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Trick or Treat: Have a GREEN Halloween!

eco-friendly & green Halloween!Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  Can't go wrong with pumpkins, candy, costumes, and ghost stories...especially if you go the eco-friendly way.

Costumes:  Get creative!  Instead of going to the party store and spending $35 on a costume that will probably rip by the end of the day isn't worth your while.  Scour a thrift shop.  Some of the best costumes I've ever seen were the result of a little trip to a local Goodwill.  You can find all sorts of interesting stuff from there that can be made into a cool costume.  If you're crafty with a needle and thread, make something from scratch.  Hand-me-down costumes are another green way to go.  For kids, finding a costume that would also be good year-round as some dress up clothes is a fun idea.

Decorations:  What's the greenest way to decorate your house for Halloween?  Why, jack-o-lanterns of course!  Scoop out the pumpkin pulp, cook the seeds, make some pie, carve a spooky face, then once the pumpkin begins to decay, toss it in your compost bin.  Can't get much more eco-friendly than that.  As far as store bought decorations go, go for stuff that costs a few more dollars but that is durable so you can store it and take it out year after year.
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Cleaning Your Garden This Autumn

prepping your gardenAt the first sign of frost in the forecast, we harvest everything, eat what we can, and preserve what we can't by canning, freezing, and dehydrating.  

The next step is cleaning the garden.  

First of all, there are a few crops that you don't need to harvest before the first frost.  Carrots, garlic, leeks, and parsnips are a few things that can be harvested through early winter.  Cover them with a little extra mulch to keep the ground warmer, and harvest through December.  

Next, remove all weeds, dead vines, leaves, and other debris.  If they're not diseased, throw them in your compost.  Gently till your soil to expose insects that might overwinter.  After that, add some compost and leaves and till into the soil.  ... read more

Keep Your Home Warm this Winter!

Today is the last day of summer.  The days are getting shorter and cooler.  Before you know it, it will be time to turn on the heat.  You might be thinking of ways to lower your heating bills and make your home more energy efficient.  So, what are your choices?  Replacing windows is costly.  Or maybe you rent and you can’t make any big changes.  

Luckily, there are several things you can do to help keep your home warmer during the winter months without price-prohibitive renovations.  I had the opportunity to speak with Brian Besold, co-founder of San Francisco Bay Area home performance firm Kevel, who offered several helpful tips.

A common recommendation is using 3M plastic on your windows.  It does make a difference but only for a few months because the adhesive wears off after a while.  Plus, it looks terrible and makes window inoperable so you can’t open it.   If there's an unseasonably warm day and you want to let in some fresh air, you simply can't if you have the plastic on your windows.

Instead, Besold recommends Indow Windows.  (pictured left) Indow Windows produces a plexiglass panel that can be tailored to fit your window.  All you have to do is pop it into your current window frame and viola!  It serves the same purpose as a double pane window, but at a fraction of the cost.  ... read more

RECYCLE IT! Recycling Tip of the Week #3 - Recycling Your Water

dripping tapA lot of us focus on recycling things like cans and newspaper, but recycling can go beyond that.  How about recycling water?

There are a few ways to recycle water. 

1)  Harvest your rain.  Collect rainwater and use it to water your garden or wash your car.

2)  Collect shower water.  Keep a bucket in your bathroom so you can collect water as your shower water warms up.  If you use biodegradable bath and hair products, you could even use the rest of your bathwater!  ... read more

Fun Fact Friday - Dishwashers vs. Hand-washing

dishwashing detergentHappy Friday, everyone!  I hope you had a great week.  

Today's fun fact is about my least favorite chore:  doing the dishes.  Doing the dishes by hand is boring, it makes my hands all dry, and it uses a lot of water.  It's less annoying to load and unload the dishwasher, but when we first moved into our house after being dishwasherless for a while, I began to have reservations about the water usage.  However, as it turns out, using the dishwasher is the more efficient thing to do, NOT washing by hand!  ... read more

Cleaning Up After Your Pet

"Bad boy!"

Uh oh!  Did your dog pee all over your rug?  Or worse -- your cat?  (I think cat urine is one of the foulest smells known to man, and my naughty but adorable little cat is who inspired today's post)

There are ways to get rid of those awful smells, but you've got to act fast before the smell gets worse!

These tips should work for both dogs and cats, and will help with any type of pet odor from urine to vomit.   And all you need is vinegar and water!... read more

Clamshell Packaging - Bad for the Environment AND Frustrating

clamshell packagingWho else hates that plastic packaging (called blister packs or clamshell or oyster packaging) that things like electronics come in?  I think they're so annoying, dangerous, unnecessary, and bad for the environment.   There's even a name for the anger associated with opening these packages:  wrap rage!  Who hasn't had a bout of wrap rage when trying to open up the packaging for something they were initially excited about?... read more

Fruit Fly Traps

fruit fly traps

Thanks to my lackidasical efforts in emptying out our indoor compost bin, we have a bunch of fruit flies hanging around our kitchen.  Once you remove the source and anything else that might attract flies (no fruit in the fruit bowl for the time being!) it's time to trap those annoying suckers.  

Here's an easy, nontoxic way to rid your kitchen of those pests.  ... read more

Fun Fact Friday - The EPA

EPAToday, most environmental legislation comes from the Democrats, but not terribly long ago the efforts were bipartisan.  Did you know that it was actually Richard Nixon who formed the EPA?

Previously, other environmental policies were put in place.   Some early environmental legislation included the Water Pollution Control Act in 1948 and the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955.   Throughout the late 50s into the 60s, Congress took note of Americans increasing concerns about human impact and the environment.   In1970, Nixon consolidated the offices of the federal government's environmental responsibilities and that's when the EPA was born!... read more

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