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Eco-Friendly Halloween Costume Ideas

BLOG-HALLOWEENWith Halloween just two weeks away, it’s time for both children and adult to start thinking about what they want to be this year. I always loved Halloween, and still do, it’s a blast trying to outdo your friends on who can come up with the most outrageous or ridiculous costume. I always try to go for laughs instead of screams when it comes to my Halloween costumes, but whether you’re out for laughs or out to scare, you don’t have to use products that are harmful to the environment or break the bank. Here’s an article from GreenYour, with some tips for eco-friendly and cost efficient Halloween costume ideas.

Dress up with an eco-friendly costume

Don’t give the earth a reason to scream. Finding or making your eco-friendly costume is not as scary as you might think.

Ideas for an eco-friendly costume

Warm up your wand and get ready to summon up some magical Halloween costumes, the green way:

  • Shazam! Costumes on the cheap: Go to a secondhand store, pick up some used clothing for an inexpensive version of Tarzan or Jane and you’ll prevent new resources from being used to create virgin apparel. When you’re done, simply re-donate the clothing so that someone else can use it next Halloween.
  • Pow! Transformational magic: There are many ways to create your own costume using items found around the house. While you can certainly sew your own (with or without a pattern) from eco-fabrics like bamboo, organic cotton, silk, or hemp, making one from closet-bound items is a great way to recycle, and low-cost, too! Look for supplies in the attic, your junk drawer, seasonal closets, the toolbox, or even kitchen cupboards.
    • Why not convert that old prom or bridesmaid dress into something more festive, like Tinkerbelle?
    • Stockings stuffed with socks make great spider or turtle legs
    • Grab a black cape and add a scarf, a tree branch (for a wand), and glasses to turn your 12 year old into Harry Potter
    • Use old clothing, some glue, or a bit of paint to create pirate, Iron Man, witch, or Batman costumes.
  • Poof! Recycling box to the rescue: Don’t forget that there are costumes-in-the-making in your recycle bin. Use boxes,cans, bottles, tissue paper, milk jugs, and plastic bags to make a fire truck, cotton candy, or a candy bar outfit. Don’t forget the masks!
  • Kawabunga, Dude! Costume rentals: Renting allows you to dress up in a a high-end costume without creating any new waste. And although renting from a local costume shop is better (in terms of transport emissions) than having something shipped from several states away, if there are no local rental stores near you, Costume Holiday House, Costumes Galore, Boston Costume, and Children’s Party Productions all offer nationwide delivery.

Go Green This 4th

The 4th of July is just two days away. It is the time of year when we celebrate our independence by having parades, enjoying some fireworks, and getting together with friends and family for barbecues. Unfortunately, a lot of these celebrations can create a lot of pollution. Thanks to these tips from Keen for Green, this years Independence Day can be celebrated with our country and the environment in mind.

Have a Green 4th of July!

Green 4th of July

The Fourth of July is a time to get together with friends and family, to celebrate American history, and to eat BBQ in the summer fun.  Traditional 4th of July celebrations can create a lot of pollution.  It’s easy to replace some old habits with new ones for this year’s Independence Day.

Greener Grilling: On the Fourth of July alone, an estimated 60 million barbecues light up nationwide, consuming enough energy to power 20,000 households for an entire year. But who says you need to give up your hot dogs and steak in order to be an environmentalist? Buy a natural gas or infrared grill instead of dirty-burning charcoal. Avoid chrome-coated aluminum grills and instead opt for steel or cast iron (my favorite). Also, go with a smaller grill, as they take less energy to heat up.

Nix the Plastic Disposables: Plastic plates can remain in the environment for hundreds of years and suck up crude oil in their production (styrofoam is even worse). Following big 4th of July parties they often end up littering beaches and parks. If you can’t use disposable dishes and cutlery (Target stores have some great, inexpensive picnic reusables), go for compostable options made from potatoes, and products made from recycled materials.

Go Local with Your Menu: Spend an hour at the farmers market to pick up local fruits and veggies.  Skip the highly processed pink hot fogs and instead go for some locally made sausages (which are usually much yummier, anyway). Go with locally brewed beer (again, usually quite yummy) and increase the number of fruit and veggie dishes on your menu.  Who doesn’t like fruit salad on a hot day?

One is the Loneliest Number (and the least green): Carpool, carpool, carpool and stay close to home.  Go to big local celebrations instead of having your own.

What to do about the Fireworks? You’ve probably guessed that fireworks emit a ton of pollution.  If you’re like me, however, you are not willing to give up the extravagant displays at your July 4th celebration.  There are several lower-emitting fireworks in the works, but none are as spectacular as the originals.  Find out what your city officials are using and keep an eye out for more eco-friendly options in the years to come.

Give The Gift Of A Clean Home This Mother’s Day

BLOG-MOTHERMother’s Day is this Sunday. This year, instead of giving your mother the typical gift of flowers or chocolate, why not give her a gift she can really benefit from. A house cleaning gift certificate from Clean Conscience is a great Mother’s Day gift idea!

While flowers are a nice gift, they’re often just put in a vase and somewhat forgotten about after a few days. Chocolates are also a popular gift idea (though not original), and are often times either eaten that day or forgotten about until they are thrown away.This Mother’s Day, give your mother a house cleaning gift certificate. It is an original, thoughtful gift which will actually help your mother out this year.

Most mother’s spend a good portion of their time cleaning up after their children, this Mother’s Day why not return the favor with a gift certificate from Clean Conscience. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

And a special Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, Sheila.

Have A Green Easter

This year, you can have a great Easter and do a little something to help the environment by having a “Green Easter”. Going green for Easter is actually quite simple. All you need are a few items you can find in your home or in your yard and a little bit of time and creativity. Here are a few tips on how to have a Green Easter. BLOG-EASTER

“The Basket”- Instead of buying a new Easter basket, use a basket already in your home. If you don’t happen to have any available baskets at home and need to purchase one, be sure to save it for future Easters.

“Nix the Plastic Grass”- The plastic grass that comes in Easter baskets is made from petroleum which can be harmful to the environment. Instead of lining your Easter basket with plastic grass, you can use shredded paper, which can be recycled or composted. If you aren’t allergic and have access, hay can also be used to line the basket.

“Naturally Dye Easter Eggs”- As an alternative to buying chemical dye packages this year, try these natural homemade dyes:

Red- Raspberries, beets, paprika       Yellow- Lemon peels, onion skins

Purple- Red cabbage, red wine           Blue- Blueberries               Brown- Coffee

Green- Spinach

“Forget the Easter Cards”- Lets face it, getting an Easter card is nice but how long does anyone actually hang on to it. This year save yourself some money and also save a tree by ditching the cards and replacing them with a simple phone call to say “Happy Easter!”

Have a safe and happy holiday!


A Green Valentine’s Day (Next Year)

Unfortunately, I may be a day late and a dollar short on this one. In this article from Destination Green, there is a list of ten ways to enjoy a  green  Valentine’s Day. The original article was actually written by Stephen Ashkin, of The Ashkin Group. The article not only gives you tips for a green Valentine’s Day but any special occasion that you would like to turn “green”. So, although these tips may be a day late for this year’s V-Day, keep them in mind for next year and many year’s after.

Ashkin Lists Top Ten Ways to Make This a Green Valentine’s Day

Bloomington, IN – Feb 13, 2013 – Stephen Ashkin president of The Ashkin Group, known as the “father of Green Cleaning” and the cleaning and building industries’ leading advocate for sustainability, suggests ten way ways we can all make this Thursday, Valentine’s Day 2013, warm, romantic…and Green.

According to Ashkin, “it’s actually quite easy. [In fact,] there are so many ways to make Valentine’s Day, and every day for that matter, Greener and more sustainable, I actually had trouble listing just ten.”

Nevertheless, here are Ashkin’s Top Ten Ways to Make This a Green Valentine’s Day:

1.     Make a card out of recycled materials or, instead of a traditional card, send an electronic card.

2.     Light candles. “Valentine’s Day is a great time to smooch by candlelight.”

3.     Turn down the thermostat, and snuggle under the blankets.

4.     Make homemade cake, candy, and treats instead of purchasing them.

5.     Make a home-cooked meal using locally sourced food and wine.

6.     Give a gift of a potted plant instead of cut flowers; better yet, plant a rosebush or crab apple tree (symbol of love or friendship) in an open area or forest.

7.     Forget balloons; give your special person a long-lasting item such as a framed photograph.

8.     Leave the car at home; take a walk in a local park or at the beach.

9.     If giving chocolates, make it organic and fair trade chocolate.

“And the tenth tip is not so much ‘Green’ as it is important,” says Ashkin. “Just don’t forget this day. Valentine’s Day is all about kindness and love—something we all need a lot more of.”

“Green” New Years Resolutions

Every year around this time you start to hear people talk about their “New Years resolution”, all the things they are going to do different to better themselves in the new year. Unfortunately, many of these “resolutions” don’t make it past the first few weeks. Maybe the reason people give up on these resolutions is because it usually involves a large sacrifice of something they enjoy. What if this years resolution wasn’t only to better yourself, but the environment as well? And what if it only meant minor changes in the way you go about your everyday life? Here are a few New Years resolutions that will not only benefit you but all of us.

“Walk or Bike”- If you have the option, walking or biking to work is not only a great exercise but it’s also better for the environment.

“Bring Your Own Water”- Instead of spending a ton of money on plastic water bottles all year, buy one reusable water bottle and fill up at home.

“Reusable Shopping Bags”- My mother has used the reusable shopping bags for years, they are bigger and stronger than the plastic bags they use at the grocery store and, needless to say, drastically cut down on the amount of plastic bags that end up in landfills.

“Eco-friendly Cleaners”- By using green cleaning products (or hiring a cleaning company that does) not only are you helping to keep the environment outside of your house clean from chemicals, you’re also protecting yourself and your family from those harsh chemicals inside.

These are just a few ways you can do things a little differently in the new year that will have a positive impact on yourself and the environment. Happy New Year!

Boulder Holiday Recycling Guide

After all of the presents are unwrapped, the Yule Log is nothing but ash and your belly is full of eggnog, it’s time to do some post holiday cleaning. During the holidays Americans create 25% more trash. Pretty crazy, huh? For residents of Boulder, there is a solution. Here is a link to the Boulder Holiday Recycling Guide for 2012:

This guide will show you how to recycle the most common holiday items:

  • wrapping paper
  • holiday trees
  • old electronics
  • bubble wrap
  • cooking oil
  • broken holiday lights
  • holiday cards and envelopes
  • white block foam
  • packing peanuts
  • leftover food
  • shopping bags
  • batteries
  • tissue paper
  • cardboard boxes

Hoping everyone has a happy healthy holiday!

Tips For A Greener Christmas

With Christmas merely a week away, many people are beginning to plan for their holiday. Some people will be traveling, others hosting, and many running around at the last minute frantically buying gifts. With so much going on around the holidays and so much on people’s minds, it’s easy to forget the impact we can have on the environment around this time of year. So while you may be dreaming of a “white Christmas”, here are a few tips for a “green Christmas”.

“Wrapping Paper”- Make your own wrapping paper from old newspapers and/or magazines. If you do happen to buy wrapping paper, make sure you recycle it.

“Christmas Lights”- I’m not saying don’t put lights on your Christmas tree or even a few decorative lights outside, but nobody’s house needs to be seen from space. If you are decorating your house with lights, be sure to use LED lights. Also, taking down the lights after the new year is a good idea, no need for Christmas lights on St. Patty’s.

“Thermostat”- If you happen to be hosting a holiday party this year, lower the thermostat. If you are cooking the heat from the oven and the extra body warmth from guests should warm up the place. And if not, at least now there is an excuse to break out those (so ugly they’re cool) holiday sweaters.

“Dishes”- If you are hosting, use real dishes and utensils. This way you don’t have to throw out large numbers of paper/plastic plates.

“Real Tree”- If you are going to get a tree, make sure to get a real tree. Real trees can be composted after their use, while plastic trees need petroleum to be made, and aren’t recycled easily when you’re done with them. Not to mention, nothing looks or smells better than a real Christmas tree.

Happy Holidays!

Tipping For The Holidays

A common question asked when it comes to having your home cleaned is, “how much do I tip the cleaning crew?”. When it comes to tipping the cleaning crew (just like any other situation in which you would tip someone) I think it comes down to a few factor, such as; how much work was done? Were you satisfied with the job? Were they polite? Etc….. But how should you tip around the holidays? Here is an article from Market Watch which gives you tips on how to handle tipping this holiday season. 

Holiday tips are one of the first expenses to fall by the wayside when times are tough, and they’re sometimes the last to bounce back. Even though consumers say they plan to spend more on gifts, decorations and other purchases this year, experts say tipping will remain fairly flat.

Last year, 39% of consumers didn’t tip any of their service providers, up from 38% in 2010, according to the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Average tip amounts have held steady, with $20 averages for providers including garbage collectors, teachers, hairstylists, newspaper carriers and pet-care providers. “Tips are pretty uniform,” says Tobie Stanger, senior project editor for the Consumer Reports National Research Center, which tracks gifting for 10 different service providers. “We haven’t seen much of a change.”

There are some small signs that budget crunches are easing, if only slightly: 68% of people gave a cash tip or gift to their housecleaner in 2011, up from 61% the year before, according to the survey. While about the same number of people (34%) tipped a pet-care provider, more gave a check or cash, versus a gift, which could be less valuable. Some consumers are also talking about giving a little more, says Jodi R.R. Smith, founder of etiquette consulting firm Mannersmith.

Experts say tipping etiquette varies by region — states on either coast tend to focus more on cash tips, for example, while Middle America favors gifts, Stanger says. And the appropriate amount to give can vary based on local pricing. A regular stylist is typically given a gift that’s equivalent to the cost for one appointment, for instance, an amount tha may be much more or less than the median $20. Skipping the tip, however, is a bad idea no matter where you live, says Teri Rogers, the founder of real-estate guide You risk poor service going forward. More important, it’s rude, says Smith.

Try these tips for giving without offending:

Say thanks

Include a thank you note with any holiday tip. “Holiday giving is really a way of saying thank you,” Stanger says. A grateful note is especially important if you’re giving less than usual — or can’t afford to give at all, she says. That lets recipients know that they’re not being snubbed.

Calculate rates

The rule of thumb is to tip the cost of one session for a provider you see regularly, like a personal trainer, babysitter or lawn-care provider, says Smith. “If you’re somebody who only gets your hair cut twice a year, you can scale it down appropriately,” she says. Daily helpers like nannies, elder-care workers and dog walkers should get more: Give a week’s pay, at least. Ask neighbors what they tip for service people you don’t pay directly, such as a building superintendent or garage attendant, says Rogers. Those amounts tend to vary widely.

Consider gifts

Cash is preferable for most recipients, but in a few cases, gifts are the better choice. “In a lot of school districts, they frown upon teachers getting cash. It could be looked on as a bribe,” Stanger explains. Postal workers can’t accept cash, or any gift valued at more than $25. Consider such restrictions when deciding whether cash or a gift is more appropriate. Gift-giving etiquette means putting thought into the item you pick. A generic gift card is better than one to a specific store if you don’t know what the housekeeper likes, says Smith


A Green Thanksgiving

“Gobble, gobble”, it’s that wonderful time of year when we all stuff our face so much that we need to take a nap before dessert. Thanksgiving is the one time of year when wearing sweatpants and watching football on a Thursday is completely acceptable……awesome. What would be even more awesome, is if you could enjoy the holiday and help the environment. Well, luckily the good people at Recyclebank have put together a list of 10 ways to have a “green” Thanksgiving. Check it out…


1. Make a master list. If you take the time to make out a grocery list of all the ingredients you’ll need for the entire holiday weekend, you can conserve resources by making only one trip to the market. Try to plan out all the stops you’ll need to make; the liquor store, the farmer’s market, the grocery store; and plan your route to make the most of the fuel you’ll need to use. Taking the extra minute to research and plan will cut down on transportation time, gas and subsequent shopping trips. Try to combine stops when you can and park your car and walk between shops if possible. Carry an ice chest or cooler bag in your car to store items that need refrigeration. Remember to bring your reusable shopping bags to carry your purchases.

2. Shop for local meat and produce. It’s better for the environment because less fuel is needed to bring to your market and less packaging is needed to keep it fresh. It also helps promote and encourage locally sustainable farming practices. Plus, you’ll be helping your local economy by supporting local businesses. Buy in bulk when possible. Nuts and grains are good choices for bulk items.

3. Use your prettiest dishes and skip disposable anything. It can be a hassle to iron napkins and table cloths. And there is an argument to be made, I guess, that using recyclable/disposable plates and napkins saves water, but I like using my “good” dishes and napkins. Why do you have that beautiful china if you don’t use it? Or those beautiful cloth napkins? Believe me, if they could talk, they’d say, “Let me outta here! I want to serve!”

If you don’t have enough table settings, hit your local thrift store and pick pieces that will blend with what you already have. A mix and match look is so chic right now. And a table set with different glasses and plates looks interesting and can help move sagging conversations along. Just think how smart you’ll sound when you talk about what a great find those vintage Flintstone’s jelly glasses are.

4. Make use of an already hot oven. If you’re already roasting a turkey at 350 degrees, choose side dishes that can go into the oven alongside the turkey at the same temperature. Slide the sides in at the appropriate time alongside the bird. Plus, by doing this, you impress everyone with your Martha-like skill of having all the dishes ready at the same time!

5. Let nature be your centerpiece. Go out into your own back yard or for a hike in the woods and look for fallen oak and maple leaves, acorns, pine cones and berry sprigs to adorn your table. Almost anything will work. Magnolia leaves, boxwood branches, and twigs look so pretty when nestled together on a pretty tablecloth. For color, use organic fruits that can be eaten later, or gourds that can be recycled into a beautiful birdhouse after Thanksgiving.

6. Add eco-friendly candles for a warm glow that won’t hurt the planet. Candles add a lot to the atmosphere of any gathering. And it may seem like a small thing, but the type of candles you choose can make a big eco-difference. This year, choose soy candles, which emit no carcinogens when they burn. Or choose beeswax candles. Beeswax is a completely renewable resource and your candles will burn longer than traditional paraffin candles.

7. Serve individual drinks from recyclable aluminum cans and wine from a box. Use glasses you have on hand, not plastic cups for beverages—and never, never, styrofoam (some areas are now recycling styrofoam, but I still think regular old glasses are a better choice.)

8. Start a leftover tradition. Have everyone on your guest list bring their own reusable container and fill it with leftovers for them to take home.

9. Keep it separate. Ask guests to help you separate compostables and recyclables as you’re cooking and cleaning up.

10. Carpool to your holiday party destination. Instead of taking three or four or five cars to Grandma’s this year, why not go together. Go pick up your cousin and aunt. Give your brother and his family a ride. What better time to sing “O’er the river and through the woods…” than together on the way to your holiday celebration. You’ll save resources and time, which means you get to eat turkey (or tofu, if you wish) that much sooner. list of 10 ways you can have a green Thanksgiving. Check it out…