Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Birthday of the Trees

Tomorrow (Wednesday) night begins the Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shvat, the birthday of the trees. This is a great time, not only to eat fruit and plant trees, but also to celebrate the environment!
Today, "Kitchen Tips Tuesday", and in honor of the upcoming "Biblical Earth Day," I'd like you to look around your kitchen and home and do two things:

1. Replace one disposable item with something reusable.

  • Commit to bringing reusable bags to the grocery store or reusing plastic bags.
  • Do you use plastic or paper cups in your house?  Buy a couple nice plastic reusable cups and put the disposable ones out of reach.
  • Have a designated place for paper that can be reused for coloring, scribbling, or shopping lists.  Don't print things unless you must.
  • If you still use plastic, disposable water bottles, switch to a bottle you can reuse.  I love the Thermos Intak Hydration Bottle (24 oz) and the Nalgene Kids OTF Bottle (12 oz).  They are comfortable to use, easy to clean, dishwasher safe, don't hold the taste of tea or lemon, and come in pretty colors.  I strongly recommend getting two to switch off cleaning and drinking.  (Available at Target and other retailers in America.)  I never leave home without it!
  • Ditch disposable table wear.  You'll get used to it.  Just think of all that space taken up in the landfill with plastic plates, bowls, forks, etc.  
2. Unplug something.
  • Do you keep a coffee pot on all day or flip it on every time you refill your cup?  Do you make yourself several cups of tea throughout the day?  Consider buying one of the high quality, inexpensive vacuum insulated bottles on the market.  They can keep liquid steaming hot for over 12 hours.  I have a tall Thermos brand bottle that I fill with boiling water on Friday evening and use it to make coffee and tea the next day.  Many are made in China and available throughout the world.
  • Look around your home and office for "vampire appliances," electrical appliances that seep electricity from the grid even when they are off.  It may be more convenient to keep your cords hanging out of the plug, or keep your small appliances plugged in and ready to go, but we can all save a lot of electricity if we completely unplug them.   TV's, satellite receivers, audio systems, and computer monitors attached to "sleeping" computers are among the worst offenders.   Rule of thumb, if you turn it on with a remote, it uses "standby power."
  • Find an energy hog that you can live without.  Anything that heats up, even small items, use a lot of energy.  Try to cut down your use.  Let your hair air dry.  Eat your food cold. Wear a sweater.
This is only the tip of the iceberg.  What can you do to reduce waste this year?  What have you already done?  Please comment and inspire others!

If you need some inspiration of your own, listen to the following stories from APM: The Story, with Dick Gordon:
  • Trashless  Rachelle and Richard Strauss  "pledged to produce zero waste for the landfill." 
  • Who needs Refrigeration?  (32 minutes in)  Dave Owen "tells Dick Gordon what he and his family do without a refrigerator, and what it is about the refrigerator that made him decide to have it hauled away."
*To download MP3 of show, right-click DOWNLOAD at the bottom and click "Saved Linked Content As..."

Have a fruitful holiday, eat a nut, and thank G-d for trees!
Check out recent 'eco' posts HERE.

I <3 my water bottles:


  1. You wrote:

    > Commit to bringing reusable bags to the grocery store or reusing plastic bags.

    We are fortunate enough to have the first Green department in our Supersol Deal in Ra'anana. Aside from all sorts of organic fruits and vegetables you can pretty much buy anything you would find in a health food store, but at supermarket prices. When I asked the manager (they have their own staff, separate from the Supersol staff) about bio-degradable garbage bags he told me that they won't (not don't, won't) sell them as the chemicals used to make the plastic bags bio-degradable leach into the earth and are just as bad as the plastic itself. He suggested the re-usable bags, but when you can't (as in buying produce by weight and using the bags the supermarket provides), just re-use the plastic bags over and over.

    We keep all our plastic bags, and they get used up in the kitchen during cooking, as liners for various trash cans throughout the house, we tie them on to the dog's leash for those pooper-scooper moments, and in a moment of madness, I even knit a plastic bag out of plastic bags (see how to here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Knit-Plastic-Bag-Handbag/)

    Great and informative post, I love your term "vampire appliances."

  2. That's very interesting about the biodegradable bags. I always try to reuse the veggie bags. I have 3 reusable bags and then I bring bags that match the store where I'm shopping. (Reuse supersol bags at supersol.) But at my local produce stand/grocer, the check-out girls bag the stuff and I can't seem to convice them to reuse the bags I brought. I'll have to improve my Hebrew for the good of the environment.

    I've been in other stores that insist everything gets a bag - bananas, a single lemon. And then, of course, those individual bags get re-bagged. Other stores look at my like I'm nuts when I say I don't need a bag. I've also been in the middle of bargaining when a plastic bag was offered to sweeten the deal!

    When I was living in Florida, the Publix Supermarkets were increasing their "Greenwise" section, and even had whole Greenwise stores that could easily compete with WholeFoods.

  3. Really, the biodegradable bags are no good? I buy the trash bags. I do bring reusable bags to the super though, and reuse any disposable ones I get.

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