The GreenYour Blog
We try to be positive on GreenYour, but every once in a while we are reminded of products that are so counter to green-logic that we feel compelled to point them out. Plug-in air fresheners are one entire product category that pretty much has no real reason to exist. These unnecessary products fail the green test on multiple fronts: they are a complete waste of electricity (albeit a small amount but it’s the principle of the matter); they emit toxic artificial fragrance and chemicals into the air and they are expensive and over-packaged.
What to do instead?
- Open the windows (no electricity used and costs very little).
- Sprinkle baking soda on carpets and upholstery, let it sit for a few minutes, then vacuum it up to eliminate smells.
- Burn a soy or beeswax candle infused with natural fragrance.
- Buy fresh flowers.
- Use essential oils to make a water spritzer you can spray around the house.
- Use lavender, lemon rind, cloves, or other scents to make a potpourri sachet. Alternatively, boil the leaves,rind, spice etc to scent the air.
If the package doesn’t specify somewhere on it “X percent post consumer content" or "X percent post consumer waste (PCW),” but simply “made from recycled paper” or “recycled,” then the product has NOT been made from the stack of newspaper you put on the curb or the egg carton you threw in the recycling bin. Basic “recycled” content is sourced from paper scraps derived from the paper making process. While this is still better than buying products made from virgin trees, it's not as good as supporting products that are made from paper products that consumers put in their recycling bins.
Look for brands with the highest percent of PCW—often ranging from 10 percent to 100 percent. (The percentage is usually stated prominently on the package.) A couple examples of brands with a high percentage of PCW are Seventh Generation and WholeFoods 365. And those with lower levels: Green Forest and Earth Friendly. Oh, and if the product’s label doesn’t say anything at all about being recycled, it's not. (Not to pick on them, but why not—Bounty and Kleenex use 0 percent recycled content). Here is an excellent chart from NRDC comparing various brands of green and not so green paper products.
As an aside: Why is it such a big deal to cut down virgin forests anyway? Aren’t trees a renewable resource? They are, but trees are large consumers of carbon dioxide (the #1 greenhouse gas) so best to keep as many alive as possible. More importantly when older forests are cut down the old trees release enormous amounts of carbon dioxide (from the carbon that has been stored in the trees, often for hundreds of years) into the air.
Which has a greater eco impact - using old grocery bags as garbage liners or going without these bags and having to buy “virgin” garbage bags? This might sound odd coming from a green site, but there was something to be said for the good old free plastic shopping bag that served a very noble second life as small kitchen garbage bin liner.
These days if you live by the reusable bag doctrine and bring your own bag with you each time you shop, you no longer collect these essential items. Instead you now have to BUY plastic garbage bin liners! (Forget using the paper ones that WholeFoods now gives, they deteriorate the moment a piece of wet kitchen trash is tossed in.)
So, we ask: where does the eco balance lie? Is there a greater eco impact from receiving a plastic bag every time you grocery shop and then giving it a second life as a bin liner before it heads for its ultimate demise in the landfill OR is there a greater impact from never taking a plastic bag from the grocery store but then buying a box of garbage bags (and don’t forget the issue of the packaging of the bags themselves). Lets assume for arguments sake that none of the plastic bags we’re referring to are biodegradable. Weigh in...
There is a perception that to go green requires spending money. Not so. Many of the simplest actions are those that not only don’t cost anything but save you money. Getting green back for going green? That’s not for the eco-conscious its for the wallet-conscious.
Cut your energy bill
- Fill cracks around windows and under doors. Try using caulking for small spaces or place a draft-blocker under doors (a rolled up towel works perfectly).
- Set your fridge to 38-40 degrees and your freezer to 0-5 degrees. Many people have them much lower which is unnecessary and eats up electricity.
- Turn your tap off. The most common wasted “moments” are washing dishes, shampooing hair, and shaving.
- Keep curtains and shades up on sunny days. Let the sun do the heating for you.
Cut your shopping bill
- Limit your cleaning products. For dusting use a damp sponge. Dishes can often be rinsed without soap. Kitchen counters usually need nothing more than the swipe of a sponge. Even the toilet bowl will usually come clean with the swirl of the brush alone.
- Re-use zip-locks and foil. We’ve become so accustomed to throwing out “disposable” wraps, but there is no need. A ziplock bag or foil can be used a dozen times with a quick swish of water and/or soap to bring it back to “like new” condition.
- Use a tiny piece of paper towel. Get into the habit of tearing off a “dollar-bill sized” piece of towel rather than a whole sheet. You’ll be amazed how far you can stretch a roll when you use a small fraction of a sheet for the tiny jobs.
- Don’t buy wrapping paper. It’s expensive and is usually thrown out the second after its opened. Get creative, use: newspaper and decorate it with magic markers or a big bow, colorful pages from magazines, old tissue paper that stores give you when wrapping up a clothing article, recycled brown paper (decorate it with markers or ribbon).
Cut your transportation bill
- Check that your tires are properly inflated. This can decrease the efficiency of the car if they’re not. Go to a garage or use a handheld tire gauge to check. Having them fully inflated will save you big bucks on gas costs.
- Travel with “friends”' If you drive solo to work, join a carpool. If you take taxis, hop on public transit. Not only will you save money and cut emissions, you might even make a new friend. Now tell us ''your'' favorite green-saver tips
Considering renting a car for your next road or business trip? Many car rental agencies have performed green enhancements and added hybrid and flex-fuel cars-to their fleet so you can propel yourself from Poughkeepsie to Palm Springs while reigning in those carbon emissions. And if you're lucky enough to be reading this from LA, check out Bio-Beetle (www.bio-beetle.com) which offers biodiesel-compatible cars including Volkswagen Beetles, Golfs, and Jettas.
Heading south this winter? Check in and chill out at Playa Del Carmen's Hotel Basico. The property takes eco-chic to a sexy, sustainable new level with rooftop pools made of old oil tanks and cabanas crafted from old trucks. And fear not, this eco-haven has not skimped on the electronic "comforts"- guestrooms are tricked out with flat-screen TVs and other 5 star ammenities. As for the local nightlife near this beachside paradise, we can't attest to its greenness but we can attest to its hotness.
Barbie has Ken. Batman has Robin. Pat has Vanna. In the soda world, Cricket Cola can be considered Coca Cola's newest green sidekick: it's sweetened with pure cane sugar (yes, Splenda too if you must), green tea, and kola nut—instead of the usual high-fructose corn syrup, phosphoric acids, and chemical caffeine. Aside from the eco-benefits of Cricket's chemical-free ingredients, (did you know that soft drinks are the second largest user of pesticide-laden corn in North America?), its claims a long list of health benefits such as reduced blood pressure and cholesterol and improved digestion. Cola that's actually ''good'' for you? Go try for yourself.
The average household can save almost 8,000 gallons of water per year by installing low-flow showerheads or faucet aerators. Installing water-saving devices in the shower can also reduce the demand for hot water, saving up to 376 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. Daily water usage in the typical single family home is 69 gallons, with showers accounting for 16 percent of total indoor water use.
If the gasoline used by Americans on an annual basis were to be stored in a tank the size of a football field, the walls would have to be nearly 50 miles high. Want more facts? residential vehicles in the US traveled 1.8 billion miles—enough to get to the moon and back more than 3,700 times.
14.4 billion coffees are sold in disposable, plastic-lined paper cups in the US every year!! That's enough to wrap around the earth 55 times. But change is happening -- 13 million reusable-cup-carrying customers kept more than 586,000 pounds of trash out of landfills last year.