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Stop Wasting Food!

shutterstock_169420184We have all done it many times, thrown perfectly good food into the trash. You might think this is not a big issue, just an unhappy accident of over consuming, but the problem is bigger than that.

According to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance 25 to 40% of food grown, processed, and transported in the United States will never be consumed. This waste is upsetting because 1 in 6 people in the United States suffer from hunger.

Food waste is also terrible for the environment. Most food waste finds its way to landfills where it will decompose and release the greenhouse gas methane. In the United States landfills are responsible for 1/3 of methane emissions.

Another environmental issue is wasted food is wasted resources, like the energy, and water used in agricultural practices.

Below I have put together some tips to reduce food waste in your daily life. Many of these tips may seem obvious but are often forgotten.

Use Common Sense Instead of Relying Solely on Food Packaging Dates
Labels on food are not USDA or FDA regulated and are mainly used to help stores maintain their inventory. These dates imply when the product is at its peak in quality, but the food may still be edible after the date. Use your best judgment and sense of smell instead of solely relying on the labeling.

Be Mindful of What Is In Your Fridge
Use what will go bad first, first. Be aware of what is in your fridge and how long it will likely last.
Be sure to check the contents of your fridge before you go food shopping.

Instead of Taking One Large Shopping Trip a Week Take A Few Smaller Ones
Perishables like fruit and vegetables have a short shelf life. Instead of buying a week’s worth of healthy goodies only to have a majority go bad before you get the chance to use them, go on smaller shopping trips throughout the week to ensure freshness.

Only Buy What You Will Use
Just because a larger size of a perishable is a better value doesn’t mean you should buy it. If you don’t plan on eating yogurt everyday do not buy a large tub that would take you months to consume.
On a similar note only put on your plate what you plan to eat, you are more likely to save the food for another day if you don’t feel like the food has been “tainted” by a dirty plate.

Bring Leftovers For Lunch
If you make too much for a meal, instead of throwing it out, save it for lunch the next day. Not only does this reduce waste but if you’re on a budget it will help you save money.
This is also true for when you go out to eat. There is nothing wrong with taking a “doggy bag” because if you don’t the food will just go in the trash.

Compost
Composted food can be used for gardening. Give your food the second life it deserves instead of sending it to the landfill.

shutterstock_156586097For more information and tips check out this article  at Clean Techies on Food Waste which includes a helpful/education graphic by fix.com.

landfill via shutterstock

stop wasting food via shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

How To Offset Your Printing Footprint

I Have A Dream

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Though Martin Luther King Jr. may be best  known for his influence on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and The Voting Rights Act of 1965, he was also an early leader in the Environmental Justice movement. Before his untimely death Martin Luther King was protesting basic enviromental issues like poor housing conditions in Chicago, Illinois and Sanitation conditions in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King Jr’s pursuit of justice for all is a presiding theme in the environmental rights movement. In fact, I remember seeing his quote “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”  as a battlecry at the  “People’s Climate March” last fall.

Today, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, ENN has decided to share some of our favorite nature and justice themed quotes from the great civil rights leader.

“From the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire, let freedom ring. From the mighty mountains of New York, let freedom ring. From the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania, let freedom ring. But not only that: Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.”

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

“We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

““Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.”

 

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial via shutterstock (for editorial use only)

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Paper or Plastic?

shutterstock_145228456I recently came across the following video from DNews (Discovery News) briefly addressing the age old grocery store bag question of ” paper or paper?. It’s quite educational and entertaining, and I suggest anyone with a spare 3 minutes to take a peak.

Though the video is not up to date on the newest ordinances banning plastic bags in the United State (think California) it is still worth watching.  The video  highlights global plastic bag ban successes like Rwanda,  but it also “attempts” to be “balanced” as well and questions the sourcing of recycled bags and the landfill impact of paper bags.

A ban on plastic bags will not just impact “grocery store decisions” but all shopping decisions that result in the receipt of a one time use bag. Banning plastic bags forces people to become more organized and think more sustainably.

 

bag tree via shutterstock

“Paper or Plastic: Which Bags Hurt the Environment More?” via DNews

 

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

The Ultimate Tree Care Guide

Guess Which Countries Rank the Highest in Energy Efficiency

Give Your Christmas Tree A Second Life!

shutterstock_120988276Just because Christmas is over doesn’t mean your tree has outlived its usefulness. Give your tree a second life by recycling it.

Many towns and cities have Christmas tree pick up recycling programs. If your area doesn’t have one you can deconstruct the tree for personal use or identify a nearby tree recycling drop off site.

Here are some “second-life” options for your beloved tree:

Use Your Excess Tree Parts to Improve Your Garden
There are many ways that a deconstructed pine tree can get your garden into top shape for the spring. Heavy pieces can be used in compost and tiny branches can be used as mulch, or to protect you flower beds from the winter. Pine needles will also help the soil retain moisture.

Use Discarded Branches To Make “Natural” Bird Feeders
Coat a branch with peanut butter and bird seed to make a simple feeder for flying winter residents.

Use Trees To Improve Your Fish Pond
A sunken Christmas Tree provides excellent hiding habitat for fish in a fish pond.

Feed The Goats
Goats can “clean” a Christmas tree at an alarming speed!

Donate Your Tree To A local Mulching Program To Improve Local Parks
Many US cities ( like NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles) have programs where you can drop off your unwanted trees and the city will reuse them to mulch public parks.

Discarded Trees Can Be Used To Prevent Erosion
States like Louisiana and New Jersey use discarded trees to prevent erosion from the Ocean.

PS. Make sure to remove all decorations before recycling your tree, there are no environmental benefits to tinsel!

Recycled Christmas Tree via Shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

The True Cost of Meat

Can Recycling Increase Your Attractiveness?

shutterstock_95091373Who knew that recycling could make people consider you more attractive? Usually when I’m at a restaurant or and at party and ask “is there somewhere that this can be recycled?” the response I get is “Are you serious? Relax.” but according to the results of a poll by PepsiCo I may be hanging around the wrong people.

During a survey of 1,140 Americans, PepsiCo found that many Americans over the age of 18 find recycling an attractive, mate worthy trait. Hooray!

The study found the following:
- 40% of people said they would have a more positive opinion of someone if they learned they recycled
– 21% of people said they would be turned off if they found out on the first date the other person didn’t recycle.
– 2 in 5 respondents want a significant other who cares about the environment

Improved sex appeal (attractiveness) is a pretty powerful incentive. For many people increasing attractiveness may be a more powerful incentive then increasing sustainability and doing our part to protect the environment.

Of course, the numbers still need to be improved upon. Only 2 in 5 people want a significant other who cares about the environment?  I personally would appreciate higher numbers, but websites like Glamour and Yahoo found PepsiCo’s findings significant enough to share.

Though only 40% said that finding out the other person recycled would increase their positive perception of the person, it’s still a higher percent then finding out the person has a graduate degree (25%) , impressive job (18%), or good saving (8%).

I would also like to bring up another thing to consider when thinking about the “positive results” of PepsiCo’s study. There is a bias to self reporting. Most people wouldn’t admit out loud that they prefer a person with status to a person with environmental values. So the accuracy of the results can be questioned.

But any way you interpret it, recycling probably won’t hurt your appeal.

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bubble love via shutterstock

young couple via shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

9 Cleaning Guides to Keep Your Home Green

By: Guest Contributor, Roger Gallager

 

Cleaning your house doesn’t need to look like a chemical warfare. You don’t need to use the same cleaning agents that are not only harmful to your health, but are also not environment friendly. It’s a safer idea to go back to basics when it comes to fixing most common cleaning problems. Keeping your house clean usually comes with toxic fumes and hazardous components, but the good news is that you can change it.

 

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Common household cleaning products are usually made from harmful chemicals designed specially to kill most types of bacteria. Along with this, it exposes you and your loved ones to danger and illness. According to Phillip Dickey of Washington Toxics Coalition, the most dangerous cleaning products are oven cleaners; drain cleaners, and acidic toilet bowl cleaners. These chemicals can cause severe burns in the skin, eyes, or esophagus and throat if ingested. Ingredients with higher amount of toxic include ammonia and bleach, which can produce fumes that are highly irritating to the eyes, nose and lungs and shouldn’t be used by people with lungs or heart problems. Knowing these, switching to homemade cleaning alternatives should be a no-brainer.

 

The list is long for these natural cleaning ingredients that you can use. An article from DMCI Leasing provides some of the most common and most effective cleaning alternatives and some tips on how to use them. And here, is an easy guide for your household cleaning projects.

 

Baking Soda Rules Them All

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Baking Soda can be used in almost every household chore; from the kitchen to your garage. Baking soda is effective with removing stubborn stains from surfaces. Create a paste (3 parts baking soda, 1 part water) then apply and let stand before scrubbing or wiping it clean. It also helps keep odors away simply by sprinkling it to garbage bins, carpets, and even to your dog’s fur!

 

What to Trust with Rust

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Vinegar is another versatile alternative household cleaner. The vinegar reacts to rust making it easier to dissolve off of the metal. Simply soak the metal in vinegar for few hours before scrubbing it off. You can also try to soak it for 24 hours to lessen scrubbing efforts. Another option is to use salt and lime. Simply sprinkle salt before juicing a lime over the top. Let it set for 2-3 hours before scrubbing.

 

 

Wood Furniture Cleaning

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Oils work like magic. Use essential oils depending on your needs. Lemon for deodorizing, eucalyptus and tea tree for sanitizing and peppermint for purifying are some examples. Olive oil can also be used by combining it with vinegar in 2:1 ratio. Use a cloth to wipe wooden furniture rubbing off scratches, or use warm olive oil to prevent other wooden materials such as rattan from cracking. Add 1/2 cup of beeswax and 1-½ cups of olive oil to keep your wooden furniture from drying out. If you don’t want to worry about mixing, use coconut oil as an alternative.

 

 

Having Pain with Laundry Stain?

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Different types of stain need different types of cleaner. White vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemons, are the most usual eco-friendly cleaners that you can use. One example, for cleaning blood or wine stains, put salt on top of the stain while your cloth acts like a cover of a bowl, then pour hot water directly onto it.

 

 

Smells Fishy

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Foul odors are not unusual with storage compartments especially with refrigerators. If you don’t always have the time to clean it, try leaving charcoals or citrus rind regularly and see how it works. Alternatively, you can use onions every now and then.

 

 

Termites and Pests

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Getting rid of termites and pests is important in preserving your home. There are over 300 varieties of termites but the subterranean termites are the ones that cause 95% of the damage. You can eliminate this by crushing an Aloe plant and soaking it in water. You can then use it to spray directly onto pests or wooden materials. Orange oil is also very effective to get rid of these pests. For prevention, mix borates (commonly known as borax) with water and spray it onto doors, walls, and other wooden materials.

 

Glass Cleaners

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Cleaning glass panels can be done easily using homemade ingredients. Use ¼ cup of vinegar, 2 cups of water, and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Combine them all in a spray bottle and shake very well as cornstarch might settle in the bottom. Cornstarch and water can be eliminated if you prefer to do so. You can use a squeegee or an old newspaper to wipe it off. Make sure your newspaper is at least two weeks old to avoid ink transfer.

 

Ease with Cleaning Grease

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Instead of using your dishwashing soap, you can again depend on vinegar and baking soda. Spray vinegar on surfaces and let it sit for few minutes before wiping it clean, or sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge and use it to wipe down greased surface.

 

 

It’s Not Just for Oral Hygiene

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Toothpaste has a lot of surprising tricks to offer aside from preventing cavities. Some examples of usage for toothpaste are cleaning your bathroom mirrors, bottom of your flat iron, bathroom sink and other ceramics, making your chrome shine, and even crayon on your walls. Just make sure you don’t forget to separate your cleaning toothbrush and the one you use for your mouth!

 

Cleaning with natural, eco-friendly alternatives are not only easy, but are cheap. You can save your family and your house from chemical exposure and improve their health in the long run. After all, creating mixtures and combining ingredients is not that complicated. All we need is an ounce of creativity.

 

Roger Gallager is a Daily Caller contributor. Follow him @RogerGallager.

by Editor

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