It’s that time of year when we reflect on the days past and look forward to a fresh start fired with resolve to make changes large or small for a happier, healthier–and more sustainable–New Year. So we thought it would be fun to ask around the Practically Green office to find out what resolutions our co-workers are planning on for 2013. It was actually a fascinating exercise and we found ourselves immensely inspired by our colleagues’ goals, so much so that we created a playlist with the complete collection of our office resolutions.
Here are some of our favorites:
- Sell a car and don’t replace it – 70 points
- Volunteer at an environmental nonprofit organization - 20 points
- Install LEDs or CFLs in most light fixtures – 50 points
- Plant a vegetable garden – 30 points
- And one resolution was actually a recommendation for a new action on Practically Green: Drink organic vodka. Pending!
Sidenote: Did you know that you can recommend healthy, sustainable actions to our editorial team? Just send us your idea and, who knows, you might just be the inspiration for the next action on Practically Green!
What are your resolutions for the New Year? We’d love the hear about them in the comments section below! Happy New Year!
If you’re done with your holiday shopping already, good for you. Try not to gloat! For the majority of us who are still making our lists, we’ve created a helpful Holiday Giving Guide that really covers the gamut if we do say so ourselves.
From sending e-cards (+15 PG points) or making your own cards instead of buying new ones (+5 PG points) to walking or biking to do your holiday shopping (+50 points!), it’s full of ideas. In the true spirit of giving, while you’re out there purchasing, say, clothing made from organic cotton (+10 points), we also have suggestions on where you can donate gently used items to a local charity (+20 points)—and even some thoughts on how to wrap that clothing in an eco-friendly fashion (+5 points).
If you’re prefer to only give experiential gifts (+10 PG points), we have plenty of ideas for those, too. And if you’re at a loss for what to give kids—your own, your relatives, or the ones that wrote a Dear Santa letter you’re answering—check out our CEO Susan Hunt Stevens’ great suggestions over at Abe’s Market. You’ll be glad you did.
The holidays are fast approaching, so we thought we’d share some eco-friendly gift ideas to help get you started on your holiday shopping. Bonus: these are a fun way to earn a quick 60 points on Practically Green!
For her: 21 Drops
Related Action: Choose essential oil for fragrance, perfume, and scented products 20 points
Indulge the ladies in your life with a little aromatherapy. Blended from 100 percent natural essential oils, their 21 varieties are designed to combat everyday aches and ailments. Tired? “Energize” should do the trick. Distracted? Try a little “Focus.” Overindulged? “Hangover” to the rescue!
For him: Eton Scorpion Multi-purpose Radio
For the kids: Cubebots
Related Action: Buy a toy made from recycled materials 5 points
At “rest,” this compact battery-free, plastic-free toy is an unassuming cube. But as you unwind, bend, and twist the interconnected blocks, he springs into hundreds of animated action poses. Made of sustainably harvested cherry, the Cubebot is well suited for toy boxes and desk tops alike.
For the family: Linen Napkins with Manners
Related Action: Switch to cloth napkins at home regularly 10 points
Not only do these reusable linen napkins make for a more eco-friendly dining experience, but they may result in a more peaceful and civilized meal time. Each comes printed with a friendly reminder to mind your Ps and Qs–and also conveniently serves as a handy way to identify whose napkin is whose.
For Fido: West Paw Eco Bones
Related Action: Switch to pet toys made from sustainable and natural fibers 10 points
Every dog must have his bone, so why not choose an eco-friendlier version? West Paw stuffs their fluffy chew toys with Öko-Tex approved fills and fabrics–all made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.
Related Action: Switch to an LED or solar-powered flashlight 15 points
The ultimate multi-tasking outdoor accessory! This features a built-in LED flashlight, a USB cell phone charger, a digital clock, an AM/FM radio, a NOAA weather band, a hand crank, and even a bottle opener. Sure to impress the boys.
Action: Save energy, skip the ironing
Practically Green Score: 10 energy points
You may have noticed a new feature on Practically Green that allows you to sort actions by level of difficulty. Feeling inspired? Tackle one of our epic actions like installing a photovoltaic solar electric system. We’re well aware that this might have to be a personal long term goal. If you are looking for more immediate gratification–and perhaps a quick way to work your way up the leaderboard–go for an action rated “easiest” and watch the points add up.
What could be easier than not ironing your clothes? Retiring your iron saves time, money, energy, and is something you can literally do in your sleep. Based on the average U.S. residential electricity cost of 11.8 cents per kilowatt hour, ironing for half an hour a day requires more than 250 kilowatts or $30 to $60 a year. Not too shabby savings.
So how do you end up not looking like a rumpled mess without an iron? We’re partial to steamers. And here’s an appliance-free tip we just got from a Practically Green member (who not only skips the iron but also launders clothing less often for +30 points!):
- Select an outfit and hang the items up (use shaped hangers for best results)
- Lightly spritz garments with water and gently spread or pull the fabric straight (you can add a few drops essential oils like lavender or bergamot for extra freshening)
- Let dry overnight. Clothes will be wrinkle-free and ready to wear!
Got any similar tips? Let us know in comments.
For obvious reasons, I read a lot of green blogs. Very few make our favorites cut, but today I found one that really hit home called The Conscious Shopper. It hit home because of the their tagline: Go Green. Live Better. Save Money.
Save Money?? Isn’t being green MORE expensive?
Then I read Erin’s story and realized—you know–our story isn’t that different. When we first went green we had two-incomes, 1 kid, lived in a condo, and well, we just didn’t have to think as much about the cost of organic food and natural products. One recession, one decision to do a start-up, two kids, and a house later—it’s a legitimate question to ask whether we can still afford to do all this green stuff.
As I started thinking about how we were cutting back and where we are spending, I realized that this self-induced frugalista period is actually making us greener and there are also many, many ways that being greener is saving us money. Here are just a few examples:
* I now take public transportation to my office, which avoids tolls, gas, and mileage expenses AND prolongs the life of our 100K miles+ wagon. Estimated operating savings of $70/month and whatever a car payment would be.
* use of freecycle has avoided at least $200 in expenses
* consigning clothes has so far netted me about $150 and discovering the delicate cycle on our clothes washer versus drycleaning many items has saved ~$50/month
* reducing our red meat consumption has saved at least $100/month
And the green home investments we made in flusher times are saving us a bundle now—at least $600 a month in the winter and $200 month in the summer thanks to the CFL bulbs, dual pane windows, more insulation, and new heating system. Without those, I can’t even imagine making the decisions we made this year regarding our work.
Erin’s blog does a much better job than I’ve every done of keeping track of her spending & energy usage and I found it really useful just to see what another green mom spends on groceries (phew! I’m not as bad as I feared). However, the most inspirational parts are the weekly “green challenges”—something we at Practically Green love and are planning for our site when we launch. She’s got a great list of items to pick from and posts a new one each week. She also has a Facebook group called Going Green without Going Broke.
So yes, organic milk is more expensive than regular milk. I’m not going to try to tell you that on an item by item basis green is cheaper. But what Erin and other Conscious Shopper resources show is that a greener lifestyle can also be a more affordable lifestyle by eliminating waste, reducing consumption, prioritizing quality over quantity, and adding in healthier habits.
A good perspective to keep in mind when restocking that ridiculously expensive all natural baby shampoo.
We’d love to hear from you—any ways that you think green has saved you money? Where do you splurge for green?