Close- to- Home Green Tips
http://www.cleanhomejournal.com/view.aspx?pid=546&fns=1&hs225=chj&hs227=chj200804 When it comes to taking care of the planet, you, our members, are giving it plenty of thought and TLC. You’re recycling like crazy, doing laundry with cold water, filtering your drinking water rather than buying it in bottles, planting flowers, vegetables and trees, and coming up with ways to reduce, reuse and recycle every day. Your innovative ideas for green living inspired us to share some eco-friendly tips of our own. Thank you one and all for your great suggestions. Throw in the towel. Jaime of Pottsville, PA, sent in this great idea. Throw a dry towel into the dryer with your wet clothes. “The dry towel helps absorb the moisture quickly and leads to shorter drying time and reduced use of energy.” Full loads also dry faster than loads containing just a few items. Become a peanut farmer. Reuse packing peanuts in your container gardens. They’re light and airy enough to allow for drainage—and mixing them in with potting soil reduces its weight and makes it much easier to move large potted plants. Store your peanuts in a Ziploc® Brand Big Bag until you’re ready to use them. (By the way, did you know you can rinse out your Ziploc® Brand containers and use them over and over?) To find out where you can recycle your peanuts, call the Plastic Loose Fill Council’s Peanut Hotline at 800-828-2214. A fine feathered friend. Deborah from Grand Prairie, TX, recycles old feather pillows by putting the feathers outside so that birds can literally “feather their nests.” Simply remove the feathers from the pillow and place them in mesh bags (ones with holes about as wide as those on grocery-store mesh onion bags work well) to hang off tree branches. “Then sit back and enjoy watching the birds use old feathers to make nice soft nests for their young ones.” Drive a green machine. Getting more mileage from a tank of gasoline helps not only our environment but also your wallet. To maximize your miles per gallon, start by clearing out any junk in your trunk that can weigh down your car. Tires should be properly inflated and your air filter regularly cleaned. Keep your windows up when driving on the highway to avoid drag—if it’s cool enough outside, use flow-through ventilation. Drive at a smooth, even speed and avoid sudden starts and stops. Don’t let your car idle for more than a minute because it takes less gas to restart your car than it does to let it idle. And do consider carpooling, where possible. Water, water everywhere. From east to west, our members are conserving water. Judi in Reed, FL, Carla in Colorado Springs, CO, and Deborah, in Yuma, AZ, all put a bucket or a pitcher in the sink when they’re running the tap, waiting for the water to get warm. They then use the saved water to give their houseplants a good soak. Many of you are also using water filters and reusable bottles instead of buying water in plastic bottles. Resourceful member Christine swears by water from her washing machine (also known as “gray water”) to water the lawn. Just be sure to rotate your “gray watering” with fresh water. Don’t use water that contains chlorine bleach because it can damage plants and foliage. And be sure you don’t use laundry gray water on vegetable and herb gardens—anything you grow to eat—or on ornamental plantings. Pile it on! Many of you have compost piles or mulch pits for turning vegetable waste and lawn clippings into rich, organic fertilizer. In Fritch, TX, Carolyn tells us that shreds from paper shredders make good mulch. Noncolored pages of newspapers can also be shredded and used for mulch—just weigh down the paper mulch with heavier mulch material, such as wood chips or bark. Jared of Omaha, NE, is using compost from table scraps for his garden and donating a portion of the produce he raises to help feed the homeless in his area. Eat your greens. Make your kitchen a more environmentally friendly place by choosing locally grown, raised or produced organic food, whenever possible. Most food that Americans eat travels an average of 1,500 miles before it reaches the kitchen—and that doesn’t include imported food. When you buy from local farmers, you’re helping to reduce the energy it takes to get farm products to your table. Look for locally raised poultry and meat and dairy products and eggs, as well as sustainable fish caught in local waters. To learn more about organic farming and to find a farmer’s market near you, go to www.localharvest.org. The paper chase. In Louisville, KY, Patricia uses return envelopes from junk mail to write her shopping lists and then tucks her coupons inside. But conservation doesn’t happen just at home. “We’ve started filling our fax machine trays at work with scratch paper,” says Rose of Durham, NC. “That way, both sides of the paper get used.” Swags are in the bag. Ziploc® Brand Big Bags, that is. “When my artificial floral swags get dusty, I put them in a [Ziploc® Brand] Big Bag with a few tablespoonfuls of salt. Shake! The salt takes the dust off and your flowers are ready to be rehung,” says Kelly, Washington, MO. This tip is great for refreshing all your silk and artificial flowers so you don’t have to buy new. Best of all, you can save the salt and reuse it the next time your flowers get dusty.