Wiser Living
Finding a natural solution


10 Zero Waste New Years Resolutions

With the new year here, you might be wondering what resolutions you should adopt for the coming year. While I’m sure you’ve got a few personal goals you’ll be striving for this year, why not add a few zero waste resolutions to your list? Here are 10 easy zero waste New Years resolutions you should consider striving for. You don’t have to pursue each one, but consider adopting at least one or two!

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Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

1. Remember to bring your reusable bags

It may seem like a small ambition, but we all know what happens when we forget our reusable bags. Miles of plastic bags take their place. The worst part is most cashiers will put only a few items into one bag, which just leads to more plastic bags being used. Do the planet (and yourself) a favor by making it a goal to remember your reusable bags. A good way to do that is to stash a few in your purse, car, work bag or even attach a fold up reusable bag to your key chain. You can also remind yourself by saying “keys, wallet, phone, bags” before leaving your home to make sure you have all your important items on hand.

2. Hit up the farmers market more

The farmers market doesn’t just have to be a summer thing, or a once and a while visit. If you have one available to you year round, support it by going every weekend! Not only will you be supporting a small business, but you’ll also be lowering your carbon footprint. Think about it: Farmers markets support local farmers. Their food is grown locally and with few to no pesticides. It takes less time to get to you, which results in a smaller carbon footprint (meaning it doesn’t need to sit in traffic and spew out emissions for days upon days). Plus, it’s generally easier to shop plastic free at the farmers market. Most items will be sold without packaging. Just remember to bring your reusable totes and reusable produce bags! You can get a surplus of veggies and fruits at the market year round. Most markets also sell dairy, meat, and bread.

3. Start composting

If you aren’t already composting, make it a goal to do it this year. You don’t have to have an actual compost pile in order to compost either. I personally live in an apartment so I don’t have the room for that either. Instead, I have a stainless steel compost pail I put all my food scraps in. Then, come Saturday, I take it with me on my weekly farmers market visit and dump the food scraps off. They collect them there and turn them into fertile, rich compost for me. It’s very hands off and I highly recommend you do the same. See if your local farmers market has a food scrap drop off you can participate in. If not, you can try to find a local community garden that will take the food scraps off your hands. Share Waste is a great resource that can help you find someone near you who will be willing to take the scraps off your hands. This will divert so much waste from the landfill!

4. Reduce food waste

Being zero waste isn’t just thinking about plastic waste, after all. It’s reducing waste in all forms. Food waste is a big problem: 40% of food in America is wasted. Plus, that food waste just ends up in a landfill where it produces methane emissions that contribute to climate change. Not to mention the average American family loses $1500 to food waste every year – isn’t that insane? Join the fight against food waste and give my ebook, How to Reduce Food Waste, a read this year. You’ll become a food waste warrior in no time and save yourself hundreds of dollars!

5. Bring your own containers for restaurants and takeout

Sometimes, we can’t finish the food on our plate at a restaurant. And, sometimes we just want takeout. In both scenarios, our food tends to get put into plastic packaging. This is avoidable, if we just plan a bit ahead of time. If you’re going to a restaurant and know ahead of time, I recommend swiping a mason jar or a stainless steel tiffin. Even Tupperware from home will do. At the end of your meal, when you can’t finish anymore, you can just put everything into your container. For takeout, just call the place ahead of time and ask them if you can bring your own container. Just make sure the container you bring is clean. For certain food items, a mason jar or glassware works well. Multi-tiered tiffins are best for buffets or several different food items when you don’t want your food to touch.

6. Prepare more meals and snacks at home

It can be tempting to buy a snack or even a full meal while out and about, especially when you don’t bring anything from home. But this ultimately results in more waste. And, it tends to be unhealthy. Lets face it – the snacks in the vending machine aren’t designed to keep you healthy, they’re designed to make you impulse buy them. You can avoid this altogether by prepping ahead of time at home. Making your own lunch and packing a few snacks for yourself at home will save you money, be healthier, and reduce waste. Who could argue with that? You can pack your lunch in a tiffin or glassware. Double points if you also bring a reusable water bottle and reusable cutlery from home with you. Snacks can be packed in reusable cloth or silicone bags. Or, if it’s uncut fruit (like a whole apple or orange), just wrap it in a cloth napkin.

7. Make your own cleaning products

Conventional cleaning products are not only toxic, but also come in plastic packaging. Instead of relying on them, I suggest making the switch to DIY cleaning products if you haven’t already. They’re not only easy to make, but also great for your wallet too – you also won’t have to worry they put your health at risk (I’m looking at you, bleach). Personally, I love cleaning with orange peel vinegar cleaner. It’s an all-purpose spray that really does wonders for every room of the house.

8. Create a zero waste laundry routine

Speaking of cleaning, take it a step further and develop a zero waste laundry routine that works for you. I personally love a combination of soap nuts, DIY liquid detergent, wool dryer balls and a plastic-free stain remover stick. That always gets the job done and reduces the amount of waste my laundry routine makes.

9. Eat more plant based

The more plants you eat, the lower carbon footprint you’ll have. You don’t have to completely give up meat and dairy, but cutting back on them will certainly help. Plus, more often than not, meat and dairy tend to be wrapped in plastic anyway. You might as well forgo the waste, and the carbon footprint, these food items have altogether. If you must eat meat and dairy, try to get it organic, package free and local whenever possible.

10. Donate unwanted, but good quality items to thrift stores

Sometimes, when you’re cleaning and de-cluttering, you’ll notice some items you no longer want. Instead of just tossing them out, where they’ll go to a landfill, consider donating them to a local thrift store. As long as the items still functions and is in good quality, this will give it a second chance at life and you will reduce one more thing from entering the landfill. Look and see what your local thrift store accepts before you bring it there, of course. Generally speaking, glassware, plates, clothing, books, toys and even some furniture items will likely be accepted.

What are some of your zero waste New Years resolutions? Will you be attempting anything off this list?

Eco Tourism in Bend, Oregon

Bend lies in the center of Oregon, and if it keeps going at the current rate of evolution, the vibrant mountainous town could easily rival any outdoor urban destination in the world. But something extra special is going on with Bend. Yes, it’s growing, but rather than compromise the natural environment and local economy, they are using the opportunity to enhance it.

Guides educate visitors of the importance of conservation, whether hitting the lava fields on wheels with sustainable Outriders Northwest, or just canoeing the rivers. The food scene is hyper local or organic, even when it comes to beer and spirits. Not only is Bend becoming quite trendy, the destination is paving the way, along with other cities, for a world centered around eco-conscious travel.

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LOGE

Lodging

Bend isn’t just tearing down buildings to erect towering hotels, old motels are being restored, into something truly eclectic and modern. Simultaneously, more luxurious options exist, that still center around the outdoor surroundings.

LOGE Bend is one example of this revitalization, as it used to be an outdated Travelodge. But with its optimal location right at a Deschutes National Forest trail head, and within bike-able distance to downtown, LOGE is an outdoor adventurists’ haven. Rooms feature bike and ski racks, hammocks hanging from the ceilings, and rustic touches. Guests can roast marshmallows around the outdoor fire pits, or grab a local kombucha and paleo muffin from the cafe.

Riverhouse on the Deschutes has had a steady presence over the years, and offers glimpses of the well preserved river. The onsite restaurant is local ingredient focused, serving coffee from nearby Thump roasters, and wholesome breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.

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Riff Craft Food and Beverage

Food

There’s a local circle that exists among the Bend food scene. Restaurants source ingredients from nearby farms, many of which are organic— you’ll notice sandwich shops source bread from neighboring businesses like Sparrow Bakery. Vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and allergen free choices aren’t hard to find amongst the vast selection of restaurants in the city.

Riff Craft Food and Beverage not only has amazingly interesting cold brew coffees with hops and other unique flavor profiles, they have a fresh menu with vegan, vegetarian and gluten free picks, like the taco bowl with cauliflower rice, avocado, and cream sauce, topped with local meats, or blackened tempeh. The Huevos Riff-cheros with coffee infused enchilada sauce is an incredible lacto-ovo vegetarian pick.

Angeline’s Bakery is actually in Sisters, Oregon, but is more than a worthy mention, as the adorable shop whips up decadent baked goodies like the gluten free “jam jam” and a mouthwatering selection of vegan cookies and breads.

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Worthy Brewing

Booze

Bend’s water source, from a mountain top fed spring, is so pristine that it has attracted an impressive list of breweries and even distilleries. Ancient volcanic rock serves as a natural filter, leaving crafters with an optimal base for making crisp beer or smooth spirits. If you wanted to travel to the Willamette Valley, you’d get a taste of a complex wine scene.

Worthy Brewing is one of the dozens of breweries in the area, who has their very own hop varietal discovered through a university program. Some hops are also grown in an onsite garden, which go into a special batch of brew each year. To reduce the impact of production, Worthy takes advantage of Bend’s 300 plus days of sunshine by partially using thermal energy. Leftover grains and hop remnants are sent to local farms for feed or natural fertilizer. Topping off all the eco-conscious efforts made by the brewery, they source ingredients from the same farms, for their restaurant menu.

Crater Lake Spirits by Bendistillery can be sampled at either the actual distilling facility, or the downtown tasting room—you’ll notice drinks from other restaurants feature the brand. Lava rock filtered water is used to create smooth vodkas, gin and other specialty spirits that are soaked with regional ingredients to cultivate unique flavors. A special brew of coffee from Sisters Coffee Company is used to make the hazelnut espresso vodka. But the pepper vodka ingredients are imported from Mexico, and make for an unreal Bloody Mary.

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Cascade Lake

Recreation

Bend’s volcanic land has cultivated a diverse eco system, and striking terrain over many, many years. While ensuring habitat protection and conservation, the people here encourage exploration of the buttes, forests and rivers.

Sometimes diving in with a tour is the best way to get your feet wet. Wanderlust Tours works to educate its adventurers about the local environment, while leading the way in a variety of nature explorations, from kayaking the crystal clear Deschutes River, to canoeing the cascade lakes. Motors aren’t allowed on these waters, to prevent pollution. In the summer, nighttime canoe trips offer a special way to view the dark sky stars.

Worthy Brewing is also home to the “Hopservatory”, a huge tower adjoined to the brewery that houses a powerful telescope for viewing Bend’s dark sky. Guests can see star clusters, the most detailed glimpses of the moon, and sometimes planets, like Saturn.

Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway loops through the Deschutes Forest, and allows travelers to see a multitude of bright blue and green lakes.

Pilot Butte offers an overview of the city that has formed below. In the morning, people walk up the steep incline for an ultimate reveal of 360 degree views of volcanic mountains and landscape. If you can make it up there for sunrise, you’ll be treated to something truly magical.

When visiting, the opportunity to support the surrounding community, and a sustainable way of life, will be all around you. Visit Bend asks visitors to take a “leave no trace” pledge when visiting, to protect the special land that has been cultivated by the love and care of their own citizens, and past travelers—you could even win a free trip. From the places you choose to eat, the things you choose to do, to where you stay, one can practice an eco-conscious way of travel in beautiful Bend, Oregon.

Photos by Erick Wofford

The Fall Five: Still a Time For Living Green

The magic of fall…wood piles and wood smoke, golden days and chilly evenings, it’s my favorite time of year, and October my favorite month.  And if you asked me why, I’d say it’s a combination of things. The welcome relief of cooler temperatures after a long, hot summer, the brilliant colors of the leaves, the crackle of a cozy fire, hayrides in the country, pumpkin carving, evening shadows, and the harvest moon.

A friend recently told me she’s trying harder to live “green” but that she finds it difficult once spring and summer are over. Her concern made me think…how do I transition to “green” once the growing season is over? The farmers’ market on the town square is closed for the season and my garden has been put to bed for winter…what else can I do? I wanted to make sure I was doing more than composting and using canvas shopping bags over plastic.

My friend and I spent over an hour chatting, and it turns out we discovered most of us are doing more than we think we are. We brainstormed, made lists, and bounced ideas back and forth…here are what we called The Fall Five.

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Photo Credit: Mary Murray

1. Use nature’s bounty when decorating for the season…

Pumpkins, gourds, leaves, bittersweet, pine cones, acorns, fall flowers, and broom corn make terrific centerpieces. And the best part is they’ll compost naturally…never ending up in a landfill.

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Photo Credit: Mary Murray

2. Look for a winter farmers’ market…

We’re fortunate that our small town has a great shop off the square that offers a variety of foods grown and baked locally. Homemade pies, cookies, breads, honey, jams, root vegetables, lettuce, and winter squash are a few of the seasonal, local foods available now. Buying local not only supports the farms in the community, but when our food travels such a short distance, it's fresher and results in fewer emissions.

3. Forget the leaf blower…use a rake!

I understand…leaf blowers are convenient and quick, and when time is short, they do the job of corralling leaves faster than raking. However; raking leaves not only gives me a little workout, it’s a family affair.  Yes, sometimes those piles get jumped in, but that’s the fun of it! Leaves can then be spread on the garden and in flowerbeds to breakdown over winter, or they can be added to the compost pile.  For us, our goats enjoy most of our dry leaves (maple only, never oak or wild cherry…they’re toxic to goats). A treat they look forward to and we have plenty to share.

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Photo Credit: Mary Murray

4. Walk, bike, hike!

Autumn is a magical time to get outside…walk and hike nearby trails or bike along the country roads. Invite a friend to come along, or unplug and enjoy some quiet time. No exhaust and no emissions. Bring along a picnic…there’s no better time to enjoy the glorious colors that are found in this perfect sweater weather.

5. Cozy candlelight…

When the days become shorter, I love the coziness of candlelight. I eagerly look for the seasonal scents on the market…pumpkin, maple, balsam, but looking for greener choices mean now I look for candles made from beeswax. Not only do I love the aroma, they burn cleanly, and I feel better knowing I’m supporting local beekeepers.

Yes, while it’s summer’s end, it’s the beginning of autumn’s glory. Enjoy every minute savoring the sights, sounds, and aromas that mark this new season…all while “staying green.”

6 Reasons You Should Follow Your Dreams and Start a Farm

Many people go through life the same way. It's expected that everyone goes to college, earns a degree and then works a full-time position. That may mean you've ended up in an office setting. And while the job pays your bills, you long for something more fulfilling.

You're not alone. Plenty of people feel the same way about their full-time jobs. The good news is that working in your current job doesn't have to be your future. You can always follow your dreams and start a farm.

Farming may seem like something you have to be born into to be successful at, but that's not true. With some time spent researching and learning, anyone can run a farm and make a living doing it.

Check out these six reasons you should follow your dreams and start a farm. The right motivation will help you finally put in your two weeks' notice at your current job, so you can finally start working on something you're passionate about.

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1. You Should Feel Fulfilled

No one enjoys working a job that leaves them feeling miserable. If you dread going to work on Sunday nights or feel like you can breathe again when you clock out every day, you're working one of those jobs.

Figuring out how to leave your job can be difficult. It may never feel like the right time to go when you have constant deadlines, projects and team members depending on you. Even if that's the case for you, you still have to think about yourself first. Your mental health is vital to maintain, and it can be badly damaged by working a job you hate.

Ohio State University recently published a study where they reviewed the job satisfaction of young adults and checked back in after the subjects turned 40. It turns out that working a job that made them miserable made the subjects more susceptible to mental health issues later on in life.

Starting your own farm will benefit your mental health just by making you happier on a daily basis.

2. Farming Helps Your Community

In urban areas, some people struggle to access food regularly. They may not be able to afford what's in the grocery store or even drive to town often because of the distance.

Starting your own farm helps your community in so many ways. Because the produce won't need to be shipped in, the overall price will be greatly reduced compared to what's available at your local grocery stores. More people will be able to afford it, too, resulting in more business for you.

You may also end up employing locals to help run your farm when it gets big enough. You'll single-handedly help reduce the unemployment rate in your area, which goes on to help those people and their families.

3. Farms Create Legacies

Many people work full-time jobs that they hate because they're determined to leave something for their kids. If they work their job long enough, they'll build up savings that can then go on to their kids when they pass.

Farms will help you do this too, plus pass on other benefits. A legacy farm will keep your children employed and making money, so they'll never have to worry about working a job that makes them miserable.

A farm can also be passed down to their kids, and the kids that follow after them. Running a successful farm creates a legacy that will help the generations that follow in your footsteps.

4. You'll Be Your Own Boss

For some people, the idea of being your own boss is much more appealing than working for someone else. There's power that comes with being in control of your schedule and your own paycheck.

If you want to feel reassured that you know what your future holds for you, being your own boss on your farm could be exactly what you're looking for.

Always remember that even when your farming experience begins, you don't have to be alone. Network with other farmers to have a support group for those moments when you encounter new challenges.

You also don't have to feel like you have to start your farm on your own, even if you're the one in charge. There are USDA rural loans that can help, which have already provided more than $20 billion to U.S. families since 2014.

5. Farming Helps the Environment

Farming may interest you because it can help you live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. When you're not buying products from farms that have used chemical fertilizers and gas to transport the food, you're minimizing your carbon footprint.

Starting your own farm helps the environment in so many ways. One of the biggest is by reducing the impact of the transportation sector. Electric power used to emit the most CO2 in the U.S. But in 2017, the transportation sector overpassed it with 1.9 billion tons of CO2.

Selling your produce locally will reduce how much food needs to be transported to your town, minimizing the town's CO2 footprint. You can also help the environment by avoiding chemical plant sprays and rotating yearly crops.

6. Farming Can Be Personalized

One of the most boring aspects of a traditional 9-5 job is that you're stuck doing the same routine every day. While minor elements of the job may change, you can still anticipate doing the same thing when you clock in.

When you run a farm, you can change things up if you ever get bored. There are plenty of different types of produce you can try to grow, as well as livestock you may want to take care of.

You can also participate in farmers' markets in different areas, so you can widen your customer base. Then there are the exciting changes that will come as your farm grows, like expanding your fields and upgrading your supplies.

Once you start your farm, there are so many benefits that you'll discover along the way. Helping your community, improving your mental health and protecting the environment are just a few of the things that will make your old full-time job a distant memory.

Summer Activities for the Healthiest You

Summer is here, which means the time has come for long, lazy days sipping umbrella drinks on the beach, right? Not necessarily, at least if you want to look stunning in a sleek new swimsuit. Fortunately, the warmer months mark the perfect time of year to take better care of your health.

From trying new fruits and veggies fresh in season to pumping your ordinary workouts up outdoors, summer offers a host of ways to care for you. Here are ten ways you can benefit your health and well being this summer while looking and feeling your best.

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1. Workout on the Beach

If you normally walk or jog on sidewalks or in parks, taking your workout to the beach can rip the muscles of your thighs and calves while burning major calories. Sand makes your leg muscles work harder, as if you were riding the Zero Runner with the intensity amped all the way up to max resistance. Plus the fresh seaside air smells much better than the sweaty stench of the gym.

2. Or Take It to the Mountaintop

Hiking is excellent cardiovascular exercise, and when it comes to toning your glutes, few workouts compare. Start with easy strolls around local museum grounds and parks and work your way up to more vigorous mountain climbing. Include as much bouldering as you like to super strengthen your hamstrings and quads as well as build upper body strength.

3. Learn Some Self-Sustainability

If the zombie apocalypse hit and you fled civilization, how long could you subsist on food you grow yourself? If you're an experienced gardener, your answer may be, "indefinitely," but if not, why not take the summer to learn how to grow food in case of disaster?

Foods you grow at home are naturally organic as long as you avoid chemical fertilizers. Take your knowledge a step further by starting a compost bin for your veggie food scraps to help your garden grow strong year after year. Dining on the fruits of your labor will improve your health by upping your fresh veggie and vitamin intake.

4. And Discover Native Fauna

Beyond gardening, how well would you fare if you had to forage? Many people cannot identify the majority of plants indigenous to their local region. Correct this by participating in an educational program which teaches you about native habitats including which plants are edible, which prove medicinal, and which are best left alone.

5. Try a New Team Sport

Many of us played sports as children, but roughly 70 percent of us gave it up by the time we reached age 13. Sure, maybe you despised getting cracked in the shin by a field hockey stick, but you might enjoy a volleyball league at a local park. You'll get fit while having fun and meeting new friends.

6. Hit Up a New Gym Class

What better time than summer to try innovative classes such as Sky Yoga or HIIT? Trying new classes means working different muscles, which shatters fitness plateaus. Plus, you may find a new practice you can enjoy indoors at home when winter rolls around again.

7. Visit the Farmers Market

Farmers markets offer organic produce and other natural food goods for crazy low prices. Some, such as certain markets located in PA Dutch country also offer meats from humanely-raised animals for those who do not practice vegetarian or vegan eating plans.

Eating plants in a variety of colors boosts your overall health by insuring you consume the full range of phytonutrients available. Mix up a summer salad of leafy greens, cucumber, tomato, mushrooms, chives, carrots, purple cabbage and radishes for a rainbow salad with an irresistible crunch.

8. Make a Jar of Sun Tea

Sun tea is delicious and makes the perfect alternative to sugary or diet colas and sports drinks. Add lemon slices for added flavor and nutrition. If you find the brew not sweet enough for your taste, try adding a teaspoon or two of organic local honey which will help bust seasonal allergies and provide an antioxidant punch.

You can find a beekeeper near you to snag the goods and also learn about the craft of raising our buzzing buddies. Considering the importance of bees to fertilizing food crops, the more you can learn about how to protect these tiny creatures, the more you can do to help them.

9. Enjoy a Good Swim

Is any form of exercise more refreshing than a cool swim on a warm day? Swimming makes for the perfect summer workout as it leans and tones your muscles without requiring you to sweat yourself stinky. Plus, if you rock a sporty short 'do or have natural waves, you can hit the pool before work and let the warm air dry your tresses naturally.

If the crawl or backstroke isn't your thing, give an aqua aerobics class a try, especially if you suffer chronic pain such as from arthritis. The water supports most of your body weight, making movement less painful (and you can protect your hair with a swim cap).

10. And Yes, Take a Spa Day

Practicing good self care means more than eating right and taking 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days, so go ahead and book yourself a day of pampering. Treat yourself to a nice massage, pedicure and a new 'do.

Short on cash but long on love? Learn how to give your partner a proper massage on the grounds they will return the favor. Alternate weekends of pampering each other to grow your relationship through healing touch.

Make 2019 the Healthiest Summer Yet

When days are long and temperatures warm, getting in shape proves easier. Plus, you want to be able to show off your toned legs in shorts and rock your fave strappy sandals with sexy, pedicured toes. Follow the tips above and make the summer of 2019 your fittest season yet!

Green Living Tips for Moving to College

Sending your child off to college can be a bittersweet experience, but at some point or another, you need to face the fact that they’ve grown up. It’s time to do your absolute best to help them start their own life on the right foot.

While your first instinct might be to go all out in making sure your child has everything they need as they prepare to start their new college life, it’s still worth taking a little time and forethought to make sure that the move is sustainably-minded too. Here are a few tips and tricks you can implement to ensure that the moving process — as well as the life your college student has on campus — is as smooth and green as possible.

Saint John College
Image Source

Recycle Your Belongings

When your child moves from your home to a college campus, it can be wise to plan the move and create checklists of what they’ll need ahead of time. This can help them remember everything that needs to be done and ensure that you go about packing and moving things in sustainable ways that minimize waste as well.

There are big-ticket items like their bed, desk, or couch, as well as smaller basics that are helpful to have upon arrival, like dishes, silverware, and even a trash can. If you have any of these in your own house that will ultimately be unused once your child has moved out, consider sending it along with them.

If, on the other hand, you have several larger items that end up being left behind, make sure to dispose of them properly once they are no longer needed. Consider donating larger things like bed frames, tables, and chairs, and look for proper recycling stations where things like televisions and mattresses can be properly recycled.

Go Paperless Where Possible

College has traditionally been a place where paper is used in enormous quantities. From homework assignments to final papers, notes, textbooks, and more, the paper consumption of academic institutions has historically been nothing short of gigantic. One student even estimated that they alone were required to use 26 pounds of paper in a single semester … getting an Environmental Studies degree.

Nowadays, though, that doesn’t need to be the case. Some colleges, like Penn State, have initiated their own efforts to reduce paper consumption. You can help by equipping your child with a few basic items like a tablet, kindle, or laptop beforehand in order to enable them to eliminate the majority of their paper needs in one fell swoop.

Encourage “Cooking In”

Try to equip your child with things like a microwave, cooking utensils, and at least a rudimentary knowledge of food prep. Taking their cooking into their own hands allows your students to control what foods they’re eating on a regular basis, which can have a third benefit of helping them stay fit and healthy throughout their tenure at school.

This will also allow them to prepare their own food on campus rather than spend copious amounts of money eating out. This not only saves cash but also ensures that fewer disposable utensils, plates, and cups are thrown away on a daily basis, dramatically decreasing the amount of waste that they are creating.

Ditch Your Car

It’s easy for young adults to get swept up in the exhilarating, new experiences associated with adulthood, and one of the most iconic of these is getting their first car. Getting a license and a car has been a right of passage for graduating high schoolers and aspiring young college students for decades. And yet, if you’re looking for practical, affordable, sustainable ways to move to college, you may actually want to consider ditching that car entirely.

Obviously, some scenarios will require a car, such as if the student’s dorm room is too far away from their classrooms or your child ultimately decides to commute instead of fully move onto the campus. However, in most cases, college campuses are fairly contained geographically speaking. There are plenty of forms of alternative transportation to take advantage of.

Most classes are within reasonable walking distance, and if some are too far, students should consider a bicycle or having a small cash allowance set aside for ride-hailing services. Then, all you need to do is either use your own vehicle or rent a moving van in order to get everything to the campus before their first semester starts. One way or another, it’s fairly easy to reduce or even eliminate entirely the need for a vehicle on a day-to-day basis, along with the carbon footprint that a vehicle naturally creates.

Rent Some Storage Space

It’s easy to shrug your shoulders and resign yourself to investing all of the time, effort, and costs involved in lugging all of your kid’s belongings back and forth between home and your campus every semester. After all, it’s just part of the college experience, right? Before making that assumption, though, you may want to consider finding them an eco-friendly alternative: rent a storage unit.

If you find a local storage facility near your campus, it can be the perfect place to store your child’s belongings between semesters. By the time you factor in any savings from not needing to rent a moving van on a regular basis — not to mention the gas and CO2 emissions that come along with all of that extra driving — you may find it’s well worth the cost and can help keep your carbon footprint to a minimum too.

Embrace Thrift Shopping

Another obvious way to keep things green is to have your college student visit the local thrift store in order to beef up their wardrobe after they’re done settling in. This allows them to have some independence in selecting and maintaining a decent selection of clothes. At the same time, though, it ensures that they’re helping keep things eco-conscious in the process. Manufacturing clothing uses copious amounts of water, energy, and chemicals, while purchasing used clothes also avoids adding even more waste to landfills.

Get Them a Nice Parting Gift

Finally, a small but impactful gesture you may want to consider is purchasing a reusable water bottle for your fledgling student in order to help keep their waste at a minimum. In addition, consider creating an herbal care package in order to equip them with safe, green alternatives that they can use to deal with any health struggles they may encounter while away.

Going Green With Your College Move

Remember that once your child has reached college age, they’re preparing to launch out on their own. Gone are the days where you should be doing everything for them, so try to resist the urge to continue to do that now. Instead, teach and inform them about how to make clean, sustainable decisions on their own so that, once the big move is done, they can continue to live an Earth-conscious lifestyle, even when they’re not under your own roof.

7 Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Impact in the Summer

Summer is here and it’s a perfect time of year to make efforts to reduce your carbon footprint. Do your part to protect the planet and consider working the following seven tips into your routine this summer.

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1. Utilize energy-efficient methods to repel heat indoors

The more heat your house is exposed to, the harder your cooling system has to work to keep your home at a pleasant temperature, which requires a higher level of energy usage that ultimately leads to more greenhouse gases being emitted into the environment.

One way to combat this is to ensure that your home is properly insulated, particularly in the attic and around doors, windows, baseboards, and electrical outlets. Make sure that the insulation in your attic is evenly distributed with no low spots, and add more insulation if necessary. In addition, take a few minutes to check for spots where air could be leaking out of your home. A simple way to do this is by holding a string or feather around door frames, window frames, baseboards, and outlets and looking to see if it moves. If it does, sealing those spots with expanding foam, caulking, weather stripping, or insulation pads will do wonders for keeping cold air in your home and reducing the pressure on your cooling system.

Installing thermal blinds or shades is another way to maximize your home’s energy efficiency, as they will help to reduce heat from sunlight entering into your home, as well as keep cool air from escaping through windows.

2. Be strategic about appliance use

Not only will utilizing appliances increase your home’s internal temperature, but many of them require a significant amount of energy to do their job. To conserve energy, look for ways to avoid using appliances when possible, such as taking advantage of the sun to dry clothes outside rather than throwing them in the dryer or eating cold foods that work to cool down your body temperature and do not require use of an oven, stove, or microwave. In the event that you do need to use an appliance, try to do it at early in the morning or at night rather than during the heat of the day so your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard to combat the warmth it produces.

Additionally, unplugging your TV, computer, and other electronic devices can help to reduce your home’s carbon emissions. After all, summer is the perfect time to disconnect from technology, get outside, and enjoy the warm weather with family and friends.

3. Make the most of your backyard

Your backyard is a perfect spot to implement a variety of green living techniques during the warm summer months.

For example, planting and growing fruits and vegetables in your yard rather than purchasing them from the store is great for the environment and reduces your carbon footprint because it helps cut down on greenhouse gases that are emitted when food is shipped to your local grocer. Plus, eating home-grown seasonal fruits and veggies can have positive effects on your health.

Landscaping your yard with trees and other beneficial plants is another great way to positively impact the environment. Trees not only work to shade your yard and home from direct sunlight, which will help to keep you cool during the summer, but they also fight climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, which purifies the air.

In addition, starting a compost pile in your yard will reduce the waste you send to the landfill as well as provide you with fertile, nutrient-rich organic soil that can be used on your lawn or in your vegetable garden.

backyard-flowers

4. Install solar panels

Purchasing or leasing a solar energy system is beneficial to the environment because it can help to offset your household’s electricity use with clean, renewable energy, and summer is the perfect time to have a system installed; in many areas, solar panels produce their largest energy output of the year during sunny summer months.

In addition to the positive environmental impact, installing a solar system is also be financially beneficial in several states and can help homeowners save money on their electricity bills. Speaking with a local solar company will give you insights into solar options and savings in your area.

5. Take advantage of eco-friendly modes of transportation

Warm summer weather provides a great opportunity to reduce fuel consumption and pollution and get around town in more environmentally friendly ways than driving your car. If you need to go somewhere close to home, consider walking or riding a bike. If you’re looking to go somewhere a little further away, look into public transportation options, such as trains or buses.

6. Minimize waste at picnics, BBQs, and other get-togethers

Summer is perfect for festivals, BBQs, picnics, and other fun get-togethers with family and friends. However, these activities often produce quite a bit of waste. Instead of purchasing disposable dishes and utensils, use reusable plates, cups, and silverware. Additionally, utilize cloth napkins and dish towels rather than paper. When the event is over, pick up any trash, recycle what you can, and collect food scraps to add to your compost pile.

picnic

7. Go on a green vacation or staycation

Many people travel during the summer, but tourism can have negative impacts on the environment due to carbon dioxide emissions from airplanes, increased waste, and pollution. To minimize harmful environmental effects, consider a vacation closer to home. If you already have your heart set on visiting a faraway destination, be a little more eco-friendly on your trip by packing as light as you can, traveling in the most economical way possible, and staying with a local or in a green hotel.


A proponent of renewable energy and green living, Sarah Hancock enjoys writing about sustainability and manages the solar blog on BestCompany.com. You can also find her work on Twitter.







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