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Fun Fact Friday - Stop Junk Mail

junk mailAre you sick and tired of coming home from work and seeing that your mailbox is full of with unsolicited mail, including those particularly annoying preapproved credit card applications?  Well, for today's Fun Fact Friday, I'm here to tell you that there's a way to put an end to that - or at least to lessen the stacks of junk mail you receive.  ... read more

Are Biodegradable Bags Really Biodegradable?

plastic bagOver the past few years, I've wound up with an occasional green "biodegradable" plastic bag, usually when taking home leftovers from a restaurant.    But are they actually biodegradable?  

As it turns out, no.  Alas, it's more greenwashing.  

Last month, the FTC sent warning letters to 15 additional marketers, informing them that their claims might be deceptive.   The FTC requested “competent and reliable scientific evidence proving that their bags will biodegrade as advertised."  The companies that manufacture these bags call them "oxo-degradable," meaning they supposedly break down after being exposed to oxygen for a while.  But the FTC isn't buying it and neither is Joseph Greene, the department chair and professor in the department of mechanical and mechatronic engineering and sustainable manufacturing at California State University, Chico.... read more

5 ways to cook with pumpkins

Jack-o-LanternsJack-o-LanternsWho here is planning to carve some jack-o-lanterns this week?  Who here is also tired of using the pumpkin meat to cook the same old pumpkin bread and same old pumpkin pie?

We all know the importance of not wasting the inside of the pumpkin, so here are 5 different things to try out:

1.  Pumpkin Ice Cream.  Try this recipe from Williams-Sonoma.   You will not regret it.  It is delectable on its own or is also tasty on top of a slice of homemade bread pudding.  ... read more

Leaf Blowers and the Environment

Leaf blowers and the environmentEvery now and then my city revisits the idea of banning leaf blowers.  So far, a ban still hasn't come to fruition, but I hate leaf blowers.  Nothing drives me crazier than a quiet, crisp fall morning ruined by the sound of a neighbor's leaf blower.

The noise pollution is one thing, but even worse is that leaf blowers cause serious air pollution.  In fact,  a 2011 test done by Edmunds showed that “a consumer-grade leaf blower emits more pollutants than a 6,200-pound 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor.”  Wow.... read more

Go Green -- Go REUSABLE!

lunch boxIt's time to make the switch from disposable items to reusable.  And at the very least, lessen your use of disposables.  Here are some household items that you can buy to help reduce your use of wasteful disposable items.

Where to start?... read more

  1. Switch to cloth napkins.  
  2. Forget paper towels -- usereusable dish towels instead!
  3. Use reusable coffee filters.  (And don't forget to compost those coffee grounds!)
  4. Stop using tea bags and use tea infusers or strainers with loose leaf tea.  Loose leaf tea tastes better, too!  You can also compost the tea leaves.
  5. Ditch the plastic sandwich bags!  There are reusable sandwich bags or use reusable sandwich containers.
  6. Just say no to juice boxes for your kids!  Whatever happened to a good ol' Thermos?  That's what we always used growing up -- and never did we brown bag our lunch; it was always a trusty lunch box.  

Exercise Greener

green runnerEven the greenest of us might find that keeping up with different green habits can fall by the wayside.  Exercise can be one of those things.  You may drive to the gym, throw your used sneakers in the trash, or drink Gatorade out of disposable plastic bottles.   Here are some ideas to make your exercise a little bit more eco-friendly.  ... read more

Plant Garlic this Fall

garlicBefore cleaning your garden to prepare for winter, you can plant some garlic for a an early summer harvest.  By planting garlic cloves in the fall, they will grow roots over the winter, grow greens in the spring, and you will be able to harvest the bulbs by the early summer.  

 

Growing garlic is easy and fun, even for a novice.  You don't even need to go to a garden store; cloves from the grocery store will work well.  Use the larger, outer cloves for planting. ... read more

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.
... read more

How to Green Your Pool

In recent years, at-home pools have gained popularity; they’ve become more affordable and accessible than ever before and have presented a direct solution for those looking for ways to naturally improve their fitness, rehab certain injuries or treat certain conditions (and, of course, to just have good ol’ fun with friends and family).... 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

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