Living “The Twelve Pains of Christmas”?

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Let’s Try a Fake Tree

Ever feel like you’re living in the song “The Twelve Pains of Christmas”? Last year for me it was “rigging up the lights”, and this year it’s “finding a Christmas tree”. It all started a couple weeks ago when I was checking the lights. I remembered how we had to tie the tree to the curtain rods last year to keep it from falling repeatedly. I thought “maybe we should try a fake tree this year”. My husband had been trying to get us to agree to a fake tree for convenience sake for the past few years, but the kids and I always wanted real trees. Home Depot was having a sale for 20% off fake trees, so be packed the family in the car to go check out fake trees. What a disappointment that was – the nicest looking trees from 6 ft away were very plastic and cheap looking up close and still $300 after the coupon!

No New Fake Trees

OK, so a new fake tree was out. Then I was voluntold I was hosting a holiday party in six days and I still hadn’t decided what to do about a Christmas tree. I asked around in my family to see if anyone had one they weren’t using. My stepfather could write a book on dumpster diving, so he had a couple trees for us to look at. I went to his house and picked up a very battered box that was being held together with duct tape. That should’ve been my first clue, right? Well, I got it home and we started setting it up. Strings of lights were wrapped around the top tree piece so the branches wouldn’t all fall. My husband and I were still trying to untangle it when my daughter came down the stairs and cried “Ugg, no! It’s not full enough!” Then my son said “and it’s not tall enough”.

A roll of duct tape and a call to my stepfather later, and I was on my way back to my parent’s house to trade in this tree for a different one. I had specific instructions to set the new one up there to check it out before I brought it home. Thankfully, my Mom had it all set up by the time I got there. It wasn’t great, but it was free and could do in a pinch. We packed it back into the box and I brought it home. It was still a no go with the kids, and honestly, it made me a little sad when we had it together and in the tree spot. I don’t think it would have held even half my ornaments. Five days till the Christmas party and still no tree!

Borrowed Christmas Tree Was a Bust

That left finding a real tree. The past few years we had been getting our trees from a little farm in a nearby town run by a really nice older couple. It’d been a lovely tradition to go look for a tree there where the old man would cut it down for us and give the kids crackers to go feed the ducks and the fat little donkey. Nice, right? But no time for that this year, only four days till the party! So I called the local tree farm and found out there was a stand about 20 minutes away that was open at night. We needed to stop at Lowe’s for an outdoor light sensor/remote thingy and decided to look at trees there first. We walked in and found a great tree right away, tall and full – what a beautiful tree! It was $73. I had sticker shock. We’d been paying $35 for the past five years at the quaint little tree farm. We looked at a few other cheaper trees and left because nobody was around to help ureal_vs_fake_christma_trees and I was a bit disheartened.

We ended up at the tree stand of the local tree farmer. They had plenty of helpful people
around and one of the teachers from the local junior high was our personal tree presenter. We found a nice full tree for $40. It’s shorter than we prefer, but it still makes everyone happy. We got it home, put it in the stand and put the lights on that night. The rest of the decorations finally got on the day before the party! Whew! Christmas tree was checked off the list.

Fake Vs. Real Trees

So this whole ordeal got me to thinking about which is better for us and the environment. Some of the pros of fake trees is they are easy to put up and take down, cheaper over time and there are few pine needles all over the floor. I found out this year that some of the cheap ones do shed plastic pine needles, but not nearly as badly as real trees shed. After reading a few different articles on real vs fake Christmas trees, I realized that there isn’t really a consensus on which is better for the environment. But, overall, real trees appear to be better for our health and the environment, as long as you recycle the tree. If it gets thrown in the trash, it’s not so good for the environment. And, even though many tree farms use pesticides on their trees, real trees are still better for us than the toxic plastics in the fake trees. Old fake trees may even contain lead!

The Countdown is On

Now there are only 10 days to go until Christmas, or less if your celebrations start on the 23rd like ours. Do you have your tree yet? If you’re stressing about that and other stuff, then check out last week’s post on how to stay healthy even when stress is high. And if you have to live a Christmas song, I hope it’s Silver Bells or Let It Snow.

 

Earth Day Essentials (Part II)

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by Lynn Gamwell

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The mantra of the environmental movement is to “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.” One can think of these categories as naturally flowing from one to the next, from the macro to the micro level. The big picture and most important need is for humans to reduce consumption. After that we should find ways to reuse or repurpose. Finally, we make the effort to recycle as much as possible of what is left over.

Reduce

In our previous Earth Day blog post we focused on “reduce. “ On the macro level humans need to reduce their dependence on materials and energy that deplete the planet and contribute to pollution of the air, water, and soil. To reduce the amount of stuff we have or need is an important shift in mindset, which can have far reaching consequences. The less we buy, the less materials need to be mined, harvested, extracted, and transported. The less energy we use to make unnecessary products, the fewer harmful emissions are released into the atmosphere causing “the greenhouse effect”. (1) The rise in temperature that results from extraction, manufacturing, and disposal can destroy habitats for plants and animals as well as destroying human communities that depend on their natural environments. Hence there is critical need for reducing our energy consumption. See our previous Earth Day blog for specifics suggestions on ways to reduce including our reusable shopping bags and stainless steel and reusable lunch containers.

Reuse and Recycle

We shift to thinking about “reuse” and “recycle” with products that are already here, and which have outgrown their usefulness. This can be because they have lost some function, aesthetic appeal, or are just out of fashion. “Reuse” and “recycle” are two sides of the same coin. They each describe a way that an item can be repurposed. If an item can be used in it’s entirety it may be possible to find a new use for it either for oneself or by passing it on to someone else who can use it.   Recycling generally involves some degree of taking a product apart or reconfiguring it for its materials or parts.

Simple Strategies to Reuse

  • Donate your used furniture, and household appliances to to a charity organization that resells them at low cost. Habitat for Humanity is a great example of a charity which takes all kinds of household items from building materials and old appliances, to furniture and vehicles which can be sold or taken apart and sold as parts. Look for your local Habitat Restore here.
  • Used clothing can be resold at consignment stores allowing it to be reused and make you money at the same time!  Check your local consignment store for policies, but you can often get at least 40% of the resale price back.  This is especially great when kids are small and changing sizes frequently. Rarely do they wear out their clothing before they are ready for the next size. I clothed my daughter almost exclusively in fun yet inexpensive clothes from a children’s consignment store in my area when she was little. What a bargain!
  • Have a yard sale! Clear out your clutter, make some spending money, and give items a new lease on life!  By keeping stuff out of the landfill you will be reducing harmful emissions released into the atmosphere. Your junk is another person’s treasure!
  • Apply a little effort and many things such as plastic sandwich bags can be washed and used again. Reuse plastic salad and take out containers for leftovers or as storage containers for kid’s art supplies and small toys. I save plastic as a way to transport food to friends in need without having to retrieve the dish. Or I pack leftovers in them for family members after a party. Hopefully they find another way to reuse it after that!
  • Use rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones. Rechargeable will cost a bit more to buy but on average they last about 800 times the disposable kind.(2)   Now that is effective reuse!
  • Old furniture, lamps, and decorations can find new uses in our own homes with a little care. Rather than purchase a new item consider painting or reupholstering to get a great new, decorator look!

Responsible Recycling

  • Most communities have some form of recycling program whether it is curbside pick up or taking it to a central collection facility. Find out what your community offers and make your voice heard for easier and more complete recycling programs if needed.
  • Explain the recycling rules to your household and try to make it as easy as possible for all to comply. Have your recycling bin as accessible as the trash and they won’t have any reason not to throw it away in the right spot!
  • Electronics are easily recycled these days. Many dumps have electronics areas for drop off. Electronics stores often recycle regardless of where the item was purchased. Staples accepts all electronics donations for free!
  • Some of the most commonly thrown away items can actually be recycled. Did you know that pens, razor blades, tires, and aluminum can all be recycled?
  • Pay attention to packaging and purchase items with less excess material. One way to do this is to buy items in bulk and cut down on individually wrapped products.
  • Purchase products with recycled content. Money is power. If more people choose products that are made with recycled materials, from companies with environmentally conscious standards( like Peaceful Planet ) the more businesses will strive to fulfill the demand. Your purchase is your vote for cleaner, greener choices!

Go Green for Earth Day and Beyond!

It may seem like each of our choices are small and insignificant. But small green choices add up to a greener, healthier planet. That means a healthier place for us to live and for our children to grow up. Take the Earth Day challenge and get creative with ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle in your home and community. We all can contribute to keeping the planet peaceful, prosperous, and protected!

  1. epa.gov
  2. Boston Museum of Science (Household Energy Section)

 

 

 

Earth Day Essentials(Part I) Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

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By Lynn Gamwell

What is a Carbon Footprint?

Carbon is a gas that is emitted into the atmosphere from most human activities involving energy consumption. The total daily amount of emissions released from all activities of a person, a home, a business, or anything else is it’s “carbon footprint.” It is important to reduce our carbon footprints because it means we are significantly decreasing our contribution to pollution and global warming.

Earth Day is April 22

The sponsors of Earth Day are promoting planting 50,000 trees this month. Trees help to clean the air by absorbing carbon so that it is not loose in the atmosphere where it traps heat and contributes to global warming. However, even a massive tree-planting project cannot keep up with the amount of carbon dioxide being emitted into the air. We need action by each of us on a daily basis in our lifestyle choices to really make a difference. Fortunately there are many things one can do which will be good for the planet and often are good for your wallet and your health as well! Let’s get started.

Reduce your Energy Consumption

Energy reduction helps not only the environment but also our bottom line. Let’s consider some ways we can benefit from reducing our carbon footprint while keeping our planet peaceful and healthy.

  1. Reduce transportation costs and energy usage by taking public transportation, carpooling, walking, biking, or telecommuting. You may enjoy your daily commute more if you are socializing, reading, getting some exercise, or saving some time working from home.
  2. Buy well made products as investments and you will need to replace them less often. They may even appreciate in value as they become antiques. Think of furniture and the objects in your home as a reflection of yourself. You may find that less clutter and more clarity are the benefits of choosing to own less.
  3. Look for Energy Star labels on electronics, appliances, and heating and cooling devices for your home or business. While initially they may be slightly more expensive, their cost efficiency over time will cut your energy bills while being kinder to the atmosphere.
  4. Replace light bulbs with Energy Star rated bulbs for 75% less heat and energy usage as well as a much longer life. Again, the cost of buying energy efficient light bulbs will be higher initially, but the pay off to the environment and the reduced need to replace the bulbs will be worth it.
  5. Reduce reliance on disposable items. Most disposable products can be replaced with durable items which not only cut down on energy needed to produce them but also on the cost associated with repeatedly buying them. It takes little time to wash out a stainless steel food container and over time it goes a long way to reducing landfill waste. Think about other convenience items you can replace with items you already have or may only have to buy once. For instance, instead of piling all that plastic or paper into your trash, make a fashion statement with cute, reusable shopping bags in a wide range of attractive prints.
  6. Composting your food scraps will keep them from having to be processed as waste thus saving energy. You will have the benefits of nutritive soil to add to your garden at the same time as saving pockets full of cash on trash disposal.
  7. Consciously using water so that it is not wasted is a great way to save energy. Pumping, heating, and processing water takes energy. So using water efficiently can cut down on home or business energy bills. Even just running the dish washer only when it is full can save 100 lbs. of carbon dioxide a year at a savings of $40.00!(1) Remember to refill your BPA-free water bottles and you have saved even more!
  8. Shopping locally for your produce, meats, and domestic items can decrease energy costs of transporting all those products. Not only will you find healthy, fresh, local food, but local non-perishable items are likely to be more creative than things which are mass produced and transported great distances. You will be supporting your local economy, your health, and cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions all at once!
  9. Use wind power not only to generate electricity but also to dry your clothing. If you’ve ever tried hanging your wash to dry instead of using a drying machine you know how much better it is to have a real fresh air smell without artificial scents. Check out Peaceful Planet’s store for the Yoreganics line of all natural laundry products and make your wash eco-friendly from start to finish!
  10. What a relief it would be not to have to sort and recycle all that junk mail every day! So why not stop getting it in the first place? You can preserve trees and curb climate change just by taking yourself off the junk mail lists. Call companies individually if you choose or register with the Direct Main Marketing Association to opt out of various categories of mail.

What are you doing for Earth Day?

How about joining a tree planting campaign in your area?   EarthDay.org has lists of events happening all over the world. Let’s each get planting, reducing our energy emissions, and doing our part to reduce carbon levels and mitigate climate change. After all, if the planet thrives so do we. Let’s care for our peaceful and prosperous planet Earth!

Stay Tuned for Part II, Reuse & Recycle!

1) http://www.3.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd

Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper Alternative

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The shopping is (almost!) done and it’s nearly time to get wrapping! Sure, you could upcycle some old newspaper or paper grocery sacks into creative alternative gift wrap, but some gifts deserve beautiful, special wrapping. But don’t run out and buy a few rolls of wrapping paper that will simply wind up in the trash; Envirosax make the perfect planet-friendly gift wrap! These washable, waterproof reusable designer shopping bags are made under fair working conditions and dyed with non-toxic dyes. Available in a wide array of patterns and designs, there’s something to suit everyone on your list. Use them just like you would use a disposable gift bag, or try your hand at some easy yet fancy wrapping techniques.

Even better, this alternative to gift wrap becomes part of the gift: your recipient will love the large, roomy bag, ideal for shopping, toting library books, hitting the beach, carting groceries, and so much more. These reusable bags are lightweight and fold up small, so they are easy to stash in a purse or car trunk, but they unfold to big, sturdy bags that can hold twice as much as a disposable plastic grocery bag. I use mine constantly — they fit more and hold up so much better than my other reusable shopping bags — and I always get tons of positive comments and compliments!

Easy, Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper Alternative

It’s easy to wrap presents in Envirosax instead of wrapping paper. We even have a tutorial so you can learn how to wrap a beautiful gift in under 5 minutes. 

A Waste-Free Holiday

It’s only one day a year, so what’s the big deal with using disposable gift bags and wrapping paper just this once? Well, all that garbage really adds up. Americans throw out 4 million tons of gift wrap and bags and 38,000 miles of ribbon every year!

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The Winter Explosion pack contains enough bags to wrap 5 presents in beautiful eco-friendly gift wrap!

Simply by switching to reusable gift wrap and reusable fabric ribbons, we can eliminate our personal contribution to all that waste. It’s okay if you can’t wrap every present in sustainable wrapping alternatives. It can feel overwhelming to make that kind of transition all at once. Start with just a few gifts wrapped in eco-friendly alternatives this year. Even that small change makes a difference; if every family committed to wrapping just 3 gifts in Envirosax, we’d reduce our waste by 13.5 million feet of wrapping paper!

 

By Ali Wetherbee

Eco-Friendly Gift Guide

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This holiday season, shop small — and without even leaving your house! Peaceful Planet is a small, family-owned business, and we appreciate your support this year. We have a variety of environmentally-conscious gift ideas that aren’t only better for the earth, but healthier for the gift recipient as well. We have some great presents as well as stocking stuffers that your recipients are sure to love.


Cyber Monday Sale: 15% off your entire order with coupon code: ShopSmall

25% off the Perfect Supplements product line with coupon code: PerfectHoliday


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Organic Cotton Tie Dye Shirts make fun gifts for kids and adults alike. These shirts are made from organically grown cotton by companies that truly care about the environment and the families they employ. The shirts are hand-dyed in the USA.

insulated_stainless_steel_bottleWater FilterBarrier_water_filter_pitcher           glass_water_bottles

Our Double Wall Hot/Cold Insulated Water Bottles are great for coffee, tea, and hot cocoa, and keep iced beverages cold as well. Gift it in a basket filled with fair-trade coffee and other treats, or pair it with a gift card for the local tea shop.

Give the gift of healthy water! We have a variety of water filters to choose from, including countertop filters for the kitchen, water pitchers for college kids, bath filters for new babies, and shower filters — all with no plumber required.

Stainless Steel Flip N’ Sip Designer Water Bottles come in 4 different designs that will appeal to both kids and adults. We also have glass water bottles, which are a big hit in the crunchy crowd lately, and a large 40oz stainless steel water bottle perfect for water guzzlers and gym fanatics.

What About Eco-Friendly Wrapping?

reusable_gift_wrapEach year, Americans send 4 million tons of gift bags and wrapping paper to landfills. If every family wrapped just 3 holiday gifts in reusable packaging, it would save so much paper that we could cover 45,000 football fields! Envirosax bags make great gift wrap. These reusable shopping bags come in a variety of colors and designs, and the bag itself becomes part of the gift. And they fold up small enough to fit in a purse, briefcase, backpack, or stocking! Check out this video to learn creative, festive ways to wrap your gifts in Envirosax.

Eco-Friendly Stocking Stuffers

rejuva_180_face_moisturizerPerfect-Lip-NutrientsBentonite_Face_&_Body_ScrubGPBeautyBalm

Golden Essence Rejuva-180 Face Moisturizer is a luxurious moisturizer free of oils, parabens, and toxins made with raspberry ketones.

Perfect Lip Nutrients organic lip balm keep lips nourished and protected all winter long.

Living Clay’s Face & Body Scrub has all natural ingredients. Ground walnut shells and peppermint help wake you up and keep you energized.

Green Pasture Blue Ice Beauty Balm cleanses and repairs skin with organic, antioxidant-rich ingredients.

Blue_Ice_Calm_Balm      Peaceful_Planet_Gift_Certificate   Mercola_Pet_Probiotics

Green Pasture Blue Ice Calm Balm soothes aching muscles and joints with healthy oils and natural menthol.

Not sure what to give? A Peaceful Planet Gift Certificate is the ideal gift for those hard-to-shop-for friends and relatives. Available in any denominations, this will be one gift they will surely enjoy!

Don’t forget Fluffy and Fido! Check out our pet health products for stocking stuffers for your furry friends!


Cyber Monday Sale: 15% off your entire order with coupon code: ShopSmall

25% off the Perfect Supplements product line with coupon code: PerfectHoliday


 

20 Disposable Products You Can Stop Buying

Reducing is the first, and most important, step in the process.

I learned something appalling and sobering while accompanying my son on a homeschool field trip to the local landfill last year: we are quite literally running out of room for garbage. In Rhode Island, our home state and home of Peaceful Planet headquarters, there is only one landfill. It is estimated that this landfill will be filled to capacity in approximately 20 years. Once we reach capacity, that’s it. Regulations will allow no new landfills to be built in Rhode Island, and all waste will need to be shipped out of state, possibly quite far — costing us much more in terms of money, fuel, and greenhouse gas emissions. It may soon become entirely cost prohibitive to discard waste! Twenty years is a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things. This is the reality today’s children will face as they enter adulthood. We can’t wait until year 19 to change our ways; it will be too late. We have to start now to make a difference.

No matter what state you live in, running out of room for trash is a real risk. The number of landfills in the US declined 75% just from 1986-2009. Trash has to travel further to reach its final destination, and many states are nearing capacity. Recycling will definitely help, but reducing our waste in the first place should be our primary goal. You may be surprised at how few disposable products you really need to use. How many of the disposable products below have you replaced with reusable alternatives? My family has completely converted over the last decade, and very few disposable products enter our house at all these days. I feel good that we are doing our part to reduce our waste, minimize our consumption, and protect the earth.

Thinking about the upcoming holidays and wondering what to give a hard-to-shop-for spouse or the aunt who already has everything? Environmentally-friendly alternatives to disposable products are something nearly everyone can use, and your gift is also a present to our planet! Many people shy away from the initial investment in reusable products or don’t even know that these eco-friendly alternatives exist, so a good-quality water bottle, some pretty cloth napkins, or cloth grocery bags in fun designs can be perfect gifts for anyone who is hard to buy for.

20 Disposable Products My Family Doesn’t Use (& Reusable Alternatives!)

  1. Paper towels: Cotton washcloths are very inexpensive and work even better than paper towels. While you can rinse and wring out used washcloths repeatedly, you can also just wipe once and toss into the laundry so you don’t have damp dirty rags sitting out on the counter!
  2. glass_water_bottlesPlastic water bottles: Americans use 1500 water bottles every second, and most of those end up in the landfill. Instead, choose reusable, non-toxic, BPA-free water bottles filled with filtered tap water. You’ll save money, reduce your toxin load, and protect the environment all at once!
  3. Napkins: We use only cloth napkins. We have a stash of about 40 cloth napkins so that we always have enough clean ones for meals and lunch bags. I prefer cotton napkins over other fabrics, and we choose printed options to hide any stubborn stains.
  4. Newspapers and magazines: You can opt for a digital subscription to most newspapers and magazines, and read them on your phone, computer, or e-reader. While you’re at it, opt out of all that unwanted junk mail via the instructions here
  5. Paper plates, cups, and bowls: We just don’t buy them, even for parties; instead we make do with what we have or borrow extras from friends. If you entertain frequently and don’t have enough real dishes, you can buy a bunch of sturdy reusable picnic dishes almost as cheaply as disposable ones. We use small jelly-sized mason jars for party drinks instead of paper cups.
  6. Plastic silverware: Not only is plastic cutlery bad for the environment, but it’s also annoying to use. Have you ever watched a party guest repeatedly try to stab their salad with a plastic fork or cut their lip on the sharp edge of a disposable spoon? Your guests will enjoy having real silverware to use so much, they might even be willing to help you wash it all at the end of the night! Thrift stores are a great place to get lots of silverware at a low cost.
  7. Baby diapers & wipes: If you know someone who is pregnant, you’ll save them thousands of dollars by gifting them a stash of cloth diapers. The options are endless and many are just as convenient and absorbent as disposable diapers, but without all the chemicals and waste. There are even cloth diaper services that will deliver clean cloth diapers straight to your door each week. Use cloth wipes alongside cloth diapers; it’s better for baby’s skin and you’ll be doing lots of laundry either way!
  8. Toilet paper: I know, I know, this is where half of you will get really squeamish and maybe even close out the browser window. But family cloth is really a trend… just not one most of us talk about openly! If you’ve had a baby and used cloth diapers and reusable wipes, it really doesn’t seem all that gross to transition the whole household to cloth. You can use hand-sewn squares or even cut up old t-shirts to wipe. Keep a basket of clean cloths as well as a small bin for the used cloths near the toilet. Wash in hot water with vinegar. You don’t have to get the whole family on board to switch to family cloth; most families keep toilet paper on hand for guests, family members who don’t want to go the reusable route, or messier wiping.
  9. reusable_gift_wrapGift wrap: This is an important one with the holidays approaching! Household waste increases by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and an estimated 4 million tons of that is just gift wrap and shopping bags. Get creative with your wrapping this holiday season. You can make reusable fabric squares of gift wrap tied with satin ribbon, package presents in baskets or other nice containers, or use scarves, blankets, and handkerchiefs as both part of the gift and the packaging. Envirosax make beautiful gift wrap; check out our YouTube video to learn how to wrap your gifts in these pretty reusable bags. 
  10. Q-tips: You actually aren’t supposed to clean your ears. Earwax lubricates the ears and protects your ears from water, dust, dirt, and bacteria. Cotton swabs can actually push wax deeper into the ear or damage the eardrum. There are reusable cotton swab alternatives out there, but you’re really better off not putting anything in your ears at all.
  11. Batteries: If your home goes through lots of batteries, invest in some rechargeable batteries and a charger. You’ll save money and keep disposable batteries out of the landfill.
  12. stainless_steel_food_containersZiploc bags: Stainless steel food containers keep sandwiches or leftovers just as fresh, without the waste. Plus, when you’re eating lunch on the go, these food containers are much easier to eat out of than a plastic baggie. Use them for carrying lunches, storing leftovers, portioning out healthy snacks, or almost anything else you’d normally use zip top bags for.
  13. Tissues: There’s nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned handkerchief! Soft fabric is much more gentle on your nose than harsh paper tissues. Stock up on a bunch and wash them frequently to avoid spreading germs; you should use a fresh one every day. We also keep a bin of torn-up t-shirts at home for bad colds, and throw them in the wash after a single use.
  14. Dryer sheets: Dryer sheets are loaded with chemicals and you probably don’t even need them. I just add extra baking soda or vinegar to the wash to freshen up a load. You can also use wool dryer balls or make your own dryer sheet with a cloth, a splash of vinegar, and a few drops of essential oils. No toxins, no waste!
  15. Vacuum bags and filters: The next time your vacuum needs replacing, opt for a model that doesn’t require vacuum bags. Most vacuums now have canisters you can empty and washable filters.
  16. Tampons and sanitary napkins: There are lots of options available in terms of cloth pads and menstrual cups. These reusable products are much gentler on sensitive areas. Many who have switched to reusable menstrual products have experienced reduced cramps, shortened cycles, lighter flow, and more regular cycles without exposure to the chemicals in disposable pads and tampons. I started using cloth pads after my son was born 6 years ago and I will never go back to disposable!
  17. Coffee filters: Permanent coffee filters made from stainless steel come in standard sizes to fit virtually every coffee maker. Simply dump the grounds in your compost bin and rinse the filter for the next use.
  18. reusable_grocery_bagsPaper or plastic shopping bags: Reusable grocery bags are the way to go, and many stores now provide small financial incentives for bringing your own bags. Fold a couple up and toss in the bottom of your purse, or keep some in the trunk of your car. One of the best benefits of reusable shopping bags is that they fit more, and break less. This means carting groceries is a whole lot easier!
  19. Paper muffin cups and parchment paper: Silicone muffin cups are a great eco-friendly alternative. A silicone baking mat can replace parchment paper for most recipes. Silicone is non-stick and easy to wash. It is also considered to be chemically inert, which means that it’s unlikely to leach toxins into your food.
  20. Ink cartridges and printer paper: If you have a printer, use refillable ink cartridges rather than disposable ones, and use both sides of the printer paper. However, consider whether you might be able to avoiding having a printer altogether. I have managed to survive just fine without a printer for many years, and it forces me to be highly selective over which documents I really need to print. I can print pages at libraries and office supply stores on the rare occasions when it is a necessity, and I save tons of paper overall.

What eco-friendly alternatives to disposable products would you add to this list? How have you reduced household waste?


By Ali Wetherbee

Go Green for Halloween

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Halloween is right around the corner and we have many ideas to help you celebrate… without all the toxic and disposable products and loads of candy! From eco-friendly costume ideas to healthy Halloween treats, these ideas prove you can indeed go green without putting a damper on your Halloween celebrations.

Recycled Halloween Costumes

  • Instead of buying plastic masks made in China (which are usually made of toxic PVC and smell horrible because they are offgassing) try making masks out of paper plates, plaster of Paris, or other craft materials. Use old boxes, scrap fabric, and other recycled materials to create amazing costumes.

  • Try to think “reusable” for any costume parts and props you must buy. For example, get a nice sweatsuit that doubles both as part of the Halloween costume and, later, play clothes.

  • Shop the thrift store for odds and ends to create a costume.

  • Host a costume swap. Reserve a room at a local gathering hall, church, or library and Invite friends and acquaintances to bring good-condition costumes from past years and outgrown dress-up clothes to exchange. Use social media to get the word out quickly — a larger crowd means more options for everyone! Set up tables labeled by size and have participants place their unwanted costumes onto the appropriate tables. After everyone has sorted their old costumes, allow them to “shop” the tables for a new costume (bring 1 costume, take 1 costume; bring 3, take 3). Donate any leftover costumes to a local charity. You can also host a costume swap the week after Halloween so you’ll be ready for next year!

Healthier Trick or Treat Options to Hand Out

Alternatives to Halloween candy include:

  • small packs of pretzels or crackers
  • organic snacks
  • dried fruit or nuts
  • prepackaged baby carrots or apple slices
  • honey sticks
  • granola bars
  • juice boxes
  • individually wrapped tea bags in kid-friendly flavors
  • bottles of water (kids get so thirsty while Trick-or-Treating!)

Even better, offer non-food options, which will be much appreciated by those with food allergies or on special diets! The kids will still get plenty of candy from other houses. Try to avoid buying the cheap plastic made-in-China toys which often contain lead, and always wind up broken or trashed. Here are some ideas for non-toxic trick-or-treat items:

  • stickers
  • pencils, notebooks
  • bubbles
  • bags of beads and string to make bracelets
  • packets of seeds
  • homemade playdough or slime
  • loose change
  • hand sewn bean bags
  • bandaids with cool designs
  • knit finger puppets
  • wooden tops
  • books
  • fun shoelaces
  • toothbrushes
  • seashells, rocks, crystals
  • cards with jokes or fortunes written on them

If you do choose to hand out novelty toys, instead of buying them, collect what your kids get from birthday parties and events throughout the year and save them to give out next Halloween.

Eco-Friendly Tips for Taking Your Kids Trick-or-Treating

  • Rather than driving from house to house and wasting gas, walk! If you’re out in the country, consider a short drive to a more populated, walkable neighborhood.

  • Collect treats in a sturdy reusable shopping bag or even an old pillowcase, instead of plastic bags or buckets that will wind up in the landfill and never decompose.

  • Wondering what to do with all the excess candy your kids are bound to get? Check out last year’s Halloween post for ideas!

Hosting a Green Halloween Gathering

  • Invite your guests to come in only homemade costumes. Host a contest for the best creations.

  • Buy quality decorations that will last for years, or make your own with recycled materials.

  • Skip the disposable paper goods. Ask a friend to bring extra cups or cloth napkins if needed. If you must use disposable paper products, opt for sturdy ones that can be washed and reused several times.

  • Be sure to compost your jack o’lanterns after Halloween, rather than throwing them in the trash.

  • Check out these recipes for healthy Halloween party treats.

 

By Ali Wetherbee