There’s a major smart-phone migration in the works this February — Verizon, iPhone, AT&T, Android – all we know is this means lots of people switching phones and wondering what to do with their old ones. Before you toss your old phone in that wretched drawer full of obsolete cords and gadgets, think about recycling it properly.
Luckily there are lots of ways to recycle your unwanted phones (we’ve blogged about the Plant My Phone and Gazelle). Now our friend Chrissy Redmond tells us about a new buy-back program at Secure TradeIn, a ten-year old company that offers proprietary data-eraser removal. “It’s a great way for someone with, say, a 2 ½ year old blackberry, to get some extra cash for their phone and be sure it’ll be recycled,” she says. “For people like me who aren’t tech-savvy there’s photos on the site, and I can click on a picture of my phone to find out how much it’s worth. I don’t have an iPhone — yet! — but early adopters with the latest iPhone from ATT can earn more than $300 if they plan to transition to Verizon!”
By using Secure TradeIn, Gazelle, PlantMyTree, or services like these, you also boost your Practically Green score: 10 points for recycling your cell phone, 10 points for recycling your old computer, and 10 points for recycling other electronics. The final “feel good” benefit? These services makes technology available to people who might otherwise not be able to afford it.
At Practically Green we want to stay on top of new recycling programs for everything, from sneakers to cars, so please let us know when you hear of an innovation, and submit your product recommendations or links right on the site! The clicky submission buttons look like this:
It’s decluttering season: everyone’s getting rid of unwanted STUFF. The Swapaholics are deep into National Swap Month. At Practically Green, we’ve got lots of ideas on how to deal with your Stuff, including reuse, but our friends at the Sierra Club’s ‘Green Life’ blog have simply outdone us with this quartet of innovative tips.
Thanks to Sierra’s Lifestyle Editor Avital Binshtock for reposting permission. Avital’s Inspiring Green Action Plan is right here; she’s the one sitting in sunshine with the monkey.
Green Your Old Stuff
Repurposing old household items is a great way to reduce waste and avoid making new purchases. This week’s tips, then, are about reusing everyday items to clean and smarten up your home.
Tip #1: What to do with phone books
In the internet age, getting a phone book tossed onto your doorstep can be infuriating. But before you recycle yours, consider what else you could do with it. Consider ripping out the pages and using them to clean windows and mirrors. Crumpled-up pages can also serve as filler for care packages. If your cleaning and mailing needs can’t keep up with how often you get phone books, just tell the Yellow Pages to stop.
Tip #2: How to reuse glass jars
With concerns over the levels of BPA in some plastics, storing leftovers in reused plastic containers is a concern. Glass, on the other hand, is a safe, multifunctional, and reusable alternative. Good not only for storing last night’s dinner, glass jars make excellent vases, storage containers for bulk ingredients, even to-go drinking cups if you add the lid. Smaller jars, like those for baby food, can help organize your toolbox; use ‘em to store nuts, bolts, and nails. Empty jars can also become vessels for homemade gifts: Just layer with baking ingredients, sweets, or homemade treats.
Tip #3: How to reuse egg cartons
Finishing your eggs doesn’t have to be the end of the carton. Perfect for organizing small items like thumbtacks, safety pins, paper clips, even jewelry, egg cartons’ bottom halves make useful drawer or desk organizers. Green thumbs can use egg cartons as containers in which to start plants: Poke a few holes in the bottom, add some soil and a couple of seeds, and place on a sunny windowsill. And when you’re done with your egg cartons, don’t send them to the landfill — throw them in the compost pile instead.
Tip #4: What to do with old CDs
CDs aren’t biodegradable, and they’re hard to recycle. However, consider these uses for your old discs before chucking them: Thread string through their holes and hang them from fruit trees; the reflection scares away thieving birds and squirrels. Cover old discs with colorful contact paper to make decorative coasters. Create a fun craft project for kids by painting a CD with acrylic or fabric paint, then using it to make scratch art.
Looking to help out with a great cause? Check out Million Trees NYC! This PlaNYC goal is one of 127 great initiatives to make NYC a better place. Get inspired to do the same where you live! With cool recent news stories and tons of different options to help out, the site is a must-see! Whether you locate a great place to plant a tree, volunteer to plant one, or donate $, there are endless options to do your part! And remember, get your PG points for planting a tree!
Next time you’re looking for a great read, check out Better World Books. Whether you’re looking for a mystery novel or cookbook (or Textbook if you’re me!), they have it all! The best part? They’re a great cause, too! I stumbled over the “Our Impact” section of their website and was beyond impressed. Not only have they “re-used or recycled over 53 million pounds of books and raised over $8.6 million for global literacy and local libraries,” they also feature an awesome story of a specific cause. (I read about Edna Adan Ismail of Somalia). Visit this website, you won’t regret it!
I’m a big fan of Preserve products, so I was thrilled when I found this article by Pablo Paster of Treehugger, one of my favorite sites! Preserve really means it when they say: “Nothing wasted. Everything gained.” Paster gives us the low-down on the benefit of recycled toothbrushes and more!
- 54% less water;
- 75% less oil;
- 48% less coal;
- 77% less natural gas; and
- 46% less electricity.
Don’t forget to check out Preserve yourself for more info! And get PG points for switching to a recycled toothbrush!
I was on The Environmental Blog website today and came across a hilarious video posted by johntarantino1 in 2008. If you haven’t seen it before, or even if you have, you have to watch it! As someone who tries to bike a lot, weather permitting, I could certainly feel this guy’s pain. As we try to do what we can to live healthy, green lifestyles, let’s laugh at the obstacles that come up! Do like this guy does and get PG points!
New and Cool pick:
Thank you, thank you to The Daily Green! I just HAD to share this awesome part of their site. Even if you’re not in college yourself, maybe you were at one time, or know somebody that is. If so, they, and you, know how hard it is to be green when you’re away from home (I know I struggle!). This section of The Daily Green is all about going green at college! From the best dorm plants, to the best Environmental Studies programs, it is full of great information for everyone, and not just college students. I’ve never seen this type of resource, talk about new and cool!
If you’re planning a special meal out (hint, hint: Valentine’s Day is coming up!), why not check to see if there’s a green restaurateur in your town? The Green Restaurant Association offers an easy online directory of establishments that have qualified for their coveted DineGreen certification. And at Practically Green, you earn 25 points across all 4 categories for eating at a dine-green certified restaurant!
“The average American consumer spends 48% of his/her food budget dining out,” Jennifer Fleck of Green Restaurant Association headquarters explains. “Customers send back dishes that aren’t cooked to their specifications all the time — or they complain about their table, or the noise level. We want to help them communicate with restaurant owners on sustainability issues.”
Don’t see your beloved hangout on the list? The GRA has suggestions on how you can encourage your favorite restaurant to participate, including printing out this Suggestion Card to complete and leave with your tip:
As a restaurateur, you can apply for the certification and, if accepted, be paired up with a consultant who guides you through the points-based system. Like the US Green Building Council’s LEED system, the Certified Green ratings are rigorous and prestigious: “every step must be verified through invoicing,” according to Jennifer. “It’s not enough to say ‘Wow, that restaurant has great vegan entrees.’ We evaluate the operation across all categories of operation: what chemicals do they use for cleaning? How is the water handled? What are the waste considerations? What about fabrics, candles, cutlery? How about composting? Has the restaurant gone above and beyond in lighting, plumbing fixtures, renewable energies? We’re very thorough.”
So what does a Green Restaurant-certified chef look like? Meet Gabe and Katherine Thompson of dell’anima in Manhattan.
dell’anima just earned a three-star rating, which you can click to see a detailed accounting of the points in each category:
And this happened during the same week that their first baby is due! Congratulations Gabe and Katherine – and thanks for participating in Practically Green’s Inspiring Action Planners feature… Hope you’ll go for the Natural Baby Badge!
Today’s innovation: No Yucky Stuff Actions.
I ask you, where else can you get a list of things to get rid of yucky stuff in your life, starting right now, today? And tells you which of these matter most, which are less impactful?
Please glance below for the 14 steps you can take to get rid of Yucky Stuff.
Click on any one of these for an explanation of Why it’s healthy and green; How to do it; Recommended products (which you’re welcome to submit); and a clicky Action Status box that invites you to add the Action to your Plan:
- Buy hormone-free dairy regularly
- Buy antibiotic/hormone-free meats regularly
- Find out what food I buy regularly that contains high-fructose corn syrup
- Find out what food I buy regularly that contains artificial colors & flavors
- Buy all-natural mac ‘n cheese
- Find out what food I buy regularly that contains artificial sweeteners
- Switch to all-natural toothpaste
- Switch to all-natural mouthwash
- Replace soda with fizzy all-natural juices or sodas
- Buy cereal without artificial colors or flavors regularly
- Find out what food in my house has artificial or concerning preservatives in it
- Buy organic or all-natural snack bars regularly
- Buy organic or all-natural chips regularly
- Switch to all-natural or organic deli meat
Are you ready to check off some of these, and add them to your Green Action Plan? Easy peasy! Click here.
Practically Green is delighted to introduce Sprout Change products from our sponsor Willow Store. We thought you’d like to hear a bit about the company and its founder:
Catherine Bolden describes that she created her company because she needed better options for her family: “The Willow Store came out of our day-to-day life, the things we use all the time.” Her company’s goal is to support a more reusable future. In other words, Catherine is devoted to reducing waste. And with four children ages 8, 6, 4, and 18 months, it’s no surprise that Catherine’s first products are focused on, well, baby waste!
And voila: beautiful reusable training pants, baby wipes, cloth diapers and resusable diaper inserts – all part of the Sprout Change system from Catherine’s Willow Store. She also makes reusable nursing inserts and fem-care pads.
Sprout Change is unlike any other diaper on the market. It is a truly innovative, patent-pending, reversible one-size diaper system. Our system is the easiest, most convenient reusable diaper available, that also happens to give you the best fit and ultra-trim absorbency, it’s premium without the price, and made in the USA. We didn’t compromise, so you don’t have to.
Have a look at Catherine in action at her home-based factory, getting ready for her appearance at the Boom Boom Room event before the Golden Globes in Hollywood last weekend. Impressive!
Sprout Change is… One-size, Custom fit Easy Fits your lifestyle and your budget Sprout Change combines all the great things about cloth diapers into one!…
There’s plenty of cloth diapers out there, and they all pretty much work. Sprout Change is a compilation of all the great things cloth diapers can be. Our system is a hybrid unlike any other that combines pocket diapers, prefolds and all-in-ones to make the least confusing, most economical diaper available…. That anyone can afford. One-size, Custom fit Fits 5-40+ lbs Get the right fit, fast Patent pending, easy size adjustments Leak-free Easy Innovative snap positions, anyone can figure out (daycare friendly!) No more guessing Breathable Shell keeps baby rash free Unbeatable leakproof protection Seamless gussets for mess-free cleanups
Affordable: Fits your lifestyle and your budget Fewer Shells means less cost for you, without compromising on quality Unique Reversible Shell has two colors in one Prefer side closing or front closing diapers (like disposables)? You get both! Soft fabrics touch baby, not plastic* Double layers of PUL make our diapers last years!
Thank you, Sprout Change, for being one of our very special launch sponsors at Practically Green! Check out these actions to see Catherine’s products, buy them — and, if you’re interested, go for the Waste-Free Baby Badge! Your little ones will be so happy in these ultra soft, all-natural products made with enormous thoughtfulness and unbeatable ingredients, and you’ll love them too!
Our Founder Susan Hunt Stevens is an allergy mom. Long story short, she’s vigilant about everything that comes into contact with her son Hunter (a delightful 5-year-old Red Sox fan). I knew this was serious when she told me she couldn’t use a certain skin cream because it contains almond oil: if she put some on her face and then hugged her son, she might send Hunter to the emergency room.
Enter Robyn O’Brien, founder of AllergyKids and the author of An Unhealthy Truth. Susan and Robyn have joined forces on the subject of kids and allergies, sharing stories and inspiration and identifying solutions. There’s nothing like a pair of smart passionate mothers to lay out the issues and preventable causes.
This Monday, January 24, provides an opportunity for all of us to participate on unfolding food legislation. Robyn’s letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack explains:
On January 24, 2011, the United States Department of Agriculture will consider the approval of the biotech industry’s newest product, a livestock feed given to our nation’s dairy cows – genetically engineered alfalfa. This livestock feed (alfalfa) will not only affect our nation’s milk supply, given the novel proteins and allergens that it contains, but it also may present a risk to the increasing number of food allergic Americans.
Due to these concerns, Robyn O’Brien, the founder of the AllergyKids Foundation, has written the following letter and encourages readers to copy and paste all of or part of its contents into the online form found on the USDA’s website and submit an email to the USDA and Secretary Vilsack at this link.
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
Your work to restore the health of the American children is remarkable, and as a mother of four children enrolled in the public school system, there really are not words to convey the gratitude that you are owed for your efforts.
Your personal story, which you so candidly share about your own weight struggles as a child, is a poignant reminder of how food affects us in more ways than we could ever imagine.
It is along those lines that I am writing to you today. As you know, obesity is taking its toll on the health of our children. But the correlation between the growing number of food allergic children and the introduction of genetically engineered foods into our food supply in 1994 is of equal concern to the health of families.
According to an October 2008 report from the Centers for Disease Control, there has been a 265% increase in the rates of hospitalizations related to food allergic reactions. With the recent introduction of the first genetically engineered protein into the food supply in 1994 (a synthetic growth hormone designed to enhance profitability for the dairy industry), the dairy allergy is now the most common food allergy in the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal and CNN. With the introduction of the second genetically engineered product in 1996 (genetically engineered soy), soy became one of the top eight allergens, and studies demonstrated a 50% increase in the rate of soy allergies.
And while correlation is not causation, the body of a child with food allergies sees food proteins as “foreign” and launches an inflammatory response to drive out the “foreign invader.” With the introduction of foreign proteins into our food supply in 1994 through the genetic engineering process, novel and foreign proteins have been introduced into our food that weren’t there when you and I were children. The biotech industry does an extraordinary job of analyzing the impact that the introduction of known allergens created in the genetic engineering process will have on our health, according to the Food Biotechnology Subcommittee of the Food Advisory Committee, but no tests have yet been developed to assess the effects that the introduction of the novel allergens and proteins created in the process will have on the health and developing immune system of a child.
Because there are not yet tests to prove the safety of these novel proteins and allergens, parents in other developed countries have been alerted to this fact and these genetically engineered proteins were either not allowed into the food supply, particularly into children’s foods, or these novel proteins were labeled so that parents could make an informed choice when it comes to feeding their families.
As you know, Secretary Vilsack, there is controversy around the allergenicity associated with this new technology (which created tension back in 2002 at a government meeting of the Food Biotechnology Subcommittee of the Food Advisory Committee in which the committee’s acting chair, Edward N. Brandt, Jr., MD, PhD, said “Of course, we haven’t worked into this some kind of test for allergencity, per se… “), prompting this reaction from renowned allergist, Dr. Fred McDaniel Atkins: “To me, the logical problem is that we are going to take that stuff and feed it to the public without their informed consent.”
As our children become increasingly allergic, not only does this create federal and regulatory challenges in schools and for the food industry that might exceed any private benefit that the biotech industry may receive from the approval of this patented product, but it also creates additional challenges for our burdened healthcare system given the increasing rates of emergency hospitalizations being seen in these children.
Post-market surveillance would demonstrate that the novel allergens and proteins that have been introduced into our food supply in the last 15 years should give all of us reason to pause and assess the safety of these new products, given the increasing rates of food-allergic Americans.
Consequently, and with the utmost sincerity, I urge you to delay the approval of genetically engineered alfalfa. This alfalfa will directly impact our children’s milk supply, given that it is used as livestock feed for dairy cows. I urge you to place the same value on the lives of the American children that has already been placed on the lives of children in other developed countries, and exercise precaution when it comes to the use of these genetically engineered proteins in their food — not only because the novel proteins and allergens found in genetically engineered alfalfa have not yet been proven safe, but also because these novel proteins and allergens do not appear in children’s foods in other developed countries due to their potential risks.
The enormity of your responsibility to the health of our children cannot be underestimated. We owe you a debt of gratitude, as the legacy of your decision will have such an incredible and far-reaching impact.
Founder, AllergyKids Foundation
Author, The Unhealthy Truth
Mother of Four
Robyn’s post is on her website, AllergyKids.com, where you’ll find a wealth of resources:
“The goal of the AllergyKids Foundation is to protect American families from the additives now found in our food supply. We build community and provide information for people who want to protect the health of their loved ones, especially the 1 in 3 American children with allergies, ADHD, autism and asthma. We have the solutions to help make your experience easier and a wealth of information about how you and those you love can avoid additives and hidden allergens in many popular foods.”
Follow her on Twitter @ unhealthytruth and join AllergyKids on Facebook.
Do you live in one of the 49 United States that has snow this month? Even if you’re in Florida, you might enjoy this craft project from our friend Ronnie Citron-Fink at EcoNesting. Ronnie is a writer and teacher who lives in Rhinebeck, New York (snow depth 11” today), and she has a passion for green design and home décor. Who better to guide a delightful craft activity that will amuse all ages – and use a few eco-friendly items you might have lying around your drawers. Find out more about eco-friendly arts and crafts supplies on Practically Green!
Thank you, Ronnie!
Living Inside a Snow Globe
There is a simplicity to winter when a snowstorm casts a shadowy blanket of calmness onto the woods around our nests. Its quiet stillness is like the insulated caress of living inside a dome of snow. The storm at my home arrived right after the barreling in of far-flung children, presents and all the holiday festivities. In its wake, the storm left us a winter wonderland, but no chance to fulfill our travel plans to drive to my mom’s on Sunday. Instead, the four of us unplugged, unwound and reconnected as a family. It is in this calmness that I hope you also had a moment to step back and enjoy the wonderland of your life.
Make and Shake Snow Globes
I had a small childhood collection of souvenir-type snow globes. They are long gone, but those tiny window wonderlands pop into my thoughts each winter.
When I was a teacher, I created snow globes with the school kids for holiday gifts for their parents from this adapted Martha Stewart project. It was my way of sharing everything I love about winter (which you can read more about here, here and here).
A jar (recycled baby food or olive jars work well)
Ceramic figurines (or try little plastic characters recycled from kids’ birthday-party goody bags)
Small evergreen tips or flowers
Glitter or fake snow (check your saved gift-wrap supply!)
Glycerin (read labels please! Eco-friendly choices are available in drug or health food stores)
Clear drying waterproof epoxy (there are many non-toxic choices; read labels!)
Small piece of sandpaper
What to do:
1. Sand the inside of the lid until the surface is rough.
2. Adhere the figurine to the inside of the lid with epoxy and let dry.
3. Fill the jar almost to the top with distilled water.
4. Add a pinch of glitter–not too much or the glitter will stick to the bottom of the jar when it is flipped.
5. Add a dash of glycerin.
6. Screw on the lid tightly, being careful not to dislodge the figurine(s).
7. Shake the jar and watch it snow!
Ronnie Citron-Fink has written hundreds of articles about green living, home design, DIY, parenting, education and the environment for websites, books and magazines. With a passion for eco-friendly living, Ronnie shares her belief that style, sustainability and social-consciousness are the heart of econesting.
Follow Ronnie on Twitter @econester and join her on Facebook
Latest Lead and Cadmium Toy Recalls: Ceramic Piggy Banks: This article by Dan Shapley from The Daily Green gives great new information on some of the most recent toy recalls. From piggy banks and bracelets to lacrosse gloves and mood rings, Shapley covers some really unexpected material. This article is definitely worth the read, proving that some of the most dangerous materials are found in some really unexpected places. Remember to earn PG points by getting rid of lead in your home today!
The 2011 Green Jobs Conference is coming up February 8-10 in Washington, D.C. and it might just be the perfect time to look into a new career! From topics like recycling and agriculture, to community gardening and transportation, the conference provides some incredibly helpful information for greening your lifestyle. Check out the scheduled workshops here!
No Yard? Here’s How You Can Still Make and Use Compost: This article by Colleen Vanderlinden of planetgreen.com is helpful for people with and without yards. Vanderlinden suggests worm bins and Bokashi, two methods I had never heard of. Read this article and be inspired to compost, no matter how you do it!
Still having trouble cutting back on plastic? Van Jones’ talk on TED, The economic injustice of plastic, serves as a great motivator. His sincerity and humor make this talk easy and valuable to listen to. It’s a good reminder to utilize reusable bags and bottles whenever possible.
New and Cool Pick:
Looking for a way to save energy, but still want fully-charged electronics? Check out this Belkin Conserve Valet Energy Saving USB Charging Station featured on Green Shopaholic. Only $40, it draws zero power when it’s not in use and can charge up to 4 devices at the same time. I need this!
18 Incredible Small Green Homes That Live Large: This awesome piece by Brian Clark Howard of The Daily Green is the most fun article I’ve read in a long time! With a picture, description, and location for each house, it not only makes you want to travel, but to build green as well! It’s a great reminder that thinking big comes in small packages!
We’ve had the typical winter crud circulate through the house in the past week — ear infections, strep and various colds. We aren’t big over-the-counter medicine users, but we do rely on children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen. After four years of this “going healthy green thing,” I realized I had totally overlooked the medicine cabinet. Five minutes of reading labels and I was, well, stunned.
1. Parabens. Yup — those same ones I’ve been assiduously avoiding in my kids lotion because of concerns about potential endocrine disruption? I’ve been letting them eat the stuff. My kid’s medicine has butylparaben in it, which evidently affects the fertility of male rat offspring. I know… I know. Parabens are “Generally Recognized as Safe” by the FDA. According to the Chemical Encyclopedia on Healthychild.org however, parabens when ingested are “slightly toxic.” All I know is that I don’t want them in my medicine!
2. Artificial Colors. We try to avoid those too. I figure if warning labels about artificial colors went onto our European friend’s kids products, I’m avoiding them. As I was digging into the specifics of each color, I noted that one of the products contained Yellow #10, which isn’t ALLOWED in food, but is allowed in drugs?! Oh, but not in Europe. According to ColorCon,
“Currently, D&C Yellow #10 is approved for use in drugs and cosmetics but is not approved for food uses. This material is not acceptable for use in foods or drugs in Europe due to a difference in the specifications of the monosulfonated and disulfonated components of the dye.”
3. Sodium Benzoate. I had to do a little research to remember why this common preservative set off alarm bells, but oh yes – sodium benzoate mixed with artificial colors can lead to hyperactivity in children, mixed with ascorbic acid there is concern about benzene formation (a known carcinogen), and a UK scientist recently noted in a lab that it affected the mitocondria of DNA.
4. Propylene Glycol. This compound might be the most confusing of the bunch. The Environmental Working Group gives it a “moderate hazard” rating (4) when used in cosmetics, but doesn’t mention food. The ether version (PGE) has been linked to increased allergies. Even the Material Safety Data Sheet says it is hazardous when ingested (assumedly in very concentrated amounts). But what about in medicine? It IS an additive that the American Academy of Pediatrics has raised concerns about, primarily because of adverse reactions that range from eczema to lactic acidosis especially when administered in large quantities. But the Center for the Science in the Public Interest doesn’t mention it in their food additive list, either as safe or one to avoid and they are usually all over this stuff. Hmmmm.
And then, just for that final insult to injury, throw in some high-fructose corn syrup and lots of other sugars, including sorbitol.
I decided to head to the pharmacy to see if it was possible to buy my pain reliever without all the yucky stuff. The poor pharmacy tech had no idea what hit him although I’m confident he is now way more familiar with inactive ingredient lists.
I did find a “dye-free” version of acetaminophen which gets out the artificial colors, but everything else is still there. I also found a few homepathic remedies, but realized I’m not ready to part with an active ingredient that I know works. What I want is Tylenol or Motrin Free & Clear. But it doesn’t exist. So what’s a healthy green mom to do?
Fortunately, our friend Alexandra Zissu had addressed this question before in her “Ask an Organic Mom” blog on the Daily Green and I liked her advice. It felt very Practically Green:
It depends on your child, but in my experience, infants “need” Tylenol very infrequently. I haven’t found a child’s liquid pain reliever/fever reducer that didn’t contain a whole host of ingredients I would prefer to avoid. Someone should make one, surely there is a market. If there’s an ailment, I first suggest trying natural remedies, home remedies, or even homeopathic remedies (if you know and understand what they are, and are being advised by a trustworthy person). Talk to your pediatrician about what alternative remedies might be available. Nothing works better than honey to soothe a cough, for example, but it can’t be given to children under 1…If and when these don’t work, I do go to Tylenol or Motrin. Whatever you choose to give your baby, pay very careful attention to dosage guidelines and follow them.
So for now, we’ve settled on dye-free and even more prudent use of the stuff. But if anyone from Johnson & Johnson/McNeil Consumer Products is listening, you can do better and our kids deserve it. So when you finally do launch a Free & Clear version of your products, I want to be first in line.
We asked a few special friends to try out the new Green Action Plan tool, and here they are!
Inspiration for making green and healthy changes can come from all over: that big plastic garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean, concern about health of a loved one, a love of nature, or even, yes, all the crazy weather. Inspiration can also come from amazing people who are on their own healthy green journey — whether they are leading people in the world of health and sustainability or a person kinda like you who you haven’t had a chance to meet yet. We wanted to share some of our favorite Inspiring Action Planners and hope this makes setting up your own action plan just that much easier.
Click here for the very first Inspiring Green Action Planners:
- Avital Binshtock of the Sierra Club
- Gayle Crowell & Meghan Crowell, ConservingNow.com
- Shannon Hinderberger, Working Mom Goes Green
- Jeffrey Hollender & Sheila Hollender of Seventh Generation fame
- Stacy Malkan, Co-Founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
- Nancy Massotto, Creator of the Holistic Moms Network
- Nancy Mims, Co-Founder, ModGreenPod
- Robyn O’Brien, Author and Founder, AllergyKids
- Meaghan O’Neill, Editor-in-Chief, Treehugger
- Janelle Sorensen, Healthy Child Healthy World
- Lynn Stone, Smiling Green Mom
- Alexandra Zissu, Author, incl. Planet Home
It’s just a beginning – we hope lots of you will discover this handy organizer and create your personalized Action Plans, too.
- Once you’ve taken the Quiz and registered, go to your dashboard at http://practicallygreen.com/
- See the line that says “Your Plan for Living Healthier and Greener” (in orange)?
- Below it, see the line that says:
- “Add actions to your plan or choose from our recommendations” ?
- Click into any one of the Actions pages and look at the upper left. Click on “Add to my plan,” if you want to add that action — and presto! It appears on the plan on your Dashboard.
Got questions? Email Jason@PracticallyGreen.com for a speedy reply.
The subject of green lighting seems to be riddled with endless choices and caveats. Take lightbulbs: We all know that traditional “Edison” bulbs are horribly inefficient. Ever touched one that’s been on for a while? All that heat is doing nothing but permeating your indoor air.
We’re supposed to switch to CFLs, but they have mercury, and we all know mercury is bad (as in maybe deadly). CFLs can’t be recycled easily, and if a bulb happens to smash on the floor, you’ve got mercury to clean up.
Lately we’ve been hearing that LEDs are best. However, they’re expensive, and the quality of the light is sometimes so-so. Improvements are happening rapidly, new products are coming, but bottom line: “they aren’t ‘there’ yet.” What does “there” look like? And when do we arrive?!
We asked Brian to review the lighting Actions on Practically Green:
“I think your PG lighting challenges are great!”
Yay! Here they are:
Install LEDs or CFLs in 1 light fixture (5 points)
Install LEDs or CFLs in 10 light fixtures (10 points)
Install LEDs or CFLs in most light fixtures (50 points)
Switch to LED holiday lights (20 points)
Switch to a solar-powered light fixture (1o points)
and the oh-so-simple:
Turn out the lights when you leave a room (10 points)
“I would agree with your summary on CFLs although I’d be hesitant to describe LED light quality as so uneven. There is some unevenness in quality but that’s true for all lighting categories, and it’s a good idea to try before you buy and go with major brands. I had a chance to play with the new Philips LED bulb the other day and was very impressed with the good quality of the light and its yellow color, which people tend to prefer. The biggest drawback of LEDs is indeed initial price, I believe the Philips is $30 and consumers aren’t used to paying up front for home lighting. They should remember that with incandescents, more than 90% of the money they spend for their light is due to the energy use – and not the cost of the bulb. I definitely suggest CFLs as a good buy now, and for applications where they don’t make sense or if people won’t tolerate them I suggest halogens and dimming. That’s if they can’t afford or won’t buy LEDs, and also for some applications where LEDs really aren’t ready.”
Next time, we’ll talk with Brian about geothermal, since he’s written a book about that, too!
Check out The Daily Green on Facebook and follow them @ the_daily_green
It’s one of those Separated at Birth stories.
Melissa Massello and Amy Chase grew up within 50 miles of one another. Unbeknownst to either of them, they both loved shopping and being fashionable — so much that they began swapping their clothes and accessories with friends at a tender age. This continued in high school and college. When a mutual acquaintance introduced them two years ago, Melissa says “I felt like I’d found my long-lost sister.” The Swapaholics were born.
Swapaholics’ first event was a smash success: “It was amazing. We sorted 2 tons of clothing for that first swap! We really hit a nerve, and it’s grown like crazy. The age range is from 13 to some people in their eigthties. 90% are women, and we’ve seen sizes 00 to 28.” Melissa and Amy have helped host fifteen events all over the U.S. since then. “We had 400 people come to our event during Boston’s Fashion Week in September – that was a big success.”
“Swapping is the most social of shopping experiences,” they say. “People LOVE knowing that their favorites things are going to have another life. All the leftover stuff goes to Goodwill. They are a great partner for us…. Anyone can get involved! Get in touch with us and we’ll give you everything you need to host a successful swap!” – anyone from “the girl who wants to get 5 friends together in her living room to the guy who wants to host a 500+ person public book swap.”
Next Friday, January 21st, is National Swap Day, with a kick-off event in Somerville, near Boston, on Thursday the 20th. YES, that’s next Thursday! The Swapaholics are supporting twenty swaps nationwide – and counting. The campaign is planned to go through February 15th. If you want to go to a swap or host your own, click here, or email Melissa and Amy at email@example.com.
It didn’t take long for Swap.com, with one million members, to notice Swapaholics and acquire the company. Presto! They’ve become “the spokespeople for modern swapping.”
The Swapaholics are the official in-person event hostesses for Swap.com, and are national sustainable style and collaborative consumption experts based in Boston, MA. The Swapaholics are dedicated to reviving the age-old clothing swap, spreading the love for secondhand style, and sharing their trendsetting take on budget fashion with modern swappers nationwide. By fusing each event with a fresh and fashion-forward take on recycled fashion, accessories and beauty products, co-founders Melissa Massello and Amy Chase are leading the retail revolution of swapping before shopping.
Follow them on Twitter @TheSwapaholics, and follow @NationalSwapDay. Join National Swap Day on Facebook. See them on You Tube and review photos on Flickr! FYI Melissa emailed us, “Pfew! We really are taking over the interwebs. :) ” We love these enterprising swappy women.
19 Easy Home Winterization Projects: The Daily Green gives some great tips on warming up your house this season without turning up the heat! From the draft snake to caulking and weatherstripping, this article provides lots of energy-saving ideas to help you save money and earn PG points at the same time!
Rhoost Baby-Proofing Products: This video from Daily Grommet introduces a line of child-safety devices made of recycled materials with no screws or adhesives, without BPA, PVC, lead, or phthalate. The line, Rhoost, was created by Vianka Perez Belyea and Tavinder Phull, two mothers sick of the traditionally complicated baby-proofing methods. The products are also portable: perfect for visits to Grandma’s!
BaaLLS: Another great alternative to traditional dryer sheets! These reusable, handmade, wool dryer balls reduce drying time for a full load by 40%! They are also unscented, use no chemicals, soften clothes, and reduce static. Made in the U.S. of 100% pure virgin wool, these dryer balls are a great way to earn PG points!
Air-Powered Car, AirPod: The Future Of Urban Transportation? This article and video from The Huffington Post covers the latest invention in transportation. In the UK, a tiny car was created running on — that’s right, you guessed it — compressed air. Emitting nearly nothing, with speeds up to 50 mph, this little car could be the future! It may seem out of reach for the average motorist, but for now there’s always the hybrid! Purchase or lease one today and earn PG points!
Interested in fashion? Sheila Viswanathan of The Good Guide gives a great interview with Howard Brown, co-founder of Stewart+Brown on his sustainable clothing label. The interview discusses Brown’s reasons for creating a sustainable fashion brand, what we can look forward to in the 2011 collection, and the importance of product transparency when promoting sustainability.
New and Cool Pick:
On cold winter days like these that we can’t help but dream of our next vacation. How about instead of a regular hotel or resort, you look to something different. The 5 Cool Eco Friendly and Green Hotels, from Montana to Botswana, chosen by the Travelphant Travel Blog are just the tip of the iceberg. Next time you schedule a trip, look for hotels like these! From organic food, to recycling waste, these destinations have it all when it comes to green.
One of the “joys” of an old home is that we have very little outdoor lighting and limited access to electricity outside. We also have two big stone blocks at the end of our driveway. The combination has proven highly problematic for visitors (and, yes, my car’s paint job)!
Recently, we discovered a potential triple-whammy solution: solar-powered LED driveway lights. They are green, cost-effective, and super easy to install. You can also find them online or at any major home renovation store near you. A few months ago, we picked up a box of four to try them out.
The clearest benefit is that these lights are super easy to install. Just push them into the ground in a place that gets sunlight and you get light that evening. Pricing was only $12 per fixture and given how much we saved on wiring and electrician, plus the energy savings (or cost avoidance in our case), very cost-effective.
Now for the core question–what about the light?! I give it a B. It’s adequate and provides a nice low glow, even in the depths of winter when there isn’t a ton of sunlight to collect during the day. It also seems to last most nights all night, even in the depths of winter. The plus side of the “low glow” is it doesn’t contribute much to light pollution.
My spouse is more critical of the light quality. He thinks they improve visibility for anyone walking up to the house and pulling in the driveway, but doesn’t offer enough a strong enough glow to significantly improve backing out (at least during the winter). Consumer Reports seems to agree with him, calling the light quality “anemic”.
I happen to also think both he and they underestimated how often one of us (OK–ME!) drove on the lawn while trying to back out previously. These lights have straightened that little issue right out. I would also say we probably didn’t put in enough for the length of our driveway given that they are pretty low glow.
We have also discovered one other “hmmm” which may not be specific to the lights. Seems obvious, but YES — covering the lights with a bank of snow not only defeats the purpose, but the light gets ruined when someone (not naming names!) then drives over the snowbank. We are currently debating pulling them out for the winter. Hey, at least that’s an option. One more bonus versus wired! I’ve also heard reports of them not working due to battery failures or overheating, but that hasn’t been our experience yet.
My conclusion (so far) is that solar LED outdoors lights are an ingenious innovation for anyone wanting light and wanting to avoid electrical work and additional electricity use. Different brands may have better light quality than the Home Depot brand we bought, so look for consumer reviews and opinions before purchasing (or hopefully some of you will share a secret fabulous brand with us!).
Ever wonder how you might become a more eco-conscious airplane traveler?
Here’s how you find out:
Go to Practically Green and type the word “FLY” into the search box. You’ll get seven suggestions:
These actions range in impact from low (5 points) to high (100 points).
Can you guess which one is the most impactful? The least? You might be surprised!
Do you have an idea that we haven’t thought of yet? Please suggest it to us! Below the search results you’ll see: “Are we missing something?” and a clickable button: “Please suggest an action.”
Once you’ve taken the Quiz and registered, you can also recommend products and services across the entire database.
* * * Bon voyage! * * *
Nancy Massotto founded the Holistic Moms Network (HMN) in 2003 for mothers like herself, who were interested in natural and holistic choices for their families and wanted to find support for pursuing a greener, more sustainable lifestyle. HMN has since boomed to become one of the most popular and well-recognized parenting networks we know, with thousands of members and chapters in more than 30 US states:
Through our local Chapters, special events, and dynamic online forums, HMN members share life-changing information and advice on a variety of topics including pregnancy, breastfeeding, natural childbirth, healthy eating, positive discipline, alternative medicine, and all aspects of green living. Through the Network, they gain the confidence they need to make important decisions for their families. HMN members have discovered natural remedies for their child’s asthma and fever, found the courage to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), become educated about vaccination choice, and tried recipes for making their own non-toxic cleaners.
HMN represents the growing demographic of holistic-minded parents who are questioning conventional wisdom in the areas of birthing, child-rearing, healthcare, nutrition and wellness, education, personal relationships, and more! Members can find a local Chapter (refer to this map for a chapter near you) or use the resources provided by the network and the Chapter Mentoring team to build their own local community. Among the many benefits for member are a Wellness Savings Club with partner Wellness Possibilities, an online directory of wellness practitioners; local Chapter meetings and activities, and a subscription to The Wise Mom e-magazine.
Holistic mom Julie Wagner moved to Portland, Maine and launched a new chapter there. Her story is a great account of how a local chapter might typically get started. Julie is also on the HMN National Team, managing their national outreach on Facebook and Twitter. She produced HMN’s “Nursing Our Future” video, which you can watch here.
“I had been a member of two different chapters for almost 4 years prior to moving to Maine and could not imagine life without HMN. I moved to Maine in September 2009, declared intention to open a chapter in October, announced it locally in January and had someone step up to co-lead at the first interest meeting in February! We had our Open House to kick off the Portland, ME Chapter in May 2010. In less than 6 months, we have 25 members and have visitors and new members at every meeting. We use our Facebook page to update members and friends of upcoming events – which came in handy when we had to postpone a community play date (reading the book and making “Stone Soup”) when the host came down with a stomach bug!
“Our chapter’s meeting topic in October was Holistic Halloween where we talked about ways to celebrate Halloween from a few perspectives. One was to host your own party that celebrated more the spirit of the season and the harvest, and with natural treats and reverence for the Earth. Another was to participate fully in the American tradition of candy and costumes, but to do it with a holistic twist. Homemade costumes, shared/hand-me-down costumes rather than disposable or cheap flimsy costumes that are mass-produced with questionable materials. We talked about candy and shared information about Reverse Trick or Treating from Global Exchange. HMN had just done a Twitter Party with Global Exchange so it was a nice connect between National and Local for us. We also talked about healthier candy options — not avoiding all candy, but how to find better options that reduce consumption of HFCS and food colorings. One mom suggested saving the trickor-treat candy to be used on Gingerbread houses come Christmas!”
**(LOVE this idea!!)**
More news from Julie: “As one of 5 finalists in the Warrior of Change contest with Sambazon, Holistic Moms Network is in the running for a $10,000 grant! If HMN wins, we’ll be able to empower more families to live healthy and green – in fact, we have committed to offering 50 free memberships if we win! Voting takes place until January 21, 2011.”
In addition to local Chapter events, HMN organizes a Natural Living Conference every year. This event brings together hundreds of holistic parents with nationally-recognized speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors representing many aspects of holistic living, from positive parenting to non-toxic cleaning. Find out more on Facebook. If you’re interested, better book it! Last year’s conference was sold out weeks in advance. The 2011 Natural Living Conference will be held in Long Beach, CA on Saturday, October 1st.
On Tuesday evenings, join @HolisticMomsNet and @HMNMama for the #holisticmoms Twitter party at 10pm ET. The upcoming party on Tuesday, January 11th will discuss saving while living green through buying clubs. Check out the schedule for upcoming topics.
At Practically Green, we’re delighted to have HMN’s recommendation:
The path to living greener and healthier can be confusing, to say the least. BPA, pesticides, GMOs, food miles, parabens, and VOCs can make your head spin. But does living green have to be hard? Maybe not, if you have simple, practical steps that you can take to make small changes, one at a time…. a new online service that figures out where you are today on the green spectrum and provides you with a personalized list of changes that you can make to live even more sustainably. From switching to all-natural soap to reducing your air travel, you can take actions that will earn you points and badges for your green efforts! And you can make it social by linking your actions with your Facebook or Twitter account and encouraging your friends to join along! Practically Green is not only fun, but it helps you to figure out how green you are, decide your next green step, helps you to find products/services, experts, and friends, and helps you to stay motivated and inspired in your journey. It’s a great way to connect online and get some suggestions for how to green your life.
We’ll have more about Holistic Moms Network during the weeks and months to come and hope you’ll get in touch with Nancy or Julie if you’re interested in joining HMN or starting a branch in your area. Or just check the site or Facebook for more information.
Still looking for New Year’s resolutions? How about changing your transportation habits! The year ahead in bikes, an article by Elly Blue on Grist, discusses getting around on two wheels in 2011. Better infrastructure, more bike-sharing programs, and environmental urgency could propel bike usage forward! Remember, you can get PG points for committing to bike-related actions in 2011.
Nike Print Pack: Shoes Made from Old Magazines: That’s right, magazines. Just when we thought Nike couldn’t get any cooler! I have a bunch of friends that would love a pair of these recycled kicks. Just another way to reuse!
In an article on world.edu, Jennifer Copley gives some great insight as to why education continues to become a crucial aspect of green living. The article provides explanations of major health and behavioral benefits of school gardens, including some helpful statistics. Advocate for your child’s school to start a garden today and earn some PG points!
A vision for sustainable restaurants: As green living continues to spread, it’s no wonder the restaurant industry has begun to take the hint. English chef and restaurant owner Arthur Potts Dawson is a pioneer. Watch his talk on TED and be inspired to visit a dine-green certified restaurant near you…and of course earn some PG points!
New and Cool Pick:
Giving Those Old Gadgets a Proper Green Burial: Mickey Meece’s NY Times article sheds light on some of the most difficult recycling challenges of today. Old chargers or remotes you don’t know what to do with? The article suggests many helpful and unexpected places to turn including Best Buy, Target, Apple, and cell-phone service providers, many of whom offer trade-in programs which will also earn you PG points!
One of the most popular actions on Practically Green is Use reusable shopping bags regularly. 10 easy points, right?
But I have to admit it took me about a year to remember to bring reusable bags into a store, and I know I’m not alone. One friend, a perfectly competent smart woman, makes herself walk back out of the store to get the bags from her car where she left them. She calls this “the walk of shame” – though I doubt anyone else notices her doing it. In my own case, I cringe to confess that I sometimes/often wind up buying the bags they have on sale at the cash register – and now I have so many I’m giving them away. Ugh.
Good news! You can avoid all of that madness! Get yourself one of these free car window static clings!
The clings come from a company called Conserving Now, a company co-founded by a mother-daughter team in Reno, Nevada. Their site includes information for teachers and parents,community ideas, a shop (which includes lots of reusable bags!), and lots more.
Gayle and Meghan told us more about the clings and the vision behind them:
We get rave reviews on our cling. Our community members have told us that they no longer forget their bags. We have worked with many cities and organizations and the number one concern that they all have is that it is very difficult for people to change their behavior and actually remember their reusable bags. We are thrilled to be able to provide that little extra help. We have also partnered with many small and large corporations and organizations. One example of such a partnership was our work with Grant Thorton, a large accounting firm where we provided educational content and car window static clings for each of their 5500 employees. They also provided additional sponsorship dollars for classroom kits to be distributed for earth day. This is just one example of organizations stepping up to demonstrate their real commitment to their green initiatives.
We are also very focused on educating our youth.As a former teacher and a young mother, we both know how important it is to instill good environmental habits in our young people. We have shipped our classroom kits all over the country and are actively looking for sponsors to help us do even more. We have a very close strategic partnership with Envirosax. They include our car window static clings in their shipments and actively promote our site in addition to working with us closely to sponsor a significant number of classroom kits in 2011. In fact, we also partnered with a large federal credit union up in your neck of the woods to provide co-branded classroom kits to the community schools on their behalf. Many of our corporate partners are looking to support local green initiatives and report that our family interactive kits are the perfect vehicle to do just that. Our goal in creating the curriculum was to involve and educate not only each child but to include the family, teachers and school in all the activities.
We do sell product on our site, including our ultra sturdy cotton tote bags as well as the Envirosax line of bags. 100% of our profits go toward providing classroom kits and/or funding car window static clings for individuals.
Find them on Facebook and on Twitter @conservingnow. And put an end to forgetting to bring your bags when you go shopping!
Dream dinner party? Martin Keogh started getting worried about climate change a few years ago, and he decided to do something about it: he assembled a lively crew of big-thinking and creative guests to answer this question: “In a time of environmental crisis, how can we live right now?”
Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, Paul Hawken, Alice Walker, Jeffrey Hollender and a host of others contributed essays. We can’t think of a more practical and green book to read at the beginning of a fresh decade: Hope Beneath our Feet illuminates small and big steps you can take to be part of the solution – from flicking off your lights to making a major investment in alternative energy to more radical, out-of-the-box ideas.
It’s one of those “I had 39 rejections before I found a publisher” stories – North Atlantic Books – and now they can’t print them fast enough. The books are printed on 100% post-consumer-waste recycled paper, which delights Keogh: “Not one tree got cut down to make this book!”
You’ll want to dip into this book all year round – and please check back with Practically Green as you do, for specifics and encouragement. A few examples:
“Maybe you decide to give up meat,” Michael Pollan writes in his contribution to the book, “Why Bother?” “But the act I want to talk about is growing some — even just a little – of your own food…” – and, we might add, check the Dirty Dozen list of fruits and vegetables. If you’re not a gardener, you can decide to buy organic for those foods that might be sprayed with harmful pesticides.
“Grow food,” Vicki Robin echoes: “Become involved with CSAs (community-supported agriculture). Partner with others to do a share.” On Practically Green, sign up for a CSA.
From Barbara Kingsolver, the author of, most recently, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life:
We cherish our fossil-fuel- driven conveniences, such as the computer I am using to write these words….It’s impossible to become a fuel purist, and it seems like a failure to change our ways only halfway, or a pathetic 10 percent. So why even try?….
It’s the worst of bad manners… to ridicule the small gesture. These earnest efforts might just get us past the train-wreck of the daily news, or the anguish of standing behind a child, looking with her at the road ahead, searching out redemption where we can find it: recycling or carpooling or growing a garden or saving a species or something. Small, stepwise changes in personal habits aren’t trivial. Ultimately they will, or won’t, add up to having been the thing that mattered.
Frances Moore Lappé, the author of the classic Diet for a Small Planet: “If we buy pesticide-sprayed food, we’re saying to the food industry, yes, yes, give me more of that. If we buy organic instead, we are
stimulating its production. (Why do you think McDonald’s serves organic milk in Sweden but not here?)” Search for organic on Practically Green, and you’ll find numerous suggestions on this subject, from buying organic coffee, to organic chocolate, to organic foods of all kinds — and including, yes, Buy organic milk regularly (20 points).
State Senator Susan Bartlett of Vermont writes, “We can all choose to be overwhelmed, or we can choose to take simple steps.”
“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” Howard Zinn, from the final essay, “The Optimism of Uncertainty.”
Simple steps, small acts, stepwise changes: that’s where Practically Green comes in, helping you take simple steps for a healthier and greener life for yourself and your family!
Thank you, Martin Keogh, for this excellent collection. We look forward to Volume Two of Hope Beneath our Feet!
* * *
“This compelling and inspirational anthology raises a chorus of voices in defense of the earth. Hope Beneath Our Feet addresses the environmental problems plaguing our planet and the myriad forms of action each of us can take.”
–Leonardo DiCaprio, actor and activist