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Wow, it's time to update these!!! I'll try to work on them this coming week; thanks to everyone who contributed!
Great idea Sheena - just to get us started...
1. Buy LED lights for your decorations! I live completely in the boonies, with hardly any access to anything green and yet, last year the local drugstore actually had these and I'd been trying to get them for years! Buy/replace a strand every year...and you'll save electricity too! And if you want to be extreme...don't go fluorescent with your other lights - go LED! They result in far fewer pollutants/toxins.
Ho Ho Ho!!! (These aren't in any particular order...)
2. Organic AND Fair Trade!!! Kids can really get behind this one...and it's handy for Mom's & Dad's...first you educate them on what Fair Trade is...check out this site: http://transfairusa.org/content/about/overview.php and for products & fundraisers: http://www.equalexchange.coop/product-info - I'm not affliated, but I loved their cooperative Reverse Trick or Treating program (see last link) to raise awareness! Let's use the chocolate example. Congress was in the process of passing a bill to require the chocolate industry (remember that most of the chocolate we eat in this country is manufactured by just 3 companies) to stop the child SLAVE labor in the cocoa plantations by education and the refusal to purchase...but the chocolate industry convinced them no bill was needed and instead an agreement was made, which gave them YEARS to do something...they've had THREE lengthy extensions and have done almost nothing. It's just too profitable to keep doing things the same ole way. Who cares if some kid you don't know cut off his leg opening beans, right?! Well, once you know how truly appallingly horrific the situation is...that Hershey's bar doesn't look so good. And anytime we stop at the chocolate aisle now, my kid reminds me "Mom, those are kids, just like me!" This same attitude can be used to your advantage on ANY import and most foods your kids pester you for, btw! Just ask them if they know where it comes from and how it's made...Fair Trade Certified means fair & decent wages to live on...no child labor...minimizing environmental impacts...here, these guys say it well: Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_trade and here are ways to get involved http://www.globalexchange.org/war_peace_democracy/index.html
3. I'm borrowing one today...from stopglobalwarming.org...happened to see it in the email and thought, wth? pbs are great recyclers!!! I have not bought wrapping paper or bags maybe EVER...I reuse everything I can salvage...I will use the same wrapping paper for 20 years in a row, if I can keep from ripping it. And making your own is very cool too. My folks had a great idea when I was growing up (that I use sometimes, too)...wrap everything in aluminum foil (IT'S RECYCLABLE)...and these days you can even BUY recycled aluminum foil - I do! And the presents are gorgeous because they reflect the lights on the tree! One caveat...Santa's presents must be in wrapping paper your children have NEVER seen...doesn't have to be new, just unique...sometimes I get holiday papers from charity orgs...and I hide them for this purpose...THEN I reuse 'Santa's wrapping"...
TIP OF THE SEASON: CUT OUT THE GIFT WRAP
Newspaper, fabric scraps, scarves, reusable boxes, tins and jars are great wrapping ideas. If you do buy wrapping paper, always choose recycled and save wrap and bows for re-use next year.
4. I can't emphasize enough how important it is not to buy paper products that are not using the maximum recycled content possible...it's just unnecessary waste! Trees are the planet's air filters...and I can't imagine a single person on the planet that doesn't know it... It's important to know the difference between pre- and post-consumer waste. Basically, you want post or PCW because that's the stuff that is getting reused, as opposed to scraps and such from virgin production (also helpful...but we want that resource to go towards the industries that need it most, to reduce whole tree destruction...and we want to create a market for all that junk mail and newspapers you've been hauling to the recycling center!). Also look at content...80-100% PCW is so much better than 20-40% PCW...especially if that means the majority is VIRGIN! I got the most wonderful tree-free Christmas card this year! Wonderful in the sense that I wouldn't have known, if I hadn't read the back! So quality is no longer an issue people. It's all readily available now...from TP to notebooks...so speak with your consumer voice! Here are a couple of links to get you started...products that I have used and prefer:
Seventh Generation...I use the 12 pk 2 ply TP & natural paper towels (as well as dish soap & laundry soap & women's products) http://www.drugstore.com/user/promo.asp?promoid=75644&atrx=dps-16&atrxp1=145641&atrxp2=2&atrxp3=%2Fuser%2Fpromo%2Easp%3Fpromoid%3D75644&atrxp4=47206 they run lots of sales and you can qualify for free shipping!
Tops Second Nature being one of the easiest to get at the bigger office supply stores...though I have also used other brands direct from warehouses - it's the shipping of heavy products that really bites. http://www.officedepot.com/catalog/search.do?Ntt=Second+Nature%C2%AE&N=5+1676&Ne=100&Ntk=all&Ntx=mode+matchpartialmax&Nty=1
Should also mention that you also want to look for CF or chlorine free paper...to reduce environmental pollutants!
5. Well, lets talk about two of the R's...REDUCE and REUSE. And let's apply that concept to Christmas. I participate in
...which is the day after Thanksgiving...and I take it a step farther. While I may buy my child an occassional new present (because I couldn't find it used)...I feel strongly that children are inundated with toys, often cheap toxic toys. Honestly, how many children under the age of 6 need a new toy? Even my 9 yo doesn't care if something is used, as long as is new to him and it works! Parents put themselves into debt creating little consumers...sad and unnecessary. So my green suggestion is (and please forgive and let live if you don't happen to agree) that less than half the gifts that you give next year be something you bought new. It's a challenge...one of my 'gurus' of simple living says "Be a conserver, not a consumer." And the second part of the challenge is to find new life in some of the things you have and find someone to give them too... You do it right here on pbs...so apply it to the rest of your life. Recycling should be a last resort, when there is no life left in an item. I found out this year that small egg producers have to pay around $0.15 per carton...instead of recycling my cartons, I donate them for reuse, saving small farmers a ton of money (we eat a lot of eggs and have always reused the cartons, sometimes for gardening...but that is more like recycling). That is just one simple example. We donated a whole box of used toys to a toddler in another state...all it cost was $17 postage. Even the wrapping was reused!
This year, the pile of presents under the tree was actually embarrassing to my child..."I don't deserve this." I only bought one of them! And it was used. I had heaps of books from pbs...heirlooms from his father...gifts that his Nana had sent all year, saved so he could feel her love now when he misses her so much... (he got plenty of things during the year to, as part of his school and chore chart rewards...) and there was also something special from his other grandmother. And Santa (one gift...is always what I've taught that Santa gives...only one gift to each child)...and I bought that one new, because it wasn't available used. Next year, we've agreed that we will have only handmade gifts under the tree (which is a norfolk pine that is living). Every year is different here. Last year, I don't remember having hardly any gifts...or the year before, when we lost my other half at the beginning of December...I guess that's why it was so fun to go wild this year...but the point is: OUR HOLIDAY GIFTS (including all family and friends) COST LESS THAN $100 (including shipping!).
6. Join a Co-op...the point of a co-op is companionable buying power! If there isn't one that you want to join - start one! It's not at all hard to do...AND you could join http://www.frontiercoop.com/company/commitment.html Frontier as a wholesale member and save heaps of money on organic and green products! I speak from experience...and one-by-one, I add folks to my orders, passing on a great deal AND supporting a great company in doing so! Keep in mind that you still have to review a product yourself, and not rely just on the fact that they carry it (sad to say...but my standards are really, really, really high...and if the ingredients aren't listed, I don't buy). Also, you can buy from them as a retail customer...if you have difficulty sourcing eco-products in your area. I also belong to a local co-op run by our organic tofu producer and between the two resources, I can get about 75% of the things I need & use.
Just so folks know, I am a proponent of buy local...especially if you have local CSAs or organic producers, even if they aren't certified (I trust someone I know more than a government certification program!)...it's just in my case, try as I might, it hasn't been much of an option. We did get eggs and chicken from a local producer who has a grease car and would deliver...until things changed for them...it's a changable climate! So, I'm back to getting organic eggs from the corner store or co-op, which involves those undesirable, unseen costs in packaging and energy resources. And, of course, I grow a garden...but sadly my Spinach is the same exact size as when I planted it, because of the cold weather...only thing actually growing this winter is the garlic! Though I am going to get out my sprouting containers...
Last Edited on: 4/19/12 2:30 PM ET - Total times edited: 15
This is great. We are super green, have been for years, so we'll be checking back often. But just to get the ball rolling may I suggest using Blackle when doing searches. http://www.blackle.com/
It's Google's black version and uses less energy. Thanks.
Last Edited on: 12/15/08 2:17 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
I'm still at the basic level in going green...I make my own all-purpose cleaners, I recycle, & I try to save electricity. I reuse almost all envelopes I receive from PBS users, and I try to get the full usage out of an item before I buy something new.
I'd love to learn some new ways to be green, & I'm happy to see this forum.
It's the white screen, and every time you pull up a white screen (background), you use more energy than a black background screen. I'll look around and see what I did with the initial explanation and post back if I find it.
Does anyone know how/where i can recycle my old cell phone chargers? I have already have recycled the phones but I keep finding the chargers and cant find anywhere to send them. Thanks!
Is there any way to keep the OLD lights and bulbs out of the landfill when you replace them with LED? I know I could give them to Goodwill, but that wouldn't be saving any energy in the long run if someone else is using them. I hesitate to replace things that still work with the newer more enegy efficient things because then I have to "trash" the lights (or whatever) that were working perfectly. I tend to wait until something wears out or can be used no more before replacing it if I can't find a good use for the old product.
Only CRT displays use more energy to display brighter things. For everything else, it is completely false that a black display uses less energy than a white page. The backlight on an LCD is on for the entire LCD regardless of what is being shown. The black pixels are only black because the LCD blocks out light. Same with projectors, etc. You're article is thoughtful, but invalid.
I looked into it as well since it got me thinking. The above post is what I found and found other sources to back this claim. So if you use a CRT monitor then use blackle or else it does not matter. BUT I prefer the blackle as white dazzles my eyes.
Sarah...I'll add your question near the top (so it doesn't get lost) and when I have time, see if I can dig up some resources for you...
Cozi (HI!) - I do agree with you about NOT adding to waste - thank you for noting it here! If they are fluorescents, and you are ready to make a change...you might be helping someone else take one step on the road to using less energy...but disposal is one of the huge issues with fluorescents and they should always be recycled due to the mercury and other pollutants inside! And always be extremely cautious if they break - as the fumes are toxic! The most efficient is when one burns out, replace with something more efficient and less toxic. Specifically relating to xmas lights, though...I will add that to my research and see if anyone has started working on that, because they are usually a long term investment and what in the world are we all going to do with them?! Thanks for getting us thinking!!!
I want a source for solar powered devices that will recharge MP3 players and cell phones.
Also a solar powered fan that could be charged from a window since I cannot do solar pannels due to living in an apartment.
So my question is, do these things exsist? and if so have you used them?
Mine is I reuse all my ziplock bags which I use for my lunch and I take it in a reuseable cooler bag.
Last Edited on: 12/16/08 7:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 1