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Friday, 30 March 2012

Eco Friendly Fashion Tips: Recycle Your Old Clothes

Eco friendly fashion doesn’t necessarily just mean clothing that is made from organic materials, or clothing from companies that donate to an earth-friendly cause – It also means clothing that has been repurposed to become another article of clothing or accessory. As eco friendly fashion begins to gain popularity amongst both fashion designers and consumers, many people have started thinking about how they too can repurpose their old clothing, instead of just throwing them out. Below are some eco friendly tips that may just motivate you to rummage through your closet or dresser drawers.

Eco-Friendly Fashion Tips

  • Have a hole in the knee-area or below on favourite pair of jeans? – All is not lost! Before you throw them out, why not try making them into a pair of shorts? Simply cut just above the knee-area with a pair of scissors, and then hem them. Not great at sewing with a machine? There are tons of instructional videos out there on Youtube that will teach you how to hem jeans, so why not give it a try? You were going to trash them anyways! Feeling a bit more experimental than just making shorts? I’ve heard from people who have made a nice skirt from an old pair of jeans. Why not try something like that?
  • Turn them into rags – Spare rags are never a bad thing to have around the house. You can use them for washing your car, checking your engine’s oil level, washing dishes, cleaning windows, polishing furniture with beeswax furniture polish, and everything in-between. And if you’re stressed or angry with someone, it’s always fun to rip apart some old clothing!
  • Spare socks? Not a problem! – Do you have a drawer full of single socks whose partner has somehow gotten lost en-route to or from the washing machine? Well, don’t throw them out! Instead, make some stuffed sock animals, or sock puppets! It’s a great family activity to keep your kids entertained on a rainy day, and there are countless patterns readily available on the Internet. All you really need is:
    • Spare or orphaned socks
    • Sewing needle, or a sewing machine (if available)
    • Thread
    • Scissors
    • Pencils
    • Pins
    • Buttons (for eyes! Bigger buttons work best)
  • Save the buttons – It’s a good idea to save as many buttons as you can, especially those that come from dress shirts or dress pants. Many times have I had the button on my dress shirts come off, and many times have I had to replace said button. Luckily, having kept a jar full of spare buttons in my closet, a replacement was never too far away. Another good reason to keep spare buttons is for arts and crafts (as mentioned above, buttons make great eyes for sock puppets and sock animals). But why stop there? Here are some other ways to recycle buttons that I’ve heard of:
    • Make some stylish earrings from bigger buttons
    • Use them for embellishments in scrap-booking
  • Donate your unwanted clothing to charity – A study performed in January 2008 by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development determined that there were approximately 643,000 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people in the United States. Homeless advocate groups in Canada have determined that there are approximately 300,000 people who are homeless. These numbers have likely risen due to the tough economic times brought on by the recession, so it’s important for us to do all we can to support these homeless people. Donating to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill Industries can at least provide them with some comforts.

    We suggested you donate the following items:
    • Shoes
    • Coats or jackets
    • Cold weather accessories (earmuffs, toques, gloves or mitts, etc.)
    • Professional clothing, for interviews, etc.
    • Pants
    • Shirts (long-sleeved and T-shirts)
  • Thought for the Day

    Take a look through your own clothing and see what fits, what doesn’t, and what you haven’t worn in a few months. Instead of throwing it away, try recycling it using one of the eco friendly fashion tips mentioned above. (Source: greenleafloads.com)

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Understanding Waste and Recycling: Four Tips to Be Eco-Friendly

Have you ever given a thought to the amount of waste generated everyday? People spend most of the day at their workplaces and think nothing of the paper that was thrown in the trash or those cans of cola and plastic wrapper that were discarded while having a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. Businesses in the United States generate 35 percent of the trash in the waste stream.

Paper is a major component of the trash, closely followed by organic matter. Commercial waste also contains metal, plastic and wood. Out of this trash, 32.5 percent alone is recycled, 12.5 percent is burnt and 55 percent is discarded. Only 10 percent of paper in the waste is eco-friendly recycled. Trash that is not recycled goes on to pollute the ecosystem... maybe for years, depending on the material that it is made of. Recycling is the most eco-friendly option that can help reduce the environmental impact of commercial waste.

In addition to paper, organic waste is also detrimental to the ecology. Organic waste forms about 12.4 percent of the waste stream and is invariably dumped in landfills where it generates leachate and methane. The former is toxic sludge and the latter is a greenhouse gas that can cause several times more environmental damage than carbon dioxide. It is better to compost organic material. It is also a greener option as composting converts it to a natural fertilizer and reduces the eco-impact of this type of waste. A study estimates a reduction of 10 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions if the eco-friendly recycling rate is upped by a mere five percent annually.

Energy consumed by a product throughout its lifecycle - starting from sourcing raw material, manufacturing, distribution, use and disposal - the energy consumed may be direct or indirect. All this contributes to climate change. By eco-friendly recycling, people can mitigate the effects considerably and help make the ecology greener.

Some methods that apply environmentally sound policies to waste management are:

Eco-Friendly Recycling # Tip 1 - Reduce And Recycle Paper

An excellent green option is the reduction of paper usage and eco-friendly recycling paper. This saves the environment by reducing the number of trees cut down for manufacturing paper. These trees saved also help absorb carbon dioxide, a predominant greenhouse gas. This helps reduce climate change too. Also, you save on the energy required to dispose of the waste paper.

Eco-Friendly Recycling # Tip 2 - Go Green With Food At The Office

Most offices use paper cups and plates, along with disposable utensils. This can add considerably to the waste stream annually. Using reusable or recyclable food service items is a more eco-friendly option. Any office leftovers could be composted instead of just throwing it in the eco-friendly trash.

Eco-Friendly Recycling # Tip 3 - Donate E-waste, Do Not Dump

Old office appliances and computers are better off being donated for reuse where they could be useful to people rather than paying for hauling to the eco-friendly dump where they release toxins for years to come. This includes printers, toners, coffee machines and refrigerators.

Eco-Friendly Recycling # Tip 4 - Have A Waste Management Plan In Place

Waste management plans are an eco-friendly way to cut costs, reduce energy consumption and promote green jobs by eco-friendly recycling.

(Source: Supergreenme.com)

Monday, 26 March 2012

Eco-friendly Ways to Use Your Mobile

Everybody has a mobile phone (or two) and mobiles are slowly becoming a huge source of pollution. Still, we are so used to them that throwing them out of our daily life is out of question. However, the fact that we use mobiles all the time doesn’t mean we can’t do it in an eco-friendly manner. Here are some eco-friendly ways to use your mobile phone to contribute for a cleaner environment.
Go SIM-Only
Obviously, if you have one mobile device less, you are doing the planet a service. With the standard mobile contract you get not only minutes and texts, but also a subsidized mobile device. Very often you don’t need this device because you already have a device on your own or simply don’t like the device that comes with the contract but you take it nevertheless.
This is what standard contracts are. With SIM-only contracts you get only a SIM card to insert into your mobile device. SIM-only is much cheaper and more eco-friendly. This is why you should always look at SIM-only offers first and only if there isn’t an offer suitable for you (which is kind of unlikely, having in mind how many SIM-only offers there are), look for a standard contract.
Learn How to Preserve the Life of Your Battery
The battery of a mobile is a huge pollutant. This is why the fewer batteries disposed of, the better. If you know how to properly recharge your battery to prolong its life, you might never have to replace it. Depending on the type of the battery, the rules vary but for the most common types of batteries, the rule is to wait till the battery is fully discharged and then to recharge it rather than recharge it even if it is half-full.
Get a Green Phone
Another major contribution you can make to the environment is to get a green phone. A green phone is a phone that uses less energy and the parts of which are 100% recyclable. Many modern phones fall into this group but still it won’t hurt to check carefully before you buy the phone.
Consider a Second Hand Phone
All mobile phone maniacs will certainly frown at this tip but if you care about the environment, this is also a good contribution to make. A second hand phone that is still working is a good choice especially as a secondary mobile device. If you are reluctant to buy a second hand phone just for using it as a secondary device, you can use for the purpose your old phone, or a phone a friend/family member has been using but doesn’t need anymore.
Explore Mobile Phone Recycling Options
Mobile phone recycling is becoming an industry of its own and it won’t be hard to find a company that accepts used mobile phones to recycle. Sometimes when you return your old phone you will be given a new one for free or at a substantial discount, so in addition to the eco-friendliness of your action, you will be compensated monetarily as well.
Use a Solar Charger
Solar chargers are another option to consider. You can use a solar charger not only for your mobile but for your laptop as well. Well, the prices of powerful solar chargers aren’t cheap but this is an investment that pays off.
Use Power Saving Mode
This last tip might not lead to huge eco-friendly results because a mobile doesn’t consume much power, especially in comparison to household appliances or even computers but since tiny steps also count, you should think of ways to use less power. One common approach is to decrease the brightness of the screen. You can also use power-saving applications that help you to reduce your power consumption.

Saving the planet takes an effort from all of us. Use your mobile in an eco-friendly way and give your contribution, no matter if it seems small to you or not.

(Source:  TheEnvironmentalBlog.org)

Thursday, 22 March 2012

49 Ways To Save Water Indoors

Saving Water


  1. Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering a plant or garden, or cleaning.
  2. Verify that your home is leak-free, because many homes have hidden water leaks. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.
  3. Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. If your faucet is dripping at the rate of one drop per second, you can expect to waste 2,700 gallons per year which will add to the cost of water and sewer utilities, or strain your septic system.
  4. Check for toilet tank leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear within 30 minutes. Check the toilet for worn out, corroded or bent parts. Most replacement parts are inexpensive, readily available and easily installed. (Flush as soon as test is done, since food coloring may stain tank.)
  5. Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other such waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
  6. Take shorter showers. Replace you showerhead with an ultra-low-flow version. Some units are available that allow you to cut off the flow without adjusting the water temperature knobs.
  7. Use the minimum amount of water needed for a bath by closing the drain first and filling the tub only 1/3 full. Stopper tub before turning water. The initial burst of cold water can be warmed by adding hot water later.
  8. Don't let water run while shaving or washing your face. Brush your teeth first while waiting for water to get hot, then wash or shave after filling the basin.
  9. Retrofit all wasteful household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors.
  10. Operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are fully loaded or properly set the water level for the size of load you are using.
  11. When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink or basin with soapy water. Quickly rinse under a slow-moving stream from the faucet.
  12. Store drinking water in the refrigerator rather than letting the tap run every time you want a cool glass of water.
  13. Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or by using the defrost setting on your microwave.
  14. Kitchen sink disposals require lots of water to operate properly. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing food waste instead of using a garbage disposal. Garbage disposals also can add 50% to the volume of solids in a septic tank which can lead to malfunctions and maintenance problems.
  15. Consider installing an instant water heater on your kitchen sink so you don't have to let the water run while it heats up. This will reduce heating costs for your household.
  16. Insulate your water pipes. You'll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.
  17. Never install a water-to-air heat pump or air-conditioning system. Air-to-air models are just as efficient and do not waste water.
  18. Install water softening systems only when necessary. Save water and salt by running the minimum amount of regenerations necessary to maintain water softness. Turn softeners off while on vacation.
  19. Check your pump. If you have a well at your home, listen to see if the pump kicks on and off while the water is not in use. If it does, you have a leak.
  20. When adjusting water temperatures, instead of turning water flow up, try turning it down. If the water is too hot or cold, turn the offender down rather than increasing water flow to balance the temperatures.
  21. If the toilet flush handle frequently sticks in the flush position, letting water run constantly, replace or adjust it.
  22. Don't over water your lawn. As a general rule, lawns only need watering every 5 to 7 days in the summer and every 10 to 14 days in the winter. A hearty rain eliminates the need for watering for as long as two weeks. Plant it smart, Xeriscape. Xeriscape landscaping is a great way to design, install and maintain both your plantings and irrigation system that will save you time, money and water. For your free copy of "Plant it Smart," an easy-to-use guide to Xeriscape landscaping, contact your Water Management District.
  23. Water lawns during the early morning hours when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces losses from evaporation.
  24. Don't water your street, driveway or sidewalk. Position your sprinklers so that your water lands on the lawn and shrubs ... not the paved areas.
  25. Install sprinklers that are the most water-efficient for each use. Micro and drip irrigation and soaker hoses are examples of water-efficient methods of irrigation.
  26. Regularly check sprinkler systems and timing devices to be sure they are operating properly. It is now the law that "anyone who purchases and installs an automatic lawn sprinkler system MUST install a rain sensor device or switch which will override the irrigation cycle of the sprinkler system when adequate rainfall has occurred." To retrofit your existing system, contact an irrigation professional for more information.
  27. Raise the lawn mower blade to at least three inches. A lawn cut higher encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system and holds soil moisture better than a closely-clipped lawn.
  28. Avoid over fertilizing your lawn. The application of fertilizers increases the need for water. Apply fertilizers which contain slow-release, water-insoluble forms of nitrogen.
  29. Mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulching also helps to control weeds that compete with plants for water.
  30. Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Once established, they do not need to be watered as frequently and they usually will survive a dry period without any watering. Group plans together based on similar water needs.
  31. Do not hose down your driveway or sidewalk. Use a broom to clean leaves and other debris from these areas. Using a hose to clean a driveway can waste hundreds of gallons of water.
  32. Outfit your hose with a shut-off nozzle which can be adjusted down to fine spray so that water flows only as needed. When finished, "Turn it Off" at the faucet instead of at the nozzle to avoid leaks.
  33. Use hose washers between spigots and water hoses to eliminate leaks.
  34. Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. Your garden hoses can pour out 600 gallons or more in only a few hours, so don't leave the sprinkler running all day. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn it off.
  35. Check all hoses, connectors and spigots regularly.
  36. Consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water. If you wash your own car, park on the grass to do so.
  37. Avoid the installation of ornamental water features (such as fountains) unless the water is recycled. Locate where there are mineral losses due to evaporation and wind drift.
  38. If you have a swimming pool, consider a new water-saving pool filter. A single back flushing with a traditional filter uses from l80 to 250 gallons or more of water.
  39. Create an awareness of the need for water conservation among your children. Avoid the purchase of recreational water toys which require a constant stream of water.
  40. Be aware of and follow all water conservation and water shortage rules and restrictions which may be in effect in your area.
  41. Encourage your employer to promote water conservation at the workplace. Suggest that water conservation be put in the employee orientation manual and training program.
  42. Patronize businesses which practice and promote water conservation.
  43. Report all significant water losses (broken pipes, open hydrants, errant sprinklers, abandoned free-flowing wells, etc.) to the property owner, local authorities or your Water Management District.
  44. Encourage your school system and local government to help develop and promote a water conservation ethic among children and adults.
  45. Support projects that will lead to an increased use of reclaimed waste water for irrigation and other uses.
  46. Support efforts and programs to create a concern for water conservation among tourists and visitors to our state. Make sure your visitors understand the need for, and benefits of, water conservation.
  47. Encourage your friends and neighbors to be part of a water conscious community. Promote water conservation in community newsletters, on bulletin boards and by example.
  48. Conserve water because it is the right thing to do. Don't waste water just because someone else is footing the bill such as when you are staying at a hotel.
  49. Try to do one thing each day that will result in a savings of water. Don't worry if the savings is minimal. Every drop counts. And every person can make a difference. So tell your friends, neighbors and co-workers to "Turn it Off" and "Keep it Off".
(Source:  American Water & Energy Savers)

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Top Ten Tips for Eco-Friendly Travel

Hiking Boots
1. Treat your own water – Buying bottled water when you travel amounts to a trail of trash in your wake, as few countries in the world are capable of recycling them. Add to that the lack of health standards for bottled water the world over (tap water has stricter testing standards here in the U.S. than bottled water does, for example). Treating your own water on the road is easier than you may think. Just bring along a reusable water bottle and a purifier, filter or iodine tablets. You’ll be safer from water-bourne illnesses while keeping water bottles out of landfills all over the world.

2. Use re-chargeable batteries – Another culprit in garbage heaps around the world, disposable batteries are especially noxious as they leach toxic chemicals into the earth. The more responsible (and conveniently, more economical) option is to bring a charger and re-chargeable batteries. If you also pack an electric voltage converter plug and a roll of duct tape (to secure the whole set-up into the socket), you’ll be able to juice up anywhere you go. When selecting a charger, look for a “quick charge” feature so you aren’t still waiting for them to top off the next morning. Opt for Nickel Metal Hydride batteries as they have the best environmental record.


3. Avoid plastic bags – It is only since the arrival of non-biodegradable consumer items from the western world that the concept of litter has begun to take hold in developing countries. The ubiquitous plastic bag is everywhere you go these days! When you first arrive in a new place, go to a local market and buy a re-usable shopping bag, whether it’s a simple canvas bag like the ones you may use at home or a colorful hand-painted shoulder bag. When you go shopping you’ll be able to politely eschew the plastic bag and become a part of the solution!

4. Stay on the main trail – When hiking or following the local footpath, avoid taking shortcuts on steep sections of trail: your footsteps will be followed by many others. Although your actions may seem minuscule in comparison to the natural processes of weather and erosion, when they are multiplied by several thousand trekkers each year they become rather significant. If you happen to damage walls or irrigation channels when walking about, make sure you repair them as someone’s livelihood may be at stake.
Hiking Trail
5. Use biodegradable soap – Bring an environmentally friendly soap such as Dr. Bronner’s. It’s multi-purpose (good for hands, body, even laundry) and is gentle on the local water system. In rural areas, greywater typically drains right back into local water sources. And, if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to any kind of hygienic product, you’ll know the peace of mind that comes with using a friendly version of soap.

6. Buy local products –The most unique gifts you can find when traveling are those made by local artisans. Contribute to the local economy and handicraft traditions, and buy locally. This will reduce the effects of pollution and greenhouse gasses as mass-produced “souvenirs” are shipped internationally from industrial countries.

7. Consider carbon offsets – Carbon offsetting is an attempt to counter-balance the effect of your carbon emissions. A carbon offset negates the release of CO2e (Co2 or carbon dioxide equivalent) by avoiding the release of, or removing from the atmosphere the same amount of, CO2e somewhere else. Now you can calculate the amount of carbon emission being generated by your air travel and purchase carbon credits to offset it. Your carbon credits fund various renewable energy projects, such as wind farms and reforestation.

8. Use mass transit and your feet – Instead of renting a car, utilize the myriad of public transit options available around the world, such as trains, buses, and subways. It’s less stressful than driving in an unfamiliar place and will put you in closer contact with the scenery and the locals. Also, consider guided walking tours, renting a bike, or just hitting the pavement yourself – you’ll be a part of the scene, not just an observer!

9. Choose eco-friendly lodging – The world wide web has put the power of choice into our hands. Do a little research before you go and try booking accommodations that adhere to eco-friendly policies.

10. Lend a helping hand – Lessen your impact as a tourist by giving back to the people and environment during your stay. 

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

How E-Waste Effects Us All

Prior to buying a TV, music player, or wireless phone do you think about where these items will go after you no longer use or need them? Consumer electronic components produce nearly 3 million tons of commercial and electronic, or e-waste, annually as consumers throw away outdated or broken items. It is necessary to find out about the effects of e-waste on our environment and health, and the end result when it is thrown out.

Due to spotty enforcement of e-waste export laws and the difficulties and cost in recycling electronics, huge amounts of used electronics have been shipped to China, Kenya, and India. Relaxed ecological requirements and job conditions make e-waste disposal more lucrative, but also more dangerous in those nations. Be careful of e-waste. Facilities exist that specialize in handling this dangerous material properly.

E-waste can be a very valuable source of secondary raw materials if the electronics are handled and sorted correctly. But when they are not properly handled, they contribute heavily to toxins and carcinogens in our environment. The universal problem has been compounded by fast growing technological advances, cheap starting cost, and shrewdly schemed obsolescence. Serious environmental and health issues have arisen due to careless burning, ungoverned and often unsafe disassembly, and hazardous disposal activities.

The waste that is left over from consumer electronics consists of PCB's or polychlorinated biphenyls, lead, mercury, and cadmium. Not only are they very toxic, it has been shown through studies that the PCB's may cause cancer. Our soil and water may become contaminated, which would eventually enter our food chain, if these items are not properly disposed of. When they are burned, toxic fumes are given off, causing both ozone depletion and health problems through inhalation. Cells can be damaged and kidney failure can occur when the central nervous system is affected by mercury, lead or cadmium.

Remember this from now on whenever you are carelessly trashing dead batteries or an obsolete electronic device. Disposing of items the proper way through an e-waste recycler can help our environment be saved. Due to the problems caused to our environment and our health, the disposal process of consumer electronics needs to be carefully thought out.

(Source: Vic Metten)

Monday, 12 March 2012

10 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Meal

If you're passionate about cooking but concerned about the environment, here are a few things you can do to create a delicious, eco-friendly meal.
  • Eat seasonal. This is the cardinal rule of many great food cultures. Creating a meal with ingredients that are in season in your region will produce an eco-friendly plate. While it may be tempting to pick and choose from exotic ingredients grown all over the world, your seasonally based dishes will be fresher and they'll reduce the environmental impact of cross-country and international shipping. It's also an exciting opportunity to experiment with seasonal bounty that you might normally overlook.
  • Buy local. When you use locally grown ingredients you're supporting the agriculture and farmers, as well as the economy, of your community. You're also reducing the amount of fossil fuels that are generated by transporting nonlocal ingredients from the food source to your supermarket. And if that's not compelling enough, there's also an obvious benefit to your meal: Locally made meats, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables will truly taste fresh — because they are.
  • Use organic ingredients. Organic foods are grown naturally, without synthetic pesticides, artificial fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetic modification, or ionizing radiation. Additionally, organic farming is more environmentally sustainable; it reduces pollution and conserves water and soil. While there is no conclusive evidence that organic foods are more nutritious or safer than their conventionally grown counterparts, many people (including a growing number of gourmet chefs) prefer organic because they believe there is a palatable difference in taste.
  • Choose free-range, hormone-free, and organic animal products. When purchasing meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy, look for food raised in an environment that supports the ethical treatment of animals, such as farms where animals are allowed outdoors and are nourished with balanced diets. Organic meats, dairy, and eggs are made from animals that are pasture-fed or given organic feed, and have not been treated with antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic farmers practice rotational grazing and other preventive measures to help minimize disease in their animals. Many people find the quality and taste of free-range and hormone-free products to be superior.
  • Be selective about seafood. Our finned friends are a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals; they're low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories. Salmon and herring, in particular, are high in omega-3 fatty acids. However, not all fish are safe to eat these days. Some, like sharks and swordfish, are contaminated with high levels of mercury and other chemical pollutants. And that's not the only problem fish are facing. Destructive fishing practices and poorly managed fisheries are hurting the fish population and the environment. For an eco-friendly feast of fish, be selective about what you buy. Avoid farmed fish and shellfish that are fed with endangered wild fish. Choose locally caught and raised fish. And check out seafood watch lists to ensure that you're making the most responsible decisions about the fish you serve.
  • Go vegetarian — or even "vegan." Whether you're a true herbivore or you just want to reduce the amount of animal and fish products in your daily diet, there are many ways to prepare savory and satisfying veggie-based meals.
  • Look for "Fair Trade" on the label. When preparing excellent, eco-friendly meals, it's not just the ingredients you should be considering; it's also the means by which your ingredients were acquired. When you purchase from a fair-trade organization, you're participating in a business model that promises a fair price to the farmer, promotes sustainable farming practices, and contributes to positive change in small, often rural and underprivileged communities. Look for fair-trade labeling on products and shop at local green markets and farm stands — these habits enable you to support and deal directly with the people growing your food.
  • Avoid the extra packaging. Whenever possible, choose minimally packaged food products, buy in bulk, bring your own containers, or look for products that are packaged with environmentally sensitive materials, such as recycled paper or bio-based plastic. You don't need all that petroleum-based plastic or Styrofoam, anyway. Additionally, make an effort to bring your own totes to the market, instead of bringing home your goods in a bunch of flimsy, ecologically unfriendly plastic bags. Many organizations are now offering/selling reusable bags. Finally, be sure to reuse or recycle any packaging you do bring home with you.
  • Grow your own ingredients. One of the most ecologically conscious things you can do to make a great meal is prepare it with food that you grew yourself. If you think you can cultivate a green thumb, plant a small vegetable garden and a few fruit trees in your yard or join a local community garden. Even sprouting an herb garden on your windowsill will make a difference, plus everyone in your household will appreciate the choice in fresh seasonings. If you have other challenges, such as a lack of light or space, you could also try aeroponic gardening, hydroponic gardening, gardening in a bag, gardening in a pocket, from a matchstick or growing a vegetable garden inside your apartment with Leopoldo's indoor vegetable garden.
  • Compost. When preparing your eco-friendly meal, be sure to conserve your fruit and vegetable skins, leftover pulp, and other parts, as well as any eggshells, coffee grounds, or loose tea leaves for composting. Composting allows this waste to be reused in its new form — natural fertilizer — to fortify a lawn or garden! How can you compost at home? Check out the EPA's guide to composting. If you have a yard, you can create or buy your own large composting bin.