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5 Holiday Habits That Will Make You More Eco-Friendly

By: Guest Contributor, Roger Gallager

 

Bet you’re starting to plan your holiday menu, or maybe picturing your holiday decorations. How about a holiday-getaway?

More than thinking about the nearing holiday celebrations, this season is also a good time to give back to your loved ones and the world at large. From holiday decorations of your home to gifts, food and habits, holiday offers a multitude of opportunities to shift and go green.

So, come on. Give your family the best celebration with a good conscience by painting your holiday green.

Below are the some green habits that will help you have eco-friendly holidays!

 

1.    Rethink and Recycle Holiday Decors

Holiday season has always been associated with excessive buying, wrapping, post-holiday waste. In fact, according to US Environmental Protection Agency, the volume of household wastes generally increase up to 25%, about 1 million extra tons of wastes, during the holiday season. However, this time of the year is the best time to reduce, reuse and repurpose the remnants of last year’s holiday cheer.

Stop throwing old decors to trash quite yet.

Photo by Shelterness via Pinterest

For one, you can put a new spin to your old jars and make it a your candle holder. You can doll it up and put some colorful paint dots to it. Ask your kids and other members of the household to participate and design their own jar.

You can also recycle your old cereal boxes to Christmas stars. All you need is an empty cereal box, glue and embellishments of your choice.  This can be a cheap and eco-friendly alternative to a metal star on top of your Christmas tree. You can also reinvent your own decorations with just old light bulbs, tin cans, bottles and even sweaters. This recycling habit can save you a couple of bucks. Isn’t that awesome?

 

2.     Draw Germs Out Your House With Natural Cleansers

Holiday wastes and stains are probably your greatest nightmares. Using chemical and regular cleaning solutions can be a lot harmful than helpful.  Yes, they can kill germs and make your countertops shiny but this most of these cleaners contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful to your health. Though, there have been non-toxic products being sold commercially, it is best to make your own as most of its ingredients are readily available in your kitchen.

Photo by One Good Thing via Pinterest

Baking soda, in fact, could possibly replace all your household cleaners. It kills bacteria, cleans, deodorizes and polishes. It can take away stubborn dirt and stains in your bathroom and carpets. It can also be used as stink-remover. Vinegar, lemon, cornstarch, coffee and salt are some of the natural cleaners that are also easily available. They’re cheap, chemical and toxic-free. These won’t only save you pennies for unwarranted chemical cleaners but you also reduce chemical footprint in your house through your kitchen favorites. Celebrate holidays without worry.

 

3.     Greenify Your Holiday Shopping List

From using ‘green’ and natural cleaning alternatives to ensuring your shopping list should be part of your holiday habits. Every purchase matters and has impact to the environment. This does not mean you have to literally buy bags of green veggies. Having a green shopping list means being conscious how the products are grown or produced.

 

Photo by CaplanMiller via Pinterest

Instead of buying in small amounts, it’s smarter to buy in bulk if your budget permits. Also keep in mind if the product is efficient or it just generates more wastes. You can also reuse packaging or bring your own bag for your grocery items. Every year, millions of plastic bags are being dumped in landfills and oceans. You don’t want to contribute to that statistics, do you?

 

4.     Lower Energy Use of Holiday Celebrations

Leaving all your lights and electric Christmas ornaments turned on 24 hours a day can balloon your energy bills. Heater and other appliances should also be used in an equalized level.

 

Photo by Craftiest of Women via Pinterest

Celebrate without burning energy costs overnight. Simple things like insulating and keeping cool with fans, washing clothes in cool water, using LED lights and keeping unused appliances unplug can do the trick.

 

5.     Travel Smartly and Eco-friendly

Instead of driving or taking a cab, help make this holiday season even greener by taking public transportation to visit attractions or even when going out for a grocery or a short trip. Opting to commute can help lower the carbon dioxide emissions per passenger than traveling by a hybrid car.

 

Photo by Refinery29 via Pinterest

 

If you’re not comfortable to commute, then carpool is one of your best choices.  It saves you money, reduces time spent on the road and contributes to making the environment celebrate holidays from toxic chemicals too.

 

To have an environmentally friendly holiday seems to require a lot of work and sacrifices, but in fact, it is easy when you’re really into it. It just boils down to a few key habits and smart choices and a lot of concern with our loved ones and the environment.

With these green habits, no act is too small. Start greenifying your holidays as early as now.

 

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

 

 

by Editor

Carbon Monoxide – The Silent Killer

By: Guest Contributor, Penny Atkinson

Carbon monoxide is not only harmful to humans but it is one of the six major air pollutants. Whenever carbon-based fuels burn such as coal, wood and oil, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide affects the atmosphere’s ability to cleanse itself of other polluting gases and can consequently cause damage to the Ozone layer.

 

We are taking steps to protect our environment against this gas by using renewable energy, but how can it affect us at home and what are we doing to protect ourselves?

 

Carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for 50 deaths and a further 200 hospitalisations each year in England and Wales, but a staggering 52% of homes don’t have a carbon monoxide detector to protect themselves from this risk. The substance can kill by slowing down the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen to body tissues and vital organs. Without oxygen your body tissue and cells die.

 

This gas is commonly referred to as the silent killer due to its lack of colour, taste or smell. This alone signals how important it is to install a detector as it’s difficult to identify otherwise. Poorly maintained household equipment such as gas cookers or old boilers can be culprits from carbon monoxide leaks.

 

In 2010, Katie Haines died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning after a faulty boiler leaked the poisonous gas into her home while she took a bath. This year two young missionaries, Yu Peng Xiong and Connor Benjamin Thredgold, died in their apartment after a faulty water indoor heater caused a carbon monoxide leakage.

 

25% of carbon monoxide poisoning deaths affect adults 65 years and older who usually have pre-existing health conditions that affect the respiratory and circulatory system. The presence of such a condition significantly reduces the victim’s tolerance to carbon monoxide and increases the risk of fatality. Even if you breathe in a small amount of carbon monoxide it can be harmful, especially to those in such vulnerable groups. However carbon monoxide poisoning can be deadly no matter of what age, proven by the accidental deaths of Katie Haines and the missionaries.

 

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning  include nausea, poor concentration, apathy, flu-like symptoms and vertigo. It is essential you seek medical advice from an emergency medical team if you notice any of the above. This is especially poignant in pregnant women as a study has shown that foetal death and brain damage happen when carbon monoxide levels in the mother are high enough to make her lose consciousness.

 

To avoid health problems or worse caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, regularly check for the warning signs such as condensation on windows and pilot lights that frequently blow out. It is also recommended to install a carbon monoxide detector – which a shocking 62% of homes currently don’t have. For more information, see the guide.

 

Image credit: My Boiler Service.

Penny Atkinson is an online writer and editor covering a range of subjects from environmental issues, energy saving and healthy living. Connect with her on Twitter @PennysPennies

by Editor

Stopping A Pipeline Before It Starts

Two weeks ago I attended a local Sierra Club meeting as follow up to the People’s Climate March.  The meeting covered a range of topics from the actual attendance of the march (in the 400,000s), to affordable solar panel options like Solar City, and the governor of our fine states decision to remove us from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Of all the issues discussed, the discussion of the proposal for the construction of a pipeline to transport oil through my state really struck me.

The pipeline, which is being proposed by the Pilgrim Pipeline Company, will connect from Albany, New York to Linden, New Jersey. The pipeline will be bi-directional and transport oil and refined petroleum products. The oil, which was extracted by fracking, is originally from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal comparing oil from 86 locations around the world, Bakken is the most explosive.

Pipelines in the United States are not adequately monitored. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration currently only has 135 inspectors to survey 2.5 million miles of pipeline!

Though the company has not released a detailed map of where the pipeline will be exactly placed, it is expected to follow routes 87 in NY and 287 in NJ. The pipeline would go through the New Jersey Highlands, which is responsible for providing drinking water to half of New Jersey residents! Any leak or accident could be disastrous to the state!

Construction will also affect wetlands and degrade waterways.

So what is the average citizen supposed to do stop the pipeline from being built?

-Since the plan for the pipeline is yet to be finalized citizens who live where the pipeline is being proposed can currently refuse to have their land surveyed. Areas that will be directed effected in New Jersey include: Mahwah, Franklin Lakes, Oakland, Wanaque, Pompton Lakes, Bloomingdale, Riverdale, Pequannock, Watchung, and Scotch Plains, to name a few.

-Being vocal to your local and state representatives is important. Don’t wait for the pipeline to official to try and take action, nip it in the bud!

-Encourage your community to invest in clean energy sources like solar and wind power.

pipeline via shutterstock

 

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

The Top 10 Solar States: You May Be Surprised

Written By: Leone Kaye of our Affiliate  Triple Pundit

The clean energy sector has been on an economic roller coaster the past several years, but despite entrenched interests, questions about efficiency and costs, renewables are on the upswing in the U.S.

That includes solar power, which is experiencing a surge in installations large and small—witness SolarCity’s success in recent years. Of course, the regulatory environment has a lot to do with how solar is spread.

So to that end, the writers at Solar Power Rocks, a clearinghouse of solar information from rebates to technology, recently ranked the U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The top 10 solar states may just surprise you—unless you live there and you have seen what is going on in your local community.

In order to gauge the winners and laggers on the solar power front, Dan Hahn and Dave Llorens, the brains behind Solar Power Rocks (SPR), looked at a bevy of factors, including each states renewable portfolio standard (RPS), the cost of electricity, rebates and credits related to solar, tax exemptions and regulations related to grid connectivity.

The top three, and five of the top 10 are in the northeast. New York comes out at #1, due to its wide array of financial incentives available to install solar, and what SPR describes as the “most aggressive RPS in the country.” Massachusetts and Connecticut, however, are not far behind, because of the Bay State’s fast payback time and CT’s generous solar rebates.

Continue Reading at Triple Pundit

 

by Editor

More Eco-Themed Halloween Costume Ideas!

We’re about 3 weeks from Halloween, my favorite holiday. If you  are  like me you’ve probably been brainstorming your costume since last November.  Of course, I don’t expect everyone to be as gung-ho about Halloween as me, so I have provided some “Eco-Themed” costume ideas for those less Halloween inclined.

Two years ago I made a similar list for the blog which you can check out HERE.  I’ve decided to update the list with some more relevant ideas

People’s Climate March Marcher

Just because you missed the Climate March last month doesn’t mean it’s too late to get dressed up and show your support. When I was at the march I was amazed by all the amazing artwork and creative costumes, in fact I may have participated by dressing up as Mother Earth and wearing a flower crown with blue lipstick. The key words  here are  “may have”.

Mother Earth

Like Father Time, Mother Earth is a classic Halloween costume. There are so many ways to interpret this concept and many of them include blue face paint and flower crowns. It’s also the perfect costume for a pregnant person who has no issue showing off their belly and painting it.

Honey Bee

Whether you are celebrating NYC’s new Honey Bee Laws or protesting the deaths of millions of honey bees from pesticides, the honey bee is a great costume for any buzzy person.

Krista or Batty From FernGully

When I was little Fern Gully was one of my favorite films. The “protect the rainforest” based plot and awesome music makes it a classic, not to mention the hilarious voice performance by the late and great Robin Williams. Whether you get dressed up as the fairy Krista or the erratic rapping fruit bat, Batty, fun times will be had.

An Alternative Energy Source Like Solar Panels or Windmills

Show off your alternative side by dressing like an alternative energy source. Who doesn’t want to get dressed up all shiny and angular like a solar panel?  Or if you like costumes with moving parts get dressed up like a windmill, but remember to be careful for birds.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

This summer Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was remade into a movie. I did not see the movie because I would like to preserve my childhood memories of the cartoon but I think it was a blockbuster.

White Trash

Cover yourself in white plastic bags and recycled paper. What kind of white trash did you think I was talking about?

 An Extinct Species like The Dodo Bird or The Tasmanian Tiger

Pay homage to human’s dominion over all other animals by portraying one of the animals that lost the good fight.  Or you can stick to the Halloween spirit and dress like a grave.

Enjoy!!

dog honeybee via shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

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EPA’s ENERGY STAR Program Promotes LED Lights

By: ENERGY STAR

What do fortune tellers, couch potatoes, and amateur make-up artists have in common? They’re all hopelessly in the dark about the life-changing benefits of LED bulbs – until they learn to look for the ENERGY STAR.

 

Light bulb image via Shutterstock.

That’s the premise of three quirky, irreverent new spots promoting LED lighting from EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. LEDs are quickly gaining steam as an alternative to incandescent and CFL lighting, but 70% of light sockets in the U.S. still contain inefficient bulbs.

 

EPA wants to change that by positioning LEDs as the bright future of lighting. Some quick facts:

  • Longevity: LEDs are extremely long-lasting. One bulb can last for 20 years with typical use.
  • Savings: LEDs use 70-90% less energy than incandescent bulbs – one bulb can save up to $80 on energy bills over its lifetime
  • Quality: ENERGY STAR certified LEDs provide excellent light distribution and color quality, making them a great option for replacing old incandescent bulbs.

Even with all the new lighting choices, it’s still simple: look for the ENERGY STAR for energy savings. Only bulbs with the ENERGY STAR are independently certified, undergoing extensive testing to assure they perform as promised. This is the main message of EPA’s videos – neglecting to look for the ENERGY STAR can have ugly consequences!

 

The spots can be previewed here: #1: http://ow.ly/BoG04, #2: http://ow.ly/BoG3C, #3: http://ow.ly/BoG7g.

by Editor

Autumn Leaves : Perfect Timing

An Autumn Haiku – Anonymous

Yellow, Orange, Red

Brilliant they turn as they fall

Across my window

Summer is finally over and fall is upon us. One of my favorite activities during the fall is to drive up north to really appreciate the leaves turning.  Yes, the leaves do turn brilliant colors here in New Jersey (see picture) but there is no experience like driving up the Taconic Parkway in New York State on the way to pick apples, and being surrounded by such intense beauty.

Of course the problem with observing such beauty is that you need to catch the sight at the perfect time. Sometimes it seems like one moment the leaves are green at the next they are gone. The trees suddenly become barren and bounty less. Unfortunately I don’t have a friend to call up north to ask if the leaves are ready for me yet, luckily the weather channel has a website tracking leave turnings across the country.

The Weather Channel website provides a map where you can look by region and then specifically by location. The website receives weekly updates on the state of the foliage and then uses color code to classify them as either patch, near peak, peak, or past peak. The website also includes a list of suggested drives in order to get the best view of the leaves in your area.

Generalized Advice On Peak Viewings (or check out this info graphic on Yahoo.com):

–          Maine:  Late September/Early October

–          California/West Coast : Late October/ Early November

–          Aspen, Colorado: Late September

–          The Ozarks (Misourri/ Arkansas) : Late October

–          Vermont: Early October

–          New York City : Late October

–          The Midwest: Mid October

 

Photo Credit: Maddie Perlman-Gabel

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

The People’s Climate March

Yesterday was the People’s Climate March in NYC and I was lucky enough to be one of the 310,000 plus people who were lucky enough to attend. It was an amazing experience and I got to meet a lot of exciting passionate people who really care about our planet.

I quickly threw together a slideshow of a few of the photos I took while at the parade.

Enjoy!

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Little Office of Non-Horrors; or How Office Plants May Improve Worker Productivity

What does your office space look like?  Maybe it looks like mine with a few pictures of family, friends, and some inspiring posters to keep you motivated or make you smile, just enough to keep me relaxed and focused on my work.  Or at least that’s what the points supposed to be. Unfortunately most decorations just end up turning into a distraction.

Interestingly a series of studies are showing that the use of live plants as decorations is beneficial for worker productivity. Since plants have a “reverse” respiratory system to us they have the ability to change our used carbon dioxide back into oxygen. Plants also have the ability to remove toxins from the air like formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene.

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that sitting in an office space with foliage and flowers improved study participants scores in cognitive reading tests. Other studies have found plants reduce anger, anxiety, and depression in the office space.

Whether it’s the removal of toxins and the addition of oxygen or just the benefit of sitting with something organic that causes a positive response, plants can be a cheap way to increase office productivity. Personally I wouldn’t mind getting some Venus fly traps and drosophyllum as long as it’s name isn’t Audrey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<——- Feed Me! (Yes,  another little Shop of Horrors Gag)

 

office plant via shutterstock

carnivorous plants via shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

6 Tips to Make Kids More Nature-Friendly

By: Guest Contributor, Kimberly Grimms

Every person who lives on this planet impacts the environment in some big or small way, no matter how young or old he or she is. This is why it is never too early to teach your children to start being eco-friendly. In a world where young ones live and learn by example, it is important for us adults to be responsible role models who are always ready to guide them in making wise and environmentally sound decisions. After all, their future—more than anything—depends on how well we take care of our environment today.

Raising your child’s awareness on the importance of being eco-friendly can be done through simple day-to-day activities. In this article, we have listed a few things you can do to effectively introduce them to nature, practice green living, and encourage them to be more eco-friendly in all their ways.

 

1.    Experience Mother Nature

Photo courtesy of shin–k via Flickr, Creative Commons

Exposing your kids to the wonders of nature is one of the first things you must do for them while they’re young. According to the National Wildlife Federation, the amount of time kids spend outside today is alarmingly low compared to the long hours spent on television and other gadgets. Letting children see the beauty of our natural resources in parks, wildlife refuges, and other nature spots will open their eyes to the importance of preserving the natural state of the environment, and help them make wise choices when it comes to matters that can potentially impact our ecosystems. You can even build a nature-like playground in your own backyard, so that your kids can engage in nature play during their free time.

 

2.    Start at Home

Photo courtesy of Rasheed Sidiqui via Flickr, Creative Commons

Establishing eco-friendly habits at home is a great foundation for a sustainable lifestyle. The earlier your kids develop these habits, the better. Some basic things you could remind them to do is to turn off the faucet while brushing their teeth, unplugging devices that are not in use, and throwing their trash in the proper places. These little things go a long way in saving our environment.

 

3.    Volunteer with the Whole Family

Photo courtesy of Dipesh Pabari via Flickr, Creative Commons

Bring your kids closer to nature. Encourage your kids to participate in nature-friendly activities that are fun and beneficial to the community. Go to eco-tourism spots and volunteer to help in nature projects such as tree planting and recycling. Being able to actively contribute this way will help your kids be more environmentally conscious in all their future volunteer work.

 

4. Shop Together

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr, Creative Commons

Your commitment to saving the environment is greatly measured by the kind of products you choose to buy. While they’re still young, train your kids to choose organically grown food rather than the processed counterpart. Also, teach them to avoid products that contain harmful and toxic chemicals that may harm the environment. This way, they’ll know which products to buy as soon as they’re old enough to shop by themselves.

 

5.  Have Eco-friendly Art Sessions

Photo courtesy of Ruth Madeleine via Flickr, Creative Commons

 Kids love making things out of scraps of paper and coloring materials. Take this opportunity to teach them how to recycle used objects or turn them into beautiful pieces of art and other useful materials! Have this Do-It-Yourself art session regularly to make your kids more creative when in comes to recycling.

 

6.   Visit Eco-Friendly Websites for Kids

There are a lot of eco-friendly websites today that are especially made for kids. Most of these websites contain fun environmental facts and eco-games that you and your kids can enjoy playing together. Engaging in these kinds of activities will enhance your kids’ knowledge about the environment, as well as how to take care of it.

 

Being eco-friendly is not just something you do from time to time. It is a habit—even a way of life. That being said, it is important to remind your children to make eco-friendly choices in everything that they do—be it at home, in school, or in the playground. They must always make decisions that are grounded on the safety of our environment.
If children are taught about these eco-friendly habits while they’re still young, being environmentally conscious will come naturally to them as they grow into responsible earth-friendly individuals.

 

Kimberly Grimms is a futurist who spends most of her time monitoring social behavior in search for new consumer trends. Connect with her on Twitter @kimberlygrimms

by Editor

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