DIY gifts, save $ & the planet! (or at least decrease environmental impact)

Repurposing otherwise obsolete items is a great way to recycle and decrease the environmental impact of waste. Sometimes it’s call upcycling. Whatever you call it- let’s do it! Upcycle craft ideas are all over the web and in light of the Holiday Season, I know many are still thinking…”What should I get for Aunt…” well, here you go. How about a cool caddy to keep wires and small electronics in place while charging? Have a baker in the family who always needs hot pads? Or maybe someone that would appreciate a book of tasty recipes? Check out

@Sierra_Magazine Who Asks: Want to save some green? Make these 10 DIY gifts to save and be green.

Happy Holidays, Y’all, take good care of yourselves and our planet!


Trying To Go Plastic-Free? I am!

For the last few years, I have been trying to go as plastic-free as possible. Plastic production, use, and breakdown produces an immense amount of toxins.  Some of these toxins are even carcinogens.  I find that terrifying.  In my family, we are committed to limiting our plastics and fantasize about going plastic-free someday.

In the book, Plastics: A Love Story, by Susan Frenkel, it states that the US  has “produced nearly as much plastic in the last ten years as we have in all previous decades put together”.  The more plastic in our lives, means there are more and more toxins.

If you would also like to try to live plastic-free, check out this blog.  On Mondays, the authors are posting suggestions.


ReBuilding Exchange Antique and Flea Market Sunday

Up in my neighborhood in Bucktown on the Northside of Chicago, this great organization, ReBuilding Exchange, has an antique and flea market on Sunday.  They salvage housing materials from various buildings and sell them at pretty low prices.  I got my husband a drafting table for $20 at the last flea market.  They also periodically have DIY classes on how to do home renovations.  Check out the information on their Facebook page:

Green Festival This Weekend!

Green Festival ChicagoCelebrate Green Festival’s 10th Anniversary at the Chicago Green Festival, May 14th-15th at McCormick Place Lakeside!

Green Festival inspires and promotes the connection between change and sustainable progress for people, communities and businesses. Green Festival’s interactive marketplace and learning environment provides solutions to help make healthier lives-socially, economically and environmentally.

Fun for the whole family! Festivities include presentations by more than 125 renowned authors, leaders and visionaries, informative how-to workshops, cutting-edge films, enriching kid’s activities, organic beer and wine, delicious organic vegan and vegetarian cuisine, diverse live music and an amazing marketplace of more than 300 green local and national businesses and organizations.

Chicago Green Festival features national and internationally renowned authors, leaders, visionaries and activists. Keynote speakers include Amy Goodman, John Perkins, Dr. Sharif Abdullah, Colin Beavan (No-impact Man), The Fabulous Beekman Boys, Dr. Devra Davis and Hunter Lovins.

Preview local, regional and national green businesses in the 2011 Exhibitor Directory.

A Big Win For Italy – Plastic Bags Banned

Talk about an excellent new year’s resolution!!  Italy banned single use plastic shopping bags at the start of the year.  Imagine if the entire US made that commitment.  Oregon is considering the same ban and many towns and cities in California have instilled the ban, including parts of LA.  Personally, I can’t remember the last time I took a plastic bag.  I keep a stash of cloth bags in the car and for my daily walks have those great little Chico bags that clip to anything with a little carabiner.  When was the last time you took a plastic bag?

America Recycles Day! No Excuses.

10/15 is the Annual America Recycles Day celebration. It should be everyday, but some corporations are sponsoring the idea that one day should be special throughout the year. In honor of that Mother Nature Network is chiming in. I really like their sources and sites, so I taking the opportunity to share with you. Here is a great list from the Mother Nature Network about 10 kitchen related things you have no excuse NOT to recycle. Check it out and remember – everyday should be America Recycles Day. Below is their Top 10 List. Follow the link to learn WHY & HOW.

  1. Glass bottles.
  2. Aluminum and steel cans.
  3. #1 & #2 plastic containers.
  4. Plastic grocery bags.
  5. Cereal and other food boxes.
  6. Cereal box liners.
  7. Bread ends. (My personal favorite- some pretty fabulous reuse options for this item…of course, I just prefer to eat them).
  8. Aluminum foil.
  9. Kitchen electronics.
  10. Old appliances.

Do you have other ways you recycle? Or are there items missing from this list that you’d like to add? Post a comment and let us know how you are sending less to the landfill.

And don’t forget to find out HOW & WHAT you can recycle at Moraine Valley:

Green Your Day Off! Memorial Day weekend advice.

This link has 5 great, simple ways to green your day off. I’ll elaborate just a smidgen on each below, but do read this great, full of ideas, short article too:

1.     Ride your bike –

a.     If biking is out of the question for you, then take a walk! Walking is great exercise, doesn’t burn fossil fuels and fun for everyone… especially if you visit one of our beautiful preserves and bird or butterfly watch- ‘tis the season for all sorts of wildlife out and about looking for food, mates and nesting areas. (p.s. info about biking to work will be out soon. We’re participating in Bike to Work week and will have biking buddies, safe route maps and meet up places for group ride-ins. Email me if you’re interested!)

2.     Green up your BBQ –

a.     When thinking about what to grill or serve, go for organic and/or locally produced foods. And when serving it up, choose reusable, washable dishes and silverware…or at least recyclable and make sure it gets recycled!

3.     Clean up…DIY style –

a.     Did you see Tommy and Maura make all those wonderful recipes for household cleaners during Earth Week? What a great video! If you missed it we’ll let you know when it’s posted. In the meantime, check the link above for quick recipes that are cheap, safe and effective too!

4.     Take out the recycling –

a.     I was visiting a class yesterday to talk about sustainability and one student said “some ‘things’ are just not recyclable.” To which I replied, nonsense! Someone either just hasn’t come up with a use/commodity for those “things” or you just haven’t found the spot that does collect it. So, when you are looking at that “thing” that is no longer of use to you, consider it. Is it recyclable? Does someone reclaim it somewhere (ex batteries may not go in your curbside, but you can take them to Staples…same with expired CFL bulbs). If no one takes it, what can you do with it? Make something new, repurpose it, donate it?

5.     Pay Tribute –

a.     Remember this holiday is to honor those that have fallen so we may live freely! Freely with equality and access to fair civil, social, economic and environmental securities. Remember to honor them in some way this weekend. The link has some neat ideas.

Have a safe, green holiday!

Town Bans Bottled Water

One of my pet peeves is drinking bottled water.  The bottles are made from oil, thus furthering our reliance on those non-renewable fossil fuels.  Bottled water is a hazard to our health: carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting toxins leach from the plastic into that expensive water and filtration standards are low to none at all.  In the bigger picture, the toxins from the plastic leaches into our ground water providing us with a second hit, not to mention the all of the other organisms that are also hit with the unpleasant and toxic exposure to our bottled water habit.  Check out this town that has become part of my dreams by banning bottled water all together.  The bottled water industry is even looking to sue the town over this.

10 Green iPhone Apps

Mother Jones has a short article on their site that lists 10 “green” iphone apps. I know that not everyone has an iphone, but this is an example of how having information in hand, at the point of need, helps us to make informed decisions. These apps are a way to conjure up immediate info to use. Now, we may have to explore where the apps get their info, but, you know, it is good that someone is working to do this.

Click here to visit this site: