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liz's blog

Don't Throw Out Your Old Shoes

Nike Reuse-A-ShoeNike Reuse-A-ShoeI was at the outlet mall this weekend and, while waiting for a friend to finish shopping at the Nike store, I perused their literature display. Now, I'm not going to pretend I am up-to-date on Nike's social practices, nor am I going to deny that their shoes work best for my proluxating feet when I work out. Social politics aside, what I saw in their literature case made me very proud to be a working out gal with Nikes on her feet.... read more

ABC Gum Can Now Be Recycled

Nothing ruins a day faster than stepping onto a wad of gum on the street, and Anna Bullis has decided to do something about it. 

Photo by Pal Hansen of read more

Be a Greener Reader

Since childhood, one of my favorite activities has always been reading, and a quick glance around my house proves it. I'll be the first to admit it: I'm a book junkie. I have at least one book I'm currently reading in each room of my house, and my Sunday afternoon library trip is one of my favorite times of the week. The problem, though, is books are not the most green of habits, especially if you purchase your own books and only read them once. However, there are plenty of ways to be a greener reader. ... read more

  • Utilize your public library system. can help you locate a library anywhere in the U.S. (including Presidential libraries) and also has a neat forum to give authors a chance to share their books with potential readers. 
  • Donate to and purchase from local book fairs. Most of the larger ones in your area will be well advertised in local news media, but you can also find one here, if you're in the U.S. or Canada. Note that, due to the enormous task of sorting all the books before a sale, most fairs stop taking donations about a month ahead of time, so check before you donate.
  • Use websites developed for book sharing. There are dozens of them out there, but my favorite is Used BooksUsed Books
  • Buy an ereader. The two most successful are the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook. While ereaders are a hefty investment up front (find them used and save some money--I got mine from craigslist), they have the potential to save you a lot of money over time, since you can get newspaper and magazine subscriptions on them (cheaper and greener than the paper versions) as well as purchasing books at a considerable discount. And most of the classics are free via sites like Project Gutenberg. 
  • Download audiobooks. Personally, I like to actually READ a book, but I swear by audiobooks for car trips or the occasional workout.
  • Have a creative side? Get artsy with old books here. 

A Greener Lunch

I try to be as green as possible in my daily life. I compost. I recycle (even though we have to pay for curb-side service in my city). I buy a majority of my food at various farmers markets, and talked my family into joining a CSA this summer. I store my photos online (okay, that may be more laziness than a conscious choice). I buy all natural cleaning products and refuse to use chemicals on my lawn or in my gardens.

On point with this post, though, I have a resuable lunch bag that I bring to work (almost) daily. The thing about lunch bags, though--at least the size I like to carry--is that it doesn't hold much. There's plenty of room for the (reusable) plastic container holding my main course and my fork, but that's about it. If I want to pack some trail mix or some grapes, I usually find myself begrudgingly shoving them into a resealable bag because there's no room for another container. And, although I really want to use those bags more than once, I just end up throwing them away because I don't like mixing the flavor of yesterday's snack with today's.... read more

Boxed Wine: Not Just for the Cheap Anymore

I am an avid red wine drinker.  Lately I've been thinking about taking my wine drinking to a greener level, but it's a bit overwhelming as there are a lot of factors to consider.

To start with, what's the difference between USDA certified organic and plain old organic on the labels?  To be USDA certified organic, a vineyard must grow its grapes without using any chemicals or artificial fertilizers.  Also USDA certified organic wine cannot have any sulfites added.  (Don't misinterpret this, though.  These wines will still contain some sulfites, as they naturally occur in wine.)  A wine labelled simply organic means that at least 70% of its contents are organic.

However, being a greener wine consumer is not necessarily synonomous with being an organic wine drinker.  Sustainability is another factor to consider.  What is the vineyard doing to make a less significant impact on the earth?  Are they taking measures to reduce erosion?  How about water consumption?  Do they only run sprinklers when absolutely necessary or is their system automatic?  What methods do they use of reducing pests?

Another way to green your wine consumption is to take a look at where your wine originates. identifies and explains a "green line" that runs down the center of Ohio.  The Green Line


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Back to School the Green Way

I never had the typical college experience.  Sure, I lived on campus at two separate universities, but they were both primarily commuter colleges.  My sister, however, had your typical college experience at a university where 98% of freshmen and 50% of all undergrads lived on campus and, therefore, had cafeteria meal plans.  My sister frequently mentioned how appalled she was at the sheer wastefulness of the students.

So, apparently, was Andilee Warner at the Southern Illinios University Carbondale, who was been named "Recycler of the Year" in 2007 by the Illinois Recycling Association.  Warner earned this title because of the vermicomposting project she started with the university's cafeteria waste.

Illinois Recycling Association

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Eating Local Foods Saves the Environment

I've been a food snob for about the past 10 years.

I still vividly remember the Wednesday (I think?) mornings I'd go to the outdoor farmer's market with my grandmother and mother in the days before I started preschool.  It was those memories that drove me, nearly 17 years later, back to Soulard Market.  I was immediately taken with the chaotic, dim, random atmosphere; it was only after I got back home and started cooking that I was taken with the absolute taste difference between the fresh spinach I'd gotten there and the "fresh" spinach I'd been buying at the local grocery store.  Since that day, I've never looked back.... read more

Recycling Old Toys, Games and Puzzles

You're torn.  You're trying to declutter your home, but you don't know what to do with all those puzzles, toys, and games missing crucial pieces.  You don't want to toss them in the trash to take up precious landfill space for the next few centuries, but who will want them?

You will, that's who!

Remember those popsicle stick picture frames you used to make in Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts/elementary school?  You glued four sticks together, taped a picture on the back, and proudly presented it to a parent or grandparent who smiled kindly and put it away with all the other "special crafts" so it wouldn't get damaged. You can take the same concept and make a frame with the kids that you'll actually want to display.

I've made a few different versions of the popsicle stick frames with the kids I work with.  In one, we've covered the sticks with puzzle pieces.   I recommend doing two layers of puzzle pieces, just so there's more dimension to the frame.  Recycle Old Puzzles, Ideas to Recylce Old Puzzles

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