Making Your Own Microwaveable Popcorn

Making your own microwaveable popcorn at home is an incredibly easy way to avoid chemicals (used to create “flavor” and to coat the microwave bags) and save money.

Simply buy a bag of kernels (less than $3 at the grocery store) and a stack of brown paper lunch bags (I bought 50 bags for a dollar). Place a handful of kernels in the bag, fold over the opening of the bag a few times, and pop in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes until the popping slows down. Pour on some REAL butter or olive oil and your favorite toppings – salt, Parmesan cheese, cinnamon and sugar, chilli powder . . . let your imagination soar. Give the bag a hardy shake to distribute the flavor and enjoy.

It's that easy. Plus, it works out to about 8 cents a bag. Why overpay for fake butter popcorn when you can have the real deal at home at a fraction of the cost?


All-Natural Cold Remedies

Cold season is upon us. Instead of using over-the-counter treatments that can leave you feeling groggy or out of sorts, consider some all-natural home remedies to alleviate your symptoms and get you feeling better as quickly as possible.

Fighting off illness takes a toll on the body. When you start to feel a cold coming on, it's best to get plenty of rest – conserving energy to bolster your immune system. If congestion makes sleep difficult, try propping yourself up with a pillow to relieve some of the pressure on your sinuses.

For a sore throat try the tried-and-true salt water gargle remedy. Gargling with a tablespoon of salt dissolved in a cup of warm water four to six times a day helps sooth a sore throat. The salt draws out excess fluid in the throat, reducing swelling and the associated pain.

There are a variety of natural treatments for congestion and a runny or stuffy nose. To start, garlic, with its antiviral and antibacterial properties, has been used to prevent and to treat colds for centuries. If you can stomach it, try eating one or two raw cloves as soon as you feel a cold coming on. Otherwise, you can boil a couple chopped cloves to make a tea or add a few lightly cooked cloves to your food. You may be able to ward off a cold completely or, at the very least, relieve your congestion.

Drinking plenty of warm fluids is another natural way to help clear up congestion. Drinking water, herbal tea, broth, juice, sports drinks, and ginger ale can also help prevent dehydration and keep your nose and throat moist. Just avoid dehydrating drinks like soda, coffee, and alcohol. One hot toddy (hot herbal tea, honey, and whiskey or bourbon) is fine.

Keeping nasal passages moist helps alleviate nasal congestion. Try inhaling steam, running a humidifier, taking a hot shower, and/or using a saline nasal spray. A Neti pot (available in most pharmacies) can help irrigate your nasal passages and provide some congestion relief.

A natural salve made with menthol, eucalyptus or camphor placed under the nose can help open breathing passages and sooth the irritated skin on the nose. Applying a heat pack to congested sinuses can reduce congestion and the pain and pressure with which it comes.

Finally, many people turn to natural supplements for a holistic way to fight off colds. There are several products in the market touting zinc as the way to reduce or eliminate cold symptoms, but the most recent research shows in has limited effects fighting cold viruses. Many people swear by echinacea to either prevent or treat colds. If it has any effect, it's only in a preventative capacity. If you want to try using echinacea, it's best use it daily during cold and flu season. It will be of little use once you're actually sick. Currently, the best bet in cold-fighting supplements is vitamin C. It does not prevent colds, but taking an 8 grams megadose as soon as a cold begins can help shorten the duration of a cold. This is my own personal go-to remedy and I did not suffer a single cold last winter.

And, of course, there is always Nana's go-to remedy – chicken soup. There is, in fact, scientific evidence that supports the idea of chicken noodle soup as a cold remedy. And, even if there wasn't, there's something to be said about a dose of nostalgia to make you feel better.


Eating Green

Ready to start eating clean and green? Check out Everyday Green's Eating Green Basics.

Have the basics down, but need help deciphering those confusing food labels?

- Click here to learn what egg labels like free-range and omega-3 fortified mean.

- Click here for help understanding poultry labels.

- Click here to learn the difference between organic and grass-fed beef.

- Click here to learn the difference between the terms “organic” and “natural.”

- And finally, click here to learn more about organic certification and food labels.

Getting Your Whole Family Outside This Fall

Tomorrow marks the first day of autumn, my favorite season. As Carol Bishop Hipps put it, it's “the mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.”

I hope you all take the time go out and enjoy this most splendid season. Getting outside and into nature is an important part of keeping everyone in your family happy and healthy. In fact, a University of Illinois study found that children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder were able to raise their attentiveness scores simply by taking a walk outside. Not surprisingly, walks in natural settings had an even more significant impact than walking on city streets.

Being in nature can benefit your whole family's mental, emotional, and physical well-being, so here are some ideas to get you and your whole family outside this fall.

Visit a farm. Check out LocalHarvest.org for farms near you.

Try a hay or corn maze.

Go apple picking or search for the perfect pumpkin. Check out pickyourown.org to find a pick-your-own farm near you.

Go on a hay ride.

Jump in the leaves.

Create artwork from the leaves, acorns, and pine cones available in your yard or a nearby park. Click here for fall craft ideas and directions.

Round up the neighborhood for a game of touch or flag football.

Play outdoor games like freeze tag, Red Rover, hopscotch and Kick The Can.

Fly a kite.

Visit a local park.

Plant a tree. Many people don't realize that planting isn't just a springtime activity. The fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs as well as flower bulbs like daffodils, crocus, and tulips.

Visit the zoo. Fall (and even winter) is a great time to visit the zoo. Summer's heat keeps many animals hidden in their cool, shady spots. Cooler temperatures means more animals roaming about for easy viewing.

Visit state and national parks in your area. Many offer great family friendly activities.

Go on a nature expedition at a local park, in your yard, or around your neighborhood. Bring along binoculars, a magnifying class, and a journal (young children can draw pictures of what they see) and teach your kids how to observe, enjoy and appreciate nature without disturbing it.

Make a nature journal. Have your kids decorate a notebook they can carry with them to note what they observe when they're outside. Even young kids can keep a nature journal by drawing what they see.

Explore the wonderful world of bugs. Check your local library for books about bugs and then head outside with a magnifying glass to see what you can find and identify.

Learn about birds. Check out some library books or use the online bird guide from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Then get outside with some binoculars and that nature journal and see what you can find.

Set up an outdoor scavenger hunt. The Love The Outdoors website offers a great guide to setting up your own scavenger hunt for kids, along with a few sample lists to get you started.

Have a picnic (even if it's in your own yard).

Start an outdoor hobby together. The options are limitless – biking, fishing, hiking, canoeing/kayaking, horseback riding, etc.

Build a fort. Use these simple directions from wikiHow or get fancy with these instructions from This Old House.

Go letterboxing. Letterboxing is an outdoor activity that dates back to the 1800s. It combines elements of orienteering, hiking, art, and puzzle solving. Participants search for letterboxes hidden in public places, such as parks, by following clues from a catalog or web site. These letterboxes usually contain a notebook and a rubber stamp. Finders stamp their personal journal with that stamp to record their find and then leave their personal stamp in the letterbox's log book. Your own local parks and recreation department may have a program or you can check out one of the many web sites available to help you get started. If you'd prefer a more high tech treasure hunt involving gps tracking, try Geocaching.

Learn about the solar system. Kidsastronomy.com has several great resources you can check out before heading outside to connect the constellations together.


Making Your Child's School a Green School

What better contribution can you make to your child's school than to help make it a green school? After all, a green school is a healthy school and a healthy school is more conducive to learning.

According to the American Lung Association, schoolchildren miss more than 14 million school days a year because of asthma exacerbated by poor indoor air quality. A major contributor to that poor air quality is the toxic chemicals in the cleaning products used to clean schools. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), poor indoor air quality can reduce children's ability to perform mental tasks involving memory, calculations, and concentration. While some environmental factors can be an impediment to learning, others can help bolster learning. Studies show that students in classrooms receiving the most daylight during the school day perform up to 20 percent better on math tests than children in classrooms with artificial lights.

There's also schools' environmental impact to consider. According to the EPA, 50 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed when machines are turned off. Imagine what's happening in schools! Now factor in all the faucets left on by small children, the paper carelessly wasted by students of all ages, and the countless recyclables being tossed in the trash and that is one major carbon footprint.

Green schools strive to reduce their ecological footprint, while making the school environment more conducive to learning and all around healthier for students and staff.

Here are some ways you can help green up your child's school.

Pack lunches in reusable containers to avoid plastic and reduce trash.

Have your child walk, bike, or ride the bus to school. Alternatively, you can organize a carpool.

If driving, don’t idle your car at the school's pick-up/drop-off area.

Ask your child's teacher if the school has a formal policy about unplugging computers and turning off lights at the end of the day and during down times like lunch and recess.

Volunteer to make signs for your child's teacher reminding children to turn off the faucet when they're done washing their hands.

Donate an air-cleaning plant to your child's classroom. NASA spent two years testing 19 different house plants for their ability to remove common pollutants from the air. The most effective plants were proven to be philodendron, English ivy, spider plants, dracaena, weeping fig, golden pothos, peace lily, Chinese evergreen, bamboo or reed palm, and snake plant.

Offer to help your child's teacher with green projects and activities, such as nature walks (children can keep a journal of what they observe), making recycled crafts like milk carton birdhouses, growing plants in the classroom, planting a tree outside the school, or starting a recycling program.

Be an example for other families. Check out Raising A Green Kid to learn more.

Ready to go bigger? Organize a group for these green school initiatives.

Start your school's PTA or Wellness Committee (any school receiving federal funding for lunch programs is mandated to have one) on a get green campaign or establish a separate Green Team or Eco-Committee. The Green School Initiative offers a variety of resources to get you started.

Take the individual measures you've taken to a school-wide level. Encourage all parents to pack waste-free lunches and carpool. Install air-cleaning plants throughout the building and develop an energy conservation policy for the entire school.

Implement a no-idling policy for all cars and buses.

Seek out transportation companies with bio-diesel, clean diesel, natural gas or hybrid school buses.

Replace incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent ones. Consider the installation of skylights.

Start a school recycling program.

Opt for eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning products. Many of the products used to clean school buildings contain toxic chemicals that pollute the air and threaten children's developing respiratory systems. Look for products with the EcoLogo or Green Seal label (a list is available at greencleaning.ny.gov/Products.asp), use micro-fiber mops and cloths, and convert to high efficiency equipment such as HEPA vacuum cleaners.

Convert to environmentally-friendly school and office supplies. At the very least, try to avoid products made of PVC or #3 plastic.

Go to epa.gov/iaq/schools/actionkit.html for a free Tools for Schools Action Kit. The step-by-step guide shows schools how to carry out a practical plan to improve indoor air problems at little, or no, cost using straightforward activities and in-house staff. The kit provides best practices, industry guidelines, sample policies, and a sample IAQ management plan.

Make sure school grounds are maintained using Integrated Pest Management to reduce the use of chemical pesticides.

Consider a garden as a school-wide project. A school garden can be used in a variety of lessons – from art to science.

Remove vending machines and any other sources of processed foods from your lunch room. Promote fresh produce instead. This may involve that school garden or a CSA or Food Co-op program available from local farmers.

Green your school events. Cut back on disposable paper products and opt for reusable decorations.

For fundraisers, try selling energy efficient light bulbs, crafts made from recycled materials, or experiences instead of wrapping paper or candy.

Green up the curriculum. Earth Day Network's national GREEN Schools Campaign, in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and The Clinton Foundation, offers a variety of resources, including free K-12 environmental lesson plans and activities.

The Earth Day Network's goal is to green all U.S. schools within a generation. Help make that goal a reality by helping to make your child's school a green school.



Greener, Safer Dry Cleaning

When the process of dry cleaning started over 200 years ago solvents like gasoline and naphtha were used. Over time other, not necessarily safer, solvents were developed for cleaning clothes. Today, 80% of all dry cleaners use perchloroethylene (perc) – a synthetic liquid solvent described by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a “toxic chemical with both human health and environmental concerns.”

The health effects of perc depend upon the level of exposure. People exposed to high levels of perc (individuals working in or living next to a dry cleaning facility) may experience symptoms ranging from dizziness and nausea to skin, lung, and eye irritation to liver damage and respiratory failure. Low levels of exposure may carry risks as well. When laboratory animals were exposed to perc the effects on developing fetuses included altered growth, birth defects, and death. Perc has also been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals and studies of dry cleaning workers suggest an increased risk for certain types of cancers. Due to such health concerns perc is banned in several countries and California is in the process of phasing it out completely by 2023.

Perc also poses an environmental concern as it can get into the air, soil, and water during most phases of the dry cleaning process. Once it's released into the air, perc remains in the atmosphere for several weeks before breaking down into other chemicals – some toxic, some ozone depleting. Perc, in its liquid form, can seep into soil and kill plants. Seeping into the ground, perc can make its way into water supplies, contaminating drinking water and killing aquatic animals.

Alternatives to Traditional Dry Cleaning

There are some alternatives for people who want to avoid the health and environmental effects of perc dry cleaning.

“Green” or “Organic” Dry Cleaning. If you see “organic dry cleaning” advertised, ask some questions to find out what exactly that means. Many perc alternatives are petroleum-based solvents, the most popular being a chemical called DF-2000. Because it contains a chain of carbon, DF-2000 is scientifically classified as “organic.” By the same reasoning, gasoline and perc are organic. So when you see a dry cleaner advertising all-natural, green, or organic dry cleaning, they may very likely be using DF-2000 which is classified as a VOC and is listed by the EPA as a neurotoxin and skin and eye irritant for workers. Another perc alternative is a silicone-based chemical called GreenEarth. California’s Air Resources Board studied GreenEarth for 18 months and decided that it did not qualify for a non-toxic alternative dry cleaning solvent grant program, but it did qualify it as an acceptable dry cleaning solvent alternative.

Professional Wet Cleaning. Most dry cleaners offer a process called wet cleaning where “dry clean only” clothes are washed using computerized washers and dryers and special cleaning solutions. The EPA calls wet cleaning a “viable and environmentally-preferable clothes cleaning technology.” It uses no hazardous chemicals and generates no hazardous waste or air pollution. Wet cleaning has proven less effective than silicone-solvent based dry cleaning, but just as effective or better than perc dry cleaning.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Cleaning. Carbon dioxide cleaning uses CO2 with high pressure, converting it into a liquid that can act as a carrier of biodegradable soaps, just as water would work with detergents in a washing machine. Afterward the CO2 turns back into a gas (much of which is reused) and the clothes dry instantly. The CO2 used in this process is the captured by-product of existing industrial processes. So, instead of being released into the atmosphere, CO2 is re-purposed as a cleaning agent. According to Consumer Reports, CO2 cleaning is more effective than GreenEarth cleaning (a close second), professional wet cleaning and perc dry cleaning. Unfortunately, CO2 cleaning is not yet widely available.

Home Dry Cleaning Kits. For clothes that are not heavily soiled, a home dry cleaning kit is an inexpensive alternative. These kits still involve chemicals, but until non-perc dry cleaning becomes more widely available, they're a a reasonable alternative.

Steam. Lightly soiled items can be steam cleaned in your dryer. Simply place the item in the dryer with a damp towel and run a normal cycle.

Avoid this dilemma all together. Steering clear of “dry clean only” fabrics will help you save money and avoid dry cleaning chemicals. Many of the dry clean items you currently own can be safely washed at home. Special fabrics, such as silk and suede, need special cleaning, but most other fabrics are sturdy enough to withstand being washed by hand or in a washing machine's gentle cycle with mild detergent.

If you must use a traditional dry cleaner, make sure to air out items outside before bringing them indoors. Hopefully, with time, safe perc alternatives will become more widely available.



Eating Seasonally This Fall

Buying local is a great way to get fresh, healthy food that hasn’t been chemically modified to keep its appearance after traveling half way around the world. Buying local means buying seasonal . . . purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season in your area. By buying in season you get the freshest, best-tasting produce at the best price, while eliminating the environmental damage caused by shipping foods thousands of miles.

You can better plan your meals around what’s in season with the seasonal produce guide available from Natural Resources Defense Council.

Now that fall is on its way, we here in the northeast can look forward to the following fruits and vegetables coming into season: Apples, Asian Pears, Beets, Blackberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cantaloupes, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Onions, Peaches, Peas, Pears, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radishes, Raspberries, Snap Peas, Spinach, Squash, Tomatoes, Turnips, and Watermelon.

Eating seasonally is a great reason to try new foods. Check out the seasonal recipe guides from Allrecipes, Epicurious, The Food Network, and Cooking Light. Martha Stewart's Seasonal Produce Recipe Guide, in addition to offering seasonal recipes, lets you know what produce is in season, what to look for when selecting a particular type of produce, and how it should be stored.

Try eating seasonally. Your taste buds, wallet, and planet will thank you!


Recycling Plastic Bags

While it’s best to avoid plastic as much as you can, it’s inevitable that you’ll end up with some plastic bags and packaging. Plastic bag recycling is becoming more widely available, so at least you don't have to toss those items in the trash.

In an attempt to keep lawmakers from banning plastic bags completely, plastic bag manufacturers have begun establishing more plastic recycling programs. While, it's not the best solution and certainly not for the right reason, it's still best to take advantage of the programs and recycle plastics rather than adding any more to our landfills.

You may have already noticed plastic bag recycling drop offs in local stores, but did you know that you can drop off more than just plastic grocery bags? They will also accept retail bags, paper towel and toilet paper plastic wrap, plastic newspaper bags, plastic dry cleaning bags, bread bags, produce bags, sandwich bags, and any clear bags labeled with a #2 or #4 recycling code. You just have to make sure they are clean and dry.

Drop off bins can be found at several major retailers, including many grocery chains, JC Penney, Lowes, and Wal-Mart. Visit plasticbagrecycling.org for drop off locations in your area.


Green Pet Care

Pets can be wonderful companions and pet ownership is associated with multiple health benefits, including lower blood pressure. It only seems fair to care for your pet in the healthiest, most natural way. Plus, if you're an environmentally-conscientious person, reducing your pets' carbon paw print is just a natural part of being “everyday green.”

Here is Everyday Green's Guide to Green Pet Care:

Opt to adopt. Each year between 3 and 4 million dogs and cats in the U.S. are put to death due to overcrowding in shelters. Yet, many people still insist on buying animals from breeders. Not only are they overpriced, but many keep their animals in poor living conditions and engage in unscrupulous practices such as inbreeding, over-breeding, and culling of unwanted animals. The greenest (and not to mention kindest) way to get a pet is to adopt one.

Spay or neuter your pet. Help put a curb on the 70,000 cats and dogs born every day in the U.S. and have your pet spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering not only help reduce the numbers of abandoned animals, but help prevent certain types of cancers and disease in pets as well.

Give your pet a cleaner, greener diet. Avoid pet foods with the chemical preservatives BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin. Look for organic or free-range ingredients rather than the assortment of animal by-products found in many pet foods. Vary your cat's food to reduce its exposure to mercury in seafood. A great way to give your pet a safe, healthy diet is to make your own pet food. If you're up for it, there are plenty of recipes available online.

Green up your waste management. Clean up after your dog with biodegradable dog waste bags, available from most pet supply stores. If you own a cat, make sure to avoid clumping clay kitty litter. The clay is usually strip-mined, which causes extreme environmental damage during extraction, and contains carcinogenic silica dust which is associated with a variety of health problems. Instead, opt for green kitty litters made from plant sources like recycled newspaper, wheat, pine, corn or wood chips.

Opt for green toys and accessories. Nowadays most pet supply stores carry at least one line of green pet toys and accessories, which are better not only for the environment but your pet's health as well. Look for pet toys, scratch posts, bedding, collars, leashes, and other accessories made with recycled materials, sustainable fibers like as hemp and organic cotton, plant-based dyes, and BPA-free plastics. Replace pet bedding or any other products with old (pre-2005), misshapen, or broken down foam as it's likely to contain harmful PBDEs.

Check labels for safer grooming products. Pet shampoos and grooming products can contain harmful and even toxic chemicals. Read product labels and avoid anything that contains parabens, ingredients ending in “eth”, PEG, urea, or fragrance. Also, take a pass on anything without an ingredient list.

Ditch the flea collar. Flea collars are generally ineffective and expose your pet, you and your whole family to toxic chemicals. Instead, bathe your pet often, check regularly for ticks, vacuum frequently, and ask your vet about safer flea treatments and repellents.

Keep your home clean and safe for your pet. Vacuum with a HEPA-filter vacuum and remove your shoes at the door to reduce dust, allergens, and pollutants that can be harmful to you and your pets. Avoid using chemical pesticides and fertilizers on your lawn so it's safe for your pet (and the rest of your family) to walk, play, and lay on.


Understanding Organic Labels

A common misconception is that the term “natural” is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or some other regulatory agency, while the organic label is nothing more than “a fancy way of saying pricey.” The truth is actually the very opposite. Anyone can claim their product is “natural,” but only farmers and manufacturers who have been third-party verified as having met standards set by the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) may use the organic label.

USDA-certified organic produce must be grown without the use of herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetically modified seeds for at least three years. Organic fruits and vegetables are typically identified as organic with a small sticker that says organic on it.

USDA-certified organic meat, dairy and egg products must come from animals raised without antibiotics or growth hormones and fed a diet free of animal by-products, fertilizers, pesticides and genetically engineered food. These single ingredient foods are labeled organic with a round USDA Organic seal on the packaging.

Processed foods with multiple ingredients may also carry the USDA Organic seal. For these foods, manufacturers must adhere to the following labeling guidelines.

To use the USDA Organic label a product must contain at least 95% organic ingredients (by weight). The remaining ingredients must be approved by the NOP.

To use the 100% Organic label a product must be made of all organic ingredients. Not a single ingredient may have been produced with pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, hormones, or genetic engineering.

To use the Made With Organic Ingredients label a product must contain at least 70% organic ingredients. Such products may not use the USDA Organic seal, but are allowed to list up to three organic ingredients on the front of the packaging. The remaining ingredients must be on the NOP-approved ingredient list.

Products with less than 70% organic ingredients are not allowed to use the USDA Organic seal or the word organic on their product label. They can, however, list organic ingredients on the information panel of their packaging.

This overview should help you better understand organic labels at the grocery store, but keep in mind that earning organic certification is a lengthy and costly process that not all farmers can afford. When shopping at a farm stand or farmers market, ask the vendor if they use organic practices or, if they’re not organic, if they use non-synthetic pesticides and/or practice minimal spraying. If they answer yes to any of these questions, then you're likely buying from a conscientious farmer who’s producing good quality, minimally-processed food.


The ABCs of Being Green

It's back-to-school time. So, here's a quick refresher on the ABCs of Being Green to help you make this upcoming school year the greenest yet.

Always remember the three Rs . . . Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Every piece of advice about being green resonates back to at least one of these basic tenets.

Bike or ride the Bus instead of driving.

Clean green with homemade cleaning solutions made from simple and natural ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide.

Donate goods you can’t recycle or sell. Freecycle is a great online nonprofit that helps you to donate to people in your community.

Eat produce from the Environmental Working Group’s 15 Cleanest Fruits and Vegetables in place of produce from the Dirty Dozen list.

Filter your tap water with a home filtration system instead of buying bottled water.

Go outside! Turn off the TV and video games and let your kids explore outdoors. Check out state and national parks in your area and the variety of family friendly activities most of them offer.

Hit the local library or used book store for books, CDs, and DVDs instead of buying them new.

Install timers to automatically adjust your thermostat when you’re sleeping and out of the house.

Juice up your cell phone with a car charger. Or, when using the computer, charge your phone using the USB port. Both options will save energy compared to using a wall plug.

Keep rain water for a variety of non-potable uses, such as watering plants or washing your car, by installing a rain barrel.

Launder your clothes with ½ to ¾ of the manufacturer’s suggested amount. You’ll cut down on waste and get your clothes cleaner.

Make the most of each car trip by combining as many errands as you can. Save time and gas.

Nurture your skin with personal care products that are safe for your health and the environment.

Opt for energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs.

Purchase energy-efficient appliances to replace your old ones as they wear out.

Quit topping off your gas tank. It’s bad for your health and the environment.

Recharge your batteries (you’ll, of course, have to buy the rechargeable kind) instead of using disposable batteries.

Shower instead of taking baths. Try to keep it to 5 to 10 minutes.

Toss food scrapes and yard refuse into a compost bin to make your own organic, nutrient-rich fertilizer.

Utilize what you already have before buying anything new. Don’t just “shop your closet”. Shop your entire home. Go a step further and organize a swap (of clothes, shoes, and accessories; or home goods; or kid toys; or books and movies) with your friends.

Visit farmers’ markets in your area and support local farmers while getting super-fresh, locally-produced food.

Wash with fragrance-free soap. Opt for fragrance-free body wash, hand soap, shampoo, and moisturizer to avoid chemicals that are harmful to your health and the environment.

X April 22nd on your calendar. It’s Earth Day. Volunteer for events organized in your community. Can’t find any organized volunteer opportunities in your area? Get together with friends for a community clean-up of your own.

Yank out your stash of reusable shopping bags whenever you go shopping.

Zap away less energy by unplugging appliances, like toasters and coffeemakers, when they’re not in use. “Standby usage” accounts for anywhere from 6% to 26% of a homes' electricity use.


Green Tip of The Day

Filter your tap water instead of buying bottled water. Properly filtered tap water is purer than bottled water, less expensive and better for the environment. Unlike bottled water, tap water is regularly tested with the test results openly reported. And, according to the New York Times, a person drinking only bottled water will spend about $1,400 a year compared to the 49 cents it costs for a year's supply of tap water. As for the environmental cost of bottled water: One and a half million barrels of oil are used every year to manufacture disposable plastic water bottles for the U.S. alone. About 80 percent of those bottles will end up as litter or in landfills where they’ll take at least 450 years to break down.

If you don't care for the taste of your local tap water, a water filtration system can be an easy, inexpensive remedy. Click here for help determining which system is best for you home.