Growing A Greener Outer Banks NC

January 17, 2011

A Green Thought: What Happens to the Christmas Trees?

Filed under: environment, Recycle Projects, Tips — Tags: , , , , , , , — 4x4RE @ 12:45 pm
Have you ever wondered where all those Christmas trees go after Christmas? Think of all the trees that were cut down to be put on display in people’s living rooms for 3-4 weeks and then tossed on the curb for the trash collector. I never really gave it much thought, probably because when growing up we would get a tree that still had roots and dad would replant it along the property line. This is a GREAT way to give yourself a privacy fence although it may take a few years. 🙂
When I got married and moved into my own house, we bought an artificial tree because my wife was worried about our cats & she felt that cutting down a live tree was wasteful.  But to get back to the original question, what does happen to all those once live trees after Christmas?  Well believe it or not, some find their way to Carova. Yes, January is when you can see dozens upon dozens of Christmas trees come to rest on our beach. They don’t wash ashore, and there not left behind to litter. Some people use them to help build up our dune line. What a Great idea for recycling and protecting our beach.  Actually, I wish I was the guy who thought up this plan. I can see him now telling one group of people “for ten bucks I can haul away your tree” and then telling another group “for ten bucks I’ll sell you this tree”.  Actually I have come to learn that there are locations for residents to drop off their tress for anyone else who needs them. This a GREAT example of “freecycle“. They’re more environmentally friendly than sand fences and this helps reduce some of the strain on our landfills.
Here are some pics of the ones that have made it down so far. We had many more years past so I think that more might still show up. In the pictures there are all lying down.  I have seen them placed standing up also, and I think it depends on if you’re trying to add on to an existing dune or create one that’s not there yet.

December 15, 2010

December Green Action Tips

Filed under: environment, global, Recycle Projects, Tips — Tags: , , , , , , , — 4x4RE @ 2:06 pm

Top 5 tips to green your Holiday Season

Posted by Murielle in Health, Sustainable living, 9 Dec 2010

I love Christmas and the Holiday Season! As soon as the days start to shorten and the temperature starts to drop, I start dreaming of fairy lights, Christmas trees and snow-white postcard-like panoramas. Then I start feeling guilty for all the generated waste, energy abuse and cut-down trees this season brings about. So in the jolly spirit of the season, and with a feeling of thanks and gratitude towards nature and the beauty of our planet in the back of my head, here is a top 5 list to green your Holiday Season.

1) Choose a real Christmas tree over an artificial one
There is no doubt that a real Christmas tree is better for the environment than an artificial one. Artificial trees have heavy carbon footprints. Most of the trees are manufactured in Asia and will require a lot of energy for transport to European or American stores. The trees are made of metal, plastic and materials that are not biodegradable. Manufacturing the trees is also heavy on the environment and releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.

A real tree is carbon neutral (the tree absorbs as much carbon dioxide during it’s growth as it will emit when burned or left to decompose) and does not contain any toxic chemicals. If you have the choice, go for a real Christmas tree with roots. After the Holidays you can plant the tree and even reuse it the next year. Another cool option, although maybe too late for this year, might be to grow your own tree.

2) Go for compostable Christmas decorations
Try to avoid plastic or non-recyclable decorations at all costs. They can’t be recycled and there are much better ways to give your home a Christmas feeling. House decorations and decorations for the Christmas tree can be made from organic material. Why not try tree branches, pine cones or leaves? And throw some beautiful Christmas flowers and some mistletoe in? To decorate your tree, look in your kitchen cabinet. You’ll find that dough and a little bit of creativity can make wonders. Popcorn, gingerbread and cinnamon sticks are perfect too. And after the Holiday Season, all your Christmas decorations will be fully compostable.

3) Give eco-friendly gifts or do some good while giving
This year, instead of going for the carbon loaded gifts shops are already piling up with, consider going for something completely different. Many gifts don’t require any carbon emissions or manufacturing like the sponsoring of animals, donations to environmental or other non-profit organizations, planting a tree and much more. If you prefer to go for ‘real’ gifts you could consider giving away activities. IOU’s for a day in the park, a hiking get-away or any other (eco-friendly) activity you would like others to enjoy are a great alternative and gift. Theater, concert or movie tickets are a good option too as are vouchers for electronic items like music or movie downloads.

4) Consider alternatives for Christmas cards
Millions of trees worldwide are cut down every year just to provide us with Christmas cards. Although I’m a big fan of them myself, there are green alternatives that make a big difference. One option is to send recycled Christmas cards, or to go entirely electronic and send e-cards instead. Many Christmas cards support non-profit organizations or causes. If you can’t do without the traditional cards, why not do some good at the same time and offset your paper use by planting a tree?

After the holidays, there are many things you can do with your Christmas cards. You can use them to create fun collages with your kids, keep them in an album or frame the nicest ones. If you are not a Christmas card keeper, remember to recycle them the right way. Paper cards go in the paper bin; mixed cards (paper and plastic or any other material) are recycled in parts and in their respective recycle bins.

5) Reduce, reuse and recycle your Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner is so much fun, but it produces so much waste! Before, during and after your dinner consider these easy steps to reduce, reuse and recycle your waste as much as possible.

Reduce/ Don’t make too much food; it will end up in the waste bin anyway. Try to be conscious about the food you will be serving. An organic turkey is a good option, as are organic products from local stores or farmers’ markets.

Reuse/ Don’t use plastic dishes or paper napkins, here again they will only end up in the waste bin and they are not biodegradable. Instead, go for the real deal. Grandmother’s dishes, wine glasses and fabric napkins. After dinner try to stack as much as possible in the dishwasher and go for an eco-friendly program. If you don’t own a dishwasher, get some family members together and do the dishes by hand. It’s a fun and eco-friendly time for sharing some family gossip.

Recycle/ After your Christmas dinner compost your food waste and recycle any other waste (wine bottles, soda cans…) appropriately.

If you follow these tips you’ll have a wonderfully eco-friendly Holiday Season. One to remember and to be proud of!

 

 

November 20, 2010

Holiday Season Green Tips

Filed under: environment, Recycle Projects, Tips — Tags: , , , , — 4x4RE @ 7:16 pm
Earth Friendly Holiday Season Tips
By Green Living Tips | Published  10/18/2009 |  
   
Holiday Season green tips

It’s time to arm ourselves against the season of consumption!

Over the Holiday season, the western world generates a lot more rubbish than at other times of the year. Here’s a series of tips to help you reduce your upcoming Holiday impact on the environment.

1. Shop online. Sometimes online retailers will have better pricing than bricks and mortar stores, plus you’ll save fuel in traveling from store to store, time and stress! Items purchased online are often shipped straight from the factory to you, so it can also cut down on the overall freight impact.

2. When heading out to do your Holiday shopping, take your own reusable bags rather than using the plastic ones provided by stores.

3. When purchasing gifts, try and think “earth-friendly” every step of the way; from the product itself to the packaging. If you buy green gifts, make a special effort to let the person know of its environmental benefit as you may just set the receiver on the path to a greener life. This doesn’t mean buying items the person may not need or want, but consider the person’s interests and look for a green angle. For example, for chocolate lovers, perhaps organic, fair trade chocolate.

4. All of us have likely received gifts in the past that we had no use for and we’ve just stashed them away. It’s a waste of money and resources. Instead of taking a risk if you’re not sure what a person wants, consider purchasing a gift card – that way they’ll get what they really want or need. Some retailers are even offering earth friendly gift cards now made from bioplastic! Also consider re-gifting items you may have received in the past but have never used.

5. Instead of buying physical gifts, consider purchasing a service or tickets to a concert or movie.

6. Make a donation to a charity, developing world or environmental project as a gift for someone else. Does the person you are buying for really need another pair of socks? Instead of giving them a gift they can use, buy them a gift that goes to another needy person or organization – purchase it in their name. Many organizations provide this option now. To my way of thinking, this is the perfect gift because it gives to so many. You could purchase seed that will go to a third world farming family, wheelchairs for the disabled, chickens for a community, trees for damaged land – the possibilities are endless.

7. Battery operated items are a hugely popular as gifts. I shudder to think how many single use batteries are consumed during the Holidays and into the following weeks as kids (and adults) put their new toys through their paces. In 2006, 40 billion single-use batteries were sold worldwide! As part of your gift buying, purchase rechargeable batteries and a battery charger – these are quite economical items to buy these days and will save you a ton of money in the long run.

8. Thousands of tons of cards are purchased each Holiday season. The mind boggles to think of how many trees are destroyed in the process. Try to purchase cards made from recycled paper and after the Holiday season, if you decide not to keep the cards you receive, recycle them. Another idea worth considering is to offset the paper consumption is to plant a tree every year.

9. If you like putting bows on your gifts, use fabric instead of plastic.

10. Gift wrapping creates the same sort of issues as cards, but there are some added environmental dangers with metallic and plastic type wrapping. Aside from taking a long time to decompose, these types of wraps give off toxic gases when burned. Look for plainer wraps made from recycled paper, wrap gifts in scarves, place in baskets etc. Make the wrapping a part of the gift if you can; something that can be used for another purpose – for example, check out the Japanese Art of Furoshiki.  Furoshiki techniques with  detailed instructions can be found at Furoshiki.com

11. Purchase a live tree and it doesn’t have to be the traditional fir. There are no laws against using another species.  After the Holidays are over, plant the tree in your yard.

12. If you’re going to purchase tree lights this year; consider buy LED tree light sets – they’ll last far longer and use a great deal less electricity.

13. Use a timer for your external lighting decorations; again, a huge electricity saver.

14. Tree decorations can be made from gingerbread and strings of edible items such as berries or popcorn – much tastier than plastic and far less environmental impact! Also look to nature for decoration ideas – for example; pine cones, leaves and flowers.

15. Artificial snow spray can be made from environmentally damaging components, plus there’s added waste of the can. A more earth-friendly imitation snow effect can be achieved by sprinkling baking soda on your tree.

16. If candles are part of your celebrations and decorations, consider using soy or beeswax types. Normal candles are made from paraffin, which is a petroleum based product.

17. Holidays are a rubbish-fest. Before the gift opening and feasting begins, have boxes or bins set up for different types of rubbish – cans, bottles, paper etc. This will make your job easier at the end of the day and minimize the amount of recyclables heading for landfill.

18. Food wastage can also be a challenge – instead of throwing scraps, leftovers and peelings into your bin, dig them into your garden or better still, buy yourself a worm farm this year and use the vegetable refuse to help you start feeding them.

The retailers of the world have brainwashed us over the years as to what the Holidays are all about.  Think outside the box a little and you can have greener Holidays that may benefit the environment and society rather than contributing to destroying our planet :).

 

November 1, 2010

November Green Action Tip

Filed under: environment, organic, Recycle Projects, Tips — Tags: , , , , , , , , — 4x4RE @ 2:17 pm

 

These are some great tips that came to me in an email last week.

25 A-peeling Uses for Fruit and Veggie Scraps

Got watermelon rinds or onion skins? Save money around the house with these creative food waste recycling tips.

Nearly all fruit and vegetable skins can be added to the compost pile. But since I’m the ultimate Green Cheapskate, I like to get even more mileage out of my rinds — at least before I deposit them in my compost pile.”A rind is a terrible thing to waste.” If you’re a composting enthusiast like me, that’s our mantra.

Try out these creative uses for your peels next time you’re thinking about heading out to the compost pile:

Seedling pots: Scooped-out avocado shells make perfect biodegradable “pots” to start seedlings in before you plant them in the garden.

Potpourri: I dearly love my wife, although she knows that nothing sets me off like store-bought potpourri. (“I have the world’s largest supply of that stuff in the back yard … it’s in my compost pile!”) Seriously: all types of citrus rinds, apple peels, pomegranate skins, and other fruit trimmings can simply be dried on a rack or in a food dehydrator to make homemade potpourri. Sprinkle a little “liquid potpourri” (available at craft stores) on it for more flavor if desired, or dose it with the dregs of perfume or cologne when you finish up a bottle.

Keep garden slugs at bay, the natural way: Sprinkle ground-up nut shells around tender garden plants to keep slugs and other pests away — they can’t stand crawling across the rough texture. (FYI, I know they’re not a fruit or veggie, but crushed eggshells do the same.

Is that peach-fuzz on your face? : You bet. Peaches are high in potassium and Vitamin A, which help to revitalize skin and keep it hydrated. Put a little sugar on the pulpy side of peach skins and use as a gentle face scrub. (Get more natural beauty recipes.)

Make metals shine: Lemon, lime, and other citrus rinds and pulp/juice are high in citric acid, which makes them great for polishing brass, copper, and other non-ferrous metals. Sprinkle on a little baking soda and the polishing goes even faster. (Also see how ketchup works great for shining metals.)

Organic Easter egg dye: Boil your Easter eggs with some onion skins and you’ll end up with wild yellow and orange eggshells, all without the use of artificial dyes.

Serving bowls: Watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydews, and other melons can be scooped out and the shells used as attractive (albeit temporary) serving dishes for fruit salads and such. I also scoop out acorn squash halves and use the shells as serving bowls for a tasty acorn squash and cider bisque I make in the fall.

Candied citrus rinds: My great aunt concluded every family dinner by passing around a tray of her homemade candied citrus rinds. Strips of rind from lemons, oranges, grapefruits, and limes can be boiled in a mixture of equal parts water and sugar until the liquid is absorbed (a couple of hours). Coat the cooled strips in granulated sugar and let dry on a rack.

Banana split shoeshine: Put a “split-shine” on your wing-tips by polishing them with the slippery side of a banana peel – it really works!

Throw some peanut shells on the barbie: Peanut shells burn slow ‘n smoky, so add a handful to the charcoal next time you’re grilling. Soak them in water ahead of time if you think of it, and let them dry a bit before you put them in the coals — that way they’ll burn even longer.

In a pickle: All kinds-o-rinds can be pickled and eaten as a delicious condiment. Most recipes for pickled watermelon, lemon, orange, and even pumpkin rind involve a simple mixture of vinegar, sugar, and spices, and some can simply be stored in the fridge rather than canned once prepared.

In a jam: Marmalades are simple to make, even for those new to jam cookery. They can incorporate the skins from a wide variety of fruits — not just oranges, but lemons, grapefruit, limes, tangerines, and even kumquats.

Cornhusks: Don’t even get me started about all of the uses for cornhusks. Back home in Ohio we make cornhusk dolls; in Mexico they’re used for cooking tamales; in the Philippines (where there is a Corn Husk Association) they weave them into hats, mats, bags, slippers, and just about everything else. Me, I like to wrap fish and other seafood in fresh, dampened sweet corn husks and grill and serve them that way.

Pomegranate skin to the rescue: Suffering from diarrhea? Boil a little pomegranate skin in water with a cinnamon stick and drink it down once it’s cooled. Repeat up to three times per day or until diarrhea subsides.

Add an Asian flare: Dried tangerine rind is a tasty — but expensive — element in Asian cooking. But you can make your own by simply using a vegetable peeler to remove the orange part of the tangerine, clementine, or tangelo rind (avoid the white/zest) and dry the peels on a rack or in a food dehydrator, once dried, store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Darken grey hair: Just call me Mr. Potato Head! Boil potato peels in water for about a half-hour, strain and let cool. Rinse your hair with this water after shampooing and it will gradually darken grey hair, without the use of harsh chemicals.

Pistachio garden soap: I need a sturdy bar of soap to wash up with after a hard day of yard work. I make my own by pulverizing pistachio shells with a little water in the blender, then mixing it with melted glycerin soap.

Vodka infusions: All kinds of fruit skins — particularly citrus rinds — can be added to vodka to create a flavorful infusion. Just add the peels and let it sit for a week or two. (See more tips on how to make infused vodka.)

Olive oil infusions: Adding citrus peels to olive oil will not only flavor it but will help to reinvigorate oil that’s getting old. (See more things you can do with old olive oil.)

Apple peels – A Very Good Thing: My mom makes apple-peel jelly, or she sometimes dusts apple skins with sugar and cinnamon and bakes them in the oven as a crispy snack. She’s also fond of using a needle and heavy thread to string them up, let them dry, and fashion them into a fall wreath. That woman could teach Martha Stewart a thing or two.

Gourd birdhouses: Larger gourds can be dried, treated, and the shells hollowed out to be used as birdhouses, like in these Amish instructions.

Lemony-fresh smell: Lemon rinds just smell way too good to throw away. Try boiling them in water on the stove top, microwaving them for a minute, or just throwing them in the garbage disposal to freshen the air in the kitchen. And put a couple in the humidifier to make the whole house smell lemony-fresh.

Shinier, healthier houseplants: Use banana peels to shine the leaves on your houseplants — not only will it make them sparkle, but it acts as a natural pesticide and fertilizer.

Compost pile chicken: I like to stuff all kinds of fruit and veggie peels inside a chicken when I’m roasting it in the oven to give it extra flavor. Trimmings from onions, celery, citrus, apples, garlic, etc. can be stuffed in the chicken cavity or sprinkled around a roast. Plus, once baked, the trimmings break down in the compost pile even faster.

And last but not least …. “My papayas are killin’ me!” Rub papaya skins and pulp on the bottoms of your feet to help soften skin and soothe cracked heels. They’re rich in Vitamin A and papain, which breaks down inactive proteins and removes dead skin cells. (Plus it feels pretty cool.)

Warning: The skins of vegetables and fruits that are to be consumed or come in contact with food should be thoroughly washed first, even if organically grown.

Jeff Yeager is the author of The Cheapskate Next Door and The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches. His website is www.UltimateCheapskate.com. Connect with Jeff Yeager on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo Credit: Jeff Yeager

Read more: http://www.thedailygreen.com/living-green/blogs/save-money/food-waste-recycling#ixzz13PPwEvuZ

February 12, 2010

Great Meeting @ OBX Green Drinks

Filed under: Recycle Projects, Tips — Tags: , , , , , , — Morgan Mason @ 3:47 pm

Great meeting last night with the OBX Green Drinks group at the Brewing Station. Speaker was the owner of green Incorporated, Scott Hannon, whose in-depth knowledge of biofuels was fascinating! It was a wonderful educational opportunity as well as a nice way to meet like minded eco-conscious locals on the Outer Banks. I highly recommend you become a member of this organization. Sarah Falkowski is the founder and you can find them on Face Book at OBX Green Drinks. Hope to see you at the next meeting! Check them out! http://ow.ly/16KFY

February 7, 2010

Recycle Fun Art

Filed under: Recycle Projects, Tips — Tags: , , , , , , , — Morgan Mason @ 8:49 pm

Here is a simple way to recycle those magazines you have hanging around the house.  While looking for recycled gift items last December at the Kill Devil Hills Artist Cooperative I found these lovely bows you see here.  Apparently these bows are made from very colorful strips of magazine paper and, because the paper is shiny and bright, the result is truly artistically pleasing!  I used them on gifts wrapped in newspaper for the total recycled effect which was a big wow with family and friends!  Hey, it beats trying to recycle that coated paper.  Try it!

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