Public Green Category: Holidays

Tidy your Home for the Holidays the Green Way

Now’s the time to start thinking about getting your house in order for the holidays.

Do you have a bunch of electronics and small household appliances that are no longer working or are out-of-date? The SWANCC (Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County) Glenview Transfer Station at 1151 N River Road, Des Plaines (across from Maryville Academy) will accept many items for recycling, including all computer-related devices and small household appliances (see here for a detailed list and more information). Any resident from a SWANCC member community can drop off items every Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Have a bunch of nonworking holiday lights or are switching to LEDs? Mount Prospect Public Works (1700 W. Central) will begin accepting holiday lights for recycling starting November 2 through February 29, 2016. Lights will be accepted 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Do you have old paint cans, household cleaners/chemicals and old garden pesticides to get rid of? The Illinois EPA has collection sites for these hazardous household waste items. Note: latex paint is not a hazardous material and can be discarded in your regular trash. Just make sure the paint is hardened by leaving the lid off, or to speed up the process you can add cat litter or saw dust.

Cleaning out your closet and dressers and kitchen cabinets? Many organizations take clothing and household donations on a regular basis. SWANCC has a list in the local area for drop-off or pick up.

Sorting through your books? Most public libraries, including the Mount Prospect Public Library, will accept book donations throughout the year. It’s best to call ahead and make sure donations are being accepted on a given day before you haul them out of your home.

And remember that the Mount Prospect Public Library is a drop-off for used personal care product packaging, cell phones and ink-jet cartridges, eyeglasses and keys.

Eliminate/Reduce Paper Waste this Holiday Week

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.

Holiday Light Recycling

The Solid Waste Agency of North Cook County (SWANCC) and its member communities are offering h0liday string lighting recycling in numerous locations throughout the area. Mount Prospect Public Works is currently accepting lights M-F, 7:30 a.m to 5:00 p.m. through February 28, 2013. For more info and a list of addtional locations: Holiday Light Recycling.

Different Shades of “Green” Turkey

Organic turkeys are fed with grains grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers (yum!).

Vegetarian-fed turkeys are fed strictly vegetarian diet. These birds cannot go outside on pasture since foraging for “bugs” is not considered a vegetarian diet.

Cage-free turkeys are not confined to cages, but do not necessarily have ready access to outside

“Free range” turkeys are not confined to cages, and have access to the outside, which doesn’t necessarily mean that they take advantage of this “free”-dom–turkeys can “free-range” on sand, dirt or even concrete.

Pastured turkeys are housed and/or ranged on pasture, with grass, legumes and insects comprising a significant portion of their diet. As such, they may or may not be “organic.”

Day range pastured turkeys are free to range outside in large rotating fenced pasture during the day, and are housed inside a permanent or semi-permanent coop at night, with an open floor (no cages). Local Harvest has a database of farms with these (and more) various turkey options.

Fun Fall Activities

Fall has arrived and it is time to think about some eco-friendly decorating ideas.
Check out for some fun and very doable things you can try and still be kind to the environment.  Here are just a couple of Martha’s ideas:
+Take a look at this gourd garland  Try hanging it from a fence outdoors or  from a mantle. 
+Fill a planter with gourds, squash, corn, or pumpkins, use your imagination! 
+Free pumpkin carving templates, take a look and you will make you’re your friends and family “green” with envy at your pumpkin art!  

After you have taken the seeds out of your pumpkins, don’t throw them away!  Once you read about the health benefits of eating pumpkin seeds,  you will want to eat them for breakfast lunch, lunch and dinner! Pumpkin seeds have attributed to helping the health of the prostrate, bones, and even lowering cholesterol.  

To help make those healthy pumpkin seeds even more appetizing, check out these links from the Food Network.  They have some wonderful recipe ideas to prepare those seeds in new and different ways:
+Try these Caramelized Pumpkin Seeds from Sandra Lee.
+Or a Spicy Pumpkin Seeds recipe from Bobby Flay.
+Maybe some Pumpkin Seed Salsa from Emeril Lagasse?

Here’s a few ideas from PBS KIDS for young fans of “Arthur”:
+Try sending some Halloween e-cards  to cut down on paper waste.
+And, if the fall weather proves to be a bit too chilly try taking the Go Green Challenge with Arthur and his friends.

Eco-Friendly Grilling

With the 4th of July upon us, many will be grilling for the holiday. Here’s a few things to keep in mind to keep your grilling practices as green as possible:

  • Gas and propane grills are the cleanest burning grills. Natural charcoal burns dirty and emit greenhouse gases.
  • Grills made of stainless steel and cast iron are the safest as they do not emit toxins in to the air.
  • Use a charcoal chimney instead of lighter fluid if you are using a natural charcoal grill. Lighter fluid also releases toxins.
  • Make sure your grill is the right size for your needs. One that is too large takes longer to heat up and wastes energy and produces excess heat.
  • When cleaning your grill, make sure you use a natural grill cleaner.
  • Consider grilling less meat or all vegetables. Try to purchase organic/locally grown meats and vegetables.

Have a Green Halloween

Illustration of a haunted houseMake 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 
        hypoallergenic cosmetics.  
 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.