Today is April 22nd, also known as Earth Day. Today is a day that everyone is supposed to go the extra mile to do something positive for the environment. All across the country, many major cities have several Earth Day events which the public can attend. Denver, happens to be one of those cities. In fact, this article from FOX31 Denver, lists several of the events being held in and around the city.
DENVER — Wednesday is Earth Day and there will be events throughout the metro area.
More than 50 sustainable businesses, organizations and city agencies will be at the annual Earth Day Fair at Civic Center Park. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with Mayor Michael Hancock touring the event from 11:45 a.m .to 12:45 p.m.
Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel
A Project C.U.R.E. Earth Day plant sale will be held at the hotel (1550 Court Place) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Downtown Aquarium (700 Water St.) will have a Party for the Planet from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be a nature-themed scavenger hunt, conservation crafts and activities, animal feedings and an interactive dive show.
The Alliance Center, Denver
The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado will host a recycle and reuse drive at The Alliance Center. The public can bring items to be recycled or reused from noon to 7 p.m. at the center’s parking lot (1536 Wynkoop St.)..
Foundations Academy, Brighton
Students from Foundations Academy in Brighton will plant flowers outside the school from 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Students will also hang signs around the school about recycling and help students learn more about how to help Earth.
Merryhill Preschool, Highlands Ranch
Preschoolers at Merryhill Preschool in Highlands Ranch (9345 S. Colorado Blvd.) will release thousands of ladybugs back into the environment from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Colorado State University, Fort Collins
Colorado State will host a volunteer tree planting as part of its designation as a Tree Campus USA. The trees will be planted at 2 p.m. near Danforth Chapel.
This Saturday, April 18th 2015 from 11:00-4:00 p.m. is a FREE Earth Day event at the Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center located just outside of Boulder in Nederland, Colorado. This is the largest Earth Day event and has been running strong for the past 15 years. It is a fun-filled day of free, action-packed entertainment and education about this magnificent planet earth. There is going to be many performances and live birds of prey, live reptiles, climate presentations and other educational opportunities for the whole family! Be sure to check out the many events happening this Saturday, April 18th 2015 at the Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center.
New Year’s Day is a mere two days away, which means many people are putting together a little list of things they may like to change to better themselves in the upcoming year. Unfortunately, many of these resolutions are often forgotten about after a few weeks, days, and sometimes even hours. This year, instead of making a resolution like “eating less chocolate” or, “read more books” (which are both fine resolutions, don’t get me wrong) why not make a green resolution. By making a “green resolution”, you will not only be bettering yourself but also helping the environment. Here are a few examples of green resolutions, which can be simple changes that have a large impact.
“Carpool, Bike, or Walk”– Instead of driving everywhere in 2015, try walking or biking to your destination when you can. Not only will it reduce pollution from your vehicle, both are also a good form of exercise. If you do need to drive, say to work or school, try carpooling with friends or coworkers.
“Buy Less Bottled Water”– By using a water filter and reusable water bottles instead of plastic bottled water, not only will you be making a huge difference for the environment, but you’ll be saving a lot of money.
“Reusable Shopping Bags”– The number of plastic shopping bags consumed is staggering, something like 1 million per minute worldwide. Needless to say, plastic bags are not good for the environment. The best way to limit the use of plastic bags is to bring your own when shopping. The reusable shopping bag not only reduces the number of plastic bags used, they also fit more items and are way more durable.
“Reduce Water Waste”– Sometimes we don’t even realize how much water we actually waste. Luckily, cutting back on water waste is actually quite easy. Not letting the water run while brushing your teeth or taking shorter showers, are two effective ways to cut back water usage.
These are merely a handful of suggestions of how to have a greener 2015. If we all make a few simple adjustments to our everyday life, and are a bit more mindful of our usage and waste, we can all make a huge difference in the upcoming year. Happy New Year everyone!
I remember the first time I washed up using soap which had microbeads, it almost felt like I was cleaning myself with sandpaper. While I’m sure there are many people out there who love the little pieces of plastic added to certain soaps to help with exfoliation, I was never really a fan. Apparently, people concerned with keeping our waterways safe and free from contaminants aren’t fans either. As you’ll read in this article from Seventh Generation, those tiny pieces of plastic, while maybe good for your skin, can be harmful to the aquatic life, that mistakes it for food, which live in our rivers and lakes. So, say goodbye to microbeads, and say hello to cleaner, safer waterways.
Keep Microbeads Out of Our Waterways
Thanks to new laws, exfoliating microbeads—tiny grains of plastic in soaps and toothpaste that can’t be screened out of wastewater, and now pollute lakes and rivers—are on their way out, but maybe not soon enough for waterways throughout the continent.
Most water treatment plants in the country aren’t equipped to filter out objects at the tiny scale of plastic microbeads. For years, that exfoliating plastic grit from face and body soaps, toothpastes, and more flowed down the drain, right through treatment plants and into lakes, rivers and bays. The organization 5 Gyres found concentrations of up to 600,000 microbeads per square kilometer in samples taken from the Great Lakes.
The plastics don’t degrade—they accumulate. Small wildlife may mistake these bits for food, but they can’t digest the plastic. Mussels and other filter feeders—organisms that act as kidneys for bodies of water—get clogged with microbeads, which can remain in their guts for as long 48 days. The plastics that make up microbeads also attract poisons in the water, including diluted polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBS) and DDT. Microbeads accumulate these toxins and concentrate them at levels up to one million times the level in the water around them.
Further up the food chain, larger animals that eat small fish and invertebrates may inadvertently consume an indigestible meal of microbeads. They ingest all the attached toxins and accumulate all the plastics in their own guts, too. The plastic doesn’t go away.
In early June, Illinois became the first state in the country to formally ban microbeads. Several other states have bans in the works, but individual state bans may not be necessary. A nationwide ban may pave the way to phase out microbeads altogether. Major manufacturers that produce microbead products have agreed to cooperate with the bans, and some will voluntarily eliminate microbeads even without a ban.
Unfortunately, between the bans and manufacturers’ phase-out timelines, microbead products will still be available until at least 2017, and as late as 2019 in some places. That’s another 3-5 years of toxic accumulation in the Great Lakes, and in rivers and bays all over the country. Fortunately, no one has to buy microbead products. Avoid body care products that list polyethylene and polypropylene in the ingredients, as these are the primary plastics used to make microbeads. Even better news, exfoliation is as close (and free) as your own kitchen.
Salt and sugar each offer their own properties for skin care, while being much more gentle on skin than harsh microbeads. Mix two parts salt or sugar with one part oil of your choice— try one of our Boosts, or olive and coconut oils both work well. Use handfuls to scrub your face and body, and wash away the residue with your daily cleanser. (Bathtubs may get slippery if you use the scrub in the shower, so take care getting out!)
For now, there’s no way to scrub these plastics from our waterways. But we can keep more from flowing in, starting with our own sinks.
As more and more people are deciding to do something about their carbon footprint by adopting a more sustainable lifestyle, it appears that some major companies are also jumping on board. As you’ll see in this article from Green Cleaning Magazine, Disney has recently put out a book which is a guide for children and their families on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle. If you are a parent who wants their child to embrace the “green” lifestyle, I’d say this sounds like a pretty cool way to get them started.
News: Disney Debuts Mickey Go Green! Book
Looking for a good read to add to your summer list? Go Green! A Family Guide to a Sustainable Lifestylefrom Disney’s Mickey & Friends Collection, is a perfect addition to your lineup, especially if you have kids—and a passion for eco-conscious living.
This new book encourages children and families to learn about the concept of sustainability and the changes they can make in their own daily lives. We love the fact that it’s filled with great illustrations, fun facts, tips, and engaging green activities. It also breaks down the complicated (and sometimes overwhelming) process of going green into easy-to-achieve individual steps for the whole family.
Go Green! is a solid guide for families wanting to take steps towards transforming their lives to live a healthier, greener, and more sustainable lifestyle. This book also explains sustainability in a truly simple and fun way, putting the concept into perspective for children by showing easy and fun ways of making more sustainable choices.
Some of the green practices addressed in this fun book include: • Understanding your ecological footprint • The three R’s of sustainability (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) • Creating seasonal crafts • The importance of eating locally • How to grow your own organic garden
Since 1970, April 22nd has been “Earth Day”, a day when everyone should be mindful of the environment and do what they can (at least for a day) to reduce their carbon footprint. Today is a day to do our part in taking care of our home, our planet, Earth. Here are a few simple tips on how to participate and celebrate this Earth Day.
“Leave the Car at Home”- I think it’s safe to say that one of the biggest causes of pollution on a daily basis are cars. Instead of driving to work, try walking or riding a bike. If you happen to live to far from your job to either walk or ride a bike, try using public transportation or at least carpool.
“Plant a Tree”- Nothing symbolizes Earth Day, quite like the planting of a tree. Planting anything, really, is a positive thing for the environment. Think of it as your way of helping to offset the destruction of the world’s rainforests.
“Switch Out Your Lightbulbs”- It sounds simple, and it is, but switching from incandescent to fluorescent lightbulbs can actually have a real positive effect on how much energy you use to light your home.
“Brown Bag-It”- If you usually purchase your lunch, try bringing one from home. Instead of buying a drink which you throw away when your done, try bringing water, juice or coffee from home in a reusable bottle or thermos.
“Make Everyday Earth Day”- The absolute best way to celebrate Earth Day, is to make a commitment to doing your part to help the environment everyday. Little changes in our lives can have a big impact on the environment.
These are just a few ways we can all celebrate this Earth Day. There are many more ways you can help the environment, most are so simple you’d never know you were making a difference…..but you are!
Keeping your walkways and driveways free of snow and ice is an important safety precaution. However, many times shoveling and/or snow-blowing doesn’t fully get the job done. That’s when many people put down salt to melt away any remaining snow or ice which could be hazardous. Unfortunately, that same salt can wind up being hazardous to your pets, lawn, concrete walkway, and even the environment. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives to salt which can also get the job done. Here are a few examples of some more “green” alternatives for deicing this winter.
“Sand”- Sand can be used to create traction and won’t harm your lawn or pets. However, it will have to be cleaned up after the snow has melted so it doesn’t clog drains or sewers.
“Kitty Litter”- If you happen to have a cat, you can actually use some extra kitty litter to take care of a slippery walkway.
“Urea”- This deicer is safe for your pets and concrete but can do damage to your lawn or garden.
“Coffee Grinds”- Your morning “pick-me-up” can also double as a natural deicer.
“Potassium Acetate”- Extremely effective and biodegradable. This deicer may not harm your plants or pets but your wallet may take a hit, it’s eight times more expensive than salt.
New Years is just a few days away, and with that in mind, maybe it’s time to start thinking of some New Years resolutions. Now, I’m sure most people (like myself) already have a few of the more common New Years resolutions in mind, such as, eating less and exercising more, volunteering, and maybe giving up a favorite treat like chocolate or alcohol. While these are all very good changes to try to make for this coming new year, there are also some changes you can make that will not only help you out but the environment as well. Here are a few New Years resolution ideas from Mother Nature Network, that will help cut your carbon footprint as well as save you some bucks in 2014.
10 easy, green New Year’s resolutions for the eco-slacker
It’s easy to think about all the big changes you’re going to make in the New Year as the old year comes to an end — but by the second week of January, most of us are already finding reasons to skip the gym or break the spending freeze. That’s why we’ve come up with ten green New Year’s resolutions so easy you’ll have no excuse not to keep them — and as they help you save money, cut your carbon footprint, decrease your home’s waste stream, and improve the quality of the Earth, you’ll be glad you did.
1. Never buy bottled water again
Trade your bottled water habit for an at-home filtering pitcher and you can help make a dent in the 1.5 million barrels of oil used to make plastic water bottles each year; pair it with a reusable bottle (like one made of glass, aluminum, or recycled plastic), and you’ll always be prepared to tackle your thirst. Bonus: With bottled water no longer on your shopping list, you could save as much as $1,400 this year.
2. Brew your own Fair Trade coffee
Carrying your own coffee in an insulated travel mug helps you reduce waste from cardboard cups and carrying sleeves — which are thrown away at a staggering rate of58 billion each year. For greener at-home brewing, choose a Fair Trade blend that supports farmers; add organic milk instead of artificial creamers; and try a French press(instead of a traditional brewer) to save electricity.
3. Remember your reusable bags
With more than 1 million plastic bags ending up in the trash every minute, takingreusable bags to the store is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint — but the hardest part about using them is simply remembering to take them with you. A set like this one from Blue Avocado is almost impossible to forget: It comes with six different bags, sized for everything from frozen goods to fresh fruit, and the entire collection folds down into a slim packet for easy transport.
4. Cut back on paper towels
If you’re grabbing a paper towel for everything from wiping up spills and cleaning your counter to scrubbing the bathroom and keeping your hands clean at dinner, it’s time tomake a change. Instead, invest in a few cotton cloths and some fabric napkins; then drop them in the wash when you run a load of laundry. Using the cloth alternatives is just as easy as using the paper versions, and you only need to buy them once — plus you can help eliminate the 3,000 tons of paper towels that end up landfills every day.
5. Use a bike for short trips
It takes a certain amount of dedication to permanently give up a car in favor of a bike, but even an eco-slacker can make it work for short trips that don’t require hauling a lot of stuff: picking up milk at the local grocery store, after-dinner ice cream at your favorite dessert spot, your morning yoga class, brunch with friends at the coffee shop. Ride your bike for trips shorter than 2 miles and you could cut your carbon footprint significantly, save money on gasoline and car maintenance, and increase your fitness level — all at the same time.
6. Order from your local CSA
Going to the farmer’s market always sounds like such a great idea — until Saturday morning rolls around and you realize you have to get up early, have enough cash, and fight other customers for the best strawberries. Instead, have your local CSA programdo the hard part for you by putting together a box of their best produce each week — and, if you’re really feeling lazy, have it delivered right to your door so you get fresh, local fruits and vegetables without giving up your lazy coffee-and-crossword mornings.
7. Become a weekend vegetarian
Cutting meat out of your diet just two days a week can decrease your carbon footprint by about 1/3 of a ton — and coming up with meat-free meals for Saturday and Sunday isn’t as hard as it sounds. Try pancakes and fruit for breakfast; fresh salads or roasted vegetable sandwiches for lunch; and veggie pizza, bean soups, and creamy risottos for dinner. And since doubling a recipe rarely adds any time to your prep work, you can make extras to eat throughout the week (and trim your carbon footprint even more).
8. Eliminate phantom power
It takes approximately one second to unplug the charger for your cell phone, mp3 player, e-reader, or iPad — but if you really can’t be bothered, then let nifty, energy-efficient gadgets do the work for you. Use power strips to turn off all your appliances at once; put your television, DVD player, game system, and stereo on a timer so they automatically shut off overnight; and invest in chargers that stop drawing current when the device’s battery is full. You could cut your energy bill by as much as 10 percent annually — without lifting a finger.
9. Switch to green power
Switching your home to run on green power sounds like a big job — installing solar panels, geothermal energy, or a tankless hot water heater is not a job for the construction-impaired. But you can also make this happen without getting out of your chair: Call your local energy company and see if they offer renewable options (most do). You might see a small jump in your bill, but it’s an easy way to make a big change.
10. Replace your lightbulbs
Replacing your lightbulbs with compact fluorescent lights may be the ultimate change for the eco-slacker. Despite all the jokes, it takes only one person to change a lightbulb — and since CFLs last longer than traditional bulbs, you’ll be saving time for years down the road while cutting your energy use by as much as 80 percent. Can’t even face the hardware store? Order your bulbs online and have them come straight to your door.
While you may be dreaming of a white Christmas this year, you can also make it a green one. Christmas is a wonderful time of year. Unfortunately, the Christmas holiday also creates a ton of waste. Luckily, you can cut back on some of the waste this year by making minor changes to your holiday routine. In this article from Eartheasy, you are given tips on how to have a greener Christmas. Tips on everything, from your decorative lighting, to the tree you use, and even the gifts you give. Let’s see what changes you can make this Christmas to help the environment.
How to have a‘green’Christmas
Some holiday gifts fill a practical need and need to be bought new. But many gifts are really gestures of thoughtfulness. You can give more while spending less.
• Not all gifts have to be store-bought.
You can give more while spending less by giving gifts that are personal and unique. While young children may favor the bright, shiny store-bought item, moat adults appreciate anything that shows thoughtfulness. Here’s a page with some great ideas for meaningful holiday gifts that aren’t found on store shelves:
Tips for sustainable giving
• Simplify the ‘gift-go-round’.
Feeling overwhelmed by a gift list that’s just too long? Here’s an idea to help shorten your list and simplify the family gift-giving ritual. We tried this in our own family last year and it was appreciated by all.
Before the holiday season begins (Thanksgiving is a good time because the extended family is often together), put the names of all adult family members on separate slips of paper and put the slips in a hat. Take turns picking one name per adult – the name you pick is your gift recipient. Keep your chosen pick a secret, to help maintain an element of surprise.
Your gift list for the adults in your family has just been shortened to one!
You can now focus on a special gift for the person whose name you picked, without the dificulty and expense of finding just the right gift for everyone.If the family’s not together on Thanksgiving, ask Grandma or someone else in the family to pick the names from the hat for everyone, by proxy. It works just as well. An agreed on spending limit will also help everyone from feeling they have to go overboard with a fabulous gift for the person whose name they chose.
Buy Smart – think ‘green’
• look for locally made gifts Many gifts in today’s marketplace come from halfway around the world, and the impact of transportation contributes significantly to greenhouse emissions and global warming.Local craft fairs and artisan shops are a good source for gifts that come without the added costs of transportation. And gifts made locally often have a story which goes with the gift, since the artisan and the origin of the gift are known.
• choose gifts made from recycled sources
Many individuals and small businesses have developed great products using recycled materials. Supporting these businesses helps reduce the waste stream while promoting the concept of making best use of available materials. Here are some examples for you to consider: Gifts from recycled materials
• give ‘battery-free’ gifts
According to the EPA, about 40% of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Discarded batteries are an environmental hazard. Even rechargeable batteries find their way into the waste stream eventually. Here are a few examples of gifts that have less of an impact on the environment: Naturally-powered toys • avoid children’s toys that promote violence
There is too much violence in the world, and the new wave of video games for children is disturbing. Remember the theme of Christmas is “Peace on Earth”. There are many toys and games that are fun, and nurture childrens creativity and sense of active play. Here are some examples:Educational toys and games • ‘re-gifting’ is OK
There’s much discussion these days about the etiquette behind the trend to ‘re-gift’, that is, to pass on a gift you received but do not need. What’s to discuss? Re-gifting makes perfect sense. If you receive something you really don’t need, look for ways you can reuse this gift by passing it on to someone who can use it. Of course, re-gifting needs to be done with care so as not to offend the original giver, but keeping a gift you don’t need is wasteful.
“A great way to teach children the spirit of giving (and simplifying) during the holidays is to ask them to pick 3 toys that they don’t play with very much, and donate them to a homeless shelter, domestic violence shelter etc. I saw children bring toys in to the shelter I worked at year after year – it was a wonderful experience for everyone!” ……..Lauren, New Hampshire
Connect with Nature
Christmas is a time for giving, and a time for family. What a great opportunity to start a family tradition of giving back to the earth and instilling the values of sustainable living to your children, friends and community. Start an annual, earth-friendly Christmas family tradition! It will also get you outdoors for a few hours to build an appetite for the big dinner.
Annual Christmas Day Bird Count
Take your binoculars, a field guide to local birds, a small pad or journal for each participant and walk a course through your neighborhood, local park or countryside. Try to identify and count every bird you see, and make a note of it in your journal. At the end of the hike, list the species seen and number of birds per species. There’s always a surprising discovery, and the activity highlights the presence and value of our feathered friends.
Compare the results from former years and you’ll become experts on your local bird population and migration habits. This is a great family activity because even the youngest eyes are just as good at spotting the birds and contributing to the event.
Family nature hike
A peaceful walk through nature on Christmas day will be remembered and valued more than the score of the football game. Plan your walk before the holiday meal while everyone still has lots of energy. The walk will also pique appetites and provide a shared topic for conversation during mealtime.Nature restoration activity
Planting a small tree together symbolizes the value of nature and offsets the ‘taking’ of the Christmas tree. An hour spent cleaning up or enhancing a natural area also enriches the giver and acknowledges nature as the source of our well-being.
Decorate a tree for the birds Place seed bells, suet, pine cones with peanut butter and seed trays on any tree in your yard, preferably a tree in the open where cats can be seen easily by the birds. Yo attract a wide variety of birds, use varied seed types such as black oil sunflower seed, wild bird mixed seed and nyger seed bells. This is a great activity for kids, and offers an important food source for birds during the winter.
“This year our family is planning a “Merry Christmas to Nature” day. We found some “decoration recipes” in library books and plan to decorate the outdoors with edible ornaments for the birds, chipmunks, rabbits, etc..
Another thought is to visit a local animal shelter or sanctuary… ” Jo and Amelia Guelph, ON
“Another way to make the Holidays more sustainable is to use a living tree as your Christmas tree. For many years, my family has used a potted Norfolk Pine as our Christmas tree.
While not as large or full as the traditional trees, Norfolk Pines can grow to be quite large and in my opinion, they make quite an attractive Christmas tree.
These trees are a great addition to a house year round and they simply need to be decorated come Christmas time, saving much time and effort. They also eliminate the need to cut a tree each year or to buy a fake plastic tree, saving valuable resources.
The use of our Norfolk Pine has become a Christmas tradition in our house and I would like to see more people adopt it as their tradition as well.” Jeff H. Aurora, MN
Lower the impact of holiday lighting
In the past, he house with the most decorative holiday lights used to be considered the ‘best’. Times have changed. The cost of electricity goes way beyond the utility bill. Electricity drains natural resources.
• Reduce the size of outdoor lighting displays A smaller presentation of lights can still be attractive, and more appropriate in the ‘season of giving’. Saving electricity is also a way of giving, since conserving resources benefits everyone. • Use LED lights for house and Christmas tree lighting
LED (Light Emitting Diode) holiday lights use up to 95% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. LED holiday lights use .04 watts per bulb, 10 times less than mini bulbs and 100 times less than traditional holiday bulbs. Over a 30-day period, lighting 500 traditional holiday lights will cost you about $18.00 while the same number of LED lights costs only $0.19. As an added bonus, if one of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will stay lit. • Outdoor Mini-lights will also save energy A 100-light string uses only 40 watts. If you’re buying a new set of lights, compare based on equal ‘lighted lengths’. Some higher priced brands have 100 mini-lights for only 8 1/2 feet of length, while some 100 mini-light strings cover up to 40 feet in length. For the most efficient outdoor holiday lighting, consider the new solar LED strings now available. • Turn tree lights and outdoor house decorative lighting at bedtime It’s simply a waste of energy to leave the holiday lights on at night after everyone’s gone to sleep. Remember, never install lights with the power on. Test lights first, then unplug to install.
Choose a live tree
Although plastic Christmas trees are reusable from year to year, real trees are the more sustainable choice. Plastic trees are made of petroleum products (PVC), and use up resources in both the manufacture and shipping. While artificial trees theoretically last forever, research shows that they are typically discarded when repeated use makes them less attractive. Discarded artificial trees are then sent to landfills, where their plastic content makes them last forever.Live trees, on the other hand, are a renewable resource grown on tree farms, that are replanted regularly. They contribute to air quality while growing, and almost ninety percent are recycled into mulch. Live trees are usually locally grown and sold, saving both transportation costs and added air pollution. Live trees also smell like Christmas! When buying a live tree, consider:
• live potted trees can be used for years
If you buy a small tree in a large pot, you may be able to reuse the tree for 2- 3 years without having to plant or re-pot the tree.
• re-pot the tree for longer use
If your tree becomes root-bound, you can replant it in a larger pot for several years’ extended use. • replant the tree when it becomes too large for your holidat tree
If you have the space, of course, replanting the tree outdoors is an option. Be sure to anticipate the full-grown size of the tree, and avoid planting near foundations or underground services. • chip and mulch the tree
Many communities now have free chipping servicse for trees. This is useful since the chips are used as mulch for municipal landscaping or sold at low cost to gardeners. This chipped material makes an excellent mulch for your shrub beds and garden pathways.
Store-bought Christmas cards are rich, elegant and expensive. They also consume a huge amount of natural resources for a throw-away item. The amount of cards sold in the US during the holiday season would fill a football field 10 stories high, and requires the harvesting of nearly 300,000 trees. Homemade cards may not be as professional, but they are more personal and just as appreciated. Making the cards is also a fun activity for the family during the weeks before Christmas.
Last years’ calendar is a good place to start when making homemade cards, since the images are large, colorful and printed on heavy paper similar in weight to card stock. Cut out sections of pictures and ‘glue-stick’ them to a folded-over piece of paper. Size the paper to fit your envelopes, or have the card and message on one side and fold over to put the address on the other side. Staple at the bottom and no envelope is needed.
Childrens’ art work is another good source for Christmas card pictures. Even the ‘scribblings’ of the wee-ones are interesting, fun and especially appropriate for the season. Parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles will probably appreciate a ‘child-s art’ card even more than a stor-bought card. Simply cut out sections of the artwork which look best, and glue-stick it to a card of the required size.
Making your own cards is easy if you have the material to work with. Try to get in the habit of saving pieces of heavy paper (good one side) to use as the backing for your glued-on pictures. “Card stock” is the ideal weight, and even small pieces are worth saving.
Alternatives to Wrapping Paper
Half of the paper America consumes each year is used to wrap and decorate consumer products. (Source: The Recycler’s Handbook, 1990)In the US, the annual trash from gift wrap and shopping bags totals over 4 million tons. In Canada, the annual waste from gift wrap and shopping bags equals about 545,00 tons. If everyone wrapped just three gifts in reused paper or fabric gift bags, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 hockey rinks.
• Useenvironmentally friendly wrapping paper
Choose wrapping paper made using fibers such as hemp or paper using recycled content • Avoid buying glossy foil or metallic wrapping paper
You can do a beautifully wrapping job for your gifts without having to use metallic wrapping paper. This kind of ‘paper’ is difficult to recycle and it has no value for use as mulch since there are heavy metals used in the foil paper. Foil gift wrap is also harder to reuse, since it wrinkles and creases easily when the gift is being unwrapped. • Reuse gift wrap where possible
Large wrapped presents usually have large enough uncreased sections to be reused for wrapping smaller gifts. If you open large gift packages with care, the paper can be set aside for re-use for other gift-giving occasions. Fancy ribbons and bows, of course, can be stored in a box till next year when you’ll appreciate having them around and not having to buyr new ones. • Use tape sparingly, or not at all
If you’re going to use ribbon to finish off your wrapping, you may not need to use tape. By not using tape, more of the wrapping paper can be reclaimed, and it’s easier for the recipient to save the wrapping for reuse. • Choose alternatives to commercial gift wrap
There are many options which are cost-free, attractive solutions. Gift bags can be made using fabric scraps, or wrapping can be made using comic strips from the paper, old calendars, maps, posters and more. For more ideas, visit our page:Gift-wrapping Alternatives
Each year, 50 million Christmas trees are purchased in the U.S. Of those, about 30 million go to the landfill. And added to this is the carbon cost in transporting all these trees to the landfill. Much of the environmental costs associated with the holidays can be reduced by simple awareness and some pre-planning.
• Reuse or recycle gift packing materials
Bubble wrap can be stored for reuse, or recycled. Foam packing chips are not as easily recycled; if you don’t want to store this material for reuse, take it to a shipping center like Mailboxes. etc, who will accept it for their own use. Cardboard boxes should be opened flat and set out for recycling; storing and reusing these boxes is even better as no additional energy is used in remanufacturing.
• Save any special gift wrap, ribbons and bows
When unwrapping large gifts, save the paper for reuse; it can often be cut down for smaller presents. Creased wrapping can be ironed flat. Ribbons and bows are easy to save and reuse. • Recycle old electronics
New flat-screen computer monitors, laptops, cameras, cell phones and other electronic items are common holiday gifts. Older models which are being replaced are usually still in working order, however, and should not be discarded to a landfill. Here is information to help recycle these items: Recycling electronic goods • Christmas trees can be recycled too
Live trees that have been cut are a useful material for composting. Composting requires a carbon source and Christmas trees are just right for municipal operations which use chippers to shred the material. Look for tree drop-off locations in your neighborhood. Artificial trees which are up for replacement can also be recycled. These trees are usually made from twisted metal which is accepted by most recycling centers.
Note: Never burn Christmas tree branches in your fireplace. It can cause the buildup of creosote, which is a highly flammable compound.
Last week we talked about some eco-friendly Halloween costume ideas. These were costumes that could be homemade, or costumes that didn’t use things that weren’t biodegradable, like plastic masks and synthetic wigs. It’s just as important to think about the environment when you’re decorating your home for Halloween as well. Luckily, there are plenty of environmentally friendly decoration ideas for this spooky holiday. Here are a few ideas and tips to help cut back on some the waste, but none of the fun, this Halloween.
“Jack-O-Lantern”- Yes, one of the most popular and oldest Halloween decorations is also one of the most eco-friendly. The whole family can enjoy creating their own spooky or silly pumpkin carving. And, when it’s time to dispose of the rotting pumpkins, you can simply use them for mulch.
“Straw, Corn Stalks and Gourds”- Just like the Jack-o-lantern, these decorations really give your home a nice old-fashioned Halloween vibe. They are also all natural, and can be disposed of in the very same way as the pumpkins.
“Reuse”- Instead of going out and purchasing new decorations, use what you already have tucked away in boxes from previous years. If you do have to buy decorations, try buying them from a secondhand store. Not only will this save you money, it’s also lessening waste.
“Candles”- Set the Halloween mood by lighting home with candles. Not only will this allow you to cut back on some electricity used in certain rooms but it also gives your home a nice spooky glow.
“LED Lights”- If you decide you want to string up lights as part of your decoration, try using solar powered LED lights instead of traditional holiday lights. They use far less energy and are just as effective.
“DIY Decorations”- If you’re feeling creative and want to have some fun with the family, have everyone create their own decoration using just their imagination and whatever is lying around the house or the backyard.