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Solar Energy in Cold Weather

Sunlight Solar, a solar installation company, dispels many misconceptions about solar energy in their blog.  One of the most common myths about solar energy is that it doesn't work in cold weather, such as a New England winter. With much of the country bracing themselves for yet another big snowstorm, I thought I'd discuss the reality of solar energy in cold weather.

As it turns out, solar panels can be very effective in a cooler climate. In fact, solar panels can be more efficient in a cold climate than in hotter places with stronger sun, such as Arizona or California. "Solar panels actually work more efficiently in a cooler climate because heat degrades electricity," the Sunlight Solar blog says.... read more

Preparing Your Garden for Spring - even if it's still winter!

I saw something very exciting at the grocery store over the weekend: a display of seed packets!  We're stuck here in the teens in Massachusetts, but the display of seed packets was like seeing a little ray of sunshine - right there in Stop & Shop!  Seed packets for sale can only mean one thing...spring is in the foreseeable future!

Even though it's nowhere near spring in many parts of the U.S., thinking about your garden is definitely a reality.  

How can you get your garden ready even if it's still winter?... read more

What’s so bad about plastic bags?

Plastic bagsLots of municipalities are banning plastic bags.   My city, Newton, Massachusetts, has just jumped on the bandwagon and I'm really excited.  I'm hoping to see less plastic bag litter and pleased that there will be less plastic bag waste coming from our city.  

Here are some quick facts about WHY plastic bags are so bad for our environment.  

- The US uses 100 billion plastic shopping bags each year.  These bags are made from an estimated equivalent of 12 million barrels of oil.  

-  Plastic bags will take an estimated 300 to 1000 years to biodegrade.

- Anually, tens of thousands of whales, birds, seals, and turtles die from contact with plastic bags that enter the ocean.

- Recycling one ton of plastic bags costs a whopping $4,000. The recycled product will then be sold for $32.

- The production of 1 pound of plastic for shopping bags produces about 6 pounds of CO2.  ... read more

A Greener Valentine’s Day

It seems like I'm still putting the Christmas decorations away, but I'm noticing Valentine's Day stuff in the stores.  It's only a month away!  Surprise your sweetie with some green treats this Valentine’s Day!  Here are some gift ideas.  

Chocolate:

Order some fantastic chocolate from Endangered Species Chocolate.  They have chocolate bars, gourmet chocolates, and gift sets.  They support a bunch of really important eco-causes, too, so you can feel good about buying your chocolate from them!  


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Greener Snow Removal

snowAs we gear up for some more snow where I live in the Northeast, I wanted to discuss two things that people do to remove snow which are actually bad for the environment:  salt and snow blowers.  

Salt is bad for just about everything.  It's bad for cars, it tears up the road causing potholes, it can kill plants and wildlife, and it can contaminate waterways.  Sure, it's a cheap and easy solution, but it's just plain old bad for the planet.   Most municipalities still use salt for their roadways, but you can minimize or stop using salt on your property.  ... read more

Reusing Used Coffee Grounds

Reuse coffee groundsI don't drink coffee, but my husband does and he is always making a mess with those coffee grinds.  They ultimately end up in the compost bin, but not before they leave a trail all over the kitchen counters and sink.  But, after doing a little reading, I've learned that there are other things you can do with used coffee grounds.  Now I'm trying to respect those usually annoying coffee grounds, because they can be quite useful!

For instance...

You can fertilize plants with them!  Mix your seeds with used coffee grounds.  Apparently this will also help keep pests out of it.  Works best with carrots and radishes.  I'll have to try this next spring!

 ... read more

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When is using a space heater green?

Space heaters eco-friendlyA lot of times you hear about how using electric space heaters wastes a lot of energy.  But, what about those in-between times of the year where you're not sure you need to heat up your entire house but it's too cold to comfortably sit and read a book in your living room?  What is more energy efficient:  using a space heater to just heat the room you're in for a short period of time, or to tur... read more

10 Green New Year's Resolutions

Green ResolutionsThe year end is a good opportunity to think about new ways to go green.  Whether you've been a greenie for a long time, a green newbie, or if you're somewhere in between, it's the perfect time to make some green resolutions for 2015.  

Here are some ideas for green resolutions.  I see them as small, attainable goals that can help the environment if everyone does their part. Here's to a Keener and Greener 2015!

1.  Remember to bring my reusable shopping bags everywhere.  I now remember to bring them to the grocery store almost each time, but frequently I forget when clothes shopping, going to the pharmacy, etc.  

2.  Bringing a reusable coffee cup is a great resolution but I challenge you take it a step further and bring your own reusable food containers to restaurants in case you need a doggie bag.  

3.  If you work outside of the home, pick one day a week to walk, bike, take public transit, or carpool.... read more

Go Green and Reuse Your Gift Boxes

People are going green with all aspects of their lives. Work, home and even play time have people more aware of their environment and what they can do to help preserve it. There are a variety of ways you can go green in all you do including your gift giving. You can use many different ways to recycle your gift wrapping options and stay green in all areas of your life. There are several ways you can be eco-friendly with your shopping and here are a few to keep in mind.

First, consider reusing gift bags that have been given to you. Many people use bags as a way to package gifts because they are beautiful and can easily fit any shape packaged. There are a wide variety of designs, themes and colors of bags. You can choose them to even fit a child's birthday party theme. The options are endless. If a bag is given to you and is not damaged in any way, then it is a great idea to use it for your next gift giving item. You can use them for holidays, anniversaries and birthdays alike. They are a wonderful way to go green and accommodate your package no matter how odd the shape may be.

 


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The Downside of Ice Melt

This blog post was originally published on Keen For Green in February 2011, but it's such useful information that we like to repost it every winter.

http://www.analogphotography.comI don't know about the rest of you, but I can tell you that we in the Midwest have had the snowiest, iciest, coldest winter in decades, and it's really gotten me thinking. Since I became a dog mom in January of 2002 I've heard that ice melt is bad for dogs. This has led me to always keep a mat at my front door and religiously take off my shoes the moment I enter the house. I've also stopped using any ice melting product in the back yard, my dog's domain. But is there any truth to this ice melt rumor? If so, what exactly can ice melt to do a dog? 

According to the ASPCA, it is the sodium chloride and calcium chloride in the most common ice melts that is potentially damaging to the puppy in your life. If your dog walks on an ice melt containing one of these chemicals, her paws can become dry and cracked. And if she licks her paws or eats the ice melt (the ASPCA cautions that she can also ingest it by drinking from a puddle of melted snow containing ice melt), her problems can get worse. The ASPCA lists symptoms from as mild as excessive drooling and loss of appetite to as severe as decreased muscle function, coma, and death. ... read more

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