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Public Green Blog

Green Your 4th of July Celebration

Why not add some green to your 4th of July celebration. Here are a few tips to consider to make your holiday celebration a little more environmentally friendly.
-Instead of using disposable plates, plastic cups and silverware, use your every day table ware. If you must use some type of disposable table ware, consider ones that are compostable.
-Help guests do something green by asking that they bring their own drinking cups, which not only helps to reduce waste, but also helps guests to tell their cups apart.
-Celebrate outside! By moving your gathering outside, you can help reduce your home's energy consumption.
-Instead of shooting off your own fireworks, get a group together to carpool, and go see a public fireworks display. If you must shoot off your own fireworks, consider those that are higher in nitrogen, as they produce less smoke.
-Instead of buying water in individual plastic bottles for guests, have water pitchers or other large containers that can be refilled.
-Reuse or recycle what you can after your celebration is complete.
-Instead of having one large container for guests to dispose of waste, have several smaller containers that are labeled for what items are to be placed inside. For example, you could have one for paper, one for plastic, glass and cans, another for compostable materials, and another for garbage.

For more information, visit:

By MPPL on June 25, 2010 Categories: Uncategorized

Summer Vacation Green Tips

With summer vacations coming up here are a few ways to make your traveling more "green":

Before leaving home:
– Turn water heater to lowest setting.
– Appliances such as TV's and cable converter boxes should be unplugged because they can draw as much as
40 watts per hour even when they're off.
– Turn water off to your home in case a pipe were to break or a faucet were to start leaking.

Preparing for green travel:
– Purchase elctronic tickets whenever possible.
– Book flights that recycle. British Airways has a very strong environmental agenda.Southwest Airlines
recycles all cabin waste and was the first airline to offerelectronic ticketing.
– When possible use hotel or airport shuttles, or public transportation.

Things to do at the hotel (preferably a green one):
– During your hotel stay let management know that it is not necessary to change your sheets
 and towels every day.
– Turn off lights and the air conditioning when leaving the hotel room.
– Avoid room service.

At your destination:
– Use a refillable water bottle instead of buying bottled water.
– Say no to plastic bags. Use your own eco-friendly reusable bag.
– Explore the city you’re visiting on foot, by renting a bike or taking public transportation.
– Take advantage of walking tours or self-guided audio tours at many attractions.
– Eat at an organic restaurant.

These are just a few tips about traveling green. You can find more at:

By MPPL on June 17, 2010 Categories: Uncategorized

How to Whiten Clothes Naturally Without Bleach

You don't need to use harsh chemicals to keep your whites looking like new. Try one of these tips to whiten your clothes naturally without bleach.

Baking Soda is a wonderful ingredient to whiten clothes naturally without bleach. That's why it's used everyday in many whitening toothpastes and natural household cleaners.  To whiten clothing with Baking Soda, add about ½ cup into the wash plus your regular detergent. Clothes will come out whiter and brighter without chemicals.

Vinegar is another wonder ingredient you can use to whiten clothes naturally without bleach. If the smell scares you, don't worry. Your clothes won't smell like vinegar. The smell may linger in your washing machine for a bit but your clothes won't smell.  Simply add about ¾ cup of vinegar to your wash along with your regular detergent to whiten clothes naturally without bleach.

Hydrogen Peroxide is an excellent alternative to bleach and can be used successfully to whiten clothes naturally without bleach. Add about ½ cup to your wash with regular detergent and your clothes will come out as whiter than ever.

Borax is often advertised as a laundry brightener and can be found in your grocery store's laundry aisle. It's a naturally occurring mineral that has long been valued for its whitening properties. Borax is used in all sorts of natural cleaning products. It can clean anything from toilets to dishes. But most of all, it will whiten clothes naturally without bleach. Add about ½ cup of Borax to a regular load of laundry, along with your regular detergent for whiter, brighter clothes instantly.

Sunlight! Sunlight is one of the best tools we have available to whiten clothes naturally without bleach. If you have a clothes line, simply hang your clothing out to dry in the warm sun. The sun will whiten and refresh your clothes like nothing else.

For the best whitening results, wash your clothes with regular detergent plus one of the above mentioned natural laundry whiteners. Then, hang the clothes out to dry in the sun. You'll be amazed at how much whiter they are and it was all done without bleach or harsh chemicals.

By MPPL on June 10, 2010 Categories: Uncategorized

How to Boat Green

Prevent oil discharges from the bilge. Keep your engine well tuned to prevent fuel and oil leaks. Put an oil absorbent pad in your bilge and under your engine where drips may occur.

Spill proof your oil changes by using an oil change pump to transfer oil to a spill proof container.  Wrap a plastic bag or absorbent pad around the oil filter to stop oil from spilling into the bilge.

When fueling prevent fuel spills by filling fuel tanks slowly and catching drips and spills with a rag. Don't "top off" your tank, leave it ten percent empty to allow fuel to expand as it warms.

Never use soap to to disperse fuel and oil spills.It is illegal and increases harm to the environment.

Save boat cleaning and repairs for the boat yard whenever possible. If you must work on the water, minimize your impact by containing waste. Use tarps and vacuum sanders.

Use only nontoxic antifouling paints. Remember dry storage reduces the need for paints and saves money.

Manage sewage waste properly. Never discharge sewage within three miles of shore. Use shore side facilities if you don't have an installed toilet.

Keep your trash on board until you reach land and it can be properly disposed of.

Reduce water pollution by using phosphate-free biogradegradable soap.

Sail or kayak!

By MPPL on June 4, 2010 Categories: Uncategorized

World Environment Day

Did you know that Saturday, June 5th is World Environment Day, which was started by the United Nations as a way to help increase environmental awareness and to enchance political attention and action? Why not stop by the Chicago Botanic Garden for a tour or to participate in a variety of different events and activities, including some that are family friendly. For a complete list of events and activities please visit:

By MPPL on May 28, 2010 Categories: Uncategorized

Proper Smoke Detector Disposal

Old smoke detectors at the end of their lifespan that need to be replaced should not be thrown away in regular landfill trash. Many smoke detectors have small amounts of radioactive material, Americium 241, that could pose health hazards if broken open. The Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) states on its smoke detector disposal page, "By federal regulation, all smoke detectors contain the mail-back address to send used units with radioactive chips. Call the companies prior to sending packages for fees and mailing instructions and brands accepted for disposal. Mark all packages 'For Disposal Only'." SWANCC does not accept smoke detectors in its Household Chemical Waste disposal program, but it offers links to two companies that will accept them by mail.

Here's a more comprehensive list of companies that may accept smoke detectors that they manufactured.

By MPPL on May 25, 2010 Categories: Uncategorized

An Environmentally Safe Way to Clear Clogged Drains

Over time your drains will most likely become clogged. Hair, grease and other debris will accumulate in the drain, gradually stopping the water from flowing. Here's a way you can unclog the drain yourself without resorting to chemicals or an expensive local contractor.

Step 1 – Put 3/4 of a cup of dry baking soda down the drain.

Step 2 – Pour 1/2 cup of vinegar down the drain after the baking soda. The mixture will
immediately start to fizz.  Be sure to cover the drain with a plug, filling the hole
completely so that nothing can escape.

Step 3 – Leave this concoction in the drain for about 30 minutes. While you are waiting, boil a kettle full of water.

Step 4 – After 30 minutes remove the plug and slowly pour the hot water down the drain.

By MPPL on May 19, 2010 Categories: Uncategorized

Bike-to-Work Week 2010

The League of American Bicyclists is promoting Bike-to-Work Week 2010 from May 17-21 and Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 21.  Now's the time to get your bike out, the tires pumped up and get on the road!

By MPPL on Categories: Uncategorized

Green Pest Control

Among the safe methods of controlling insect pests are two homemade pest controls: 

You may want to get an inexpensive blender just for this purpose, the “bug juice” method requires collecting about ½ cup of the insect pests and blending them with 2 cups of water.  After liquefying, strain and dilute ¼ cup of the pureed insects with 1 gallon of water in a hand sprayer.  Freeze the remainder, marking it clearly.

Another spray is made by pureeing ¼ cup hot pepper, ¼ cup garlic cloves, and 2 cups of water in a blender.  Strain and dilute in the same way as the “bug juice”.   (Ortho Books All About Herbs)

By MPPL on May 16, 2010 Categories: Uncategorized

Green Festival in Chicago

Check out the Chicago Green Festival at Navy Pier on May 22-23, 2010. This event features speakers and programs, exhibitors, and even kids' programs! For more information please visit and be sure to download their festival guide!

By MPPL on Categories: Uncategorized