1. Save a Paper, Save a Tree, Save a Dollar

    Posted on May 8, 2012 by Ashley S

    Asking a writer/law student how to use less paper is like asking a great white shark how to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet, but I’ll do my best. There are a few basic uses of paper and a few different techniques to reduce those uses (don’t worry I won’t be asking you to switch to single-ply toilet paper or anything).

    Writing Paper

    I love writing paper. There’s nothing like the convenience of grabbing a notebook or a piece of loose leaf paper and scribbling down my latest brilliant (or not-so-brilliant) thought.

    Unfortunately, I’m thinking my way to a pulverized tree. According to the website Conservatree, each tree can yield just over 8,000 sheets of paper. That’s 16 reams of paper or 80-100 sheet notebooks. Maybe that sounds like a lot of paper to you, but to me, that sounds like a productive week. Luckily for me, and the trees, many of the places I write for, both academically and professionally, will allow me to fileshare and submit my work digitally.

    Even if you’re not much of a typist or if you need to use sketches and figures in your writing, a good tablet computer with a stylus will let you write freehand on the touch screen itself, saving paper and giving you the benefit of spell check (woohoo!) while you are working. For those occasions where you absolutely must use paper, paying a few extra cents and getting the stuff that’s recycled can help with your eco-guilt.

    Billing Statements

    Okay, chances are you don’t get 8,000 billing statements in a given year, but if you put together yours with your neighbors, coworkers and friends, we’re probably getting into tree-saving territory. Now that just about every company offers paperless billing, you have the option to save those trees, as long as you’re responsible enough to keep an eye on your bank account without those bills to remind you when money is being deducted.

    There are other benefits to paperless billing, too. Sometimes companies will offer you an incentive like a gift card or sweepstakes entry for going paperless. You also get to save postage and checks, and save yourself the problems you would incur if a statement were to be lost in the mail. Also, as the Little Green Blog points out, you’ll have a much slimmer file cabinet.

    Other Paper Products

    Okay, as I said, I don’t expect you to go without toilet paper; heck I’m not even going to ask you to go to cloth diapers (although you would save a lot of landfill space).

    Let’s take a look at paper towels, though. Do you really need to use a paper towel for every spill? Wouldn’t a nice reusable washcloth be just as good, or better? Again, you’ll save a few bucks, too, as all those rolls of paper towels start to add up in cost. If you must use paper towels, there are recycled options available.

    Saving trees doesn’t have to be painful, and it can really make you feel good about yourself and what you’re doing for the environment. Using options besides paper, or using recycled paper, can make a big impact on your environmental footprint.

    Best of all, cutting down on paper use can sometimes help you to save the most important paper of all–the green kind with pictures of presidents on it.

  2. Eco-Friendly Summer Fun

    Posted on April 10, 2012 by Ashley S

    Summer is the season for cookouts, trips to the beach and naps in the sun. Unfortunately, it also tends to be a prime season for polluting the very resources that allow people to enjoy their favorite warm weather activities This summer, keep participating in the activities you enjoy, but do it in a way that won’t hurt Mother Nature. The following tips should help get you started on a fantastic green summer.

    Summer Gardening

    Here’s a tip that will help you save money, eat healthy and be a friend to the environment: Grow fruits and veggies in your garden. Eating produce grown in a backyard garden is far better for the environment that consuming fruits and vegetables that have been treated with pesticides, excessively watered and transported across the country in a gas-guzzling truck. Gardening doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Stick with plants that grow well in your region’s climate and you’ll have no trouble growing a bumper crop of delicious fruits and vegetables.

    Stick with Reusable Utensils

    Once you’ve harvested the produce from your garden, it’s time to celebrate with a delicious and healthy meal. Keep the celebration green by using plates, cups and utensils that can be washed up and reused at a later time. While paper plates save a bit of immediate washing, the long-term impact on the environment can be harsh. Making a point of eating with reusable utensils and dishware doesn’t mean that you always have to take out the fancy china-a more casual set of plastic dishware should work just fine.

    Drink From a Water Bottle

    This eco friendly hint goes right along with the one listed above. Buying bottled water in the store is not only overpriced, it is terrible for the environment. Do your part by investing in a good water bottle. If you’re worried about the taste of well or city water, simply add a filter to your sink. The end result will be fresh water that keeps both you and the environment healthy.

    Use a Canopy Tent

    Next time you have your friends and family members over for grilling, keep your guests shaded the eco-friendly way: with a canopy tent. Unlike other shading options, a good canopy tent will shield you and your guests from the sun without using up precious energy. These tents are easy to put up and take down, adding an extra level of convenience to any get-together.

    Ride Your Bike

    The weather is nice enough now that you really don’t need to take the car everywhere. Not only is riding your bike far better for the environment, it’s also good for your health. Even a short bike ride is capable of burning hundreds of calories. Biking can also be an excellent social activity. Instead of driving all over with your friends, pull out your bikes and ride to the nearest park.

    Staying green this summer doesn’t have to be difficult, inconvenient or expensive. With a few basic changes to your routine, you can enjoy your favorite summer activities while doing your part for the environment.

    The summer is about to heat up, but with a little bit of effort and good decision-making it can be safe and fun for you and the Earth!

  3. Real Men Go Green

    Posted on March 21, 2012 by Mickey

    I made it to the top of the rope in gym class. I’ve struck out the side. I drive a pickup. I drink beer.

    I’m a man.

    And yet, I can’t help but take offense whenever someone tries to paint environmentalists as somehow weak and “unmanly.” I don’t think it helped our case when the hippies all grew their hair long and danced around to pan flutes and bongos. Then again, the hippies also dug Jimi Hendrix and slept in the mud. That’s pretty manly.

    At the risk of alienating the ladies, who get a free pass from the establishment when it comes to hair length and interpretive dancing, here are some things that might be even manlier than climbing the rope in gym class, and also happen to be green: Read more…

  4. Inspire Others to Eat Green & Eat Local

    Posted on March 13, 2012 by Ashley S

    As a law student, I’m constantly on the go. Running back and forth between classes, the library and trying to squeeze in some time at the gym burns energy faster than you might think. Most days I pick up food on the go at local restaurants and fortunately, here in Chicago, we have some great ones that offer healthy, energizing options.

    Visiting all these different spots has shown me that there’s a lot of competition in the city and running a restaurant can prove challenging. But if you were to advertise your restaurant as “green and healthy” this might attract those who support local eateries and green businesses.

    Getting Started

    Restaurant experience is helpful. But if you don’t have experience working in or running a restaurant, buying into a franchise is an excellent idea. Once you’re a franchise owner, you will receive training and plenty of resources to help you get started. The corporate office will develop marketing campaigns for you, as well as assign a management team to help you in the beginning.

    You can also buy an existing restaurant and benefit from this establishment’s good reputation and client-base. Be sure to ask questions before making an offer. Why is the owner selling? What’s included in the sale price? Others factors to consider include the restaurant’s location, as well as the restaurant’s past and current financial records.

    Starting an independent restaurant from the ground gives you creative freedom, in which you’re able to develop a completely original idea and concept. Understand, however, new start-ups require restaurant experience, a lot of time, and generally a type A personality.

    Organic Food

    Advocating green eating can be somewhat challenging if you buy into a franchise or purchase an existing restaurant. These restaurants have an established menu and switching up the food selection might turn off loyal clients. Independent restaurants give you the freedom to create your own menu. But even if you can’t completely change the menu on a franchise or newly acquired restaurant, you can make little changes and incorporate additional items to show your support for healthy eating.

    Start by researching and comparing organic suppliers. Perhaps you can begin buying your meats, dairy products, vegetables and fruits from these companies. Cost is an issue and you’ll need to find a supplier with reasonable prices. This keeps your food costs low, so you don’t have to raise your prices.

    Restaurant Supplies

    Green restaurant ventures don’t stop with food preparation. Reducing the amount of energy that your restaurant consumes also contributes to your green efforts. Restaurants require ice machines, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, fryers, ovens and other supplies. Replacing at least one restaurant supply or piece of equipment with an energy-efficient alternative can save your establishment hundreds each year. The yearly savings can double or triple by incorporating all energy-efficient supplies in your commercial kitchen.

    Smaller Steps

    Other green tips to help save energy include regularly changing your air filters, opting for energy-efficient lighting, switching to programmable thermostats, regularly checking pipes and seals for leaks and conserving hot water. Going green is a group effort and it’s imperative that you educate your staff on various energy conserving methods.

  5. On the Rag

    Posted on March 8, 2012 by Howling Hill

    Way back in 2002 I bought myself some Luna Pads. Prior to the day I bought the reusable menstrual pads, I used facecloths. Before the facecloth period (pun unavoidable), I used tampons exclusively.

    Why did I change from one system to the next? Well, there were a lot of reasons. Being green wasn’t a part of that decision on any conscious level until I bought the Luna Pads, and still the decision to use cloth pads was based on economics more than it was about being green.

    The reasons were relatively simple, actually.

    Read more…

  6. Going Green on Vacation

    Posted on February 15, 2012 by Ashley S

    If I told you that you could take a vacation, stay at top of the line hotels and eat at five-star restaurants all the while protecting the environment would you be interested? I thought you would be. Well, all of that is possible because more hotels, restaurants and stores are getting on board with the eco-friendly movement every day.

    I’m a law student who lives in Chicago so I don’t have the money or time to travel often but I make up for it by exploring the various Chicago attractions. Here are some tips to help you plan a green vacation wherever it is that you might be headed.

    Recycle while you sleep

    First of all, search for eco-friendly accommodations available at your destination.

    The Westin Hotel and Resort in Chicago earned recognition for their green practices and they are proud to be Green Seal Silver Certified.  That title is not just for show, either. They are dedicated to recycling and reusing products as much as possible but they are not alone. Green hotels are sprouting up like flowers in the spring around the world. While you’re looking to book a room, take a minute to check the website and see if they have a section discussing their green initiative.

    Eat green without going vegetarian

    Trying out popular restaurants in the area you are visiting is a must while you’re on vacation, but if you can you should find some that use organic foods. Restaurants that go organic normally are involved in other green practices like using efficiency lighting to conserve energy and recycling plastics and bottles instead of throwing them away.

    Green activities

    If you’re looking for eco-friendly activities to enjoy on your trip those are not hard to find, either. In warmer weather getting out and taking in the sights of your new surroundings is more enjoyable than walking around in cold temperatures but there are green activities that are available year round.

    • Make it a spa day – Taking in a day at a spa is great way to ease tension and have your stress literally rubbed off of you. Many spas are big supporters of the green movement and offer drinks and snacks that are made from organic fruits and vegetables. The laid back, relaxed vibe is good for the green movement and energy conservation, too, because the lighting is usually dim and they look to avoid using products that are bad for the environment.
    • Go shopping – More clothing stores and fashion lines are supporting the green movement by donating a portion of their proceeds to different environmentally focused organizations. Some stores have partnered up with these organizations and have agreed to not sell certain products that are harmful to nature or made with the skin or fur of endangered species. Now the people who love to shop can feel good because a portion of the money they spend is being used to help a good cause.

    It’s not difficult to plan a green vacation and you can have a positive impact on the environment while having a great time and eating good food. It’s definitely worth doing whether you trip is to Chicago or China.

  7. Do we really understand what it means to be green?

    Posted on February 9, 2012 by The Modern Gal

    A few days ago, I noticed a discussion on another website about a real estate survey published by Yahoo! back in December. That survey asked 1,500 current and aspiring homeowners to choose the features that their dream home would include. Lo and behold, “green or energy efficient” was the top vote-getting quality after being chosen by 58 percent of the poll’s respondents. My knee-jerk reaction was, “Great! Our fellow Americans are finally getting it! Taking a green-minded approach with our homes IS important.”

    But then I read a bit farther into the poll’s results and noticed the disconnect.

    Tied for second  was “building a custom home,” chosen by 38 percent of poll respondents. Clocking in at last place with a measly 5 percent was “tiny house,” a feature chosen by fewer people than “stately, traditional mansion” or even “castle or castle-style.”

    Read more…

  8. Things I’ve Learned from The Greenists

    Posted on February 7, 2012 by Howling Hill

    Here at The Greenists, we don’t just inform you of green changes you can make to your lifestyle, we make those same changes too. Here are some of the changes I’ve made at Howling Hill which I learned of here.

    I stopped using shampoo and conditioner in 2008. Allie was the one I got the idea from.

    Last year I stopped using deodorant. Allie was the inspiration for this also.

    Conserving water is another change we’ve made around here, especially after our well went dry a couple years ago. It’s not something we want to go through again. I wrote a round up here.

    House cleaning became much less toxic here after I read this post in January.

    Wolf’s coffee maker became greener after he read this post. Now he uses a piece of unbleached cotton muslin he got at Jo-Ann’s Fabrics. He had planned to use the muslin for a new laundry bag but it turned out not to be thick enough. Wolf didn’t know what to do with it all so, after reading the post by Jacob, he switched. He’s willing to cut up some more for anyone who would like one. Leave a comment if you’re interested with the kind of coffee maker you have.

    Lastly, I bought these after noticing them on the sidebar here on The Greenists. I found them to be wonderful if a bit big. I recommend them to everyone!

    So there you go. Lots of things I’ve learned from my fellow Greenists have been implemented in my home. Tell us about what you’ve learned and implemented in yours!

  9. Protect the Environment, Protect Yourself

    Posted on January 17, 2012 by Ashley S

    If you live in the city like me, there are eco-friendly options for your safety better than this dog- although probably not as cute!

    Wanting to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself from basics you need. You just have to find alternative means that accomplish what you need while still being sustainable for the environment. Some people spend a fortune on home security systems that use up a lot of energy and aren’t efficient at all. You can go to online resources like protectyourhome.com for eco-friendly information that are easily affordable options – and I have a few green options to share too!

    Natural protection

    I have family in the south that lives out in the country. Here in the city, our homes are separated from our neighbors by a few feet. In the country where my family lives, huge fields separate the neighbors. There is a lot of space and there aren’t many people who travel the country roads. They never owned a security system to protect their home, but they always kept a few dogs in the yard. These dogs were friendly with us—and the pigs and chickens my grandparents kept—but whenever a stranger pulled up they let us know. My grandfather liked dogs but he kept them more for protection than as pets. They stayed outside and kept stray dogs and strangers from entering the yard. When it comes to green security nothing is more eco-friendly than that! But I live in Chicago, and I understand that in certain areas you will need a lot more than a dog to provide security.

    Harness the sun’s energy

    Vivint is one company that has jumped on the green bandwagon and is attempting to create a new system that will save money and use less energy. Their idea is a bit more radical than others because it requires a drastic change that is definitely beneficial, although many people still don’t have the capabilities to do it yet. They are focusing on homes with solar powered panels that use the sun’s energy to power home appliances. They install panels into the home that allows users to track how much energy certain appliances are using. They are also extending that feature to smartphones so people can track their status while on the go.

    Recycle when you upgrade

    ADT security systems are a good choice for security systems because they reuse parts of outdated devices to produce the newer models. Each system has minerals inside of it that can be taken out and put to use along with metals that are difficult to break down and would only increase waste if they were thrown away. ADT has implemented smartphone usage into their system too. Users can turn lights off and on and save energy while they are away from home. The thermostat can be controlled via the phone too—giving users control of their home while on the move.

    There are many ways to protect yourself and your family while still looking out for the environment and conserving energy. Each day people are working on new ways make these systems even more efficient and eco-friendly too. Do you have any tips or ideas to add that I didn’t mention?

  10. Green Business Tips

    Posted on December 20, 2011 by Ashley S

    The going green movement has swept the nation over the course of the past several years. People are cutting back on waste in their homes, buying more fuel-efficient cars and recycling with a newfound sense of urgency and responsibility.

    And, while these changes are great for individuals and homes, what can businesses do to contribute to this increasingly eco-friendly lifestyle?

    The answer surprisingly comes in small changes, which can be used by companies of all sizes!  Read more…

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It


According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.

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