Friday, August 8, 2014

In Praise of the Humble Mason Jar!

Manufactured to preserve jellies, pickles, and your grandma's homegrown tomatoes and with roots going back to Napoleon (really!), this humble jar has a myriad of uses and is now available in a multitude of shapes and sizes, all at a very reasonable cost and available (most likely) at your local hardware store.  While the lids can only be used once in canning, they can be reused to store anything else, hot or cold, including your lunch or a cup of iced coffee, etc, etc!  The jars can be reused for years - and your favorite canner will be grateful to have them back to refill again with the season's bounty.  They make a great set of inexpensive drinking glasses or pack food servings in them for your next picnic.  And for more on the joys of canning, check out this story.



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Where to Buy Local NOW!

From the "better late than never" category,  I just found this great online map of DC area Farmers Markets from the Washington Post.  If your favorite market isn't listed, send in a note and they'll add it in.

There's also an interactive map of Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) in the DC Area that you can search by pickup point.  Most CSAs are lining up clients for the fall season about now, so it's a good time to contact them.

While Whole Foods and Trader Joe's in DC are flying and trucking in high carbon produce (even tomatoes and peaches) from Mexico and California to sell,  there's a wealth of really good local food to be found now!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Good News for DC: Hazardous Waste Disposal Goes Weekly

On April 5, 2014, DC began offering weekly electronic and hazardous waste drop at the Fort Totten Transfer Station.  The station,located at 4900 John F. McCormack Drive is open for electronic and hazardous waste disposal every Saturday from 8am until 3pm.  They are also open every first Thursday of the month from 1-5pm.  DOCUMENT SHREDDING is only offered on the first Saturday of the month. Click here for a long list of acceptable electronic/hazardous waste.  They will also accept up to four tires.  They will not accept ammunition or explosives (drop these off at a police station), air conditioners, microwaves, wooden TV cabinets or consoles (call 311 for bulk pick up).  For any unwanted medications, DO NOT FLUSH THESE, rather, mix with dirt and/or old coffee grounds/cat litter and place in the trash.  For any questions, call the Fort Totten Transfer Station at (202) 737-4404.  Finally, BE SURE TO BRING ID WITH YOU THAT IDENTIFIES YOU AS A DC RESIDENT!  Happy weekly electronic and hazardous waste recycling!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hey DC, Need a Composting Bin?

Upcycle a Recycling Bin for Composting!
DC is full of surprises, and this year, DC residents were (ummm, pleasantly) surprised to learn that homeowners are receiving new ...and larger recycling and trash bins.  While good news, it also means that there are now a LOT ..and I mean A LOT of unwanted recycling and trash bins that are heading to the landfill. So, what's the solution? Why not make a compost bin out of your old recycling or trash container???!! It's REALLY EASY to do this! Just drill some holes in the bottom and sides of your old bin. You can do this with a hammer and nail if you don't have a drill. Label the bin(s) as "Compost". Start filling with a health mix of biodegradables (food waste, leaves, newspapers, and a tad of water now and then). Stir occasionally with an old broom handle and in a couple of months you'll have some quality compost.  Keep both old bins around to let some compost mature while you start a new batch.  

If you didn't receive a new bin, ask around.  Chances are good that one of your neighbors or a friend in another Ward still has an old bin on hand. Composting + recycling will drastically cut down the amount of trash that you send to the landfill.  Check out this link for some Composting 101 tips. Enjoy!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tis the Season: Plant those seeds now

It seems that Spring is finally here in DC.  It's a great time to get those vegetable and flower seeds planted inside the house so they can be transplanted outdoors once they're strong enough to tolerate the rain and sun.  Ask your friends and neighbors to save some of their plastic pots for you.  Be sure the pots have holes in the bottom and a nice mix of soil and potting soil to help ensure good drainage.  Consider starting a seed co-op where you plant dill seeds and swap your plants for the basil seeds your friend planted.  It's all good fun and will make the harvest even sweeter! 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Check Out the DC Environmental Film Festival!!!

DC's 22nd Annual Environmental Film Fest begins this week (March 18th) and runs through the end of the month.  There are some great films this year - and several focus on the DC area. 
 Unfortunately, most of the DC focused films seems to all be showing at the same time and at various venues around time.  

On Friday, March 21st at 6pm at the Carnegie Institution for Science (1530 P St NW) Mayor Vincent Gray will introduce a series of short films as a part of the Sustainable DC Initiative including "Green Roofs in the District of Colombia", "Earthecho Expedition: What happens when we build cities", and "Rebalanacing" .Reservations are required (this is the link)!  Meanwhile, "Fishing the Anacostia" will be showing at 6h30 along with My Brooklyn over at the Anacostia Community Museum at 1901 Fort Place SE by the Anacostia Metro. No reservations are necessary.  Finally, "Tiny: A story about living small" will be showing at 7pm at The Hill Center on Capitol Hill (Eastern Market Metro).  This movie focuses on the tiny house movement and will include a discussion with the founders of Boneyard Studios, DC's tiny house community.  You'll need to RSVP at rsvp@hillcenterdc.org

There are over 200 great films, and most of them are free!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A New Coalition for DC’s Other River: United for a Healthy Anacostia



This month, environmental, community, business and religious groups across the DC Area have banned together to form a new coalition – United for a Healthy Anacostia River (UHAR) to improve conditions on the Anacostia River. While there’s less litter along the River’s streambanks these days, there are still dangerous chemicals in the riverbed and at certain places along the river bank that put humans and aquatic life at risk.  The Coalition is launching a social media campaign to awareness about conditions in the Anacostia The Coalition’s first effort is an online petition addressed to Mayor Gray and members of the DC Council, requesting:

1.      All of the PCBs, PAHs and other toxic chemicals in the tidal Anacostia River, including sites along the shore and legacy toxics in the riverbed sediments must be cleaned up
2.      Planning must be completed and the actual cleanup of the river bottom underway by midway through the next mayor's term (January 2017) 

Please sign UHAR’s petition for a cleaner Anacostia. As the weather warms, plan to participate in a river cleanup on April 5th, or take a bike or canoe trip along the Anacostia or visit Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens to see for yourself how beautiful this often forgotten river is!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Clean Currents is Closing…but Clean Energy Options are Still Available for DC Residents

We're so very sad to see you go!
Clean Currents, which has offered wind energy options to DC, Maryland and Pennslyvania   electricity customers since 2005, is going out of business. Their DC customers will begin receiving non wind energy Pepco (which is currently using over 40 percent coal and less than 6 percent renewable) for their electricity needs.  According to a Clean Currents statement, the polar vortex is to blame for the business's demise as the extreme cold weather resulted in soaring wholesale electricity prices. A Washington Post story says that the company stopped producing energy this past weekend and will lay off its 19 employees in the coming weeks.
 

Fortunately, there are other clean energy options out there for DC residents that you can sign up for NOW.  GreenLivingDC has a great short article on this topic and posted these options on their website following Clean Currents’ closure.
  •  Ethical Electric – current rate for 100% wind with a 3 month contract is 10.84¢/kWh, 12 month fixed rate is 12.54¢/kWh
  •  WGES – current rate for 100% wind with a 1 year contract is 11.50¢/kWh
  •  Viridian – current rate for 100% wind with a 6 month contract is 11.29¢/kWh, or 11.59¢/kWh for a 24 month fixed-rate contract.
Meanwhile, Groundswell is doing a bulk clean energy purchase in the Spring. Bulk purchases can save you money by reducing the cost of your kWh. According to Groundswell, their fall bulk purchase was 16 percent lower than what homeowners would have been able to negotiate on their own. Whatever option you do, please continue to invest in clean energy!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

WooHoo!! We're Getting Larger Recycling Bins!!!!

A soon-to-be relic! (The small recycling bin - not the dog!)

According to a January 23rd, DC Department of Environment Press Release, DC residents will be receiving larger (supercan) recycling bins and new garbage cans as of February 2014.  Residents have long complained that the current recycling bins just can accommodate all of their recyclables and this has led to a build up of materials in alleys and on the streets. It's been more than 10 years since the current supercans were distributed.  The larger recycling bins will help DC attain its target of diverting 80 percent of the waste stream through recycling, composting, and waste conversion.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How To Start a Recycling Program

Maybe...just maybe one of your 2014 resolutions was to be greener and to recycler more. We'll January is well underway, so it's time to put that commitment into action.  So how do you do it? Most folks who read this blog are already doing a lot of household recycling, upcycling and freecycling, so what's next? Why not expand your efforts - to your neighborhood, workplace or school.  Even if your workplace/school already has a recycling program, there's always room for expansion as more and more products have a viable recycled value.  Here are a few ideas:
  • Start your own mini recycling program at work for batteries, corks, Brita filters or such.  To do this, just send an email to colleagues/neighbors/students telling them that you'll be recycling these items and let them know where and
    My Office Door
    when to drop them off.  Leave a dedicated box on your front porch or in your office, workplace kitchen, etc for these items.  I have a bag on my office door for recycling energy bar wrappers, Brita filters and corks. (wrappers are sent to Terracycle, while Brita filters and corks are recycled at WholeFoods).
  • Recruit others to commit to recycling other goods to create a "recycling circle" and spread the fun.
  • Meet with the Facilities staff at your office/school to urge them to create/expand their recycling services.  The days of only recycling paper are so 1990s.  My workplace recycles all plastics, foil, paper and composts!  It's doable!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Great New Tool to Help You go Solar in DC!

If one of your 2014 resolutions is to go solar, DC now has a tool to help you assess how much a system might cost you for your house. MapDwell allows you to estimate the cost of a solar system on your house by simply inputting your address. It's REALLY easy to use..and will provide you estimates for the total cost of the system, your estimated Fed rebate, SREC income and the number of years it should take you to pay off the system.  Thank you DDOE for making going solar in DC even easier!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Upcycle Your Holiday cards!

St. Jude's Ranch for Children will upcycle your holiday...or other occasion cards!  This is a great project for school kids as it's an upcycling project that helps kids and young families in need. Just send along the front of the card (with no writing on the back)....and they ask that you not send along Disney, Hallmark or American Greeting cards due to copyright issues.  I've started a card collecting program at work and then just mail in a batch once or twice a year!  You can also buy these cards! It's a great green way to start the New Year!
We can not accept Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting cards - See more at: https://stjudesranch.org/about-us/recycled-card-program/#sthash.4RnazGB5.dpuf
We can not accept Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting cards - See more at: https://stjudesranch.org/about-us/recycled-card-program/#sthash.4RnazGB5.dpuf

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

DCRecycler 2013 Green Gift Guide: help someone break the plastic habit!

Seems that I hear more and more stories
about the evils of plastic - its negatives impacts on humans, wildlife and the environment. Help a friend take a bit more plastic out of circulation. Glass storage containers are a great and welcome gift....and they're microwaveable. OK, so they have a plastic lid, but that means they don't leak in your backpack or purse!  Buy a set for a friend and help save the world!

Monday, December 16, 2013

DC Recycler 2013 Green Gift Guide: composting service

If you read this blog, you know
I'm a HUGE fan of composting. Composting has reduced my garbage by more than half..o..and coupled with recycling and free cycling, it means I throw out trash (minus dog poop) about once a month.  BUT, what about apartment dwellers?  There are two door to door composting companies here in DC.  Why not buy a composting subscription to one of them?

CompostCab offers doorstep composting in DC for less than $8 per week and a composting start up kit that includes a countertop compost bin, a larger collection bin, compostable liners, a composting guide, a CompostCab tote bag and a one pound bag of worm castings.....all for $49. Meanwhile, while FatWormCompost offers service for about the same price (as low as $30 per month). Get someone else hooked on composting!



Sunday, December 15, 2013

DC Recycler 2013 Green Gift Guide: Give a Membership!

Memberships: Gifts that keep on giving!
Another great gift for the person who has everything is a membership to one of their favorite organizations.  Many of these memberships keep on giving! For only $35, Washington Area Bicycle Association (WABA) Membership gets you a 10% discount on purchases at bike shops around town.  THIS ADDS UP!  Meanwhile a $120 membership to WAMU, one of the local NPR stations offers discounts to over 63 yoga studios, museums and eateries (most offer 2 for 1 dining) in DC alone.  Buying a membership is a great way to support these local groups - and provide your friend with a gift that will give throughout the year!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

DC Recycler 2013 Gift Guide: What to give someone who has EVERYTHING?!

Update! I love it when I learn about new options from readers!  Check out PaperKarma for unsubscribing from mail. 

We all have those folks on our list who really don't need - or want anything. But you can't just leave them high and dry while others enjoy the day.           

Soooo, what are you going to get them?  Why not give them a huge and precious gift that will make them happy and help save a few trees and a bit of carbon?  
This used to be a tree.

UNSUBSCRIBE THEM

With the "Unsubscribe" gift, you take the time to unsubscribe them from all the junk mail and calls they receive.  This gift is particularly attractive to older folks and young parents who just don't have the time or savvy to do this. It will take some time, put there are a few tools to help make this an easier task.  
  • Catalog Choice is a great starting point.  You can create a free account and opt out of most of the catalogs, credit card offers, etc that you receive.
  • The National DO NOT CALL Registry is another jewel. While you may have signed up a few years ago, registration expires after 5 years, so you may need to reup. For any other calls that get through, I kindly ask them to remove me from their lists. 
  • You can opt out of the YellowPages by going to this website
  • Then, there are those mailings that are addressed to no one, only to your address.  Click here to opt out of those pesky RedPlum Coupon mailings. Call (202) 334-7730 to stop receiving the Washington Post Shopping Guide.
  • As for all that mail you receive from the non profits you love - or have never heard of, I find it best to call them individually.  You can usually find a phone number on their mailing, or look it up.  It's tedious...but you can get rid of the mail.  
Most people will recognize the true value of this gift, and be ever grateful for your efforts!  Happy no junk mail holidays!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

2013 DC Recycler Gift Guide: Where to Shop this Weekend? Community Forklift Green Gift Fair

It's going to be rainy and cold and you need to shop for people who already have plenty of things. Community Forklift is a DC Recycler favorite.  You never know what you'll find there...a $3 hammer, a $20 dog gate, a push button phone or literally - a kitchen sink!  For the holidays, they're having a Green Gift Fair.  I was there last weekend. There was live music and some hot cider and snacks.   They had a wide array of upcycled goods and some great lotions and soaps made of beeswax.  As importantly, I also found a used handle for my rake!  And it's a home renovator treasure trove! It's in Hyattsville, MD ...but that's just outside the DC line.  (Who knew?)!

Monday, December 2, 2013

2013 DC Recycler Gift Guide - Bike Lights

So, since it "tis the season", I thought I'd share some of my favorite gift ideas with you for this year.  

If you follow this blog at all, you won't be surprised to see that the top of my list this year...as in other years..is BIKE LIGHTS! But before you move on to another website, consider that  despite the biking craze in DC, many cyclists don't have good lighting on their bikes. Any cyclist will be happy to have one more bright light!
  
My newest favorite bike lights are these ThunderBolts.  They strap on (and off) to almost any part of a bike...and they're rechargeable by just plugging them into a USB port.  There are front and back lights...and they are BRIGHT!!! I bought mine LOCALLY at Capitol Hill Bikes on 8th St SE..but I'm sure other local stores sell them as well.
 
If you REALLY want to go nuts (which I do) check out these (awesome) Cosmic Brightz and Wheel Brightz lights!  I bought the wheel lights..and even the Capitol Police think they're cool! I bought mine at the Container Store in Tennleytown.