Looking to purchase green gifts for your friends or family this holiday season? For ideas, check out the websites listed in this brief article from Consumer Reports Greener Choices.
Public Green Blog
The Mount Prospect Public Library is now offering Kill A Watt Meters for checkout at the Reference Desk on the second floor. These devices can be used to monitor the electricity consumed by household appliances and electronics on a daily basis. ComEd provided 2 of these meters to the library. Please ask for assistance at the Reference Desk. Loan periods are for one week.
As the seasons begin to change your family migrates indoors for the winter, a lot of energy can be wasted to keep your family and your home comfortable. Between 40 and 70% of all home energy is wasted, but we could save about half of that by buying efficient appliances and taking energy-saving measures.
Cover your air conditioner: If you can’t remove your window unit, consider covering it both inside and out. Besides protecting your air-conditioning unit, these covers also help keep cold air from entering your home through the space around the air-conditioner and can be a great way to lower utility bills.
Caulk it: Small spaces and gaps around windows and pipes and wires entering the home create create energy wasting drafts that can cut the efficiency of your heating system. Most caulking products cost under $10; rope caulk, one of the easiest types to apply, sells for about
$4 for 40 or 50 feet.
Block drafts: Draft blockers are foam plates that fit behind light switches and electrical outlets to reduce drafts that enter through those spaces. You can get a packet of 10 for about $3 and they’re easy to install with just a screwdriver.
Upgrade your thermostat: Changing your thermostat to a programmable one allows you to control the temperature in your home at different times of the day without you being home. Keep the heat off when you’re out of the house and set it to turn back up before you get home. Some also have a second set of settings for weekends, when people usually spend more time at home. The thermostats range from $90 to $175, but can save 12% or more on your energy bill and pay for itself within three years.
Make your own costume from things around the
house – old clothes, game pieces, sport team items, something from the
recycling bin, etc., or purchase items from a resale shop.
If make-up is used instead of a mask, purchase non-toxic or
When buying candy, look for treats with minimal packaging – or give
pencils, erasers or money.
Send your children out with a reusable bucket, canvas bag or pillowcase.
Don’t be a litter bug, dispose of candy wrappers in your bags, buckets or
trash cans along the way.
Stay local to trick-or-treat, bike, wagon or carpool.
Use rechargeable batteries in your flashlight for trick-or-treating.
Don’t throw away the pumpkin seeds – bake and eat, or put outdoors for
the birds and animals.
As your pumpkin grows old, put in your yard for animals to eat, or put
into compost pile.
Keep Halloween decorations from year to year so you don’t need to
purchase new ones each season.
If you are hosting a Halloween party, used reusable dishes, tableware,
cups napkins, etc. Instead of paper invitations, send an electronic
invite to your guests.
Do you dread spring cleaning because of the harsh chemicals and overpowering smells given off by your average cleaning products? Then consider trying to green your spring cleaning choices this year. Consumer Reports recently tested various green cleaners, including all purpose cleaners, dishwasher detergents with low phosphates, dishwashing liquids, laundry liquids and powders, and shower cleaners. Check out which products fared best at Consumer Reports Green Product Watch: Best Spring Cleaners.
Did you know you can also create your own cleaners from some basic ingredients you may already have in your home? Consumer Reports has also created a list basic ingredients and homemade household cleaner recipes. Check them out at Homemade Household Cleaners: Best Recipes.
Do you have a tried and true recipe for your own green cleaner, or did you try one of the recipes suggested by Consumer Reports? If so, please feel free to share your results by posting a comment!
Steer clear of rock salt (sodium chloride) and urea-based de-icers. Not only can they pollute habitats with plant-killing runoff, but they can also corrode concrete, destroy your lawn (even a snow-covered one), and contaminate water supplies. Better bets? Sand, which provides traction without damaging salt-sensitive landscapes, and calcium chloride, which may still hurt vegetation, but is free of the cyanide present in rock salt. For more green winter tips see: http://www.wholeliving.com/article/eco-friendly-winter-health-tips
Are you looking for some new seeds to grow in your garden this year? Have you heard about Seed Savers Exchange, which is a non-profit organization that “saves and shares the heirloom seeds of our garden heritage” in hopes of saving some endangered seeds from being lost to future generations. Through Seed Savers Exchange you can order seeds for a variety of different plants including vegetables (check out the tomoatoes!), herbs, and flowers. Some of the seeds are even certified USDA Organic! Interested in visiting the farm, located near Decorah, Iowa? Visitors are welcome April through October.
For more information on ordering seeds or visiting the farm, visit Seed Savers Exchange http://www.seedsavers.org/
Do you still have gifts to wrap before the holidays? Before buying anymore gift wrap, consider some alternatives that are more environmentally friendly:
*Giving clothes or blankets as a gift? Consider also using these items to wrap gifts for the same person.
*Reuse paperbags to wrap gifts. You can even make the brown paper more festive by drawing on it.
*Place gifts in a reuseable shopping bag, so the bag becomes part of the gift.
*Reuse comics as wrapping or newspaper to protect breakable items.
*Sew your own gift bags using left over fabric scraps and let the receiver keep the bag as part of their gift.
*Use reuseable gift bags and encourage your giftees to reuse the bag as well.
*Use clean recycled aluminium foil to wrap gifts.
*Wrap gifts in old road maps.
*Ask friends and family members to try not to tear the wrapping paper so that it can be reused next year.
*Have large cans to recycle? Clean and dry them thoroughly, place gifts inside and cover with shredded paper, fabric or yarn scraps.
*Save the cards you receive and reuse them by cutting them apart and using the picture as a gift tag.
Want to do away with wrapping completely? Inform your friends and family that you will not be wrapping gifts in an effort to reduce your footprint. Use the money you save to upgrade their gift or donate the money to your choice of charity. Or purchase your gift online and have it sent directly to the recipient’s home.
Have you debated with others (or possibly yourself) about which tree is more environmentally friendly, a real tree or a fake tree? While no 100 percent clear answer can be made, there are some important factors to consider before purchasing your tree. Check out this site for further information:
Did you know in May, Nicor began an Energy Efficiency Program, which allows consumers of Nicor Gas to save energy and money? The programs are available for residential and business customers. Through the Residential Customer program, Nicor proivdes customers with energy education and resources, and rebates on qualifying natural gas products such as water heaters and furnaces. For more information visit: Nicor Gas Rebates (http://www.nicorgasrebates.com/index.php) or http://www.nicor.com/en_us/news_and_media/latest_releases/release_05_01_2010.htm