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Street Fair Sustainability

Directional Sign Showing the way to the Sustainability Zone

by, Liz Rutledge

The Park Hill Home Tour and Street Fair just celebrated 41 years of sharing community, entertainment, good food and access to beautiful homes in one of Denver’s Sustainable Neighborhoods.  This well-established event involves people in the neighborhood opening their homes (usually between four and eight homes) as well as a street fair with up to 100 vendors, food trucks, drinks, live entertainment, as well as presentations.  Consequently, the Park Hill Home Tour and Street Fair is the largest fundraiser for the Greater Park Hill Community – an organization that supports the neighborhood through a monthly local newspaper, a food pantry and farmers market as well as many other events and services. 

Mindfulness about Our Community in Action

This year, I partnered with Becky Migas of B. Green Events to manage the sustainability aspects of this event.  It was a beautiful, sunny day…not too hot, not too cold and not a cloud in the sky.  As we set up waste stations around the parkway, 85+ vendors set up their tables and tents.  Bicycle bells chimed and the gentle hum of generators for the food trucks purred.

I have been involved in this event for seven years in various capacities. For example, our home has been on the tour and I have written up descriptions of the homes along with another local writer for years.  But, last year, I was invited to help with the sustainability efforts of the event and help with vendor registrations.  For the first time ever, we added electronics recycling.  It was an experiment and we had great participation, but it cost people money (about 50 cents a pound) and the fundraising aspect wasn’t as successful as we had hoped.  But, this year we had PCs for People accepting electronic donations for little to no cost and the Cherry Creek Rotary Club helped hugely to accept all the PCs, laptops, cables, TVs and more.  Last year, there was also a Sustainability Zone.

In the Zone

This year, in the Sustainability Zone, we had several vendors educating fair-goers about bees with Vine Street Farms, reducing packaging and exploring refill options with Joy Fill, how to get around town without using a car with the Northeast Transportation, getting help tuning and optimizing your bicycle with Bikes Together, how to reduce our harm to the coral reefs with Coral Reef Restoration Panama, and how to live more sustainability and lower our carbon footprint with Sustainable Three and B. Green Events.  We had a “Minute to Bin It” challenge where players had to correctly put the right item in the right bin within 60 seconds, articles about our previous waste diversion projects, like East High School’s After Prom event last spring and guidance on how to reduce waste to the landfill – one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gasses.

10 Factors that made this a Sustainable Event

  1. ALL vendors were required to use certified compostable ware (cups, plates, cutlery, etc)
  2. Vendors had to provide proof that the serving ware was compostable.  And, if it wasn’t, they had to replace the items or leave (thankfully, everyone complied and no one had to leave)
  3. Waste stations were positioned all over the event to make it EASY for attendees to deal with their waste, minimizing contamination and littering
  4. Volunteers were trained to sort, collect, weigh and empty the waste bins into their appropriate wheelie bins (provided by neighbors)
  5. Neighbors provided Recycling, Compost and Landfill bins to minimize cost and eliminate the need for expensive and unsightly roll-away dumpsters
  6. Educational pieces were sprinkled throughout promotional materials (posters, programs and on the web site)
  7. A Sustainability Zone was established and managed providing fun and education for attendees
  8. Electronics recycling was available for little to no charge on the day and volunteers from the Rotary Club managed it so our team could focus on the Sustainability Zone and waste management.
  9. People were encouraged to walk or bike to the event and the homes on the tour (free bicycle parking available at all homes and the street fair)
  10. Denver Water had their truck there to provide water for patrons – either using their own water bottles or compostable cups
Puttin’ it in the correct bin!

Then, the Skies Opened up…

The event was well attended and the weather held out until the very end when we did our waste sorting and weighing (so we can report back to the Greater Park Hill Community and have baseline numbers for future years).  As we were sorting and cleaning up, the skies opened up in a deluge, which made it challenging, but we still think we got accurate numbers.  Once all the numbers were in, we were proud to report an 82% diversion rate!  The next morning all the recycling, compost and trash was collected by Denver Waste Management.  PBS was there the next day filming for a documentary that will air at the end of October/early November.  Neighbors who had donated their bins for the day received their bins back empty (for the most part) AND, best of all, there was NO waste remaining on the parkway (something that neighbors have complained about in the past).

It was a satisfying experiment and provides hope for future events.

It’s the choices we make in our daily lives that can make little shifts in this adventure called climate change.

Denver Water Truck dispensed 94 gallons of water to people in their own reusable bottles or compostable cups diverting ~750 plastic water bottles from the waste stream
Becky Migas of B. Green Events calculated our waste diversion results

Even more ways to Support Sustainability

As we learn and gradually change our habits, we can make a difference in other, more impactful, ways too:

  • Support the bigger players where there is more impact
  • Support businesses and organizations that are focusing on sustainability
  • Donate to non-profits like the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, The Nature Conservancy, NRDC, and other organizations doing the work.
  • Pressure businesses to move towards more environmentally-friendly ingredients and practices
  • Boycott businesses that are still doing things that damage our environment and our health
  • Sign petitions and lobby

Reading blog posts like this one can help keep you educated.  You can make tweaks in your habits.  But, to make a more effective impact, think bigger and put some of the pressure and responsibility on the companies and organizations that have the power to make big changes towards sustainability.

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¡Viva Vanilla!

By Liz Rutledge

On Day 3 of our Reefs to Rockies exploration of Mexico, we toured a vanilla plantation in Guiterrez Zamor (about a four hour drive north of Veracruz).  A lovely señora, Sylvia (with our guide Jorge’s translation), explained in loving detail how the vanilla plants are grown, harvested, beans processed and sold.

When we arrived in our 18 person van, we unloaded and walked up a steep walkway past beautiful murals and cypress trees stretching towards the heavy, grey sky.  The vanilla plantation was founded by “finca” (estate boss) Orlando Gaya who immigrated to Mexico from Italy in 1873.  Since then, the plantation has been operated with organic quality and purity as the highest priorities.

When we visited the orchid museum in Coatepec, we learned that vanilla is an orchid (which means “testicles” because of the shape of the bulbs).  The two vanilla orchid plants grown at the Orlando Gaya Vanilla Plantation are Planifolia and Pompona.  Planifolia’s flavor is a bit bitter, but the aroma is like chocolate.  Whereas Pompona smells like prunes and tastes sweet.  Vanilla likes to grow on two types of trees: Phichoco with its red seed pods (which we saw at the botanical gardens outside Coatepec) and the pequeena (a.k.a. Mexican bamboo).  They can also grow on coconut trees (or Erythrina lanceolata) Sylvia described the vanilla plants as the “princesses” and the trees they like to grow up as the “princes”. They have a very mindful, symbiotic relationship in which the female vanilla plant nurtures the
protective male trees.

These vanilla plants are very sensitive and will actually switch genders if they are exposed to too much stress.

As we walked further along the path, we saw the shade houses where these plants are painstakingly nurtured and tended.  These plants have become extremely high maintenance over time and must be hand pollinated one flower at a time.  The tenders use a thin bamboo stick to spread pollen from one bloom to the next and it takes about a month to hand pollinate 6,000 plants.  They say that these vanilla plants have become “lazy”.  The hope with some of the experimental plantings at this vanilla plantation is to make these precious plants more resilient.  Interns are working to assist in this process.

The vanilla orchid, once planted, takes 2 ½-3 years to produce flowers.  Then, once pollinated, the flowers take nine months to produce the vanilla pods/beans.   Only the healthiest are harvested and as the workers find fungus, worms or other disease, those plants are sterilized to prevent the spread of the disease.

The newer 19 to 25-year-old workers at the vanilla plantation get on-the-job-training as they are taught to pollinate, investigate, nurture, pick, inspect, separate, process and package the vanilla pods.  Separation happens along a long conveyor belt and the pods are divided into hierba “grass”, pezon “nipple”, quebrados “broken”, and entero “complete”.  The less perfect ones are used for ice cream and other vanilla products where appearance is not as important.  Every step along the way, they are making sure it is a good, disease, pest and chemical-free product.

Once picked and separated, the beans are dried on mesh racks, put in a sort of “sauna” for three days, then dried further over the course of six months in a large room, regularly inspected, wrapped in blankets and kept safe.  Once they are perfectly ready, they are divided yet again by level of quality and processed into bags of seeds, powder, pods, etc. and “vaulted” in stainless steel boxes behind cages, in a building with bars on the windows and electrified wires.  Finally, the vanilla is inspected in a laboratory for a final inspection.  At US$5/vanilla bean, we can now understand why they take such painstaking care to protect them.

After touring the processing facility, we were given a sample of a drink made with equal parts vanilla liquor and sweetened condensed milk (and ice) called beso totonaca (from the name of the Beso Totonaca Kingdom).

As you would expect, our tour ended in the gift shop where they sell many vanilla products (extract, beans, candles, ice cream and a liquor (Xanat is a brand they sell here)).

A good Mindfulness practice includes gratitude so it is good to acknowledge and thank the vanilla and its tenders for the patient process which it goes through to arrive in our chocolate chip cookies, cakes, coffees, ice cream and more.

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Green Up Your Garments

Lisa Curwen

Eco-Fashionista

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Curwen, a fashion industry veteran and founder of Lisa Curwen Studio.  She got her Master’s degree studying, researching, and publishing on the subject of sustainable practices for the fashion and textile industry. She is a former treasurer of Fashion Group International (FGI.org) and has taught an Eco Fashion course as an adjunct faculty member of the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design (RMCAD). She really knows her fabrics.  Read on!

Interview with Lisa Curwen:

S3:  What do you focus on mostly in your studio?

LISA:  Recently, I have been designing tablecloths and tea towels for a company called Amelie Michel.  The company is located in Connecticut, but will be having a pop-up sale in Denver at Wash Park Studio. Thursday Sept. 13th through Wednesday September 19th, 10am-5pm every day.

I have also designed home furnishings textiles, many of which are sold in showrooms in the Denver Design Center and at Calico Home. In addition, I re-upholster furniture as a hobby.

 

S3:  What do you see as the more sustainable aspects of the fashion industry?

LISA:   Sustainble practices must include the social (fair labor practices), the environmental (non-toxic techonology and organic farming), and the economic aspects (being able to make a profit). All three have to be present to have a viable model. Historically, it used to be much harder for companies to be profitable while implementing sustainable practices in both the labor market and environmentally friendly textile manufacturing; but it is more accepted now, and almost required, for companies to operate in a socially responsible manner.

 

S3:  What are some ways the fashion industry practices sustainability?

LISA:  Reduce the amount of packaging, reduce transportation (energy usage) in the supply chain by using smaller and more local supply chains, reduce water usage and pesticides for farming, make sure effluents from textile manufacturing don’t go into water supplies,  create prodcuts that use closed loop lifecycles.

 

S3:  What is the best way for fashion consumers to support eco-fashion?

LISA:  First and foremost, do research on companies.  Find the ones that are more socially responsible and support them. 

Consume less! Launder clothing in cold water and hang or dry flat to reduce energy usage. The biggest load on the environment comes at the consumer level in the care of clothing.  Buy organic cotton products.  Avoid textiles that use a lot of chemicals in their manufacturing such as rayon and leather products, however Tencel (trademark symbol) is an environmentally friendly brand of rayon. Resell, recycle, or repurpose your garments. Buy wool, alpaca or PLA (a naturally derived polyester).

 

S3:  What other choices can fashion consumers make to live more sustainably?

LISA:  Buy fewer new clothes and ones that have longevity.  Frequent thrift stores and consignment stores.

Beware of “green washing”! 

Research companies for authentic certifications – Listen to/watch the news and watch for business practices.

Put pressure on companies to be more ecologically/sustainability focused.

Support initiatives that are more sustainability focused.

 

S3:  Do you think “slow fashion” hurts fashion trends?

LISA:   Slow fashion is just a different way to approach fashion.  For instance, it might mean buying more classic styling that can be worn for a longer time.  One could always accessorize with updated fashion items, but keep the bulk of their wardrobe changing less frequently.

 

S3:  What do you see as the number one choice people can make towards living more sustainably?

LISA:

#1:  Reduce energy usage (Consume less, drive less, recycle, reduce at home, change diet, invest in LED light bulbs, change climate controls to be more eco-friendly, turn off lights, etc.)

#2:  Compost (Divert from the landfill)

#3:  Buy less (See above tips)

 

S3:  Which companies would you suggest people who are passionate about slowing the effects of climate change invest in?

LISA:  Socially conscious companies.  Invest from the heart.  Vote with your wallet.

Having said all that, it is super challenging to be a purist.  Taking steps to be more green with your garments is a start.

Here are some tips to “green up” your garments:

  • Go to or host clothing swaps (have a party with friends and swap outfits)
  • Fix it when it’s broken (sew back on buttons, darn socks, repair zippers, tears, etc.)
  • Give clothing to charities when you’ve out grown them. Even clothes that can no longer be worn are useful for certain charities like The Little Red School House which turns fabrics into rags for shops and cleaning companies.  (Second hand clothing is sent to other countries like Kenya)

 

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CHALLENGE DAY 17

Thrift Store Shopping

Sustainable Fashion – Try out a Thrift Store!

Today’s challenge is to explore thrift shopping if you don’t already.  Check out a local thrift store and see what great selection they have for all sorts of items.

Some are better than others, so I would recommend doing your research.

Maybe start here:  Thrift Store Google Search

If you already thrift shop, good for you!  You can do one of the Optional Challenges today!!

(And, as always, if you can’t do the challenge of the day, you can do one of the Optional Challenges)

 

One of the greenest things you can do is reuse.  The clothing industry is incredibly wasteful as people have become more and more trained to essentially throw away their clothes.  (Where previous generations would fix, mend, re-purpose, or hand-down clothing).  Last spring I had the pleasure of interviewing a fashion designer who gave me all sorts of great tips on more green clothing shopping.  (That will be in an upcoming blog post).  But, the best piece of advice she gave me was to thrift shop for clothes.  After you shop and ask around, you will find your favorite stores.  Junior League, Salvation Army, Goodwill, ARC, and many more have lots of options in a variety of scales.  Consignment shops are another option.  Often, you can find high fashion brands – sometimes with the tags still on!

 

Check out Patrice J. Williams’ blog and book!

Looking Fly on a Dime

Here are some other thrift store shopping resources to help you get started (and save money!):

Here’s a fun video:

31 Best Thrift Tips

More helpful tips!:

29 Tips to Rock Thrift Store Shopping

 

http://sixdollarfamily.com/8-thrift-store-shopping-tips-to-save-you-money

 

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CHALLENGE DAY 14

Create a Car Kit!

Today’s challenge is to set up a car kit to make zero waste shopping and such easier.

It could be as simple as:

a cardboard box,

a reusable coffee mug,

reusable drink bottle,

reusable straws and cutlery,

cloth napkins,

A to-go/take-away kit

a few Mason jars,

mesh bags for shopping

for produce and such,

and 5-10 reusable shopping bags.

We found this great suggestion on Instagram, but you can do any format that works for you:

View this post on Instagram

CAR KIT: being prepared is probably my biggest trick to maintaining as zero waste as possible. while I keep my reusable bags by the front door so I can remember them before shopping trips, I also have a mini kit in my car in case of emergency. reusable canvas tote, burlap sack, three produce bags, two mini cloth bags, one large and one small jar, a tiny jar, reusable coffee cup, measuring cup, spork, bottle opener, cloth napkin, little cardboard roll with yarn, twine and rubber bands. How do you prepare for ZW emergencies on the go? . . KIT DE COCHE: estar preparado es probablemente mi mayor truco para mantener cero desechos como sea posible. mientras guardo mis bolsas reutilizables por la puerta de entrada para que recuerda antes de ir de compras, también tengo un mini kit en mi automóvil en caso de emergencia. bolsa de lona reutilizable, saco de arpillera, tres bolsas de tela, dos bolsas de tela mini, un frasco grande y otro pequeño, un frasco chiquitito, taza de café reutilizable, taza medidora, spork, abrebotellas, servilleta de tela, rollo de cartón con hilo y bandas de goma. ¿Cómo te preparas para las emergencias de acero basura? . #goinggreen #ecofriendly #ditchplastic #incaseofemergency #zerowastehome #reusables #zerowaste #nontoxicliving #sustainableliving #lifewithoutplastic #goingzerowaste #vidasimple #basuracero #residuocero #ecologico #cerodesperdicio #fueraquimicos #ceroresiduo #natural #encasodeemergencia #sindesperdicio #sostenible #productosnaturales #vidanatural #cerobasura

A post shared by Heidi Violet (@zerowastechica) on

…from ZeroWasteChica (Instagram)

This is a really great break-down:

https://www.tinyyellowbungalow.com/zero-waste-on-the-go-kit/

(see this blog featured image)

 

And, here is a great solution for your purse, back pack or carrier bag:

Photo: BeZero.org

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CHALLENGE DAY 10

Tare It Up!

Packaging…one of the most tedious items to eliminate from our daily lives.  But there’s hope as, more and more, you can bring in your own containers to select stores and get what you’re paying for without having to dispose of/recycle the packaging.  Ironically, my parents generation did this anyway with milk and soda bottles.  They were taught to throw things away.  Now, we can teach ourselves, and the younger generation, to reuse…and save money in the process.

When you buy in bulk, you can not only eliminate packaging, but help your food shopping budget dramatically.  Think 1/3 of the cost, for the same product.

Today’s challenge is to try TARE* shopping.

  1. Find a clean, dry, wide-mouthed container in your home.  (I like to use Mason jars, but Tupperware or other upcycled containers work well too).
  2. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh the empty container (and lid).  Write that weight (pounds and ounces or grams) on the container on a piece of tape with permanent marker.  (If you don’t have a kitchen scale, the store can weigh the empty container for you).
  3. Go to a store that sells in bulk (Natural Grocers, Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, (some) King Soopers (Kroger family), etc….
  4. While at the store, fill your container with the bulk product you are purchasing.
  5. Write down the PLU code – on the piece of tape, a piece of paper (or put it in your phone).
  6. Check out.  Sometimes the cashier doesn’t know how to deal with tare, so here’s where you need to practice some mindful breathing and smile while they (may have to) get a manager to help.

The easiest to try this with is probably coffee as more stores have coffee in bulk.  This may be a very new thing for you to do, so don’t make it harder on yourself than necessary.  Items that frequently come in bulk are seeds, rices, grains, cereals, oats, nuts, etc.  But you can also get nut butters, candy, dried fruit, and much more.

I see this as a process.  People (especially retail stores) are not used to thinking in zero waste terms.  So, you can consider yourself part of the package-free revolution!

If this challenge doesn’t work for you today, do one of the Optional Activities and try it another time when it works with your schedule.

See this side blog about Zero Market for inspiration

*Tare weight /ˈtɛər/, sometimes called unladen weight, is the weight of an empty vehicle or container. By subtracting it from the gross weight (laden weight), the weight of the goods carried (the net weight) may be determined. (Wikipedia)

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Zero Market

I live in Denver, Colorado and there is a fantastic new store called “Zero Market” here.  It’s located in a re-purposed airport building near where I live.  They have lotions, laundry soap, shampoo, shaving cream, toothpaste, tea, essential oils, cleaners, and so much more that people can buy using their own containers.

You can also buy reusable containers here.  They have stainless steel containers and reusable cutlery for waste-free lunches.  For your plastic-bag-free shopping, they have mesh and cotton produce bags.  They have reusable straws, coffee cups, drink bottles, shopping bags, bamboo toothbrushes and much more.

If you’ve taken on the #SustainableThree #WasteNotWantNot2018 DAY 10 challenge of trying buying in bulk using TARE weighted containers, you know it’s a learning process.  Sometimes the learning process is occurring for the cashier at the supermarket who is not used to dealing with TARE/bulk weighing process and ringing up of net weight products. 

Sometimes the learning is for us who have grown up throwing away or recycling packaging for items like cereal, flour, rice, coffee, tea, laundry detergent, shampoo, toothpaste and such.  Knowing that everything goes somewhere and all that packaging either ends up in a landfill or using more fossil fuel energy to be recycled, it can feel really good to shop in bulk.

Zero Market is a store where they’ve fully embraced shopping in bulk and are passionate about reducing packaging.  It’s truly a treat to shop here.

 

Owned by Lyndsey and Jesse Manderson, this store is a pleasure to explore.  Their passion for the planet radiates from the shelves…and their smiling faces.

An ideal field trip might be to put several Mason jars (Mason jars have a standard weight, so no need to pre-weigh and label before going to the store) into a reusable bag in a backpack or bicycle basket and go Zero Market shopping.  On a beautiful day, it would mean fresh air, sunshine, exercise and a conscience cleansing shopping trip.  You could have a coffee at the nearby Logan House cafe while there.  Then, cycle home and put away your items.

I’ve included some photos for inspiration.

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CHALLENGE DAY 9

Today’s challenge is super easy!

“Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting though the wind
Wanting to start again?”

 (from Katy Perry’s “Firework”)

The ultimate tragedy of this song lyric is that plastic never (okay, basically never*) biodegrades.

Here’s the challenge:

  1. Start a system for plastic bag recycling
  2. Start using reusable shopping bags if you don’t already

Plastic Bag Recycling:

Plastic bag recycling goes WAY beyond just your supermarket shopping bags.  Part 1 of today’s challenge is to start a system in your home for collecting your plastic bags (grocery bags, resealing bags (like Ziploc®), cereal liners, plastic wrap around products (like canned foods and water bottles bought in bulk, frozen food bags, etc.).  In our home, we have a large plastic bag hanging from a hook in the pantry (which I have usually grabbed from the trash can in  our yoga studio that has their gym towels laundered by a service that delivers the clean towels in a plastic bag).  As I have plastic bags to recycle, I add them to that larger bag.  When it is full, I take the load (when I’m going there anyway) to @Target for recycling.  Here’s a great article on Target’s recycling program.

Some supermarkets have drop off sites for recycling (like @WholeFoods).  I was disappointed to hear that our local supermarkets would not give a straight answer as to where the bags go for recycling and heard from a former store employee that the bags are just thrown in the dumpster.  SO, I am vouching for @Target in particular because they have a verified recycling program.

Part 2 of today’s challenge is to start using reusable shopping bags if you don’t already.  Most stores sell them near the check-out…it’s free advertising for them, so it’s a win-win.  You can also buy them super inexpensively on-line:

Budget Promotional Tote Bags / Cheap Tote Bags – NTB10

Have a business?  You can get reusable bags with your logo on them super cheap!:

http://www.tsireusablebags.com/

https://www.discountmugs.com/category/reusable-grocery-bags/

But, you can also find super stylish ones like these at more boutique stores and online:

ChicoBag

Baggu

EcoBags

Put several in your car

Attach a couple to your bicycle

Carry one or two in your purse or backpack

Sometimes you’re stuck without enough bags for the amount of your purchases.  In that case, ask for paper.  It’s compostable, recyclable and is reusable as a shopping bag, it makes great book covers, lining for pet cages and more.

 

*Plastic takes up to 1000 years to decompose.

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To Dishwasher or Not?

A little boy unloading a dishwasher

In 2000, I did something not most people do. I read my dishwasher’s user manual…cover to cover. I wouldn’t have thought that doing that would have such an impact on my life, but it did. I learned how to properly load a dishwasher and learned it so well, I can load any dishwasher now and pack it to the gills and the dishes (pretty much, mostly) always come clean. It saves time, water, energy and detergent to have this important skill.

The most important thing to know is that you do not need to clean your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. If you’re trying to be more green, this is simply wasteful. Most dishwashers today are energy efficient and designed to save water. They are also very efficient at cleaning dishes – if you know how to load the machine.

Having said all that, I learned it is important to get STARCH and EGG off dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. So, scraping rice, bread crumbs, pasta and such off before putting dishes in the machine helps. Also, rinsing egg yolk off with cold water is important so it doesn’t get cooked on by the machine. Just a quick rinse gets most pasta, egg and tomato sauces off to the point that the energy and water efficient machine can take it from there.

Then, if dishes are loaded so the water can get to them, they come clean. So, the art is in the loading. Dishwasher user manuals come with a diagram, but the gist is…load glasses, bowls, etc. face down towards the sprayers. More dirty dishes should be near the middle of the spray jet fan. Glasses and dishwasher-safe plastics should be on the top rack and plates, cutting boards, pots and pans should be on the bottom.

As for detergent, Trader Joe’s dishwasher tabs get a good rating on EWG.org’s web site and do a good job. Seventh Generation’s powdered dishwasher detergent works well. You don’t need super strong detergents to get the dishes clean.

Here are more suggestions on detergents from EWG’s web site:

http://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2012/12/greener-holiday-dishwashing-ewg

Two ways to save extra energy are to run the “eco/light” cycle and skip the heated dry.

If you want to get into the nitty-gritty details about how much water and energy is used, I’d recommend reading this article:

http://www.treehugger.com/kitchen-design/built-in-dishwashers-vs-hand-washing-which-is-greener.html

Except that she’s using Cascade and Rinse-Aid products, I find this video helpful:

http://lifehacker.com/the-proper-way-to-load-your-dishwasher-for-the-cleanest-1284209586

The tip about running the water to hot and the disposer (to clear the drain) before starting the dishwasher is a great tip which I do because it helps the dishwasher do a better job. I disagree with her about sharp knives. I put them in the top rack, sharp side down and they come clean and don’t get damaged.

Some say to hand wash dishes to improve immunity. It can also be meditative to wash dishes by hand. Personally, I do a bit of a hybrid as there are always dishes that need to be washed by hand…like delicate glasses and some pans that simply do not fit once the dishwasher is loaded.

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Easy D.I.Y. Sustainable Gift Ideas

You can make gifts with very little expense and effort and the thought that goes into them is more sane as well as more conscious:

Here are some ideas:

Make “Rice Pillows” or “Rice Socks”:

Do you have mis-matched socks in your home?  This is a perfect use for them!

If you can sew or have old (clean) socks, these are super easy to make.

Take a clean sock and fill it 3/4 of the way full with rice…you can add several drops of your favorite essential oil to make it smell nice.

Tie a tight knot at the open end

Make a nice card with directions:

(something like…)

“This rice pillow will soothe aches and pains, be a comfort for an upset tummy, keep your feet warm on cold nights, ease a headache, help you relax and more!”

You can decorate it with permanent marker or buttons.

Here are some more detailed directions on how to sew your own:

http://eat-drink-love.com/2012/11/d-i-y-rice-sack-heating-pads/

You can also make hot chocolate or cookie mix in canning jars.  You can wash, sanitize and re-use spaghetti sauce or jam jars, nut butter jars and more.

Pinterest has a plethora of ideas:

https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=mason+jar+gifts&rs=ac&len=2&term_meta%5B%5D=gifts%7Cautocomplete%7C0

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