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Want to break free? - How going off grid could save more than the planet

Solar Panels

Fed up with increasing electricity bills from utility companies who seem to think they can charge what they like for energy? You’re not alone. With the average electricity bill growing by a whopping 37% over the last few years according to research by the Citizens Advice Bureau reported by The Guardian – and set to rise at up to eight times the rate of earnings – electricity bills seem to be getting more and more shocking by the month.

But what can a householder do? With everything from lighting to phones and kitchen appliances reliant on electricity, this energy is part and parcel of modern day living. But we needn’t go back to medieval lifestyles and stop using it altogether to beat the utility companies (though the companies themselves appear to doing a convincing impression of the evil barons from that era).... read more

Fun Fact Friday - Upcycle Your Candy Wrappers

upcycle candy wrappersHappy Halloween!

Today's Fun Fact Friday is perfect for Halloween.  Tonight we'll be trick or treating, like lots of other families, and probably accumulating a lot of CANDY!   However, it creates a lot of waste and some people make the mistake of recycling candy wrappers.  Keen For Green's resident recycling expert Rob explained that he sees a lot of candy wrappers mixed in with recyclables on a regular basis.  He wrote:  "One, candy wrappers cannot be recycled in regular recycling programs and two, there is an amazing amount of waste created from enjoying candy bars, especially around Halloween."... 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

Music Monday - Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)

We can all use a little fun on Monday, right?  It's time for some #musicmonday action!  There are a lot of great songs about the environment out there, so why don't bring some music into our Mondays and celebrate them?

Today's Music Monday is one of the best motown songs ever:  "Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)" by the one and only Marvin Gaye.  The whole album has a very socially conscious theme and "Mercy, Mercy Me" is about the environment.

An excerpt: 

Mercy, mercy me, mercy
Ah, things ain't what they used to be, no no
Oil wasted on the ocean and upon our seas
Fish full of mercury
Ah, oh mercy, mercy me
Ah, things ain't what they used to be, no no
Radiation underground and in the sky
Animals and birds who live nearby are dying... 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

Green Tomato Ideas

Tomato gardening season is nearing an end for us, as the threat of the first frost is appearing in the ten-day forecast.  This means it's time for us to pick all of our tomatoes before the frost ruins them.  

What are some fun things to do with green tomatoes?  

Let them ripen inside.  Sitting them on the window sill to ripen works well.  You can also put them in paper bags to let them ripen...but we've also forgotten about them this way, and wound up with a bag of nasty, rotten tomatoes that had to be composted.

Make salsa.  This green tomato salsa verde will use up a lot of green tomatoes.  You could can it, too!  

Make chutney.  We made this amazing green tomato chutney last night (pictured right) and dipped Trader Joe's garlic naan in it.  Fantastic!  ... 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

Fun Fact Friday - Can Recycling

can recyclingRecycle your cans!   Today I have some trivia for you about aluminum beverage can recycling.  ... read more

  • Did you know that it only takes approximately 6 weeks total to manufacture, fill, sell, recycle, and then remanufacture an aluminum beverage can.

  • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run your television for three hours.  On the other hand, throwing away an aluminum can will waste as much energy as pouring out half of that can’s volume of gasoline.

  • The recycling rate for aluminum beverage cans in the United States reached 58.1% in 2010.  That is more than double that of any other beverage container!