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How To Have A Green Halloween

With Halloween just days away, I’m sure many of you have already got your costumes, decorations, and treats for the kids. If you still have yet to do so, however, here are a few helpful tips from EarthShare on how to have a happy, healthy Halloween this year.

Tips to have a green Halloween

Like many of our holidays, Halloween can be an expensive and wasteful experience. Don’t let the commercialism take all the fun or eco-friendly opportunities out of it!  Check out our simple tips to make sure you don’t spook Mother Nature this October.  Want more ideas? Visit our friends at Green Halloween®, a nonprofit community initiative aimed at creating healthier and more Earth-friendly holidays.


Green Halloween Costumes

Consider reusing or recycling costumes from previous years to make new costumes, or recycling old clothing into new costumes. Before you set out your paper recycling, set aside cardboard boxes and large pieces of paper that you can use to fashion costumes. Instructions for great handmade costumes can be found at places like craftzine and The Daily Green.

This Halloween, make a green Halloween costume box and throw old clothes, interesting props and other recyclable materials into it throughout the year. By next Halloween, you’ll have lots of eco-friendly materials to make into new costume ideas.


Green Halloween Treats

Instead of giving out high-sugar candy, consider giving pennies for UNICEF, pencils, erasers, or temporary tattoos. Besides reducing the waste of all the single-serving packaging, you’ll be providing a healthy alternative to candy. If your kids won’t let you give up food treats, consider small boxes of raisins which have recyclable paper packaging.

These days, trick-or-treaters are hauling home more candy than ever before. Check out our Halloween candy Green Quiz to find out how much and how you can cut down on the extra sweets AND the extra waste.


Green Halloween Decorations

Halloween decorations can be natural and non-commercial, with gourds, pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns! Lower your emissions on Halloween by buying locally grown pumpkins, and then lower your waste by composting them after Halloween is over. Use recycled paper to make window decorations, and then send them on for another round of recycling after the holiday. Paper grocery bags can be cut and molded into spooky Halloween trees, masks, and painted white for ghostly effects.


Green Halloween Trick-or-Treating

Send your children trick-or-treating with reusable buckets, canvas bags or pillow cases. Lower emissions by trick-or-treating in your neighborhood and get to know your neighbors better by inviting them over for an old fashioned bobbing-for-apples competition at your house.


Green Halloween Party

Send electronic invitations instead of paper to lower waste. Instead of using plastic plates, cups and utensils, compostable silverware and party plates are now widely available. Go to your neighborhood Goodwill and purchase a pile of mismatched cloth napkins and then have guests toss them in a bin for washing and reusing at your next party. Be sure to recycle bottles and cans, and compost leftovers.


Green Halloween Cleanup

Once Halloween is over, recycle your pumpkins, the straw you used to build scarecrows and any other organic material by composting it. For inedible items, add them to your composting pile (or start composting now!) for great, nutrient rich soil in the spring.

Fall Cleaning, The New Spring Cleaning?

Springtime. It’s the much needed thaw after a long cold winter, a time when everything seems to come back to life. Plants start blooming, animals come out of hibernation, the days get longer, and for many people, this is the time when your home gets a top to bottom cleaning. Perhaps the idea for “Spring cleaning” goes back to the days when homes were primarily heated by coal, wood, and/or oil. These modes of heating would have left soot and stains on windows and furnishings after being used in a closed up home all winter. Luckily, thanks to modern technology, most homes are not heated in the same ways anymore.

So, without the need to clean away a Winter’s worth of soot and stains, is Spring the best time to do a major cleaning? Actually, Fall is a better time to get some hardcore cleaning done. Here are a few reasons why you’re better off having a “Fall-cleaning”.

“Dirt”- More dirt is tracked through your home during the Spring and Summer than other times in the year. By doing your major cleaning early in the Spring, you will end up having that dirt and grime build up in your home for an entire year.

“Springtime Pests”- When most people do their Spring cleaning they often open a window or two for some nice fresh Springtime air. While the smell of the fresh air may be nice, they are also letting in pollen, bugs and other debris. Chances are if you are doing your cleaning during the Fall, you won’t be as tempted to have your windows open.

“Holidays”- By getting your big cleaning done in the Fall, your home will be in tip-top shape for a lot of the major holidays that take place either in Fall or in Winter. If you happen to be hosting any holiday parties, it will cut back on the amount of cleaning you’ll have to do before your guests arrive.

On top of all of the other reasons to flip your cleaning from Spring to Fall, wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy your Spring days being outside (after being cooped up all Winter) instead of indoors cleaning?




For The Hardcore Recycler

I’ve done plenty of research and read a ton of articles on recycling, the positive impact it has on the environment, and the different ways you can make changes around your home to do so. However, this one was a first. “Reusable toilet paper”……yeah. When I first saw the headline for an article on Mother Nature Network, I must admit I cringed a bit, but after reading the article I could see how this could be a cost cutting, environmentally friendly alternative to traditional toilet paper. The idea may not be for everybody, but I thought I’d share the article with you just in case it peaks your interest. So, here it is:

Reusable toilet paper. Really.

Bottom line: The reusable model is always a more sustainable choice than the disposable alternative.

By Networx.comFri, Oct 12 2012 at 1:43 PM EST
reusable toilet paper on back of toilet; wastebasket The author’s “family cloth” and used cloth bin. (Photo: Sayward Rebhal)
When I first heard the term “family cloth,” it conjured up such a lovely image, like a warm snuggly blanket that’s big enough for the whole family. But no. It’s actually where you use cloth toilet paper, and then put it through the wash, and then use it again. Which is, you know … different.
My initial reaction was the same as most people’s, something along the lines of, “Ew gross!” But then my second thought was, “Well wait. Maybe that kinda makes sense?” See, I was raised by hippies — all burning sage and dancing drum circles in dry river beds and the like — so I guess my psyche is primed for that outside-the-norm, super green lifestyle sort of stuff. For those with a more conventional bent, please just bear with me a moment.
OK, much like forgoing traditional roofing for a living roof, the concept is alarming at first (our cultural conditioning does run deep), but really, it’s just a matter of common sense. We don’t wear disposable underwear, right? And we do accept cloth diapers for babies, and many of those cloth-diapering parents choose to use cloth wipes as well. Some people even use cloth menstrual pads. Each of these are sociopolitical decisions, which factor in issues like finances, environmental impact and individual values.
For me, this one was an eco-conscious no-brainer … once I’d wrapped my brain around the concept, that is. I mean, of course! Cloth can be washed and used again and again. It’s less resource intensive, it keeps tons and tons of waste out of landfills and waterways, and bottom line, the “reusable” model is always a more sustainable choice than the “disposable” alternative.
Just think about toilet paper: Made from trees. Chemically treated for “sanitation,” and bleached for “beauty.” Stark white antiseptic. Wrapped in plastic. Mass-produced in factories. Shipped across continents. Endlessly.
Then think about family cloth. Homemade. Cut from an old cotton sheet, a flannel shirt, a terry cloth towel. All upcycled. And so soft. Washable. Reusable. Again and again and again. For me, my choice was pretty clear.
And with that I was off. I cut up a stack of my husband’s old shirts, using pinking sheers so the edges wouldn’t fray. I displayed my cloth wipes neatly arranged, in a basket atop the back of the toilet. Some people choose to keep their cloth in a easy-to-reach drawer, or a covered container. It’s really just a matter of preference.
To be clear, I use my wipes for #1 only. This helps keep things cleaner and I don’t worry quite as much about germs. I drop my used wipes in a lidded plastic wastebasket next to the toilet. When it’s full, I take them downstairs to the wash, and clean them well.
Since I use wipes only for #1, I always have toilet paper available. It’s great for guests, and my husband. No one else ever has to deal with my wipes. Nobody, not even my Portland plumber, knows what’s going on.
In the end … well, may I be blunt? I mean, the environment is awesome and all, but honestly? Cloth really just feels better. I’ll take warm soft cotton over scratchy paper any day. Maybe I’m just a born-and-bred hippie like that.

Clean Indoor Air, Just As Important As A Clean Home

No matter how clean you may keep your home, the air inside your home may not be as clean. Poor indoor air quality can lead to allergies, nausea and even asthma. According to the EPA, indoor air is often worse than outdoor air, which is pretty shocking if you think about it, (it’s not like you have factory smokestacks or semi-trucks in your living room pumping pollutants into the air) but it’s true. The air inside your home can contain a number of pollutants from a number of things. Dust, mold, lead-based paint, and aerosol sprays can all be blamed for indoor air pollution. Here are a few ways to reduce pollutants and improve the quality of the air inside your home.

“Open Windows”- Sometimes it is as easy as it sounds. By opening a window everyday for even as little as five minutes, can help improve your indoor air quality significantly.

“Houseplants”- Besides their decorative purposes, houseplants are great for improving the quality of your indoor air. The plants basically soak up the toxins indoors as they do outdoors, the process of photosynthesis. They absorb toxins and release oxygen.

“Air purifier”- If you want to go the extra mile for cleaner air in your home, then an air purifier should do the trick. These devices remove dust, pollen, mold, pet dander, etc.. If you happen to smoke tobacco inside your home, then an air purifier may be a smart purchase because some can even reduce or eliminate second hand smoke.

No matter which method you decide to use, any improvement of the air inside your home will greatly benefit you and your family.

Should Plastic Bags Be Banned?

Almost every grocery store cashier asks you the same question, “paper or plastic?”. It seems that there is a good chance that the “plastic” option may be gone pretty soon. Here is an article from The Wall Street Journal, about the possibility of a ban on plastic bags.

Which side are you on?

How To Combat The Flu By Cleaning

It’s getting close to flu season once again, which means it is also time to prepare to fight against it. There are several ways you can fight against the bacteria that causes influenza this year. First would be to schedule a flu shot for everyone (especially kids and the elderly) in your family. Another important part in the fight against the flu is to keep a clean home, especially if someone in your home already has the flu. Here are a few of the key things to do in order to keep the flu from spreading in your home.

“Disposal of Tissues”- All tissues and other disposable items used by the infected person, should be thrown in the trash immediately. If they are handled by anyone, that person should wash their hands after items have been disposed.

“Cleaning Often Used Surfaces”- Make sure you properly clean and disinfect often used surfaces, such as, kitchen counters, bathroom surfaces, and bedside tables.

“Don;t Forget The Little Things”- It is also important to remember to clean things that sometimes get overlooked but are used by everyone in the household. Things like, remote controls, light switches, doorknobs, and even children’s toys can spread germs like crazy.

“Towels, Linens, Utensils”- Things that may be shared in the household, like, bed sheets, towels, and utensils, should be washed thoroughly to avoid the spread of bacteria.

Sometimes it seems no matter how well you may prepare for flu season, someone in your home gets it. While you may not be able to control the spread of germs outside of your home, you can certainly do your part to protect yourself and your family from the spread of it inside your home by following these simple tips.


Which Cell Phone Is Least Toxic?

When it comes to purchasing a cell phone there are many things to consider; such as, price, features, and functionality. Would you ever consider one phone over another based on it’s amount of toxins? Although all cell phones contain some amount of chemical hazards, some are less toxic than others. As seen here, in this article from Groovy Green Livin.

Groovy Green Livin iPhone

We have an ongoing debate in our house about which mobile phone is best. One of us is a Samsung believer and the other is an  iPhone devotee.  To help us find some closure the Ecology Center and teamed up to research toxic chemicals in 36 different cell phones, including the  iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S III. The results were released at

The study found that the iPhone 5 prevailed-coming in as the 5th safest phone, versus the Samsung Galaxy S III, which ranked 9th.

The Motorola Citrus ranked the least toxic phone followed by the iPhone 4 S and the LG Remarq. The most toxic phone tested was the iPhone 2G.

Groovy Green Livin Phone Ratings iPhone

“Even the best phones from our study are still loaded with chemical hazards,” said Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center and founder of “These chemicals, which are linked to birth defects, impaired learning and other serious health problems, have been found in soils at levels 10 to 100 times higher than background levels at e-waste recycling sites in China. We need better federal regulation of these chemicals, and we need to create incentives for the design of greener consumer electronics.”

Most of the 36 cell phones analyzed were models released in the last 5 years. The phones tested represent 10 mobile phone manufacturers, including: Apple, Hewlett-Packard Development Company, HTC Corporation, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia Corporation, Palm, Research in Motion and Samsung Electronics. The sample represents the largest set ever released for any electronic product. In total, 1,105 samples were analyzed for 35 different chemicals and elements. The phones were completely disassembled and interior and exterior components were tested using X-ray Fluorescence (XRF).

“Consumer demand for more sustainable mobile phones is driving companies to produce better products,” said Gearhart. “We also need better federal and international policy to manage both chemicals and e-waste, as well as to promote sustainable design.”

Greening Up Your Home

If you’ve been thinking about making your home more “green” but haven’t done so because you’re afraid it will be too expensive, or that you’ll have to sacrifice too much, you may be surprised it can actually just take some simple changes. There are many ways you can “go green” at home, you can buy natural foods from local markets, you can recycle more, you can replace harsh chemical cleaners with natural solutions. Perhaps the easiest and most effective way, is to change your habits when it comes to utility use. Here are a few simple tips on how to cut back on utility use and waste.

“Water Consumption”- Water consumption is probably one of the most common problems because we often times don’t realize we’re being wasteful. Letting the water run while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing the dishes is actually wasting water. A simple solution is to only turn the water on when you need to rinse out the sink, rinse off your toothbrush or razor, or rinse off the dish. And if you want to be super-green you can brush your teeth, shave, and wash the dishes at the same time……just kidding.

“Doing Laundry”- When it comes time to do laundry, make sure you have an adequate load to put in, hold off on doing a smaller load or find things to add to it. Also, using cold or lukewarm water can cut back on energy used to heat the water.

“Electricity”- A very simple rule to have is, “if you’re not in the room, the light doesn’t need to be on”. This rule can also apply to anything from t.v.’s, fans, radio, etc.. A few other ways you can save on energy use are, to replace your standard light bulbs with energy saving compact fluorescent bulbs, actually unplugging appliances and devices (even the t.v.) when they are not in use, or you can get a smart power strip which will power these devices down when not in use instead of leaving them on stand-by mode.

So you can actually go green in your home by simply being aware and using common sense. Not only will it help improve sustainability, but your bank account as well.