Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Sign A Petition

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:


During periods of hot weather, using counter-top appliances is preferable to heating up a kitchen with the oven or stove. Farmer's markets are overflowing with produce, making raw foods a good option as well. So meeting last week's challenge wasn't all that difficult. In my house, we prefer a crockpot, toaster oven and electric fry pan over either the stove or oven. We also use a pressure cooker which cuts down cooking time significantly. And raw salads are one of our favorite summertime meals. As the week progressed, I thought about how we could use these techniques in the winter, when local, fresh produce isn't plentiful ... and when hearty, warming meals are preferred. When the temperatures drop and the heat from an oven feels good, that's when our Eco-commitment comes into play ... it's something to think about!

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

This challenge was timely for Laura who not only accepted it but offered additional ideas: "It's so cool that you wrote this as I just purchased a toaster oven and set it up 2 days ago. Plus I can suggest two other ways to cook food that some may not know about. One is a dutch oven. Good ones are hard to find, but they cook faster than other types of appliances and with less energy and bonus they keep all of the moisture in the food including meat if you are a meat eater (sorry I still am). The secret is the tight fitting lid. There is also the "smoker" which is like a grill except it comes with a water pan to keep the food moist and also with a temperature gauge so you know you have the temperature in the correct range if you are cooking a big chunk of pork,beef or a whole chicken. Just a few ideas for those who eat meat, but vegetables can be cooked with these appliances as well." Thanks, Laura ... a dutch oven and a smoker are both terrific suggestions!

When I think of Brazil I think warm temperatures, bathing suits and sun ... lots of sun. It was a total "shocker" to read Argentum Vulgaris' post, Change the World Wednesday – 24th Jul, and find the reason behind this statement: "This weeks CTWW is just not going to happen!" Socks with flip-flops??? Oh no!!

Did you know that you can use your rice cooker to prepare other foods? In Change the World Wednesday, Cooking, Lois talks about her purchases from a local farmer's market and which vegetable she won't eat raw. Here's a hint ... it's not corn, which she enjoys uncooked.

CelloMom stopped by and shared this, "The height of summer is when produce is at its best - you can (I've done this) eat corn right off the stalk without cooking it. Add some tomatoes of the heirloom type, and you have a meal! Right now things are best eaten without too much interference from the cook, anyway. This avoids heating up the kitchen, reduces the need for air conditioning, plus you don't have as many dishes to clean. I love this season. Had a gazpacho the other day, and am thinking of trying one of those pasta sauces which are raw." By the way, CelloMom recently wrote a terrific post about a small town in Switzerland going car-free. It's really an interesting post and makes me wonder if we could do it in our city.

Alicia suggests another method of cooking to reduce energy use: "We grill a lot and I got a dutch oven this past year and Laura is so right it does cook faster. We are trying to incorporate more raw food recipes into our weekly meal planning. Also we are looking into buying a crock pot. It has been years since we have had one and I am excited to use one again."

Lisa's post, Easy Energy Saving Ideas, includes a fascinating table which compares energy use and cost of various cooking methods. Any guesses on which method uses the least amount of energy? Does low energy equal low cost? Visit Lisa to find out!

If you tried an alternate cooking method which resulted in a "vile" meal, would you try it again? Not only did Mrs. Green try again, she tried a third time after creating a second dish which could only be described as ... well ... I'll let her tell you. Check out Why I ate lunch at 10am to save the world to find out what didn't work and whether or not she came up with an energy-saving way to fix her favorite lunch. Here's a hint ... oh yes she did!

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation and shared the following:

From @givetreegifts
- I invested in a cookbook that highlights recipes that feature & fully utilize your counter top appliances. It's awesome.
- 1 of my fave counter top appliances is a George Foreman roaster. I can make a roast & even brownies for dessert without using the oven
- Another fave countertop appliance is the slow cooker. Awesome, homemade meals including stew, soup, roasts...mmmm

From @laalicia
- Youth OrchestraĆ¢??s Instruments All Made From Recycled Landfill Trash ow.ly/ndiZo

From @rulesofgreen
- So many good recipies to try this week! #rawfood #CTWW here is one: Hovkonditorn: Raw Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake hovkonditorn.blogspot.com/2013/07/raw-blĆ¢?¦

The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@a_kiasi @allnaturalkatie @anitaadamsnc
@beckymcneer @biggreenpen @bstoneblog
@cleansediva @clothaddicts @conservationm
@counselorholley @crazykids6 @dusdifissette
@eco_novice @ecoexpert1 @ecopro_co
@ecothrifty @ecwrites @evelynmccpeters
@familyfocusblog @friendsoftrees @ginavalley
@givetreegifts @gr8fulgirl11 @groovygreenlivi
@hismerecry @ithoughtiknewma @jadekerrion
@jnaquins @jnjgogreen @juliarbarrett
@kayelleallen @laalicia @lady_bren
@ladybugpicnics @ladyjcmuses @leslieveg
@lifelovemusic1 @lorcadamon @mamapoolecooks
@marjoriemcatee @mom2tle @nolafusion
@ppatch_blog @rantravewrite @rckweddings
@realityarts @rulesofgreen @ruralmoms
@skipbang @soulfullab @soundless2
@tammycurry @timsimms @treesgroup
@trinathomas48 @tristinandtyler @wencdj
@whopaysthepiper @whywelovegreen @women4earth
@zenfarmz

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +.

Please help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

This week we're going to become activists. Here's your challenge ...

Have you heard about the Tar Sands Oil Pipeline? It not only threatens wildlife and natural habitat, it threatens drinking water. While it directly affects Canada and the United States, it sets a dangerous precedent worldwide ... that the use of fossil fuel is acceptable. Let's raise our voices and let the world know that we not only want to stop the Tar Sands Oil Pipeline but we want sustainable, environmentally-safe energy. Please sign this Petition (appropriate worldwide).

OR ...

Choose any of the petitions found HERE (or choose a cause specific to your area) and take action.

OR ...

Contact your public officials via letter, email or phone regarding your environmental concerns.

Let's tell the world that we care! Will you join me?

Until next time ...

WE'RE CHANGING THE WORLD ... ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME!



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

We're Doing A Lot!

Feedback is important! It helps us make choices and determine our path in life. When it comes to green living, feedback is in short supply. We recycle and conserve, hoping that our efforts will make a difference. But, in reality, the results can take years to see.

In our last survey, we asked readers to select all the Eco-friendly activities that they participate in. Twenty-four people responded. Here are the results:

ACTIVITY
RESPONSES
Recycling
24
Using Reusable Bags
23
Using Reusable Water Bottles
21
Walking
17
Upcycling
16
Washing Clothes in Cold Water
16
Eating Meatless Meals
16
Eating Beef-Free Meals
16
Growing Food
15
Leaving Your Shoes At The Door
15
Adjusting the Thermostat by 2 Degrees
15
Buying Organic Foods
14
Taking Short Showers
14
Using CFL Lightbulbs
14
Shopping Locally
14
Buying Non-GMO Foods
12
Hanging Clothes Outside
12
Composting
11
Using Counter-Top Appliances to Cook
09
Bicycling
08
Using LED Lightbulbs
06
Using a Push Mower
04

Other (6 responses):
  1. I don't like showers. I have a bath in just 3 inches of water every 4 to 6 days, and wash in the wash basin in between times. I also use reusable products rather than disposable (cloth menstrual pads and panty liners, cloth wipes in the toilet, cloth handkerchiefs, cloths instead of paper towels, cloth table napkins, etc.). I have actually adjusted the thermostat by 6 degrees rather than 2, and have also adjusted the hot water thermostat.

  2. Making art and craft from waste materials like fool which can't be recycled. Energy-saving, like switching off unused lights, chargers and appliances at the plug and sweeping rather than vacuuming.

  3. supporting eco and handmade locally

  4. I would hang clothes but am still working on my landlord to allow this, and I gave up my car as well. Good list, it makes me feel good about where I am.

  5. Note - I don't take short showers - instead, I take 2 showers a week, which is the same. Also, I don't use LED light bulbs only because I'm still waiting for my 7 year old CFLs to run out before I can do that. A big one that's missing is not owning a car. I'm at 5 1/2 years without owning a car and can't imagine ever buying one again! A complete list of my green practices is at http://ecogrrl.net/2013/05/13/ecogrrl-documented-version-3-0/ .

  6. Buying used, going 'no poo', organic lawn care

Are you surprised by the numbers?

In the spring of 2009, we talked about solutions to common green-living road blocks in a post entitled, I want to ... but (Part do ... I mean deux). One road block was about the difficulty of adopting meatless meals. Today, over 66% of respondents are enjoying plant-based dishes. Another problem involved reusable bags ... over 95% of you now use them on a regular basis.

The survey also pointed out opportunities for improvement ... things like using counter-top cooking appliances and installing LED light bulbs. Composting and buying non-GMO foods can also be improved upon. And we learned that some activities are beyond our control when landlords or community rules prevent them.

Reading through the comments, I realized that we are not only succeeding at many activities, we are going beyond expectations. For example, some people have adjusted the thermostat by 6 degrees rather than the recommended 2. Others use non-recyclable materials to create art. When taking short showers didn't appeal, some folks modified baths to conserve water. And more than one of you have given up cars, opting instead for walking, bicycling and public transportation.

My conclusion is that we are on the right path. We educate ourselves and as we learn about new ways to walk gently on the earth, we embrace them. While it may take years to fully understand the results of our efforts, we can compare ourselves to others in the green community and see that we are definitely on the right track.

Congratulation on living green!




So pat yourselves on the back ... you're doing a lot!





Image courtesy of gubgib / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Monday, July 29, 2013

Meet & Greet Monday (#MtaGt) - I Thought I Knew Mama

Welcome to Meet & Greet Monday, a regular series designed to grow our green community.

A link-up for green blogs on Reduce Footprints Blog

Grab our banner for your site:

The rules:

1. Use the link-up tool below to share your green-living blog or collection of environmental posts.
2. Visit at least one other blog and/or the featured site and leave a pertinent comment.
3. The link-up closes on Thursday at 6:00 pm (EDT).
4. Random.org determines the featured site each week.

Every mom I've ever talked to says raising kids is a full-time job. Toss in green-living and teaching kids to care about the earth and one wonders how it can be done. I Thought I Knew Mama, by Charise, is a perfect example of how one mom manages it ... and manages it in style. Charise offers first-time mothers advice on how to get started in 3 Halfway Steps for Mamas Who Want a Green Baby But Aren’t Ready to Go Green All the Way. In What are the cheapest and easiest ways to green your home? she shares tips such as using baking soda for cleaning and recommends inexpensive eco-friendly and non-toxic products from Vitacost.com. Having trouble finding time to prepare delicious, whole foods for your children? I found a vegetarian crock-pot recipe which her toddlers love. I Thought I Knew Mama is a terrific resource ... for new moms, dads and everyone else. It's positive and encouraging and makes us want to do better.

For previous features & blogs, check out the Meet & Greet Page: http://reducefootprints.blogspot.com/p/meet-greet.html.

Our link-up is live. Please list your blog, visit and have fun!

PLEASE NOTE ... we're accepting links from blogs this week ... stay tuned as this will change from time to time.





Thursday, July 25, 2013

Guest Post - Smart Tips for Eco-friendly Shipping Packaging

Eco Shipping
Shipping is a common part of modern life as we require and desire goods from around the world. Business capitalise on this with many seeking items from all over the globe to offer consumers the widest range of goods in one location. It is not only products we ship, we ship ourselves with more of us relocating to different parts of the world. Including many students who ship their worldly goods half way across the world to their new universities, however, is there any thought behind the materials and suppliers used?

Shipping with recycled packaging

With the amount of recycled materials on the market finding a package container that is made from recycled materials is not as challenging as it used to be. Available recycled packaging materials include corrugated boxes, paper & plastic mailers, packaging papers and cushioning, and padded mailers. These packaging materials can be used again and again to help reduce the amount of new trees and oil needed to produce new packaging.

Inappropriate packaging
When choosing packaging it is important to find a box and supplies that will ensure your items will make the journey in one piece. Double lined boxes and shrink wrap help to ensure the security and structure of the box containing the items you are sending. The box to the right might be a recycled box from a super market but it is not designed to carry more than 2kg of goods. This now means a vast amount of tape has had to be used to re-secure the box to be able to ensure the box holds the goods all the way to the destination. Consequently this has now wasted materials to securing the box that are not so easily recycled. The example in the picture buying a recycled double walled box design to be able to take such a heavy load would have been a better solution.

Waste packaging

Recycling Symbol
Packaging and Packaging Waste became part of the law in the early 1980’s when the European Union passed the Directive 85/339/EEC which covered the packaging of liquid beverages and the materials they had to be contained in. The European Union then passed further measures in 1994 updating the Directive to (94/62/EC). This update to the directive was to reduce packaging waste, at the time packaging waste represented 17% of Europe’s public waste, and more concerning this number had previously been much higher.

Similar numbers are predicted in the US, as in Europe, the percentage of packaging going to landfills in the US can be significantly cut with the adoption of sustainable materials and remembering to recycle. This is an alarming % of waste materials through packaging and lack of recycling.

One way to help reduce the amount of packaging is to buy in bulk or buy locally from somebody who deals in larger volumes. Buying in this way means all the items are combined into a shipment, utilising a larger box, paper resources, packing materials like bubble wrap and the end to end transportation required. It is not perfect and items like bubble wrap with extremely long biodegradable times should be swapped-in for shredded paper and other sustainable materials. If it needs real protection why not consider using recycled wool to protect the product? Sometimes it is necessary to send large volumes of individual packages but if they can be shipped together, this is a more environmentally friendly way of transporting items.

10 Tips for Posting and Packaging:

  • Buy a recycled box designed to hold the weight
  • Use where possible recycled packaging materials
  • Avoid using non-biodegradable packaging unless it can be recycled.
  • Combine items into one shipment where possible
  • Print invoices and way bills onto recycled paper
  • Look for Eco Friendly Tape to secure the box
  • Buy products from within your country to reduce individual item shipping distance
  • Voovit boxes hold the equivalent of a suitcase.
  • If relocating or plan to ship a larger volume than normal of goods, ship in a box and not a suit case. Boxes stack much better than individually shaped suitcases allowing more into the hold, this meaning the flue will be split over more items.
  • Ship with time and not in a rush. Shipping in 24 hours may not mean the van is full, if you can ship in 48 hours not only do you save money but there is more of a chance the transport vehicle will have more goods.
  • Small changes added together make a big difference.



Smart Tips for Eco-friendly Shipping was written by Simon Markland of shipping company VOOVit. VOOVit specialise in shipping excess baggage and small boxes worldwide, visit online at www.voovit.com





Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Use Counter-Top Appliances or Eat Raw

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:


Last week we attempted to do one more "green" thing. Walking gently on the earth is part of my life so finding that little extra was difficult ... not impossible, though. We made a conscious effort to drive even less than we already do (which isn't much since we work from home). Little things helped like scheduling both of our dental appointments at the same time (or close). We also succeeded in reducing our water use even further this week. We've had a LOT of rain in western North Carolina so we simply took our houseplants outside and let the rain water them. I plan to continue to search out ways to reduce my impact.

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

Mrs. Green, a devout "greenie" accepted the challenge. She has a list of things to accomplish but, as she points out, these are all things she would regularly do and not something new. Recruiting her "Robinson-Crusoe", however, paid off ... they came up with an exciting way to reduce waste. How? Read How to reuse non-rechargeable batteries to find out.

EcoGrrl chose the "Fourth R" as her "one more thing". Here's what she's doing: "Right now my focus is on one of the R's that is not part of the standard 3 R's - and that's "repair"! I have a wish list of stuff I want for my house and one of them has been to have a new medicine cabinet for my bathroom, when I realized the silly thing was, I just hate the icky plastic shelves on them that are cracked. After some online research, I discovered that several places nearby will cut glass to size, so rather than buying an entirely new medicine cabinet that's 99% probably made in China with toxins by overworked and underpaid citizens, I'm just getting new shelves made. One of my primary resolutions this year was to build more. Here's a step in the right direction!"

This challenge was very timely for Alicia. She shares, "Our washing machine decided this past week that it no longer wanted to work correctly! We have had it a long time and to repair it was really more than what we thought it was worth. So we have bought a new energy efficient one. I am really excited to be more "green" in this area. It will save us money by being so much more energy and water efficient!! What started out as a problem the Lord turned into a blessing!! I agree with EcoGirl to build more is such a great thing to do. We have a lot of scrap wood and I have several things I want my husband to build for the house out of it. We had some hardwood flooring left over several years back and he made some wonderful tables using the pieces leftover. They are so unique,pretty and very sturdy."

McBride’s Organic Farm Daily gave CTWW a nice mention. There's another article in this edition that I found fascinating entitled Monsanto. Broccoli. I Love This. Really! It suggests that GMO seeds are not always a bad thing. Check it out and see if you agree.

Lois and I are on the same "brain wave": " We were thinking alike again today. I went out to find a way to protect the garden with what I could find on hand from the deer. Coming inside to cool off I checked today's challenge and had to laugh. My morning fit perfectly with the challenge." In Change the World Wednesday, Greener Living, she talks about how getting creative helps her to do "one more thing". She also shares a bit about her "No Plastic In July" efforts.

Argentum Vulgaris came up with a great idea ... green our pets. He offers a few tips in Change the World Wednesday – 17th Jul. He also shares a recipe for left-over bread ... Mmmm!

CTWW got a headline spot in The Flora Foster Daily. There are other terrific articles like one entitled Best DIY Projects.

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation and shared the following:

From @dusdifissette
- Zero Food Waste Challenge Win! @smallftprints George Golmassian taught me how 2 grow my SaladSandwich Garden pic.twitter.com/mRqQ0xoQhX

From @laalicia
- recent paper fun http://t.co/AbNWKmktrx #CTWW #Eco

From @UntreedReads
- Don't forget to catch up on great blog content under the #ctww hashtag. Let's Change the World (this) Wednesday!

The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@89linz @a_kiasi @allnaturalkatie
@anitaadamsnc @beckymcneer @biggreenpen
@bstoneblog @changes4charlie @conservationm
@counselorholley @crazedkitchen @crazedmom
@dusdifissette @eco_novice @ecoexpert1
@ecopro_co @ecothrifty @evelynmccpeters
@familyfocusblog @florafoster2 @frederickbrooke
@friendsoftrees @ginavalley @givetreegifts
@gr8fulgirl11 @greeningwestfor @groovygreenlivi
@hismerecry @irishcarter1 @ithoughtiknewma
@jadekerrion @jnaquins @juliarbarrett
@kayelleallen @laalicia @lady_bren
@ladyjcmuses @lavishandlime @leighanneramsey
@lifelovemusic1 @linap @lorcadamon
@lottie51 @mamapoolecooks @marjoriemcatee
@mcbridesorganic @mom2tle @momgamerwriter
@murilonagyidai @nolafusion @organicvixen
@ppatch_blog @rckweddings @realityarts
@rulesofgreen @shannongrissom @skipbang
@soulfullab @soundless2 @theworld4realz
@treesgroup @tristinandtyler @truenatureed
@untreedreads @wencdj @whopaysthepiper
@whywelovegreen @women4earth

My Final Thoughts:

At the end of most Apple events, Steve Jobs introduced a surprise by saying, "One more thing ...". It was his trademark move and his "one more thing" was often just as exciting as the main announcement. It was a measure of excellence, a commitment to going beyond the expected and doing more than required. In a way, that's how I viewed this challenge. Finding another way to walk gently on the earth is a surprise ... an exciting surprise. It's also a measure of our willingness to aim for green perfection, to do more than the basics, to exceed our own expectations. What if our "one more thing" is the one thing that tips the scales to the side of the environment?

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

Using the oven/stove not only heats up our kitchen, it uses a lot of energy. So, let's do something to keep our homes cool and save energy at the same time. Here's your challenge ...

This week, rather than use your stove/oven to prepare meals, use counter-top appliances (crock-pot, toaster oven, electric skillet, etc.) or eat raw foods. No cheating ... we're not suggesting that you buy prepared foods or head for the nearest restaurant. The challenge is to prepare meals at home using the least amount of energy. Can you do it for one day? How about seven?

Can you manage this one? I know that you can!!

Until next time ...

WE'RE CHANGING THE WORLD ... ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME!



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review - Pur Footwear by Planet Shoes

Do you wear Eco-friendly shoes?

If you're like me, knowing which materials are safe (and which brands use them) is a mind-boggling mystery. Sure, we know that plastics are bad and we avoid toxic glues. But what about cotton, leather and latex? Are they Eco-friendly? Here's a hint ... not always.

The situation becomes very complicated when we consider a material's origin, how it's processed, it's life cycle and how long it takes to biodegrade (if ever). Add to that the final product and how it is packaged and transported.

Shoes are made up of different parts ... the heel, feather, puff, quarter, seat, etc. Each part comprises several materials. For example, the sole includes three layers ... the insole, midsole, and outsole. Each of those layers is made from a combination of items. Common athletic shoes contain over 20 different materials.

At this point, if your head hasn't already exploded, you're sure to feel the headache of researching ethical, sound options.

Good news: there's a company which does all the research for us ... Planet Shoes. They believe that Eco-friendly and beautiful shoes are not mutually exclusive. They sell products manufactured by ethical companies who care about the earth. Taking it a few steps further, they have partnered with organizations such as World Wildlife Fund, 1% for the Planet and The Conservation Alliance ... and they offer clients carbon-free shipping.

Women's Palm Shoe by PUR
I had the privilege of "test walking" a pair of Palm shoes by PUR, a recent addition to Planet Shoes' list of brands. PUR's Hemp Collection is made from 5 materials:
  • Natural Crepe Rubber Sole
  • Thread
  • Latex foam Cushioning
  • Recycled Board
  • Blend of organic cotton and Hemp

They arrived in a cardboard box which appears recycled (the inside of the box contained a different company's logo). There were cardboard inserts to help the shoe hold it's shape and the shoes were wrapped in tissue paper.

To my pleasant surprise, the Palm is much prettier "in person" than the online photos. They go well with casual clothing like jeans, shorts and summer dresses.

How do they feel? Great! They come in whole sizes. I take a half size so ordered the next size up. The fit is perfect. A good arch offers comfortable support ... a feature missing from many slip-on shoes. The sole feels "cushy" (a technical term) when I walk, rather like floating on air. I like these shoes.

Planet Shoes has a number of brands and styles in their Eco Store. It's shopping without hurting the earth! What could be better!!


I received a pair of PUR Palm Shoes in order to write this review. I received no other compensation. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and reflect my honest opinion of the product reviewed.



Monday, July 22, 2013

Meet & Greet Monday (#MtaGt) - DIY Non-Toxic Cleaning

Welcome to Meet & Greet Monday, a regular series designed to grow our green community.

A link-up for green blogs on Reduce Footprints Blog

Grab our banner for your site:

The rules:

1. Use the link-up tool below to share your green-living blog or collection of environmental posts.
2. Visit at least one other blog and/or the featured site and leave a pertinent comment.
3. The link-up closes on Thursday at 6:00 pm (EDT).
4. Random.org determines the featured site each week.

Removing toxins from our homes makes environmental sense. They pollute our air, causing health issues, and often find their way into our water systems, contaminating aquatic life (not to mention our drinking water). Cleaning products are one of the biggest offenders. Just check the labels of most commercial brands and you'll find a huge list of scientific-sounding ingredients and warnings which make the product sound like Chernobyl* in a bottle. So most of us think, I'll make my own! Then we start researching, which can be a daunting task. Which ingredients are safe and kill germs/bacteria, which can be mixed, what's most effective for tough stains, etc? Thankfully, Crazy 4 Green blog owner, Tina, has done all the research for us. In DIY Non-Toxic Cleaning, you'll find a list of safe, effective ingredients to add to your cleaning kit. Tina lists the item and tells us why it's appropriate for use. Further down the page, she includes recipes ... solutions for cleaning wood, windows and even our pets. I took a look at Non-Toxic Cleaning 4 the Bathroom and found a remedy for mildew and an easy-to-make disinfectant using borax, vinegar and water. DIY Non-Toxic Cleaning is a wonderful resource, one which I'm bookmarking for future reference.

*1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident

For previous features & blogs, check out the Meet & Greet Page: http://reducefootprints.blogspot.com/p/meet-greet.html.

Our link-up is live. Please list your blog, visit and have fun!

PLEASE NOTE ... we're accepting links from blogs this week ... stay tuned as this will change from time to time.





Friday, July 19, 2013

Guest Post - Up-Cycling you’re Recycling

Recycling Symbol
One of the easiest things to do around the office is recycling: you make a huge difference, while not requiring people to change their habits or workload. The reasons behind recycling far outweigh any negatives to the process. It’s really easy to do, and you can see the difference it makes, especially when you start buying recycled products as well. Making products from raw materials costs more than from recycled products, so when manufacturers can use old objects, a lot of energy is conserved.

Not only does it protect the environment from draining natural resources, but recycling reduces landfill – something that is a huge problem at the moment

Around the office

Firstly, establish what can be recycled. Standard items include:
- glass
- plastic
- metal cans
- white paper
- mixed paper
There are exceptions to this, depending on your location. If you use hazardous materials or liquids, contact your local council for more information on how to sustainably dispose the items. There are plenty of bodies to help identify what you can and can’t recycle, so get in touch – some items you might be surprised by!

Setting up a recycling scheme is something that can be done in a day (or less!). Place recycling boxes around the office, and start spreading the word! It’s often a good idea to have a ‘green team’, who can oversee the process, and make sure people are sticking to it, and recycling the correct products. There are plenty of recycling collection companies who will come to empty your bins, or alternatively, you could take it down to your local recycling bank.

There are many organisations, such as WRAP, who will be able to guide you through starting a recycling scheme at work.

As well as recycling, it’s important to remember to reduce what you use:
  • Set photocopiers and printers to print on both sides by default
  • Make computer files, not paper files
  • Try not to print anything off unless it’s necessary – especially emails
  • Use email or the phone more than hard copy communication.

Alongside reusing anything if possible:
  • Try to reuse as much paper as possible. Do any unimportant printing on scrap pieces, and Always use both sides of a sheet of paper before recycling it
  • If possible use ‘recycled’ toner cartridges

Top tips:

  • Put recycling bins in convenient places so people don’t have to go out of their way
  • Put up posters about the scheme, with clear information on what can/can’t be recycled
  • Take away individual bins
  • Buy recycled products
  • Only order what you know the office will use.

Perks of recycling

Not only do you get that happy, guilt-free feeling that comes with helping to save the planet, there are several other considerable benefits that go with recycling in the office.

Reputation

We live in a society where it’s good to be seen being green, and companies that can advertise being Eco-friendly and doing their part will seem a lot more appealing to potential customers than brands who don’t.

Helping the planet

This is a bit of a no-brainer: you recycle because you want to help. It’s such a simple lifestyle choice, and has a huge impact on the world around you. If you can’t go and save the Amazon in person, it’s a one step in the right direction.

Simplicity

There’s little to no effort involved in setting up a recycling scheme, and for all the good you can be doing, it’s well worth it.

Tidiness

Getting rid of huge stacks of paper, spare sheets floating around, and unwanted plastic bottle not only makes the office look better, but reduces clutter, and promotes a better workplace.

Awards!

As the government are so hot on recycling and sustainability at the moment, there are loads of award programmes to encourage businesses to get involved.

Reinventing – Up cycling

Many people believe that a products life cycle does not have to end when the product is no longer required for its original purpose. With more people looking for sustainability and a more open attitude towards renovation can old products be “up-cycled” into a new product. Below are a few examples of up-cycling and how you can reinvent your waste.

Pen holder made from cassette cartridges.
Instead of buying a pen holder how about making one from the tapes you never listen to anymore?
Upcycled chair made from nature.
Good all out and back to nature and make a striking chair for the waiting room or for the boardroom.
Horse Shoe Wine Rack.
Reward yourself with a wine rack made from up-cycled horse shoes.




Author Bio
This post was written by Amanda Stockhill of Ecocleen, an office cleaning company that specialises in being green!