Going Green
Our best hints & tips for being environmentally friendly.
Indoor Air Quality

CleanAir

Indoor air is often estimated to be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air.  What can you do to keep the air in your home clean?  These ideas and more come from The Daily Green.

  • Don't allow smoking in your home.
  • Make sure your kitchen and bathrooms are well ventillated.
  • Keep your furnace, air conditioner, and dehumidifier clean. Change the filter in your furnace as often as recommended.
  • Be aware of old lead paint and asbestos. Get professional help, don't clean it up yourself.
  • Keep the humidity in your home below 50%, using a dehumidifier if necessary.


Happy (Green) Valentine's Day!

Green Heart

When you think of Valentine's Day, images of cards and boxes of chocolate often come to mind. But is there a way to make your Valentine's Day more environmentally friendly? Here are some of the great ideas we found at Green Living Tips.

  • Consider recycled cards, or high quality e-cards.
  • Choose organic chocolates and locally grown flowers.
  • Make a donation on your sweetheart's behalf to their favorite charity.
  • Purchase a gift certificate for a service such as a massage or health spa.


Recycling Plastic Bags

Plastic Bags

We're all probably aware that you can recycle plastic shopping bags in recycling bins inside stores. But did you know that you can now recycle plastic sandwich bags there as well? 

So if you can't reuse your plastic bags, clean them and send them to be recycled along with your plastic shopping bags. Reduce the clutter in your house and do something good for the environment at the same time!



Water Saving Tips in the Garden

Tomatoes

Gardening can be a fulfilling activity to help you relax outdoors. But if you aren't careful, an environmentally-friendly activity can quickly turn into a sink for precious natural water resources.


Millions of gallons of water are used in gardens and lawns each year - some of them wastefully. Here are some ways to cut back on the amount of water you use in your garden:

  • Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. Longer grass retains water better.
  • Water in the early morning when temperatures are cooler, to minimize evaporation.
  • Check your sprinkler system regularly and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
  • Collect and use rainwater for watering your garden.
  • Direct downspouts or gutters toward shrubs or trees.
  • Install a drip irrigation system around your trees and shrubs to water more efficiently.

this green tip courtesy of http://www.earthshare.org



Conserving Water vs. Green Lawns

Green, Green Grass

It doesn’t take long in the spring before your lawn starts to dry up and die in the heat. But how can you keep your lawn looking green and healthy while conserving water at the same time?

  • Look for grasses that are drought-tolerant, which require less water. You can reseed your lawn over your existing grass, and the more hardy grasses will take over.
  • Lawns generally need 1 inch of water per week. Set some plastic containers in your yard and measure the amount of water being delivered, then adjust accordingly. Be aware of heat (when lawns need more water) and cool/wet weather (when they need less).
  • Whether your sprinklers are automatic or manual, make sure they fit the shape of your yard. Watering the sidewalk won’t make it grow!
  • Water in the early morning, before the wind and heat of the day can evaporate more than your lawn will receive.
  • Do not water everyday. Watering less frequently will allow your grass to grow deeper roots, keeping it healthier in the long run.  This will also keep weeds down.
  • Water twice in the same day, with a short break in between. Instead of watering for 40 minutes, water for 20 minutes, then move your sprinklers to a different area, then come back and water for 20 more minutes. This will help the water soak down deep into the lawn instead of running off.


Starting Seeds

sprout

I love planning my garden in the early spring.  I’m always so enthusiastic before bugs and weeds get in my way!  If you’re starting to plan your garden, you might be thinking about starting seeds indoors.  This is a great idea, giving the plants a head start before the weather is safe for planting outside.

You don’t have to purchase an expensive seed growing kit to start your garden!  Take a look around your house to find something you can recycle into your own seed starter kit.  You can use cardboard tubes (supported in a box), newspaper “boxes” (as long as your newspaper doesn’t use petroleum-based ink), or even empty eggshells!

Take a look around, then do some research online to see what method works best for you!



Homemade Window Cleaner

Window Cleaner

  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish detergent
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • spray bottle

Put all the ingredients into the spray bottle, shake it up a bit, and use as you would a commercial brand. The soap in this recipe is important. It cuts the wax residue from any commercial brands you may have used in the past. I have also used old newspaper to wipe the cleaner off the windows & mirrors, then composted the newspaper afterwards.

Protect yourself, your family and your pets by using safe, non-toxic cleaning products around your home.



Vegetable Soup for the Garden

Watering the Garden

Composting can seem like a complex, confusing and difficult process to begin. Luckily for us, there's an easy way to get some of the benefits of composting without all the work.  The next time you boil or steam vegetables, don't pour the excess water down the drain.  Save it and use it instead to water the plants in your garden or the potted plants on your patio.  You'll be happy with how well the plants respond, and it might convince you to finally give composting a try!



Companion Gardening

Gardening

Ages ago, when we owned a farm and had young children, we would grow 50 tomato plants every summer. We would use them for everything from homemade ketchup to eating fresh out of the garden. Surrounding those tomato plants every year were yellow and orange marigolds, planted to help the tomatoes grow healthy and strong.

If you are planting your own garden this year, consider Companion Gardening! Planting compatible plants together can repel insects and increase crop yields.  There are several great websites and books out there. Here are some good resources to get you started:

Companion Planting from Organic Gardening

Plant Companions: Friend or Foe? from the Farmer's Almanac 



DIY Home Energy Audit

SaveMoney

As soon as those winter heating bills come in, many homeowners start thinking of ways to conserve energy and save money while still staying warm.  A DIY home energy audit may help! Some of the easiest steps include:

  • Pay attention to your heating & cooling bills. They can help you monitor energy consumption and identify spikes in usage.
  • Locate air leaks. Check corners, chimneys, around windows and anywhere wires or pipes go in or out of your home. Note the condition of your insulation so you are aware if it is losing it's effectiveness.
  • Clean or replace your furnace filters! Keeping the air flowing properly will both reduce your bill and keep you warmer.


Green Thanksgiving Ideas

Cornucopia 

There are some excellent ideas for an environmentally-conscious Thanksgiving on About.com, but here are our favorites!

  • Buy & eat locally grown food
  • Plant a tree
  • Make your own (eco-friendly) decorations
  • Say thank you!


Baking Soda!

Baking Soda

We use baking soda to gently scrub our pots and pans, to wash our faces, and even to deodorize our home. But did you know you could also boost your laundry detergent, remove grease stains, and freshen your mouth with it too?  Check out 51 Fantastic Uses for Baking Soda from Care2.com.



Green Heating in the Winter

Sunny Curtains

Winter is coming! Here are a few ways you can go green but still stay warm:

1. Let the sun in. The sun provides natural light and warmth open your curtains to take advantage. Close them in the evening for insulation.

2. Install a programmable thermostat. Set the temperature lower when you aren't in the house. Save some green and you won't even notice the temperature difference.

3. Stop the drafts. For about $30 you can stop drafts near windows and doors by sealing them with caulk or weather stripping. You'll save that much in a month.

Each small action on the part of an individual, when combined with the actions of others, makes great strides toward improving our environment.

This green tip courtesy of maconcountyconservation.org



Energy Efficiency Programs

light bulb

Keep an eye out for local energy efficiency programs.  Idaho Power has several available!  See Ya Later Refrigerator offers some great incentives to recycle your old refrigerator.  There are also programs available for homeowners who want to upgrade their insulation.   Take a look and see what meets your needs!



Back to School

School Bus

Like it or not, school is starting soon.  Is there anything you can do to make "Back to School" easier on the environment?

  • Recycle everything, especially paper. We have a box in our office with paper that has been printed on one side, which we use for scrap paper or to print rough drafts. When we can't reuse it anymore, we put the paper in the recycle bin.
  • Walk or bike to school if possible.  Not only is it easy on the environment, it's healthy for you too!
  • Purchase recycled supplies.  I have found recycled paper, pencils, and crayons.  Take a look at all of your options when shopping before you make a decision.
  • Use binders instead of notebooks.  When you are finished with the class, you can empty the binder (recycling the paper) and fill it again (perhaps with recycled paper!).
  • Use a refillable water bottle.  There are many sized, shapes, and materials available.  Having several clean on hand at home will make it easier to avoid disposible water bottles.
  • Pack your lunch in reusable containers.  There are some great choices out there for lunch bags and containers.  Find one that meets your needs, and save yourself the trouble of buying and throwing away paper and plastic bags.


Getting Your Home Ready for Winter

Winter

We can't be in denial much longer. Winter is on the way! While unpacking your parka, take some time to think about keeping your home toasty as well. Blocking drafts and covering windows could help warm you up and reduce your heating bill too. You can find some great ideas on the Earth Share website .



Green Picnics

Loading

A picnic is a great summer activity!  Here are some ways to make your picnic a little "greener."

  • Pack in-season, local produce.
  • Reuse backpacks and canvas bags, instead of using plastic bags.
  • Consider walking, hiking or biking to your picnic destination. Enjoy the beauty of your own area!
  • Choose coolers or kegs instead of individually packaged drinks, to reduce trash. Use reuseable containers for food & leftovers.
  • Use washable, reusable cloth napkins & tablecloths. You can repurpose old bandanas and sheets for this as well.
  • Remember to take your trash with you!


Line Drying Your Clothes

Outdoor Clothes Line

Clothes dryers are more convenient and faster than line drying. But does that make them better? 

Taking the time to dry your clothes in the fresh air saves you energy and money. It is more gentle on your clothes than tumble drying in the high heat of a dryer, and can reduce static cling and wrinkles. It is even possible to line dry your clothes in the winter. It just takes them longer to finish drying. If your clothes end up a little stiffer than you'd like, you can always give them a short tumble on the air dry setting of your dryer to soften them up again.

In addition to the environmental benefits, line drying can also be good for you. A little fresh air and exercise can do wonders for your mood!



Top 10 Recyclables

recycling

It is important to know what is recyclable, so we can make an effort to preserve our planet's resources. Take a look at this list of the top 10 most important materials to recycle. For more details, visit Care2.com . Then take the time to find out what recycling centers are available in your area.

1. aluminum

2. PET plastic bottles

3. newspaper

4. corrugated cardboard

5. steel cans

6. HDPE plastic bottles

7. glass containers

8. magazines

9. mixed paper

10. computers



"Green" Christmas Trees

Evergreen Tree

The question of whether to get a real tree or an artificial tree for the holidays can be difficult. Cost is just one variable. See the options and make an informed decision at The Daily Green



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