July 10, 2015 Doing A Bit Better

UpCycling 101 – What Is It?

“A term that’s popping up more and more in the green world is “upcycling”. But what is it, and who does it benefit?  More importantly, who’s leading this movement and what are they doing?

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials into something that’s usable and “new”. It’s like recycling but not in the sense of turning glass bottles back into glass bottles.  It’s more like turning old soda cans into jewelry, or old barn wood into a coffee table.  While people have been upcycling for years, the movement has lately grown – it’s no longer just for the hardcore DIY’ers – in fact, anyone can do it.

Instead of ending up in a landfill or being processed through a recycling center (which does waste energy and water), our waste products gain new life through upcycling at home. These projects make great gifts, and are sold through various outlets such as Etsy.

Alchemy Goods is another leader in the space of upcycling, and produces messenger bags, wallets and totes using old tarps, banners, seatbelts and tire tubing.

Another company, Terracycle, has made its sole purpose to upcycle all of those things that can’t necessarily be recycled or are difficult to recycle (such as Capri Sun packages). Their products are made from crowd-sourced materials and donors are credited for future purchases.

These aren’t the only games in town, and you should certainly explore some home-friendly upcycling crafts on your own or with your family! It’s one more way that you can do a bit better!

 

 “

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Housewares

Recycled Glass Votive- 5 Pk Green

$20.00

5 Pack Green is an exercise in simplicity and sustainability. Handcut from reclaimed wine cooler bottles, these charming votive candleholders... Read

5 Pack Green is an exercise in simplicity and sustainability. Handcut from reclaimed wine cooler bottles, these charming votive candleholders are ideal for wherever you want to add the sparkle of candle light.

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Environment

Clean Thinking in Denmark

“ Denmark, the land of Danish pastries, Carlsberg Beer, and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, is about to add an awesome... Read

Denmark, the land of Danish pastries, Carlsberg Beer, and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, is about to add an awesome achievement to its list: being 100% free of fossil fuels by 2050. What’s even more impressive is that Denmark’s 100% renewable energy commitment covers its entire energy supply – including electricity, heating, industry and transport.

So how are the Danes going to achieve such a hefty goal? First, Denmark will make the process a progressive evolution over the next 38 years. As a stepping stone to this ambitious undertaking, Denmark will strive to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Much of the renewable energy will be tapped from wind turbines. They are aiming to add an additional 3300 MW of wind powered energy by 2020. While this may seem like a lofty project for most countries, Denmark is home to the world’s largest wind turbine industry like Vestas and Siemens Wind Power.

The remaining renewable energy supply will be secured from smart grid, biogas, geothermal, wave and other sustainable technologies. These sources, combined with a number of government incentives, investments and building regulations will pave the way for a very green future for Denmark.”

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Food

No Tear Formula!

“While it doesn’t come in a designer bottle with a made-up French name, homemade shampoo is surprisingly great for your... Read

“While it doesn’t come in a designer bottle with a made-up French name, homemade shampoo is surprisingly great for your noggin, and is incredibly easy to make. In fact, most of the ingredients are probably in your house already.  Many recipes include organic castile soap – which is a good cleansing and sudsing base for a natural shampoo.  Note, though, that this won’t moisturize your scalp and might even leave it a little dry. Other ingredients you can include for healthy hair:

Avocados

  • Essential oils and nutrients moisturize and treat damaged follicles. We promise you won’t smell like guacamole.

Bananas

  • Vitamins in bananas are shown to improve strength of hair, as well as increase shine. They’re also great for controlling dandruff.  Did we mention they smell nice?

Green Papaya

  • Green Papaya contains an enzyme known as Papain, which is also a natural skin exfoliant.

Raw Egg

  • The same way it gives your pets a strong, healthy coat of fur, these will make your hair stronger, shinier and softer when left in for several minutes. Don’t worry, you don’t have to mix it into kibble (you know, unless you wanted to). Make sure to use cool water to rinse so as not to cook the egg!

Beer

  • If you’re like us, there’s plenty of this in your house leftover from parties. That or you have trouble keeping this in your house. Either way, the sugars in beer will tighten your hair’s follicles to make it shinier, while the proteins in the hops will boost overall strength and body. Did we mention you’ll smell like beer?

Miss that freshly-washed-hair smell? You’ll likely find many other household scents far more pleasant than “perfumes” or “fragrance”.  Vanilla extract, fresh lavender, concentrated tea, lime, rosewater, or orange will be a nice change of scenery that we’re sure you’ll welcome.”

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Garden

Letting the Lawn Lay is the Best Way

“We all want the best looking lawn on the block- but it may be surprising that spending less time on... Read

“We all want the best looking lawn on the block- but it may be surprising that spending less time on your lawn will actually make it greener.  Most grass species are best kept at least 2.5 inches tall.  At this length, the lawn is able to absorb more sunlight into it’s overall surface than that with a shorter length.  With more sunlight absorption, you will get a thicker turf and deeper roots which also means you don’t have to water as often.

Another little lawn tip is let the lawn clippings lay.  Lawn clippings actually add nitrogen to the soil, and discourages weeds from germinating.  You will therefore use less fertilizer and herbicide.

So the next time you see “”Cut the Lawn”” on your honey-do list, you can tell your significant other that you’re Doing A bit Better by not cutting it.  You’re welcome!”

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Housewares

Corks, Pas Deux – Bourbon-cork Coaster / Trivet

“After our last article about crafts for reusing corks, we couldn’t help but get excited to try something. We opted... Read

“After our last article about crafts for reusing corks, we couldn’t help but get excited to try something. We opted for bourbon corks, this time, as they’re usually made of real cork (instead of that synthetic stuff), and have the neat wooden tops that give them a real rustic look. It also helped that we had a few laying around.

We also opted for ease, in this case. There are plenty of materials to use if you want to avoid using any sort of bonding agent – but thanks to the magic of a hot glue gun, we were able to whip this coaster up in about 10 minutes. And it shows.

What You’ll Need
9 Corks of the same height
A hot-glue gun
hot-glue sticks
Right-angle
Jute twine (optional)

Steps
1. Using the right angle, glue the first two corks together.  If there’s a label on top of the wood, hopefully you’ll do a better job of lining them up than we did.  Continuing to use the straight edge to make clean lines, add additional corks one by one until you’ve created the desired shape.  Allow the glue to fully cool/dry before picking it back up.

2. Once all 9 corks are glued together, flip the coaster over and bind with jute twine. To do this, simply glue the end of the jute twine to center of one side of the coaster, and begin wrapping around the cork portion, alternating gluing on every other side.

Easy enough! Now you can enjoy a frosty beverage in style.

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Environment

Chrysler Recognizes its Green Dealers

In a push to green-up an industry that’s already not-so-green, Chrysler has recognized 30 of its more eco-friendly auto dealers... Read

In a push to green-up an industry that’s already not-so-green, Chrysler has recognized 30 of its more eco-friendly auto dealers across the U.S. – and more than a third of which are in, you guessed it: California.  Some of the achievements recognized include:

– A 2,000 square foot solar system in Arkansas

– A heating system based on used motor oil from oil changes in Michigan

– Collection and recycling of rain water in Oklahoma

For a full list of the honored dealers (just in case you’re in the market for a new Chrysler), check out the press release.

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UpCycle

Upcycle Your Old Neck-tie Into a Curtain Tie

Recently, a team member here at DAbB remodeled their bedroom, painted it blue, and bought translucent white curtains.  The problem?... Read

Recently, a team member here at DAbB remodeled their bedroom, painted it blue, and bought translucent white curtains.  The problem?  What to use for curtain ties!  She tried jute rope, she tried denim, and she tried

 

 the scraps of the curtains themselves after being hemmed, but nothing was looking quite right.

 

Then the idea came – we’re all bound to have old neck-ties that we don’t wear anymore – so why not upcycle them into something actually usable?
The steps were pretty easy.
1. Measure out 2 equal lengths of the neck-tie, preferably parts of the same width (a skinny tie works really well)

 

2. Sew the ends of the lengths.  We got lazy and used white thread, which stands out – but it’s in the back of the curtain, so who cares?
3a. If you don’t have a snap setting kit, you can glue two pieces of velcro onto each end3. Add a snap using a hole-punch and a snap-setting kit
4. Take a picture and send it into DAbB!
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Family

Very easy ways to DAbB for your home. Seriously, these are very easy.

We asked our staff what quick, easy ways our readers can make a change in their home right away.  This... Read

We asked our staff what quick, easy ways our readers can make a change in their home right away.  This is what came back:

For your kids, buy crayons made of soybean oil, not paraffin

Switch to a manual can opener.  Yes, a manual…you can do it.

Invest in a roasting pan instead of using disposable ones.  You will save money in the long run, and honestly, it is so much easier to pull out food in something sturdy.  (We don’t need to tell you the amount of time we have dropped food on the floor from a flimsy aluminum one).

Buy a bigger jug of milk. If you only use half a gallon at a time, you can pour half the milk into a carafe and freeze the rest. Then about a day or two before you need it simply put in the fridge.  And yes, it tastes the same.

Stop throwing away your dryer lint! Put it in the backyard for the birds — they use it to feather their nests.  Crazy-but true.

Clean your refrigerator coils — vacuum out the dust and wipe with a damp cloth. You’ll be surprised at how much nasty stuff accumulates down there!

Put a cover on your pool when you’re not using it. Not only will it keep the water cleaner, but it will keep it from evaporating, resulting in saving water.

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Family

Earth Day Ideas for Everyone

“Before you start planning your Mother’s day festivities, it’s time to say “Thanks!” to your OTHER mom.  You know, Mother... Read

“Before you start planning your Mother’s day festivities, it’s time to say “Thanks!” to your OTHER mom.  You know, Mother Earth!  She’s been great and she’s done a lot for you.  Sure, she has temper tantrums once in a while, but if we don’t take care of her now, she won’t be around for too long (relatively speaking).

Okay, innuendo aside, it’s time to consider how you’ll celebrate Earth Day this Sunday!  Here are a few ideas (and just to prove we walk the walk, we’ll be doing these as well).

Walk, don’t drive
Plan ahead so that you don’t have to drive anywhere on Sunday. Spare the air your carbon emissions, just for one day!  If you have stores or coffee shops within walking distance, consider those instead.

Lose the Appliances
We rarely think about the chain of events that goes into something as simple as turning on the television – but chances are that at least some of your electricity comes from fossil fuels.  You’ll be surprised at everything you can get done without running appliances.

-Eat raw so that you don’t have to cook
-Use candles for lights (it’s romantic, and kind of like camping!)
-Skip the TV and read a book.  Storytelling is a great way to entertain even the little ones

Plant something
We understand that planting a tree doesn’t work for everyone (especially us urbanites).  That said, planting SOMETHING is still feasible.  Plants add much needed Oxygen to the atmosphere, and attract your friendly neighborhood bee for local pollination.

Now get out there and show “mom” (the older one) how much you love her!”

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Garden

A Greener, Easier Saturday

“When Saturday rolls around for many guys across America, there is one thing they can count on: mowing the lawn. ... Read

“When Saturday rolls around for many guys across America, there is one thing they can count on: mowing the lawn.  For some, rolling up the sleeves and gassing up the mower can be a stress-relieving ritual of good ol’ fashioned hard work.  But for many others, it’s just another item on a never-ending list of chores.  But either way you look at it, there’s still a good chance that you’re pouring carbon emissions into the planet with every rip-start of your gas powered lawn mower.  So, we at DAbB decided to do a little digging and found a solution.  What we found is a trick like man-toy to help make your Saturday less busy and more eco friendly.

Introducing, the Husqvarna Automower® Solar Hybrid: the world’s first fully automatic lawn mower that is partly powered by the sun.  Just turn it on, set the cutting schedule and let the Automower do the rest!  Think of it like a Roomba® for your lawn – you just lay down parameter wire and the Automower chomps everything else.

According to Husqvarna, the Automower® Solar Hybrid uses less energy than any conventional mower because, in addition to a charging station, the integrated solar panel extends its cutting periods before it needs recharging.  So you use less power and you do less work – who doesn’t like that?

Aside from being both quiet and good for the earth, it hosts a number of awesome additional features including:

-Remote text message that notifies you of any unscheduled disturbance

-Anti-theft alarm and pin code (which you’ll want with the hefty $3K price tag)

-Safety sensors to shut the mower off if it is lifted or tipped over

-A weather proof design that can handle terrain slopes up to 35 degrees

So if you’ve got a lawn up to ½ acre in size (and an extra three grand burning a hole in your pocket), the Husqvarna Automower® Solar Hybrid mower could be just the tool to make your Saturday a little bit better.”

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Housewares

Honest Air & Fabric Freshener 9 Fl Oz

$6.95

Refresh fabrics without the use of harsh, synthetic chemicals or masking agents. Leaves nothing behind but the refreshing scent of... Read

Refresh fabrics without the use of harsh, synthetic chemicals or masking agents. Leaves nothing behind but the refreshing scent of essential oils .

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Family

A Little Green Mother’s Day Love

“Another Mother’s Day is just around the corner.  Why not think about it a little differently this year?  Sure moms... Read

“Another Mother’s Day is just around the corner.  Why not think about it a little differently this year?  Sure moms like store bought gifts, but you can make her day extra special (and green) by simply doing a few of the following:

-Let mom sleep in – nothing like 8 hours of sleep to make her happy!

-Give mom control of the TV remote – If she wishes to watch cooking shows all day, let her be

-Handmade cards – always a winner

-Skip brunch out and prepare a special meal in – just make sure you do all the heavy lifting!

-Use eco-friendly frames with pictures of mom and her all her favorite people (that’s you!)

-Create special memories, a nice nature walk with the family, trip to an art gallery, etc.

-Bake her cookies – with organic flour!

-Give her a five minute foot massage

 

Remember – a little love goes a long way!”

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Solar

Solar Calculators – Meet Computer Calculators!

“You’ve seen the Solar calculator.  Now check out the Computer calculator. No, it’s not in your “Start” menu.  Rather, it’s... Read

“You’ve seen the Solar calculator.  Now check out the Computer calculator. No, it’s not in your “Start” menu.  Rather, it’s a calculator created by Utah-based firm, Xi3 – to show you how much you could be saving (not by going solar, but rather, by going modular).

 

Xi3 claims that their new “modular” computer uses up to 95% less energy than the average household computer – at a modest 20 Watts of electricity to operate.

In fact, the savings calculator isn’t the only thing they have in common with solar installers. Xi3 also offers a leasing option (cleverly named “ecolease“), in which it claims that the potential energy savings (mostly for small-medium sized businesses) actually offset the monthly lease payments – which they call “Getting a Free Computer”.

Another added benefit of the system is its ability to run multiple instances of the operating system on several linked-up machines.

So if you’re looking for a way to cut down on the power bill and you’re not quite ready to go solar, maybe green-tech is the way to go!”

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Family

Put the “Win” in Window Washing

Many hands make light work.  Window washing can be fun!  First, let the kids make a mess. Crayola makes Washable... Read

Many hands make light work.  Window washing can be fun!  First, let the kids make a mess. Crayola makes Washable Window Markers.  Let your little Picasso sketch the dog, or encourage the twins to engage in a rousing game of Tic Tac Toe.  Easy, green cleanup – spray with lemon juice mixed with water, wipe with a damp towel, and then wipe with a dry towel. Sparkly windows, happy kids.

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Recycle

Shopping Online Auction Sites? Keep it Green!

Buying used items and giving them a new chance at life is a great way to save them from a... Read

Buying used items and giving them a new chance at life is a great way to save them from a landfill. If you want to take your thrift store, garage sale, or ebay shopping to an even more eco-friendly level, try starting your search at eBay’s Green Store. The online auction website has created a home for their most green items. Quick searches for refurbished, resource-saving, or upcycled goods are just one click away.

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Men

Schick® Announces Recycled Razor

“Alright men (and ladies), Schick® has created another new razor: the handle is made from 100% recycled plastic, and the... Read

“Alright men (and ladies), Schick® has created another new razor: the handle is made from 100% recycled plastic, and the packaging is made from 100% post-consumer paper. The Schick® Xtreme3® Eco™ is a disposable razor manufactured and shipped out of the company’s 99.9 percent landfill-free facility in Milford, CT. Schick® estimates they’ll be saving over 103,000 pounds of virgin plastic material and 15,500 pounds of virgin paper from going into landfills each year by using recycled materials in the new razor.

“”We know consumers are doing their part to live more sustainably, and we wanted to provide a simple way for them to do so with their shave,”” said Suma Nagaraj, brand manager for Schick Xtreme3®. “”At Schick, we’re taking proactive steps to minimize the impact of our products and manufacturing processes on the environment, and we’re continually looking for ways to improve — creating this product was the next step in our journey.””

“”For many years we wanted to launch a more sustainable razor,”” said Mike O’Malley, director of program management and sustainability for Schick®. “”We overcame many challenges along the way, like making sure the packaging gave us the quality look, perforation resistance and sealing capacity to hold up to the rigors of shipping. The result was the same exceptional quality and exceptional value razor that our customers know and love, now better for the environment.””

Schick® Xtreme3® Eco™ is currently available for both men and women at selected stores with wider, national distribution in April. To coincide with Earth month, Schick® Xtreme3® is partnering with eco-conscious celebrity-couple, actress Amy Smart and HGTV’s Carter Oosterhouse to launch a contest that challenges consumers to reuse common disposable items and reduce waste by creating a functional item out of recycled materials.

Here’s a big toast to Schick® for Doing A bit Better for all of us!”

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Doing A Bit Better

5 Tips for Doing Better for Your Pet

“Don’t reach for the bleach – Next time your furry, little friend leaves a special present on the living room... Read

Don’t reach for the bleach – Next time your furry, little friend leaves a special present on the living room carpet, use vinegar to clean up the stain instead of bleach.  Vinegar is an eco-friendly odor-remover and effective at killing mold and bacteria.

Bio-bag-it! – Instead of using plastic bags to pick up after your pet’s poop, grab a biodegradable bag.  In addition to NOT immortalizing your pet’s #2 underground, biodegradable bags come in easy to use refillable dispensers that can be easily attached to any leash.

Dump the Junk –Many pet food brands you find at the supermarket consist of reconstituted animal by-products, otherwise known as low-grade wastes from the beef and poultry industries–you know, inedibles you wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot fork. So treat your pet to some natural or organic pet foods!  The potential benefits are numerous, including the reduction of skin ailments and allergies, more energy, healthier weight, fewer digestive disorders, better overall health, and a stronger immune system.  Don’t know where to start?  Just look for foods marked with USDA certification symbol proving that they have met the requirements.  (And don’t forget to recycle the bags and cans!)

A Sustainable Pet – Like babies and trophy wives, pets require an unusually large amount of gear.  So let them Do A bit Better by buying products and supplies made from sustainable materials.  Just about everything that your pet uses can be produced from sustainable materials: collars, leashes, beds, toys, and grooming products can be made out of hemp, recycled or organic cottons, and even recycled PET bottles!  Even better, enlist a little upcycling to turn old tube socks into puppy tug toys and yarn scraps into great cat toys!

Adopt! – Rather than buying your pet from local pet stores or breeders, adopt your next pet from a local shelter!  In addition to providing animals with loving homes, shelters tend to use donated or recycled materials for animal bedding. If you don’t know where to start, check out www.Petfinder.com to find a shelter near you.”

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Health & Beauty

Gentlemen: Green thy Faces

“Shaving is a regular task that not many of us guys like doing, but need to do anyway.  So, the... Read

“Shaving is a regular task that not many of us guys like doing, but need to do anyway.  So, the least we at DAbB can do is help you feel like you are reducing your footprint while you shave.  Here are three quick tips to help make your shaving routine a bit more green:

Turn off the water – this may seem obvious, but shut off the water while you shave.  The average Joe can save up 3,000 gallons a year!

Go Au Naturale – Next time you go to the drugstore, look for all-natural shaving creams and aftershaves.  Just look for plant based products that are certified organic and/or not tested on animals.  Or, you can enlist a bar of organic soap to make a thick lather suitable for shaving.

Ditch the disposable – Between plastic handles, metal blades, rubber grips and god-knows-what’s-in-those-lubricating-strips, disposable razors create a huge amount of waste.  So look for a more earth friendly solution.  The absolute best choice is a good, old fashioned straight razor – it can be sharpened for great results & used over and over.  But we realize that the thought of putting straight razor to your neck can be a bit intimidating – let’s face it, we’re not all John Wayne.  So why not pop for an electric razor to cut down on your waste?  Many new electric razors on the market are gentle on your skin and offer a close shave.  If you must use disposable, try one of the new eco-friendly razors from Schick!

Go forth and shave!”

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Family

The Eco-Friendly Easter Basket – Fact or Fiction?

“Hippity, Hoppity, Easter’s on its way!  What better way to Do A bit Better this year, than to prepare an... Read

“Hippity, Hoppity, Easter’s on its way!  What better way to Do A bit Better this year, than to prepare an eco-friendly Easter basket for your little ones?  Here’s how:

Start by skipping the fake grass.  It’s usually made out of non-recyclable and non-biodegradable plastics which we just toss out the week after Easter.  And then what?  It sits in the landfill.  Dried grass gives a naturalistic look – or you can make your own paper grass from colored paper with a paper shredder.  It’s bouncy enough to keep Easter-eggs from breaking, and can be recycled afterwards

Speaking of Easter-eggs, consider dying your eggs naturally this year.  Egg shells are surprisingly absorbent when it comes to color, and the dye doesn’t have to last long! Consider boiling the eggs in some of these to color your eggs “au natural” this year: Pomegranate Juice, Blueberries, Spinach Juice, and Yellow Curry.  Boil these things in some white vinegar and you’ll get vibrant, natural colors!

Localize your candy!  Support your local Chocolatier for better chocolate, local economic stability, and less manufacturing / transporting / packaging waste.

Consider a better basket. Pick a basket you’ll like, reuse and keep (for guest towels, décor, gardening) instead of buying a cheap one you’re just going to throw out.  It may not be pastel colors, but a few ribbons will make it all-the-more festive!”

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Food

Easy Tips to Green up your next BBQ party

Whether you are celebrating our nation’s birthday or having friends over, we have five easy tips to make your next... Read

Whether you are celebrating our nation’s birthday or having friends over, we have five easy tips to make your next BBQ party a bit better.

  • Party Food – Shop at a local farmer’s market for your BBQ ingredients. You can usually find great local organic produce, breads & meats.  If you can’t find what you are looking for then go to your grocer and look for products which are made/farmed in your local area.  Buying local is best for you and your local economy.
  • Tableware – Buy biodegradable dishes (we should link this to a CJ brand).  Great for outdoor use & can be tossed in the trash with little guilt.
  • Napkins – Use washable cloth napkins to reduce paper waste.  If you want a bit more style to your BBQ go and buy bandannas.  They are usually rather inexpensive-we find them $5.00 for a twelve pack-and you can give them out to your guests as a party favor.
  • Compost – So easy.  Just have your compost bag ready for all leftovers food scraps & other organic trash.  Another hint, we often will buy compostable flatware and dishes so all trash ends up in one bag.
  • Grill – A solar powered grill is the most eco-friendly way to grill these days, but if that’s not an option for you opt for a grill that burns natural gas rather than charcoal–it’s cleaner!
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