Topic: Environmental Tips

Easy Ways to Be Green in 2016

Posted on January 4, 2016 by - Environmental Tips

Share resources, reduce consumption, and be a good steward of the earth by practicing healthy habits and being an example for others to follow, including the kids.

  • Choose three food items and commit to buying them organic.
  • Make a change to natural skin moisturizers like coconut oil.
  • Trade your bottled water habit for an at-home filtering pitcher.
  • Brew your own Fair Trade coffee and carry your own cup.
  • Remember your reusable bags.
  • Turn off the water when you shave and brush your teeth.
  • Cut back on paper towels and use cloth napkins instead of paper.
  • Become a weekend vegetarian or a Monday night vegetarian.
  • Commit to learning more about green power:  solar and wind.
  • And don’t forget the kids!  Donate or consign toys and clothing they’ve outgrown.

Earth Friendly Ways to Celebrate

Posted on December 21, 2015 by - Environmental Tips

Give a gift to a local charity.  Find the organizations that work toward the goals, missions, and values your friends and family want to support, and make a donation in the gift recipient’s name.  Do this even for the kids to take the emphasis off consumption.

Skip paper and plastic products.  Bring out the family China, silverware, and cloth napkins–even for breakfast!

Take a Christmas Walk and Make it a Tradition.  Get outside to appreciate what nature has to offer.  Gaze at the clouds and the stars; notice the local flora and fauna, and hear the quiet sounds of nature.  Notice what makes a holiday different from our regular hustle and bustle days.

Give the Gift of Time.  Relax with friends and family, and be kind to yourself by spreading visits out.   Only memories last forever, so make good ones.  Peace everyone, and happy holidays.

Alternatives to Gift Wrapping

Posted on December 10, 2015 by - Environmental Tips

Possibly half of the paper America consumes each year is used to wrap and decorate presents!  That makes the annual trash from gift wrap and shopping bags over 4 million tons.

Here’s how to lessen the impact:

  • Use environmentally friendly wrapping paper, paper from recycled content.
    Avoid buying glossy foil or metallic wrapping paper.  It’s difficult to recycle, and it has no value for use as mulch since it contains heavy metals.
  • Reuse gift wrap when possible. Opening large gift packages with care will help, and save those fancy ribbons and bows for re-use.
  • Make the gift wrap a part of your gift by using a scarf or towel to wrap the gift. Click here to learn Furoshiki – the Japanese art of wrapping and carrying things with a square of cloth.
  • Use leftover wallpaper, fabric scraps, old maps, sheet music or even the Sunday funnies with a festive bow – use raffia, twine or other natural materials instead of non-recyclable ribbon.
  • Gift bags with a little tissue paper can be used year after year and are a quick and easy way to wrap. Save boxes and ribbons to reuse.

If everyone wrapped just three gifts in reused paper or fabric gift bags, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 hockey rinks.

Check out our other holiday tips here.

Happy Holidays!

Green Computing

Posted on December 1, 2015 by - Environmental Tips

In terms of computing, modern life requires enormous amounts of energy.  The only way to be absolutely green is to never use a computer, but that is not a possibility in today’s world.  However, we can still be more sensitive to the environment as we use our devices, and it is not about doing less.  It is about the responsible use of resources.

Here are three ways to put that idea into action:

  • Stop yielding to marketing hype and buying more computer than you need.
  • Screens and monitors use a lot of energy.  Reduce the brightness to the lowest level you can comfortably read.
  • Before recycling, try keeping your computer in service.  Sell or give it away to someone who will treasure it. That is the greenest option most of the time.

Being green is about being environmentally aware and responsible.  Get on board computer geeks, and happy computing
Read more at http://livinggreenmag.com/2014/10/13/green-business/three-steps-greener-computing/#v1YWvpli01XbYEq6.99

To Burn or Not to Burn

Posted on November 19, 2015 by - Environmental Tips

You may relate the smell of burning leaves to the changing seasons, but the reality is that burning leaves introduces a lot of pollutants into the air that can be toxic and irritating to respiratory passages.  And because leaves are usually moist, they burn poorly and emit even higher levels of dangerous hydrocarbons.   For these reasons, many neighborhoods do not allow burning leaves or have specific guidelines.  (Check the county or your local township for specifics.)

A better option is to shred or mulch leaves with a lawn mower and leave them to fertilize the lawn. Fall is the best time to fertilize because ants and earthworms help incorporate the leaves into the soil.  That decaying matter feeds the beneficial microorganisms that keep soil healthy. Collect some of the mulched leaves in the mower bag and use them as mulch around the garden and landscape to suppress weeds, conserve moisture and maintain soil temperature.  Even better is to gather them with a rake and compost.

Just sayin’.

Autumn Leaves Are a Free Gift

Posted on November 16, 2015 by - Environmental Tips

If you can, try not to have them end up in trash bags or burn piles. Instead use them to help your garden grow. Composting is a great and easy way to use fallen leaves as organic fertilizer to create soil rich with minerals. So, where to start? You need to have nitrogenous ingredients like grass clippings as well as materials high in carbon, like your dry leaves.

Shredded leaves break down faster, so simply run over them with your lawn mower. Then throw all your leaves into your compost pile with grass clippings and mix well. Continue to mix, and cover the pile with a tarp through winter to seal the heat in and keep moisture out. Come spring it will be a dark brown color, and the original ingredients unrecognizable. At that point, you can dig that finished earthy smelling compost into your soil to help your garden grow. Thank you beautiful leaves.

Even easier – after shredding them with your lawnmower, spread them on your garden beds. Instant mulch, and they will compost themselves.

Need to burn or have your leaves collected? Contact your local township office or the county for all the dos and don’ts.

Fall Means Leaves!

Posted on November 2, 2015 by - Environmental Tips

Each fall as homeowners tackle the job of raking leaves, clearing gardens, and cleaning yard debris, a lot of noise and pollution is created. In fact, one gas-powered leaf blower can emit as much pollution as 80 cars!

Instead, choose hand-powered or electric tools over gas.  Rakes are effective, and cheaper than using a leaf blower. Plus, you get a chance to burn some extra calories! If you need a power tool for a hard to reach spot (like your roof, or in between shrubbery), try an electric leaf blower rather than a gasoline-powered one. Electric leaf blowers are usually quieter, more energy-efficient, and get the job done just as well as their high-powered counterparts.

Bats are a Big Deal

Posted on October 20, 2015 by - Environmental Tips

Come October, many people start to think of bats as keeping company with witches and ghosts. But in reality, bats have a lot more to do with the foods of Halloween, like candy corn, than the spooky spirit of the holiday.

Bats provide important pest control services for many of our agricultural crops including one of Illinois’ most important crops, corn. A recent study funded by Bat Conservation International confirmed that bats play a significant role in combating corn crop pests, preventing more than $1 billion in crop damages worldwide every year.  Did you know that one little brown bat can eat 60 medium-sized moths or over 1000 mosquito-sized insects in one night?

Knowledge of how it all works together is important so we can encourage harmony and health in nature.  So this Halloween consider building a bat house or two, and hanging them at least 9 feet off the ground in a location that will get the morning sun.

Eco Friendly Bathroom Tips – or – Change Your Bathroom Habits

Posted on October 13, 2015 by - Environmental Tips

For fresh scents without chemical air fresheners, make your own spray in a a dark bottle from essential oils and water.

Use a washable shower curtain.  To clean simply toss into the washing machine with a cup of vinegar and some washing liquid or powder.  To get rid of tough scum, soak first with hot water and vinegar.  Vinegar is a natural mold killer especially when heated.

Use eco-friendly cloths made from natural fibers that are reusable, and invest in brushes and squeegees that are hard-wearing and can be used multiple times.

If you’re really serious about being environmentally conscious in your home, invest in a hand held steam cleaner, a chemical free way to remove built up grime without using harsh erosive products.

These tips help to reduce irritating chemicals in our home and on our skin.  Plus, they help to keep unnecessary packaging out of the waste stream.  They are just some small actions that add up over time.

How to Green Your Cup of Joe

Posted on October 7, 2015 by - Environmental Tips

In the US, 83% of adults drink coffee, averaging three cups a day, or 587 million cups.

To “green” your coffee drinking, ditch the disposable cups.  Opt for a reusable mug.  Bonus points if you choose a mug made of ceramic or stainless steel instead of plastic.

Next, buy coffee that carries the fair trade certification.  That means in return for providing good working conditions and just wages, producers get paid more, and when farmers get paid more they will produce less and that means more land is preserved.

Choose 100% Arabica beans, which are shade grown.  That means the coffee comes from plantations with the tree canopy and associated biodiversity still intact.

Finally, cheap coffee might be less expensive, but the same can’t be said of its effects on farmers and the environment, which often take the brunt of the cost in the form of exploitation and deforestation. Shoulder some of the financial burden, and avoid buying coffee from inexpensive sources.