Archive for the ‘Waste’ Category
By Sasha Windes
Thanksgiving is just a few days away. People keep looking for different ways to make there holiday a little more eco-friendly. Here are a few tips on how we can improve our carbon footprint over the holidays. Again always remember the three all encompassing R’s of conservation: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Always remember … there is a reason Reduce is listed first.
1. Dinnerware and Silverware. There is nothing wrong with using your good dishes or even your regular dishes for Thanksgiving, but if that is not an option, look into biodegradable or bamboo disposable dishes bamboo disposable dishes.
2. Buy local produce. Buying only locally grown food is one good way to have an eco-friendly Thanksgiving. Locally grown food is good for your table, your health and the environment. Participate in the 100-Mile Thanksgiving challenge from Treehugger. If you haven’t heard of it yet click on the link here.
3. The Turkey Compromise. Each year 250 to 300 million turkeys are slaughtered for food in the U.S.— more than 45 million for Thanksgiving alone— resulting in thousands of birds being tightly confined in dark, filthy sheds, de-beaked and de-toed without anesthetic and bred to reach a crippling weight at an unnaturally fast rate.
The most obvious eco-solution is to not buy a turkey and just have a complete vegan meal. Here are a couple links for vegan and gluten free Thanksgiving recipes. If you’re having Turkey as part of your dinner, search the Eat Well Guide. You can find types of meat by production methods and locations where you can purchase an organic turkey. The “production methods” section allows you to select items labeled 100% vegetarian fed, grass fed, free-range, non-confined, no antibiotics, organic, etc.
4. Organic. Organic free-range turkeys can be expensive so if it doesn’t fit in your budget this year, consider another alternative. Buy a regular turkey and the rest of your food organic. Local Farmers market is a good place to look for organic fruits and veggies, but if there isn’t one near your area buy organic from your local grocery store.
5. Travel. Thanksgiving weekend is one of heaviest for highway travel in the United States. This year, why not reduce global warming and improve air quality by lowering your auto emissions at the same time that you lower your family’s stress level? Skip the stressful holiday travel and celebrate an eco-friendly Thanksgiving at home. If you do decide to travel, use less fuel and lower your emissions by making sure your car is in good working order and your tires are properly inflated. If possible, carpool to reduce the number of cars on the road and lower the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to air pollution. If you fly, consider purchasing carbon credits to offset your portion of the carbon dioxide emissions generated by your flight. A typical long-haul flight produces nearly four tons of carbon dioxide.
6. Reuse or Make Your Own Eco-Friendly Decorations. Reuse your old decorations from last year in new way or just make some new ones. Use items from your back yard and fall fabric colors if you have any to make a nice centerpiece. Colored construction paper can be cut or folded into simple Pilgrim, turkey and harvest decorations. Later, the paper can be recycled. Nature always decorates best, especially this time of year as the trees shed their brightly colored leaves. Gather found items such as pinecones, colored leaves, seedpods, branches and colorful berries and leaves.
Fall decorating ideas Fall Decorating Ideas
7. Packaging and Waste. When you go to the store buy things that have the least amount of packaging and try to buy packaging that is environmentally friendly. Carry reusable bags when you do your shopping, and use cloth napkins that can be washed and used again.
Recycle paper, and all plastic, glass and aluminum containers. If you don’t already have a compost bin, use your Thanksgiving fruit and vegetable trimmings to start one. The compost will enrich the soil in your garden next spring.
8. Beautiful weather outside. A lot of bodies in one house can make the place warm so if its cool outside open up some windows to help the place cool down, instead of turning on the AC.
9. Donate your turkey fat. Can you believe that the actual fat from cooking a turkey can be recycled into biodiesel? Check to see if a company in your community does too.
10. Say Thanks..
Last week I wrote a blog on why it is so important to recycle but why it is equally important to purchase recycled materials and to complete the loop. It is wonderful that recycling is now on the forefront of everyone’s minds nowadays but what should also be on the forefront is looking at your purchasing choices. I thought I would give a quick example of a couple products before the holiday season that are completing this loop!
Number 1: Green Toys made from recycled milk jugs!
These are probably one of my all-time favorites….. Milk jugs are made from HDPE (high-density polyethylene) and is one of the safest and cleanest plastics around. They are BPA (bisphenol-A) free, phthalates and lead free! Since they are also made from milk jugs the products themselves come out incredibly strong! Your child can throw these things across the room and they wouldn’t break. It actually reminds me of the tea sets that I used to play with as a kid. Somehow along the way those tea sets have gotten cheaper and cheaper as the years went along and are so flimsy that your child will break a fork when opening the box!
Another quick thing to point out is the packaging. I cannot stand when a company has a wonderful recycled material product and then screws it up by putting it in non-recyclable packaging! What is the point?? This companies packaging is recycled corrugated boxes and is 100% recyclable! Kudos!
Number 2: Bags made from recycled plastic bottles!
This company does not have an entire line of recycled plastic bottle bags but they are starting and making an attempt! This is a great example though of making a conscious choice of what you purchase. You may see the entire line of bags but you decide to purchase the one made from recycled plastic bottles, or they also have one made from recycled canvas. Have the recycled products start becoming your first choice! b. happybags recognizes that hundreds of billions of plastic bags are consumed each year and less than 3% are recycled and are taking an active choice to start changing that!
Number 3: Office & school supplies made from post consumer waste
Here is a big one!! If you cannot start doing anything at all, then at least pay attention to all of the paper you consume and to purchase paper or supplies that are made from post consumer waste (pcw). Did you know that less than 9% of the 8 million tons of printing and writing paper used in the US every year is recycled content?? The rest comes from chopping down 188 million trees. That is absolutely insane and “you” and I have the power to change that. The higher the pcw content the better but at least make sure it is over 30%.
So, this holiday season throw in a small notepad into your child’s stocking, or friends hostess gift. Get them started as well!
Number 4: Mr. Ellie Pooh made from elephant dung!
Here is a product that is made from not only pcw (post consumer waste of 25%) but is mixed in with 75% elephant dung! Any company that says they are saving the elephants one poop at a time, is a company that I like to support!! These products are of course made from elephant dung and how ingenious is that?!? This is an example of an adorable end product, that is helping with conserving our planet’s resources but also with animal conservation as well. Since 1950 Sri Lanka has killed over 4,000 elephants for the sole purpose of interfering with their agriculture. By supporting Mr. Ellie Pooh Paper you are saving the elephants! A perfect Christmas present and a perfect story to go along with it!!
Hopefully these few examples will inspire you to look at products this holiday season a little differently. I think the economy has forced a different perspective on everyone and we are more cautious about what we purchase now more than ever. Don’t just focus on the “cost-saving” aspects (although this is definitely important) but focus on the impact of the product and how it makes you feel when gift giving this year by knowing you are doing the right thing for our planet and future generations!!