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Monday, 30 April 2012

10 Tips For Sustainable Eating

Here are ten steps that we should take to become mindful eaters.

1. Learn to Cook.

Without basic cooking knowledge, none of this is possible. Learning to cook your favorite foods using local ingredients can really make all the difference.

2. Eat Locally.

If you care about delicious food, health eating, proper stewardship of the planet, and supporting your local economy then you must source out local ingredients.

3. Eat Seasonally.

This goes hand-in-hand with eating locally. Eat root vegetables and hearty greens in the fall and winter. Eat salads, fruit, and tomatoes in the summer. Even milk and eggs are more abundant during certain times of the year.

4. Preserve the Harvest.

If you eat locally or seasonally then you’ll have to learn to preserve the harvest. Try canning, dehydrating, freezing, and lacto-fermentation. Look to Simple Bites for a helpful how-to series later in the season.

5. Grow Something… Anything.

Start with herbs or lettuce. Radishes are really fast and fairly simple. Even if you rent you can create a container garden. Once you catch the gardening bug you will just want to grow more. Simple Organic had a great article for beginning gardeners.

6. Give Up Store Bought Convenience Foods and Make Your Own.

You can make your own taco seasoning, yogurt, chicken stock, pesto, granola, tomato sauce… the list goes on and on. If you buy it from the store, do a quick recipe search and try making it at home.

7. Buy Fair-Trade.

When you don’t know your farmer because you’re buying from a foreign country look for the words “Fair-Trade”.

8. Know The Cost of Cheap Food.

Do you ever wonder why some supermarket food is just so cheap? You may not pay for it at the cash register, but the cost to your health, the soil, and the environment are there. I rambled about the cost of a nourishing diet not once, but twice. It really is important.

9. Eat Animal Products.

I know this may be controversial, but locally grown animal products can be more sustainable than those grains and beans from the bulk bins. I have seen the “organic” bins be filled with bags from China. I know that not everyone feels the same way, but it is my personal belief that locally, biodynamically raised animal products are a better choice than monocropped grains and beans.

10. Be Willing To Give Up Convenience.

This may be the hardest part of changing the way you eat. On the other hand, it forces you to simplify your food in a way that promotes health and flavor. The simple truth is sustainable food does not outsource it’s preparation.

Eating mindfully may take a bit more effort, but the rewards – for your family and their future – are too big to pass up.

(Source: Simplebites.com)

Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Bigger Than the Continental US: Here's What We Can Do About It

Much of the world's trash has accumulated into a part of the Pacific Ocean based on the movement of ocean currents.
Researchers and activists are constantly working on learning more about the extent of the Pacific Garbage Patch (and others) and finding ways to clean up the damage. And we're constantly keeping you updated on what their efforts yield. Check out below for news on estimates about the size of the Pacific trash vortex.
What is the Pacific Garbage Patch?
Simply put, it's a swirling mass of plastic in the middle of the Pacific ocean that is big enough to qualify as the planet's largest landfill. Roughly located in an area between 135° to 155°W and 35° to 42°N, much of the world's trash has accumulated into this part of the Pacific Ocean based on the movement of ocean currents.
A rose any other name applies to the Pacific Garbage Patch -- you'll also hear it called the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," the "Pacific Trash Gyre," the "Pacific Trash Vortex," and the "Oh My...What Have We Done!?" among other names.
How does all that plastic get to the ocean?
The simple answer:
Humans + Ocean Currents = Trash Vortex.
People create, consume, and carelessly toss plastics and the litter ends up in the water ways. As the plastic reaches the shoreline, currents carry it out into the ocean and a convergence of currents swirl the plastics into one general area.
trash gyre with currents image
Image via Wikimedia
No one is guiltless when it comes to the Pacific Garbage Patch - if you consume and discard goods, you are responsible for some portion of the plastic that is ending up in the ocean, even if you live hundreds of miles from the seaside. All rivers lead to the sea, as they say. Trash that ends up in a stream in the middle of the US can end up in the ocean and, with the help of ocean currents, find itself in the middle of a trash vortex.
Here's a great slideshow explaining how trash from the middle of the continent can end up in the middle of the ocean:

What's the impact of marine litter on wildlife?
The plastics found in the ocean have a dire effect on marine life. Turtles confuse plastic bags for jellyfish and birds confuse bottle caps for food. They ingest them but can't digest them, so their stomachs fill with plastic and they starve to death, even though they continue trying to eat.

Additionally, fish on the low end of the food chain consume tiny bits of plastic, and they're in turn eaten by larger fish which we catch and eat. So we're now quite literally eating the plastic we produce. Not an appetizing thought.

Charles Moore gave an excellent TED talk about the floating vortex of death:

How much plastic is in the Pacific Garbage Patch?
We have no idea. We have estimates on the size of the patch, at least in terms of surface area. Researchers peg the trash gyre to be as large as the continental United States, and according to HowStuffWorks.com, every square mile of ocean hosts 46,000 pieces of floating plastic and plastic constitutes 90 percent of all trash floating in the world's oceans.. But exactly how many pieces of plastic is impossible to say, and researchers are still stunned at how much they find when they get out there to assess the damage we're doing to one of our most precious resources.

What's worse - the Pacific Garbage Patch is not the only trash vortex out there. There are five - yes FIVE - trash gyres. Located in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans, the trash gyres represent what we're doing to our planet on a global scale.
5 gyres project image
Image via 5 Gyres Project
Everything from fish nets to bottle caps, from the tiny pellets of plastic that are in your exfoliating face soap to old toys are all ending up floating in the sea.

(Source: Alter Net)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

What's Your Earth Day Resolution?

Here are some you can take up.

- Ditch plastic wrap (some of it contains PVC?yikes!)

- Stop using paper plates. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. It's wasteful and completely unnecessary. If you're worried about family time, make washing dishes or loading the dishwasher a rotating chore that you do with one of your kids each evening.

- Use public transit

- Walk or take your bike whenever possible

- Stop using chemical cleaners. Switch to natural products or homemade solutions.

- Choose organic foods

- Grow your own fruits and vegetables to eliminate pesticides and a huge part of your carbon footprint.

- Start composting!

- Stop using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. There are tons of natural alternatives on the market and all sorts of home remedies. (Trust me, people with chemical sensitivities will thank you.)

- Use cloth diapers.

- Volunteer with a local recycling program or environmental group.

- Paper or plastic? Neither. Always take along a reusable bag when you leave the house.

- Learn one new thing about the environment every week, then pass it on. Knowledge is power.

- Reduce your garbage to a maximum of one bag per week. (It's the limit in my town, and with four people in my house, we rarely fill the bag.)

- Send one letter or postcard to a politician.

- Cut your paper footprint and switch to recycled paper products?paper towels, toilet paper, printing paper.

- Ditch wrapping paper and paper gift bags in favor of eco-friendly and reusable alternatives.

- Refuse to use polystyrene (Styrofoam). If a restaurant or take-out joint uses it, point out that it's unhealthy and bad for the environment.

- Don't buy products made with PVC (polyvinyl chlorate). PVC is difficult to recycle and a recent study links the phthalates in vinyl flooring to autism. Other places PVC is lurking include: shower curtains, rain gear...

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Reuse Your Trash

Got too much trash to deal with? Reuse it smartly!

Aluminum Foil

Wash if necessary, flatten, and reuse at a later time

Baby Wipe Containers

Use to store and organize just about anything. Arts and crafts supplies, sewing thread and needles, office supplies, pencils, pens, etc.

Bags - Paper Grocery BagsCarry a tote

Return with them to the grocery store and use them again. Some groceries will credit you 5 cents for every bag you reuse.
Use to tote items

Bags - Plastic Baggies

  • If possible, use a plastic re-sealable container instead
  • Wash them out and reuse at a later time

Bags - Plastic Grocery Bags

  • Use to line smaller garbage cans in your home
  • Use to discard your scoopable cat litter clumps
  • Take with you when you walk your dog to scoop your dog's poop
  • Use in your car as a travel garbage bag
  • Use as a lunch bag
  • Return them to the grocery to be recycled

Binders - 3-Ring

  • Use to organize bank and credit card statements
  • Use to organize recipes


  • Place in the trunk of your car for emergencies
  • Use for picnics, concerts, visits to the beach

Bottles - Glass Beverage

  • Use old wine or beer bottles as a candle holder. The wax dripping down the sides will create a nice effect
  • Use as a vase (you can decorate it as you would like)

Bottles - Plastic Beverage

  • Wash out and fill with water to store for emergencies
  • Fill the smaller bottles with water and freeze to use in coolers or lunch boxes to keep items cool. Don't forget to leave some room in the bottle for the water to expand when it freezes.

Bottles - Plastic Food

Old ketchup, mustard, etc. bottles can be used to store your own homemade sauces and condiments

Bottles - Plastic Beauty Products (Shampoo, Lotion, etc.)

  • Refill with product and use for travel or to keep handy at your desk, in your car, and in your purse.
  • Boxes - Cereal
  • Remove the top and part of three sides of the larger ones to use as magazine holders. You can decorate them with gift wrap or paint them.
  • Cut a hole in the side (toward the bottom). Mount the box with thumbtacks to the inside of a kitchen cabinet with the hole facing outward. Stuff old grocery bags in through the top of the box and pull them out through the hole when needed.

Boxes - Shoe

  • Use to store mementos like cards, children's artwork.
  • Keep to use for your kids school projects
  • Use them to store small toys, recipes, odds and ends, art and sewing supplies, etc.

Compact Discs

  • Decorate with paper, ribbon, paint, etc. to make Christmas tree ornaments or door hangers.
  • Use as coasters

Egg Cartons

  • Use to sprout seedlings before transplanting
  • Break up the Styrofoam and use a packing material
  • Use to store golf balls
  • Use to store jewelry


  • Take envelopes which are sent by businesses (in the hopes that you will return them), place a label over the pre-printed address, write in a new address, and send it on its way.
  • Use for writing notes to family members. Don't recycle until it is completely filled.
  • Use for storing receipts.
  • Use for storing or carrying coupons.
  • Use for writing grocery lists.


  • Take out the lenses and use for Halloween costumes.
  • Have your optometrist make them into sunglasses.
  • Save the screws in case you lose them from your current glasses.
  • Save old ones and use them when doing messy work.
  • Donate to an organization which takes old eyeglasses and puts new lenses in for people who cannot afford to buy new pairs.

Eyeglass Cases

  • Use as a pocket protector.
  • Use for storing a few special pens on a desktop, beside the bed, etc.
  • Use as a protective case for your cellular phone

Fabric Softener Sheets

  • Use as stuffing for stuffed animals and decorative pillows.
  • Reuse in your sock or underwear drawer to keep your clothes smelling fresh.
  • Tear the sheets in half before using in the dryer to reduce the number of sheets you use.
  • Wrap around a few clothes hangers in the closet to keep your clothes smelling fresh.
  • Use to dust your house.
  • Place inside shoes at night to keep them smelling fresh.

Film Canisters

  • Storage of thumbtacks, rubber bands, paper clips, etc.
  • Fill with quarters. Put in your child's backpack for emergency phone calls.
  • Use for mixing small portions of paint.
  • Fill with aspirin and keep in your backpack or purse.
  • Fill with household odds and ends such as nuts, bolts, etc.
  • Use for storage of seeds.
  • Use to store extra buttons.
  • Put a few loose buttons or beads inside and use as a cat toy.

Flower Pots - Small/Medium

  • Fill partially with sand and use as an outdoor ash tray.
  • Use when placing flowers at a cemetery.
  • Use small, plastic pots as scoops for pet food or potting soil.
  • Use for making sand castles or snow forts.
  • Use small pots as fruit-picking baskets.
  • Keep a small pot by the dryer to collect lint.
  • Use a medium size pot for storage of fruits and vegetables on the counter top.
  • Use a small pot as a candy jar.
  • Paint different colors and use to decorate around a garden.

Flower Pots - Large

  • Use for storage of rags in the basement.
  • Use pots for collecting leaves, weeds, etc. while working in the yard.
  • Take lined pots with you when going fruit picking. Instead of taking the small baskets provided home with you, dump the fruit into the flower pot and return the fruit baskets to the farm owner.
  • Use pots for storage of apples, oranges, potatoes, etc. in the house.
  • Use pots for storage of gardening tools.
  • Use pots for storage of toys

Foil Trays

  • Wash and use for baking
  • Use for feeding your pets
  • Fill with holiday cookies and give as gifts.

Garden Hose

  • Poke holes throughout the length of the hose and make it into a soaker hose.
  • Poke holes throughout the length and make into a sprinkler for kids.
  • Cut into smaller sections and attach to the thin, metal handles on buckets to make it more comfortable to carry.
  • Cut a small section off, clean it, and use it as a sturdy key chain.
  • Use to tie up a young tree for support

Greeting Cards

  • Use as bookmarks
  • Make into an ornament
  • Make into gift tags by cutting an old card with pinking shears, punching a hole in the corner, and tying the pieces together. Add the name and a note inside.
  • Cut off the side with the picture (if there is no writing on the reverse side) and reuse as a post card. Pay only postcard postage!
  • Use in your scrapbooks as decorative embellishments

Jars - Small (Baby Food, Bouillon)

  • Use for storage of nuts, bolts, etc.
  • Make them into musical instruments for your children by placing a few dried beans, pasta, rice, coins, etc. inside the jar after removing the label.
  • Keep on desk for storing paper clips, rubber bands, etc.
  • Use for starting plants indoors.
  • Insert a wick and fill with wax to make your own candle. Decorate the outside to match the decor of the room.
  • Use for storing excess seeds.
  • Decorate the lid and jar with fabric paints, lace, sequins, etc. Fill with candy, bath salts, a candle, etc and give as gifts.

Jars - Food

  • Use for storing extra spaghetti sauce which comes from a can.
  • Use larger jars for storing homemade soups.
  • Drink from smaller glass jars.
  • Use peanut butter or mayonnaise jars to store homemade cookies in the freezer. They will be protected from breakage and easily visible.
  • Store your razor in a small, covered jar immersed in alcohol to prevent oxidization of the blade. It will stay sharp longer.
  • Use spaghetti jars to can tomatoes and other vegetables. The standard canning lids and rings fit perfectly.

Juice CansPen and Pencil

  • Use as a pen and pencil holder.
  • Use for potting plants indoors.
  • Use as a scoop for pet food.
  • Cut to make it shorter and use as a scoop for sugar, flour, pasta, etc. (Keep in the container for easy access).

Laundry Baskets

  • Use as a recycling basket for curbside pickup.
  • Use when picking apples, pears, etc.
  • Use for gathering leaves in the fall.
  • Line with a blanket and use as a pet's bed.
  • Use to store children's toys in a closet.
  • Keep in the trunk of your car to keep groceries together.
  • Use for storing old rags or rugs.
  • Use when pulling weeds


  • Use for general storage.
  • Fill with glue, crayons, scissors, etc. for a portable arts and crafts box.
  • Fill with bandages, gauze, etc. and keep it in your car as a first-aid kit.
  • Store a box of crayons, small pieces of scrap paper, travel games, etc. inside and keep it in your car as an activity center for your child.
  • Keep sewing supplies inside it.
  • Use it for storage of children's audio tapes and CDs
  • Use to store video game cartridges

Metal Mint and Candy Tins

  • Use for travel sewing kit
  • Use for travel aspirin or other medicine
  • Use to store memory cards for cameras or video games
  • Use to store video game cartridges

Milk Jugs - Plastic

  • Take the lids from gallon jugs, paint black and red and use as checker pieces. You will need 24 of them.
  • Make the plastic jugs into hanging flower pots by cutting a hole in the top, placing flowers inside it and then hanging it by the handle.
  • Cut the bottom out of a plastic milk carton and use the top part to cover and protect growing plants in your garden.
  • Use as a scoop for dog/cat/bird feed.
  • Wash and then using a funnel, fill with bird seed for easy storage.
  • Cut a large hole in the side and use to put plastic bags in. Tie a shoelace around the handle and hang it

Mouse Pads

  • Cut small circles and use as "stoppers" for cabinet doors or as appliance "feet."
  • Use as a place mat.
  • Cut, layer and use as a wrist support for the computer keyboard.
  • Using cookie cutters, trace onto a mouse pad. Cut the shape out and then dip into paint. Use to decorate your child's room or give to kids and let them dab onto paper.
  • Cut into strips and place under heavy items so they don't scratch the counter or desk.
  • Use as a cushion between wood and clamps when woodworking.


  • Use to store change.
  • Use as a pencil/pen holder.
  • Use for temporary storage of stray screws, nuts, etc. found lying around the house.
  • Use as a decorative paperweight.
  • Use as a candy dish at home or work.
  • Use as a "vase" for a bouquet of really small flowers (violets, etc.).

Paper - Newspaper

  • Wad it up and use it as packing material
  • Use the comics (instead of paper bags) to cover text books.
  • Use to line the bottom of your tent (inside) for insulation. Place plastic over the paper to keep the print from smudging.
  • Fold several layers thick and use as a hot pad when camping.
  • Wrap fragile items for packing/storing.
  • Roll into "logs" for campfires. The thicker the log, the longer it will burn. Use spiral notebook wire to tie the log together. (Retrieve the wire and reuse it when you are done if it's still useable.
  • Make the above logs more efficient by cutting them in half and using yarn, string or shoelaces to dip the log into melted down candle wax. The wax-coated log will make for a good fire starter on damp days.
  • Make it into a garden film. Clear an area of weeds in your garden, lay several sheets of newspaper down, and spread mulch on top of it. It will keep most weeds from coming through.
  • Use to clean mirrors.

Paper - Scrap

  • Use any kind of used paper--computer, notebook, newspaper, etc. as wrapping paper. Personalize it with colored pencils, crayons, markers, or paint.
  • Cut it into smaller pieces and keep it by the phone for messages.
  • When doing first drafts of school papers, print on the reverse side of used computer paper, photocopies, etc.
  • For those of you who work in an office, convince your supervisor to use the back of scrap paper for printing lists, memos, taking phone messages, etc. Stress that this will help them save money.
  • Use hole-punches as confetti.
  • Use to make cards.
  • Use pieces for bookmarks. Write down any ideas that pop into your head.
  • Put smaller pieces in your pockets so that you can jot down notes to yourself throughout the day.
  • Use to line your kitty litter box.
  • Shred and save for packing material.
  • Use for wrapping delicate Christmas ornaments for storage.
  • Use for learning origami.
  • Use for making home-made paper.
  • Shred and use to line your hamster/gerbil cage.
  • Use for lining a bird cage.
  • Punch holes along the side and place in a 3-ring binder for school notes.
  • Punch holes along the side and string a shoelace through to make a notebook. Use a cereal box for a front and back cover.
  • Use for grocery lists
  • Let kids color, paint, etc. on the back of used paper.
  • Color both sides of the paper whatever color you like, cut into very thin strips and then use as "grass" for the Easter baskets.
  • Take used copier paper from work and donate to daycare centers for the kids to draw on.
  • Give lined computer paper to children learning how to write cursive.

Pencil Box

  • Store game pieces.
  • Fill with pencils and store in a drawer at home.
  • Let kids use for a jewelry box.
  • Let kids use as a cash register when playing "store".
  • Store first aid supplies in it, rubber-band it shut and keep in closet, garage, basement, car, etc. Be sure to place in a plastic baggie first to keep supplies dry.
  • Use in the kitchen for orderly storage of soup mixes, taco seasonings, tea bags, etc.
  • Use for a coupon box.

Picture Frame

  • Keep in the kitchen and slip a recipe card into it when cooking to keep it clean.
  • Use for storage of awards/pictures you no longer wish to display. Several will fit in a frame. Store the frame flat in a closet.
  • If you are bored with the look of a wooden frame, stain it a different color and reuse it
  • Let children decorate a wooden frame with paint and then allow them to hang it in their room with their own art work inside it.
  • Save the glass and backing of standard size frames for when others break.
  • Use for hanging emergency phone numbers and instructions in the basement or garage.
  • Replace the glass with a mirror and hang it for a new look.
  • Make a small picture frame (wallet size or 3x5) into a coaster. Glue something soft (material, etc) to the back so it does not scratch your table.
  • Use the cardboard backing as a fire starter.
  • Glue your child's artwork to the cardboard backing of a picture frame. Display on a wall or as a standup without the need for a frame.
  • If a wooden frame is broken, simply glue or nail it back together.

Plastic Candy Containers

  • Fill with aspirin or decongestants and keep in your purse or travel bag
  • Fill with salt or pepper and take camping.
  • Fill with sugar or creamer and take with you in the car when bringing a thermos of coffee for long road trips.

Plastic Containers - Cottage Cheese, Butter

  • Use as an inexpensive alternative to Tupperware to store leftovers
  • Use butter bowls as flower pots. Punch holes in the bottom if necessary and put the lid underneath to catch excess water.
  • Poke holes in a butter bowl and use it as a colander.
  • Paint the outside of a butter bowl festively and then use it for an Easter basket
  • Use butter bowls for storage of chess pieces.
  • Use butter bowls as cereal bowls.
  • Use butter bowls as an outdoor water dish for dogs during the summer.
  • Use butter bowls as a food dish for smaller pets.
  • Keep a butter bowl in the car for when you take a pet for a ride. Bring a jug of water and allow your pet to drink.

Plastic Utensils

  • If at all possible DON'T BUY!!! Use silverware
  • Store the plastic utensils you get from fast-food restaurants in your car and use them for on-the-road meals or when drive-thru forgets to give you utensils (it happens!).
  • Take on camping trips or picnics (but don't throw them out). Reuse them until they break.
  • Send to school in your kid's lunchbox. Make sure they bring them home for reuse!
  • Use as plant supports for droopy seedlings.
  • Keep a spoon by the coffee at work for sugar.
  • Keep a spoon in your desk drawer at work for stirring your coffee (so you don't have to use a stirring stick).
  • Collect and take to work for office parties. Wash and reuse when the festivities are over.
  • Let kids use a knife for cutting clay or play-dough.
  • Give to kids for playing "house" or "restaurant."
  • Keep a set in your desk drawer at work in case you forget yours when you bring lunch

Pools - Children's Plastic

  • Fill with water and let your pet play in it on hot summer days.
  • Flip it over and use for covering small plants from the frost in warmer climates
  • Poke holes in the bottom, fill with potting soil and plant a garden in it.
  • Use as a sandbox.
  • Flip it over and use it for a sandbox cover.
  • Use as an outdoor dog bath.
  • Keep on the floor of the basement and use for storage of wet/dirty clothes before washing.
  • Fill with water and put at the entrance to an adult-sized pool. Grass will come off in the little pool and not the big one.
  • Line with a blanket and use as a pet bed.

Prescription Bottles

  • Use for safe storage of thumbtacks.
  • Use for spill-proof storage of paperclips or change in a bag.
  • Fill with household odds and ends nuts, bolts, etc.
  • Wash and use for storage of salt, sugar, pepper, etc. when camping.
  • Wash and use for storage of bulk spices.
  • Peel off label, fill with aspirin or decongestants and put in purse or bag.


  • Save and use for anything you would use string for.
  • Store in your travel first aid kit and use for an emergency tourniquet
  • Wash. Tie the ends of the curly, stretchable type (that you don't need to tie), and use as a hair band.
  • Attach one end to your child's mittens and run the other end through the sleeve of their coat to prevent mitten loss.
  • Use as a ribbon on packages wrapped in homemade wrapping paper.
  • Carry a spare in your purse, car or gym bag in case you break one.
  • Use as an emergency belt for your child. Tie a couple together for an adult belt.
  • Use to hand ornaments from the Christmas tree.
  • Braid three or more together to make bracelets.
  • Attach to ceiling fans/lighting fixtures as a pull chain.
  • Use as curtain tie-backs.
  • College students can use to hang dorm room keys around their neck.
  • Use to tie plants to a plant support.
  • Use to hang a small bird feeder from a tree.
  • Use as a replacement drawstring on hoods, sweatpants, etc.
  • Keep in camping gear in case rope on tent breaks.
  • String nuts and washers through for orderly storage.
  • Roll into a coil, secure with glue or thread and use as a coaster or a hot pad.

Shower Curtain

  • Use as a tarp for grills, wood, etc.
  • Cover your table with the curtain while the kids are painting or playing with play-dough to make for easy clean-up.
  • Cut and make into a curtain for the bathroom window.
  • Line the trunk of your car with it when transporting dirty items.
  • Use to cover your outdoor plants when the weather drops to freezing. Make sure you put stakes in the ground to prevent the curtain from crushing your plants.
  • Use as a drop cloth or for covering furniture when painting.

Spice Containers

  • Buy spices in bulk and store them in previously used containers.
  • Fill with sugar and use for sprinkling sugar on cereal. This takes up less room than a sugar bowl.
  • Fill with Confectioner's sugar, and use when sprinkling on plain cake or cupcakes.
  • Use food coloring to dye sugar different colors, fill the containers with the different colors and then use when sprinkling on Christmas cookies.
  • Store rubber bands, paper clips, etc.
  • Store smaller game pieces.
  • Storage of sugar, salt, pepper when camping.
  • Use for a pencil/pen holder.


  • Use for storage of children's toys. It will fit under the bed and it is ready for travel to a friend's house.
  • Use as an extra dresser if you don't have enough room for all of your clothes. Keep in the closet or under your bed.
  • Use for storage of out-of-season clothing to free up closet space.
  • Make into a sentimental storage unit. First paint the suitcase the color of your choice, then glue photocopies of family pictures, greeting cards, etc to the outside, finishing with a protective coating. Use this to store Christmas ornaments or valued mementos.

TiresTire Swing

  • Use as a large flower pot for your yard.
  • Place in your backyard and fill with sand for a children's sand box. Use a large sheet of plywood for a cover.
  • Attach to a tree and use as a swing.
  • Hang from a tree and throw a football through it.
  • Cut open and use as lining for horse stalls.
  • Place in the desired area, fill with soil, and then plant melons or other plants which require mounds.

Toilet Paper Rolls

  • Stuff an extra set of stockings into a tube and keep in your desk drawer at work, your glove compartment, etc. in case of a run.
  • Ask local schools if they need them for art projects.
  • Wrap double-sided tape around the tube, stick one or two fingers in the middle and roll over clothing, furniture, etc. to remove lint.
  • Tape one end of yarn/string to the tube. Wrap the string around the tube and then hook the end into a notch cut into the edge of the tube. It makes for easy storage.
  • Stuff a few plastic bags into the tube and then place the tube in the glove compartment of your car. It will keep them tidy and on-hand for when you need them.
  • Use for wrapping party gifts by inserting the gift, pinching and taping the ends closed and then decorating.
  • Use for storing long pieces of ribbon which have been saved from packages. This will keep the ribbon smooth.
  • Use in place of a peat pot. Fill with potting soil, place in a plastic butter/ice cream tub, plant the seed and water. When the plants sprouts, plant the seedling (tube and all) in the ground. The tube rots away.


  • Use for polishing your shoes. This is especially useful for where the shoe meets the sole.
  • Use for cleaning threaded mechanical parts.
  • Use for cleaning greasy auto parts.
  • Use for cleaning combs.
  • Use old ones to clean the grooves between the tiles in your bathroom.


  • Use for transporting gardening tools around the yard.
  • Use it when transporting wood for your fireplace.
  • Use for storing your automotive tools. Just pull the wagon out when you need them.
  • Use for general transport of bulky objects
  • Use for bringing groceries home from the store (or from your car to your front door).
  • Take the wheels and handle off, line it with a thick blanket and use it as a pet bed.
  • Paint to the desired color, roll it out to the middle of the yard and use it as a really big flower pot.
  • Take the wheels and handle off and use as a storage container for the garage or basement.
  • Use to transport garbage to the curb on garbage day
  • These ideas have been collected from several sources. Thank you to everyone that has contributed. Please contact us if you have any suggestions you would like to add.

Monday, 16 April 2012


Don't forget the basics. This simple stuff will save energy -- and money -- right now.
  1. Unplug

    • Unplug seldom-used appliances, like an extra refrigerator in the basement or garage that contains just a few items. You may save around $10 every month on your utility bill.

    • Unplug your chargers when you're not charging. Every house is full of little plastic power supplies to charge cell phones, PDA's, digital cameras, cordless tools and other personal gadgets. Keep them unplugged until you need them.

    • Use power strips to switch off televisions, home theater equipment, and stereos when you're not using them. Even when you think these products are off, together, their "standby" consumption can be equivalent to that of a 75 or 100 watt light bulb running continuously.

  2. Set Computers to Sleep and Hibernate

    • Enable the "sleep mode" feature on your computer, allowing it to use less power during periods of inactivity. In Windows, the power management settings are found on your control panel. Mac users, look for energy saving settings under system preferences in the apple menu.

    • Configure your computer to "hibernate" automatically after 30 minutes or so of inactivity. The "hibernate mode" turns the computer off in a way that doesn't require you to reload everything when you switch it back on. Allowing your computer to hibernate saves energy and is more time-efficient than shutting down and restarting your computer from scratch. When you're done for the day, shut down.

  3. Take Control of Temperature

    • Set your thermostat in winter to 68 degrees or less during the daytime, and 55 degrees before going to sleep (or when you're away for the day). During the summer, set thermostats to 78 degrees or more.

    • Use sunlight wisely. During the heating season, leave shades and blinds open on sunny days, but close them at night to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows. Close shades and blinds during the summer or when the air conditioner is in use or will be in use later in the day.

    • Set the thermostat on your water heater between 120 and 130 degrees. Lower temperatures can save more energy, but you might run out of hot water or end up using extra electricity to boost the hot water temperature in your dishwasher.

  4. Use Appliances Efficiently

    • Set your refrigerator temperature at 38 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit; your freezer should be set between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the power-save switch if your fridge has one, and make sure the door seals tightly. You can check this by making sure that a dollar bill closed in between the door gaskets is difficult to pull out. If it slides easily between the gaskets, replace them.

    • Don't preheat or "peek" inside the oven more than necessary. Check the seal on the oven door, and use a microwave oven for cooking or reheating small items.

    • Wash only full loads in your dishwasher, using short cycles for all but the dirtiest dishes. This saves water and the energy used to pump and heat it. Air-drying, if you have the time, can also reduce energy use.

    • In your clothes washer, set the appropriate water level for the size of the load; wash in cold water when practical, and always rinse in cold.

    • Clean the lint filter in the dryer after each use. Dry heavy and light fabrics separately and don't add wet items to a load that's already partly dry. If available, use the moisture sensor setting. (A clothesline is the most energy-efficient clothes dryer of all!)

  5. Turn Out the Lights

    • Don't forget to flick the switch when you leave a room.

    • Remember this at the office, too. Turn out or dim the lights in unused conference rooms, and when you step out for lunch. Work by daylight when possible. A typical commercial building uses more energy for lighting than anything else.

    (Source: nrdc.org)

Saturday, 14 April 2012

3 Tips for an Eco Friendly Bedroom

Most people realize that it’s important to be environmentally conscious when you are accomplishing various tasks in both your bathroom and kitchen – this is because you can literally see all the water you are using and all of the waste you are producing.  But what most people don’t realize is that if you are truly environmentally cautious, you will finds ways to be green in every room of your house.  But how can you be more eco friendly when it comes to your bedroom?  Follow these 3 tips and you will assuredly have a bedroom that leaves Mother Nature a lot better off.
  1. Always use CFL light bulbs – CFLs (or compact fluorescent light bulbs) are one of the easiest ways to instantly make your bedroom a lot more environmentally friendly.  This is because CFLs last up to five times longer than traditional light bulbs.  An added bonus – these bulbs added longevity will help save you a good chunk of money over time!
  2. Improve your bedroom’s insulation – If your bedroom is so cold during the winter that you have to crank up your thermostat perhaps insulation is to blame.  Good insulation will undoubtedly lead to a bedroom that is much warmer and will also help cut down on the amount of energy your home uses.
  3. Buy used furniture – Resist the urge to go out and buy all brand new furniture for your bedroom.  You can easily find everything you need with just a little bit of hard work.  Think how many trees you will save buy giving an old piece of furniture new life!  Just like tip #1, this tip will also help boost your bank account. 
(Source: whooknoo.com)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Tips for an Eco-Friendly Wedding

Here are 10 of the best ways to give Mother Earth a starring role at your nuptials:

1. Go Small. The fewer guests you have, the less fossil fuels that will be used. You’ll also consume less, and create less garbage. Having a small guest list will also give you more choice of venues. Why not have your small wedding at a designated green inn or have a restaurant reception at a restaurant that serves local food?

2. Buy Consumable Favours. Consumable favours are fun, fabulous and earth friendly. Some suggestions include diy favors such as homemade jam, chocolate, cookies, candy, free-trade coffee, beeswax candles, handmade soap or lotion. If you still want to take the non-consumable route, what about cloth shopping bags, reusable produce bags, or other products that will help your guests pursue an eco-friendly lifestyle? Don’t forget to include information about local shops that carry eco-friendly products along with your favours.

3. Don’t buy any favours. Another wonderful option for favours is to donate money to a charity in the names of each guest. The guest receives a card that informs him or her that instead of a favour, money was donated to a specific charity. Read more about favor donations here.

4. Be a ‘Locavore’. Choose a caterer or restaurant that sources ingredients locally. Buying local ingredients supports your area farmers, as well as decreases your carbon imprint. Even better, choose locally sourced organic foods, and offer vegetarian choices for your meat-free guests.

5. Have your Ceremony and Reception in the Same Location. This will mean less travel for you and your guests. Many inns and bed and breakfasts can accommodate both the ceremony and the reception.

6. Use Potted Plants instead of Cut Flowers for Centerpieces. I admit, I’m crazy about fresh flowers, but I also love the idea of being able to enjoy my centerpieces long after the wedding. Potted flowers are lovely – so are potted herbs and saplings.

7. Buy a Second Hand Wedding Dress and Bridesmaid Dresses.

8. Ditch the Disposables. Don’t even think about having disposable cameras at your wedding. Chances are your guests will bring their own digital camera. You can even remind them in your invitation that you’d love for them to capture their wedding with their own camera and send you the images.

9. Don’t use Throwaway Dishes or Flatware. Use china dishes, flatware, cloth napkins and glasses instead of plastic cups. Not only will this save a ton of waste, it will look more elegant.

10. Scrap the Balloons and Confetti. Do you really need confetti? If you feel it’s a must, then use flower petals. Avoid balloons when decorating, as well as any other landfill bound decorations.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Eсо Frіеndly Gift Ideas

Birthday Gift Ideas To Contemplate Environment friendly Edition!
Dо уou fееl excіtеd during а celеbratіоn tіmе? Dоеs thе thоught оf rеcеiving аnd gіvіng gifts from fаmіlіеѕ, friends аnd nеіghbors bring а wide smіlе оn уоur fасе? Hаvе yоu evеr thоught of сelеbrating festivіtіeѕ аnd еnvironment simultаneоusly? Lіkе оur deаreѕt and neareѕt peорlе or thіngѕ, our еаrth nеedѕ lovе аnd саre as wеll. Sо, whу wе ѕhould nоt орt fоr сеlеbration time wіth envirоnmеnt friеndly gifts?

Eсо Frіеndly Gift Ideas

Somе envіronmеnt frіendly gift ideas tо сelеbratе dіffеrent оcсаѕіоnѕ соuld be as fоllows:

Elесtrоnіс Cаrdѕ/Smѕ: In thіѕ wоrld оn Intеrnet, the bеѕt wау to sаvе рaрer іѕ bу optіng for е-саrds аnd ѕmѕ. Insteаd of buyіng раpеr cаrdѕ аnd bе resрonѕіble fоr аnother trее’s dеаth, уou сould еаsіlу find аnу good sіtе on grеetingѕ сard оn nеt. Nоwadауѕ, аn е-саrd іѕ vеrу muсh аttraсtivе wіth flaѕhу deѕіgnѕ, аnіmationѕ аnd music. Yоur frіеnd or family will simрly bе оvеrjoуеd tо ѕeе thе саrd. Yоu саn аlso ѕend sms by just сlісkіng уour thumb ѕеveral tіmеѕ. You сan find sеvеrаl ѕіtеѕ hаvіng intеrеsting аnd аttraсtivе ѕhоrt mesѕаgеѕ on dіffеrеnt оccasіоnѕ.

Smаll Gift Itemѕ: You саn make smаll items lіke соffeе cupѕ, bеer mugѕ, рen оr рencіl stаnds, or ѕuсh othеr thіngs from recуclеd plаѕtiс, glаѕѕ, paреr, metаl. You саn аlѕo рrepаrе thеse things by uѕed candles, ѕоаpѕ, оr fооd. Instеad оf glаsѕ beаdѕ yоu сan decоratе thesе thіngѕ wіth drіed fruіt ѕeedѕ.

Attrасtіvе Gift Wrар: Insteаd of buуіng а wrаррing раper frоm the ѕtorе, уou саn mаke уour оwn “greеn wrар” bу uѕіng mаgаzіnеѕ, саtalоgѕ or nеwѕрареrѕ. You cаn alѕо use оld сloth іtеms аѕ wrаpper. Fоr example, іf уоu wаnt to gift yоur mоm а cооkbook, yоu саn mаkе it more pеrѕоnalizеd bу wraрpіng an оld dish tоwеl оr а sсаrf.

Grеen Dоll-Hоuѕе: If уou want tо gift уоur dаughtеr a dоll’s houѕe, nothing сould bе bеttеr than tо mаke іt уоurѕelf. Just find оut sоmе old рlanks in thе garage аnd fіx thеm to make the dоll’ѕ housе. Yоu сan evеn рut LED lightѕ aѕ lightіng. You wіll feel evеn mоre рleаѕed mаnuаlly mаkіng thе hоuѕe for уоur lіttle bundlе оf jоу thаn buуіng оne from thе ѕtore.

Pареr Food Tray: You саn uѕе handmаde paреr tо mаke a food trаy. Thеѕе gifts arе very uѕеful tо wоmеn. You cаn рreѕеnt your ѕіster, ѕiѕter-іn-law or even girl friеnd оr wife wіth a рарer fооd tray. Handmade рарerѕ comе in аttrасtіvе dеѕіgns, which rangе frоm cаsuаl to еlegаnt оnеs. Yоu need tо buy the ѕturdier papеrs tо makе thе trаy. Thіs makеs an awesome есо friеndly gift.

Plant: Nоthing сould bе а bеttеr еnvirоnmеnt frіеndlу gift thаn a рlаnt. Yоu can gift а рottеd plаnt tо уоur friends. Nurturіng а plаnt meаns соntrіbuting morе towаrd mаkіng the eсоѕуstеm cаrbоn frеe.

Alоng wіth gifts, уоu аlѕо nеed to make the рeoplе аround yоu envіrоnment соnѕсious, sо thаt thеу сut down on waѕtаgе аnd ѕаve nаturаl rеѕourсеѕ. Makе уоur family аnd friends аwarе and urgе thеm to uѕe rеusable bаgѕ аnd refillаble bоttlеѕ.

(Source: birthdaypresentideas64.tumblr)

Monday, 2 April 2012

10 Tips for a More Eco-Friendly Office

Adopting a green lifestyle at home is a good first step toward living healthier and helping to save the planet, but you can extend your influence even more by going green at work too.

Whether you work in a home office of one, or a corporate complex with thousands of employees, consider these ways to reduce your business’ impact on the environment:
  • Start a bring-your-own coffee mug policy for the break room and ditch the foam cups. Your company will reduce waste and save money as well.
  • Bring real plants into the office. Fake greenery might be low-maintenance, but the real thing adds beauty and oxygen to your surroundings.
  • Reprogram the thermostat. Each degree warmer you leave the thermostat in summer, and each degree cooler you set it in the winter can save 6 to 8 percent in energy costs.
  • Look into telecommuting. Every commute not taken saves on money, time and fossil fuel. Plus, studies have found that telecommuting boosts productivity too.
  • Switch to fair-trade, shade-grown coffee and a reusable coffee filter for the office coffee pot. Reusable filters reduce waste and shade-grown coffee protects biodiversity in coffee-growing countries.
  • Stock your lunchroom with foods provided by local farmers. As many colleges and universities have already discovered, locally grown foods are more appealing and healthful than the processed stuff shipped cross-country.
  • Bring back the errand-boy or girl. Rather than having lots of employees running in and out of the office for various reasons throughout the day, designate one person who can handle most or all of the out-of-office tasks in one trip, whether it’s picking up lunch, dropping off mail at the post office, making deliveries, etc.
  • Watch the paper and ink. Avoid printing documents that could just as easily be emailed, and print necessary papers on both sides. It also helps to institute a recycling program, and to switch to recycled paper and water-based inks.
  • Consider replacing aging desktop computers with laptops instead, which can use up to 70 percent less electricity and generate less heat waste.
  • Turn off any equipment that doesn’t need to be on when you’re not in the office, and -- if possible -- unplug them too. Every computer left turned on overnight and every coffee pot left plugged in eats up electricity and costs your company money.