Posts Tagged ‘Going Green’

Go green and reduce waste

When we toss out old items, we really do not think about the toxins in old cell phones, styrofoam containers, etc. and the impact they will have on the health of the earth, animals and humans, especially our children. Even when going to a landfill, those toxins leach out into the ground and eventually taint our drinking water, soil and air. The good news is, we can reduce the amount of trash we contribute on a daily basis to help keep this Earth clean and healthy for our children and grandchildren.

Going green really is not a big deal and in some ways can make your life easier and can save you money! Here are some very simple things we can all do to go green and reduce waste.

1. Stop the junk mail and remove yourself from those catalog mailings you never look at
2. Pay your bills online
3. Use your own coffee mug or reusable water bottle at work (and home). Skip bottled water
4. Use reusable shopping bags
5. If you use plastic bags to get your purchases home, use the bag for other things: lunch sack, trash bag, etc. My kids’ daycare loves to get these to send home soiled clothes
6. Donate old furniture, appliances, cell phones, eye glasses, etc. rather than sending them to the dump. Whole Foods has bins for old glasses, cell phones and plastic bags.
7. Bring your own container when ordering take out or dining out, rather than using their styrofoam container
8. Give the gift that keeps on giving – family passes to the local zoo and and science museum create no waste, supports local organizations and provides “free” entertainment all year long
9. Shred paper rather than tossing it and use it for packing material or even composting. Or put it in the recycling bin.
10. Use rechargeable batteries and be sure to recycle any non-rechargeables
11. Put old newspaper under mulch in the flowerbeds to help rid of weeds
12. ALWAYS recycle electronics as they contain mercury – includes batteries, computers, cell phones, TV’s, etc. Gazelle, Cell for Cash and Office Depot offer programs. Locally try 1800gotjunk who will even come pick everything up (not free), Office Depot or Staples
13. When purchasing new items, purchase quality items that will last a long time
14. Of course, take what you can to the local recyling place. My waste management provider picks up recycling once a month and will take glass, cans, carboard, newspaper, plastic… makes it much easier to recycle
15. Get paid for your recycle-able goods — you can get cash for aluminum cans, glass bottles and other items at many recycling centers. Check with the center to find out details. See #12 about getting paid for electronics.

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Go green and save energy

Easy ways to go green and save energy

Going green really is not a big deal and in some ways can make your life easier and can save you money! Here are some very simple things we can all do to go green and save energy.

Saving energy
1. Unplug appliances when not in use such as computers, printers, toasters, can openers, even the microwave! Or install a smart power strip that senses when appliances are off.
2. This includes cell phone and toothbrush chargers – don’t leave them plugged in all the time. Charge them during the day so you can unplug when it’s fully charged rather than leaving it plugged in all night.
3. Turn off lights when not in use
4. Keep the thermostat a little higher in the summer and lower in the winter. And switch to a programmable thermostat (Alabama Power was giving these away and offering a credit on your bill for switching.)
5. Open windows on a nice day instead of running the AC
6. Turn down the water heater a few degrees to 120
7. Run the washing machine and dishwasher only when you have a full load
8. Wash clothes in cold water
9. Air dry your clothes as much as possible rather than using the dryer
10. Don’t use the dry setting on the dishwasher, open the door, slide out the racks and let the dishes air dry (use caution and common sense when you have children about) or dry with a towel
11. Ensure all windows and doors are sealed and caulk when needed
12. When replacing appliances, windows and doors, ensure they are energy efficient (and check to see if you get a tax credit!)
13. CFL light bulbs contain mercury (I personally avoid them). If there is a breakage, follow appropriate instructions for mercury clean up. Make sure you recycle all CFLs and other flourecent lighting – never put them in the trash

Have your own energy-saving tip? Please add a comment below!

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National Healthy Schools Day

header_hsn_nhsdayaltNational Healthy Schools Day
What you can do to make sure no child’s health is left behind
 
by Janelle Sorensenjanelle
 When my husband and I first toured schools to find the one we wanted to enroll our daughter in, I’m sure I was silently voted one of the strangest parents ever. Why do I feel I was secretly endowed with this title? Because every room and hallway we were taken through, I sniffed. A lot. And, according to my husband, I wasn’t terribly discreet. 
 
I didn’t have a cold or postnasal drip. And, I’m not part bloodhound. I was simply concerned about the indoor air quality. My daughter was (and still is) prone to respiratory illnesses and I wanted to be sure the school she would be attending would support and protect her growing lungs (in addition to her brain). For many air quality issues, your nose knows, so I was using the easiest tool I had to gauge how healthy the environment was.
 
While air quality is a significant issue in schools (the EPA estimates that at least half of our nation’s 120,000 schools have problems), parents are also increasingly concerned about other school health issues like nutrition and the use of toxic pesticides. Many schools are making the switch to healthier and more sustainable practices like green cleaning, least toxic pest management, and even school gardening. What they’re finding is that greening their school improves the health and performance of students and personnel, saves money (from using less energy, buying fewer products, and having fewer worker injuries among other things), and also helps protect the planet. It’s truly win, win, win.teacher_students_classroom
 
To highlight the issue, the Healthy Schools Network coordinates National Healthy Schools Day. This year, over three dozen events will be held across the country (and more in Canada) on April 27th to promote and celebrate healthy school environments.
 
What can you do? Healthy Schools Network recommends simple activities such as:
·      Adopting Guiding Principles of School Environmental Quality as a policy for your School;
·      Distributing information related to Green Cleaning or Indoor Air Quality (IAQ);
·      Writing a letter or visiting your Principal or Facility Director to ask about cleaning products or pest control products;
·      Walking around your school: looking for water stains, cracks in outside walls, broken windows or steps, and overflowing dumpsters that are health & safety problems that need attention. Use this checklist.
·      Writing a Letter to the Editor of your local paper on the importance of a healthy school to all children and personnel.
 
You can also help support the efforts of states trying to pass policies requiring schools to use safer cleaners. (Or, initiate your own effort!) There are good bills pending in Connecticut, Minnesota, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon. According to Claire Barnett, Executive Director of the Healthy Schools Network, the key pieces to promote on green cleaning in schools are:
·     Not being fooled by ‘green washing’ claims—commercial products must be third-party certified as green (to verify claims);
·     Understanding that green products are cost-neutral and they work; and,
·     Learning that “Clean doesn’t have an odor.”
 
She encourages parents and personnel to tune into one of the archived webinars on green cleaning (like the first module for general audiences) at www.cleaningforhealthyschools.org.
 
The fact of the matter is that whether you’re concerned about the quality of food, cleaning chemicals, recycling, or energy use – schools need our help and support.  Instead of complaining about what’s wrong, it’s time to help do what’s right – for our children, our schools, and our planet.
 
What are you going to do? There are so many ideas and resources. Find your passion and get active on April 27th – National Healthy Schools Day.
 
Additional Resources:

 
·      Creating Healthy Environments for Children (DVD): A short video with easy tips for schools and a variety of handouts to download and print.
·      Getting Your Child’s School to Clean Green: A blog I wrote last year with advice based on my experience working with schools.
·      Healthy Community Toolkit: Healthy Child Healthy World’s tips and tools for being a successful community advocate and some of our favorite organizations working on improving child care and school environments and beyond.
·      The Everything Green Classroom Book: The ultimate guide to teaching and living green and healthy. 
 
Janelle Sorensen is the Senior Writer and Health Consultant for Healthy Child Healthy World (www.healthychild.org). You can also find her on Twitter as @greenandhealthy.

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Green Cleaning: Do it yourself

USA Today had a nice article today about Green Cleaning, highlighting that there is a growing trend with people making their own cleaners at home. Parents, including myself, are going green with their cleaners due to the toxic chemicals typically found in traditional cleaners.

I use plain ole vinegar to clean just about everything and even use it in the rinse cycle when doing laundry. It is a fantastic glass cleaner — something I learned from my dad decades ago. You can use it straight, but even diluting with water works well. Add a little vinegar to water you have a cleaner to mop your floors, wipe the counters, wash walls, etc. And vinegar is cheap!

Baking soda also cleans very well. It’s great at scouring tubs, helps absorb odors and interestingly enough, helps soften clothes in the laundry! Just add a half cup or so to the laundry. Baking soda is also cheap.

For dusting, we use a simple microfiber cloth which is a fantastic cleaning cloth requiring no additional cleaners. For heavier dusting, we use a damp cloth — no cleaners. Most microfiber cloths are roughly a dollar each.

I do not make my own laundry detergent, but many do using Borax. I have not gotten that adventurous. And I like my Charlie’s Soap which does not require any extra softeners or otherwise. See my review here. If you are interested in giving the make your own detergent a try, here is a great article telling you how to do it, for about a penny a load!! Hmmm, maybe I should give this a try…

Some Green Cleaners Are More Effective

And most are just as effective. The article states that doctors say even the simple act of scrubbing is usually enough to kill the germs and cleaners like bleach, are an overkill. They say bleach is needed for messes if blood or other bodily fluids are involved. I stopped buying bleach after my daughter was born 3 years ago. I found it is not needed and I certainly do not miss it.

We had some mold on our bathroom ceiling last year and I mixed a few drops of tea tree oil with a cup of water and sprayed on the mold. It killed the mold and has not been back. Previously, my husband had sprayed water with bleach on it but it always came back. One treatment with tea tree oil  kept it away.

Gotta green cleaning do-it-yourself or frugal tip? Please share your tips below.

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Earth Day: Make a green resolution

There are many ways to go green and it can be very simple to do. Plus it’s healthier for your family and the planet.

While you don’t need to do a greening overhaul, taking baby steps is a great way to get there and a great choice to make. Take things one step at a time and replace those cleaning products as you run out, doing spring cleaning and replace BPA-ladened cups, dishes, etc., vow to bike/carpool/walk to work, eat more organics.

Whole Foods is having a Green Resolution contest. And while you are at it, please comment below your green tip, green resolution or favorite way to go green.

Mine is I am going to start cleaning the tub with baking soda!

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Create an eco-nursery; County bans BPA baby bottles and Rubber mulch is toxic

Something new: Link Round up!

It’s difficult to post even weekly now with 2 kids and working full time, so I decided when I have several interesting topics at once, I will give a smaller summary and post the link to the article.

Eco-proof the nursery this is a great little article highlighting common concerns for today’s new parents (or new again). It shows how parents are concerned about the expense of raising a “green” baby and offers tips on how to go free for free or for very little money.

One NY County Bans BPA Baby bottles Hats off to them! I hope this catches on, though with manufacturers stopping the production of them and national retailers stopping the sale of them, bottles made with BPA will be hard to come by soon enough.

Rubber mulch is not non-toxic and contains metal fragments. And Obama just used it on his girl’s White House playground. Hopefully he will replace it. While it seems like a great idea to turn used tires into mulch for playgrounds and landscapes, it really is not non-toxic or safe for kids or the environment. Plus, rubber is highly flammable and difficult to extinguish once on fire.

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Kashi products added to peanut butter recall

Kashi has added some products to the peanut butter recall. They have set up a website dedicated to this. Click here.

The products affected by the recall are:

  • Kashi™ TLC™ Chewy Granola Bars in Trail Mix and Honey Almond Flax varieties, 7.4 ounce box with a “Best If Used Before” date prior to September 19, 2009 and followed by the letters CD (SEP 19 2009 CD)

    Kashi™ TLC™ Chewy Granola Bars Peanut Peanut Butter, 7.4 ounce box with a “Best If Used Before” date prior to August 8, 2009 and followed by the letters CD (AUG 08 2009 CD)

    Kashi ™ TLC™ Chewy Cookies in Oatmeal Dark Chocolate, Happy Trail Mix and Oatmeal Raisin Flax varieties, 8.5 ounce box with a “Best If Used Before” date prior to July 30, 2009.

    These products were also included in some Club assortment and variety packs of Kashi™ TLC™ products.

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