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5 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint in 2013

By Green Diva Meg thegreendivas.com
January 3, 2013
File under: Eco-Friendly Activities, Environmental Concerns, Family, Holidays, Home, Lifestyle, Products, Recycling, Sustainable Practices, Waste Reduction

I had a an exceptionally fun morning Christmas Day on the set of Good Day NY on FOX 5. I talked with Dave Price and Anna about keeping it green in 2013 . . .

Watch GD Meg on FOX Good Day NY

1. Remember those reusable bags . . . because . . .

  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1 million sea creatures a year
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of Texas and it’s floating somewhere between San Francisco and Hawaii. It weighs 3.5 million tons and is 80% plastic
  • If everyone in the United States tied their annual consumption of plastic bags together in a giant chain, the chain would reach around the Earth’s equator 776 times!

2. Get rid of vampires and phantoms . . . no, not Edward the dreamy teenage vampire . . .

An energy vampire or phantom load is the electricity consumed by an electronic appliance when it is turned off or on standby

  • According to the Environmental Defense Fund, 65% of pollution attributed to global warming (or climate change) comes from generation of energy and its use
  • 5 – 20% of our home electric bill comes from vampire or phantom energy use

Shed light on those vampires and expel them!

3. Just say NO to bottled water

  • National Geographic estimates that 17 million gallons of crude oil is used on an annual basis to produce plastic bottles.
  • If you fill a water bottle ¼ of the way with oil, this is about how much oil is used to manufacture that one bottle!
  • It is estimated by the Container Recycling Institute and ReusableBags.com that 22 billion water bottles end up in landfills every year.
  • Although many plastic bottles are being recycled for good re-use as a variety of materials, National Geographic Kids states that only 1 in 6 plastic bottles makes it to the recycling bin!
  • According to Environmental Working Group’s scientific study on bottled water vs. tap water, bottled water contains distinfection byproducts, fertilizer residue and pain medication

Check out Green Diva Mizar’s water purification systems, Pur2o!

4. Buy less, Recycle more

In general, I really want to just be more mindful about buying ‘stuff’ I may not really need – I’ve been on this kick for a couple of years and it saves money and reduces the amount of junk I need to throw out from packaging, etc. I always ask myself now, do I really need this or do I just want it . . . or, do I have something at home I can use instead.

  • About 80% of what Americans throw away is recyclable, yet our recycling rate is only 28%!
  • Recycle as much as you can
  • Avoid buying things are excessively packaged
  • Buy in bulk (food, cleaning products)

5. Get local/Eat Local

  • Reduce carbon footprint by reducing “food miles”
    • A typical carrot has to travel 1,838 miles to reach your dinner table
  • Support local farmers – enjoy farmer’s markets
  • Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) – find a CSA, farmer’s market or food coop near you - LocalHarvest.org
  • Stimulate local economy
  • patronize restaurants that buy from local farmers
 
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Greener Holidays: Eco-Friendly Foodie, Gift & Decorating Fun

By Green Diva Meg thegreendivas.com
December 19, 2012
File under: Eco-Friendly Activities, Eco-friendly Decorating, Entertaining, Family, Food, Gifts, Holidays, Home, Saving Money, Sustainable Practices, Waste Reduction

I had fun doing some of my earth-friendly holiday schtick on Ebru Today last week – details about what I discussed on this timely, silly green holiday TV segment.

Had an excellent ramblin holidaze show this week in the Green Divas Radio Show studio and am thrilled we were able to record AND podcast finally! Even though I was on the tail end of the flu and was perhaps a bit fuzzy (at least vocally), we managed to get some timely, useful and relevant information in. We may have had more fun than format, but hey, we’re all getting into the spirit – or at least trying to – right? If you want some free entertainment with your green holiday ideas, please listen to the latest podcast of the Green Divas Radio Show.

Otherwise, here are some of the highlights . . .

Green Diva Foodie Fun

Green Divas Mizar, Meg and Jamie each offered one of their family favorite holiday recipes. GD Jamie talked about her father’s traditional latke recipe. GD Meg offered up her warm red cabbage salad recipe. And GD Mizar got us really hungry with her creme caramel recipe . . . Check out the full post for all the Green Diva Foodie Holiday Fav Recipes!

Green Diva Mizar’s DIY: Earth-Friendly Holiday Wrapping

As always GD Mizar had some wonderful DIY ideas. This week she talked about some creative and greener holiday gift wrapping ideas. Check out GD Mizar’s It’s a Wrap post for all the deets! Or listen to the fun five-minute podcast of GD Mizar’s DIY holiday greener gift wrapping segment.

Green Dude Eco Ed on LED holiday lights

Listen to the 5-minute Green Dude segment featuring Eco Ed Schwartz all about LED holiday lights and learn why they are such a great idea!

Feature Interview: Sarah Finnie Robinson of Practically Green

This week we were thrilled to have Sarah Finnie Robinson of PracticallyGreen.com on the air with us. PracticallyGreen.com is a digital tool that makes being sustainable easy, fun and stress-free. They offer common sense ways to be more eco-conscience without having to go to crazy extremes.

One great feature of the site is the ‘Actions’ feature, which provides users with really simple and practical (practically green, right?) ideas for making green changes.

PracticallyGreen also offers a product section, where they do extensive background homework on every product, so that us consumers can have some confidence that their ‘green’ purchase isn’t green marketing hype or green washing.

Some criteria for the products found on PracticallyGreen.com . . .

  1. They have to be energy-efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  2. The product must reduce its water usage
  3. Products that claim to be organic must be certified by the USDA
  4. The products may not contain artificial colors, flavors, processed sweeteners, preservatives, and other chemicals or highly processed additives

 

 
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5 Ways to Have a Less Expensive and Earth Friendly Holiday

By Green Diva Meg thegreendivas.com
December 12, 2012
File under: Eco-Friendly Activities, Eco-friendly Decorating, Entertaining, Family, Gifts, Holidays, Home, Sustainable Practices, Waste Reduction

It’s that time of year. No matter what holiday you celebrate, it is all about home, hearth, family, sharing, reflection, renewal, giving and charity . . . and being bombarded by insane marketing hype! For me bringing light into these long, cold and dark days means minimizing the commercial aspect and being more thoughtful about what I really want to share, give and how to let my close ones know how much I appreciate them. I’d say momma earth deserves a little appreciation as well, but we seem to be hardest on her during the few weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years . . .

According to the EPA in the time between turkey and Auld Lang Syne, we here in the U.S. produce a whopping 25% more domestic waste than the rest of the year, which translates to over 1 million TONS of extra crap going into landfills every week!

I was on Ebru Today talking about a few ways to lessen the negative impact of our holidays on the environment. Watch the segment than see below for links to find out more details on what we discussed.

Here are 5 things to  consider when gift-giving during the holidays – or any days!

According to the Center for a New American Dream,
70% of Americans would welcome less emphasis on gift giving and spending

  1. Make it and wrap it yourself - 1/4 – 1/3 of all domestic waste is packaging. The estimated waste from gift-wrap and shopping bags in the U.S. is about 4 million tons (fun, easy DIY gift ideas below)
  2. Remember to use your own bagsRemember to bring your reusable bags for holiday gift shopping, and tell helpful cashiers that you don’t need one for very small or oversized items
  3. Send an eCard – The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high, and while we’re still into math, if we each sent one less card, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper – that’s a lot of trees folks! My favorite place to send free ecards from is Care2.com – send free cards and do good while you’re at it!
  4. Wrap it with something useful, recycled, or repurposedHalf of the paper America consumes is used to wrap and decorate consumer products. I like using new dishtowels or cloth napkins, but here are some other fun ideas we came up with - 13 Ways to Wrap Cheap, Have Fun & Save Money
  5. When buying a gift, consider it’s lifecycle and footprintAsk yourself a few questions like: What is the item made of – is it made from recycled materials? Where does it come from – has it traveled very far? It is recyclable or will it sit in a landfill for an extended period of time after its current use? It is durable? Can it be used more than once?

10 Easy DIY Gift Ideas for the Non-Crafty Green Diva (which includes the link to instructions for my teacup candle shown in the Ebru Today segment)

Green Diva Mizar’s DIY decorated upcycled  glass tea light holders (at the bottom of the 12.6.12 GD radio show post)

 
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7 Ways to Become a Water Conservation Hero

By Green Diva Meg thegreendivas.com
December 5, 2012
File under: Eco-Friendly Activities, Environmental Concerns, Health, Home, Public Safety, Waste Reduction

We had a fun show last week. Thanks for some kind of satanic tech vortex we were unable to record the show and get the podcast out (but we do have some good notes, including a fun and easy DIY gift idea from GD Mizar - check out the show post for deets.). . . but by some miracle, we had an excellent show! Our Green Dude Segment was with Green Dude Antonio, who is a water purification expert with Pur2o. I’m always surprised by how much I actually don’t know and probably don’t want to know! Anyway, that segment inspired this post about water and water conservation.

Step 1 – Admit there is a problem

  • According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Water use has been growing at more than the rate twice of population increase in the last century
  • By 2025, 1 800 million people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under stress conditions
  • According to the World Water Assessment Programme (of the UN), half of the world’s wetlands have been lost since 1900
  • In developing countries, 70 percent of industrial wastes are dumped untreated into waters where they pollute the usable water supply
  • Projected increases in fertilizer use for food production and in wastewater effluents over the next three decades suggest there will be a 10-20 per cent global increase in river nitrogen flows to coastal ecosystems (not exactly sure what this means, but it doesn’t sound good!)

Step 2 – Educate yourself

One of our favorite regular guests on the Green Divas Radio Show is Jessica Arinella from the What You Can Do video series. She is also a water hero. She has produced several very educational short videos that help us understand not only why, but how to help conserve and create healthier water suppliesHere’s a link to a Green Divas Radio Show featuringJessica Arinella talking about water conservation.

I would also recommend the UN page on water statistics.

Step 3 – Don’t be part of the problem

Once we acknowledge that there is indeed a problem not only with water resources diminishing, but also in terms of contaminants and the need for safe, clean, accessible drinking water for everyone; then we need to be more aware of how we interact with water and start making changes.

Step 4 – No more bottled water

  • According to MSNBC, the use of water bottles increased dramatically from 3.3 billion sold in 1997 to 15 billion in 2002
  • National Geographic estimates that 17 million gallons of crude oil is used on an annual basis to produce plastic bottles
  • According to Environmental Working Group’s scientific study on bottled water vs. tap water, bottled water contains distinfection byproducts, fertilizer residue and pain medication . . . ahhhhh! Seriously – read this article.
  • Get a water filtration system and make your own bottled water using glass bottles! Check out our Green Dude Antonio’s excellent system, Pur2o and learn about the differences in systems and what you should be looking for.

Please check out my post on 7 good reasons to give up bottled water with all kinds of details.

Listen to the Green Divas Sleeping Naked is Green 5-minute segment about No More Bottled Water.

Step 5 – Conservation starts at home

  • Turn off the faucet! This seems like a no-brainer, but it takes a while for some of us to remember to shut off the water during times like brushing teeth or washing dishes or food preparation.
  • Flush less - If everyone in the United States flushed the toilet just one time less per day, we could save the equivalent of a lake full of water about one square mile and four feet deep every day
  • Check laundry water levels - First, be sure to wash only full loads; second, make sure that you set the machine to the appropriate water level needed
  • Power shower - Some of us love to linger in a lovely hot shower, but please take only 5 minutes in the shower and if you need to run water for a time to get the temperature right, consider capturing that water with a bucket and using it to water plants or something else.
  • Update water appliances – consider getting more efficient toilets and shower heads or at least when it is time to get new ones make sure to get the most water-efficient kind!
  • Use biodegradable cleaning products – I did some research on this and it is scary what toxins lurk in our cleaning products and how bad they are for us AND our environment, particularly our water systems. My post on non-toxic cleaning.

Step 6 – Help those that do not have clean, safe water

  • The UN suggests that each person needs 20-50 litres of water a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning
  • More than one in six people worldwide – 894 million – don’t have access to improved water sources
  • Today 2.5 billion people, including almost one billion children, live without even basic sanitation. Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation. That’s 1.5 million preventable deaths each year
  • According to the UN, in developing countries, 70 percent of industrial wastes are dumped untreated into waters where they pollute the usable water supply
  • One way to help is join Matt Damon and others in finding solutions and making safe water accessible to millions through the efforts of Water.org.

Step 7 – Educate others

As you educate yourself and change your water habits, you can help others by the power of example. You can be like my sister, Green Diva Lisa, who is the water police and has been known to lunge at sinks to turn off water in other people’s kitchens. Talk about it. Write about it. Don’t be shy about it. But, please try to be diplomatic and friendly to those that are still on the learning curve – lecturing and making people feel guilty isn’t very effective.

 

 
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6 Simple Tips for Greening Your Kitchen

By Green Diva Meg thegreendivas.com
November 21, 2012
File under: Cleaning, Composting, Entertaining, Family, Food, Health, Home, Lifestyle, Recycling, Saving Money, Waste Reduction


Morning shows are fun, but they are kind of rough on a Monday morning! I have a new respect for all those morning show professionals who do it 5 days a week!

We had a great time with Ebru Today talking about getting greener in the kitchen. I kept my tips to things that were relatively easy, low or no-cost or in fact saved money. My philosophy on having a Green Diva kitchen is pretty simple and involves for basic ideas: a Green Diva Kitchen should . . .

  • produce yummy food
  • be healthy
  • be earth-friendly
  • low-stress!
Watch me having fun on Ebru TV and learn some simple tips for having a greener kitchen:


6 Easy Ways to Have a Green Diva Kitchen

1. Use Cloth Napkins

  • Paper products currently account for one-third of the municipal waste in the U.S. – great case for using cloth napkins and dishtowels
  • Paper products: paper v. cloth napkins – manufacturing cloth napkins takes a little more energy, however to wash and reuse them multiple times makes up for it and saves a LOT of trees
  • you can also easily make your own from remnants

2. Buy More in Bulk

  • Buying bulk for dry goods can save on packaging AND money! Example: Organic dried cranberries on average are 98% less expensive than their packaged counterpart
  • Between a quarter and a third of all domestic waste is packaging: much of it food packaging
  • To buy bulk goods, find a food coop or buying club near you at LocalHarvest.org

3. Recycle Even More

  • About 80% of what Americans throw away is recyclable, yet our recycling rate is only 28%
  • Recycle as much as you can
  • Try avoiding buying food and products with lots of packaging
  • Buy food and drinks in recyclable packaging such as glass jars or tin cans
  • Buy bulk

4. Use Only Eco-Friendly Sponges and Dish Towels

  • Most sponges are plastic and contain dyes, and synthetic disinfectants like triclosan, which has been determined to be a health hazard to humans and ecosystems by the EPA
  • Use a sponge made from natural and sustainable materials
    • Cellulose sponges – made from wood fibers – they biodegrade in landfills and go through a far less toxic manufacturing process
  • Landfills are filled with paper towels and there no way to recycle or reuse them
  • It takes about one year for the paper to biodegrade, the thicker the towel the longer
  • It’s cheaper to skip the paper towels

5. Remember to Use Reusable Shopping Bags

  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1 million sea creatures a year
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of Texas and it’s floating somewhere between San Francisco and Hawaii. It weighs 3.5 million tons and is 80% plastic
  • If everyone in the United States tied their annual consumption of plastic bags together in a giant chain, the chain would reach around the Earth’s equator 776 times!

6. Composting is Easy

  • Compost is excellent for garden soil
  • If you don’t have a garden, look for community compost program
  • Fruits and veggies, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells (rinsed and crushed), rice and pasta
  • Reduces your garbage output significantly
remember . . .
eat. blog. be merry!

 

 
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Go green with new ideas to simplify your life, ecomii inside stories on ways to live healthier, shop smarter, reduce spending, live toxic-free and use less with more.

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