Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Greening 201: Ideas for a greener 2015 for the already converted

So, you compost, always have a reusable bag and cup with you, you buy local produce and products, sold your car and haven’t used a clothes dryer in years.  What’s next? How can you take your greening to the next level?  Here are a couple of ideas as you ponder into 2015.

Ditch the straw: About 500million straws are used in the US every day and many of these contain BPA. While it’s easy enough to say you won’t use straws, the trick is that many restaurants bring drinks (water, iced tea, margaritas, etc) to the table with the straw already in the drink.  Order your drink sans straw.  It will keep you on your toes.  Even the National Park Service thinks this is a good idea!

My current cork collection!
Start recycling one funky thing: While many goods can easily be recycled in bins, other items (CFLs, corks, batteries, jeans, etc) can be a challenge.  Commit to recycling one funky item.  Tell your friends, colleagues, neighbors, coffee shop, fellow gardeners etc about your project and tell them that you’ll also recycle this one item for them.  Embrace this and do it with joy…and maybe someone you know will start recycling some other funky item.

Don’t buy eggs in Styrofoam cartons.  Duh. I had to throw in something easy.  Why are Styrofoam egg cartons even made anymore?  Even my CSA won’t take them.

Look, Ma! No plastic bag!
Tell your neighbors not to put recyclables in a plastic bag! Plastic bags can REALLY mess up a recycling sorter and can shut it down for hours.  Recyclables can go right into the bin; they shouldn’t be bundled into a plastic bag.  If you have a lot of plastic bags to recycle, take them to a grocery store OR DC DDOE says to put all the bags together in one large bag.  (I know you know this, but I bet your neighbors don’t.)

Carry eating utensils in your bag/purse and a container/jar for leftovers when you go out to eat.  You’ll be able to avoid food waste and plastic/Styrofoam packaging.

Commit to establishing a garden plot this year!  If you don’t have room in your own backyard, try getting a plot at a community garden.  It’s not too early to contact them.  Here’s a partial list of DC Community Gardens and contact info.  If you’re not into gardening, join a CSA. Here’s a 2014 list of CSAs.  I’m sure much of the contact info is still the same.

Stop coloring your hair.  It will save you time, money, and you’ll be doing your part to keep many b-a-d bad chemicals out of the waste stream.

Join Freecycle DC.  I love this list serv.  I have passed along COUNTLESS items I would not have thought anyone would want, from used (but clean!) ziplock bags to mailing envelopes.  There’s some really good stuff on the list serv too!

Canoe or kayak the Anacostia.  The Anacostia is DC’s hidden gem.  You can rent canoes and kayaks, paddle boats and rowboats at Bladensburg Waterfront Park, and it’s easy enough to get there by bike or car.  You can see the beauty of this river despite all the trash.  It will remind you why we need to keep spreading the gospel of recycling. 

Go forth, and green.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

UnDecking the Halls: How to dispose of your Holiday Trees, Bling and More!

DC Department of Public Works will pick up (real) Christmas trees and holiday wreaths between December 28 and January 10 for composting. Remove ornaments, tinsel and other decorations and put the tree(s) and greenery where your trash and recycling are collected. Trees and greenery collected after January 10 will be collected with the trash as space permits in the truck. Here's a link to DPW's brochure on trash and leaf collection. And, if the leaf raking crew hasn't made it to your block yet, it's time to give DPW a call at 311.

Collect holiday (and other occasion) cards (in your neighborhood and at work) and send them to St. Jude's Ranch for Children.  See details for this program here.

Meanwhile, instead of throwing out unwanted but usable decorations, tinsel, lights, gifts you really don't want, ugly holiday sweaters, bows, ribbon, wrapping paper, etc, try listing it on FreeCycle DC.  Happy undecking!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

And a Few More Green Gift Ideas.......

I met the kind folks of Vino Dolce Candles last weekend at Eastern Market. Candles are handmade in DC from wine bottles recycled from local wine bars and restaurants, and filled with premium 100% soy wax made from U.S. farmers.  They're online, too!

Know a composter wannabe who doesn't have a place for a large bin?  How about a subscription to Compost Cab or FatWorm Compost?  A membership to WABA will give your cycle buddy a 10 percent discount at most local bike shops.

How about some greener toys?  Check out Green America's Green Holiday Gift Ideas for Children in the Winter Issue of their magazine.

Need a gift for the foodie in your life?  DC's own Hill's Kitchen has a great selection of cooking goods including cutting boards and retro 100 percent cotton kitchen towels for every state...including (duh!) the District of Columbia. Meanwhile, this week's WaPo has a great article on DC Supper Clubs.  If you can't buy a ticket, make a gift certificate so you can dine sometime during the year. Or, how about a gift certificate for a beer tour through DC's ever growing number of local breweries!

Go even more retro AND support your local potter by buying a butter bell. Invented or perhaps "devined" in the late 19th century, butter bell consists of a base that holds water, and a cup (bell) that holds packed butter and serves as a lid. Butter (not oilier margarines) placed into the base, where water creates an airtight seal that keeps the air (and thus oxygen) away from the butter. Refrigeration isn't needed and your butter is ready to spread.

Finally, at least for now, Kaluah is usually a huge hit as we move deeper into the cold days of winter, and it's is easy as pie to make.  (try not to think about how much sugar you're using). Here's a recipe that I found.

I hope you're enjoying the holiday season!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

And on to the 2015 Green Gift Guide....

Let's go back to some of the basics this year.....

A drying rack will let you reuse some of those many (many) ziplocks and other plastic bags you have on hand.  Buy one
or make your own!

Remember these?  You can still buy potholder looms at your local hobby/toy store and now the looms come in larger sizes!  They're quick to make and ever appreciated!

What about some body lights for your favorite jogger/cyclist.  Check for LED models.  You can't have too many of them and they come in colors besides pink!

Check back soon.  I'll be posting more green gift ideas in the coming days!