Author Archive | Jennie

5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Make Your Holiday Dinner Party More Sustainable

Our annual holiday dinner and white elephant party is quickly approaching! It is definitely my favorite part of the holiday season, next to watching Eben and the mister open their gifts. It is always a wonderful night full of family, laughter and fun. The white elephant gifts we picked this year are next level! We try ever year to make our holiday dinner party waste free – here are some of our tips so you can make your holiday party waste-free too!

1. Ditch the Disposables
While it can seem easier to serve the holiday meal or cocktails using disposable plates, cups, napkins and flatware, I highly recommend skipping it. Not only is it wasteful, it’s expensive and costs the enviornment a ton when you fill up the garbage can. Even if you don’t have china or a full set of dinnerware, use can use your daily dishes and dress them up with cloth napkins and a fabulously decorated table. It really only takes a few minutes at the end of the night to load the dishwasher and you save a ton of trash in the process.

2. Start from Scratch
When it comes to preparing a meal for your family – especially during the holiday season, it’s always amazing if you can start from scratch. Not only will the meals taste even more delicious, there will be minimal packaging waste since you are making everything from scratch. I suggest putting together a menu of 4-5 dishes and then making those items from scratch, this way you won’t be terrbily overwhelmed, but you will be left with a meal that your guests won’t forget!

3. One Dessert Only
I have a rule when it comes to holiday dinners or any dinner party, I only make one dessert. I have a couple of delicious recipes that are simple to make and always a huge hit. I pick one and only one to make. I have found that we have less food waste at the end of the night and we aren’t left with a ton of desserts once the guests go home.

4. Plan for Your Leftovers
I try to convince the mister to only make enough food for the holiday dinner – however, we are always left with at least a week of leftovers. Sometimes we get tired of having the holiday meal over and over again for days on end. Instead, we package up some of the leftovers to go home with our guests – or put a menu plan in place to use those leftovers in a different way. For example, every year the mister makes turkey matzo ball soup with the leftover turkey! Amazing! Nothing is worse than throwing food away, so have a plan in place to prevent that.

5. Go Reusable!
When it comes to gift wrap, I am a huge fan of reusable bags that can be used again and again. If gift bags aren’t your thing, then I suggest choosing a recycled wrapping paper that can be recycled at the end of the day. If you receive a gift that isn’t wrapped in a recyclable or reusable paper, you could keep the paper to use in those crafty projects you plan to do with the children after the holidays!

YOUR TURN: What is your favorite eco-friendly way to make your holiday dinner party more sustainable?

Why Environmental Education is Important for Children

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The world our children are growing up in is changing in so many ways. Future generations are going to be faced with rising sea levels, an increase in the number of natural disasters, climate change, the loss of agricultural land, and a reduction in biodiversity. Tropical diseases will extend their reach, countries and factions will compete over decreasing fresh water supplies and more and more people will become migrants and refugees as parts of their homelands become uninhabitable. Those are big challenges for society to face. Our children need to be ready – they need to be educated.

Global, national, personal
Although these issues might seem overwhelming, there are things that national governments can do to reduce the rate of climate change and deal effectively with its consequences. Our children are the generation that will need to take charge of this. They will need the know-how to develop effective policies. They’ll also be able to make changes at a personal level, from adopting more eco-friendly diets to driving electric cars, insulating their homes, generating their own eco-friendly energy, and recycling, repairing and repurposing the things they buy.

Introducing environmental issues
Helping children to engage with environmentalism starts with small things. Keeping pets – even small animals – helps them to understand the relationship between the individual and the environment. Going on nature trips helps them see how different factors in the environment interact. Craft projects can help them to become enthusiastic about recycling even when they’re too young to understand why it matters, and as they get older environmental education can become a part of their schooling, enriching their perspective on biology, chemistry, geography, engineering and more. Principles derived from environmentalism also give them the ability to see how all the subjects they learn fit together, building cross-disciplinary skills that give them an advantage in a changing economy.

Educating the public
Children attending good schools get to learn about environmental issues and what they can do to make the world better, but it’s still important to find ways of reaching out to people more widely, so part of what schools need to teach is how to do effective outreach work. Students from Stamford American international school in Singapore contributed to a video promoting Global Earth Hour in 2016, helping people around the world to understand why protecting the environment matters. It was a year in which over 400,000 people engaged with Earth Day educational events in the US alone, but there are billions of people who still need to be persuaded to change the way they live, so every effort matters.

Inheriting the Earth
Educating young people not only prepares them for what they will inherit – it helps to give them a voice in the present. That means adults who are careless about the environment have to deal here and now with the people who will live with their mistakes, which is in itself a way of bringing about change. Properly educated well-informed children can speak up for themselves and defend their future.

 

 

6 Ways to Create a Paperless Office

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: Thank you supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.
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A paperless office is often seen as something of a gimmick, but the less paper we use, the better it is for the environment – a point discussed in this article by GoCanvas.com. You can’t create a paperless office overnight, even if you are setting up a business from scratch. Clients may still need hard copies of documents and there could be regulatory requirements to store some documents on-site. However, thanks to technology, it is possible to do away with more paper than you might think.

#1: Request Online Billing
Most suppliers offer online billing these days. It saves them – and you – money. However, you will probably have to opt-in to this. Otherwise, paper bills will continue to arrive. You don’t need to print off a copy of your bill. The Inland Revenue Service will accept soft-copies of bills for accounts purposes. Download your bills and store them in a folder so you can access them for accounts purposes.

#2: Print to PDF
Why print to paper when you can print to PDF and share via email or the cloud? PDF documents are far easier to deal with thanks to online sharing tools. There are free PDF print tools available online, but if you need extra functionality, subscribe to Adobe or similar.

#3: File Sharing
Long gone are the days when reports had to be printed out and posted. These days, we can print to PDF and email it to multiple recipients. This is less time-consuming and you don’t need to run the gauntlet of expensive courier or postal services.

File sharing is now a thousand times easier thanks to Google Docs, Microsoft 360, and tools such as Dropbox. You can share vast reams of data, in all formats, on any device. File sharing makes it much easier for employees to work remotely, which saves everyone time and money.

#4: Make it Harder to Print
If your office has a printer on every desk, is it any wonder that people are happy to print off anything and everything? To discourage people from printing unnecessary files, make it harder for them. Remove old desktop printers and install a network printer out of the way, so if they do need to print a file, they must make an effort to retrieve it. You will soon notice a reduction in print costs.

#5: Use Apps for Notetaking
Notepads are useful tools for making memos to yourself, scribbling down ideas, or taking notes during a telephone conversation. You can do away with notebooks if you download an app like Evernote. Evernote works across multiple devices and will sync with a smartphone, so you can access notes and memos from anywhere.

#6: Electronic Signatures
It’s a misconception that electronic signatures are not legally binding. Thanks to the ESIGN Act of 2000, electronic signatures are now legally valid, so you can do away with the physical signing, even on legal documents such as contracts.

You won’t be able to discard all paper in the office, but paper usage can be mitigated if you recycle it as much as possible. Use discarded paper for making notes and print on both sides of the sheet if you absolutely must print out a document.

Simple Life Changes to Better the Environment!

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: Thank you supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.
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The idea of “green” living involves being less reliant on synthetic products, but from an economic standpoint, “keeping it green” can be pretty costly. However, when the environment is overrun with plastic containers and Styrofoam, all of the trees are removed, and the air has been polluted by synthetic aerosols, the cost of healthy living in this world might exceed any pocketbook pain resulting from pricey green products and services. Fortunately, today’s consumers might find they can save more money by adopting simple green habits that preserve and improve the environment.

Change through energy and water consumption
The first place consumers might see cost savings while improving the environment is in the home. While a person can go green and go big by converting their energy supplier from electric to solar, on a smaller scale, daily lifestyle changes reduce the cost of utility bills. For example, instead of running the air and heat on high throughout the day, keep the heat running a few degrees lower in the winter and the air running higher in the summer. Better yet, install fans that run in conjunction with the air to prevent it from cycling so frequently during the summer. Consumers can also make energy-saving upgrades to a home by installing cheap shutters or applying plastic window shades to keep the home cool in the summer. Instead of using incandescent bulbs, opt for compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). In addition, it is a good idea to exchange synthetic household cleaners with natural cleaners such as vinegar, lemon, and baking soda.

Wise husbandry of water resources can also improve the environment while saving money. Very minor changes, like line drying as opposed to using a dryer for clothes, can save energy, money and the environment. You should also consider washing clothes in cold water to offset heating costs, as most of the energy used in a cycle goes to heating water. Homeowners can also install water-saving fixtures and faucets to reduce the amount of water used when bathing and using the restroom.

Those who find they spend an inordinate amount of water while watering plants and the grass might consider planting environmentally-friendly plants that do not require a lot of water. Finally, pay attention to programs the city might have to reduce hot water usage during non-peak hours. A simple device can be attached to a water heater that regulates energy use throughout the day.

Change through consumer purchasing power
Developing green habits that include purchasing green groceries and other personal items can also improve the environment and your health. Simple habits like reducing the number of meals where meat is served can save on groceries while bettering the environment. Because most vegetables are cheap, people and families who reduce meat consumption not only save money but also develop healthy eating habits. It’s even better if you can purchase fresh fruit and vegetables from local farmer’s markets in the area. If meat is a must-have staple in the diet, consider purchasing organic or free-range meat and eggs. If you’re feeding a family, consider purchasing popular groceries in bulk to save on money and reduce waste. Consumers can also save money on water consumption and reduce waste by avoiding bottled water and using a water filter that only needs changing every couple of months.

When purchasing products for the home, consumers should adopt a “borrow instead of buy” policy to reduce consumption. For example, instead of purchasing brand-new books, consider borrowing from libraries or visiting second-hand bookstores. Consumers reduce waste by borrowing and exchanging magazines as opposed to spending on subscriptions that add up. Better yet, purchase online subscriptions to get rid of hard copies entirely.

Other ways to conserve and save
Use online bill payment and e-statement options. Online bill pay and e-statements reduce paper waste, and some financial institutions do not charge a monthly fee for e-statements.

Maintain appliances in the home. Whether it is servicing a heating system or cleaning the coils behind the refrigerator, these maintenance habits save energy and money in utility costs.

Reuse and recycle plastics. Reuse plastics by converting them to storage containers. Furthermore, many garbage companies offer recycling programs in addition to garbage collection.

Ultimately, the planet, the human being, and the pocketbook will all benefit from adopting green habits that encourage conservation. Simple changes that cost no more than the effort it takes to adopt them can save consumers thousands in the long run. More importantly, conservation is one of those now-or-later situations. Humans, as a collective, can either conserve the earth’s resources now or pay costs related to a polluted environment later.

Photo by Natalie Collins on Unsplash  

Eco-Friendly Ways to Successfully Cool Your Home

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: Thank you supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.
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While you might enjoy staying cool and comfortable in your home during the warmer months of the year, you may also be concerned about cooling your home in a way that’s sustainable and friendly for the environment. Explore a few tips for making your cooling experience eco-friendly and just as effective as traditional methods.

Invest in Quality Insulation and Sealing

Some of the best and most effective cooling methods don’t even involve your air conditioner. Take out some time to have a professional technician who specializes in air conditioning repairs inspect your current insulation to see if it’s doing its job and whether you need to consider investing in an upgrade. Different types of insulation and sealing include thermal envelopes and heat shields.

Boost Your Home’s Ventilation

Making sure air can easily flow through your home is also essential to keeping cool and overall energy efficiency. Specifically, you’ll want to keep your home’s windows, shades and doors closed up until it’s cool out, otherwise, you’ll only have hot air blowing through your home’s interior. Additionally, bear in mind that ceiling fans cool people, not rooms, which means you should only have your fans on when someone is in the room. On a related note, when your fans are on, they should spin counter-clockwise to draw hot air up into the ceiling.

Close Your Shades and Blinds

No matter how great the inside of your home looks while drenched in sunlight, it comes at the cost of heating up your interior, which means your air conditioner is working harder than necessary. To help combat feeling as if you’re living in a sauna, close up your blinds and shades against direct sunlight and the heat waves that comes with it. If you’re someone who thrives on sunshine, you can leave your blinds and shades partially closed to direct sunlight.

Cook at Night or in the Early Morning

Operating your oven or stove during the day cranks up the heat in your home, which makes your air conditioner crank up its efforts to keep your home at the same temperature. Rather than feel as if you’re making a sacrifice by not using the oven, you can instead start eating more raw vegetables and fruits, which your body is sure to thank you for. Opt for fruits like watermelon that contain a lot of water to help you keep cool.

Lower Your Overall Cooling Load

Ways to make the most of passive cooling include:

  • Add or upgrade the sealing around your home’s windows and doors.

  • Use low-E glazing to your windows.

  • Make sure you have proper and sufficient insulation in your attic.

  • Invest in a whole-house fan, which can decrease your use of your air conditioner as well as your overall energy consumption.

  • Consider installing a radiant barrier in your attic ducts.

These methods are sure to pay off in the long run.

Sleep With a Buckwheat Pillow

If you’re like most people, you probably like sleeping in a cool room. Blankets and sheets are comfortable while sleeping, but they can raise your body temperature. Rather than crank up the air conditioner, invest in a buckwheat pillow, which is naturally cooler than standard pillows and won’t keep you tossing and turning during the night, which impacts the overall quality of your sleep.

Turn Up Your Unit Temperature

You can still remain comfortable even if your unit is set at a higher temperature. For every degree you set your unit above 72 degrees, you can save anywhere from one to three percent energy. Try it and see if you notice a difference in your comfort levels.

With the right information, you can do your part to save the environment through more efficient cooling methods. Put these tips to good use and see what a difference they make and how good it feels to practice sustainability.