Posts Tagged ‘eco-friendly’
By Erin Lubien
There is a show on the DIY Network that my husband and I relate to far too much for any sane person’s comfort – “Renovation Realities”. If you’re not familiar with this show, it follows a homeowner (and oftentimes very loved ones who are generous/naive enough to help) as he/she undertakes a home renovation (i.e., demo to install of a new kitchen, turning a front step and a picture window in the front of a house into a front porch and more prestigious entrance). Most of these homeowners feel as if they’ve planned thoughtfully and are fully prepared for the renovation they embark upon, but all of them become overwhelmed and show that they are inept at something they thought was so simple. We laugh because we are them. Honestly, Renovation Realities could have followed us for three years so far and still have many episodes ahead.
We bought our 1920s 2-family home in 2007 with the thought that we would simply change the entrance to the 2nd floor unit and open up the living room. We basically wanted to create an open concept in an old home that had too many compartments. Well, we suffer from the syndrome, “while we’re here” and took on more than 2 DINKS (double-income, no kids) with no discernible home repair experience should ever consider. This “simple” home renovation project led to the obvious – repairing ceiling, hardwood floor and wall; but it also led to some surprises – findings of faulty wiring, the unorthodox use of cardboard boxes as drywall, and our own ability (or lack thereof) to become home renovators.
The “while we’re here” syndrome played out into a fully gutted kitchen, oil-to-gas conversion for heat and hot water, and, in out utter wisdom since we hadn’t really finished all of our renovations, we hired a contractor to blow in insulation from top to bottom. We now live with some rooms completed and beautiful and some rooms that have no window/door moldings and/or bare plaster waiting to be painted. All of our renovations cost us more than we planned, hence the similarities to the Renovation Reality stars, but some are paying dividends. We had hoped to make less of an impact on our living space and decrease our personal dependence on oil by converting to gas systems, which we are very happy about but have since discovered that the impact is net neutral given that we discarded our old oil tanks and that with an efficient system, oil is as clean as gas for heat and hot water.
Long story short, the true test of whether we did the right thing by converting to gas came when our gas bill came after the harsh New England winter. The local gas company now measures each home’s gas usage against other homes in the neighborhood. Not only had we cut our heating bills in half, even after adding a gas stove and dryer in each unit, but we also are one of the most efficient homes in terms of gas usage. Given that we added to our usage and had increased the temperature in our house all winter long, we are quite pleased with the results and our more efficient use of natural resources.
So for those of you who are considering changing the way you do something to be more environmentally friendly or undertaking home reno while being eco-friendly, let me be one certifiable crazy renovator who commends you and would love to know your renovation reality and measurable results!
Step 1 – The Invitations – portraying the green message
The invitations are the first step to the shower. These will show your intentions to throw a Green baby shower. Here are some ideas.
1. Our first and favorite option is the Evite. Sending an e-invitation preserves the paper waste.
2. Print your invitations on recycled card-stock. You can find a variety of natural fibers such as banana, mango, palm, bamboo, cotton, recycled content or (our favorite) elephant dung. No, it doesn’t smell and its supports a great cause.
3. Make sure the invitations have the colors and text that reflect your theme. For example: Using earth tones colors “We are hosting a Green Baby Shower for Stacy to help preserve the planet for her little one.”
Step 2 – The Gifts –Wrapping the green way
The gifts are the second step to throwing a baby shower. Usually, this is where the largest amount of waste occurs; gift-wrapping and packaging. Here are some ideas to reduce waste.
1. First, and the greenest option, recommend your baby shower guests skip the traditional gift-wrapping methods all together.
2. Offer earth-friendly suggestions like old newspaper, magazines or brown grocery bags. They could also recycle gift bags they already have.
3. Use old shredded paper from junk mail that you receive as fillers for the gifts.
4. Depending on the size of the shower, you could send earth friendly gift-wrap to the guests with the invite.
6. For guests that purchase a lot of smaller items, using a laundry basket and wrapping the items in old newspaper, old magazines or something creative you already have around the home.
7. It is common practice these days to say where the mommy is registered in the invite. Have your registry selection reflect your desires. Register with a company that offers green practices, recycles all there shipping boxes and tries to operate on a paperless operation. Create a green baby registry.
8. Make sure your thank you notes are written on recycled content note cards. Better yet, use an e-card service and some have video options available where you can show your guests a video of mama and the baby.
9. Remember to always politely suggest, but never insist to your guests.
Step 3 – The Shower –Keeping it Green
So the last and final stage is the actual shower. Here is where you have more decision making power over keeping down the amount of waste and carbons that are created by the baby shower. Here are some steps that may help.
1. Consider purchasing carbon offsets or having a couple trees planted to offset the driving and carbons that are created during the shower. Carbonfund.org, urbanforest.org, and treepeople.org are a couple recommendations.
2. Shop at local farmers markets or farms for certified organic foods. At freshandgreen.com on the lower left page, you can find local produce. If you have the meal catered, seek out one who serves organic foods.
3. Please, please, please try to stay away from paper plates and napkins. Make the day special by using some of your own fine dishes. If disposables are completely necessary purchase biodegradable, compostable corn based products.
4. Decorate with potted plants and trees. Glass bowls with fresh apples, lemons or limes always add some beautiful color to any event.
5. Try to stay away from offering bottled water. Have many water pitchers available for your guests.
6. Offer recycling bins at the shower for any items that may need to be recycled.
7. Offer a compost area for the food waste at the end of the shower.
8. Consider getting organic seeds or bulbs party favors for the guests.
9. Depending upon the conditions outside open the windows and allow the fresh air to come in.
10. Leave little environmental tip notes around the shower letting people know why you are doing the green shower. For example tip:“1 ton of 50% postconsumer content copier paper saves 12 trees,” or “cotton production accounts for 10% of the worlds pesticide and 25% of the worlds insecticide use.”
11. Throw some eco-friendly games, for example:
a. Onesie painting: provide an organic white onesie or t-shirt and non-toxic paints or natural dyes and let the guests have fun decorating the shirts for the baby.
b. Plant a seed or tree: if the expectant parents have a garden, have the guests plant a tree or seed in the babies honor. Of course you will need to provide the gardening supplies, but everyone can work together and leave a positive impact on the planet. Just make sure it is an indigenous plant for the area.
c. Guess the baby game: Instruct guests to bring a baby photo of them to the shower. Place them all on a bulletin board or have magnets to place them on the fridge. Have the guests try and match each baby photo to the guest it belongs too. In the end, your guests can share a story of their childhood.
d. Letter to baby: Set up a keepsake box and have guests write a letter to the baby. Or if you want to have people get more creative, have them create their own cards for the baby and provide construction paper and art supplies.
e. Decorate my bottle: Guests can use their creativity for Decorate-My-Bottle activity. Purchase a BPA-Free, clear baby bottle and with the use of permanent markers they can use their imagination and create one of a kind baby bottles.
Step 4 – RELAX and have a good time
Last and most importantly, relax and have a great time. You have done all that you can to make your shower as green as possible. Enjoy your friends and family knowing the few things you did made a difference, plus you may have inspired others to do more.