Archive for July, 2008

Summer resources

By Lynn

We’re half way through the summer and we hope you’re enjoying your everyday celebrations like picnics, barbecues, family reunions and, if you’re like us, a number of birthdays. Continuing with Corey’s last theme, here are more eco-friendly ideas for enjoying summer.

Recycling when away from home is easy when you provide the container. Check out the cute portable can and bottle bin from recyclingbin.com. It’s perfect for small group picnics where other recycling bins are not available. It folds flat for carrying and, according to the website, is practically indestructible.

Spur of the moment picnics come together easily when you keep everything but the food assembled and ready to go. Keep a basket stocked with utensils (for added fun, try bamboo utensil sets from to-goware.com), cloth napkins (I use washcloths), tin, stainless steel or bamboo plates (for the former, check out camping stores and for the latter, take a look at bambuhome.com), a blanket and DEET-free bug repellant.

Great summer activities for kids that offer painless lessons in green living include making newspaper hats from the traditional triangle to a fun party number, teaching them the traditional Maori stick game from New Zealand, pressing flowers for use on craft projects and spending time outside at night looking at the stars and listening to the sounds of nature.

Stay cool by making quick, healthy homemade ice cream on sticks. Assuming you don’t want to use paper cups that must be tossed after using, you can try making the popsicles in small glasses (make sure the glass is thick enough not to break in the freezer) or purchase silicone molds that can be reused for many summers to come.

July 31, 2008 at 4:15 pm Leave a comment

Fun in the sun

By Corey

Beyond Independence Day, summertime brings with it numerous reasons to celebrate – some of which may be official (i.e. 4th of July), while others are hush-hush (can you say “sick day?”) – but all of which deserve a consideration of our health and dear planet.

Some of our green tips for celebrating in the summer months are more obvious: use reusable, compostable or recyclable plates and utensils for picnics; consider vacationing closer to home; and always choose certified organic meats for your barbecue – or better yet, go veggie.

But had you thought about the reasons why the one thing all of your outdoor-party guests should be wearing is mineral-based, micronized sunscreen (especially if you just happen to live by coral reefs) and why an ideal birthday gift for your surfer niece, Betty, is an ecologically-sound wetsuit?

Or how about the fact that parking in the shade (while waiting for your boss’s surprise retirement party to begin) will reduce fuel evaporation, or that the EPA recommends that you kindly refrain from tossing the leftover crusts from your son’s sleep-over pizza down the drain for your garbage disposal to chew up?

These hot tips can’t be found at just any old blog!

What ideas do you have for green summertime celebrating? We’d love to hear about them…

July 11, 2008 at 1:44 am Leave a comment

Hooray for the red, white and GREEN!

By Lynn

For many Americans, summer officially begins on the 4th of July with a picnic or barbecue and, of course, fireworks. Here are some reminders to ensure your summer gets off to an eco-friendly start and stays Green, at least until Labor Day!

* Choose a location as close to home as possible for as many of your guests as possible, then encourage them to carpool.
* Because giving back is a part of our definition of living Green, ask guests to bring some canned food that can be donated to a local food bank.
* Use your own dishes, glasses and utensils instead of buying picnicware. But if you must use the disposable kind, choose recycled plastic or items made from bamboo or compostables like corn or sugarcane.
* Purchase organic foods; they’re better for you and the planet.
* Buy as much of your menu as you can locally. If you’re having a potluck, ask guests to do the same. You could even have a little contest with a prize for the most creative dish made from the most locally grown ingredients.
* Set up clearly marked recycling bins for all leftovers. Encourage kids to collect trash and dispose of it properly. If you or someone you know composts, be sure to have a bin to collect appropriate food scraps.
* Most everyone loves the smoky flavor of barbecue, but burning wood or charcoal releases greenhouse gases, carbon monoxide, soot and particulate matter. Gas grills are less harmful to the environment, but run on a non-renewable resource. How about making or purchasing a solar or hybrid oven and add the barbecue flavor with sauces? Directions for making solar grills can be found online and cost almost nothing. Making them could be a fun holiday activity for a crowd.
* If bugs are bugging you, try all-natural bug sprays and traps like those offered by Planet Natural.
* Choose décor that comes from (and can be returned to) nature, such as vases of red, white and blue flowers or edible centerpieces made from red and blue berries.

Fireworks, unfortunately, are an eco-problem. Colorful overhead displays are fueled by a mix of toxic chemicals that fall into the water and onto the land as well as on the people watching. In addition, most fireworks come from China, a source of child labor issues. Maybe next year, you’ll be able to convince your town to replace fireworks with a laser light show, but in the meantime, follow these tips:

* Avoid sitting right under where fireworks are exploding or downwind from them, especially if you have breathing problems. In fact, anyone with chronic lung problems such as asthma should probably watch fireworks from inside.
* Purchase and use ear plugs.
* If residue from fireworks lands on your property, pick up and dispose of it properly.

July 2, 2008 at 5:12 pm 1 comment


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