Thursday, February 25, 2010

Eat Your Trash to Improve Your Cooking

Put a spin on food that you'd normally put straight in the garbage

Food waste in the United States has become a growing problem for our environment. Research shows that on average, 27% of all edible food is wasted every year in the U.S. The cost to not only manufacture this food, but also to dispose of the waste, is costing us billions of dollars every year. Help our economy, our ecosystem, and your wallet by being creative when it comes to throwing out your food. Here are some tips and tricks to make your trash go a long way.

Citrus Rinds

Did you know you can eat citrus rinds? Really. They are a bit tangy and sour, but most people don't know you can eat and digest them. If you aren’t into eating straight lemon or orange rind, add a little citrus zest to your favorite dishes. Use a Microplane, or peel the rind into wide strips with a vegetable peeler (make sure you leave out the white pith). Citrus zest can be thrown in the freezer to cook and bake with later. Peels can also be cut into strips and candied, or can be thrown in a jar of booze to make super-easy digestifs, or used to decorate with. You can also put citrus zest in boiling water to give a little extra flavor to boiling or steaming vegetables. The possibilities are endless!

Vegetable Waste

Many vegetables get chopped up and a lot of people throw out what they think they can’t use. It’s a great tip to keep a “stock bag” in your freezer for vegetable trimmings such as celery leaves, fennel tops, leek greens, asparagus ends, parsley stems, etc. When it’s full and you have a little spare time, dump it into a pot and simmer it for stock. Here's a quick and easy recipe for vegetable stock.


Ever have a dinner party and end up with random sizes of five different kinds of cheese? Don’t throw it out! Gather all your leftovers and make a delicious cheese dip in minutes. The great thing about this is that almost any kind of cheese will do, and its a great way to clean out your cheese drawer. Just toss all your cheese (cut into 1-inch cubes), a clove of garlic, 1/4 cup of white wine, and a couple tablespoons of butter into a food processor and blend until smooth. If you’re feeling daring, add a couple herbs to the mix (chives or parsley would work great). Serve immediately with crackers or bread. If you’ve got a hard old cheese ends with an unwaxed rind (Parmesan, for example), save it to throw into soup or a pot of beans for extra flavor.

Grease & Fat

Save your bacon grease! Pour it through a sieve into a clean jar, let it cool, and then refrigerate. You can use it to add flavor to potatoes, cook greens or eggs, or fry up a grilled cheese. And of course... you can always cook bacon with it. The same goes for chicken fat. After roasting a bird, use the same technique to pour off the fat, then use the leftovers to roast vegetables or fry meat.


Shrimp peels, mussel shells, fish ends, and crawfish shells make a quick and flavorful seafood stock. Add whatever leftover seafood bits you have laying around to a large pot with 8 cups of water and assorted chopped vegetables (onions, carrots, celery, etc.). Use this stock to make seafood soups like fish chowder or seafood gumbo.

Potato Peels

You can eat potato peels just as you can eat lemon rinds. Roast them in the oven and dip in ranch dressing. Sprinkle with cheese and place under the broiler for quick potato skins. Or, add to that seafood and vegetable stock we mentioned earlier.

(Pssst! Did you know you can also use potato peels to highlight grey hair? Talk about a well-rounded meal.)

Meat Bones

Once again, we mention something that can be used to flavor stock. However, that’s not the only thing you can do with leftover bones. Aside from letting your dog chew on them, throw a beef bone in your pot next time you make spaghetti sauce from scratch to give it an extra depth of flavor. Put chicken bones into your chicken noodle soup while it’s cooking to extract some of that chicken juice (don’t forget to take it out before you eat!). Or, put meat bones into a pot of cooking beans or lentils for an added punch

Article courtesy of The Planet Green


In Portland, Growing Vertical

PORTLAND, Ore. — Urban gardening used to seem subversive. People planted tomatoes in public parks, strung their hops to rooftops to make homebrew and reclaimed empty lots as community farms, never mind the property owner.

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Scott Baumberger/SERA Architects

An architectural rendering of the trellises designed to shade the western facade of the main federal building in Portland, Ore.

Yet here in one of the more thoroughly tilled cities in America, subversive has come full circle: the federal government plans to plant its own bold garden directly above a downtown plaza. As part of a $133 million renovation, the General Services Administration is planning to cultivate “vegetated fins” that will grow more than 200 feet high on the western facade of the main federal building here, a vertical garden that changes with the seasons and nurtures plants that yield energy savings.

“They will bloom in the spring and summer when you want the shade, and then they will go away in the winter when you want to let the light in,” said Bob Peck, commissioner of public buildings for the G.S.A. “Don’t ask me how you get them irrigated.”

Rainwater, captured on the roof, and perhaps even “gray water” recycled from the interior plumbing are both possibilities, the architects say. But they concede that they are still figuring out some of the finer points of renovating the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, which was completed in 1975 and is currently 18 stories of concrete, glass and minimal inspiration.

Who will prune the facade? Maybe the same folks who wash skyscraper windows, the architects say. Perhaps the exterior concrete panels removed in the renovation could be reused as salmon habitat in a nearby river.

The G.S.A. says the building will use 60 percent to 65 percent less energy than comparable buildings and estimates a savings of $280,000 annually in energy costs. Solar panels could provide up to 15 percent of the building’s power needs. The use of rainwater and low-flow plumbing fixtures will reduce potable water consumption by 68 percent. And energy for lighting will be halved.

“It will be one of the more energy-efficient high-rises in America, possibly in the world,” said James Cutler, whose architecture firm, Cutler Anderson, led the design work.

The building has long been in line for renovation and improvements in energy efficiency, but money did not come through until the passage of the federal stimulus package last year, with its emphasis on environmentally friendly projects. That intensified the environmental ambitions; the building, the largest federal stimulus project in Oregon, is being renovated under the G.S.A’s new Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings.

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the plan. In December, Senators John McCain of Arizona and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, both Republicans, criticized the cost of the project and ranked it second on a list of what they called the 100 worst stimulus-financed projects. The G.S.A. has said that report relied on incomplete data, but the project’s cost has also raised eyebrows here.

Joe Vaughan, a longtime commercial real estate broker here, said that the building’s office space would ultimately cost more per square foot than some other environmentally-conscious projects that are built new.

“As a taxpayer, I think it’s a horrible waste of money that no private developer would undertake,” Mr. Vaughan said.

G.S.A. officials said the cost of constructing federal office buildings cannot be compared to private buildings because of security and other government requirements. Nor, they said, should the construction costs of the building be viewed in isolation.

“The idea is that the cost savings are in the energy efficiency,” said Caren Auchman, a spokeswoman for the G.S.A.

There are questions about whether the efficiency efforts will work as designed. “Most of what we put in our buildings is tried and true,” said Mr. Peck, of the G.S.A. “On some part of it, we’re prepared to be a beta tester.”

“My dream,” Mr. Peck added, “is we will find a technology that needs a test and we will make the market for it.”

The renovation is scheduled to be completed by 2013, said Donald Eggleston, the president of SERA Architects, which is overseeing the project for the G.S.A. This summer, he said, landscaping experts will experiment with vines and cover plants that can endure Portland’s wet, mild winters and its dry, hot summers — and do so at varying heights.

“We may train them on some vines in the nursery,” Mr. Eggleston said. “About 50 percent of the windows we need to shade every summer. You can’t take little seedlings up there in Year 1, because you won’t have anything up there for five years.”

Article courtesy of WILLIAM YARDLEY New York Times

Borrow a watt meter

A common saying in the environmental field is "you can't manage what you don't measure." Some Massachusetts libraries are making it easier to measure your home or work's energy use by lending out energy kits and watt meters. Watt meters are simple devices that you plug you electronics into. They tell you how much electricity the device is using at that moment or can give you the average over time. I used one at my boyfriend's house to measure his large collection of audio equipment and we were able to figure out what should be put on power strips and shut off at night (and what used a minimal amount of energy, so I wasn't allowed to complain about it being left on...).

Below is a partial list of libraries that have watt meters available. Athol also lends out an energy kit, which includes a watt meter, tire pressure gauge, a hot water gauge, and books on how to save energy. If your library doesn't loan them out, consider asking them to buy one or reserve one from the Minuteman system (search kill-a-watt).


Courtesy of The Green Blog/

To answer climate skeptics, agencies will refine data

GENEVA - World weather agencies have agreed to collect more precise temperature data to improve climate change science, officials said yesterday, as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged environment ministers to reject efforts by skeptics to derail a global climate deal.

Britain’s Met Office proposed that climate scientists around the world undertake the “grand challenge’’ of measuring land surface temperatures as often as several times a day, and allow independent scrutiny of the data - a move that would go some way toward answering demands by skeptics for access to the raw figures used to predict climate change.

“This effort will ensure that the datasets are completely robust and that all methods are transparent,’’ the Met Office said. The agency added that “any such analysis does not undermine the existing independent datasets that all reflect a warming trend.’’

The proposal was approved in principle by about 150 delegates meeting under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization this week in Antalya, Turkey. E-mails stolen from a British university and several mistakes made in a 2007 report issued by a UN-affiliated panel prompted public debate over the reliability of climate change predictions.

Skeptics say scientists have secretly manipulated climate data and suppressed contrary views - allegations that have been denied by researchers and the climate change panel.

Scientists say global emissions must be cut in half by mid-century to avoid the melting of glaciers and ice caps, the flooding of low-lying coastal cities and islands, and worsening droughts.

By Jim Gomez and Frank Jordans

Associated Press

Courtesy of

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snow Shovel Safety

By Brendan Farrington

Every winter people hurt themselves shoveling snow, ranging from minor aches and pulled muscles to fatal heart attacks.

What people often fail to realize is that shoveling is more than just a chore. It puts a lot of stress on the body in a short period of time.

Winter Weights

"People don't understand when you start shoveling snow, it's like picking up weights," says Denis Isrow, a North Dakota State University professor of health, physical education and recreation.

So if you're older or out of shape, there's much more of a chance of hurting yourself by shoveling. Even people who regularly exercise can find shoveling to be strenuous if they try to tackle the job quickly without taking breaks.

"One of the biggest problems we have is people saying 'I'm not going to quit until I get this done,'" Isrow says.

Some signs you should stop shoveling are shortness of breath, heavy sweating or any kind of pain.

"Anything that's not normal is a warning sign," he says.

Most at Risk

Julie Garden-Robinson prepared a report for the university's extension service warning that shoveling causes a quick increase in the heart rate and blood pressure.

According to her report, those most at risk during shoveling are people who have had a heart attack, people with a history of heart disease, those with high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, smokers and people who lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Garden-Robinson and Isrow give several tips for safe shoveling:

  • Use a smaller shovel

  • Make sure your shovel isn't bent, tilting or otherwise damaged

  • Take frequent breaks, even if only for a couple of minutes

  • Stop and go inside if you become overheated

  • Drink fluids

  • Don't try to fling snow long distances

  • Stop any time you feel pain

If you fear you're unable to tackle this tiring task, look into spending a few bucks and having a neighborhood kid shovel after a storm; or having a contractor plow it when heavy snow falls. It's probably money well spent.

Provided by

Green Your ZZZs: Eco-Mattresses

You may spend a third of your life sleeping, so you might as well snooze in a bedroom that's healthy and eco-friendly. This week, we'll give you tips for a greener night's sleep.

The next time you buy a new mattress, consider investing in a model made with organic cotton and wool. A natural latex core made from rubber trees is a better choice than a petroleum-based polyurethane core. Planet Green's list of green mattresses and a helpful chart from the New York Times are two resources for navigating the world of eco-mattresses.

Share your tips: Have you found a comfy eco-mattress?

Article Courtesy of The Green Life

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Drive Smart Save Green - 5 Great Tips

Drive smart, save green. It’s a great phrase, and if more people took up the challenge, the whole country - no, the whole world - would benefit immensely. How can you make a difference to the environment with your driving? This article provides you with 7 great tips that you can put into action right away. You’ll save money and help the environment too. OK, time to drive smart, save green…

1. It has to be said: the very best thing you can do to help the environment with your car is stop driving it! However, you may not have that option, so drive slower instead. Most cars perform best at speeds of between 50 mph to 60 mph. Not too slow and not too fast is how to drive smart, save green.

2. A staggering 20% of your car’s fuel consumption is used up just overcoming tire roll resistance! How can you drive smart, save green in these circumstances? Buy quality tires that get great reviews. They may cost a little more, but they will perform better. And remember too that under inflated tires will cost you more in gas bills!

3. Lighten the load in your car. I’ll bet there are things in your car’s trunk that don’t need to be there. Go through each item you regularly carry. If you don’t really need it, dump it. You can drive smart, save green with a lighter load. That will let your car be more fuel efficient.

4. Switch off your engine while you wait if you are likely to be waiting more than one minute. Restarting your engine burns roughly about the same amount as one minute of idle time, so if you think you will be idling for more than a minute, cut the engine. You’ll save gas and money - drive smart, save green.

5. Drive smoothly. This one shouldn’t need to be mentioned. It should be the unspoken part of drive smart, drive green. Erratic driving with sudden accelerating and hard braking uses up extra gas. It puts extra wear and tear on your car, which means extra costs to you and the environment.

Learning to drive smart, save green is largely common sense. If you really need your car, then learn to drive it responsibly and sensibly. However, if you can walk easily to where you need to go, then do so! Only drive smart, save green when you can’t walk.

Article Courtesy of Go Green Articles Blog

How Going Green Saves You Money

There are many examples of how going green saves you money. Kermit the Frog was wrong - it IS easy being green, and it saves you money at the same time. As the planet faces a period of warming where our actions are believed to be the prime cause, it makes sense to seek out examples of how going green saves you money and act on them.

That cell phone charger that stays plugged in, the DVD player that waits for the occasional playing, and the TV that sits on standby all night, these are prime examples of how going green saves you money - if you unplug them, that is. For even if the items are not working, they are consuming energy!

Another of the prime examples of how going green saves you money is switching from bottled water to filtered tap water. The average family spends some $1,400 a year on bottled water. And the worst part is that 95% of the plastic bottles are not recycled! For less than $100 you could get a high quality staged water filter to make your tap water perfect.

Examples of how going green saves you money are everywhere. Do you drive as fast as the law allows? You shouldn’t. Car engines perform most efficiently at around 55 miles an hour. If you combine that with gentle driving on properly inflated tires, you will save money and help the planet too.

You could always use a bicycle to travel around town. Or you could simply walk for those short trips. You won’t be pouring hydrocarbons into the atmosphere, warming the planet, you will save money, and you will get some good exercise at the same time. Walking and cycling when you can are excellent examples of how going green saves you money.

Some 65 million newspapers are printed every day in the US. Some 70% of them will not be recycled. What a waste of trees! You can do your bit to help, and read whatever news you want to read at the same time simply by going online. Very few newspapers don’t have an online presence these days, so save some money and read from the web pages.

Do you want more example of how going green saves you money? They are all around you. Just look and you certainly will find them.

Article courtesy of Go Green Article Blog

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

FW: 10 Ways to Go Green at Work

Greener homes are in the spotlight these days, but what about the other places where many of us spend huge chunks of our time--our offices? Some simple changes of habit can save energy and resources at work, and these small steps can be multiplied by persuading the powers-that-be at your workplace to adopt environmentally friendly (and often cost-effective) policies.

1. Be bright about light
Artificial lighting accounts for 44 percent of the electricity use in office buildings.

> Make it a habit to turn off the lights when you're leaving any room for 15 minutes or more and utilize natural light when you can.

> Make it a policy to buy Energy Star-rated lightbulbs and fixtures, which use at least two-thirds less energy than regular lighting, and install timers or motion sensors that automatically shut off lights when they're not needed.

2. Maximize computer efficiency
Computers in the business sector unnecessarily waste $1 billion worth of electricity a year.

> Make it a habit to turn off your computer—and the power strip it's plugged into—when you leave for the day. Otherwise, you're still burning energy even if you're not burning the midnight oil. (Check with your IT department to make sure the computer doesn't need to be on to run backups or other maintenance.) During the day, setting your computer to go to sleep automatically during short breaks can cut energy use by 70 percent. Remember, screen savers don't save energy.

> Make it a policy to invest in energy-saving computers, monitors, and printers and make sure that old equipment is properly recycled. Look for a recycler that has pledged not to export hazardous e-waste and to follow other safety guidelines. Old computers that still work, and are less than five years old, can be donated to organizations that will refurbish them and find them new homes. (You may even get a tax deduction.)

3. Print smarter
The average U.S. office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year.

> Make it a habit to print on both sides or use the back side of old documents for faxes, scrap paper, or drafts. Avoid color printing and print in draft mode whenever feasible.

> Make it a policy to buy chlorine-free paper with a higher percentage of post-consumer recycled content. Also consider switching to a lighter stock of paper or alternatives made from bamboo, hemp, organic cotton, or kenaf. Recycle toner and ink cartridges and buy remanufactured ones. According to Office Depot, each remanufactured toner cartridge "keeps approximately 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic out of landfills...and conserves about a half gallon of oil."

4. Go paperless when possible

> Make it a habit to think before you print: could this be read or stored online instead? When you receive unwanted catalogs, newsletters, magazines, or junk mail, request to be removed from the mailing list before you recycle the item.

> Make it a policy to post employee manuals and similar materials online, rather than distribute print copies. They're easier to update that way too.

5. Ramp up your recycling

> Make it a habit to recycle everything your company collects. Just about any kind of paper you would encounter in an office, including fax paper, envelopes, and junk mail, can be recycled. So can your old cell phone, PDA, or pager.

> Make it a policy to place recycling bins in accessible, high-traffic areas and provide clear information about what can and can not be recycled.

6. Close the loop

> Make it a policy to purchase office supplies and furniture made from recycled materials.

7. Watch what (and how) you eat

> Make it a habit to bring your own mug and dishware for those meals you eat at the office.

> Make it a policy to provide reusable dishes, silverware, and glasses. Switch to Fair Trade and organic coffee and tea, and buy as much organic and local food as possible for parties and other events. Provide filtered drinking water to reduce bottled-water waste.

8. Rethink your travel

> Make it a habit to take the train, bus, or subway when feasible instead of a rental car when traveling on business. If you have to rent a car, some rental agencies now offer hybrids and other high-mileage vehicles.

> Make it a policy to invest in videoconferencing and other technological solutions that can reduce the amount of employee travel.

9. Reconsider your commute

> Make it a habit to carpool, bike, or take transit to work, and/or telecommute when possible. If you need to drive occasionally, consider joining a car-sharing service like Zipcar and Flexcar instead of owning your own wheels.

> Make it a policy to encourage telecommuting (a nice perk that's also good for the planet!) and make it easy for employees to take alternative modes of transportation by subsidizing commuter checks, offering bike parking, or organizing a carpool board.

10. Create a healthy office environment

> Make it a habit to use nontoxic cleaning products. Brighten up your cubicle with plants, which absorb indoor pollution.

> Make it a policy to buy furniture, carpeting, and paint that are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and won't off-gas toxic chemicals.

Article courtesy of  The Green Life


What to Do with All Those Paper Bags

Paper bags have scores of useful applications around the house. Get creative!

Read more:

By Brian Clark Howard

Bringing your own bags with you when you shop is a great way to cut down on waste, but it's also easy to repurpose the paper bags that you can't avoid, or that you still have lying around the house.

Few paper bags are made of recycled or alternative fibers, meaning trees have to be cut down for their manufacture. True, many communities have paper recycling, so you can often drop old bags into those blue bins (or use the bags to hold other paper for pickup). However, paper fibers can only be recycled a few times, because they start to break down. So it's better to press old bags into service before you send them off to the recycler.

Paper bags are great for lining trashcans or animal cages, versus petroleum-based plastic liners you would otherwise buy. They can be used to cover books to help them last longer, and can be turned into gift wrap (which you can have fun decorating) or packaging material.

Paper bags have thousands of other possible applications, so get creative!

Read more:


This article courtesy of The Daily Green

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Norway Building World's Largest Wind Turbine

Written by Megan Treacy on 15/02/10

Norway has announced plans to build the world's largest wind turbine. The turbine will measure 533 feet high with a rotor diameter of 475 feet. With that big size will also come big power - the turbine is expected to have a capacity of 10 MW, or enough to power 2,000 homes.

The $67.5 million record-breaking prototype will be three times more powerful than regular-sized turbines. The leap in power will come from reduced weight and less moving parts. It will be tested for two years on land in southwestern Norway to fine-tune the technology but is ultimately destined for offshore use.

The parties involved hope the mega-turbine will help increase the profitability of offshore wind power. The turbine is planned to be installed in 2011

Article courtesy of

Climate fight heats up amid flurry of storms

WASHINGTON - As millions of people along the East Coast hole up in their snowbound homes, the two sides in the climate change debate are seizing on the mounting drifts to bolster their arguments.

Skeptics of global warming are using the recent record-setting snows to mock those who warn of dangerous human-driven climate change. This looks more like global cooling, they taunt.

Most climate scientists respond that the ferocious storms are consistent with forecasts that a heating planet will produce more frequent and more intense weather events.

But some independent climate specialists say the blizzards in the Northeast no more prove that the planet is cooling than the lack of snow in Vancouver or the downpours in Southern California prove that it is warming.

As an illustration of their point of view, the family of Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma and a leading climate change skeptic in Congress, built a 6-foot-tall igloo on Capitol Hill and put a cardboard sign on top that read, “Al Gore’s New Home.’’ The extreme weather, Inhofe said by e-mail, reinforced doubts about conclusions by scientists that global warming is “unequivocal’’ and probably caused by human activity.

Nonsense, responded Joseph Romm, a climate change expert and former Energy Department official who writes about climate issues at the Center for American Progress. “Ideologues in the Senate keep pushing the antiscientific disinformation that big snowstorms are evidence against human-caused global warming,’’ Romm wrote yesterday.

It is perhaps not coincidental that the snowstorm scuffle is playing out against a background of recent climate controversies.

In recent months, global-warming critics have assailed a 2007 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and argued that e-mail messages and documents plucked from a server at a climate research center in Britain raise doubts about the academic integrity of some climate scientists.

This week, Rush Limbaugh and other conservative commentators made light of the fact that the announcement Monday of the creation of a new federal climate service had to be conducted by conference call, rather than in person at a news conference, because the federal government was shuttered by the snowstorm.

But climate scientists say no single episode of severe weather can be blamed for global climate trends, even while noting evidence that such events will probably become more frequent as global temperatures rise.

Jeff Masters, a meteorologist who writes on the Weather Underground blog, said the recent snows do not, by themselves, demonstrate anything about the long-term trajectory of the planet. Climate is, by definition, a measure of decades and centuries, not months or years.

But Masters also said government and academic studies have consistently predicted an increasing frequency of record-setting storms because warmer air carries more moisture.

“Of course,’’ he wrote on his blog yesterday as new snows produced white-out conditions in much of the eastern half of the country, “both climate change contrarians and climate change scientists agree that no single weather event can be blamed on climate change.

“However,’’ he continued, “one can ‘load the dice’ in favor of events that used to be rare - or unheard of - if the climate is changing to a new state.’’

A federal government report issued last year, intended to be the authoritative statement of known climate trends in the United States, pointed to the likelihood of more frequent snowstorms in the Northeast and less frequent snow in the South and Southeast as a result of long-term temperature and precipitation patterns.

The Climate Impacts report, from the multiagency US Global Change Research Program, also projected more intense drought in the Southwest and more powerful Gulf Coast hurricanes because of warming.

In other words, if the government scientists are correct, look for more snow.

Article courtesy of John M. Broder / New York Times


Daily Tip-Foam & Packing Peanuts

Also known as plastic #6, polystyrene is often in our foam to-go boxes and packaging supplies. According to the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers (AFPR), more than 69 million pounds of expanded polystyrene (EPS) packaging were recycled in 2008. But while the market for recovered EPS has grown, many curbside programs will not accept the material because it is so lightweight, easily contaminated and is comprised of about 97 percent air. So, if recycling is not an option in your area, don’t toss it out!

Potted Plant Aid – Instead of loading heavy rocks into your planters to fill space, save energy and money by using foam. Next time, save those foam crates from that new DVD player to use in your planter to facilitate drainage. Simply crumble the foam into your pot or use packing peanuts to create a layer that won’t rot and keeps drainage holes clear.

The Perfect Stuffing – No, we’re not talking about your Thanksgiving turkey. Save your EPS foam packing peanuts for stuffing your next throw pillow, doggy bed or bean bag chair. Purchasing similar stuffing for these item can cost up to $50!

Icy Freshener – We were surprised at this one, but you can actually make your ice last longer by stuffing a sealable plastic bag with packing peanuts and place at the top of your freezer or in a cooler on-the-go. Your ice will stay colder and last longer.

The list goes on for reusing this product. More ideas include a floating key chain and home insulation.

by Amanda Wills



Monday, February 15, 2010

FW: Eating local food during the winter months

One way to reduce your carbon footprint is to eat local food. Too often, I associate fresh, local vegetables and fruit only with spring, summer, and fall and forget about the possibilities that winter brings. Butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and kale are just a few great reasons to get excited about the cold, seemingly never-ending winter months. Winter farmers' markets, such as the Wayland Winter Farmers' Market, Natick Winter Farmers' Market, the Winter Market at Attleboro Farms, Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers' Market, and the Plymouth Local Foods Winter Market offer the opportunity to revitalize your winter meals.

Additionally, now is the time to start planning for the bounty of summer. Every February, I look forward to joining a summer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share to support a local farm. Each week from June-October, I pick up a box of interesting vegetables, some of which I've never heard of, and then find simple ways to cook them. Kale chips, which I make by sprinkling olive oil and salt over chopped kale, then baking on a sheet pan at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, is one of the best simple recipes I've discovered. 

Many farms are now accepting sign-ups for their summer CSA shares, some of which sell out quickly. Websites such as Boston Localvores, the Local Food Guide to Metro Boston, and Local Harvest are great resources for finding farms and farmers' markets. However, if you're having trouble deciding which farm to join, a free Farm Share Fair will be held on Tuesday, February 25 from 6-7 pm at 50 Paul Revere Road in Arlington. The Fair will present an opportunity to meet farmers from 20 local farms, and if you're interested, volunteer to help or sign up for a fun summer share.
Article courtesy of Andrea Ruedy Trimble, The Boston Globe

Plastic that monitors pollutants

Globe Staff / February 15, 2010
How do you know if banned chemicals are still being used? Look in the sea, a University of Rhode Island researcher says.

Rainer Lohmann, associate professor at the Graduate School of Oceanography, and a Canadian colleague say a global monitoring network is needed to verify that banned chemicals, such as PCBs and others that can accumulate in the food web, are actually disappearing from the environment.

Lohmann says the United Nations Stockholm Convention, which analyzes chemical compounds and has banned the production and use of some, is vital, “but it is very difficult to verify whether or not it is working.’’

Atmospheric testing is done in some parts of the world, but Lohmann says aquatic monitoring is critical, because people and wildlife can ingest banned chemicals by eating fish, shellfish, and other marine organisms.

Inexpensive plastic painters’ drop cloths can help, he said. The thin polyethylene material absorbs dissolved chemical compounds, and a lab can then identify and measure levels of those chemicals. Sections of the sheets, usually a foot long by a half-foot wide, are anchored in the water for several weeks.

Lohmann did not invent the polyethylene samplers, but he helped test them in Boston Harbor in 2007 and subsequently won a $300,000 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant to study them further.

What’s more, he says, they are so easy to use that volunteers could help test the waters, decreasing the costs.

Grads will wear plastic gowns
It may seem a bit early to talk about commencements, but this requires a mention: Babson College graduates will be wearing caps and gowns made from recycled plastic bottles when they receive their degrees in May.

Yes, they will be made from a fabric - but it’s spun from molten plastic pellets. Babson officials say each gown takes an average of 23 bottles to make, which means the graduates will be wearing the equivalent of 20,700 bottles.

The school is also printing its diplomas on locally produced cotton parchment.

Article By Beth Daley

The Boston Globe Staff

Reuse Your Odd Plastic

Tip of the Day-Medicine Bottles
While medication disposal can be tricky, there are more reuse options than we can name for those empty little bottles. Their compact size makes them perfect for quick organization, and their caps usually make them waterproof as well. The most important thing to remember when reusing a medication bottle is to properly sterilize it by washing it with antibacterial soap and warm water before deciding on a reuse option.

The Ultimate Organizer – We could go on and on about different kits you can make with medication bottles. From sewing to first-aid, these bottles easily fit together for tight storage and can be labeled clearly. Glue the bottles together to make a desktop or bathroom drawer organizer. They can also be used as travel-size containers for your shampoos and soaps.

Watering Tool – The small, tube-like structure of a medicine bottle is perfect for watering your plants. Simply remove the cap, poke a small hole in the bottom and embed it into the soil. When your plant is thirsty, simply fill the bottle with water, and it will seep out at an appropriate rate. Use more than one bottle for larger plants. Also, don’t forget to organize your gardening kit! Medicine bottles can also be used to store seeds as the container is designed to protect its contents from light and moisture.

Article  by Amanda Wills


Friday, February 12, 2010

How do you know if banned chemicals are still being used?

A University of Rhode Island researcher says look in the sea.

Rainer Lohmann, associate professor at the Graduate School of Oceanography and a Canadian colleague says a global monitoring network needs to be established to verify that banned chemicals, such as PCBs and others that can accumulate in the food web - are truly disappearing in the environment.

Lohmann says the U.N. Stockholm Convention, which continually analyzes and bans the production and use of some chemical compounds is vital, "but it is very difficult to verify whether or not it is working,'' he said.

While atmospheric testing is done in some parts of the world, Lohmann says aquatic monitoring is critical because people and wildlife can ingest the banned chemicals by eating fish, shellfish and other marine organisms. He recently called for the network in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Inexpensive plastic painter's drop cloth can help, he said. The thin polyethylene material absorbs dissolved chemical compounds - and a lab can then identify and measure levels of those chemicals. The sheets - usually a foot long by 1/2 foot wide are anchored in the water column for several weeks before being hauled up to be tested.

Lohmann didn't invent the polyethylene samplers, but he helped test them in Boston Harbor in 2007 and subsequently won a $300,000 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant to further study them.

What's more, he says, they are so easy to use volunteers could even help test waters, decreasing costs further.  

I'll keep you posted on his efforts. 

Article courtesy of The Boston Globe

Tip of the Day-CD Cases

For the sake of this article, let’s assume you’ve made the switch to MP3 players and iTunes downloads. Now, what to do with all those CD cases you’ve got sitting on your shelf?


Instead of collecting dust on the shelf, your CD cases could be the focal point of your living room. Photo:

Instead of collecting dust on the shelf, your CD cases could be the focal point of your living room. Photo:

While the your trendy zig-zagged CD tower may not spell out “cool” anymore, you don’t have to trash those once-precious albums.

Desktop Frame – Remove (and recycle!) the paper inside and use the clean plastic jewel case to make a desktop picture frame. Simply open the case and flip it inside-out. This tip works great for office notes or dinner recipes as well. Bonus points: Use paint to make a cool border around the outsides of the case for a personal touch.

Wall Mural – This one may take a bit more time (and creativity), but the outcome is sure to become a decor masterpiece. We love this example from Instructables, which breaks the process down into six easy steps. You’ll need CD cases, rulers, an x-acto knife, scotch tape, adhesive Velcro and an image of your choice.

Reuse ideas for CD cases extend from birdhouses to lamps. These cases are commonly made of plastic #6, so recycling them is also an option we fully support

Article courtesy of by Amanda Wills


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cash for Refridgerators? Go Energy Star!

Cash for refrigerators? Yes, and other appliances. The government hopes a new incentive program will help the economy and the environment, persuading people it's time to replace that old washing machine.

Cash for Clunkers for Appliances
A customer looks at a refrigerator on display at a Best Buy store May 28, 2009, in San Francisco.
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A program that kicks in late this fall will offer consumers cash to help buy new home appliances. You could get a rebate of $50 to $200 for buying a new, more energy-efficient appliance to replace one in your kitchen.

The details are still being worked out. They will vary from state to state. State governments have until Oct. 15 to send detailed plans to Washington. The federal government has set aside $300 million for the program as part of the economic stimulus plan.

There's no trade-in required, as in the government's "cash for clunkers" deal with consumer car trade-ins. But rebate checks will be issued that can be used to cover everything from refrigerators and dishwashers to furnaces and air conditioners.

The Department of Energy hopes to encourage conservation by getting consumers to replace old, wasteful appliances with new, more efficient Energy Star certified machines. But the appliance industry, reeling from the recession and a drop in sales, also hopes the rebates will provide a much-needed sales boost.

To look for the incentives in your area please visit