Tuesday, April 27, 2010

For the Birds

Do you ever sit and listen to the birds?  Or watch them flit to and fro?  I always think of the movie Bambi at this time of year, because in the movie, they say that the birds are "twitter-patted".  Little did Disney know that the word "Twitter" would one day have a whole new meaning!   I love the word twitter-patted because to me it means that spring is finally here; the birds zoom about, sing their lovely twittery songs as they try to attract a mate, and busy themselves making their nests.  If you watch closely enough, you will see them collecting nesting materials, grasses, leaves, twigs, and may be lucky enough to see the nest being built.

If you'd like to help the birds with their spring rituals and provide some nesting materials, you can use a mesh-type bag like an mesh onion bag or mesh bag from around a turkey.  You can stuff it with extra thread clippings from a sewing project, scraps of material, yarn,  dryer lint, hair from a hairbrush, used dental floss, etc.  Mount the bag on a tree or fencepost, and watch the birds use the recycled "bag-o-nesting" materials.  Your feathered friends will appreciate it, grace your yard with their presence and songs, and help to keep the insect population in your yard down naturally without chemicals.     

Monday, April 26, 2010

Green Gardening

Ahhh spring, and gardening...I love to spend time in my gardens, both my flower gardens and vegetable garden.  I get such pleasure from looking at the flowers, and later on, eating the fresh, organically grown veggies.  But as any gardener will tell you, weeds also come with the territory.  I spend a lot of time weeding instead of pouring toxic chemicals on my lawn and flower beds.  One of my favorite tools is my weeder, and that's just how I get the dandelions :)  One at a time, a few a day, green babysteps!  Try it!!  Weeding can actually be therapeutic if you think of it that way instead of drudgery...it's a time to reflect and listen to the birds, and the wind, and savor being outside in nature :)   http://www.amazon.com/Ames-True-Temper-Weeder-1983800/dp/B00004S1ZK/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&s=garden&qid=1272338528&sr=1-15

Friday, April 23, 2010

Some Serious Green

Some serious GREEN.....

The time has come for companies to step up their game, for marketers to generate new markets for even more recycled goods, for manufacturing experts to make things with less packaging, the least environmental footprint, with the least waste, and in the process make some serious green$$$!!!

At our house, we recycle as much as we can, yet there is not a market for some of the plastics that we should be able to reuse/recycle...look at all the plastic packaging I've collected.  I contacted our local recycling company, and was told that it can not be recycled, but has to go in the trash!  

However, we know that sustainable packaging is possible, and that biodegradable packing is possible (SunChips bags).  Unfortunately it is not common practice to have such packaging, and that is a crime against humanity because it all ends up in the landfills creating a toxic soup.    Thankfully there are some companies that have stepped up their game to find useful end of life uses for packaging, but we need more of them. 

If you haven't checked them out yet, TerraCycle, founded in 2001 by a 19 year old Princeton University student named Tom Szaky, makes eco-friendly products from varied recycled products.  http://www.terracycle.net/  Things such as Frito-Lay bags, CapriSun drink pouches, Elmer's glue sticks, Nabisco and Keebler cookie packages, etc.  You can join a brigade, collect the items and receive money towards a charity of your choice which can be your school if the school is participating.  Szaky's ingenious idea to upcycle things that would normally end up in landfills is what is needed.  Now to get TerraCycle to take some more "waste" like plastic bags from frozen foods, plastic cereal bag inserts, etc.  I've already sent them some ideas, we'll see what they think.  

Some interesting statistics from TerraCycle:
  • people collecting trash  9,639, 059
  • waste units collected 1,821,678,773
  • products from waste 178 
  • money for charity $829,462.19
Now that's some serious GREEN for charity!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy 40th Earth Day!

What will you do to celebrate Earth Day?  You could take a walk in a park to enjoy the green-ness around you, sit still, watch and listen to the birds, do a craft of recycled materials, pledge to use only green cleaning products, choose an Earth-friendly product next time you shop, recycle everything you can, catch your rainwater and use for your garden, compost, turn off all unused gadgets, turn off the lights, switch to CFL bulbs (and recycle them properly when done), change to LED lights, the list goes on!  Whatever you choose to do will be one small green babystep in the right direction, and if we all make those babysteps it will add up big for ourselves and planet.  Enjoy the day!

Colleges Go GREEN

So it's that time of year when Juniors are looking around at colleges, and besides SAT scores, tuition, room and board, fees, student body makeup, etc., your teen might be interested to know some information about the "green-ness" of their prospective college.  The Princeton Review's Guide to 286 Green Colleges is chock-full of information about 286 college's and Green Facts about each.  Information such as waste diversion rate, % of school energy from renewable resources, % of school grounds maintained organically, % food budget spent on local/organic food, and whether the school has a sustainability committee, etc. are included.  

One example is Bentley University in Waltham, MA.  In the book, Bentley highlights and boasts about the Bentley Green Society, a student run organization with over 200 students, that 50% campus buildings have Energy Star rating of 69% or higher, and about a solar wall on outside of their gym center which saves 116,000 kilowatt hours of energy/year, and more.

You can check out The Princeton Review's Guide to 286 Green Colleges at http://www.scribd.com/doc/30197111/The-Princeton-Review-s-Guide-to-Green-Colleges

For today's eco-conscious teens and their families, this compilation of information just may tip the scales on which school they end up calling home for 4 years and their Alma mater, and will hopefully lead to eco-wise future leaders, eco-savvy businesses, eco-aware citizens, and ultimately a peaceful, planet-loving world. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

who would've guess

So continuing with the Rec Room project (flooded), and the lemons to lemonade, I decided to change the paint color.  I did not end up with a no VOC paint because I already had the color from previous project, and wanted to use that up as well.  

But I was thrilled to find out that there are now biodegradable plastic paint trays, and biodegradable plastic drop cloths!  Who would've guessed!   So of course we went with those options ;) 


Monday, April 19, 2010

lemonade from lemons

Remember my blog on March 31, Water Logged?  Well, we are trying to make lemonade out of the lemons of the flood.  After a small mourning and drying out period, we decided it was time to put things back together and the playroom will be updated and somewhat redesigned to become the rec room.  

So we began to look into different options for replacing the carpet, and were shocked at the eco-options available for carpet.  One brand by Mohawk is made of 100% recycled plastic bottles, and we saw it at Lowes, and it has very nice colors.  

The brand that we went with is available at both Lowes and Home Depot under different names, but it is the same company Beaulieu of America .  We ended up going with Lowes, and the carpet is Coronet, Healthy Home™ carpet.  We chose this company and this carpet because it is made from 100% recycled PET from plastic bottles AND it has Silver Release anti-bacterial protection that inhibits the growth of odor and stain causing bacteria, mold and mildew.  The molecular ions in silver, copper and/or zinc (also used in Silver Release) penetrate the membranes of microbes that come in contact with them when activated by humidity or moisture and destroy them. The process is completely natural and harmless but effective.    http://www.beaulieu-usa.com/pressrelease.cfm?release=66

To make Healthy Home, Beaulieu annually recycles approximately 1.6 billion plastic bottles diverted from landfills to make its P.E.T. continuous filament polyester fiber known as Earthguard Fiber Technology. Healthy Home, as well as all other Bliss carpets, also carries the Green Label certification for indoor air quality, and low emissions by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) (look for an icon with "CRI" inside a small green house that verifies that the product has been tested).  http://www.carpet-rug.org/commercial-customers/green-building-and-the-environment/green-label-plus/index.cfm  The Green Label program has received approval from the American Lung Association in its Healthy Homes programs.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Words of Wisdom

"An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to learn from it"

WOW is that true, or what?  There are so many ways you can apply this quote.  So many things in history that if we fail to learn from we are doomed to repeat...

Polluting and squandering resources comes to mind immediately.   Industries have polluted, squandered precious natural resources and STILL CONTINUE TO DO SO.  Why are individuals, companies, leaders, countries and this WORLD not learning and correcting past mistakes?  Why do we continue to allow globally destructive behaviors like destroying rain forests, emitting greenhouse gases, polluting rivers, lakes streams, soil, air to name a few?  It's a sin against humanity really...a sin that humans will ultimately pay the price for..if not today, then future generations.  It's sad....

I think we all need to work TOGETHER to stop past and present errors and mistakes from becoming irreversible and indelible on our planet.  We CAN learn from past misconduct, past mistakes of polluting, plundering and squandering of resources, and causing global warming.  We CAN stop putting the almighty dollar first, and not thinking before acting.   We CAN make positive changes together. 

"An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to learn from it"

Sunday, April 11, 2010

recycle reuse reshare with Big Bro Big Sis

I did some more cleaning out, and called up Big Brother Big Sister to come pick up the boxes of usable clothes, toys, and household items.  It feels good to donate, and I know that we are keeping useful things out of the landfills! It's green to donate :)  To get in touch with them check out their website: http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.diJKKYPLJvH/b.1539751/k.BDB6/Home.htm

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Called the Governor

Atta-girl!!!  This past week I did a good thing :)  I took a babystep in the form of a phone call to the Governor about BPA for the greater good.  Ok, so what is BPA?  And why did I call?  Read on...

On March 2,2010, Governor Deval Patrick of MA announced that he has directed the Department of Public Health to take steps to impose a limited ban on Bisphenol A (BPA).  He has proposed to phase BPA out of baby bottles and cups. 

BPA is a toxic chemical linked to early onset puberty, increased diabetes risk, hyperactivity, and certain cancers, including breast cancer.  Everyone should urge their government officials to phase out BPA and use safer alternatives that are already available. 

Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow (AHT) is urging the Governor to further protect child health, and recommends that the state should also phase BPA out of infant formula and baby food packaging as well as reusable beverage and food containers.  Connecticut has already passed a strong law to replace BPA with safer alternatives in many products, and now it is time to do so in Massachusetts as well. 

In support of AHT's great work in regards to legislation about BPA, and their BPA Call-in-Week, I called into the Governor's office to thank him for calling for a phase-out of BPA products, and asked that the legislation not stop at baby bottles and cups, but to please include infant formula cans and food and beverage containers as well.  Fingers crossed that the Governor will call for a phase out of BPA in these items as well. 

For even more info about BPA...check out these sites http://www.americantowns.com/ma/boston/news/governor-patrick-directs-dph-to-address-concerns-about-bisphenol-a-in-baby-bottles-and-cups-261499  and 


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Packaging pet Peeve

Ok, I guess I'm peeved about packaging overall!  

There is sooo much waste involved in packaging, and honestly I think other consumers are annoyed with the excessive packaging as well.  Most of the packaging is plastic, and that comes from oil, which is of course a non-renewable resource and our oil dependence is ridiculous as is.  I wonder how many pounds per person per year is wasted on packaging...and I'm willing to bet a majority of that packaging is overfilling the landfills and eventually leaching all kinds of toxic nasties into the groundwater and soil.  

I will admit that I am anal about recycling the plastic and cardboard bits, but honestly some of the plastic packaging doesn't have a symbol on it, and I put it in the the recycle bin anyway since our recycling company takes plastics 1-7.  I've begun making a bit of a pest of myself contacting the company when I'm uncertain about things such as the inner cereal box bags....can I recycle it without clogging up the system?  If not, then perhaps my next step will be to contact the cereal companies to tell them my concerns.  And why not?  In the last month or so, I've researching sustainable packaging and sustainable packaging coalitions.  I've also been contacting other companies to let them know if their product has too much unnecessary packaging, and to let them know about alternatives that are less toxic (eco foam), and the benefits of less packaging such as less shipping costs.  Who knows, maybe my pet peeve about packaging will somehow make a difference? 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


It is becoming increasingly clear to me that packaging is a large part of everyone's trash.  

Since my family already recycles glass, metal, aluminum, plastics, and paper, and we compost as well, the "trash" that is left often seems to me like it should be able to be recycled.  For example, Styrofoam packing blocks and peanuts...

Recently when I contacted our recycling company about several items, they told me they did not take some things even though they have the proper recycling symbol and number.  I found out that even though large blocks of packing Styrofoam have the proper number stamped on it, they do not take it in the recycling bins because when crushed it flies out the back of the truck.   Similarly, they do not take packaging peanuts for the same reason.  Traditional Styrofoam blocks and packing peanuts are made of polystyrene, a non-biodegradable material which clogs up landfills. I've seen statistics stating that about 200 million cubic feet of polystyrene packaging is used every year in the United States.  What a WASTE!

Personally, I hate packing peanuts because there are better alternatives that are not such a static-y nuisance.  Have you ever tried cleaning up after unpacking something packed in Styrofoam blocks or Styrofoam peanuts?  Sticks to everything including the vacuum...I'm all for reusing them if they are already out there, or recycling them (but my recycling company won't take them, will yours?), but why make more?  I have been told that places like UPS stores will gladly take Styrofoam peanuts off your hands and reuse them (why not accept free supplies that they use and normally have to buy).

I like the more eco-friendly "eco foam" peanuts.  These are made from corn and potato starch, which is a renewable resource, and can even be dissolved in water without polluting pollute ground water.  Another positive attribute of eco foam is that it is a wicked fun, nontoxic craft and/or building material with kids.  If you dab a foam piece onto a wet sponge or paper towel, the moisture causes the foam to make its own "glue."  Just press and hold one piece to another piece, count to five to "set." Wet and stick more pieces and keep going. Using the "dab-and-stick" technique, you can create endless shapes, animals, jewelry, build structures, your imagination is the limit.  Here's a link for eco foam  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001H5Y1NE?ie=UTF8&tag=allinfoabo03e-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B001H5Y1NE

So, if versatile sustainable eco foam packaging is available, why oh why would people use Styrofoam packing peanuts and clog landfills?   Given the fact that there ARE sustainable options for packaging, perhaps for the good of the Earth, Styrofoam peanuts should be banned?  Just sayin...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Spring is finally here, and April is poetry month :)

Enjoy this little spring poem

The little caterpillar creeps
Awhile before in silk it sleeps,
It sleeps awhile before it flies,
And flies awhile before it dies,
And that's the end of three good tries.

by David McCord

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Picking Low Lying Fruit

Low Lying Fruit

To quote my favorite green guru, Ed Begley Jr., we picked some "low lying fruit"!  No, not the edible kind, but the kind that will save energy AND money.  Our low lying fruit was the front door lights.   

Every time I'd notice the front lights were ON during the day, I'd cringe.  I knew we were wasting energy and money....ggrrrrr.  The dawn to dusk feature on the motion sensitive front lights was not working, and we ended up leaving the lights on to ensure no one got hurt walking up to the door in the dark.  But, then we'd forget to turn them off, they'd end up being on all night, and many, many times they would not get turned off at all since we don't typically go out that door. 

The electric eye had been broken for some time, and we'd attempted adding a new photo-electric eye, but that didn't work, probably because of the special wiring involved with the motion sensitive part as well as the integrated electric-eye.  We felt so frustrated and confused when the new eye didn't work that we decide to sleep on it before taking any more steps.  But out of sight, IS out of mind and time marched on, and it didn't get fixed. 

I think it was a trip to Lowes that jogged my memory about the lights, and we discussed replacing the fixture completely, and even bought one light figuring we could just replace the one, and move another from around back.  Turns out the one out back also had a busted electic eye!  Hmmm now we began to think that the integrated electric eye was doomed to break, and re-thought our original plan.  We ultimately decided that throwing the lights into the landfill and spending money on two new lamps wasn't the best option either.  

Luckily hubby, being the genius he is, was able to re-wire the existing lights to enable the new electric eye to work!  So we picked the "low lying fruit", and in this situation with a broken fixture, were able to use the two new electric eyes that we thought weren't going to work in our lights, saved the two light fixtures from the landfill, and best of all, are saving electricity DAILY!  I'm so lucky that hubby is such a handyman!!!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My carbon neutral blog

What do you mean your blog is "carbon neutral"?                                              

Let me start by saying that I had never considered that my blog contributed to CO2 emissions.  How is that possible?  I learned that the emissions are mostly attributed to the immense energy usage from (mainframe) computers, servers, and their cooling systems.  Well, I’d never really thought about it like that, but it makes sense.  Some highly frequented blogs contribute as much as 8lbs of CO2 emissions in a year! 

How does a tree neutralize my blog's carbon footprint?

I was happy to stumble upon a German group that has an initiative called “My Blog is Neutral”  (http://www.kaufda.de/umwelt/carbon-neutral/what-we-do/ ).  After reading about the initiative, I learned that their goal is to re-plant forests in northern CA that have been destroyed by fires while simultaneously “erasing” the carbon foot-print of ever popular bloggers.  A tree can absorb about 11lbs of CO2 in a year, and can continue to absorb CO2 as long it lives, therefore it is estimated that over the life of the tree, it can "neutralize" the emissions of a blog.  For each participating blog-domain, the German group who is partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation, will plant one tree, and each of those blogs will include a small logo indicating that their blog is neutral.  The trees will be  planted in Plumas National Forest in Northern California. 

It's genius, and it’s a win-win situation!!!  I’m happy for the chance to participate and help make the world a little greener as well as neutralize my blog's carbon footprint.