A guide to going green for the back-to-school season

August 9, 2019 by  
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As summer comes to a close, our focus shifts to back-to-school. There’s so much to do between registering, shopping, picking up supplies and coordinating all the activities filling the calendar. If you’re looking for ways to act more sustainably this school year, we’ve got you covered in multiple areas. Transportation We all know that using our cars consumes fossil fuels and leaves a carbon tire print. Unless you live in a town that shuttles kids to school via electric trolley, it’s hard to figure out a sustainable way to transport the kiddos back and forth. This is a case of progress over perfection, and remember that every act helps. Related: The Akshar Foundation is creating sustainable schools to teach children important life skills Walking and biking are the most sustainable ways to get to school. Older kids can trek off on their own or with a group of friends. Escort younger kids and get in your exercise, too. If you don’t live close enough for biking or walking, consider the public transit system. The buses and subways are running, so using them instead of your car staves off air pollution . The same goes for the gas-guzzling school bus. It will run the route every day whether kids ride or not, so it’s a more eco-friendly option to take advantage of the bus service instead of driving each day. If driving is your only option, set up a carpool before and after school to minimize the number of cars going to the same place. Be sure to shut off the engine while you wait at the bus stop or school. Clothing One of the only things many kids get excited about when heading back to school is the new school clothes. As you know, though, clothing doesn’t have to be new to be hip, cool or trendy. Head out to the thrift shop to scour the options. When you do buy new, look for organic cotton, bamboo and other natural fabrics . For a fun option, host a clothing swap party. You know your daughter is constantly trading clothes with her friends anyway, and it’s the perfect opportunity to clean out the closet before the school year begins. Have everyone bring their pre-loved clothing, belts, handbags and shoes to the party, where they can reconnect with each other as summer comes to a close and maybe find some new clothes they love at the same time. Lunches Sometimes getting kids to eat healthy food at home is enough of a challenge, but mix that with portability and the fact that you’re not there to supervise, and lunchtime might start to feel like you’re playing the lottery. Let your kids have a say in what they want to take for lunches, but set boundaries. Remember the toddler stage when they got to make their own decisions about which of the two outfits they would like to wear that day? Same concept. Offer healthy meal and snack options, from which your child can choose. Make lunchbox-friendly entrees in advance, freeze items for easy grab-and-go snacks and breakfasts, re-package bulk items ahead of time and make a meal plan to minimize the morning hassle and simplify the grocery shopping. Map out two weeks of lunches, and repeat the schedule so the same lunch only comes around a few times each month. Agree to ban single-use water bottles and individual packaging from the lunch box. Use stainless steel or glass containers instead of plastic resealable bags. Order or make some reusable beeswax wraps for sandwiches. Add a metal or other non-plastic lunch box, and you have the foundation for a nearly waste-free lunch system. School supplies The basic laws of minimization apply here. Start by taking an inventory of what you already have. Check that tote of pushed-aside writing utensils, and resharpen the crayons and colored pencils. Inspect markers, pens and pencils. Grab the compass and protractor your older child no longer needs to give to the younger kids, and reuse the same rulers. Finish filling up the notebooks from last year when applicable, and make a few book covers. Chances are you even have tissues and 3×5 cards around that you can donate to the classroom. Once you’ve compared your inventory to the supply list, streamline your shopping. Make a “must have” list and vow to stick to it, at least for the first round of school supplies. There seems to be a phenomenon that makes kids feel they need the newest, shiniest everything before school starts, yet a few weeks in, any pencil will do. Related: The pros and cons of online versus in-store shopping When you do make school purchases, think long-term. Buying quality items is an earth-friendly decision that benefits everyone. Look for durable backpacks and binders that you won’t have to replace each year. Avoid themed folders and bags that your child will want to replace when the superhero phase passes. Beyond durability, hunt down sustainable options like those that are biodegradable , refillable and recyclable and contain post-consumer content and recycled materials. Reduce paper While you’re gearing up for the new year, look for ways to minimize paper communication by getting your email updated. Add your child’s teachers and administrators to your contacts, and sign-up for electronic classroom updates if possible. With any papers that do come, be sure to reuse or recycle them after they are no longer needed. Sports and activities With the new school year comes uniforms, gear and supplies for the extra-curricular activities, too. Again, look for secondhand gear, or borrow from friends. Hit up the local sporting goods resale shop or online marketplaces. When it comes to fundraising for those uber-expensive requirements, send flyers electronically, watch for wasteful packaging from vendors and seek out services the team can offer instead of products to sell. Also take advantage of carpool options for practices, games and competitions, and put all those activities into your meal planning calendar to avoid the dinner hassle. On activity nights, plan ahead for a slow cooker meal or leftovers instead of relying on fast food or pre-packaged dinners. With just a bit of planning, you can get the school season started with all the right supplies and habits needed for a successful and sustainable year. Images via Element5 Digital , Jaden C. , Prudence Earl , U.S. Department of Agriculture , Dawid Ma?ecki , Freddie Marriage and Picture Back

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A guide to going green for the back-to-school season

How to Throw a No-Waste Gender Reveal Party

July 11, 2019 by  
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Sustainability-focused parents are just as excited about whether they’re having … The post How to Throw a No-Waste Gender Reveal Party appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How to Throw a No-Waste Gender Reveal Party

How to Throw a No-Waste Gender Reveal Party

July 11, 2019 by  
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Sustainability-focused parents are just as excited about whether they’re having … The post How to Throw a No-Waste Gender Reveal Party appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #66: The Social Cost of Carbon

July 11, 2019 by  
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The National Academies of Sciences recently released a comprehensive review … The post Earth911 Quiz #66: The Social Cost of Carbon appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #66: The Social Cost of Carbon

Earth911 Quiz #66: The Social Cost of Carbon

July 11, 2019 by  
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The National Academies of Sciences recently released a comprehensive review … The post Earth911 Quiz #66: The Social Cost of Carbon appeared first on Earth911.com.

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5 Ways to Throw a Green Dinner Party

January 22, 2019 by  
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With chilly temperatures driving many of us indoors, winter is … The post 5 Ways to Throw a Green Dinner Party appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How to throw a fun, zero waste Halloween party

October 22, 2018 by  
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October is flying by, and Halloween will be here before you know it. To celebrate the holiday, many of us like to throw a party at home, work or school full of pumpkins, candy, costumes, food and decorations. Americans spend billions of dollars on Halloween every year, and many of the things that we buy (plus the packaging) end up in the trash on November 1. But if you love celebrating Halloween with a fun party, it doesn’t mean you have to generate piles of garbage. There are plenty of ways to have a festive holiday without leaving behind a trail of trash. While you put together ideas for your ghoulish celebration, keep the environment in mind — throw an eco-friendly party with zero waste. Invite your guests to bring food and containers Instead of purchasing dozens of baked goods and treats from the store, ask each of your guests to bring a home-baked item like cookies, cupcakes, pies or brownies. They can bring them in containers that can easily be washed instead of thrown away, and this will keep the trash at your party to a minimum while also saving you money. Another bonus of guests bringing baked goods is that it reduces the number of leftovers you will have at your house, since everyone will take home the dish they brought. Speaking of leftovers… also ask guests to bring their own containers if they’d like to take home any food that is left at the end of the night. This way, everyone can enjoy the party even after it ends, and you can keep food waste to a minimum! Use natural decorations Decorating for Halloween is one of the most fun parts of the holiday, but you don’t need to head to your local Halloween mega-store to buy a bunch of plastic decorations that you might never use again. This can get expensive, and the waste from the packaging and the poorly made plastic products with toxic paints and chemicals just aren’t good for the environment. Related: 10 sustainable Halloween decorations for your green home Instead, use pumpkins and other gourds to decorate. You can keep them plain, paint them or decorate them with ribbons and bows. Also, get creative with fall outdoor items like pine cones, branches and leaves. Going natural with your decor and centerpieces keeps with the spirit of the fall season without requiring a ton of money or leaving behind waste. Make recycling bins easily accessible For items at the party that can be recycled, place recycling bins in the room and near the front door, so that people will remember to use them before they leave. Adding recycling bins to the party instead of using just trash cans will help minimize your party waste. This is especially important if you choose to use disposable, recyclable items. If you want to skip doing a lot of dishes and decide to use paper plates or recyclable plastic cups and utensils, having recycling bins in a convenient spot will prevent them from going into the garbage and reduce your carbon footprint . Provide finger foods Try serving finger foods so you don’t need as many plates and utensils, if you need them at all. Deviled eggs, chicken (or soy ‘chicken’) wings, chips with dip, bread, cupcakes, brownies and sandwiches are all great party foods that you can easily eat with your hands. Light your space with natural candles Lighting for an indoor Halloween party can be far from environmentally friendly. Instead of using a ton of electricity, try creating some ambiance with natural candles. Not only do candles nicely illuminate any space, but they can also create a spooky, mysterious vibe. If you want to get really creative, use  pumpkins as candle holders . Compost perishables Instead of throwing away food and perishables, compost them! You can even compost your pumpkin decorations. You don’t want to throw them out and take up all of that space in the garbage (and later, a landfill). Instead, compost everything you can to help next year’s garden. Related: Composting for beginners Offer eco-friendly party favors If you enjoy giving out goody bags to your guests, think about what you are putting inside as well as the type of bag you are using. Instead of buying items at the store, you can make things like cupcakes or cookies that your guests can take home. Use small, reusable gift bags or paper bags that can be recycled. Even tiny glass jars filled with candy make a cute, zero waste gift that doesn’t cost a fortune. It’s never too late to make your Halloween party a big green bash. These simple tips will help you reduce your carbon footprint, and some items could initiate good, thought-provoking conversation topics during your zero waste celebration. Via Recycle Nation and Joy of Zero Waste Images via  Raw Pixel , Helena Yankovska , Imordaf , Damien Creatz ,  Element5 Digital ,  Ben Kerck , Clem Onojeghuo and Shutterstock

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5 (mostly) free and easy ways to green your Fourth of July

July 4, 2018 by  
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Independence Day  is here — are you ready? If you want to celebrate your Fourth the green way by freeing yourself from the shackles of  unnecessary waste  and  energy  usage but are low on funds and ideas, check out our five creative tips on how to green your holiday — they’re as easy on your wallet as they are hassle-free! Substitute veggie dogs and burgers for hot dogs and hamburgers Raising livestock uses an incredible amount of energy and releases tons of methane into the air. This year, try serving soy dogs and burgers instead of meat — they’re better for the environment and for your health. And a lot of times, people can’t even tell the difference! Cost: $3-4 a box on average Ask guests to carpool or walk With people trying to save money, this one shouldn’t be too difficult at all. Plus, if you remind imbibers that the less cars there are, the less (responsible) drivers are needed, they’ll have yet another reason to carpool or walk. Cost: nothing Have a “Bring Your Own Cup” party Plastic cups are one of the most wasteful parts of having a summer bash. Asking guests to bring their own cups means that no one will forget which cup is theirs, and you won’t need to clean up after them because they just take their dirty drinkware home with them! Cost: nothing Ask caterers to make it “Eco to go” If you’re planning on ordering out for your party, use this simple phrase to tell restaurants that you would like minimal packaging, condiments and utensils. They might not know what you mean at first, but the more people use it, the more vendors will know what it means and that they should get with the program. Buy your charcoal from sustainably managed forests Not all charcoal is created equal. Check for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo on the bag you buy to make sure it isn’t from an unsustainable source. And if you can use charcoal from the U.S. instead of from abroad, that’s even better! Cost: Surprisingly, FSC-certified and U.S.-sourced charcoal isn’t too much more expensive than the alternative. Have a great, green Fourth of July everyone! Images via Port of San Diego , Depositphotos , David Goehring , Didriks , Michael Mandiberg , and Julian Colton

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5 (mostly) free and easy ways to green your Fourth of July

UK fracking measures could make exploratory drilling "as easy as building a garden wall"

May 17, 2018 by  
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The United Kingdom ‘s government has come under fire from fracking opponents after releasing measures that could fast-track shale gas projects. Under these measures, explorers could drill test sites without first applying for planning permission, The Guardian reported . Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said, “Britain’s fracking experiment was on life support and now the government is trying its best to shock it back into life.” Shale gas, a natural gas extracted via hydraulic fracturing or fracking, is a controversial energy source. On one hand, it produces less carbon emissions than oil or coal ; on the other, it’s still a fossil fuel polluting the planet more than renewable  resources like solar or wind. According to Greg Clark, the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, gas has an important role in helping the country meet carbon budgets laid out in its Climate Change Act, as well as international obligations. In a written statement , he said, “Gas still makes up around a third of our current energy usage and every scenario proposed by the Committee on Climate Change setting out how the UK could meet its legally-binding 2050 emissions reduction target includes demand for natural gas” — but “recent decisions on shale exploration planning applications remain disappointingly slow.” Related: New study finds that fracking chemicals could harm the immune system In addition to allowing shale explorers to drill test sites, the measures would allow for the categorization of fracking sites as nationally significant infrastructure , which means approval would come from a national level instead of a local one. Clark also announced a £1.6 million shale support fund that would let planning authorities accelerate fracking applications in the upcoming two years. Fracking opponents were furious. Greenpeace said, “Exploratory drilling will be as easy as building a garden wall or conservatory.” According to MP Rebecca Long-Bailey, “Fracking should be banned, not promoted.” Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons (1)

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Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski wants her party to talk about climate change

February 20, 2018 by  
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Senator Lisa Murkowski (R- Alaska ), the senior senator from her state and the chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, wants her party to start talking about climate change. During an address to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Winter Policy Summit, Murkowski even went so far as to urge Republicans to actually use the words “ climate change .” “We have to not be afraid to use terms that some might say, that’s politically charged,” Murkowski said, according to Business Insider . “Why is it politically charged to say climate change? I see in my state the impact we have from warming temperatures.”   In a political party which consistently denies or minimizes the impact of climate change, even saying those words is a step in the right direction. Still, actions speak louder than words. While Senator Murkowski garnered praise for her resistance to repealing the Affordable Care Act, she nonetheless has cast votes against the interests of public and environmental health in this current Congress. For example, Murkowski voted to confirm climate change denier Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator. Under Pruitt’s tenure, Obama-era environmental protection rules limiting air and water pollution as well as those designed to combat climate change have been eliminated. Murkowski also voted to open the fragile Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling , a long-time goal for the senator and her party. Related: Scientists protest senator’s plan to open vital Arctic wildlife refuge to oil exploration Murkowski has framed her support for fossil fuels as a necessary economic evil. “It’s not enough to demand the end of use of hard carbons to keep it in the ground,” said Murkowski. “I recognize this is unrealistic and counterproductive. It would hurt all of us, particularly the poor… We can absolutely continue to use hydrocarbons and critical minerals and protect the environment at the same time.” This seems to ignore that the renewable energy industry employs more workers than the fossil fuel industry while the consumer cost of renewable energy continues to decline . Murkowski’s position also fails to recognize the urgency of stopping the usage of fossil fuels if we are to avoid the worst of catastrophic climate change. Nonetheless, Murkowski’s words may offer some hope for a future Republican Party that understands climate change and seeks to counteract it. “This conversation is difficult,” noted Murkowski. “We all know it’s difficult. We have to stop making it harder.” Via Business Insider Images via Arctic Circle (1) and Arctic Wolves

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