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5 Tips for Throwing Green Summer Parties

green-bbq

Summer is almost here which means BBQ’s, baby showers, and engagement parties are right around the corner. Since these events are often filled with flowers, decorations, catered food, and disposable cutlery and plates, their carbon footprint is often bigger than you’d expect. Don’t worry, there are tips you can take to make your summer party more eco-friendly. Read on for my five great tips for greening your summer parties.

#1. Serve Locally Grown Food
Unless you know where the restaurant or grocery store catering your event sources its food, chances are it’s traveled a long distance to make it to your doorstep, using manpower, gasoline, and a lot of packaging. And while a catered meal is impressive and beautiful, most hosts find themselves throwing away 30-50% of the food after the party is over. These two factors amount to a lot of unnecessary waste. Instead of ordering an elaborate meal that won’t get eaten, why not shop for produce, cheese, and pastries at your local organic farmer’s market? For starters, you could grill seasonal veggies, make fruit-infused water with local citrus and cucumbers, or even pick up a few growlers of a local micro-brew. Some farms even sell locally raised meats! You’ll be supporting local farms and serving seasonal, organic food so it’s guaranteed to be a healthy, delicious spread.

#2. Go Compostable
If you’ve ever hosted a party you know that the used plates, napkins, utensils, and platters from your event make trash day quite the spectacle. Instead of adding to the enormous amount of garbage already filling our landfills and oceans, spend an extra few bucks on compostables. Specialty stores, and an increasing number of mainstream supermarkets, carry everything from compostable cups and forks to straws. And you don’t necessarily have to compromise design; sites like SustyParty.com sell biodegradable party supplies that are fun and colorful. If you’re planning a big event, many eco-product sites offer discounts for bulk orders of compostable party supplies.

#3. Let Nature Do the Decorating
Instead of hosting your party inside where you’ll need to decorate (and air condition your guests!), take it out back or to a local park and let nature’s beauty do the work! You’ll be saving money, trips to the store, and the waste created by cheap decorations that only offer a single use, and won’t be filling the house with cut flowers that will only last a week.

#4. Email Invitations
Paper invitations and RSVP cards are becoming a thing of the past. With the speed and convenience of electronic invites, there’s no reason not to go green! Sites like Evite offer dozens of designs for all kinds of holidays and events, and personalizing is encouraged. Creating and emailing invitations or sending guests a message about updates takes mere minutes. Plus, your guest list and RSVP’s will all be in one handy place!

#5. Green the Gifts
If the event you’re hosting is for you or you have a say in the gifts, offer guests the option to give money or gift certificates. Even items purchased from a registry can end up being duplicates, or the recipient may change her mind if the list was made before she had enough information. If the guest of honor is also eco-conscious, she may accept a hand-me-down like used baby clothes or a beloved heirloom, with as much excitement as a store-bought gift.

YOUR TURN: How do you minimize waste at your gatherings? Do you have tips we didn’t think of? Let us know—and get creative!

Planning To Move? Donate Your Stuff!

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At some point in life, all of use will move at least once. I mean we have to move out of our parents’ house, right? When you do move, deciding what to do with all of your stuff can be a hassle. What do you take? What do you get rid of? We sure do not want to take everything we own with us, because we will just be accumulating more for our new place. Donating your things is a great way to get rid of the things you do not need. You may not need them, but someone else may. But what should you donate? Should you just throw the junk away? That depends greatly on what it is.

You may be moving just across the street, or you may be moving all the way across the country. If you are moving across the country, you do not want to haul more stuff with you than you really need to. You should try to donate as much as possible before asking for help from places like Allied Van Lines. Most people hope to get rid of enough stuff so that they only have to rent one van to move them. Sometimes this happens and sometimes it does not.

It is always good to donate kid’s toys. Toys are something that a lot of parents cannot afford for their kids but really want their kids to have. When you donate toys, you are not only helping out the parent, but you are making a child very happy. Toys, games, bikes, and even game stations are great to donate if you no longer need them. If a parent can pick these things up for free or cheap around the holidays, it will really help them out financially. It will also allow their child to have a wonderful holiday and allow the parent to lose some stress while they watch their child enjoy the “new-to-them” toy. You can also donate household goods and clothes. Anything you are not using can be donated. You will help out lots of people by donating things and it will make you feel great about yourself.

There are many different ways you can donate. You can donate to charities, you can donate to local thrift shops, you can donate to a family that has suffered a tragedy, such as a house fire, or you can donate to local centers in your area that help out families. You can donate to churches! Churches are always helping out families when they are going through tough times. Talk with people in your community and find out where you can lend a hand.

You do not have to wait until you are moving to donate stuff. People need stuff daily. You can donate more than just toys, clothes, and things like that. Donate things that you know people will use every day. Things like toilet paper, paper towels, food, toiletries, used furniture, and all things like this. These types of things will help people out so much. We do not think about these types of items when we think about donations, but these are the products that people need the most. You can even donate your time. Maybe help is needed at a local food pantry, or a local church is offering free daycare for needy families. Lend a hand. Donate an hour or two of your time to help out.

Whether you are moving or not, if you have some extra stuff laying around your house that you no longer need, donate it. Help out a family in need. If you have some extra money this week and you can buy a few toiletries or a few cans of food, do it. It does not cost anything to donate what you have. You never know when a family may really need it. Helping out other families will make you feel great too. You may be the family on the receiving end one day so try to help out whenever you can!

Is It Time To Revamp Your HVAC System?

 

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: Thank you for supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.
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When you own a home, you have to provide your family with a place to live their greatest moments. The home must be warm and cozy and have an eco-friendly design with high-performance features. The good news is that making upgrades to your home can offer potential savings and create energy-efficient options.

For example, a homeowner can choose between adding insulation to their house or move towards an updated HVAC system. If you’re looking for a way to feel better about your home and conserve energy, then you’ve come to the right place.

Upgrade Your HVAC System To Help Reduce Energy Cost

Deciding to upgrade your heating and cooling system can help you reduce cost and make the home energy efficient. Here are a few options:

Ice-powered Air Conditioning Unit

This unit works by making sure that the water is frozen in a tank overnight. By using electrical energy during the night versus the daytime, a homeowner can have enough cooling during the day and reduce costs for peak hours.

Thermal Air Conditioning Units

These units are different and new to technology, but should take off in the next few years. The systems are supplemented with natural gas and solar energy. They provide more cooling capabilities than the traditional AC units and eliminate electricity costs.

 Heat Pumps

Dual heat pumps provide a great option for comfort. They are a combination of a gas furnace and an electric heat pump. When it gets cold outside, the gas heater will take over until the temperature rises above 35 degrees. Even though the cost is very expensive, purchasing the system itself can last for several years.

Floor Heating

This type of heating will give you the opportunity to experience warmth from the ground up. It will offer you radiant heat versus hot air heating throughout your home. However, it is very important to have the proper amount of insulation in your home so that you can increase energy efficiency by 30%.

Ductless

The majority of homes will have a hidden maze of ductwork underneath. If a particular ductless system is used to deliver conditioned air, then it will typically increase energy efficiency by 40% versus central heating.

However, you may have come across a few homes that are considered “smart homes.” These homes make it easy to move into and can be very convenient. They offer already automated appliances with technological advancements.

For example, you can leave your home and never have to worry about turning off your heating or cooling system. If you forget, then you can make a quick adjustment with your mobile device through an app.

A few other high-tech features would include scroll compressors, variable speed motors, smart control sensors, and dual heat exchangers. However, be advised that it doesn’t matter what system you use if your insulation system is faulty.

Sometimes insulation upgrades are a necessity. It can have a significant impact on your energy cost. By replacing your insulation or increasing it in your home, you will be able to reduce your energy bills. Remember, older homes sometimes lack the proper insulation, interfering with efficiency and savings.

Every type of insulation is different.

Spray foam – You can choose a spray foam type of insulation. The foam will seal gaps in leaks by hardening into a solid.

Fiberglass batts – If you’re looking for an inexpensive option, then you can choose fiberglass batts. They are a cheap type of insulation that can be stapled. When it is installed correctly, it can offer a quick fix.

Reflective barriers -Reflective barriers are usually found in the attic. They are used to reduce heat and cold and offer barriers that reflect the sun rays. This option is only available for homes that are generally in the sun a lot. You could choose this option, but make sure to speak to a representative for more guidance.

The cost of installation can vary depending on the size of your home and the design. An average attic cost can range from $400 to $1800. However, this small investment is a great price to pay if you are concerned about saving energy and reducing costs on your home.

You can also check with your state tax department to see if there are any rebates available for insulation upgrades. However, federal tax credits expired a few years ago. You may still be able to check with your local districts to determine if there are any incentives.

Eco-Friendly Tips to Help You Go Green in the Kitchen

In today’s society, people are becoming more aware of the impact their actions have. Whether it’s thinking more about what they’re putting in their body or how their actions are affecting the environment, more and more people are making better choices. In fact, 67% of millennials say they enjoy ordering healthy food when they’re out to eat. But while it’s easy enough to make healthy food choices, people also should be making good choices at home. And with these few simple tips, homeowners can be more eco-friendly in their kitchens.

One of the easiest ways to be more eco-friendly in the kitchen is to start exploring reusable packaging options. This is easy enough to do when you go grocery shopping if you bring your own shopping bags and buy unwrapped food products. And if you do have to buy packaged items, consider choosing environmentally-friendly packaging. Fortunately, more and more companies are implementing eco-friendly packaging, especially seeing as how the 2016 West Rock Consumer Insights Study found that 45% of consumers have chosen a product due to its eco-friendly packaging.

You can take using eco-friendly packaging even further and find ways to reuse items already around the kitchen as well. For example, you can reuse glass containers like wine bottles. And with 949 million gallons of wine being consumed in the U.S. in 2016 alone, chances are you’ve got a few of them laying around. So instead of getting rid of them, get creative and use them as vases, decoration, or to even store other food or drink items. Reusing whenever you can is a great way to be more eco-friendly in the kitchen.

A big contributor to non eco-friendly kitchen practices is using harmful cleaning supplies. Harsh chemical cleaners can not only be bad for the environment, but bad for your health as well. With that in mind, it’s important to consider alternative cleaning supplies that won’t harm you or the environment. Products like baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and chemical-free soaps are great to use to clean the kitchen in a safe and harm-free manner.

And last but not least, one of the best ways to be more eco-friendly in the kitchen is to compost! Even if you try to keep your food waste to a minimum, there’s always going to be something that can’t be eaten. Whether it’s eggshells, coffee grounds, or vegetable scraps, it can still be harmful to the environment to throw these items away. But if you choose to compost them, you’ll be helping the environment — and your garden, if you have one. There are tons of different ways to compost, so you can easily find one that fits well with your lifestyle.

While going completely green around your home may seem impossible, it’s important to start taking baby steps. The kitchen is a great place to start because there are several ways to be more environmentally friendly with food and kitchen supplies. So if you’re looking for ways to help the environment, keep these eco-friendly tips in mind.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Relocate With These Eco-Friendly Moving Tips

Approximately 35.1 million Americans move every year. Though many consider it far too stressful of a process to even think about keeping it sustainable, it’s actually surprisingly easy to incorporate a few eco-friendly practices into your moving process to minimize waste and prioritize sustainability. Here are just a few ways to help you reduce, reuse, and recycle while you relocate.

Use the containers you already have.

Though you’re bound to need a few cardboard boxes to pack your belongings, try to make the most of the containers you already have in your home. So before you seek out additional containers, fully pack all of the suitcases, duffel bags, dresser drawers, reusable shopping bags, and other containers around your home. Today the world makes and consumes about 600 billion pounds of plastic yearly, and many homeowners have additional plastic storage containers to make transporting your belongings simple and safe.

Of course, to get the most from this tip, you’ll need to think about how you pack in addition to what you pack.

“If you have an item that can fit other things inside of it, fill it up before packing it. For example, line your small bathroom trash bin with a fresh garbage bag and use it to store items from under your sink. The more you can fit in containers you already have, the more you can avoid having to rely on purchased moving boxes,” writes Laura Mueller on Moving.

Get creative with packing materials.

The last packing material you want to use during your move is those styrofoam packing peanuts. Little do most homeowners know, they’re virtually never necessary. What you can do is use your clothing, linens, and towels to cushion some of your more fragile items, like your television or dishware. As long as you pack a few layers of clothing in between the container and the items, you can prevent damage to your belongings and to the environment.

Before you throw anything away, donate everything you can.

Downsizing is an inevitable part of the moving process. Ideally, you’ll be able to start the process of going through all your belongings several weeks in advanced so that you don’t have to rush. Either way, don’t throw anything away that you think someone else could still get some use out of. Whether you drop it off at a local donation center, recycle it, or give it to a family member or friend, there’s no reason it should end up in the trash if it doesn’t have to be.

In addition to your personal belongings, this also applies to any materials you may have leftover after performing any home repairs prior to your move, for example, painting. Studies have shown that levels of several organics average two to five times higher indoors than outdoors, and when inhaled they can contribute to several health problems. With that in mind, don’t just let your extra paint end up in a landfill contributing toxins to the environment. Give it to someone who’s in the middle of their own home improvement project. If you have enough to give away and you have the time, a yard sale is a great way to downsize while bringing in some extra cash.

Consider hiring a ‘green’ moving company.

Finally, there are countless moving companies that have been making an effort to incorporate sustainable practices into their business plans. According to a 2011 report, 86% of consumers will pay more for a better experience, and though these services may sometimes cost a bit more, it’s well worth it to limit the impact you’re having on the environment.

“A green moving company will use trucks that run on biodiesel fuel instead of traditional gas and can also help set you up with reusable moving boxes so that you don’t have to worry about going the cardboard box route. Search reputable movers…and choose a mover that has a proven dedication to keeping the Earth clean,” writes Mueller.

What other ways have you kept the Earth in mind during your move? Tell us in the comments!