Green Living

5 Pain-Free Steps to a Greener Workplace

Imagine you’re at work.  (I know, you probably don’t want to think about work when you’re at home, but just work with me here.)  Look around your office, and tell me what you see.  If it’s like most workplaces you likely see a computer, stacks of paper, and take out containers from your lunch.  Do you think these things are working to improve our planet?

 

Believe it or not, there are several things that each and every one of us can do at work to reduce our ecological footprint.

 

Check out these 5 painless ways to help save our planet without leaving your desk!

 

  1. 1. Be Powerful, and (Use) Power Less: Most of us depend on our computer to complete most of our tasks at work, but you can likely adjust your computer settings so it uses less energy.  Completely shut down your computer and turn off its surge protector each day before you leave.  If there are printers or other peripherals that aren’t used on a daily basis, it’s a good idea to unplug these items as well.
  2. 2.Go Paperless: Reduce the amount of paper that you use by keeping your files on your computer instead of printing them out.  The best part about keeping digital files is everything is right there at your fingertips.  Imagine typing the first few letters of a document name to pull it up instead of searching through an archaic filing cabinet.
  3. 3.Proper Paper Usage: When you do have to use paper, make sure that you use recycled paper, which is processed and colored using eco-friendly methods.  It’s also equally important to use your paper wisely.  Always print double-sided, and reduce your margins so that you use as much of the paper’s surface as possible.
  4. 4.Use Green Lighting:  The best lighting is always going to be to maximize any natural light that’s available.  If you haven’t quite made it to that corner office with a view, there are plenty of high-end LED desk lamps that will shed some light on your work and use minimal energy in the process.
  5. 5.Ditch the Drive Thru:  Bringing your lunch to work is not only green; it also is healthier and cheaper!  (That’s a triple whammy!)  If you do need to have your lunch delivered, make sure that you ask around the office to see if anyone else would like anything so that you can place one order instead of several.  (Plus, it’s just more polite!)



No matter what green tactics you add to your daily work routine, just know that every little bit counts.


What’s your favorite way to have a greener workplace?  Leave us a comment to let us know!

Cleaning Out Your Cabinets: The Proper Disposal of Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)

Spring Cleaning Season is just around the corner! Before you start cleaning your house from top to bottom, consider cleaning out your cabinet first – your cleaning cabinet! With all of the nontoxic products available on the market today there is no longer any reason to use hazardous chemicals to clean your home. Just be sure you separate your House Hold Hazardous Waste (HHW) from your non-hazardous trash/recyclables!

HHW items include:Cleaning Supplies 007

  • paint
  • household cleaning items
  • antifreeze
  • motor oils
  • mothballs
  • household batteries
  • and much more

Unsure if the item you are about to toss is a HHW? Look for the following words on the label:

  • irritant
  • flammable
  • corrosive
  • explosive
  • toxic

All items containing those hazardous properties must be disposed of properly and separate from the rest of your house trash. Dumping unused portions in the trash or down the drain pose a threat to human health and the environment! Take the same kind of care disposing of your HHW as you would handling it while in use. Chemical contact with skin can be absorbed into the bloodstream, as goes for dumping those same chemicals in landfills. They are absorbed into the earth& our drinking water, posing a threat to our health.

Do a little research before dumping dangerous materials! Most states offer a variety of HHW disposal drop off areas.

A disposal center for HHW in the Larimer County area is available at:
The Larimer County Landfill
5887 S. Taft Hill Road
Fort Collins, CO 80526
Open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays
9:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m

((NOTE: an empty HHW container does not pose as big of a threat as an unopened/partially used one. As long as the container is under 5 gallons, empty & dry it is O.K. to go in with the rest of your house recycling. Also, if the product you are tossing is unused or partially used but not outdated, try offering it to a friend or donate it to the cleaning supplies at work (check with your boss first) before properly disposing of it.))

GREENWASHING: What is it?

greenwashing_XSmallHave you noticed all the ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘green’ labeled products and services popping up in the past few years? Have you ever been suspicious over the green advertisements and claims made by a company that is known for the exact opposite? You’re right to suspect with some manufacturers and businesses. Their misleading claims about their eco-friendliness is called “greenwashing”.

 
According to sinsofgreenwashing.org greenwashing is defined as “the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a  product or service.”[1]

So why is greenwashing such a big problem? To summarize the explanation, it is not only bad for our environment but also for the consumer and the businesses who are doing the greenwashing. Whether businesses are aware they are greenwashing or not, false advertisement encourages consumers to do the opposite of what they claim is good for the environment.

How to avoid being greenwashed: Next time you see a green ad that makes you suspicious, research the company as a whole and ask yourself these questions: Can I find more information about their practices with ease online? Do they have a comprehensive environmental story? Is the information you saw in the ad substantiate to the information you are reading online? Try googling the companies name+”environment”, if past consumers/advocates have had a problem with the companies track record, something may pop up!
Now that you’ve been informed about greenwashing, take a closer look next time you see an eco-friendly product, read the labels and do your research! The earth thanks you :)

For more information on greenwashing visit:
http://www.greenwashingindex.com

Sources: sinsofgreenwashing.org [1]
greenwashingindex.com [2]

Spring Forecast: Cloudy with a Chance of Allergies

Spring Allergies - SneezeIt’s that time of year again!  As beautiful as Springtime is, it does bring along with it those pesky seasonal allergies.  So, what exactly triggers those watery eyes and sneezing fits?  And, is there anything we can do about it naturally?

So, you walk out to your car in the morning, and there it is…  That beautiful, mustard-hued enemy – pollen.  Pollen is distributed into the air during pollination.  Most of us imagine a honey bee perched on a flower when we think of pollen, but it also comes from grass, trees, as well as weeds.  The most potent form does seem to come from trees though.  Elm, Sycamore, Walnut, HIckory, and Pecan trees do tend to release the most reactive forms of pollen.  Trees such as Fig, Pear, Dogwood, and Crape Myrtle, tend to be safer on our sensitive sinuses.

So, how do we keep this nuisance from ruining this awesome season?

The obvious choice would be to avoid the outside world altogether, but since this isn’t really an option, we can definitely reduce our chances of an allergic response by limiting our time outdoors during peak hours.  Pollen counts rise during the morning, peak around midday, and drop off from there.  So, early in the morning and later in the evening would be ideal times to get some fresh air.

You can also try a neti pot.  This is a tiny pot, almost resembling a miniature  teapot, that is used as a sinus irrigation system.  It utilizes a saline solution to cleanse your nasal passages, and washes away pollen residue as well as other allergens and irritants. The saline solution keeps the area from drying out, which could cause further congestion.

How about some Spring cleaning?  Pollen settles on our clothes and cakes our shoes, which means it is also transferred and tracked into our homes.  Keeping our houses dusted and our floors pollen-free will keep our home a safe-haven from allergies.  Feeling overwhelmed? Hiring a cleaning service gives you the peace-of-mind that your home will be cleaned thoroughly, without sacrificing valuable family-time.

While we are whipping our houses into shape, how about our diets?  Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, active cultures, Omega-3 fatty acids, and whole grains, can significantly reduce an allergen response.  (Mom always said to eat your broccoli!)

So, let’s go show Spring allergies who’s boss!

Natural Pest Control

It’s that time of the year again – mosquito season is upon us! Here are some tips to repel the nasty little critters that tend to invade our homes this time of year; naturally, of course!

mosquitoAnts: Apparently more than just small children are repelled by vegetables. Ants are said to hate… cucumber of all things! Leave some cucumber slices or peelings around the point of entry; bitter cucumber works best.Ants are said to never cross a chalk line. Other lines they reportedly will avoid:
Cayenne pepper (smart ants!)
Lemon Juice
Cinnamon
Coffee Grounds
Flour

Fleas: Chop up a lemon and score the skin. Add lemon to several cups boiling water, and let sit overnight. Then use it to sponge down your dog to kill fleas on contact.Already have fleas in the house? Trap them! Take a shallow baking pan and fill it with a few inches of water. Add a little squirt of soap. Position a lamp directly over the pan to attract the fleas. The light will attract them in, and the soap will prevent them from jumping back out. (This also works for moths.)

Mosquitoes: We all know that the best way to keep mosquitoes off our property is to remove all standing water. But what to do if there is standing water that is too difficult to remove? Add 1 tsp of dish soap per gallon of standing water to destroy the larvae.Another easy way to repel mosquitoes (and pretty up the yard!) is to plant marigolds. The little bloodsuckers can’t stand the smell.

Got vaporub? Mosquitoes are naturally repelled by the eucalyptus scent.

DIY Bug Spray: Add 2 1/2 teaspoons of any combination of the following essential oils to 1 cup of vodka:
Citronella
Juniper
Lemon
Myrrh
Palmarosa
Pine
Rose Geranium
Rosemary

Basically, try to smell like a tree!

 

Green Irene Update – We now have a local consultant!

You may (or may not!) remember me posting some time ago about Green Irene, a wonderful new company providing Green Home Makeovers through highly trained Green Irene Eco-Consultants. Their Green Home Makeovers run around $99, and cover topics such as energy-efficient lighting, energy conservation, toxic-free living, water purity and conservation, indoor air quality, waste reduction and recycling, and emergency safety and preparedness. While of course it is perfectly possible to learn all this stuff on your own, a Green Home Makeover can save you tons of time in research and trial and error, which I think makes it a great resource for busy families.

For awhile I considered becoming a Green Irene consultant myself, just because it fits in perfectly with my passion for helping people remove the toxins from their daily life and go green! In the end, I decided I am already wearing too many hats and didn’t sign up for the training.

I was quite excited to recently find out Lara Williams with The Green Team Real Estate has officially joined up with Green Irene and become a certified Eco-Consultant!

logo

If you are serious about going green, Lara is going to be an invaluable resource. If anyone has already had a Green Home Makeover, I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!

Green Drinks Fort Collins – Green-Minded Locals Unite!

greendrinksGreen Drinks is a monthly meet-up here in Fort Collins where green-minded folks come together to network and socialize.

Green Drinks is an international organization started in 2001, with similar meet-ups happening all over the world. In Fort Collins GD is organized by Lara Williams with Green Team Real Estate, and meets on the 4th Wednesday of each month at various locations around Fort Collins. Green Drinks is typically PACKED, and a whole lot of fun! If you’ve never attended, you should stop by and say hello!

The June 2009 Green Drinks is scheduled for Wednesday the 24th from 6-8 pm at TST Inc., 748 Whaler’s Way in Fort Collins. Join us on the patio for socializing and networking with fellow green-minded locals, complimentary beer generously provided by Odell Brewing Co. and American Eagle Distributing, and a selection of light food offerings provided by TST.

Tour TST’s groundbreaking office environment (complete with slide) and learn about their dedication to four levels of sustainability and innovative community design.  Alpine Gardens will also be there showcasing native plants and landscaping options out on TST’s lakeside patio.

RSVP to Lara Williams at lara@greenteamre.com. I hope to see you there!

6 Quick Tips to Save Energy – And Put Some Cash in Your Pocket

cash

Here are 6 quick tips to make your home more energy efficient, and potentially save hundreds of dollars in the process.
Washing clothes in cold water saves $40 per year and 80- 90% of energy used in washing. Did you know Americans pay 1 billion dollars a year to power TV and VCR while they are turned off?

Install a power strip and put an end to phantom power once and for all – and save up to 10% off your power bill in the process!

Switch to Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs:
Save $30 over the life of the bulb
Use 66% less energy and last 10x as long
Replacing 17 bulbs is the same as taking one car off the road for a year

Change your furnace filter every month. It will save you up to 5% on your heating bill – and cut down on those pesky dust bunnies in the process!

Program your thermostat. Did you know up to 75% of people with programmable thermostats don’t use them? It only takes about 5 minutes to insure you are not heating and cooling your home unnecessarily while no one is home. Program to 78 degrees in the summer and 62 degrees in the winter – and save up to $100 a year.

Get an Energy Audit. You can set them up through Xcel Energy for as little as $35. The standard audit offers a thorough examination of the home’s energy efficiency and usage and is conducted by certified energy auditors. The auditors prepare a personalized energy report detailing improvements that will make your home more comfortable and decrease your energy bill at the same time.

The Truth About Trash

I stumbled across this wonderful blog today called 365 Days of Trash.

landfill
The blog author Sustainable Dave spent one year (2008) saving every bit of waste he generated – including recycling – in his basement, just to see how much he would end up with. The rules of his experiment were as follows (taken directly from 365 Days of Trash):
The Rules
1. If something is waste that I have generated, I’ve got to deal with it. If I buy something for myself, the packaging is mine to deal with. Hopefully this will entail figuring out what it is made of, what would happen to it if it were thrown away and what I will be doing with it.

2. Any waste that I generate that can be recycled, will also be saved. Recycling is better than throwing away but it still takes energy and creates waste so I think accounting for recycling will be an important factor.

3. Any waste, which for health reasons (dog poop, medical waste from doctors visits, etc.) cannot be saved, will at least be noted and examined regarding the impact of its creation and disposal.
4. Food preparation has been something that I have been struggling with as I have a wife and two daughters who are not undertaking this experiment. Since food will be prepared for the family at times, I’ll have to figure out how to account for this and will be as honest as I can be in my accounting as I go along. In order to make up for any possible discrepancy in this area, I have decided that when out with my daughters, I will be responsible for any waste they generate as well.
5. Finally, I know there will be gray areas that I haven’t thought of, and some of this will have to morph as I go along. That said, I think the golden rule is going to be – when in doubt, it’s my responsibility to deal with.
Dave offers some amazing insight into how much waste we actually generate, and some very practical tips for reducing consumption. His final numbers at the end of the year?
Trash
30.5 Pounds
Cardboard
19 Pounds
Plastic Bags
4 Pounds
E-Waste
12 Pounds
Misc. Recycling
26.5 Pounds
Paper
69.5 Pounds
9 Pizza Boxes
11 Tetra Paks
153 Glass Bottles
14 Cups
2 Aluminum Cans
64 Plastic Bottles and Jugs
8 Plastic Yogurt Tubs w/Tops
8 Old Paint Cans
And this was from a guy who carries silverware around in his backpack! Quite the eye opener. I hope you check it out.