Posts Tagged ‘green living’

Three New Year’s Resolutions to Help the Planet


Each year, many of us resolve to lose weight, exercise more and basically take better care of ourselves. This year, why not resolve to take better care of the planet with these tips for recycling and reuse.


1. Start a personal recycling program. Check with your local municipal government to find out if it offers free recycling. If not, inquire if your local waste management companies offer free or reduced price recycling. If push comes to shove, just about every community has a free recycling center where you can drop off recyclable bottles, cans and paper.


2. Reduce the amount of paper and plastic you consume. Start by making the switch from paper to electronic billing, payments and bank statements. Also register with or to remove your address from junk mail lists. You can also consider subscribing to the digital versions of your favorite magazines and newspapers. California has already banned plastic shopping bags, but you can enact your own personal ban on plastic by investing in a few durable, reusable (and washable) canvas shopping bags. Replace cases of bottled drinking water with a water filter for the faucet or filtered water pitcher and reusable water bottle or canteen.


3. Find more ways to reuse things around your house. For example, empty 2 liter soda bottles cut in half make great garden planters. Repurpose old jeans into oven mitts and last year’s sweaters into this year’s scarves, boot toppers and coffee cup cozies. Along with recycling and waste reduction, reuse decreases how much waste is sent to landfills. It also saves energy and conserves and incinerator natural resources, such as water, all while reducing pollution and limiting the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change.

Music Mogul Will.I.Am Makes Upcycling Even Cooler


When you think of music mogul/songwriter/producer and leader of The Black Eyed Peas Will.I.Am, mega upcycler is likely not the first thing that comes to mind. But the fact is, the musician has been in the sustainability game for a while now. In 2013, he teamed up  with The Coca-Cola Company to create Ekocycle, an upcycle initiative to educate consumers about waste and recycling and to support a more sustainable environment by turning trash into cool and funky new treasures. The Ekocycle brand features a diverse line of products — from electronics accessories to clothing.



Beats by Dre headphones made from 31 percent of upcycled waste plastic and aluminum








Levi’s limited edition ‘501 waist-less jean’ contain an average of eight different recycled plastic bottles.






New Zealand-based designers H Brothers introduced a new line of fashion-forward men’s suits made out of rPET, a fabric made using recycled plastic bottles.






The Ekocycle 3D Printer uses recycled plastic cartridges from
repurposed Coke bottles.

Five Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Recycler

My sister lives in Oakland, CA, where plastic bags — the ones you get at the grocery store or shopping mall — have been banned and paper bags will cost you upwards of 25 cents each, which means residents have to become creative in finding ways to get their purchases from the store to their homes. So this holiday season, I decided to gift her a set of super strong and machine washable canvas bags to make the task a little easier. I was even able to have it monogrammed. Check out these other cool gift ideas for the recycler in your life.







Mint coral canvas bag from the Cute Kiwi












Composting starter kit from Drip Irrigation

















Step-n-Sort stainless steel recycle bin from Bed Bath & Beyond













Glass drinking straws from EcoStraw








shopping cart




Grocery Cart Helper from



Paper or Plastic?

I recently visited the California Bay area. I was amazed and impressed by the statewide efforts to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills. In 2014, California became the first state to ban the use of plastic bags in retail stores and even charges between 10 and 15 cents for paper bags. One reason for the ban: In California, approximately 24 billion bags end up in landfills every year. And across the country, people use some 100 billion plastic bags each year, but only about 5 percent of those bags are recycled and most end up in landfills or waterways.

Even though there’s no ban on plastic bags in Tennessee, we  can all do our part to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the trash. Here are a few ideas to get you started.


Use old plastic bags to make this durable plastic wreath. Get directions here.

Nail polish and Mod Podge can turn a plastic bag into a funky bead necklace. Learn how here.

Follow these instructions and create “fabric” from plastic bags.

Then when you’ve mastered the process, use it to create this cute headband slider.

A Glossary to Help You Go Green

TG blog

Are you ready to join the reuse revolution but still unsure about terminology? Do you know the difference between recycling and upcycling or reuse and refashioning? Never fear. Here is a quick glossary to help get you started on your earth-friendly journey.

Traditionally recycling means making or manufacturing new products from a product that has already served its purpose. For example, a recycled plastic soda bottle is chipped, melted and made into fiber, which then becomes sleeping bag stuffing.

Upcycling and reuse are interchangeable terms. It’s taking something old and worn like a used tire or plastic/glass bottles and refashioning it into something wonderfully useful like a garden planter or bird feeder. The goal of upcycling is to prevent wasting potentially useful materials and keeping as much waste as possible out of our landfills.
Other examples of upcycling projects include:
• Creating jewelry from computer chips and parts
• Creating a table or foot stool from a wine crate or dresser drawer
• Creating shelves from outdated license plates
• Creating tote bags from outgrown T-shirts
• Creating a clock from a vinyl record

Downcycling, on the other hand, involves converting waste materials into new materials that have reduced functionality and often a lower quality over time. Some examples of downcycling include:
• Creating product packing from cardboard such as PCW
• Creating rags from clothing

Precycling is a relatively new term, although most of us already practice some form of precycling. When you opt to take your own reusable bags to the grocery store instead of choosing paper or plastic, you’re precycling. It’s being proactive about limiting the amount of waste you add to our landfills.
Other ways you can precycle:
• Buy products with the least amount of packaging.
• Opt for paper over Styrofoam, which contains polystyrene –the most difficult material to break down in landfills.

Five Things You Can Do Right Now to Live Greener

National Earth Day may be behind us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue the celebration by taking steps to live a little greener every day. “Going green” doesn’t have to be a major event or even cost a lot of money. In fact, most earth-friendly habits can actually save you money. Here are five things you can do right now to live greener.


water filter

Ween yourself off the bottle – bottled water, that is. Did you know that it takes more than 17 million gallons of oil each year just to produce bottled water – enough to fuel one million cars for an entire year. Instead, invest in a water filter for your kitchen tap and a reusable/refillable water bottle for work, school and the gym.




Go paper…less. Reduce the amount of paper you send and receive by enrolling in e-billing and e-payment plans. Most services – from credit cards to utilities – offer an electronic or email billing option, and most banks offer their customers free electronic bill pay service.




farmers market

Become a locavore. Buying locally-grown meats and produce and eating at restaurants that source locally not only helps support the regional economy but also consumes 17 times less fossil fuels than a diet consisting of foods shipped across the country.





Power down and unplug your devices when not in use. In age when the average household has 25 or more devices that use standby power – devices that use continual electricity – controlling that power output is critical. In fact, as much as 10 percent of your electric bill can be the result of this phantom power. Unplugging and plugging in laptops, computers, televisions and mobile devices can save money – and keep you from using unnecessary power.


tire planters

Reduce. Reuse. Upcycle! Most objects used in everyday living can have a second life through upcycling. Vegetable cans and pasta containers double as pencil and office supply holders. Pill bottles make great dried spice containers, and worn car or bicycle tires can find new life as backyard flower planters.

Take the Sting Out of Tax Season

shredded tax formAh spring. As Mother Nature knocks the chill out of the air,the sounds of the season – birds chirping, bees buzzing – begin to wake us from our winter hibernation. But then like a lawnmower on a Saturday morning, we’re jerked from our reverie by the shrill sounds of pencils tapping, hair pulling, calculator keys clicking and clacking and the inevitable whirr of the paper shredder. Ah tax season.

Check out these post-tax season projects that make use of all that shredded paper. Even if you don’t get a refund from Uncle Sam, your “green” conscious will be greatly rewarded.


• Use shredded paper as mulch in the garden. Mulch protects the soil underneath your plants, helps retain moisture and prevents weeds from cropping up. Best of all, paper mulch is biodegradable.
• Use shredded paper to line your pet cages or litter boxes. Paper is the safest — and cheapest — liner for bird cages.DSC_0402
• Use shredded paper instead of store bought “grass” to line Easter baskets or decorative flower vases.

• Use shredded paper as gift box/bag stuffing or as packing material when shipping small items. That’s a gift for your friend AND the environment.

paper-shredded-paper mache


• Use shredded paper to make paper mâché. You’ll need flour, table salt and watery and this simple recipe.

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