Archive for February, 2008

Beat the Blues with Happy News

If you’re like me, from time to time you find yourself getting depressed by all the bad news out there, the alarming statistics about global warming, and the possibility that winter in Chicago will never end.

So, to help beat the blahs, I encourage you to visit www.HappyNews.com.  With a wide variety of topics, including the environment , there are plenty of stories to read that might make your day a little better.  Happy reading!

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Closing the Loop

Look, there are some things we use in our lives that we just can’t avoid.  While I know of alternatives to our disposable society for items like paper towels, disposable diapers, and several other one-use products, something we have to use is toilet paper!

So what are we to do?  If you ask Sheryl Crow, use only one piece of toilet paper per bathroom visit.  Hmm…thanks for the great advice Sheryl, but I don’t think I’m ready to make that change in my life.

What about buying recycled paper products?  Green Home Experts carries recycled paper towels, toilet paper, and facial tissues.  Why bother?  Consider this statistic:

If every household in the U.S. replaced just one 175-sheet box of virgin-fiber tissues with 100% recycled tissues, we would save 163,000 trees!

Switch your toilet paper to the recycled type and save 423,900 trees!

One roll of paper towels would save 544,000 trees

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Earth Hour 2008

Chicago joins in the 2008 Earth Hour
From http://www.earthhourus.org/chicago.php:

Climate change is perhaps the most significant issue facing our planet today. We are beginning to witness dramatic impacts as a result of the amount of carbon we load into the atmosphere. To alter the current course of climate change we must act now.

That’s why you are invited to join thousands of your Chicago friends, neighbors and businesses and millions of people around the world to make a bold statement about climate change on March 29 from 8 to 9 p.m local time.

Turn out your lights for one hour. Earth Hour.

As World Wildlife Fund’s flagship city for the United States, Chicago, a leader in environmental initiatives, is encouraging its residents across the region to make the pledge to help fight global warming by voluntarily turning off their lights for 60 minutes. Signature skyscrapers, key landmarks, theater marquees and shops on the Magnificent Mile will voluntarily turn off their lights.

ComEd, the northern Illinois power utility, is a major sponsor of Earth Hour.

Earth Hour’s not just about cutting back for one hour. It’s about taking a stand and thinking ahead about what you, your neighbors and your city can do to slow climate change.

Seize the Earth Hour moment and change some of your outdated energy-wasting light bulbs to new, efficient and inexpensive compact fluorescents. Think of other ways you can cut your energy usage and trim your electric bill after Earth Hour has passed.

That is why World Wildlife Fund is organizing Earth Hour around the globe; that is why Chicago and its residents and businesses are voluntarily joining in. One person can make a difference. Cities, working together, can change the world.

One hour, Chicago. Earth Hour.

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How Green is Your Laundry?

Take 5 minutes to take this quiz today, and learn how green your household is when it comes to laundry.

I liked taking this quiz because it was a no-brainer (i.e., no math!) and offered easy, concrete solutions for how to be greener when it comes to laundry.

I scored an 84.  Air drying my clothes is where I could really improve.  How did you score?  Tell us your score and tips for improving it in our comments section.

http://www.sierraclub.org/howgreen/laundry/


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Allergy-Proof on a Budget

I have several family members who are the unfortunate sufferers of allergies.  I also used to have a dog who had terrible seasonal allergies.  Below are some tips from Natural Home & Garden Magazine on how to fight allergies in your home without breaking the bank.

Pricey: Central electronic HEPA filter system to reduce airborne dust mites, mold spores and pollen: $600-$1,000
Thrifty: Portable HEPA air filter in sleeping area: $150-$300

Pricey: Whole-house water filter: $900
Thrifty: Shower filter (removes chlorine): $75
Kitchen sink filter: $150

Pricey: All-natural wool carpeting (dust mite desistant) or VOC-free cork flooring to cover 2,000 sq. ft.: $10,000 and up
Thrifty: VOC-free sealant to cover 2,000 sq. ft. of existing wood flooring: $150-$250

Got other ideas?  Post them in our comments section!

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What to do with all that stuff -OR- Where to get the stuff you want

In May of 2007, my husband and I travelled the trail of tears (at least for me) from the city to the suburbs.  While we prepared to leave the beloved West Loop, we had a lot of stuff to get rid of!

Most of it was appropriate to give away to second-hand stores.  There were other things that I chose to give away on The Freecycle Network.  These are regional listservs (there’s one in Chicago, another in Oak Park, etc.) where people post items that they either want to give away or are hoping someone can give to them.  This is a fabulous way to get for free a variety of home goods, electronics, clothes, books, etc.

Some of the things I have given away are picture frames, vases, a portable cd player, and holiday decorations.  I’ve been the grateful recipient of a bedsheet for my puppy to travel in the car, my favorite book Great Gatsby, and some beginner piano sheet music.  What a fantastic, green way to get what you need without having to pay for it, avoiding landfills, and preventing the use of new materials.

Another great resource for givers and takers is Craigslist.  This is a national website that offers a wide variety of services (my husband and I rented our condo and our upstairs apartment with Craigslist).  One section of the website is items that are for sale, free giveaways, and wanted posts.  Craigslist is another way to get new and used materials that people want to get rid of, all the while avoiding landfills and preventing the use of new materials.

For larger ticket home items, such as cabinets, appliances, and plumbing fixtures, I highly recommend Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores.  If you live close to our store, the closest ReStore is in Elgin.  A far trip, but possibly worth your while if you’re doing a home project on a tight budget.  This is a great store to shop at, because people donate their home goods (new and used), and then the proceeds of the sales of the goods benefit Habitat for Humanity.

If you’re looking to get rid of your goods, the folks at ReStore will actually come pick them up for you for free!  They make it as easy as possible to avoid throwing things away, and you can feel good knowing that another family will be able to use what you’ve donated.

Know of other resources to give away or get good stuff?  Post your thoughts on our comments section.

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Getting Rid of the Stink

Unfortunately, I’ve had several reasons lately to try green methods of getting rid of the stink.  Well, not one singular stink, but odors from my beloved (and rambunctious) puppy, the cigar shop next door (that’s closing this month!), a few mishaps with groceries in the car, and having the house locked up and sealed for the winter.  Yuck!

While all of this is pretty gross, it still doesn’t come close to how disgusting commercial odor removers and room deodorizers are.  They contain caustic chemicals that wreak havoc on our respiratory system!

Try some of these alternatives next time you find yourself in a stink:

  • Baking powder: Put out a small dish of baking powder, which will suck up the stink.
  • Open the windows: When weather permits, give yourself some fresh air and fight indoor air pollution.
  • Use all natural cleaners: Check out our products here.
  • Pour boiling water down smelly drains (also a good way to fight fruit flies).
  • Bake goodies (and bring me some!)
  • Bring the outdoors in by cutting some fresh flowers from your garden.
  • Slice an orange or lemon and leave it on your countertop.

Got other ideas?  Post them in the comments section!

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