can find these scented, recycled pencils at Uncommon Goods.

So there you are writing up a well-written essay when all of a sudden your words begin to fade…your pen ran out of ink. But just wait! Before you toss more and more pens into the trash, consider getting refillable pens. This is a definite “green” move, because the U.S. throws away 5.1 billion pens each year!! And that adds 770 tons of plastic waste to the landfills! You can also purchase pens that are made out of recycled materials, such as Vegan Essentials.

Paper and Such

As the homework load heightens, so does the pile of paper that is used. With all of that paper being made and thrown away, consider recycling all of your old paper once the semester is over, and use both sides of the paper. Or better yet, you can purchase 100% recycled paper! This eco-friendly paper is now commonly seen in your local Staples store. Notebooks are another paper hogging source, and getting Ecojot’s 100% post-consumer recycled paper notebooks will lessen the environmental impact. Ecojot’s notebooks come in a variety of graphic designs and sizes; although the company is not open for business until September of 2011. In the meantime, you can get eco-friendly notebooks from Delight.

Organization is essential to a successful learning experience! And those handy three-ring binders certainly do the trick. But the unsustainable, plastic binders just add disorder to the environment. Consider getting recycled, corrugated cardboard binders from Re-Binder (www.rebinder.com).

The Colorful Fun Stuff  

Every healthy mind needs a decent amount of creativity! You just need some color and paste, and your project is on its way. This school year, consider using soy crayons or bees wax crayons. You can get soy crayons that are nontoxic, and made out of soybean oil at www.stubbypencilstudio.com. Regular wax crayons contain petrochemicals that are not eco-friendly. Sorry Crayola! If you’re more of a pencil person, don’t fret because O’BONaza Colored Pencils are made out of recycled newspaper. Plus, with every purchase a tree is planted. You can find these longer-lasting color pencils at www.myobon.com. As for the cutting and gluing, Kleen Earth supplies scissors that have handles that are made from recycled plastic. While Coccoina supplies adhesive glue paste that is made of potato starch. This paste works on paper and fabric, plus it’s solvent-free!

Backpacks

With the endless list of needed school supplies, you don’t expect to hand carry the load, do you? Ospry Cypher Bags allows us to have the opportunity to have eco-friendly backpacks that are made out of recycled materials; including reground buckles and recycled webbing. You can find these “green” backpacks at www.planetgreen.com.

Go Green and Go Play

July 28th, 2011 · 9:56 pm  →  blog green living

   Life’s most precious childhood moments consist of the simplest things; whether it’s running through the sprinkler, squishing your fingers between the colorful fingerpaints, or creating your very own world with sand on the warm beaches. And for all of you parents out there, I’m sure there’s nothing in comparison than to watch your own children explore the same exciting adventures. But, wouldn’t you want the best for your children? Nowadays, people are coming up with new, eco-friendly ideas that are healthier for you, your family, and the environment! Earth is in some definite need for some help; and if people want the tradition of watching their children and their children’s children innocently playing, then some slight switches will be required in order to do so. Below are some great, “green” beach toys and classical fun that you can get for your family!

The Colorful Activities

Children love to think with bright colors! And there is no better way for them to expand their imagination horizons than using eco-friendly sidewalk chalk, play dough, and fingerpaints! The neighborhood sidewalks to kids are the perfect, concrete art pad that has no boundaries! With sidewalk chalk that is 100% vegan that is made with all organic fruit and vegetable powders, you can let your kids play without worrying about the chemicals that are getting on their skin. Plus, this vegan chalk prevents the nasty chemicals from washing away into the soil and groundwater. You can find “Edible Veggie Sidewalk Chalk” at the Wee Can Too Etsy Shop online.

You can roll it and you can pat it! Yup. Play dough! Play dough has been around for decades, but it’s time for a new makeover. The brand Peachy and Keen make 100% all-natural and gluten-free play dough. And it’s biodegradable! Each bright color has its own delicious scent of either mint, eucalyptus, lemon, rose, lavender, or vanilla. Look for Peachy Keen on the Etsy website!

Who needs paintbrushes when you can just smear around the paint with your fingers?! Fingerpainting is a fantastic, creative activity that kids love. And now, it has gone eco-friendly! No more nasty chemicals for your finger tips, or for the water when it gets washed down the drain. Kid Bean supplies hemp-based, vegan fingerpaints. There are no heavy metals or toxic ingredients. The paints are made from water, mineral pigments, hemp oil, methyl cellulose, extract of gentian roots, and it’s preserved with food/pharmaceutical grade substances.

Beach Toys

There are holes to be dug and castles to be built! It’s time to pull out your beach pails and shovels and hit the sandy dunes! But before you go, you should consider getting eco-friendly beach toys instead of the toxic, plastic ones. Green Toys supplies sand castle sets that are made out of recycled milk jugs, and they don’t contain BPA or phthalates. Zoe B Organic sells biodegradable beach toys that are made from corn-based bioplastic, and they are free from BPA, phthalates, and PVCs. The toys will biodegrade in soil, fresh or salt water, or compost in 2-3 years! Sailboats are another great beach toy. Perhaps a real sailboat is not in your budget, but a toy sailboat is way more suitable for your kid’s playtime. Tweet Toys have eco-friendly sailboat toys that have sails that are made out of organic cotton, and are finished with a nontoxic, Tung oil finish.