How to Be Green This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and we all know how labor-intensive preparing for the big day can be. What we’re not always as aware of is how much extra waste we tend to generate. According to the EPA, household waste in the U.S. increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. With their heightened activity, the holidays too easily become a time to think less and waste more. This Thanksgiving, try giving thanks for the environment by adopting some of these easy tips to green your holiday.

Reduce Waste From Packaging and Disposable Items

Remember to bring your reusable bags along when shopping, and choose products with minimal packaging, or packaging that can be recycled. It’s easier to avoid waste by shopping at farmers’ markets, from fresh produce sections and from bulk bins. Canned foods might save you a little time, but they’re less eco-friendly than fresh produce.

At home, skip the aluminum tray and invest in a roasting pan instead. A roasting pan will last for a long time, and the aluminum trays getting tossed around the nation add up quickly. Break out your reusable dishes and silverware for the holiday instead of serving on disposable plates. Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins — you’ll add elegance and reduce waste at the same time. Opt for tap water over bottled water when serving beverages, and avoid plastic wrap when storing leftovers by using reusable containers or glass jars instead.

When preparing your decorations, use natural objects such as gourds or pinecones to brighten your space. You can also make your own eco-friendly decor by cutting shapes out of old wrapping paper or construction paper, or having kiddos make figurines from Baker’s clay and color them using non-toxic paint.

Reduce Food Waste

Food is traditionally the centerpiece of this holiday, but consider preparing less food this year, especially if you’ve never been short. Buy a smaller bird, or skip a couple of unpopular side dishes. You can also try serving food on smaller plates, so that people are more likely to finish what they take instead of tossing it in the trash once they’re full. Come up with a plan for your leftovers ahead of time — you can find a lot of creative ideas online, such as these from Taste of Home.

Think Local

Close to 50 million Americans travel 50 miles or more from their home on Thanksgiving. Reconsider your travel plans this year — see if you can stay close to home, carpool or celebrate with nearby friends or neighbors.

You can also shop for local, organic produce — from the bird you buy or the wine you bring, to farmer’s market produce or beeswax candles from a local boutique.

Reducing waste and recycling are important, but no matter how you choose to celebrate, remember to be thankful for who you’re with and all you have.


Como Puede Ser “Verde” este Día de Acción de Gracias

El Día de Acción de Gracias es la próxima semana y la preparación para la celebración puede ser laboriosa. También puede crear muchos residuos. Según el EPA, desechos domésticos aumenta 25 por ciento entre el Día de Acción de Gracias y el día de año Nuevo.   Durante todas las actividades de los festivales, es fácil pensar menos y desperdiciar más. Este Día de Acción de Gracias, trata de agradecer el medio ambiente mediante el uso de algunos de los siguientes consejos para un festival sostenible.

Reduce la basura de los embalajes y cosas desechables

Recuerda sus bolsas reutilizables cuando ir al supermercado y elige productos con embalaje mínimo o embalaje que puede reciclar. Es más fácil evitar basura cuando comprar comida en mercados de agricultores, de secciones de productos frescos, y comida a granel. La comida enlatada puede ahorrar tiempo pero es menos sostenible que productos frescos.

En la casa, usa una asadera en vez de una bandeja de aluminio. Puede usar la asadera por muchos años y la mayoría de bandejas son usadas sola una vez. Usa platos y utensilios reutilizables en vez de algo desechable. Puede reducir los residuos y tener una mesa elegante si usa servilletas de tela en vez de servilletas de papel. Elige agua del grifo en lugar de botellas de agua. Si usa contenedores reutilizables para los restos de comida, puede evitar envoltura de plástico.

Cuando prepara las decoraciones, usa objetos naturales como calabazas y piñas. También puede fabricar ornamentos del papel de regalo o los niños puede crear formas de arcillo.

Reduce desechos alimentarios

Tradicionalmente, la comida es el centro del festival pero piensa en preparar menos este año especialmente si nunca se ha acabado. Compra un pavo más pequeño o cocina menos platos adicionales. También puede intentar servir en platos más pequeños para que las personas terminen lo que tienen en vez de tirándolo en la basura cuando están llenos. Crea un plan para los restos antes de la cena- puede encontrar ideas de recetas aquí.

Piensa localmente

Cerca de 50 millones de estadounidenses viajan 50 miles o más desde su casa para el Día de Acción de Gracias. Repiensa sus planes este año y trata de quedarse cerca de casa y celebran con amigos o vecinos.

También puede comprar productos locales u orgánicos- el pavo que cocina, el vino que trae, o los velos que compra en una tienda local.

Es importante que reduzca los desechos y reciclar pero recuerda estar agradecido por su compañía y todo que tiene en cualquier celebración.   


America Recycles Day

November 15th is America Recycles Day! Each year, this day offers an opportunity to remember why we recycle in the first place. Here are some great reasons:

  • Recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators — by 34.6 percent nationwide, and by 44 percent in California.
  • Recycling has created a multibillion dollar industry that provides millions of Americans with well-paying jobs.
  • Recycling conserves natural resources such as trees, water, oil and metals.
  • Recycling reduces the need for new raw materials, thereby reducing pollution.
  • Recycling saves energy. We save the energy equivalent of the power that 14 million U.S. households would use in a year — that’s about 4.5 times the number of households in New York City.
  • Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions from landfills — the equivalent of removing about 13 percent of cars on the road in the U.S. for a year.

America Recycles Day is also the perfect time to get motivated about using less and recycling more. Need inspiration on where to start? Let us give you some ideas:

Happy recycling!


Día de Reciclaje Estadounidense

¡El 15 de noviembre es Día de Reciclaje Estadounidense! Cada año, este día es una oportunidad de recordar las razones que reciclamos. Algunas razones buenos son:

  • El reciclaje reduce la cantidad de desechos enviados a vertederos e incineradores un 34,6 por ciento en los Estados Unidos y 44 por ciento en California.
  • El reciclaje crea una industria multimillonaria que provee millones de trabajos bien pagados para estadounidenses.
  • El reciclaje conserva los recursos naturales como árboles, agua, petróleo y metales.
  • El reciclaje reduce la necesidad de usar materias primas, reduciendo la contaminación.
  • El reciclaje ahorra energía. Ahorramos la energía equivalente a la energía usada por 14 millones de hogares estadounidenses cada año o 4,5 veces el número de los hogares en la ciudad de Nueva York.
  • El reciclaje reduce las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero de los vertederos, el equivalente a eliminar 13 por ciento de los automóviles en los EE.UU. por un año.

El Día de Reciclaje Estadounidense también es el momento perfecto de motivarse sobre el uso de menos. ¿Necesita inspiración? Aquí son algunas ideas:

 

How to Recycle Charcoal

It’s grilling and barbecuing season, and even those of us with gas grills at home tend to use charcoal for outings at the beach or park. But what do we do with charcoal ashes or leftover charcoal?

If you want to reuse charcoal for grilling, follow these steps: 1. Rake cold, used charcoal to dislodge extra ash. 2. Empty the ash from the grill. 3. Add about half the amount of new charcoal that you would normally use to start the grill. 4. Light the charcoal and proceed as usual. Note: If you follow this method, you may smell food drippings burning off the old charcoal. You can wait 5-10 minutes for this process to finish before adding food to the grill.

If your used or unused charcoal contains additives, you cannot reuse it for other purposes. The chemicals may include borax or lighter fluid, which are potentially dangerous. Allow ashes to cool for 48 hours, or pour water onto them and stir thoroughly to speed up the process. After they have fully cooled, either wrap the ashes in aluminum foil or place them in a small metal container, such as a coffee can, and dispose of them in an outdoor trash bin. Do not place them near anything that could catch fire.

If your used charcoal is additive-free, you can use it to fertilize plants. It is alkaline and contains the nutrient potash. Avoid using it with plants that require more acidity (e.g., hydrangeas and azaleas), as well as new seedlings.

If your unused charcoal is additive-free, you can use it to neutralize odors, prevent metal from rusting, or balance nutrients in potted plants, garden beds and compost piles. For more inspiration, check out this list of ideas from This Old House.

3 Easy Ways to Save Energy When Doing Your Laundry

1. Wash with cold water instead of hot water. According to The Christian Science Monitor, each load of laundry that uses hot water instead of cold water uses an additional 4.5 kilowatt-hours and costs about $0.64 more. And while hot water is more likely to kill bacteria, it’s also harsher on fabric, causing shrinking, fading and wrinkling. Consider using warm water instead of hot water when you need to disinfect your laundry, and always opt to rinse on cold. Not only will you save energy, you’ll extend the life of your clothing, too.

2. Line dry your clothes instead of tossing them in the dryer. This will also save on energy, and as much as $25 per month on your electric bill. Now that it’s summertime, you can line dry clothes outside in the sun. Or, pick up an inexpensive folding drying rack for $30 or less to dry clothes year round. Hate when your clothes get too stiff? Tumble dry them for 10 minutes when they’re damp or dry to soften them up.

3. Wash your clothes less often. Americans tend to be obsessed with cleanliness, but wearing something once doesn’t necessarily mean it’s dirty. Give your clothes the sniff test. If they pass, you can hang them and spray them with a little water to remove any light wrinkles from wear.

For even more ideas on how to save energy on laundry, check out this list by Apartment Therapy.

ReFuel Your Fun: Choose Refillable Gas Cylinders

Going camping this summer? If you pack a camp stove, use a refillable gas cylinder instead of a disposable one. Eighty percent of what you spend on a gas cylinder goes towards the container and convenience, not the gas itself. A lot of people use camp stoves each year — adding up to 4 million disposable cylinders annually in California alone — so it makes both environmental and economic sense to refill your gas cylinder instead of tossing it. The ReFuel Your Fun Campaign began by promoting refillable gas cylinders in California, and has now spread across the U.S.

You can now pick up and fill refillable gas cylinders at Ace Mountain Hardware in Truckee. Find out where else you can pick up a refillable cylinder to refuel — and save money — on your summer fun.

How to Dispose of Household Cleaners

In the midst of spring cleaning, don’t forget to dispose of household cleaning products and their containers correctly. Here are some tips for making sure cleaning your house is easy on the environment:

  • Use up all cleaning products before disposing of their containers.
  • Liquid, powder or gel products can be flushed down the drain in small quantities, if needed.
  • Solid products (including wipes, sheets, pads, pastes, crystals and sticks) need to go in the trash.
  • Plastic containers can be recycled as plastic, but need to be completely empty and clean. Check to see what type of plastic the container is made from (e.g., #1 or #2), and then check to see if our program accepts that plastic. If the plastic is accepted, rinse the container thoroughly and then let it dry before placing it in the recycling.

If you’re looking for safer alternatives to chemical cleaning products, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning for an overview of dangerous chemicals and product health ratings, or Real Simple’s 10 All-Natural, DIY Cleaners to Scrub Every Inch of Your Home for making your own.

When Green Isn’t Green: Reconsider Flowers This Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is around the corner, and with over 80 million mothers in the U.S. alone, we have a lot of women to show gratitude to. In fact, this gratitude adds up to over $2 billion in flower sales nationwide each year.

Nearly 70 percent of Americans celebrating Mother’s Day do so by purchasing flowers. However, you might consider an alternative, more eco-friendly gift — most cut flowers arrive in our shops and markets after being shipped internationally in refrigerated containers, because they are so perishable. Between water, pesticides and greenhouse gas emissions, flower sales have an alarming environmental impact.

If you’re attached to the idea of giving flowers, try giving a living plant instead of cut flowers, or find locally grown blooms through Local Harvest. If you receive flowers on Mother’s Day, remember to recycle the plastic wrap with plastic bags and compost the flowers once they’ve wilted.

Declutter Like a Pro: 8 Reasons to Ditch Your Stuff

There’s something about spring that encourages folks to clean out their homes. Considering the name Marie Kondo gets tossed around as a verb these days, it’s easy to see that decluttering your life has become a popular undertaking.

Decluttering might not be everyone’s favorite task, but now is not a bad time to “spring” into action and tackle the clutter that builds up in our abodes. Not only can you improve the atmosphere and organization of your home, you can pass along unneeded items to those who can really use them — check out this list of local donation locations. When items are no longer usable, their materials can often be recycled for reuse.

Here are 8 reasons to part ways with your clutter. Donate or recycle the following:

  1. Items that aren’t something you would go out and buy now.
  2. Items that are a duplicate — you have something similar that serves the same purpose.
  3. Items that are broken and you have yet to try and fix them.
  4. Items that are kept for sentimental reasons, but when considered in light of all of your other sentimental objects, seem unnecessary or excessive.
  5. Items that you haven’t used within the last year.
  6. Items that you don’t have a plan to use — a real plan, not a hypothetical one — or that you don’t know how to use.
  7. Items that you wouldn’t notice if they were gone.
  8. Items that don’t fit your personality or living space.

For more inspiration, check out this list of 116 things you should get rid of by PopSugar or this article in The Atlantic on the economics and psychology of decluttering.

New Contact Lens Recycling Program!

Good news, contact lens wearers! Now you can recycle your contact lenses and blister packs. Thanks to the partnership of Bausch + Lomb and TerraCycle, you can mail any brand of used contacts and their blister packs to the Bausch + Lomb ONE by ONE Recycling Program.

Contacts may seem too tiny to bother recycling, but over 30 million people in the U.S. currently wear contact lenses. With disposable and daily contacts, not to mention their packaging, the waste adds up quickly.

You can learn more here, or click here to request a free shipping label. Note: Don’t ship cardboard contact boxes — these can be recycled with paper.

Tips for a Green Easter

Spring is all about new life and new beginnings, which makes it the perfect time for egg hunts. One thing we don’t normally associate with spring? Trash — but sometimes it’s difficult to avoid at holidays, even Easter. So what can you do? Check out these tips for reducing waste from the biggest Easter culprits:

Plastic Eggs

Need new eggs this year? Consider avoiding plastic ones, which tend to be made from plastic #7 and may contain BPA. A safer plastic option is Eco Eggs, which are made from plant-based plastic but would need to be industrially composted. There are also non-plastic options — wooden eggs are easy to find online or in craft stores, and these can be hand-painted. These dyeable ceramic eggs are pretty neat, too. Or, there are hollow wooden eggs and cloth eggs that you can fill with candy or other treats, though you might not find these in a local store.

If you already have plastic eggs, reuse them from year to year. You can also consider repurposing plastic eggs if you no longer need them. You can find seemingly endless ideas online for upcycling plastic eggs, but here is one for a sophisticated spring nest and another for a row of tea lights.

Real Eggs

When it comes to using real eggs at Easter time, there are a few ways to green your activities. Choosing locally sourced, pasture-raised eggs will mean your eggs have a smaller carbon footprint and likely a higher nutritional value, too. If you like to blow out eggs, remember to use the raw yolks and whites for cooking. If you hard-boil your eggs, check out these recipe ideas — that way you won’t be faced with the quandary of how to make yourself eat dozens of plain old hard-boiled eggs. If you don’t eat your dyed eggs, be sure to compost the leftovers.

Although the probability of health hazards from egg dye seems low, consider looking into non-toxic egg dye, or making your own with this how-to from ABC News.

Basket Fill

Plastic grass cannot be recycled curbside, and it doesn’t decompose easily. If you already have some, reuse it, but if you don’t, there are alternatives. Raffia is a great option, because it looks like dry, tan-colored grass (think hula skirts), it’s made from strands of tree leaves, and it can be found at craft stores. Shredded paper and tissue paper would be eco-friendly choices, too.

Candy

Easter candy is a lot of fun, especially when you have little ones, but it can generate a lot of waste, too. The biggest thing you can do to reduce its impact is to choose minimal packaging. Paperboard or foil packaging are greener choices than plastic, but unpackaged candy from the bulk section of a grocery store would be even better.