Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!

April 22, 2011 at 8:52 am , by

86898565_563dab2319_m-1If you want to do more than hug your favorite tree in honor of Earth Day, try at least one of these 10 tips from public health and safety organization NSF International, and turn your Earth Day celebration into an everyday fete.

1. Pack Lighter: An extra 10 pounds of baggage per air traveler requires 350 million more gallons of jet fuel per year.

2. Change colors: Paint your home a light color if you live in a warm climate or a dark color if you live in a cold climate to reduce energy consumption.

3. Air-dry: Dry your clothes outdoors. They’ll smell great, and your utility bills will be significantly reduced.

4. Use reusables: Replace disposable home products with reusable ones like rechargeable batteries, washable food storage containers and cloth towels.

5. Buy used, borrow, or rent: Purchase used or recycled products when you can, and if you only need something temporarily, check with friends or neighbors to see if you can borrow or rent it.

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Let’s Go Green!

April 20, 2011 at 12:02 pm , by

I was on the Today Show this morning to talk about recycling, etc., as part of their “Green Week” series. (Check out the segment here.) Al Roker told me that he’d recently gotten a citation for putting the wrong kind of plastic in his recycling bin. It can be confusing! He also told me his grandmother always believed in using natural products for cleaning, such as lemon and vinegar. Grandma always did know best!

I learned a few eye-openers while working on this segment:

• Hand-washing your dishes isn’t so virtuous after all.
In fact, most people who hand-wash use about four times more water than a dishwasher! A standard Energy Star rated machine only uses about six gallons for the regular cycle. Don’t pre-wash or use the pre-rinse cycle. It’s unnecessary and a waste. Just scrape those dishes, fill it up and turn it on!

• You can’t recycle everything.
Used pizza boxes are a big no-no. They’re always stained with grease, and that grease can contaminate a whole batch of recycled cardboard. Most centers also don’t accept those hard plastic takeout containers. But you can reuse those for nails and other hardware in the garage. The hard plastic caps on water bottles are a different type of resin, and they can also pop off the bottles when they’re crushed, which can injure workers. Plastic grocery bags can get caught in the machinery at recycling plants, so return those to your local grocery store for recycling. And I always return my wire hangers to my local dry cleaner, who reuses them.

• Most water bottles are not recycled. In fact, I was horrified to learn that some 38 billion of them end up in landfills every year! Plus, so much energy is used to make the bottles, fill them and transport them—sometimes halfway across the world. Then it takes 20 seconds to glug down the water and toss it. Sometimes a bottle of water is the only thing that’s convenient. But try to save it for the recycling bin. It can be tough to break the bottled water habit. But in honor of Earth Day this week, I’m pledging to carry my stainless steel reusable water bottle, with filtered tap water, every single day. Want to join me? It’s one small way we can all make a difference for a cleaner world.

Photo copyright Alx, fotolia.com


Cheat Sheet: 4 Things You Maybe Missed This Week

April 23, 2010 at 11:57 am , by

1. Planes Return to the Sky
Flights to and from Europe are on schedule again after almost a week of cancellations. Volcanic ash spread through the air when (note: trying to pronounce Icelandic words could result in facial paralysis. Proceed with caution) Eyjafjallajokull erupted in Iceland, causing  more than 100,000 flights to be grounded. Tortuous for the thousands of people stranded at airports all over the world, but the pictures of the eruption are truly beautiful. Check out this photo set on Flikr.

2. Earth Day Is Over the Hill
Thursday marked the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. How green are you? Take this “Grade Your Shade” quiz to find out (I’m leafy green, apparently).

3. Unnecessary Quotes
This blog isn’t new (it started in 2005), but I guess I’m feeling a little prickly lately, so have been laughing at it all week. If you’re a word nerd like me, you’ll like it. What are some other pet peeve blogs you love?

4. Lane Bryant’s “Too Racy for TV” Ad

Lane Bryant claims ABC rejected this ad based on the size of the models. While a Victoria’s Secret ad ran at an earlier time, this one was pushed back and required extensive edits. Too sexy for prime time? You be the judge.


How to Cut Back on Catalogs

April 22, 2010 at 5:44 pm , by

Last night, I opened my mailbox and was attacked by an avalanche of catalogs. I’ve noticed a big upswing in the number I’ve been receiving lately, but this was just ridiculous. And while I do recycle, I’d rather not get them in the first place—it’s better for the environment and it cuts down on the amount of paper clutter that makes its way into my apartment. So, in honor of Earth Day, I took a few minutes to head over to catalogchoice.org, a site that helps you opt out of many catalogs’ mailing lists without having to—gasp!—pick up the phone. I first used Catalog Choice about a year and a half ago, entering the names of catalogs that I received almost every week (here’s looking at you, Victoria’s Secret). Catalog Choice then submits the opt-out requests to the individual catalogs. After about a month, I noticed a big improvement, and I never missed out on sales because I was already getting email newsletters from the companies I actually bought from. Unfortunately, due to my nasty online shopping habit, I’ve got a whole new crop of catalogs showing up. It only took about 15 minutes to update my preferences, well worth the effort to save me from future mail avalanches. If you want to save even more trees, you can sign up with 41pounds.org (named after the amount of unwanted mail the average person receives in a year. Scary!) or dmachoice.org. Both help reduce all kinds of junk mail, not just catalogs.

Photo via Gravityx9


Greening Your Beauty Routine

April 15, 2010 at 4:36 pm , by

My beauty routine could use a little green overhaul. So, in honor of Earth Day next week (April 22nd) I decided to clean up my act. Here are my top picks for a green makeover.

Pure and Natural Liquid Hand SoapI’m surprisingly picky about hand soap (I’ve found natural formulas can be awkwardly sudsy or non-lathering) but I love this just-right formula from Pure & Natural Liquid Hand Soap, $4.50. The rosemary and mint scent is great, too.

Group Bottle Shot2[1]Lately I’ve become a face mist junkie. It adds moisture into my eternally dry skin and makes my thick moisturizers spread like butter. Kiehl’s Acai Damage Protecting Toning Mist, $27, also adds antioxidant protection. Bonus points for it’s Cradle to Cradle certification, meaning that it’s made with the least amount of waste from start to finish.

Lush Bubblegum Lip Scrub

The transitional weather of spring really does a number on my lips and I’m forever bouncing between a lip balm and lip scrub. Because I end up nearly eating the granules, I wanted to find something ingestible. Lush’s Buble Gum Lip Scrub, $9, is vegan!

EcoTools EcoPouf 2

I love the way a bath pouf really makes a soap nice and bubbly, but am forever replacing them. EcoTools EcoPouf, $2, uses recycled plastic and is cheap enough to toss (into the recycling bin) when it gets grimy.

Aveda Light the Way Candle 2

Aveda’s Light The Way candle, $12, is my new favorite house accessory. I not only get to enjoy the French-y lavender and clary sage scent (all organic) but once it’s done, I can use the glass vessel to drink from. These reclaimed holders started as a wine cooler bottles. So cool!