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Reduce/Reuse


Don’t Toss Those Butter Wrappers!

butter-wrapperI know it sounds silly to worry about butter wrappers but they can’t be recycled because of the oil so what, if anything, can you do with them? Well, there are actually quite a few things you can do with them and if you find yourself with more than you need at the moment, you can always freeze them by folding them in half with the dry side on the outside.

Grease Pans: So easy, and just the right amount of grease!

Corn on the Cob: Buttering corn on the cob without getting the whole butter stick all corny and your corn all greasy.

Perfectly Cut Cakes: Grease your knife with a butter wrapper before slicing up a cake for perfect, professional-looking slices.

Stop Using Non-Stick Spray: Who needs a chemical-laden spray when you’ve got a butter wrapper? You won’t be drowning your dinner or baked goods in butter, but you’ll get just the right amount of grease.

Lightly-Buttered Toast: Grease your toast with a wrapper for a light coating of butter.

Wrap Homemade Candies: Making caramel for the holidays? Wrap cut pieces with butter wrappers instead of parchment or wax paper.

Separating Hamburger Patties: Patty up your meat and between each one place a butter wrapper. They won’t stick to each other or themselves and can help keep things stacked together and taking up less space in your fridge or freezer.

Make Rice Krispie Treats Easier: Pressing Rice Krispie Treats into the pan can be super messy and sticky. Use a butter wrapper to push your treats into place and keep your hands clean!

Source: care2.com and thekitchn.com

If you have any good ideas for reusing butter wrappers, please share them in the comments :)

 

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Make a No-Sew Fringed Scarf

fringe-scarfWhile a scarf is often a winter necessity for those of you above the Mason-Dixon, I’m more into scarves as a fashion accessory since it doesn’t get all that cold here in Florida. This simple tutorial is for a super stylish scarf that, weather notwithstanding, you can wear all year long.

Not only is this no-sew fringed scarf  really easy to make and very fashionable (fringe is EVERYWHERE right now), it’s also a great way to upcycle some of those unwanted t-shirts we all have clogging up our drawers!

And? They make great (read: inexpensive) holiday gifts!

You’ll Need:

•  One old T-Shirt – Bigger, wider  shirts will make allow you to make a longer scarf. Smaller,  more narrow shirts will make your scarf shorter.

•  Cloth Scissors – These will make cutting your fringe a lot easier.

Step 1:  Find a t-shirt that you won’t mind cutting up. If you don’t have one at home, you can pick up tons of them at the thrift store for almost nothing.

Step 2:  Cut horizontally across the shirt  just below the armholes, to create a rectangular tube. Then do the same just above the hem.

Step 3:  Start making vertical cuts all the way around the tube that extend from the raw edge upward. The longer the cut, the longer the fringe will be.  This is optional but if you want more fringe, you can cut strips on the opposite side as well.

Step 4:  Tug down on each strand to elongate it and curl the edges. You can also knot the ends of each strand for some extra detail.

scarf-pictures

You can find more t-shirt scarf ideas on here on Pinterest.

Photo Credit: Bestfan.com

 

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Great Green Gifts Under $21

Stainless Steel Straws

These stainless steel straws are practical, durable alternatives to plastic straws. They have all the functionality of the bendy disposable straws without the waste and they also look pretty cool!  Made of 18/10 stainless steel. $9.95 for set of 4.

Bonus: $4.95 flat rate shipping with code “BELLS”

Find It Here: Reuseit


Peopletowels

Did you know the average person uses between 2,400 and 3,000 paper towels a year? Tote these reusable alternatives to paper towels instead. Made from 100% certified organic Fair Trade cotton, these extra-absorbent and lightweight hand towels are made to curb your paper towel usage at the gym, work, in the car or in public facilities. Comes with their own bag for portability. Set of 2 for $16

Bonus: Printed with non-toxic dyes

Find It Here: Uncommon Goods


3D Garden Pinwheels

A modern spin on the traditional garden fixture, these stainless steel stunners add fun and style to your landscape. Designed in Germany. 2 sizes available for $16-$20

Find It Here:  Uncommon Goods

 

 

 

 

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Solar Battery Charger

What: Solar 11-in-1 Battery Charger

Features: This charger uses solar power to re-charge up to 11 NIMH or NiCad (D, C, AA and AAA) rechargeable batteries.

Green Factor: Rechargeable batteries can be used over and over and using a solar-powered charger is a greener choice than a standard charger—no electricity is used or required!

Bonus: Living in hurricane country, my family is well-acquainted with the issues that come with being out of power for extended periods of time—being able to recharge all those batteries we depend on when the power is down (and not likely to come back on for days) is a huge bonus!

Find It Here: Amazon.com (qualifies for free shipping!)

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Six Things Your New Baby Doesn’t Need

When I was pregnant with my first child, I thought I had a good idea of what babies needed until I went to a baby superstore for the first time.

Suddenly, I was faced with a ridiculous number of options and every product was marketed to seem like it was the MUST HAVE item that no parent should be without. Any possible issue that a new mom might encounter had a handy product solution that would make life SO! MUCH! BETTER!

I’m embarrassed to admit I fell for all of it…hook, line and Diaper Genie. I just didn’t know any better and frankly, being green wasn’t even on my radar back then. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for me to realize how un-green my baby’s world was but not before I made a more than a few mistakes and wasted a lot of money.

Learn from my experience and don’t bother with these baby items. You can use the money you will save to get baby gear that is safer and more eco-friendly!
Read the rest of this entry »

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A Green Nursery on a Budget

We all want a safe haven for our babies and giving them an eco-friendly space of their own is surely at the top of any green mom’s list BUT…we all know green can also cost a lot of green.

Fortunately, with a little creativity, perseverance and time, you can give your bundle of joy safe, eco-friendly accommodations without spending a fortune and I’m going to tell you everything you need to know to get started!

Read the rest of this entry »

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Glassen Insulated Reusable Travel Mug

glassen insulated coffee mugWhat: Grosche Glassen insulated glass travel mug

Features: This 12oz  travel mug is handmade of double-walled glass which helps keep your beverages hot. It has no metal or plastic parts and is a better fit for car drink holders than a standard coffee mug.

Green Factor: It’s made of glass so there is no leaching of chemicals into your beverages and the lid and grip are made of food-safe silicone. Since it’s reusable, you can also forgo the yucky styrofoam poison cups.

Bonus: Right now they’re 40% off at Amazon.com.

Editors Note: I got one of these for Christmas and I absolutely love it. It doesn’t leak and my coffee stays piping hot!

Find It Here: Amazon

 

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DIY Upcycled Sweater Boots

What: Tutorial for making your own upcycled sweater boots

Features: With a big bulky sweater, some cheap flat shoes, a hot glue gun, some buttons, a sewing machine and a needle and thread you can make your own super stylin’ sweater boots.

Green Factor: You’re recycling old stuff into something new!

Bonus: While these won’t be truly winter-worthy (i.e. snow, sleet, rain), they’ll be adorable for all those cool days between fall and spring and your only limit is your imagination. See other examples here and here.

Find It Here: Instructables

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Green Tips for Back-to-School

Greener Lunch

  • Pack your child’s lunch in reusable containers and use reusable water bottles. In doing so, you can help reduce the huge amount of waste that ends up in landfills.
  • Ask your kids’ school to source sustainable foods for cafeteria lunches, including locally grown or Rainforest Alliance Certified™ produce.
  • Pack fruit as a healthy alternative to chips, and you also save on the wasteful packaging!
  • If your school has a garden, consider collecting organic material in a compost bin in the cafeteria and creating fertilizer from lunchtime waste.

Greener Transport

  • Have your kids walk or ride their bikes to school if possible. Not only does this help reduce carbon emissions, but it is also good exercise for all of you
  • If you live too far from the school to make walking or bike riding an option, have your kids catch the school bus as opposed to driving them.
  • If you have to drive, arrange a carpool with other parents. Not only will this help reduce emissions, but it will also help minimize your gas costs.

Greener Waste

  • Remind your children to use both sides of the page when they’re writing or printing.
  • Don’t forget to recycle your own paper waste. Ask your kids’ school to start classroom and cafeteria recycling programs if they don’t already have them.

Greener Supplies

  • Save money and trees by purchasing textbooks second-hand.
  • Don’t throw away old text books — sell or donate them instead!
  • Try to use school supplies from last year; your kids don’t need new supplies every year!
  • Use refillable pens made from recycled plastic.
  • Use pencils made from Forest Stewardship Council certified wood.
  • Reuse last year’s backpacks and lunchboxes if they are still in good condition.
  • Choose recycled and/or Forest Stewardship Council / Rainforest Alliance Certified paper.

Greener Education

Thanks to The Rainforest Alliance for kindly providing these tips (I added a few of my own)

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School Uniform Shopping & Recycling

It’s back-to-school time and for us, that means it’s also time to get more school uniforms. Unfortunately, for the past few years, I’ve been coming across more and more brands of uniforms that are treated with anti-stain chemicals.

While the old formulation of Scotchgard stain repellent was discontinued because it was found to be bio-accumulative, persistent and basically unsafe for living things (as were other similar perfluorochemicals such as Teflon) there is a whole new crop of stain-resistance chemicals that are supposed to be safer. Why? Because they stay in the body for less time—and while it’s great that they stay in your body for less time, it’s still my preference that they not be in my body or the bodies of my children at all.

With that in mind, I always avoid clothing (as well as furniture and housewares) that touts it’s resistance to stains but it still concerns me that a lot of people don’t realize this isn’t necessarily the bonus it’s advertised to be. It’s a chemical that’s not really been proven 100% safe and it will be on your child’s skin five days a week for an entire school year.

Thanks but no thanks…

There are many brands of uniforms out there and I’ve definitely not researched them all but these are the brands I’ve opted not to buy because they have been treated with stain resistant chemicals:

Land’s End
Cherokee (Target)
George (WalMart)
Dickies
Classroom

These are the brands that do not, as far as I can tell, use stain-resistant chemicals:

Old Navy
Izod
Dockers
French Toast  (I saw one pair of French Toast pants being sold by an online uniform store that were treated with Scotchgard but none of the French Toast items I saw in stores or on the French Toast web site indicate any stain resistance treatment)

Recycle Those Uniforms

This spring, once it got warm, I took all my daughter’s winter khaki uniform pants and cut them into shorts and hemmed them with my sewing machine. I knew by the following winter they would be too short for her so this was an easy way to get more wear out of them. If you don’t sew, you can probably find an alteration shop that will do it for just a few dollars per pair.

I also look in consignment shops and thrift stores for gently worn khaki and navy pants and shorts for both kids and when the school has uniform swaps, I bring our too small stuff and trade up for bigger sizes.

While these things all save me money, they also conserve resources by employing the three R’s —reducing, reusing and recycling.

Happy non-toxic back to school!

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A Better Dry Cleaning Bag

What: Bondi Bags eco-friendly dry cleaning bags

Features: Made of breathable, washable, reusable, water-resistant heavyweight nylon, Bondi Bags are a great alternative to plastic dry cleaning bags and suitable for travel, too.

Green Factor: We all know plastic is a huge problem for the environment, hence the reusable shopping bag revolution. But your dry cleaning can skip the plastic, too. Just bring your Bondi Bag to your drycleaner (hopefully a green one!) with your clothes and bring them home in it…plastic-free!

Bonus: Bondi bags are a total bargain at $15 each. Even better, $2 of every bag purchased goes back to the Surfrider Foundation which helps keep beaches safe and clean.

Find It Here: Jen Darling Bags

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Greener Entertaining

Parties are notorious for consumption and waste but there are things you can do to green your party and be kinder to the environment. Remember, going green is not an all or nothing proposition—do what you can and it’ll help in the long run.

Recycle: Don’t let a party keep you from recycling. Provide plenty of refuse containers for garbage and recyclables and label them so that it is clear what kind of waste goes in it. The best containers are those that require some action or thought on the part of the user, like lifting a lid, stepping on a pedal or opening a cabinet (trust me, I got a masters degree in this stuff).

This simple act forces your guests to think and notice your recycling sign. If you have these types of containers and label them correctly, you’ll limit misplaced items. If you don’t, just use any containers and label the heck out of it. You’ll still get misplaced items but it’s better than nothing. Read the rest of this entry »

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