Green's blog

What Mass Save Can Do For You!

For my Massachusetts readers - I imagine many of you are familiar with Mass Save and their energy efficiency initiatives like the free energy audit program for your home or office. For those of you who aren’t, Mass Save is a program you want to get to know! Mass Save is an initiative sponsored by Massachusetts’ gas and electric utilities and energy efficiency service providers to provide a wide range of services, incentives, trainings, and information promoting energy efficiency that help residents and businesses manage energy use. In addition to the free energy audit of your home or office, they provide incentives, rebates, and information on products such as LED and CFL lightbulbs, room air cleaners, light fixtures, and advanced power strips.


One of their newer programs focuses on refrigerator recycling. To encourage responsible recycling, they are offering a $50.00 rebate when you schedule a pick up of your second refrigerator or freezer. All you do is call or go on line and make sure you meet the following requirements:


      Refrigerator and/or freezer must be between 10 and 30 cubic feet using           inside measurements.
      A second fridge and/or freezer – not your primary fridge or freezer.
      Clean, empty and in working order at the time of pick-up.
      Accessible with a clear path for removal by recycling contractor.

Like the EcoATM I wrote about a few weeks ago which pays you for recycling your old cell phones, this incentive program is a smart way to keep appliances out of the landfill. Sometimes a little financial perk gives us just the push we need to do the right thing.

Mass Save’s innovative programs are specific to Massachusetts, but most utility companies offer something similar. After all, they have the same objectives of saving energy, saving money and recycling. To find programs in your area, check out these websites.


ENERGY STAR: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=recycle.pr_refrigerator_rec
ENERGY STAR – Rebate Finder: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=rebate.rebate_locator
DSIRE: http://www.dsireusa.org/


Interested in Saving Money, Saving Energy and Winning an Advanced Power Strip? Read on…….
Now that it’s back to school and more energy will be consumed with computers, printers, and other electronics in use, it’s a good idea to consider using an energy-saving power strip. I will send out a brand new advanced power strip to two readers who send me their most creative energy efficiency tips. What’s yours?

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Be the Green Czar in Your Office!


As you move towards a greener lifestyle, greening your office is important too. Whether you work from home or away, follow the simple steps below.

 

  • When possible, use energy star equipment - computers, printers, copiers, fax machines, coffee makers, etc. – for maximum energy efficiency.
  • Recycle print cartridges at office supply stores and use soy ink cartridges, which require less oil to manufacture and emit fewer air pollutants.
  • Keep your screen saver blank instead of the energy hogging, hypnotic graphics ones. They aren’t good for our eyes anyway!
  • Paper copies are less important these days, but if you do have to print something, print on both sides of the paper – most printers have a 2-sided property – and use recycled paper. Also, set your printer to economy mode or eco-tone. Most new printers have this setting, which uses less ink.
  • If your office is not already recycling used paper, set up a recycling center (for cans, bottles and plastic too) and organize a weekly or monthly pick up from a local recycling company. Or reuse unwanted paper for scrap paper.
  • For interoffice memos, use email rather than paper. Most offices already do that and even email is becoming antiquated with facebook messaging, google chatting and texting!
  • In your office kitchen, install a water filter system instead of using individual water bottles or big plastic water containers.
  • The average American goes through 500 disposable cups every year, so use ceramic mugs, not polystyrene (Styrofoam®) or plastic cups for coffee or water. Use real spoons instead of plastic stirrers. Set up a recycling center in the kitchen too.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with longer lasting, energy efficient CFLs (compact fluorescents) or LED bulbs.
  • Clean your office with green cleaning supplies.
  • Reuse old packaging materials for shipping.
  • Houseplants are effective air cleaners, removing indoor air pollutants. Place several plants near your printers, fax and photocopiers. They add beauty and tranquility as well.
  • When remodeling your office, use natural materials for furniture and carpet and low VOC paints instead of man-made laminates, synthetic materials and conventional paints that outgas toxins.
  • When possible, ride public transportation, walk, bike or carpool to work. You'll save energy and start the day in a more relaxed way.

We spend most of our time at work, so setting up a green office is an important step to using less energy and leading a healthier lifestyle. If your office isn't as eco-friendly as it should be, take the lead. Every office needs a green czar and showing a little initiative is always impressive! 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

A Greener Back to School


Sadly, another summer zipped by and school is just around the corner! Whether you have a kindergartner or a college student, there are lots of green things you can do to get your family ready for school.

For young kids:

I loved my trips to Staples with my kids to get new pencils and pens, fresh, clean notebooks, binders and folders for the first day of school, but buying everything new can be wasteful and expensive. Instead….

• Reuse last year’s unfinished notebooks. Just tear out (and recycle) the used papers and they are as good as new. If you need new ones, buy notebooks with recycled paper or paper made from natural fibers like banana or coffee.
• If last year’s binders aren’t in good shape, buy those made from postconsumer waste and water-based glue. Fill them with recycled binder paper.
• Reuse last year’s pencils and pens; if you need more, opt for pencils made from reforested wood or recycled newspapers. For young elementary age kids, get nontoxic, phthalate-free crayons.
• Pack a healthy lunch in a recyclable lunch bag; buy bulk size wholesome snacks and put them in reusable containers rather than snack-size, throwaway plastic baggies. A piece of fruit is the most beneficial snack option.
• Walk, carpool or take a bus to school to cut down on carbon emissions.
• For after school sports, don’t forget your BPA-free, reusable water bottle.

For older students:

Follow the above tips and…..

• Be ahead of the curve; try a solar-powered bamboo calculator.
• Fun, eco-chic backpacks made from 100% recycled cotton canvas or other recycled materials and messenger bags made from recycled rice sacks with printed graphics are the new look. They are a lot more environmentally friendly than the traditional polyester or nylon ones.

For college students:

Moving in and out of dorms creates a lot of waste. The amount of cardboard and plastic packaging for the new bedding, bath and personal care products, school supplies, etc. is overwhelming and recycling bins are not always available.

• Instead of always buying new, reuse some things from home and try not to bring so much stuff. Dorm rooms are small and you can get away with less. When you do buy new things, buy them at school and avoid shipping. Target stores are everywhere and even sell organic towels and sheets! For futons and other furniture, graduating students often donate their old furniture or look on line at craigslist.com or freecycle.com.
• Use low energy certified microfridges, computers and tv’s.
• Share appliances with friends – not everyone needs every appliance.
• Use power strips instead of extension cords to save energy and keep air conditioning to a minimum.
• Install CFL or LED light bulbs and turn off the lights when you leave the room. Make sure to unplug your phone charger when not in use to eliminate vampire energy.
• Instead of stocking up on water bottles, use a BPA free water bottle instead.
• For the late night munchies, eat organic fruits and snacks and compost the waste.
• Choose green cleaning supplies like Seventh Generation for washing your dishes (forget disposable ones) or cleaning your dorm room.
• Houseplants make great air filters and improve air quality.
• Get involved with on campus environmental groups, or start your own. Several colleges now have local raised bed gardens – volunteer to work in them. Working with the soil is a great stress reducer and you’ll learn a lot.
• Solo cups are “the” party cups, but they take hundreds of years to decompose and some recycling centers don’t take them. Solo has a new product line of products that are made using recycled, recyclable or compostable materials called Bare® by Solo. Set an example and go for those!
• For papers, always use recycled paper and don’t forget to recycle used paper, bottles and those ubiquitous beer cans!

You are never too young or too old to start living green!

Enjoy the rest of the summer – the weather is spectacular! I’ll be back after Labor Day….

Some information compiled from Whole Living, September 2012 and Natural Living, September/October 2012.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.


 

PurePest Mosquito and Tick Control

It’s been a rough year for mosquitoes on Cape Cod, probably due to the heavy rains in June. I can barely last 10 minutes in the garden without getting eaten alive, much less eat dinner outside which I love to do this time of year! So, I was thrilled when PurePest contacted me about trying their organic mosquito and tick spray.

PurePest Organic Mosquito and Tick Solutions is a service company providing safe, non-toxic alternatives for mosquito and tick control using their product called Eco-Barrier, sourced from plant extracts and natural oils. This product has the ability to combat mosquitoes and ticks, killing the adults as well as the larvae and eggs, and has a residual to keep them from returning. Unlike pesticides, their eco-friendly applications will not harm you, your plants or beneficial insects like bees and earthworms.

PurePest starts with an evaluation of your property followed by a customized plan. Services are performed tri-weekly from early spring to late fall to the entire yard. (The routine applications are key and increase product effectiveness.) You can hire also hire them for event sprays.

Two knowledgeable and impressive young men came to our property and did a thorough spray of the area around the house. It was immediately evident to them where our mosquito problem stemmed from and they addressed the issue. After the spray I noticed a very faint, pleasant minty smell.

How well did PurePest Organic Mosquito and Tick Solutions work? I’d have to say quite well, especially considering how mosquito infested our property is. We were actually able to eat dinner outside with no problem.

Started by young entrepreneurial guys, PurePest Organic Mosquito and Tick Solutions’ timely and important service is doing the right thing by the earth. They are somewhat pricey, as most organic products are, but with the prevalence of Lyme disease and other tick and mosquito borne diseases, it’s worth it. To help defray the cost, the company offers a referral incentive where you get one free spray for each customer you refer who signs up for the season. They actually have customers who end up with free sprays for the entire season!

PurePest is located in Massachusetts, on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, New Hampshire, Vermont, Tennessee, with plans for expansion.

Don’t let mosquitoes and ticks ruin your summer- give PurePest a call at (978) 579-0007 or visit www.purepestmanagement.com for safe and effective control. Mention you heard about them from What’s Green With Betsy!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com

 

What is an EcoATM?

From time to time eco-friendly businesses contact me to blog about their product. I’ve been impressed by the quality and “green” ingenuity of these products, but I’m really wowed by EcoATM who recently contacted me!

The EcoATM is a kiosk where you can recycle your new, used or broken phones, mp3 players and tablets and get cash for them. Founded in 2008, the San Diego-based company has more than 600 kiosks in 40 states. Their goal is to be located within five miles or closer to 90% of the US population to make e-waste recycling as convenient as possible.

Entrepreneur and founder Mark Bowles was inspired by a survey that found that only 3 percent of people worldwide recycle their mobile phones. According to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, the U.S. disposes of more than 384 million units of electronic waste each year, and less than 20 percent of that is recycled. That leaves 80 percent dumped in landfills or burned, leaking toxic substances into the environment.

The EcoATM is one solution to this enormous problem. Using the fully automated, self-serve kiosk, often located in malls, is easy:

Simply place the mobile device in the ecoATM test station and submit your personal id, which is matched with an image of the seller taken at the kiosk.

The machine quickly evaluates the device, searches for the highest price in the worldwide market to sell it, and gives you cash on the spot. The process only takes a few minutes and the average seller walks away with approximately $25 to $300, depending on the device. EcoATM staff remotely monitor every transaction. Each kiosk also has a free charging station and a place to recycle accessories.

What does EcoATM do with all these devices? They refurbish 75 percent and the rest goes to reputable e-waste recyclers.

Safety is of utmost importance to EcoATM and they go beyond what State and local laws require to ensure safety and deter stolen items or fraud; privacy information is safely encrypted. Furthermore, ecoATM works closely with law enforcement to locate stolen phones.

Kudos to EcoATM - a great example of the kind of inventiveness that can create jobs and help solve pressing environmental issues.

For more information and to find an ecoATM near you, visit www.ecoatm.com.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Information compiled from www.ecoatm.com.


 

Preventing Lyme Disease

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme disease is one of the fastest spreading infectious diseases in the United States. Finally it’s starting to get some of the press it deserves.

Deer ticks in the Northeast carry the illness, where 90% of all US cases are reported. Lyme disease has become more prevalent partly because suburban neighborhoods have expanded into wooded areas where ticks thrive. Deer ticks are carried by deer, mice and pets and are about the size of a poppyseed. If a tick bites you, remove it right away, identify it and have it tested if you suspect it is a deer tick. One in four nymphal deer ticks can infect you with some kind of disease if they feed for more than 36 hrs.

I had Lyme disease a few year ago and was the sickest I have ever been. I was one of the lucky ones however, with obvious flu-like symptoms and a bull’s eye rash and was able to get on antibiotics right away, which cured it. But some people don’t get the rash and it’s easy to confuse the body aches and fevers with other diseases. Blood tests are often inaccurate too.

As with anything else, prevention is your best medicine. 

What you can do to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease:

• Avoid being bitten by a tick, which is most plentiful where woodlands transition into fields, meadows or yards.
• Avoid tall grasses.
• Avoid deer paths in the woods, which are usually loaded with ticks.
• Avoid places where mice are abundant like leaf litter, woodpiles, mulch beds, gardens, rock walls.
• When you are in high tick area, wear light colored clothing to spot them easier.
• Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants with your pants tucked into your socks when working outside or hiking in tick-infested areas.
• Use insect repellant.
• Walk in the center of trails.
• Always do tick checks after being outside in a high deer tick area. Magnifying glasses help spotting deer tick easier.
• Showering after being in a tick-infested area is helpful.
• Putting your clothes in a dryer at high heat for 35 minutes
will kill ticks. Most ticks are very sensitive to heat.
• Take garlic supplements daily to help repel insects and ticks.
• Treat pets to minimize risk. Pets can bring ticks into the house.

Cultural Practices you can do in your yard to help eliminate ticks:

• Mow along boundary lines of your yard.
• Keep grass mowed regularly.
• Install a low brick wall where your yard ends and woods begin.
• In high tick areas, get guinea hens – they eat deer tick.

The University of Rhode Island has the most informative and comprehensive website on deer ticks that I have seen. Visit tickencounter.org, for more information.

Be vigilant and don’t let ticks ruin your summer!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.


  

Fix It Instead!

For years I wanted a blender that you simply turn on and off, like the kind I remembered having as a child. I was tired of the plastic, LED readout variety with so many different blending options. All those options seemed unnecessary, and the blenders broke often. I finally found a good, solid old-fashioned Waring Blender. I work my blender hard with chock-filled smoothies every morning, homemade soups and other liquefied food items, and even my Waring blender had a part wear out. I didn’t want to buy a new one because basically it still worked. I wanted to replace the part that broke.

When I was growing up, small appliance repair shops were common. Since then- in this era of planned obsolescence with cheap, made in China everything – appliance repair shops and handymen have all but disappeared. One of the best things about the internet however, is that you can find replacement parts on line. And that’s what I did. I searched Waring blenders, found my replacement part and ordered it. My blender works as good as new, and I saved an almost perfectly good appliance from the landfill. I saved some money too.


In this throw away era of ours, we must think about reusing, repurposing and fixing what we already have instead of always buying new and recycling the old. Of course some things have to be thrown out and it’s important to recycle them, but before you do, think first. Can I fix this? Can I use it for something else? Who knows – maybe we’ll bring back the fix-it shops of long ago with a 21st century approach and create some new jobs.
 

Have You Become a Chia Head?

Remember the chia heads and pets that were popular several years ago? You planted chia seeds in a doll planter and grass grew on top of the head. Well, it turns out that the same chia seeds are a very beneficial dietary supplement!

Chia seeds are a sacred Aztec and Mayan seed and have been a staple in their diet for centuries. Native to South America, chia seeds are rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants.

There is much talk today about the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids in one’s diet. I like getting Omega-3’s from a variety of animal and plant sources and chia seeds are one of the richest plant sources of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, specifically alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA). Omega-3’s reduce inflammation and high cholesterol, help support normal cardiovascular function and enhance cognitive performance.

Many people’s diets are low in fiber. Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber with 10 grams in only 2 tablespoons, or one-third of the daily-recommended intake. Fiber is essential to support normal functioning of the digestive system and can help lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation.

Chia seeds are also rich in antioxidants with more antioxidant activity than blueberries. Antioxidants help protect the body from free radicals, aging and cancer. This high antioxidant profile gives chia seeds a long shelf life; they can last almost two years without refrigeration.

Chia seeds are also high in minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese. They can be digested whole and do not need to be ground to obtain their nutritional benefits.

Another important benefit, chia seeds are gluten-free and gluten allergies are a growing problem today. Due to their high fiber content, protein and gelling action when mixed with liquids, they are satiating. My smoothie holds me easily until lunch. Also, my husband has noticed his hair has become fuller after adding chia seeds to his diet!

How do you eat this nutritional powerhouse? I add them to my smoothie in the morning, but you can sprinkle them on yogurt, cereal or even in salads. They can be added to baked goods or simply enjoyed as a snack. One tablespoon daily is the suggested serving.

So become a chia head - you’ll be healthier for it!

 

Information compiled from: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/top-10-health-benefits-chia-seeds-6962.html and spectrum essentials.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 


Remember the chia heads and pets that were popular several years ago? You planted chia seeds in a doll planter and grass grew on top of the head. Well, it turns out that the same chia seeds are a very beneficial dietary supplement!

Chia seeds are a sacred Aztec and Mayan seed and have been a staple in their diet for centuries. Native to South America, chia seeds are rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants.

There is much talk today about the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids in one’s diet. I like getting Omega-3’s from a variety of animal and plant sources and chia seeds are one of the richest plant sources of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, specifically alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA). Omega-3’s reduce inflammation and high cholesterol, help support normal cardiovascular function and enhance cognitive performance.

Many people’s diets are low in fiber. Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber with 10 grams in only 2 tablespoons, or one-third of the daily-recommended intake. Fiber is essential to support normal functioning of the digestive system and can help lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation.

Chia seeds are also rich in antioxidants with more antioxidant activity than blueberries. Antioxidants help protect the body from free radicals, aging and cancer. This high antioxidant profile gives chia seeds a long shelf life; they can last almost two years without refrigeration.

Chia seeds are also high in minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese. They can be digested whole and do not need to be ground to obtain their nutritional benefits.

Another important benefit, chia seeds are gluten-free and gluten allergies are a growing problem today. Due to their high fiber content, protein and gelling action when mixed with liquids, they are satiating. My smoothie holds me easily until lunch. Also, my husband has noticed his hair has become fuller after adding chia seeds to his diet.

How do you eat this nutritional powerhouse? I add them to my smoothie in the morning, but you can sprinkle them on yogurt, cereal or even in salads. They can be added to baked goods or simply enjoyed as a snack. One tablespoon daily is the suggested serving.

So become a chia head - you’ll be healthier for it!

 

Information compiled from: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/top-10-health-benefits-chia-seeds-6962.html and spectrum essentials.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.


 

Summer's Extreme Weather

Whether the weather be fine,
Whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Whether the weather be hot,
We'll weather the weather,
Whatever the whether,
Whether we like it or not
~Author Unknown


Here in the Northeast and in the Mid-west, we’ve been experiencing more than our fair share of cloudy days and rain, intense thunderstorms, tornado threats, flood watches and high humidity. Since there is nothing one can do about the weather, don’t let it get you down. Eating certain foods can help combat weather-related depression.

 Omega 3 fats – found in fish oil, salmon (and other fatty fish), walnuts (and other nuts), flaxseeds, olive oil, chia seeds and avocados - are essential for proper brain function. When the brain functions properly, it’s hard to get depressed for long. Studies have shown that just a gram of fish oil a day can decrease symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disorders, unexplained periods of sadness, etc. Omega 3 fats also lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular function. 

Fruits like dates, papaya, bananas, strawberries, mangoes, pineapple, grapefruit, peaches and apple also help fight depression! They contain the best natural sugars you body can process, as well as essential nutrients. They help with hydration too!

Out west, the weather is unusually hot and dry and they are experiencing less than normal rainfall! Protecting your skin is essential, not only with sunscreen but with food too. The following summer fruits are cooling and may protect your skin from sun damage during the hot dry summer weather.

Cherries contain inflammation-fighting anthocyanins and melatonin, which may boost UV protection and encourage cell growth, both great ways to fight wrinkles.
Nectarines contain nutrients that help correct sun damage from the inside out. They contain vitamins and minerals that help control inflammation and free radical damage.
Watermelon has high water and lycopene content, which helps protect and preserve skin cells so the skin is tighter, smoother and better able to retain moisture. Lycopene, also found in tomatoes, is a powerful antioxidant and may help ward off sunburn.

Extreme weather conditions are hard on the body and the spirit, but eating whole, nutritious and seasonal foods can help.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July! Stay cool!!!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Information compiled from:

http://www.sharecare.com/health/diet-nutrition/article/eat-these-3-fruits-for-great-summer-skin; http://voices.yahoo.com/foods-fight-depression-eat-way-happiness-2710221.html and http://www.naturalnews.com/020611_depression_nutrition.html#ixzz2XtsDD1aP
 

Natural Remedies for Insect Bites

Ah, summer is here at last and so are the mosquitoes. After a very rainy spring, they are out in full force.

There are several precautions you can take to repel mosquitoes, like using a safe, non-toxic personal repellant, covering your arms and legs at dusk when the mosquitoes come out, avoid keeping standing water around in birdbaths or buckets, and placing certain aromatic plants like scented geraniums, marigolds or rosemary on your patio or deck or in your garden to help repel them. But, even with these precautions, most of us will usually get bitten, and some people more than others. I know I am a mosquito magnet – my husband says when he is with me, he never gets bitten! So, what non-toxic relief can you get for those nasty, itchy, inflamed bites? Lots! Below is a list of common household products, which relieve itching and help to heal the bite.

  • Toothpaste (peppermint works best)
  • Mouthwash - soak a cotton ball and dab it on the bite. An antiseptic mouthwash will prevent bites from becoming infected.
  • Salt – Moisten first then rub table salt on the area.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Witch Hazel - Make a paste out of witch hazel and baking soda. Or just baking soda and water (works for bee stings too!)
  • Aloe relieves the itch and heals the wound.
  • Lemon is good when you just have to scratch. Cut it in half and use the pulp side. Helps reduce the chance of infection from scratching.
  • Deodorant – Rub on immediately after getting the bite to reduce inflammation.
  • Lavender, tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus, basil, thyme or neem base essential oils (just a drop or two) reduce inflammation and prevent infection. Apply to affected areas several times a day.
  • Garlic salt and seasoning salt mixed with an equal amount of water.
  • An ice cube applied directly to the bite will numb the pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Mud - if you are outdoors without access to the above mentioned cures, a bit of dirt and water mixed together is effective at relieving irritation and reducing swelling.

Each remedy works better for some people than others. When you get your next bite, try some and let me know which remedies work for you.

Information compiled from www.home-remedy.org, Organic Body Care Recipes by Stephanie Tourles and www.care2.com/greenliving/7-ways-to-treat-bug-bites. 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

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